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By JODI LYNN COPELAND
APHRODISIA BOOKSCopyright © 2007 Jodi Lynn Copeland
All right reserved.
Chapter OnePRIVATE PASSION
Jordan Cameron sank back in his office chair and glared at the reflection of his father's profile in the eighth-story window of the New York City investment firm. For the first time in over a decade, John Cameron wore no beard, and every trace of gray in his hair had been covered with dark blond. He looked more like Jordan's older brother than his father. It wasn't right and, clearly, neither was his father's state of mind.
Jordan swiveled in the chair, curling his fingers around a brochure for the medical tourism resort his father returned from three weeks ago and had yet to stop talking about. He respected his father and never questioned his choices aloud. However, this latest decision wouldn't allow him to bottle his exasperation. "Jesus, Dad, think about what you're doing. It's a passing fad at best."
Inspecting himself in the golf green-etched mirror hanging on the wall kitty-corner from Jordan's desk, John rubbed his first finger and thumb along his clean-shaven chin. "Oh, I think about it. Every time your mother sneaks up and pinches my ass. I forgot how strong my sex drive was until I spent a week at Private Indulgence. Thanks to that 'fad,' our marriage and love life are stronger than ever."
Jordan sighed. From the way his father talked, you would think the resort staff had restructured his entire reason for being and not just his underdeveloped chin.
"Fine. Let's say this place is the real deal and will be around for years to come; that still doesn't explain why you feel the need to sink your entire life savings in it." Not when he'd spent the last five years refusing Jordan's investment advice because he claimed the only save place for his money was in the bank.
"Split the money. Let me put seventy percent of it into annuities."
Barking out a laugh, John looked over. "Back in the day, we considered a split to be fifty-fifty."
Back in the day, there wasn't an endless supply of lowlifes coming up with every scheme under the sun in the hopes of getting their hands on an old man's money. Jordan had heard the buzz on the medical resorts-Private Indulgence had never been among those said to be taking off. Even those resorts that claimed to be doing well had yet to provide convincing proof of their longevity. "At least give me some time to check this place out. You got to know too many of the staff to view it objectively."
"Not to mention I was strung out on Percocet ninety percent of the time I was down there."
His father crossed to the twin tan leather chairs opposite Jordan's desk and slammed his hand down on the back of one. "By God, son, you've gotten so stiff, you don't even recognize sarcasm anymore."
"Oh, I recognize it. I just don't find it humorous when it mixes my father with habit-forming drugs."
John closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose-a habit Jordan had picked up from him. Opening his eyes, he let his hands fall at his sides. "All right. You've got four weeks. Only because I want to see you away from this damned desk for more than a few hours at a time. This place is sucking you dry, stealing your zest for life-"
"And worrying Mom sick she'll never have grandkids," Jordan finished dryly. He'd been through this song and dance too many times to count. Sorry to say for his parents, he wasn't one of those kids who lived to please only them. "She'll get her grandkids when I'm ready. Right now, I'm enjoying the zest for life you seem to think I've lost by dating whatever women appeal to me."
His father snorted. "Whichever ones are willing to come in second to your career is more like it."
"Dad ..." Jordan warned.
"I'm leaving." John went to the door, turning back when he reached it. "Four weeks. If I don't hear convincing evidence against the resort by then, I'll be on the first flight to the Caribbean to share my investment decision with Dr. Crosby."
With the snick of the office door, Jordan turned his attention to his laptop. He clicked on the bookmarked resort informational page for Danica Crosby, MD, the plastic surgeon cum owner of Private Indulgence who'd somehow convinced his father to sink his money into her resort.
Calling the plain-looking, glasses-wearing redhead who appeared on his screen a surgeon was pushing it, considering she was barely out of her residency. The sudden ache in Jordan's gut told him that calling her business dealings with his father reputable would be pushing it even further, and in less than four weeks he would prove it.
"What in Hi'iaka's name are you doing?"
With her friend and assistant's question, Danica Crosby released her death grip on the alarm clock radio and set it on her desk. Lena stood in the doorway of Danica's office, eyeing her as if she'd lost her mind. For now, her sanity was intact. God only knew what would happen in the next few minutes.
Danica pushed aside one of several wayward envelopes and grabbed a chocolate-covered almond from the starfish-shaped candy dish on her desk. She popped the nut into her mouth, letting its soothing taste and texture work their magic on her tension before giving the alarm clock's red digital readout another glance. "Waiting. Three minutes from now, something bad is going to happen."
Lena's brown eyes flashed with hope. "You became psychic last night?"
"Wouldn't you have felt some sort of psychic friends' connection if I had?" Lena gave the expected dry laugh, and Danica continued soberly, "I grabbed my morning Pepsi out of the refrigerator this morning, only to discover there was no Pepsi to grab, even though I know there was one last night. An hour later, I almost cut my nipple off shaving."
