Play Dirty (Wages of Sin #2) - Neve Wilder

Prologue

Madigan

“Pardon.” The voice was decadent like chocolate and poured into Madigan’s ear as smoothly as top shelf whiskey. “You won’t mind if I ask the bartender to switch to the Manchester United game?”

Madigan considered the man inclining his chin toward the nearest screen. He’d been aware of him the moment he’d sat down. Though there’d been several other spots to choose from, the man hadn’t left the customary stool in between. No, he’d taken the one right next to Madigan, and Madigan had given him an acknowledging once over, noting the tailored three-piece suit but careful to keep his gaze from overstaying its welcome. Dubai wasn’t a free-for-all meat market like some of his favorite haunts in NYC, after all.

The timepiece on the stranger’s wrist was elegant, and even the subtle hint of cologne Madigan detected was tasteful and subdued. Woodsy with notes of citrus that were beguiling rather than overpowering, that invited someone to lean closer—though Madigan didn’t. For the last half hour, he’d played the innocuous observer, noting that the man didn’t fidget whatsoever and that he was drinking Scotch, which was a story in itself, considering his accent.

The question got Madigan’s attention, though, for the way it wasn’t truly a question and because the corners of the man’s mouth tilted slightly. Not an outright smirk, but the hint of one. Arrogance. Instead of finding it off-putting, Madigan, being a cocky bastard himself, was intrigued. He arched a brow. “It’s already on down there.”

“Not quite the same experience, though, is it? Watching from afar versus seeing it right in front of you?” The man’s smile didn’t waver. Practiced. Fake.

Madigan bet he wasn’t used to having to hold it for so long before he got what he wanted. That hunch widened Madigan’s smile. “You act as if we’re sitting in the stands instead of at a bar. What’s the difference?”

The man shrugged. “The difference is that I won’t have to crane my neck. And besides”—he flicked a finger toward the screen—“this is as close as I’ll get in the foreseeable future.” Madi took that tiny bit of information in as the man prompted him with a direct look. “You can watch a Bulls rerun any time.”

He had a point. Madigan was only being difficult because he was intrigued. The man was undeniably striking, with black hair, sleek and shiny as onyx, and eyes that matched. He had the aristocratic and authoritarian air of a sheikh, except he wasn’t because Madigan knew every one of them currently in the area. He’d been tracking a select handful of them for months—all part of a job he’d conclude tomorrow.

The bartender looked between the two of them, waiting for an answer, and Madigan finally gave him the go-ahead nod to change the channel. He felt the man’s eyes on him, tangible as a touch, even after he’d turned back to his drink and focused on the soccer match.

“How about I buy your next whiskey?”

Madigan turned his head, settling the full weight of his gaze on the man and letting his eyes rove slowly from polished wingtips to the trousers pulled tight over muscular thighs, and then to the tan vee of skin peeking from the unbuttoned collar of the stranger’s button down, before finally meeting his eyes. “I don’t think that’s what I’m thirsty for.”

Madigan noted when the man’s gaze darted to his left hand, where a simple platinum wedding band adorned his ring finger. Were Madigan to pull out his wallet, it would be full of family photographs, expertly Photoshopped: two young daughters, a blonde wife, a Michigan driver’s license. Just another American businessman.

The man seemed to hesitate, and Madigan turned away. He’d misjudged maybe, but it was no skin off his back. There were other places in the city to score a quick lay. Safer, too. It was just that Madigan liked to tempt danger once in a while.

He tossed back the rest of his drink and slid his payment over the counter for his tab.

“Wait.” The man’s touch was light on Madigan’s forearm but stalled him as effectively as a cuff around his wrist. There was no imperative in his tone; it was as smooth as the rest of his speech. A strong, seductive suggestion rather than anything approaching a plea. The touch was quickly gone but left an impression of heat that lingered.

From the inner pocket of his jacket, the man produced a keycard and set it next to Madigan’s right hand. “Room 1420.”

Madigan promptly pushed it away with his

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