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Campaign for Seduction
Warner Family & Friends — Secrets & Lies, Book 3
She’s the biggest gamble of his political career …
For journalist Liza Wilson, covering the campaign of presidential candidate Jonathan Warner is a career-making opportunity. She’s up for nightly news anchor, and this story will cinch her spotlight. Plus she’ll get to see the charismatic senator up close and personal. Only, Liza doesn’t realize just how personal—until she and John give in to a passion that could turn them into tomorrow’s headlines…and derail both their careers.
John’s whole life has led up to this history-making moment. He can’t afford to let a breaking scandal destroy all he’s worked for. But when Liza uncovers a secret in his past, he risks losing her, too. And John isn’t a man who likes to lose. Now he’s waging an all-out campaign to win Liza’s love. Because her vote is the only one that counts!
What the Critics say
“Scorching-hot love scenes, an intimate look at the campaign press, the heartbreak of Alzheimer’s and the fishbowl existence of a political figure make this story a keeper!” —Romantic Times BOOKreviews
Read an Excerpt
“Senator! Can I ask a follow-up?”
“What about tomorrow’s speech, Senator?”
“Senator, will you be commenting on any personal romantic relationship developing between you and Francesca Waverly? The National Inquisitor has allegedly received some pictures–”
As usual, the barrage of shouted questions followed Senator Jonathan Warner up the aisle toward the restricted section of his Boeing 757. He calculated the number of steps between him and a chance to relax—less than ten, he thought—and wondered how soon he could get to the other side of that precious divide.
A smarter man would’ve kept his butt up there in the front of the plane, where it was safe, rather than come back here and spend a few minutes with the press corps, but he’d been riding the high after the campaign rally in Detroit and wanted to see what kind of feedback he’d get from the press.
But then one answered question had turned to five, and now it was after midnight and he hadn’t begun to prepare for tomorrow’s events, much less sleep. Sleep. Hah. He remembered it well. Something about getting in a bed, putting your head down on a pillow and closing your eyes.
Unfortunately, he’d given up the idea of sleep for the duration, and so had his cohorts here. Everyone on the jet was bleary-eyed and exhausted and, since the primary season was just getting underway, the widespread sleep deprivation would get a whole lot worse before it got better.
Pausing, he glanced back over his shoulder into the bright lights of various camcorders, pushed his rolled shirtsleeve past his watch to check the time—twelve-thirty-nine now, wonderful—and considered which, if any, of the additional questions he should answer.
The pause, naturally, gave the reporters the chance to shout more questions in a never-ending cycle. If he stood right here and had the pilot circle Detroit until they ran out of fuel, the reporters would still be shouting questions at him as long as the coffee ran hot and strong.
The life of a presidential candidate. Nothing but glamour.
She hadn’t asked him a question.
The object of his unwilling and unrelenting fascination was Liza Wilson, the newest addition to his traveling family of fun. Thirty-seven and divorced, she was the popular senior Washington correspondent for one of the big three networks.
As if that didn’t keep her busy enough, she also worked on that network’s cable news affiliate as an analyst and was reputedly in negotiations for the evening news anchor position. If she got the job—and she had the chops for it, no question, having covered both political and military wars—she’d be both the youngest and first African-American anchor, ever.
She had a reputation for brashness, and the word was that her executive producers had their hands full managing her. He could believe it. A Chicagoan born and bred, she’d graduated from Northwestern and had a Georgetown MBA in journalism. Brilliant, ambitious and hardworking, tough but fair in her coverage, which was always scrupulously ethical, she’d won a handful of Emmy Awards and a Peabody or two, and he supposed she wanted to win another handful of awards for primary coverage now that she was embedded with him.
Embedded. In bed with.
Something deep in his gut awakened and sizzled with awareness. That thing, whatever it was, fixated on Liza Wilson with unnerving focus even though he had zero time, opportunity or desire for romance here in the fishbowl. If he did have time, though, she would be the first and only name on his list of potential lovers.
Unfortunately, it was a moot point.
His life was about one thing only: winning the nomination and then the presidency.
Period. End of story.
So look away from the pretty woman, Warner.
Yeeeeeaaaaah … No.
Point-three seconds was all he could manage before his gaze was drawn right back to where she sat in her remote corner of the plane.
What was it about that woman?