Day-Glo pink and lime-green hula-girl earrings-what Lena claimed to be her twin talismans, since her supposed visionary powers began the day she'd put them on-swayed with the scrunching of her nose. "Ew. Your breasts are hairy? I just thought you'd given up on dating because you realized you were a lesbian and were afraid to come out of the closet."
"Not everyone's a date addict like you." Probably because not everyone had Lena's cute build, which had only gotten cuter with the recent chopping of all but the last couple inches of her hair and subsequent dye job that turned her locks from near black to dirty blond with fuscha streaks.
"I prefer 'serial dater.'"
"Whatever. I'm not one. I also don't have hairy breasts. I was shaving my underarm and fumbled the razor. It nicked my nipple on its way down." Danica winced. The memory hurt almost as much as the real thing.
Lena frowned. "A nipple ouchy tells you something bad's going to happen in three minutes?"
Danica gave the alarm clock a glance. Her stomach tightened forebodingly, so she popped another almond. "One minute now, and yes. Haven't you ever heard bad things happen in sets of three?"
"Sure, but I never knew there was a timetable."
"Well, there is. In fifty seconds, mine's due up." Judging by the fact that last almond didn't even touch her anxiety, whatever happened at the end of those seconds was bound to be a doozy.
Lena studied her so long and thoroughly, Danica thought another of her friend's questionable visions was about to strike, but then she just smiled, calling out the exceedingly cute dimple in her right cheek. "You know, most of the time you're as boringly normal as they come, and then you go and say something totally whacked like this and I remember there's hope for you yet."
The alarm clock rolled over to ten o'clock. Any amusement Danica might have found in Lena's words was forgotten in the wake of her heightened unease. "Time's up."
She looked around the office, half expecting the overflowing bookcase to fall on her, or the chaos on her desk to blow up in her face, or the bay window behind her to shatter, or ... She swiveled in her chair, praying her customized golf cart hadn't gone up in flames.
Nope. Still there, parked two stories below.
"Looks like your timetable's off-Strike that." Lena inhaled audibly. "Trouble's headed this way. Don't look like no cowboy, but I'd know the smell of Stetson anywhere."
Danica swiveled back in her chair in time to see her friend exit her office as an unfamiliar man entered it, bringing with him the mouthwateringly spicy tang of cologne. Her belly did a slow warming, her inner thighs mimicking the intimate response as she took in the newcomer.
Lena was right. With his black power suit, which was completely inappropriate for the humid island weather, and polished Kenneth Coles, he didn't look like a cowboy. Danica still had the urge to climb up his long legs and take him for a ride.
Wow! Where had that come from?
She never thought of sex while on the clock and nearly as seldom while off it. It wasn't because she lacked Lena's perfectly cute everything and the natural tanned complexion of her friend's Hawaiian heritage-Danica liked her own fair complexion just fine. It was that she had too many other, more important, things to fill her days, namely seeing Private Indulgence, the elective surgery medical tourism resort she'd started up three years ago, continue to thrive in a way that would eventually allow for expansion into nonelective areas.
The guy moved into her office, assessing each inch before moving on to the next one. His measuring gaze landed on her. "Interesting place you have here."
Holy killer eyes! They matched the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea right down to the sparkle.
The way Danica's sex grew moist with the striking shade suggested his walking through her door might well be the third bad thing to happen to her this morning-by making her focus on something other than work. Even if she did have time for dating and he lived locally-doubtful, given his attire-and showed an interest, things would never work.
From his carefully styled dark blond hair and neatly trimmed mustache to the perfectly symmetrical divot in the knot of his gray silk tie, there was an order about him that his delectable appearance wouldn't allow her to look past. Danica and order went together like Lena and celibacy-both would be happening the same time pigs sprouted wings.
She relaxed with the knowledge they wouldn't be having sex. All but her churning stomach relaxed anyway. It was a little too coincidental he'd shown up right at ten. "May I help you?"
"I have a meeting with Dr. Crosby. I was told at the front desk that you're her."
"You do?" Pepsi withdrawal had to be playing hell with her memory. She didn't do visual order, but her mind usually had a firm grasp on things.
Danica stood, offering her hand over the top of her desk, along with an apologetic smile. "Sorry, this week has been hectic. I recall it now, Mr ...?" Shoot. So much for correcting her oversight.
His lips twitched as his gaze slid the length of her, eyeing her in a penetrating way that renewed the wetness between her thighs and made her want to squirm.
His gaze returned to hers, and he took her hand in a firm shake. "Jordan Cantrell."
