Lead Me On (Harlequin Blaze Series #756)

( 3 )


It's a Bridal Basket Auction! Bachelors, bid now and win a night you will never forget… Basket # 1: "Around the Girl in 80 Ways"

Forget baked goods and innocent picnics—Margot Walker's "anonymous" basket is all about risqué and reward! Eighty pieces of paper are tucked inside, each listing a different destination. And each destination is an erotic promise….

Of course, you'll be betting against cowboy Clint Barrows (whom the ladies consider to ...

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Lead Me On (Harlequin Blaze Series #756)

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It's a Bridal Basket Auction! Bachelors, bid now and win a night you will never forget… Basket # 1: "Around the Girl in 80 Ways"

Forget baked goods and innocent picnics—Margot Walker's "anonymous" basket is all about risqué and reward! Eighty pieces of paper are tucked inside, each listing a different destination. And each destination is an erotic promise….

Of course, you'll be betting against cowboy Clint Barrows (whom the ladies consider to be walking sex in a Stetson). Clint knows Margot is the one who got away, and he's determined to find out exactly what is in her basket…and meet each naughty adventure with one of his own!

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373797608
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 6/18/2013
  • Series: Harlequin Blaze Series , #756
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 217
  • Product dimensions: 4.38 (w) x 6.48 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

Crystal Green lives near Las Vegas, Nevada, where she writes Harlequin Blazes, Silhouette Special Editions and vampire tales. She loves to read, overanalyze movies, practice yoga , travel and detail her obsessions on her Web page, www.crystal-green.com.

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Read an Excerpt

The video had been posted on YouTube that morning, and Margot Walker was determined to prove that it hadn't bothered her one bit.

So as she sat in a booth in the Avila Grande Suites' bar with her two best friends, she calmly sipped her Midori Sour, leaning back against the leather seat. Around them, conversation buzzed from a few other happy-hour hotel guests—none of whom were a part of the Phi Rho Mu fraternity and Tau Epsilon Gamma sorority ten-year reunion that was taking place in the hotel this weekend.

"Margot," Leigh said, leaning her elbows on the table, her blond braid hanging over a shoulder. "Are you sure you're up for this? Nobody would blame you if you decided to bug out and go home."

Margot carefully set her drink down on the polished table. Dani, with her curly red hair, porcelain skin to die for and a peach-hued shirt, was nodding in agreement beside Leigh.

"Why put yourself through this?"

"Because I'm not going to let a ridiculous prank chase me away," Margot said. "Yes, some bored moron posted that video late last night, hoping to get my goat. Yes, everyone is probably going to laugh at me because of what's on it. But I don't care. No one's keeping me away from meeting up with my friends after all these years."

"You're talking like it's just any old video." Leigh picked up her beer bottle and reclined in her seat, a sexy, laid-back cowgirl in her tight pink-plaid Western shirt. "It was bad enough when it was circulated in college. Now, to have it show up again…?"

"It reflects worse on whoever did this than it does on me," Margot said. And it almost sounded like she believed it.

After all, it was humiliating. A dimly lit fraternity room. A couch. Heavy breathing. Her giving in to the one guy she should've never said yes to.

The jerk Clint Barrows.

As Margot pushed a rush of heat back—she was angry, which was why she was blushing and flushing—Dani laughed in amazement.

"That video embarrassed the hell out of you the first time and you never forgave Clint Barrows for it. And don't lie to us, Marg, because we know that's the truth."

"As I said, I got over it." But, when a group of white-collar men wandered into the bar, she momentarily stiffened, waiting to see if she knew them. Waiting to see if they would laugh their asses off at her.

But…no. Just some random guys here on business or whatever.

She forced herself not to hang back in the booth. She was here to show whoever had put up that video that she was an adult, impervious to the slings and arrows of juvenile jokes.

And what a joke it had been. A prank. A camera hidden in a fraternity house during a party one night—the night she'd finally dropped all her hard-to-get flirting with Clint Barrows and given in to his cowboy Romeo charm, going to his room to "watch movies." But movies were the last thing on their minds, and she'd told him that she would kill him if he let anyone know that they were doing anything more than hanging out and eating popcorn.

She hadn't expected to be filmed while saying that and getting hot and heavy with the campus lothario.

Very hot and heavy, although not all-the-way hot and heavy, thank God.

To think, she'd actually liked Clint before she'd gone off with him, had been attracted to him even if he'd had a heck of a lot of women on that secondhand couch and had watched quite a few "movies."

