After the U.S. president-elect dies during sex with a hooker at the high-class residence where Emma Jamison is working as a butler, her world falls apart. Fleeing the premises in a state of undress, Emma gets tabbed by the media as the hooker involved, which she isn't, and is further victimized by a Secret Service coverup. Broke and disgraced, she takes a housekeeping job at her grandmother's retirement home in the small town of Chartreuse, La., where she's determined to lead an obscure and blameless life. But Emma hasn't counted on her outrageous grandmother's sexual shenanigans with a handsome Alzheimer's patient; on her own attraction to the man's grandson, local district attorney Max Duval; or on an ambitious young reporter dogging her trail. Despite the saucy premise, Wells's (The Babe Magnet) madcap and enjoyable romantic comedy is only mildly spicy. (Feb.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Between the Sheetsby Robin Wells
How do you have a life when everyone in America thinks you gave the president-elect a fatal heart attack during an illicit sex romp?
Emma Jamison never thought she'd have to answer that question, but here she is, smack dab in the middle of a political scandal that would make Monica Lewinsky blush. Trouble is, nobody believes that Emma wasn't the call-girl who
How do you have a life when everyone in America thinks you gave the president-elect a fatal heart attack during an illicit sex romp?
Emma Jamison never thought she'd have to answer that question, but here she is, smack dab in the middle of a political scandal that would make Monica Lewinsky blush. Trouble is, nobody believes that Emma wasn't the call-girl who killed the president-to-be with her, uh, carnal skills.
So Emma packs up and moves to small-town Chartreuse, LA, to escape her infamy and to start over. But when her grandmother starts dating the grandfather of district attorney Max Duval, the quiet life she was seeking blows up in smoke.
When professional butler Emma Jamison is mistakenly identified as the call girl who was with the president-elect when he died of a heart attack, she moves to tiny Chartreuse, LA, to ride out the scandal and start over. But being seen with Max Duval, the hunky DA who is in a tough, mud-slinging election campaign, is no way to keep a low profile, especially with a persistent tabloid reporter on the loose. When their elderly grandparents, who live at the retirement home that Emma manages, decide to have a fling, the media frenzy begins. Both tenderly funny and outright hilarious, this sexy, lively romp gently touches on some serious issues but highlights romance and is enhanced by delightful, sometimes confused seniors who, in many ways, are the stars of the book. Wells (The Babe Magnet) lives near New Orleans.
- Grand Central Publishing
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- 4.25(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.25(d)
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Between the Sheets
By Robin Wells Forever
Copyright © 2008
All right reserved.
Chapter One B.C. (Before Catastrophe)
The call girl's naked thigh made a sucking sound on the limousine's black leather upholstery as she scooted her miniskirted bottom closer to President-Elect Ferguson. "You're a lot handsomer in person than you are on TV," she purred.
Oh, give me a break, thought Special Agent Allen Gromstedt as he peered in the limo's rear-view mirror and saw the brunette press a silicone-stuffed breast against the gray-haired man's arm. With his huge honker and flabby jowls, Ferguson was about as handsome as a scabbed knee.
Gromstedt turned his attention back to the traffic on St. Charles Avenue and tried to ignore the couple in the rear of the limo, but their presence was inescapable. The hothouse scent of the woman's perfume wended its way through the lowered partition to the front seat. It was expensive perfume, not the drugstore stuff like Gromstedt's wife wore. Hell, it ought to be expensive, he thought as he steered around a double-parked utility truck. For three hundred dollars an hour, she ought to smell like gold bullion.
"You're taller than I thought you were." The woman's hand squeezed the old man's bicep through the jacket of his dark navy wool suit. "Ooh-and bigger, too. I just lo-o-o-ve big men. I bet you're big all over."
Oh, brother. Gromstedt braked for a red light at the Napoleon Street intersection and stared straight through the windshield, deliberately avoiding eye contact with John Stokes, the dark-haired agent seated beside him. The Secret Service had trained them to act as if they didn't see or hear any of their VIPs' conversations, but this was so cheesy that Gromstedt was afraid he couldn't look at Stokes without accidentally smirking or rolling his eyes.
It wasn't like he hadn't been warned. Stokes had worked the Ferguson detail during the campaign, and he'd given Gromstedt all the scoop on the plane flight from D.C. to New Orleans that morning.
"The old man keeps the partition rolled down because he likes to show off his lady-killer prowess," he'd told him. "He thinks he's impressing us or something."
