Authors: Nicola Marsh
She dragged in a deep breath, then exhaled in a rush. “Do you love me?”
She threw it at him, casual and defiant, like it meant nothing, when it meant everything.
“Love you? I’m frigging crazy for you.” He reached for her and she opened her arms. But something was lost in the execution and they ended up tumbling onto the floor in a tangle of arms and legs that made her robe gape.
He traced a fingertip along her collarbones, dipping into the hollow between them. “Looks like the woman I
is trying to seduce me yet again.”
“Is it working?” She batted her eyelashes and he laughed, a deep, throaty chuckle that made her feel warm and fuzzy.
He shifted her onto his lap to prove it.
Jess gave an appreciative purr but they weren’t done talking yet. “Before we get to the good stuff, just so you know, I’ll be joining you in Sydney shortly. Don’t know what I’ll do for work yet, but if I pulled together this wedding fast, reckon I could pretty much do anything.”
“Agreed.” Jack nuzzled her neck, inhaling her addictive lilac fragrance, eternally grateful he’d get the chance to smell it for a long time. “Though I wouldn’t worry. We could always use an enthusiastic kitchen hand at the restaurant.”
She playfully shoved him. “You expect me to be shackled barefoot to a sink?”
“You forgot the pregnant part.” His teasing smile faded as he tipped up her chin. “How about it, Jess? You and me for the long haul?”
Jess’s heart stalled before kick starting with a mighty wallop. “Did you just—”
“Propose?” He nodded, the surprising sheen in his sincere stare making her tear up. “I figured I’ve wasted a decade. Why waste any more time making an honest woman out of you?”
Unable to comprehend how fast they’d moved from the disastrous relationship-ending confrontation on the beach to this, Jess remained mute as Jack shifted her gently back onto the sofa so he could kneel in front of her.
He took her hand, raised it to his lips and brushed a soft kiss across her knuckles. “Will you marry me, Jess Harper? Woman of many talents. Librarian. Wedding planner. Burlesque Bombshell in disguise.”
“Hell yeah.” She launched herself at him and they landed on the floor again, laughing and kissing and rolling around. “You know all that sexy stuff isn’t the real me? I just wore it for a bit of courage.”
He cupped her face between his hands. “You don’t need stuff to make you sexy, sweetheart, because you’re the sexiest woman I’ve ever met, inside and out.”
His lips caressed hers in a slow, seductive kiss that left her breathless and anxious to continue this conversation with less talk and less clothes.
“Though I kinda like the idea of bringing that blindfold along on our honeymoon…” he whispered, tugging on the robe’s sash. “Speaking of honeymoons, let’s start practicing now.”
Jess didn’t think they needed any practice in that department whatsoever but if it meant making love with her sexy fiancé, she couldn’t agree more.
A sneak preview of BLUSH, Adele and Reid’s story, coming in 2013
Reid Harper had shaken enough hands and kissed enough babies and faked enough smiles to last him a lifetime.
His political dream? Fast turning into a nightmare. And he couldn’t tell one damn person about it.
Certainly not his sister Jess, who looked radiant tonight, at the wedding of Dorian Gibbs, a friend and campaign investor. He had his best friend Jack McVeigh to thank for Jess’s glow. Inevitable, those two getting together. He was happy for them. The only glimmer of happiness in his fucked up life lately.
And now his sis wanted to introduce him to some sexy redhead who’d probably distract him for a few hours. Not a bad plan. If he didn’t know that once this wedding ended he’d be on Dorian’s private jet flying back to Vegas and a ton of problems.
He wasn’t in the mood for more schmoozing. Or flirting, for that matter. Which went a long way to explaining his lousy mindset.
How long since he’d got laid? Three months? Six? Contrary to popular belief, politicians weren’t copping blowjobs from interns behind the photocopier. At least, this one wasn’t.
He’d been too busy cleaning up other people’s messes and ensuring he maintained a squeaky clean reputation to bother with sex.
As they drew closer to the redhead, he wished he were sticking around on the island a little longer to remedy that fact.
Jess touched his arm. “Reid, I’d like you to meet Adele. She’s an accountant at Burlesque Bombshell.”
Out of habit, he held out his hand. “Pleased to meet you.”
