Big Easy Temptation (The Perfect Gentlemen #3)

Big Easy Temptation (The Perfect Gentlemen #3)

Shayla Black, Lexi Blake


San Diego, California

Nine years ago

Dax Spencer peered down over the elegant reception and wondered where the time had gone. Wasn’t it just yesterday that he and his friends were attending Creighton Academy, where their biggest worry was passing calculus and sneaking out to the girls’ school down the road?

Now Zack, one of his pack, was married. In fact, Zack was the first to fall on the matrimonial sword. He was also a senator about to make a run for the White House, but somehow the idea of Scooter being a husband seemed weirder.

And the political world had come to watch the nuptials. People magazine had even sent a photographer. The wedding was the bash of the year for America’s elite and had all the pomp of a royal affair, complete with a few foreign dignitaries who had come hedging their bets that Zack and Joy Hayes would one day occupy the White House.

Dax nodded as Connor Sparks and Gabe Bond approached, drinks in hand. In the distance he could see his own parents among the crowd lining the dance floor. A simple glance proved this was the wedding of a Naval daughter, since the place was a sea of dress whites.

“I can’t believe he really tied the knot.” Connor, his best friend, put a hand on his shoulder as they watched the bride and groom begin their first dance.

Dax was sure they all felt that way. “After the year they spent planning this shindig, I think Joy’s parents would have had Zack’s head if he hadn’t gone through with it.”

“True.” Connor smirked. “I hope he’ll be happy. I like Joy but I worry she’s too . . . I don’t know, nice for Zack.”

Gabe sighed. “Yeah. I would have thought he’d want someone with a little more attitude.”

“To survive Zack’s future, she’ll definitely need backbone.” Campaigning and politics seemed like a nasty business to Dax. Zack’s senatorial campaign had been peppered with negativity about everything from his youth to his family ties. How would Joy weather the media scrutiny on a larger scale?

“Bitchiness would even be better, though that word will probably get me slapped,” Connor said with a chuckle. “But yeah, I worry she’s a bit fragile.”

“Joy is the perfect first lady—pretty, gracious, kind. She’ll be a true benefit to him politically,” Gabe said. “I guess I wanted something more for him.”

“He’s been with her for two years. He seems happy.” At least Dax hoped he was. Since the day he’d met Zack Hayes, when they’d been gangly, pimply-faced kids, Zack had been on a path, one his father had set for him long ago.

Dax couldn’t exactly complain. His own father had set a path for him as well. Spencer sons went into the Navy. There had been a Spencer in every war fought since the Revolution. Only days before, he’d been promoted. He would become captain of his own ship in the next few years and eventually follow in his father’s footsteps to become an admiral. Dax saw his path clearly—and he couldn’t wait.

Then why did he feel so restless? There were at least a hundred gorgeous women roaming the reception. The likelihood of him getting lucky tonight was supremely high.

Yet Dax only sought one woman.

“You seem anxious tonight. What’s up with you?” Connor tipped back his beer.

“You seem to know everything, Mr. Spy,” he shot back. His best friend worked for the Central Intelligence Agency as an analyst. It fit Connor actually. He’d always been good at chess and strategy.

Connor rolled his eyes. “You know it’s really more boring than you would think. And I don’t have to be a spy to know that you’re looking for one pretty blond law enforcement officer. Tell me something, has she shown you her handcuffs?”

No, she hadn’t shown him anything at all. Holland Kirk was proving damned elusive. Her father was a Naval officer stationed here in San Diego under Dax’s own dad. He’d met her shortly after Joy and Zack started dating. Zack had invited him over to meet some of Joy’s college friends and Dax hadn’t been able to take his eyes off the beauty.

The admiration was not mutual. Holland Kirk had been perfectly pleasant with him on every occasion they’d met. They had intelligent conversation, spent fun times together in groups, and enjoyed each other’s company. But she’d turned him down flat every time he asked her out. She would smile politely and murmur some excuse before she turned the conversation to something she obviously found more pleasant.

“She’s not interested.” And that hurt. Besides being gorgeous, Holland was smart and funny. He’d never been so into a woman. They had chemistry. Heat. Well, he’d thought they had.

“Oh, she’s interested. But I think your reputation has preceded you. Or maybe all of our reputations. I overheard her talking to Joy about how brave she was to be marrying into scandal central.” Connor shrugged. “But we haven’t had any scandals lately.”

“We also haven’t been choir boys.” Gabe winced. “I got caught boning one of the Swedish princesses at that UN reception. In my own defense, she swore that broom closet was locked.”

Dax remembered the episode fondly. “You looked good in those tabloid pics, bro. You’ve really kept up the ab routine. But seriously, we’ve all matured. I don’t think that Vanity Fair article chronicling our love lives was really fair.”

Shayla Black, Lexi B's Books