She made it a point to personally greet as many resort guests as possible, shaking dozens of hands each week, many of them male. Not one of them rendered visions of strong, warm hands sliding over her aroused, nude body the way Jordan's did. Her jean skirt would allow easy access. The thin barrier of her panties barely an obstacle. She glanced at his fingers-ringless and long like the rest of him. Able to easily slide between her thighs and deep inside her slick pussy.
The increased twitching of his lips broke through Danica's reverie. Heat flooded her face and undoubtedly flushed her fair skin with the reality of where her mind had traveled. As if her thoughts weren't bad enough, he was silently laughing at her. Mocking would be the better word.
Damn it, she'd worked hard to see the resort gain a foothold in the fast-growing medical tourism industry and come far in the time since its launch. Too far to be made to feel incompetent by a man who didn't know her from the Easter Bunny. Yet incompetent was exactly how she felt.
"I'm here to check out the resort for potential surgery," Jordan supplied, his derisive tone making it clear how unimpressed he was so far.
She wanted to give him a tone of her own. Or forget the tone and tell him off outright. For the sake of the resort's reputation, she refrained. "Of course you are." Ignoring her damp panties, she forced a smile and rounded her desk. "Let me grab your file from my assistant and we'll get started."
Danica entered Lena's next-door office as her friend stood from behind a desk that was so efficiently organized it made Danica feel dysfunctional by comparison. Lena flashed a smart-ass grin. "So, is he here to repossess your villa, or tell you an active volcano was discovered in the resort's backyard?"
"Neither. He's a potential patient." And not even close to a gentleman. Danica ran a hand over her belly. God, she needed an almond, or maybe a handful of them. "He says he has an appointment with me this morning."
"If he's J. Cantrell, he has a ten-fifteen. He took over a late cancellation spot a few weeks ago. I was about to pull his file when you walked in." She went to the rear wall, which was lined floor to ceiling with shelves of patient files, and pulled a thin manila one from the Cs. Halfway back to her desk, she stopped on an indrawn breath and gasped out a "Whoa!" that in Lena-talk meant she'd had a vision.
She crossed the rest of the way to Danica, handing her the file and sitting down without a word. Completely unlike Lena, who compensated for her small stature by being as vocal as possible. "Well? What was it about?" Danica prompted.
Lena didn't look up. "You don't want to know."
"I asked, didn't I?"
She looked up, her lips curving in an impish smile. "A Pepsiholic with one hairy armpit because she was too afraid to go back and finish the job."
"Cute, Lena. Very cute." Despite her follow-up groan, the friendly jab eased Danica's tension-until she returned to her own office to find Mr. Hot, Blond, and Oppressive waiting in front of her desk.
Jordan happened to walk in right at ten-fifteen minutes early for his appointment-and made her have sexual thoughts for the first time ever while on the job, but that didn't mean he was trouble. He could just be a pain in the ass.
She sat down on her side of the desk, popping two chocolate-covered almonds into her mouth before opening and quickly reviewing his file-all one and a half mostly blank pages of it. She looked up at him. Damned if a bolt of lust didn't shoot through her with the brilliance of his eyes. "There's nothing listed on what you would like to have done."
"I didn't say."
"The facilities vary a great deal depending on the type of procedure you're considering. Showing you the entire resort would require hours, possibly days."
"It's a"-he glanced down-"sensitive matter."
"A sensitive ..." Danica's gaze landed on his crotch. For an instant, as she thought about the anatomy behind his zipper, the heated state of her body returned. Then his meaning settled and she barely subdued her gasp.
She didn't exactly like the guy, but there was no denying he was a stunning specimen of masculinity. Was it possible he could be equipped with an undersized penis?
Of course it was possible. She'd scrubbed in on several phalloplasty surgeries where the patient was bigger bodywise than Jordan yet miniscule below the belt.
The irritation in her belly let up some, knowing he was here because of body issues beyond his control-something she could relate to well. "I understand. The facility for that surgery is quite a distance from here. If you don't mind going for a ride in the open air, we can use my golf cart to take a shortcut."
"You golf?" He sounded impressed.
"Actually, I bought the cart because I live only a half mile from here and figured it a more economical choice than a car." Technically, her rationale had been the more she saved on auto expenses, the more she would have to invest in the resort. Since he actually looked impressed now, she kept that tidbit to herself. Not that she was trying to impress him. Even if she could get past the whole "order" thing, he probably had performance-anxiety issues.
How small could he be?
Her gaze strayed back to his crotch, lingering for a few seconds before intelligence caught up with her Pepsi-starved brain. "I do golf, when time allows for it."
"Same here. It's been a while since time has allowed for it," Jordan admitted, perhaps a bit grudgingly.
Danica closed his file and pushed her chair back from her desk. "Work has a way of taking over."
"That it does."
"Having a job you love helps."
Excerpted from Body Moves by JODI LYNN COPELAND Copyright © 2007 by Jodi Lynn Copeland. Excerpted by permission.
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