A trite greeting he’d trotted out countless times before. But never had he experienced a jolt as Adele placed her hand in his.
“Likewise,” she said, a blush staining her cheeks a beguiling pink, accentuating the startling blue of her eyes.
She had pale porcelain skin that would be prone to blushing, not that many mature women did that these days. At least, not the worldly women he associated with. Ball breakers, most of them.
But what captured his attention most was her russet hair piled in a loose up-do leaving tendrils trailing her neck, a rich, dark red no colorist could ever hope to emulate.
Quickly followed by the purely horndog thought, was she a natural red all over?
When Jess laughed, he realized he still had Adele’s hand clasped in his and was gawking at her like an adolescent.
“I’ll leave you two to get better acquainted.” Jess slung her arms around their shoulders for a brief hug. “Have fun.”
Feeling more pumped than he had in ages, Reid intended to. He waited until Jess headed for the beach in search of Jack before turning his full attention to the lovely Adele.
“You’re an accountant?”
Nice opening gambit, Harper. Real smooth. Not
The bridge of her nose crinkled. “Yeah, but don’t hold that against me.”
He held up his hands in mock surrender. “Hey, I’m a politician. Can’t get any worse than that.”
“Why do you do it then?”
Her bluntness surprised him. Not many women were so forthright, especially with a guy like him. Amazing, the number of social-climbing, power-hungry females who would fawn and defer to him in the hope of getting a boost up the society ladder by latching on.
None of them had intrigued him as much as this refreshingly honest woman.
“Because I was an idealistic fool who had big plans, big dreams and big hopes when I started out.”
“And now?” Her blue eyes twinkled with mischief and his interest in sex surged to life in a big way.
“I’m a weary, jaded soul in search of…”
What? New horizons? New challenges? New thrills?
She leaned forward a fraction, waiting for his response, and he caught a glimpse of cleavage.
Yep, must slot time into his busy schedule for sex.
“I want something more,” he said, his fingertips inadvertently brushing the soft skin on the inside of her wrist, sending a jolt of lust straight to his dick. “What about you?”
She stepped into him, her sultry vanilla fragrance enveloping him in a sensual cocoon, as she murmured in his ear, “I’m all for more too.”
Look out for BLUSH in summer 2013.
In the meantime, here’s a preview of CRAZY LOVE, out now.
Cupid’s Dating Tips for the Enlightened Male
Acknowledge you don’t look like George Clooney (and get over it.)
“I’m in love.”
Sierra Kent ignored her loquacious BFF Belle and focused on her PC, her French manicured nails flying over the keyboard as she entered Love Byte’s latest batch of dating applicants. “Sure you are, hon. It’s where we live and it’s—”
“What makes the world go round. Yeah, yeah, heard it all before.”
Belle Adamson, her best friend since grade school, wandered behind the desk to peer over her shoulder. “Save the BS for your clients because I’m not buying it. Besides, I only said that to get your attention.”
Sierra paused, surprised by Belle’s bitter tone.
Belle ignored the question, her green eyes widening as she stared at the computer screen.
“The agency’s latest applicant.” Sierra glanced at the photo she’d downloaded and wolf-whistled. “Pretty damn hot, huh?”
Belle fanned her face. “Any chance of matching me with him?”
“What happened to being in love?”
“I meant our town, obviously.” Belle grinned, her gaze riveted to the screen. “Now start matchmaking.”
Sierra laughed and erased the image of applicant 8049 with a tap on the delete key. “This is a dating agency, not a matchmaking service.”
Belle arched a perfectly shaped eyebrow. “The difference is?”
“Fill out the forms like everyone else, let me input your info into trusty Cupid and his megabytes will statistically find you a suitable date.” She snapped her fingers. “And hand over the hundred dollar fee like everyone else.”
“What do I get for the matchmaking service?”
“A bottle of tequila, a push-up bra and free entry into Venus for a night?”
Belle screwed up her nose and perched on the edge of the desk. “I’m sick of the cowboys and out-of-towners in that joint. Besides,” she patted the sides of her DD breasts and smirked like a woman well aware of her assets, “I get by on what the good Lord gave me. Though the tequila sounds like a plan.”
“Mexican? My place at seven?”