But there was just something about him that had drawn Margot in, even though she'd known he was bad news. Something in his eyes that sparkled dangerously, daring her, inviting her to come on a big adventure she'd never regret. And no guy had ever made her skin tingle with just a look, made her belly flip just at the sound of his voice….

She'd been taken in, though, made sport of. Hunted and caught in the lens of a camera. She'd known it when she'd seen the red eye of the device in the near-dark just as he'd been undoing the buttons on her shirt.

She'd smacked the ever-lovin' charm out of him and left the room, too shocked to even think to destroy the tape. Too… Well, she would've said hurt if she'd cared enough.

And she didn't. Really. Because, even when he'd sent an email to her the next morning, telling her that he hadn't known about any camera, that it was his roommate who'd set it up, and that the tape had been demolished, she hadn't answered. Her humiliation had only flared when she'd heard that the video was making the rounds around campus.

Sure, some good sources had backed up Clint's story that he wasn't the one who'd set up or circulated that tape, but when she really thought about it, that wasn't the true reason she couldn't stand him. She'd been caught with him, the conquest king, on film, telling him that their night should be kept a secret. What a laugh riot that must've been for the video's audience before seeing the fireworks that had begun between them.

First off, Margot didn't like being the butt of any joke. Second, she could imagine Clint basking in the glory of the video—proof that he had finally gotten her to bend her will to him. Third, she never wanted to be just a number for any guy.

She'd spent college playing hard-to-get for a lot of boys, and her reputation and pride had sure taken a hit after the scandal. And his reputation had only grown, his college nickname, "Stud," reaching epic proportions in their social circles for the rest of their senior year.

Her dislike of him had grown with every knowing glance she'd received at every social event after that.

But then summer had come and life had really started. A decade had passed since, and the video had become just one of those ridiculous college mistakes that no one mentioned anymore. It'd been all but forgotten.

Until last night.

Just as she'd been checking her email this morning, all packed and ready to hit the road for this reunion between her sorority and its fraternity counterpart, she'd found messages from her sorority sisters about the video. No one knew who'd posted it, but Margot's first thought went to Clint.

Had he lied about destroying the tape way back then because he thought he could get into her good graces…or her pants…so he could close the deal? And had he aired it now, just because he thought it'd be funny for the reunion?

She wished he'd walk into the bar so she could face him down and tell him to grow up. She was so far beyond him and that night.

As she rested her hand on her glass of Midori Sour, she smiled at her friends. "Why bring that crap up again when we have more important things to talk about? As in, auction baskets for this weekend?"

Leigh caught her cue and shot a glance to Dani. They'd all met in the lobby about fifteen minutes ago and had just sat and started chatting when the scandal had reared its ugly head again. Margot had already told them she was over it on the phone during her drive there, but leave it to Dani and Leigh to question her.

Anyway, when they'd first seen each other, hugging and laughing, she and Leigh had sprung their own surprise on Dani, telling her about the charity auction the two of them were throwing tomorrow night because they wanted her to have the big wedding she'd always yearned for. It'd be an All-American college-reunion good time that wasn't going to be ruined just because some ass—had it been Clint?—had decided to pep up the event with a memory Margot would've rather forgotten.

Once again, she thought of the cowboy, with his denim-blue eyes, his lackadaisical way of watching her walk through one of the many parties their fraternity and sorority had thrown together. Then, just as quickly, she tamped down that spark in her belly. Jerk.

"Guess what I'm going to call my auction basket," she said, ignoring thoughts of him.

Dani was strangely quiet, just as she'd been when Leigh and Margot had launched the surprise on her, come to think of it.

But Leigh was already talking, leaving the video behind, although Margot suspected it'd come up again.

"Lord knows what you conjured up, Marg."

Her smile grew. "'Around the Girl in Eighty Ways.'"

She waited for them to give her that "come again?" look that she'd gotten so used to back in college when she'd whipped up similar harebrained ideas.

And, yep, there it was.

Come again?

Leigh took the bait first. "How does going around the girl in eighty ways fit in an auction basket?"

"I'm betting it'll fit very nicely on auction night. Hopefully even more than once." Margot shot Leigh a saucy grin, while Dani just lifted an eyebrow at Margot.

Then Dani said, "I'm not sure about all this…."

Leigh nudged Dani good-naturedly. "You've got to hear Margot out. She came down here, even in the midst of a pride-spankin', just for you, Dan."

