Read an Excerpt
By Kristin Hardy
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneLos Angeles, Present
"SO THIS is your favorite sex fantasy, jeans and a T-shirt? All this time, I never knew you were acting out your dreams at the Supper Club meetings." Cilla looked out the door of her '30s Brentwood bungalow, an impish look on her triangular vixen's face as she stared at Trish and her casual clothes.
"You guys always turn me on so much," Trish said, walking through the door.
"I'll bet. You do realize you're going to have to change, right? Remember? "Dress like your favorite sex fantasy?'"
"'To see my fantasy become reality. 'Yep, I read the invitation, too."
"Sabrina's serious about her costume parties."
"Right. Well, just now my favorite sex fantasy involves a bath and a foot massage," Trish sighed, setting her purse down on the hall table. Working for her sister Amber, at her home concierge company, doing errands for a living, was exhausting. "I am beat. Anyway, you're one to talk." She gestured at Cilla's plum-colored Michael Kors business suit. "Where's your costume?"
"I just got home. The big Danforth's couture show is tomorrow, so of course everything went wrong all day long."
"Rodeo Drive retail. It's a rough life you live," she said with false sympathy as Cilla stuck out her tongue.
"So is it all taken care of now?"
"I think so. We've got someone to pick up the designer when she flies in, so I'm off the hook for the night. And I do have a costume for the party, I'll have you know. I'm going as a naughty nurse," Cilla said, flipping back the neckline of her blouse to flash her the black lace of her bra.
Trish fanned herself laughingly. "You keep that up, you'll give your patients heart failure."
"Oh, but what a nice way for them to go," Cilla grinned. "So I'm set, but we've got to do something about you." Suddenly her eyes brightened in a way Trish didn't entirely trust. "You know, it's only seven-thirty," she said casually. "We've got buckets of time. Let's get a drink and we can fix you right up."
Trish flopped down in one of the overstuffed chairs as Cilla walked to the kitchen. "It's been a long day. I'm as fixed up as I need to be."
Cilla popped her head out of the kitchen doorway. "If you go like this, you'll feel totally uncomfortable and be convincing yourself to leave half an hour after you get there." She ducked back into the kitchen.
Trish raised her voice. "I'll be ready to leave after half an hour anyway. You know how much I love parties. Right up there next to root canals."
"So don't think of it as a party. Think of it as a Sex & Supper Club meeting with a few extra people there. Come on. Just this once, trust me." Cilla walked out, carrying fizzing glasses of something pale. "I'll make you look so gorgeous you'll be the toast of the evening. Now what happened with the hunky carpenter you were talking to when I called you this afternoon?"
Trish shrugged. "He finished the job and left. They usually do."
"That's all? You didn't talk with him?"
"Of course I talked with him. I had to get him to sign the paperwork, didn't I?"
Cilla blinked. "You spend half a day in a house alone with a gorgeous man and you don't even flirt with him? Trish, Trish, Trish, what are we going to do with you?" She clicked her tongue in disappointment.
"The client could have walked in. Besides, he's a contractor we use regularly. If I'd joked back with him, he might have gone ahead and asked me out." Trish said, and took a sip of her drink. Ginger ale.
"So? He might have been a nice guy."
Trish swirled her drink around. "Yeah, but if we went out, I'd have to talk with him, and then I'd be all stressed over saying something clever so of course I wouldn't be able to think of a single thing, and then I'd be worried about the silence and then I'd be worried that he would be thinking I was a boring goob and wondering how to end the evening as soon as possible. And there's the whole kissing thing at the end of the night, and I'm starting to think I'm just not cut out for it." She took a drink. "And if we hit it off, it would be worse. I'd spend way too much money on haircuts and new underwear and then he'd break up with me and I'd have to work with him later. It's just not worth all the hassle." Trish looked up at Cilla, who was suppressing a smile. "What?"
"That's efficient. You got all the way through the entire relationship without even leaving the room, let alone talking to the guy. Look at all the money and time you saved."
Trish flushed. "Look, it's just more than I want to mess with right now."
"It doesn't have to be that hard," Cilla pointed out.
"He might have been a really funny guy and all you'd have had to do was sit there and laugh." She leaned in toward Trish. "Who knows, you might even have had fun. Look, do me a favor."
"What?" Trish gave her a suspicious look.
"Forget about all that stuff. Come to the party and just relax. The gang will be there so you don't have to worry about talking to guys all alone. Besides, I'll get you fixed up so they'll talk to you no matter what. Consider it an experiment." She rose, slender and leggy in her short skirt. "You might even have a good time."
Trish eyed Cilla skeptically and followed her as she headed down the hall. "You're not going to turn into my sister and start telling me it's all about appearance, are you?"
"That's just Amber's excuse for making you do all the grunt work while she stays in the office filing her nails."
"It's her company," Trish said simply. "Besides, she's better at the sales end. Amber likes dressing up every day, I'm happy in jeans. Someone's got to show the right image to the outside world."
"Gee, can't imagine who said that." Cilla's voice was wry. "You know, if you just ditched the T-shirt and jeans and spruced yourself up a little, people would be so busy staring at you, no one would give Amber a second glance."
Trish flicked her gaze to the ceiling. "I don't want people staring at me, thanks, and I like wearing a T-shirt and jeans."
"And they like you," Cilla said smoothly. "But at a party? You'll feel more comfortable if you're looking your best."
"Come on, Cilla, a little makeup isn't going to change things."
Excerpted from Cutting Loose by Kristin Hardy 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.