“We talking food or a tall, dark, handsome stranger from south of the border?”
“That applicant was blond. Nice to know you’re not fussy.”
Belle slid off the desk, tugged her pastel pink beautician’s uniform over her lush curves and picked up her handbag.
“With my luck lately I’d settle for a Martian.”
“I hear it’s not the size of the antenna that’s important, it’s the way the Martian wiggles it.”
Belle performed an imaginary drum roll complete with cymbal crash. “An oldie but a goodie. Later, babe.”
As Belle strolled out of the office working her hips, Sierra wondered why her gorgeous friend hadn’t found love yet. Curvy, stacked blondes were always the rage yet Belle hadn’t been serious about a guy since…ever.
Sierra put it down to the intimidation factor. Guys took one look at Belle’s hot bod and movie star blonde bombshell attitude and bolted for the nearest cold shower and porno flick, not necessarily in that order.
And despite her interest in Love Byte, Belle had never let Sierra input her data into the computer. “
I’m not a desperado. Yet
.” Was her usual spiel but now she’d turned thirty, who knew?
Besides, it was difficult coping with single-dom when surrounded by Love. Ask the town’s twelve thousand inhabitants who happily touted the emotion to anyone willing to listen.
And people did. Crowds flocked to the only place in the good ol’ US of A that promised the often unattainable for those lucky enough to visit.
Personally, Sierra preferred LA for its hip vibe. Instead, she was stuck an hour south of the City of Angels, surrounded by kitschy reminders of an emotion she touted for a living but didn’t believe in.
Dolores Kent did, which is why Sierra had been here since the age of ten, when her dad ran off and her mom settled in the hope of finding the fabled love the town promised. It never eventuated and Dolores now resided in Nepal trying to find nirvana on a higher plain.
Despite Sierra’s initial loathing, the place had grown on her. Thanks to a stint on Letterman a few years back Love had blossomed with lonely hearts flocking in droves, eager to test the theory the town lived up to its name.
With Sierra’s input, it did. She loved computers and loved people, and her passion for matchmaking had created Love Byte, one of California’s largest Internet dating sites.
People thought it romantic to be matched in Love. She found it corny yet lucrative and she’d proudly watched her business grow from working out of her back room with a single computer and a few local applicants to an office, a plethora of virtual assistants and enough work to keep her in the designer gear she coveted.
It hadn’t hurt when Hollywood’s resident bad-boy Porter Davey, researching a part in his latest blockbuster romantic comedy about dating in the twenty-first century, had stumbled across her website. He’d plugged his name in as a joke, filled out an application and been totally blown away when matched with Jaime Sutton, the darling of the Australian tennis world.
Jaime, whose coach was a born and bred Lovernian, had entered her data into Love Byte’s computer as part of a promotion to coincide with her first sponsorship deal with a Silicon Valley mega corporation, and Sierra hadn’t removed it.
Neither Porter nor Jaime had minded her gaff and when the two met at her office where she’d called an emergency meeting to apologize for the mistake, they’d taken one look at each other and fallen head over heels.
She’d milked every drop of PR from the Davey-Sutton match and as a result had enough business to last into the next decade.
Sipping at her cappuccino, Sierra opened her sixtieth email for the afternoon, her attention momentarily snagged by yet another gorgeous guy with come-get-me eyes and a dimpled smile. Her job was tough but somebody had to do it and she tilted her head to one side, wondering if the picture had been Photo-shopped.
As she leaned forward for a closer look, the outer bell rang and she winced as the first few bars of “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You” pealed out. The tacky factor always made her cringe but the customers loved it. And what the paying patrons loved she provided. She’d wasted enough years rebelling against the town and all it stood for before finally realizing if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em.
“I’ll be with you in a sec,” she called out, hitting ‘save’ before leaving her PC, having learned diligence the hard way via a computer crash in the early days that left her manic for a week.
Though it hadn’t been all bad. The computer geek from LA had turned out to be anything but and they’d created a few wham-bam crashes of the horizontal kind while he’d been in town. Something she didn’t usually do but hey, she’d always been a sucker for a kindred spirit and Mr. Motherboard had been a loner, one with nice pecs and dimples to boot. They’d flirted, they’d danced, they’d fooled around a bit.