Losing It [NOOK Book]

Overview

For months, biochemist Charlotte Gibson has secretly lusted over Ben Hayden while he’s been refurbishing her house. But there’s no way the sexy-as-sin carpenter would ever look twice at a Shrinking Charlotte like her.

Not one to mix business with pleasure, Ben has been trying to hide the fact that, when it comes to Charlotte, he’s got more than just a hammer in his pocket. But now that he’s found out her deepest, darkest secret, Ben’s going to ...

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Losing It

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Overview

For months, biochemist Charlotte Gibson has secretly lusted over Ben Hayden while he’s been refurbishing her house. But there’s no way the sexy-as-sin carpenter would ever look twice at a Shrinking Charlotte like her.

Not one to mix business with pleasure, Ben has been trying to hide the fact that, when it comes to Charlotte, he’s got more than just a hammer in his pocket. But now that he’s found out her deepest, darkest secret, Ben’s going to show Charlotte just how happy he is to see her…

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781595782243
  • Publisher: Liquid Silver Books
  • Publication date: 5/29/2006
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 125
  • Sales rank: 178,240
  • File size: 505 KB

Meet the Author

Kate Willoughby lives in Southern California with her husband and two teenaged sons. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading, cooking, and scrapbooking. She also loves hearing from fans. Find her at kate_willoughby.blogspot.com or on Facebook.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

"How much pain is there when you lose your virginity?"

In the bathroom where he was laying tile, Ben Hayden fumbled. With a wild juggling motion, he caught the float just before it clattered into the tub. The splattered grout dribbled down the unfinished wall, but Ben just stood there, frozen, listening hard.

Although he knew it was wrong to eavesdrop, he hadn't bothered to remind his client, Charlotte that he was still working in the bathroom. After all, she and her sister Kerrie were only discussing seating arrangements for Kerrie's wedding. He'd expected to hear them chatter about cake toppers or menu choices.

Unfortunately, the bride-to-be had something less mundane on her mind.

"I mean, what if it hurts so bad I cry or something?" Kerrie asked. "You know how bad I am with pain. If I cry it could ruin everything."

Despite the risk and his disapproving conscience, Ben leaned toward the open doorway. He was curious to hear what Charlotte had to say, because on and off over the past couple of months, he'd often considered crossing the line between contractor and client. Something about the way she used her hands seriously turned him on. She had this graceful way of manipulating things that mesmerized him, whether it be turning the pages of a book or buttoning a sweater. It didn't matter what she was doing, her hands drew his attention and had him thinking sexy thoughts in no time flat. Thoughts about what those hands would feel like splayed over his back as he kissed her, or clutching his butt as he thrust into her.

Ben blew out a silent breath and glanced at his watch. Today he'd lasted forty-five minutes beforefantasizing. Sometimes he didn't even get past the front door before his imagination dove into the gutter. Good thing he always wore loose canvas pants to work.

"You won't cry," Charlotte assured her sister. "It'll be wonderful. Now, let's get back to business. We have a wedding reception to plan."

"On a scale from one to ten, then," Kerrie insisted. "One being a paper cut and ten being ... oh, I don't know ... decapitation."

Ben smothered a laugh, but Charlotte's reply sounded strangely off-hand. "Oh, somewhere in between, as I recall."

"Well, is there anything I can do to alleviate it? Any certain position? Should he go in slow or just push real fast and get it over with?"

Crap. That did it. Glancing at the door, Ben decided to make a run for it.

"Kerrie, please!" Charlotte said, clearly exasperated. "I really don't want to discuss the thrusting velocity of your future husband!"

"I can't help it!" Kerrie sobbed, and to Ben's great discomfort, she started crying. "Please, I love Michael so much. I don't want him to be disappointed."

With the utmost care, Ben set the float down and took a slow-motion step out of the tub. If he made it to the hall, the front door was only a couple of yards away.

"Look," Charlotte said, "the truth is, I can't help you because..."

He took another cautious step toward the door

"...because I'm a virgin, too."

Ben stopped, mid-stride. Charlotte was a virgin? A smile dawned on his face as his mind did a half-gainer back into the gutter for an erotic free-for-all, celebrating the idea of introducing Charlotte to the wild, wet, and wonderful world of sex. He was busy imagining her panting under him, shuddering through her first man-induced orgasm, when he realized something wasn't quite right. The delicious sexual scenarios he'd been imagining scattered as he listened and noticed that--Jesus Christ--there was now a chorus of crying: Charlotte and Kerrie, both of them in tears, two virgins whimpering together over their chastity.

