Behind the Red Doorsby Vicki Lewis Thompson, Stephanie Bond, Leslie Kelly
Door #1-Vicki Lewis Thompson
Jamie Ruskin never considered using her knowledge of aromatherapy to help her attract men-until now. This Valentine's Day, she's going to get the guy she's lusted after for years-rugged Dev Sherman. Armed with essential, sensual oils, Jamie's planning to seduce Dev's senses-and then hope that the rest of him will follow..../p>/b>… See more details below
Door #1-Vicki Lewis Thompson
Jamie Ruskin never considered using her knowledge of aromatherapy to help her attract men-until now. This Valentine's Day, she's going to get the guy she's lusted after for years-rugged Dev Sherman. Armed with essential, sensual oils, Jamie's planning to seduce Dev's senses-and then hope that the rest of him will follow....
Door #2-Stephanie Bond
Faith Sherman never thought she'd set eyes on her first and only love, gorgeous Carter Grayson, again. So she's surprised-and privately thrilled-when she discovers he's the new security guard at The Red Doors. At least, until Carter asks Faith to help him pick out a diamond ring-for another woman....
Door #3-Leslie Kelly
Schoolteacher Meg O'Rourke never guessed when she agreed to let "Shear Delights," a trendy new Chicago salon, use her digital photo that her image would be displayed wearing the scantiest, sexiest underthings she'd ever seen. Or that one customer, in particular, would really like what he saw....
There's someone for everyone...
Behind the Red Doors
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Behind The Red Doors
By Vicki Lewis Thompson
Harlequin Enterprises LimitedCopyright © 2003 Harlequin Enterprises Limited
All right reserved.
Chapter OneValentine's Day, 2001
If money couldn't buy happiness, it sure could buy a kick-ass bottle of champagne. And sipping pricey bubbles in Chicago's famous Pump Room was making Jamie feel extremely happy. To think that she, a janitor's daughter, could now afford a meal here. Even more astounding, Dev Sherman, the man of her dreams, sat across the linen-draped table from her.
If Jamie raised her champagne glass to block out her view of Dev's sister, Faith, sitting on her right, her fantasy of a Valentine's evening with Dev was complete. But since Faith was Jamie's best friend, it didn't seem right to do such a thing. Besides, taking Dev to the Pump Room had been Faith's idea, a way of thanking him for turning both Faith and Jamie onto some wildly profitable dot.com stocks.
They'd bought low and sold high on Dev's advice. Now they were ready to kiss his feet. They called him Broker Man, able to pierce the veil of the future with a single glance of his laser-blue eyes. Jamie was ready to kiss more than his feet, actually. Dev owned the franchise on tall, dark and delicious.
For years she'd been careful not to let either Dev or, more important, Faith, know about her gargantuan crush. Dev was a Sherman, of the Evansville Shermans.His dates played tennis at old-money clubs and sailed yachts on Lake Michigan. Jamie was a Ruskin, of the Irving Park Ruskins. Her dates played basketball in the park and fished off the pier.
Jamie Marie Ruskin had nothing in common with Deverell Heathcliff Sherman the Fourth except, potentially, sex. When people were naked they lost their class distinctions, or so she liked to think, and a hot session between the sheets required more moaning than sophisticated conversation.
But she'd never get there with Dev, because her lack of glamour and polish rendered her nearly invisible to him, she was sure. She was so out of his league that she didn't try to pretend otherwise. Joking about her lack of sophistication had become her special brand of self-protection.
Dev put down his champagne glass and leaned his forearms on the table. "So, have you two decided what business you're going into?"
"I'm still deciding what fork to use for the dessert I just ordered," Jamie said. "Who knew dining out could get so complicated?"
"She's trying to change the subject," Faith said.
"I've come up with a dynamite concept, but Jamie has yet to see how great it is."
"I'm not that negative about it," Jamie said, glancing at her friend. Faith had inherited the Sherman genes for height and dark hair. The hair was okay with Faith, but she complained about her height, especially to Jamie, who was five-three.
"You're not particularly positive, either," Faith said. "Okay, picture this, Dev. Three boutiques under one roof, each with glamorous gift items for women. We rent the bottom two floors of the Sherman Building, right in the Loop so businessmen will use it to shop for their wives and girlfriends."
"There's an art gallery in there," Dev said.
"I already checked with them, and they're not renewing. Think Dad would give us a break? Assuming I can arm-wrestle Jamie into going along with the idea, that is."
"Dad's always a question mark, but maybe." Dev didn't look enthusiastic. "What kind of gift items?"
"Lingerie, jewelry and fragrances. One-stop shopping for that special woman." Faith blew out a breath. "Dev, your eyes are glazing over."
"Sorry. Just not my area, I guess."
"Now you see why Faith has to put a hammer-lock on me," Jamie said. "For a gemologist and glamour-puss like her, it makes sense. For a computer nerd and female jock like me, who thinks carats are what you put in stew and facets are what you turn on to get water -"
"You're into aromatherapy!" Faith said. "The fragrance boutique would be a natural for you."
"Wrong," Jamie said. "I like fooling with essential oils because it reminds me of chemistry class. I would be useless trying to sell the stuff. I'd probably bore people to death trying to explain the inherent properties of each oil when all the customer wants is to smell good."
"You don't have to sell," Faith said. "You can consult. You can -"
"You know what's wrong with girlie stores like that?" Dev laid his knife across his plate. "Sorting through racks of women's underwear is not a manly thing to do. And how the hell do I know what jewelry would look good? And perfume is another land mine. After I've smelled three different kinds, my nose turns off. I know women are experts at all of this, but -"
"I'm not." Then Jamie noticed how discouraged Faith looked and felt sorry that she'd been such a wet blanket. "But I'm trainable."
Faith brightened. "Yes, you definitely are that."
"And I'm sure a store like this would be perfect on Michigan Avenue."
"Plus your current job sucks," Faith offered helpfully.
"Yes, my current job sucks, so peddling undies and good-smelling stuff to urban professional guys would be a step up."
"I just don't know how you're going to get the guys in there," Dev said. "Now if you could computerize it so all they had to do was push a button, then you'd have something."
"How romantic." Faith sounded testy. "You remind me of Dad. I -"
"Wait a minute." Jamie's ears started to buzz, the way they did when a most excellent idea was incoming. Or maybe it was the champagne. At any rate, her brain was heating up. At times like this, her brothers swore that even her hair got redder. "Wait a minute!" She looked at Dev and Faith, her heart pounding with either excitement or too much booze, hard to tell which. What the hell, might as well share. "I have an idea."
Faith shook her head. "I don't want to get into mail order."
"We wouldn't do mail order." Her idea might look stupid in the morning, but after three glasses of champagne, it ranked right up there with the theory of relativity. "We have the shops, like you said, but in a different part we have computer kiosks. Guys feed info in, get gift suggestions out, order them, have them delivered to an order desk. No racks of underwear to face."
Dev and Faith stared at her, their mouths open.
"Wow," Faith said. "That's ... that's a ground-breaking idea, Jamie."
"It's more than that," Dev said. "It's your ticket. You lay that idea in front of Dad, and I guarantee he'll cut you a deal on the rent. He'll want to see that place open just so he can use it to buy gifts for Mom."
Jamie peered at them. "Are you just saying that because you're a little tipsy, too?"
"Faith will have to speak for herself," Dev said. "Guys don't get tipsy. They get wasted - which I'm not."
"Me, either." Faith glanced at Jamie. "Are you?"
"Maybe. Yeah, I think so."
Excerpted from Behind The Red Doors by Vicki Lewis Thompson Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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