Read an Excerpt
By Rhonda Nelson
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter One"WHAT AM I WEARING?" Rowan Crosswhite echoed into the phone, her voice artfully pitched to a breathy sultry purr. Grimacing, she used the hem of her T-shirt and her frayed denim cutoffs to clean the majority of the potting soil from her hands, then took up her watering can. "I'm wearing a black leather bustier, fishnet hose and stiletto heels."
The fabricated description lacked originality, yes, but thus far in her experience in the phone sex business, she'd learned that any imaginative effort she put into her descriptions wasn't appreciated. So why bother?
When Rowan had first considered selling phone sex, she'd worried about being appropriately creative, about fabricating a believable performance for the men who dialed her number. She'd even called a couple of 1-900 numbers for research purposes because being prepared was the keystone to any successful venture, and her near-manic obsession with doing everything to the absolute best of her ability - even something as seedy as being a phone sex operator - had prevented her from doing otherwise.
The research had been a wasted effort and she'd worried needlessly about conjuring a suitable performance. In fact, ironically, she'd learned the less said the better. Rowan rolled her eyes. Hell, all shereally had to do was gasp, wince and moan - easy to do, particularly when one was, say, cleaning the toilet or weeding a flower bed - and the guys, thank God, took care of the rest. One of the many advantages of phone sex. And, surprisingly, there were many. First of all - most importantly - it was safe. There was no risk of abuse or disease, and if a guy freaked her out, all she had to do was sever the connection and block the number. She mentally shrugged. Simple enough. Furthermore, and equally important given her recent unfortunate circumstances, it was lucrative. At $3.99 a minute, where the average call hovered around the twelve-minute mark, that was roughly $240 an hour. Her lips twitched. Considerably more than her previous job as a high-school science teacher.
Just a year shy of tenure, Rowan had been one of the unlucky souls left unemployed by deep state budget cuts. Her boss at Middleton High had promised that as soon as the funds were available, she'd be under contract again.
Regrettably, until then, more panting, moaning and wincing would be in order - and the more dramatic the better - otherwise she'd ultimately starve and, much to the detriment of her heavily padded thighs, she liked food entirely too much to go hungry.
Since she'd been paying off student loans and attending night school to get her master's degree, Rowan had been caught with a grand total of $633 in savings, even less in checking and nothing - aside from a 1962 Chevrolet Corvette that had belonged to her father, and for which she would prostitute herself in the literal sense to keep if need be - of any value to sell.
She did substitute teaching when she could, but that income hadn't been enough, or even dependable, for that matter. Then she'd read an article about a woman who, in similar circumstances, had morphed herself into a phone sex entrepreneur, and the rest had been history. She'd weighed the advantages and disadvantages, deemed it a good temporary choice, then installed her line and invested in a good mobile headset.
This freed up her hands and allowed her to do the things that she really loved - gardening, stained glass and metal-working. Tinkering, according to her father. Her shoulders sagged with disappointment. Initially, she'd tried to make ends meet by selling her garden art, but unfortunately - and this thoroughly baffled her - no one seemed to get her style. Rowan cast a glance around her eclectic garden - whimsical metalwork, stained-glass whirligigs, antique roses, bulbs and vines - and swallowed a despondent sigh. Screw 'em, she thought, the tasteless traditional cads. She was an artiste. Her garden thrived and made her happy, which when one really thought about it, was all that mattered anyway.
A stuttered breath hissed across the line, cut through her musings. "Wh - what about your panties? What do they look like?"
Rowan glanced at her watch. She'd had this guy on the phone for eight minutes. Time to finish up. She had some impatiens to transplant, and her roses were looking a little droopy.
"I don't wear panties," she lied breathlessly.
"They ... constrict."
Predictably, the line worked. A garbled groan and the telltale whine of a zipper echoed into her ear.
She lowered her voice. "Can I tell you a secret, Jeff?" she asked, purposely using his name. It played into the whole say-my-name, who's-your- daddy mentality. Sheesh. Men were pathetically predictable.
"Sometimes ... when I'm alone ... I like to touch myself." She barely suppressed a snigger. Rowan Crosswhite, former high-school science teacher turned kinky phone sex queen.
Another broken hiss sounded. "Are you - Are you touching yourself now?"
"Oh, I want to, Jeff. Do you want me to?"
"Oh, God, yes."
"Then I should probably lie down." Rowan affected a dramatic wince. "My sheets are cool ... especially since I'm so hot." That wasn't a complete lie. It was hot. And humid, she thought pulling her tank top away from her chest, a vain effort to circulate a little air beneath her shirt.
A harsh breath stuttered across the line. "How hot are you?"
"I'm on fire, Jeff. I'm imagining that you're touching me. Can I touch you?"
Excerpted from 1-900-Lover by Rhonda Nelson Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.