Why couldn’t he ever remember that she irritated him like a pebble in his shoe or an un-scratchable itch between his shoulder blades? Why weren’t his overactive hormones getting the message?
Yeah, he didn’t like her. It was the arrogant tilt of her chin that did it, her thin veil of contempt, the way she gave the clear impression that she was deigning to acknowledge his bothersome presence whenever she asked a question in that husky-sexy voice. As if his existence was an annoyance to her even though she made her livelihood off of him and his activities.
But … she was, as the Commodores would say, a brick house.
He’d noticed over the years, sure. The problem was, seeing her on TV and seeing her in person were two very different things.
Seeing her on TV was pleasant. Seeing her in person was … startling.
If he could’ve put together a Perfect Body Wish List—breasts, butt, legs, hips, in that order—Liza Wilson would have been the spectacular result. And yet that didn’t fully account for her appeal; last week, during one of his fundraising stops in L.A., he’d been propositioned by three—no, four—mouth-watering starlets, but starlets didn’t interest him. Liza Wilson did, for elusive, intangible reasons that seemed to have nothing to do with her body.
Partially because of her wide brown eyes, which were tilted at the edges like a cat’s and mocked him every time she spoke to him. Partially because of the velvety warmth of her brown skin as it disappeared beneath the neckline of whatever she was wearing on any given day, revealing a hint—always just a hint—of breasts that would overflow his hands. Partially because of the way her tender lips curved and her sleek black hair, which was short and angled on one side, always slipped over the corner of one eye like she was giving him a come-hither look—yeah, right, Warner, you wish—or had a delicious secret to tell.
His gut tightened with unrequited lust.
As a candidate who had the misfortune of being both widowed for the last ten years and the focal point of enough media and print reporters to fill a football stadium, he was doomed to celibacy until at least the first Wednesday in November, if then, unless he was prepared to jeopardize the campaign by turning it into a tabloid circus focused on his private life, which he wasn’t.
Votes were too hard to come by without risking them for something as ultimately meaningless as sex. Why take the chance? It wasn’t like he was in the market for a wife.
Attractive women everywhere, therefore, were an annoyance to him and this one was no different. There was, in other words, nothing special about Liza Wilson.
So … if he didn’t like her and wasn’t going to seduce her, why couldn’t he just ignore her? Why did he always feel this gnawing compulsion to engage her?
The reporters had quieted down a little and he spoke into the dull roar.
“What was that, Liza?” he asked on impulse. “I didn’t hear you.”
Five rows back, Liza started with surprise and looked up from her notes.
Even though John knew damn well she’d been the only journalist on the plane who hadn’t asked him a question, he cupped a hand to his ear, cocked his head, and waited for her reaction. No journalist worth her salt would pass up the chance to ask the candidate a question, Liza least of all.
All the other reporters shut up and looked back over their seats at Liza, craning their necks to keep her in sight. John felt a moment’s guilty pleasure at catching her unawares and forcing her to acknowledge his existence in one fell swoop.
Guilty pleasure and the slow burn of excitement. Mostly the latter.
But then she gave him a shrewd smile, studied him with those cool, disdainful eyes and asked a question on the one lousy topic that had been simmering along without erupting into the full rolling boil he’d hoped to avoid.
“I was just asking,” she lied smoothly in that smoky voice that was like the stroke of her fingers low across his belly, “whether your spending time here with us at the back of the plane is part of a new policy for you?”
John schooled his features, refusing to wince.
“A new policy?” he echoed, stalling for time.
“A new policy of greater press access.” Those arched eyebrows inched higher, making her look wide-eyed and earnest and not at all like the circling shark that she was. “Because it’s been three days since you answered any questions at length, and when you do talk to us here on the plane you almost always insist on things being off the record. Meanwhile, Senator Fitzgerald gives her press corps twenty minutes every day …”
Liza let the delicate innuendo hang. Senator Warner hides from the press while his opponent Senator Fitzgerald gives her correspondents free access.
The moment stretched but John refused to squirm even though he saw a clear gotcha in Liza’s bright eyes. Even if no one else could see it, he could. As he scrambled to frame an answer that wouldn’t land his butt in the frying pan with the heat on high, only one thing was on his mind, and it wasn’t the press and its level of access to him, free or otherwise, and it wasn’t his opponent or the primary season.
Why didn’t he know by now not to mess with Liza Wilson?