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Murder Becomes Manhattan
A lot of fun. I loved the plot twists, the plays on words...the flashes of humor in unexpected places, and most of all the characters' quirks.
Chapter 1

"C'mon," he whispered.

From behind, he gave her shoulder a playful nudge, tipping her champagne flute precariously forward. She moved quickly to right it, emitted an elegant snort, and looked back at him with bemusement.

He moved closer in . . . flashed a brief, perfect smile . . . awaited her response.

She started to say something, but took a sharp breath in when she felt two warm fingertips glide languorously down the inside of her forearm. Ever-so-discreetly they descended, soft circular caresses that quickened her pulse and weakened her stance. He edged them ever lower, making a slow, meandering path first around her wrist and then across her palm. Suddenly the rest of his hand arrived and she closed her eyes as he seamlessly entwined his fingers within hers.

Then, more urgently, "Come on. NOW."

She turned and scanned the others at the reception, their glasses atilt, their lips apart, their brows raised in anticipation of the most perfect punch line ever delivered. No one's eyes were settled on hers and she knew their minds were galaxies away, visualizing an upcoming cruise on the Adriatic or contemplating a shift into bonds. She knew this crowd. She knew them all. So she knew for certain, that at this very moment, she could slip into the ether and no one would notice.

Sporting the grace of a prima ballerina, she set down her glass, pivoted on one foot, and nodded ever so slightly as she released his fingers and glided toward the door. He followed her, a subtle smirk appearing above his stubbled chin.

As soon as they passed beyond the ballroom doorway she sprinted ahead. But he made leapfrog steps to catch up to her in the hallway and took her commandingly by the wrist.

"Just WHERE did you think you were going?" he asked.

She giggled, then whispered, "Your room . . . I thought."

He smiled, shook his head and tugged her in a different direction, down a hallway leading away from the elevators. She let him lead, admiring the moiré pattern on the wallpaper as he pulled her forward. She snorted again. "What are we doing?"

He didn't respond . . . just clutched her wrist ever more tightly, and pulled her along with a bit more force, hurtling them down one hallway then another, until he suddenly braked in front of an unmarked door at the far end of a corridor.

"Here," he said.

Glancing around furtively, he took a rectangular card out of his pocket and ran it vertically in the crack in the door. He pulled gently on the handle . . . and it gave. Then he turned to her and smiled again. A triangle of light jutted in from the hallway revealing a medium-sized closet . . . a small storage room containing a variety of cleaning supplies. The room returned to total darkness as he carefully closed the door.

"Here?" she said, sliding her purse down to the floor. "How very romantic!"

He pursed his lips and pressed one finger sideways against them as he slid the palm of his other hand along the outside of her thigh and beneath her slip. In response, she slid off her right shoe and massaged his calf muscle with her ankle. Quickly, he began to kiss the outline of her jaw, ascending ever so slowly until his lips eventually encircled her earlobe. A low, warm tremor pulsed throughout her. She exhaled forcefully. Then, she pressed the palms of her hands against his chest, lowered them over his waistline, and pushed them firmly against the bulge inside his slacks before clasping them around his waist and pulling him toward her.

His right hand explored the inside of her thigh, then moved up. The warmth of his breath skittered from her earlobe to her face, soft hot strokes that traveled across her cheekbone and then downward. At the moment their tongues finally, passionately collided, she felt him deftly slide two fingers inside the front of her thong. She arched her spine and let her head loll back against the wall.

Somehow, amid all the swirl and buckle, she found a way to see humor in the situation.

I don't know who you are, she thought, but whoever you are, you're one hell of a player.

2 / 3 / Bonus
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