Read an Excerpt
By Karen Anders
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter OnePour the honey on him. Let it flow across his chest, down over his washboard abs and pool in his naval. Lap it up with your tongue and taste the golden sweetness. Stroking is an erotic sensation sure to give him slow, muscle-melting pleasure.
Honey is the nectar of the gods, the food of love, apply generously and go slooow....
"MISS MALONE, I'm afraid your father is going to be delayed. He apologizes." Laurel Malone's father's secretary, Lucy Sheridan, stood at the large double doors of her father's office, her lips pinched, and her eyes cold.
Laurel dropped the copy of SPICE magazine into her lap, the article describing the uses of aphrodisiacs to enhance sex forgotten. Chilled by the blunt, unfeeling sound of Lucy's voice, a voice that could wilt a flower like a killing frost, Laurel shifted. Lucy was just one more unpleasant aspect of her father's multimillion dollar Wall Street brokerage house, a longtime fixture in upper Manhattan. She hated this place. This empty, dead place where people moved around like automatons.
With an irritable flick of her wrist, she sent the ends of her long black hair over her shoulder.
She closed her eyes to collect her composure. She'd specifically asked her father to lunch, so that she could talk to him about her mother's memorial and his lack of interest in it.
Anne Wilks Malone had been a driving force behind the large art deco collection that now was on exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. To honor her mother, Laurel had come up with the idea of holding an auction in her mother's name and donate the proceeds to the Met. It seemed a fitting way to celebrate her mother's anniversary.
The auction would be held two short weeks from now and they had lost their room at Christie's. The New York auction house had doubled-booked and so they were out of a place to host their event.
She needed his help and advice, but every time she'd tried to talk to him, he put her off or sidestepped the discussion. He couldn't possibly be avoiding the subject - no, that couldn't be it. He'd worshipped her mother and would want an update as to the progress of the preparations for the charity auction of art deco pieces.
With a practiced voice devoid of annoyance, she replied. "That's fine. I'll wait."
Her father's very efficient personal assistant nodded and closed the heavy oak door to her father's plush office.
Anticipating her father's somewhat unpredictable schedule, she'd brought the latest issue of SPICE magazine.
Laurel tried to focus on the words, but decided to wait and read the rest of the article at home later in a more comfortable environment. Contemplating what she could do to a man with honey was best done in private.
The auction and her father's reluctance to help weren't the only things on her mind. Annoyance snapped through her like currents of dangerous electricity.
She grabbed up the magazine and turned the pages with short, choppy movements.
Calm, cool, collected, she heard her mother's soft voice in her head. A lady always acts professional.
But Laurel couldn't help her anger, even as she slowed her movements and tried to, at least, act calm. She'd only been a senior analyst at Waterford Scott for one month and now Mr. Herman was making noises about taking the Spegelman account away and giving it to Mark Dalton, the once pleasant Mark Dalton who now looked at her like she was a sneaky backstabber.
She couldn't understand why he was getting the big account. Mr. Herman's excuse was that her job needed to be pared down so that she could focus on her other more demanding clients, but it didn't ring true for Laurel. She was on the fast track to make partner, and she couldn't see how taking a big client away from her was going to make her a better analyst. It didn't make sense to her.
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Worrying about it now would only give her heartburn. Let it go, she told herself as she looked down at her open magazine. Her sister-in- law Haley, editor of SPICE, sure knew how to pick the men she showcased in her magazine. In advance of the quickly approaching summer, this issue had numerous guys sprawled in the sand, over a surfboard, and one fine example standing underneath an outside shower. Hoo boy!
She'd been working long hours ever since she'd gotten the promotion. It had been too long since she'd felt the wonderful touch of a man's mouth moving oh-so-slowly across her aching flesh. Too long since she'd felt the exquisite weight and warmth of a hard body covering hers, the sleek stroke and special friction of a man sliding deep in a grinding rhythm. No sex toy could duplicate those wonderful, erotic sensations. She longed for a carnal link with a real-live man.
Another bone of contention with her father. He was very vocal about the kind of men she dated. Even though she was twenty-eight years old, her father continued to try to control her life and, for the most part, Laurel let him. His influence had increased since her mother had died a year ago.
She did value his advice and knew that he had her best interests at heart. So she'd caved when he thought that accounting would suit her. She'd also caved in accepting the lucrative job at Waterford Scott, one of the big five accounting firms in the United States.
She had had her little rebellions, too, such as, the SoHo brownstone when he wanted her in upper Manhattan in one of the posh neighborhoods, and her refusal when he offered to manage her mother's trust.
Her father wanted her to settle down and get married to a respectable, normal guy. It's not that Laurel didn't want that, she did. It was her father's determination that the guy be someone who worked in this mausoleum - boring, unappealing, and dedicated to fulfilling all her father's wishes, that irked her. She wanted a man who'd stand up to her father and fulfill all her wishes. Her father's will was formidable and she suspected she'd end up with exactly the kind of guy her father wanted for her. Then her life would be drab and staid just like his office.
She sighed. She was being overdramatic today and shook off the mood. She continued to flip through the pages until she came across the section that usually showcased the SPICE quiz. A little frisson of excitement sizzled through her.
The title read Who's Your Hottie? Some women prefer a man in uniform, others a man straddling a Harley. What kind of man turns you on? Take the SPICE quiz and see who lights your fire. Laurel looked at her watch and then down at the quiz. Her father would probably be at least another fifteen minutes, and she wasn't going to stew about losing an important client until it actually happened. Besides, it would be fun to see who she might enjoy spending some carnal time with.
Excerpted from Manhandling by Karen Anders 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.