Could things get any worse?

Yes, he thought, they could. Because if they found out he'd been listening, they were going to rip his ears off.

* * * *

"Charlotte, hey now, come on. Why are you crying?"

Charlotte took the tissue her sister offered her, appalled at her breakdown. How could she possibly tell Kerrie that she was jealous? She was happy beyond words that Kerrie had found Michael and was getting married, but still heart-wrenchingly, lie-awake-at-night jealous. What kind of horrible person resented the happiness of her own sister?

"I'm sorry, Kerrie. Never mind. Let's just get back to the seating, okay? So, is Uncle Larry going to work out here at table seven?"

Kerrie shook her head, her face still bright with surprise. "You can't be a virgin. What about Daniel? You told me Daniel was your first!"

Charlotte grimaced. "We never went beyond second base."

"Robby?"

"He only got to first."

"No one scored at all?" Kerrie asked in astonishment. "You made it all up? That whole thing about losing it in the back of Daniel's Toyota? You made me swear not to tell Mom and Dad! I can't believe this."

"Believe it," Charlotte said in a small voice.

"But why?" Kerrie paced next to the small kitchen table. "I don't understand. Why did you do it?"

"I was trying to set a bad example," Charlotte said, still sniffling.

"I thought you were supposed to set the good example!" Kerrie exclaimed.

"I know. Believe me, I know."

Charlotte had been five years old when her mother told her she was going to be a big sister. Her parents solemnly explained how Charlotte was to be one of Kerrie's first teachers (And oh, how Charlotte adored teachers at that age). Big sisters were responsible for guiding, and understanding, and helping little sisters, her parents had told her. She remembered the excitement of being trusted with such an awesome responsibility and not wanting to disappoint her parents. To this day, she treasured her role more than chafed under it. She and Kerrie had shared a childhood remarkably free of strife. However, at times, she'd used less traditional methods than her parents did, like the time her sister had gotten involved with Levi Russell.

"You wouldn't listen to me when I told you what a creep Levi was. You were really falling under his spell, and all he wanted was to nail you."

"Let me get this straight. You thought if you made up a bogus story about how crappy your first time had been with a high school boy and that you wished to God you'd waited, that I would learn from your mistake and keep to the path of goodness and purity?"

"Yes."

"Well, it worked," Kerrie admitted with a slump to her shoulders.

"I know."

Kerrie sighed. "I can't believe that you're a virgin. My brain is going through a complete realignment." She pressed her index fingers against her temples. "So, you've never had sex with a man?"

Charlotte gave her a look. "That's generally what being a virgin means."

"Nothing beyond second base?"

"No."

"Oh my God!" Kerrie exclaimed, eyes widening, obviously in the midst of a sexual epiphany. "That means I--I've gone farther than you. Michael's already..." Kerrie trailed off and, judging from her sappy smile, was obviously reliving what appeared to be many joyous erotic experiences short of intercourse.

"Snap out of it, Kerr."

Her sister came out of her reverie, grinning, but then her smile faded and she gazed at Charlotte in sympathy. "Oh, Charlotte, I feel so bad for you now."

"Don't." Charlotte felt her eyes sting again, but she refused to fall prey again to self-pity. Maybe later when she was alone, but not now.

Like the loyal sister she was, Kerrie lifted her chin defiantly. "That's right. There's absolutely no reason to feel bad for you. You'll find your someone special, just like I did. I know you will."

"I highly doubt that." Charlotte picked up the pen and started doodling. "The men aren't exactly beating down my door, in case you haven't noticed. They never have. If they did, they were always looking for you."

Kerrie had inherited their mother's good looks, and Charlotte took after her father, who could calculate home loan rates and mortgage payments in his head. They'd always tried to help each other--Charlotte tutoring her sister, and Kerrie doling out fashion and make-up advice--but when all was said and done, Kerrie got the guys and Charlotte got the good grades.

Kerrie bit her lip, clearly distressed. "I'm an awful sister. I've been so wrapped up in my own world that I didn't notice how miserable you are."