To Gromstedt's way of thinking, it didn't count as prowess if the woman was bought and paid for, and all of Ferguson's were.
"He says it's not adultery if he hires them," Stokes had explained. "He says if he pays for it, it's just a business transaction."
Gromstedt could imagine how well that logic would go over with Mrs. Ferguson. But then, if he were married to the hatchet-faced old broad, he might look for ways around the fine print, too. The image of his own wife flitted through his mind. He'd hit the jackpot when he'd married Sara, that was for sure. Twenty-two years of marriage, and he'd never once been tempted to stray.
"What Ferguson does is his own business, I guess," Gromstedt had replied.
"It's kinda our business, too."
Something in Stokes's voice had made Gromstedt cut him a sharp look.
"What do you mean?"
"It's our job to get him the girl."
"Well, he can't just go out and hire one himself," Stokes had said.
The light changed. Gromstedt lifted his foot from the brake and eased it onto the gas. This whole call girl thing made him uneasy, but it wasn't the old man's ethics that bothered him. It wasn't even his own.
It was the idea of getting caught. He had twenty years invested with the Secret Service, not to mention a wife, two kids in college, and a mortgage. He couldn't afford to get busted for hiring a hooker.
Stokes was the one who'd handled the actual hiring transaction, but Gromstedt was driving the limo, so he was in just as deep. They'd picked her up at the Hyton Hotel on Canal Street an hour earlier as Ferguson addressed a national conference of teachers, then made her hide under a tarp in the far back of the limo as Ferguson climbed in.
"Does agency brass know about this?" Gromstedt had asked Stokes.
"And they're okay with it?"
"Let's put it this way-our job is protecting Ferguson's physical safety, right?"
"Well, he's a hell of a lot safer with a call girl who gets into the car thinking I'm her john for the evening than he'd be with a gal who knows she's about to do the next president. Left to his own devices, he could end up with a kamikaze terrorist with anthrax in her twat."
Stokes had a point. "So ... the agency will back us up if this ever gets out?"
"Hell, no. They'll hang us out to dry."
Stokes had shrugged. "It's part of the job. You want the plum assignments, you gotta expect a few pits."
Gromstedt glanced in the rear-view mirror again. The woman was whispering something in Ferguson's ear.
The old man laughed and stroked her thigh under her short black skirt. "How about cameras, sugar?" he murmured. "You like doing it on video?"
"Ooh," she breathed. "Just the thought makes me hot."
Just the thought makes me gag. Stokes had warned him about this, too. Apparently the old man loved to make tapes of himself in the sack.
"Is he crazy?" Gromstedt had asked. "Man, if one of those tapes got in the wrong hands-"
"I know, I know. But that's how it is with these power dudes-the higher they climb, the more invincible they think they are."
It was true. Gromstedt had driven enough heads of state, visiting dignitaries, and vice presidents over the years to know they could behave with surprising carelessness.
"Nah. But Murphy did. Said he nearly puked. Apparently the old man keeps the camera primarily trained on himself."
Oh, boy. It was going to be a long four years, what with hookers and videos and the old man popping Viagra like peanuts.
"I don't think I got your name," Ferguson said to the call girl.
"Amber," the woman replied.
"Pretty name for a pretty lady."
And about as likely to be real as her oversized boobs, Gromstedt thought, glancing in the rear-view mirror again. As far as call girls went, though, she wasn't half bad. She fit the prototype Stokes had said Ferguson preferred-slender build, big rack, shoulder-length straight brown hair.
The old brownstone mansion that housed the public library loomed on the left. Recognizing the landmark, Gromstedt shifted to the left lane. A block later, he caught sight of an enormous white-columned mansion. This was it-the Mullendorf estate. Gromstedt had stopped by earlier to familiarize himself with the route and to scope out any potential hazards.
He braked for a left turn and punched a button on his headset phone. "Eagle One on the approach."
"Got you spotted," came the reply. "We'll open the gate after the streetcar passes."
A pea-green and brick-red streetcar rattled down the center median, the windows brightly lit, the bow of a Christmas wreath flapping in the damp New Orleans air. He was glad to see the streetcar up and running; from what he'd heard, it had been out of commission for a year and a half after Hurricane Katrina. As soon as the streetcar cleared the intersection, Gromstedt steered onto an oaklined side street. Right on cue, the electronic iron gate beside the mansion swung open.