"Thanks," Margot said, narrowing her eyes at Leigh. She spoke to Dani. "This is just the first of many gifts for our bride-to-be."

"But I don't need—"

"It's not a matter of need or not need," Margot said, on a roll. See—it wasn't so hard to forget about that video. Sort of. "You used to talk about the perfect wedding all the time. Everyone wants it to happen for you at the end of this year in the huge, grand way you used to describe to us."

"You were our Wedding Girl," Leigh added, giving Dani's arm a friendly, light squeeze.

Dani said nothing, and Margot caught Leigh's gaze. Sure, they'd talked about whether or not they were being too intrusive, assuming Dani would want their help, since her funds were too low to afford that dream wedding. But, my God, this was Dani. And this was their chance to help her achieve the fantasies she'd collected in her wedding scrapbook—pictures of frothy white dresses and creamy cakes, blooming flowers and a bride and groom who couldn't take their eyes off each other.

If someone good like Dani didn't deserve it all, then who did?

"You've already talked about this auction to everyone?" Dani finally asked.

Across the table, Leigh looked a little sheepish as she put down her beer. "We might've secretly suggested it to the sisters on our email loop."

Dani was flushing, and Margot wasn't sure if she was embarrassed or angry with them. But Dani never got angry.

When she spoke, she made Margot rethink that.

"So everyone knows that poor me, the lowly caterer and not the Paula Deen she aimed to be back when she majored in home ec, can't afford a decent wedding? And her fiance is only a small-estate manager, not the business mogul he wanted to become, so that means they can't possibly afford even fancy flower arrangements?" She laughed. "I suppose that's not too embarrassing."

Margot glanced at Leigh again. Whoops.

Leigh seemed just as helpless as Margot as she peeled away the label of her beer. "Can I just put things in perspective and volunteer that Margot's video is going to take all the 'embarrassing' out of the reunion for you, Dan? That's what everyone'll be talking about."

To Leigh's credit, she was merely doing her best. Margot followed suit.

"Once again, Leigh, thanks so much." She smiled at Dani. "No one thinks you're destitute. It's only that your wedding plans were legendary in the sorority. Hell, your nickname during pledging was 'Hearts.' We'd talk about getting together for the ceremony someday and how it'd be a time when we could all celebrate together."

"It was going to be a milestone," Leigh added.

Margot went on, and it was just like the old days, when she would get a lightbulb idea going and Leigh would join in, eventually followed by Dani.

"The wedding is as much for us as it is for you," she said. "It means everything because you're marrying the guy from our counterpart fraternity, and everyone knew you were going to get together with him even before the two of you knew it. It's a big deal for all of us Rhos and Taus."

Dani finally smiled, probably because of the memories.

Times like the spring-break trip to Cabo—a Bacchanalia that had sworn Margot, Leigh and Dani off booze for…well, weeks. It had been just one of many adventures they'd shared as sorority sisters and Margot would never forget them. The three of them had grown up together during some very pivotal years, then tossed their graduation caps in the air as one, letting them rain down with the joy of exploring all the roads ahead.

Back then, Margot had nursed so many ambitions—to travel the world, to write books—and she'd done all of it in the time from there to here.

But dreams could last only so long.

She ate the maraschino cherry in her Midori Sour, yet it didn't taste as good as it used to—not after the bad news she'd gotten last month about how her latest "single girl on the go" travel book had done.

Or, more to the point, hadn't done.

As usual, Margot tried not to show how upset she was. She'd been keeping the news to herself that her publishing company hadn't wanted to go to contract after she closed out this most recent book. Surely something else was bound to come along.

Wouldn't it?

Dani was talking. "But…I still don't know about raising money for my wedding."

Leigh said, "Don't they have money dances at receptions? We'd just be doing the asking before the wedding."

"Besides, it's not any old auction," Margot was quick to add, dangling the cherry stem between her fingers. "This is something everyone will love. A basket auction, just like they used to do in the old days at picnics. You know, when the girls packed a lunch in a basket and tied a telltale ribbon around the handle so the boy she was crushing on would know it was hers and take her out?"

"Days of innocence," Leigh said in her ranch-girl drawl. Country-singer cool, she rested her free arm over the top of the booth. She seemed as down-to-earth as they came—if you didn't know her very well. Leigh was the type to come off as earthy, even though she was a rising star at The Food Network with a new show that Margot could describe only as "sensuous farmhouse cooking"—like putting Faith Hill in Martha Stewart's kitchen.