"I'm not miserable," Charlotte insisted. "I have my wonderful house. I'm healthy. And I get to wear a maid of honor dress that doesn't look like it came out of a clown's closet. What more could a girl ask for?"

"Someone to love and who loves you."

"Well, that would be nice, but I think the men who are willing to wait for sex until after marriage are either gay and don't know it, or are already taken, like Michael. When the guys find out that a home run is not in their immediate future, they take their ball--or balls, rather--and go home. And it's worse now that I'm older..."

"Twenty-five is not old!"

"It is for a virgin. Heck, most people over the age of sixteen have had sex." Charlotte sighed and looked up at the ceiling. "In fact, I'm seriously considering a one night stand just to get it over with. The last time I told a guy I was waiting for marriage I got this ... this look of stunned astonishment, like I just told him I don't have indoor plumbing and he'd have to use the outhouse..." Charlotte trailed off.

OHMYGOD, BEN.

Charlotte's insides turned to ice. Swallowing a lump of mortification that felt like Antarctica, she pricked her ears toward the bathroom where Ben was supposed to be working. Not a sound.

"Charlotte, what's wrong?"

"I--I forgot I had a doctor's appointment five minutes ago. You have to go. Now!"

"But what about the seating..."

"I'll come by later this week," Charlotte replied. "We'll get it all worked out then. Just hurry up and go."

In the bathroom, Ben realized that he only had a few moments before they came past on their way to the front door. Shit.

He should have closed the door and pretended he hadn't heard a thing, but instead, like a convict in the exercise yard after curfew, he panicked and tried to escape.

One big stride had him at the bathroom door. He peeked his head out. The coast was clear.

"Here, Kerr, here's the list and your purse."

Chairs scraped. Keys jingled.

"Okay, okay, I'm going!"

Hustling now, he got to the front door, but the goddamn security chain was fastened.

Ben felt like crying himself. He had just jerked the chain out of the groove and opened the door when they rounded the corner.

At the two feminine gasps, he spun around.

"Oh, hi," he said lamely.

The sisters looked at each other.

Think fast, buddy.

"Knock, knock," he said.

Charlotte answered, "Who's there?"

"Isabel."

"Isabel who?" Charlotte said.

"Isabel out of order? I had to knock." Big smile.

Kerrie turned to Charlotte with a deadpan look on her face. "Is he serious?"

"Actually, I, ah, was just coming back in," he stammered. "I forgot my, ah, pencil! In the truck." He groped his back pocket, praying he had a pencil in it. He did. Praise the Lord. He held it up and smiled earnestly, the way he used to smile at his dad when he was trying to pull one over on him. He hoped it worked better on these ladies than it used to on his father.

Charlotte studied his face. A tiny trickle of sweat rolled down the back of his neck and he held on to his innocent expression like it was a life preserver from the Titanic.

He must have passed inspection because she said, albeit in a tight voice, "Kerrie, you remember Ben."

"Ben Hayden." He wiped his hand on his pants and shook hands with Kerrie. "I'm tiling the bathroom. If you ever need any contracting work done..." He handed her a business card out of habit.

Taking the card, Kerrie darted a worried glance at Charlotte. "I've actually heard quite a lot about y--Okay, okay, I'm going!" Kerrie said, as Charlotte herded her toward the open door like an impatient border collie. "So you'll come by later, right, sis? I need to get the arrangements to the calligrapher so she can do the place cards."

"Yeah. We'll order pizza or something. Now bye!"

Charlotte shut the door. For a minute or so, she just stood there, her back to him. Then slowly she turned, her lips compressed, her face pale.

"You heard everything," she said. "Don't bother denying it because you have a pocket full of pencils right there." She pointed at his chest.

"I'm sorry, Charlotte. I didn't mean to..."

"Oh God." Her face dissolved as she covered it with her hands and turned away. Ben's heart felt like an anvil in his chest. Seeing her upset like this made him feel desperate. Knowing he was responsible made it worse.

"Come on Charlotte. It's not that bad."

"Yes, it is!" she mumbled into her hands. "I don't want you to be here. Please leave now."

She drew a shuddering breath, and he had to fight very hard not to pull her into his arms and bundle her tightly against his chest.

"Listen to me Charlotte, please." He took one small step closer, and she tensed.

"No, go away Ben, please. I don't want to hear it."

"I just want to..."

"No, y-you're fired! I don't want to see you again. Now, please just go."

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