"Ooh, this place is beautiful!" the call girl squealed as Gromstedt guided the limo past the agents at the entrance and up the narrow brick-paved drive. "Is it yours?"
"No, sugar," Ferguson said. "It belongs to a friend of mine."
"Do you think he might want a girl? Because if he does, I have a friend who's not busy tonight, and-"
Ferguson chortled. "I'm sure he'd appreciate the thought, but my pal's out of town."
"And he's letting you stay at his place? Must be a good friend."
No kidding. Mullendorf had raised more than four million dollars for Ferguson's campaign. But then, the tycoon probably stood to make a hundred times that in defense contracts or some such. None of these rich guys ever gave away anything that didn't somehow end up back in their pockets in spades.
Gromstedt carefully steered the limo around a silver Saturn LS parked on the side of the narrow drive and spotted Agent Bill Clarkson just inside the open warehousesized garage. After Clarkson flashed the prearranged "all clear" signal, Gromstedt slowly drove inside and killed the engine.
The call girl reached for the car door's handle as the hangar-sized garage door began to rumble down.
"Slow down there, sugar," Ferguson told her. "We've got to wait till the garage door's down. Never know when a photographer is lurking in the bushes." He patted her thigh and leered. "Besides, a pretty little lady like you should never have to open a car door herself."
The woman giggled. "Ooh, you're such a gentleman. You really know how to treat a lady."
Ferguson chuckled. "I sure do, sugar. I sure as hell do."
Oh, Christ-I hope you wait until you get to the room before you try to prove it. Keeping his expression wooden, Gromstedt climbed out, waited until the garage door thudded closed, then opened the limo's back door. The woman's legs, long and slender, stretched out through the opening. The rest of her followed, her black skirt hitched high enough to reveal scant red panties. Ferguson struggled out behind her, breathing hard.
"This way, sir." Agent Clarkson opened the door to the residence. "The stairs are to your right."
Ferguson wrapped an arm around the woman and looked at Stokes. "Can you get us to my room without any of the help seeing us? Mullendorf's wife and my wife are close friends, and if word got back-"
"We've already taken care of it, sir, but I'll doublecheck." Stokes lifted his walkie-talkie. "Miller, are the domestics out of the way?"
"Affirmative," replied a gravelly voice through the receiver. "We sent everyone home but the butler, and she's with me in the front room. The back stairs are clear."
"Thanks." Ferguson put his arm around the call girl's waist and winked. "See you fellas in the morning."
Stokes closed the door to the house behind the presidentelect, then turned back to Clarkson. "Did he say the butler's a she?"
"Yeah," Clarkson said. "A good-looking one, too-and just Ferguson's type. Straight dark hair, big tits, slender build."
"Maybe he could have saved some money," Gromstedt joked.
"Nah. This girl's not that sort. Besides, he likes to pay, remember?"
"Yeah." Stokes exchanged an amused glance with Gromstedt. "It's not something we're likely to forget."
Fifteen minutes later
Thump-squeak. Thump-squeak. Thump-squeak. Thump-squeak.
The odd overhead noise made Emma Jamison pause in the middle of her refrigerator inventory and frown up at the crown-molded kitchen ceiling of the Mullendorf mansion. Please please please don't be a problem with the plumbing or the central air, she silently implored. She was responsible for ensuring that President-Elect Ferguson had an enjoyable stay, and there was nothing enjoyable about plumbing problems-especially not at eleven at night.
The noise subsided as abruptly as it had begun. Emma held her breath and listened for a moment, then blew out a relieved sigh. It was probably just air in the pipes or some other benign cause. The big old house had survived two centuries and Hurricane Katrina, so hopefully it would make it through one more night.
"Got any coffee?"
She turned from the open Sub-Zero to see a middleaged Secret Service agent saunter through the arched hallway of the enormous black-and-white kitchen. He wasn't a member of the advance team who'd been poring over the mansion for the past two days, so he had to be one of the six who'd arrived fifteen minutes earlier with President-Elect Ferguson. Emma usually had a good eye for faces, but these agents were so numerous and nondescript it was hard to keep them straight. The most notable thing about them-aside from their dark suits and ties-was their total lack of notability.
Except for this one. He was older than the others; his rust-colored hair was flecked with gray, and he had a slight paunch.
"Help yourself," Emma said, tilting her head toward an industrial-sized stainless-steel coffeemaker on the black granite countertop. "I just made five gallons."