For a second, Margot could almost see her friends as they used to be: Leigh, forty pounds heavier, laughing at the nickname—"Cushions"—that everyone had given her, even while inside, Margot knew, Leigh hadn't found it so hilarious. And Dani, a home ec major like Leigh, known as the romantic "Hearts," who used to love matchmaking at the dinner parties she put together.

But Margot had them beat. She'd been an endangered species on their rural San Joaquin Valley campus—an English major among all the agricultural business majors and local cowboys and cowgirls. She'd never minded standing out, though. Leigh, who'd been her dorm roomie, and Dani, who'd lived down the hall, had talked Margot into joining Tau Epsilon Gamma, and she'd never regretted a day of it.

Even if her parents hadn't been quite as excited.

Sororities are for girls who 'll never find a day of independence in their lives, her dad had said. Don't you want to have a mind of your own?

Of course she did, but joining the Taus hadn't quashed the free spirit her hippy-minded parents had raised her to be as they'd moved from town to town, "experiencing all life has to offer." They'd take temporary jobs and then one day jerk her out of school before she could find a best friend. Sometimes she'd wondered if they cared about how she fit into their whole "see the world!" philosophy…or if she'd just been one more item on their bucket lists.

But she'd found a whole lot of friends all on her own, thank you very much.

And that's what mattered.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2013


    Nice read...

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  • Posted June 26, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Lead Me On by Crystal Green: It all started with a video and a f

    Lead Me On by Crystal Green: It all started with a video and a frat party. Margot Walker finally decided to hook up with good-looking, man about campus, Clint Barrows. At the time, they both felt a little spark for each other and when Clint invited Margot up to his room to watch a movie, she said yes. Unbeknownst to the both of them, a fellow frat brother rigged a camera in Clint's room and recorded their make-out session. The following day the video went viral on YouTube. Margot was humiliated and never forgave Clint, even though he swore he knew nothing about it. Clint eventually found out who planted the camera and thought he made sure the video was destroyed.

    Ten years later, the video surprisingly resurfaced again on YouTube, the night of the Phi Rho Mu fraternity and Tau Epsilon Gamma sorority 10 year reunion. Margot was humiliated once again and her anger toward Clint was reignited. Although this time the teasing and embarrassment wasn't as severe, because Clint was able to get it removed permanently and quickly.

    Sorority sisters, Margot, Leigh and Dani have remained best friends since college. The girls speak to and see each other semi-regularly. Margot majored in English, is single, and is a successful travel writer that has recently lost her edge. Leigh and Dani both majored in home economics. Leigh is single and her career is taking off as host of a cooking TV show. Dani is a wonderful cook, works for a caterer and is engaged to Riley, a fraternity brother.

    Dani has always talked about a big and elegant wedding. Unfortunately, she and Riley cannot afford the wedding Dani has always dreamed about. So her two best friends decide to host a bridal basket auction during the reunion weekend with the proceeds going to the happy couple. As much as Dani loves her friends, she is not a charity case and the auction goes on as planned with the proceeds going to charity. Margot's basket donation is bought by Clint and begrudgingly, Margot has to have a date with him. Leigh's basket fetches the highest amount from a mystery fraternity brother. She has to wait a month for her date.

    The spark between Margot and Clint is rekindled and they spend a hot, sex-filled night together. Both of them can't stop thinking about each other. A week later, they meet again at Clint's ranch. Clint has generously offered to host Dani and Riley's wedding and Dani wants both Margot and Leigh to check it out with her. Leigh can't make it, so now its a foursome for the weekend.

    The happily engaged couple is experiencing some difficulties so Margot and Clint end up spending a lot of time together. They end up hooking up again. Their feelings for each other are strong and love is in the air.

    Because Margot has always been afraid of any type of commitment, hence her job as a travel writer, she leaves after the weekend without even saying goodbye to Clint. She just leaves a note in front of his bedroom door. Clint is crushed, but had a feeling this was going to happen. He trudges on with his daily life, worrying about the ranch and the fact that his twin brothers want him to sell off pieces of it. Margot is finally in love and realizes that deserting Clint was a horrible mistake.

    Dani and Riley work out their differences by adding spontaneity into their lives. Luckily Margot comes to her senses and returns to Clint's ranch. The rest as they say is history…..

    Lead Me On by Crystal Green is a nicely written second chance romance. The characters are full of spunk and personality. This is a quick read that is perfect for the summer!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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