False Pretenses
resist?
    Turning to face the door leading into the party, he paused. The thought of dealing with Natasha in her bid for his attention, and every other man’s in the room, didn’t appeal. Yet, she’d been good in bed, very good, and she had an incredible body. An image of Alyssa’s sexy figure slid into his mind, and he sighed. What to do?
     
     

Chapter Nine
     
    What kind of Jimmy John beach party was that? Alyssa fumed. She stomped down the hall and made her way back toward the entrance of the hotel. When she turned a corner, she came to a spot where she could turn right or left. The right led to where she and Nathan had entered the building, but the left, she realized, led to the beach. Out there was what she’d expected, bare feet, and warm sand beneath her toes. She’d been shocked he wanted her to wear this fancy dress and high heels. Now she knew why. Bastard had no clue to fun.
    An image of their time on the beach, sharing a picnic, came to mind, or riding the jet skis and swimming together, and she sighed. Okay, that had been fun, but it did not negate the fact that the man couldn’t do without his servants. He probably never ate without silver utensils or licked rib juice from his fingers.
    Still, a part of her had hoped he would follow and apologize, beg her to go to the beach with him for real. Who am I kidding?
    She took a left and headed outside. The warm night breeze stirred a tendril of hair, and she started to feel a bit better. After slipping her shoes off, she started out along the path that quickly turned to sand. Her feet sank with each step closer to the water. Steel drums and laughter floated on the air, drawing her in that direction, and before long, she stumbled upon what she’d been looking for.
    “Hey, come join the party,” several men and women shouted in her direction. Someone raised a beer bottle in greeting. People gyrated to the music. A waiter happened by, and Alyssa ordered her own beer. Looking around, she realized she was way overdressed. Most of the partiers wore nothing more than shorts and T-shirts. Some of the women had forgone clothing completely and sported bikinis.
    On impulse, Alyssa held up a finger to the waiter when he brought her drink. “Can you hold on to it just one moment?”
    The man nodded, and she hurried away to the bathrooms not far off. She stripped out of her dress, glad she’d worn her own bikini in the mistaken thought that she and Nathan would get casual later in the evening. When she left the bathroom, she walked over to the outdoor bar. “Mind if I leave this back there?”
    The bartender’s interested gaze swept her figure, and he grinned. “Sure thing, miss. Have fun.”
    “Thanks. I will.” She waved to him and ran back to the waiter holding her drink, tipped him, and swallowed a mouthful of beer. “Now that’s more like it.”
    Glad her handbag was tiny and of soft material, she tucked it into the band of her bottoms and went to enjoy the music she’d been waiting to hear. She hadn’t been there long before someone called out her name, and she turned, tensing, thinking to see Nathan.
    Her eyes widened. “Cullen, what are you doing here?”
    “Off work.” He grinned. “Looks like you’re enjoying yourself.
    “I am now.”
    “Can I buy you a drink?”
    She held up her beer. “Just starting, but”—she tilted her head to the side and surveyed him from head to foot—“you can dance with me.”
    They were soon swaying to the mellow tones, and Alyssa shook her hips and laughed at Cullen trying to dance. His gaze never left her face, and the attention went a long way to soothing her hurt feelings. Here, she didn’t have to feel like she didn’t measure up or that she’d say the wrong thing. Cullen treated her like she mattered even though there were plenty of beautiful women on the beach.
    “Want to walk a little?” he offered, and she agreed. Under the moonlight and with the sound of the music fading, they strolled along the

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