"Five gallons, huh?" The man's face buckled into a smile as he crossed the room. "If I ration myself, that might just see me through the night."
What do you know, Emma thought. An agent with a sense of humor. She'd begun to think the government performed some kind of personality-extraction procedure on them all before they let them out in the field.
"I'm Allen Gromstedt," he said, reaching for one of the twelve white mugs lined up in two precise rows by the coffeemaker.
"Nice to meet you. I'm Emma Jamison."
She turned her attention back to the interior of the paneled refrigerator and finished comparing the chef's list of breakfast ingredients against the contents. Two gallons of two-percent milk-check. One pound unsalted butter-check. Sharp white cheddar-check. It was all there. She'd done the shopping herself, but she wanted to double-check, just to make sure.
It was the sort of behavior her psychiatrist ex-fiancé used to call neurotic, stemming from a lack of self-esteem. The thought of Derrick made her shoulders tense. Well, who wouldn't have self-esteem issues, after being engaged to a jealous two-timing liar who psychoanalyzed her every move?
Besides, Derrick had been wrong. Sure, she had a few issues, but she wasn't neurotic; she was meticulous and detail-oriented, which were good traits for a butler to have. And she wasn't all that lacking in self-esteem, either-at least, she hadn't been before Derrick. What she lacked was good judgment in men.
Well, never again, she thought, shutting the refrigerator door with a definitive thud. Never again would she be blinded by charm and good looks. The next time she fell for a man, it would be someone trusting and trustworthy who loved her just the way she was.
She turned to find Agent Gromstedt looking around the immense restaurant-grade kitchen. "This place isn't too shabby," he remarked.
For an enormous mansion furnished with priceless antiques and every convenience known to man, it wasn't too bad. She was tempted to say it aloud, but butlers never gossiped about their clients or commented on their belongings.
The agent put the coffee cup under the spout and lifted the spigot on the coffeemaker. "Do you live here?"
"No. I'm just working here temporarily."
He furrowed his brow. "I thought you were the butler."
"I am. I'm with a temporary butler service." She happened to own the service, but there was no need to get into that.
"No kidding." Agent Gromstedt shoveled three teaspoons of sugar in his cup. "How does that work?"
"Like any other temporary-employment service. Clients call when they need extra help."
His spoon clicked against the side of his cup as he stirred. "This might sound kind of ignorant, but what the heck do butlers do?"
"Manage households, basically. We handle things like hiring chefs and caterers, running errands, supervising the housekeeping staff, keeping the kitchen stocked. Whatever needs doing."
"So what's your assignment here?"
"Well, the Mullendorfs are out of town, so they hired me to open their home and make sure Mr. Ferguson has everything he needs."
His eyebrows rose. "Wow. Big responsibility, hosting the next president of the United States."
Yes, it was, and Emma was thrilled that she'd been entrusted with it. She'd worked for a lot of important people in her career, but the newly elected leader of the free world had to be the V-est of all VIPs.
"How'd you get a gig like this?" the agent asked, taking a tentative slurp of his coffee.
Emma opened a cabinet and pulled out a paper towel. "The Mullendorfs are regular clients," she explained, wiping some water off the countertop. "I manage their New Orleans home whenever they're gone, and I handle special projects when their live-in butler needs a hand." Which was pretty often. The Mullendorfs had repeatedly tried to hire Emma to replace him, but Emma liked the freedom of self-employment.
Besides, she made a good living-good enough that she'd recently bought a new car and a little gingerbreadtrimmed cottage on the edge of the Garden District. Her career was in terrific shape.
It was her personal life that sucked.
"I always thought butlers were stuffy old men in tails," the agent said.
Emma tossed the paper towel in the trash can under the sink. "That's the movie image. We come in all kinds of packages."
The agent leaned a hip against the counter and eyed her over the rim of his coffee cup. "Well, your package is a big improvement over the stereotype."
He wasn't coming on to her, exactly, but there was an element of masculine appreciation in his gaze that made Emma's hand flutter to the top button of her dress. Derrick used to say she was uncomfortable with her sexuality. Well, she wasn't; she was just uncomfortable with the way men looked at her chest. Ever since puberty, it had drawn an unwelcome amount of attention. It wasn't Dolly Parton?esque, but it was generous, and even though she wore clothes that downplayed it, like the tailored black coatdress she was wearing now, her bustline never escaped male notice.
Excerpted from Between the Sheets by Robin Wells Copyright © 2008 by Robin Wells. 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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