Talk Dirty to Me

Talk Dirty to Me

4.5 16
by Dakota Cassidy
     
 

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Former mean girl Dixie Davis is back in town and it's payback time. Literally. Dixie is flat broke and her best—make that only—friend, Landon, is throwing her a lifeline from the Great Beyond. Dixie stands to inherit his business…if she meets a few conditions: 

She's got to live in Landon's mansion. 

With her gorgeous

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Overview

Former mean girl Dixie Davis is back in town and it's payback time. Literally. Dixie is flat broke and her best—make that only—friend, Landon, is throwing her a lifeline from the Great Beyond. Dixie stands to inherit his business…if she meets a few conditions: 

She's got to live in Landon's mansion. 

With her gorgeous ex-fiancé, Caine Donovan. 

Who could also inherit the business. 

Which is a phone sex empire. 

Wait, what? 

Landon's will lays it out: whoever gets the most new clients becomes the owner of Call Girls. Dixie has always been in it to win it, especially when it comes to Caine, who's made it clear he's not going down easy. (Oh, mercy.) Can Dixie really talk dirty and prove that she's cleaned up her act? Game on!

Plum Orchard, Georgia, is about to get even juicier…

www.DakotaCassidy.com

Plum Orchard, Georgia, is about to get even juicier… 

Notorious mean girl Dixie Davis is back in town and it's payback time. Literally. Dixie is flat broke and her best—make that only—friend, Landon, is throwing her a lifeline from the Great Beyond. Dixie stands to inherit his business…if she meets a few conditions: 

She's got to live in Landon's mansion. 

With her gorgeous ex-fiancé, Caine Donovan. 

Who could also inherit the business. 

Which is a phone sex empire. 

Wait, what? 

Landon's will lays it out: whoever gets the most new clients becomes the owner of Call Girls. Dixie has always been in it to win it, especially when it comes to Caine, who's made it clear he's not going down easy. (Oh, mercy.) Can Dixie really talk dirty and prove that she's cleaned up her act? Game on!

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 03/24/2014
Cassidy (The Accidental Werewolf) turns an implausible premise into a startlingly deep heartstring-tugger. When Dixie Davis returns to Plum Orchard, Ga. for her best friend Landon’s funeral, she finds her hometown still fixated on her mean-girl past. Her ex-fiancé, Caine Donovan, holds an especially big grudge. But Landon has left his phone-sex business to Dixie and Caine—or rather, to whichever one of them proves more talented on the phones. Dixie desperately needs the money; she also needs to prove that she’s no longer a manipulative queen bee. No one, least of all Caine, is making her return easy, and Dixie takes the abuse, thinking it’s her due. Caine has a hard time letting go of his anger, but he can’t help noticing that Dixie isn’t quite the same girl he remembers. With each altercation, Caine learns more about the new Dixie, and Dixie starts to value herself. While their reconciliation is passionate, the most powerful scenes are the ones where Dixie learns that she is worthy of being loved. (May)
From the Publisher
"A startlingly deep heartstring-tugger. . . . The most powerful scenes are the ones where Dixie learns that she is worthy of being loved." —Publishers Weekly Starred Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781460331170
Publisher:
Harlequin
Publication date:
04/29/2014
Sold by:
HARLEQUIN
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
62,099
File size:
0 MB

Read an Excerpt

"He looks really good, considering." Emmaline Amos sniffed, pushing her way past an enormous bouquet of white lilies standing by Landon Wells's casket at Tate and Son's Home Of Eternal Rest.

She pulled Dixie Davis with her, away from Landon's casket and into the privacy of a connecting mourning room where she set Dixie on a couch surrounded by pictures of Landon.

The scent of dark wood paneling, vanilla candles, and Old Spice invaded Dixie's nose, making her "ugly cry" hangover pulse in her temples with the force of a sledgehammer.

Dixie lifted her sunglasses, thwarting another ambush of tears, so grateful for the opportunity to have had a few moments alone with Landon without the intrusion of the long line of people who'd shown up to pay their last respects.

She muttered up at Em, "Why does everyone always say that, Em? Landon's dead. There's nothing good-looking about it. I always thought that was a crude thing to say."

Em huffed, brushing the brim of her black sun hat, and sat down beside her. She gave her a nudge to make some room. "It's not crude. I was complimentin' him. New adjective, please," she drawled, her Southern lilt like macaroni and cheese to Dixie's homesick ears. Comfort food for the soul.

"Crass?"

"Crass is harsh, Dixie."

Landon Wells, her best friend ever, was dead. That was harsh.

Harsher still, Landon's other best friend, Caine Donovan, was just outside that door.

Don't forget he's your ex-fiancé, too.

Right. Dixie started to regret her terse words with Emmaline. She couldn't afford to alienate the one and only, albeit totally reluctant, ally she had left in her small hometown of Plum Orchard, Georgia.

Maybe what was making her so snappish was exhaustion after the long drive from Chicago. Or the anxiety of returning to said small hometown where everyone knew her name and mostly wanted to throw darts at her picture.

Maybe it was the precariousness of her life in financial semiruin that made her voice what she'd been thinking for almost two hours as mourner after mourner repeated Em's words while she'd waited for her private viewing of Landon's body.

Or maybe it was the likelihood that a good portion of the female population of Plum Orchard High, class of 1996, were just outside this very funeral home with metaphoric stakes soaked in the town's specialty, homemade plum wine, just waiting for Reverend Watson to perform her public exorcism. Then they could seal the deal by driving their angry pieces of wood right through her despicable heart.

It would be nothing less than she deserved.

She'd been a horrible person in high school and beyond, and here in Plum Orchard where time seemed to stand still, no one forgot.

You were horrible long after high school, too, Dixie. To Caine…

Point. Most of her anxiety had to do with the fact that she had no choice but to see Caine Donovan again.

Bingo, Dixie. The thought of seeing him left her feeling fragile and raw.

To this damn day his memory still leaves you breathless.

Acknowledged. Dark, star-filled nights under a scratchy army blanket in the bed of Caine's pickup truck, the scent of magnolias clinging to their sticky skin. It was just one of many of the images-both good and bad-she'd warred with since her return to Plum Orchard became a reality.

She scrunched her eyes shut before reopening them.

"Sorry," Em said, dragging her from her internal war. Her blue eyes held sympathy beneath her wide-brimmed hat. "I'm glad they gave you some time alone with Landon before the latecomers swarm in to pay their last respects. I can't even imagine how much this hurts." Em squeezed her shoulder with reassuring fingers.

Dixie let out a shaky sigh, hooking her arm through Em's. "No, I'm the one who's sorry. I'm tired and on edge, and you've been so kind to me through this whole process when I totally don't deserve-"

"No, you surely do not, Dixie Davis!" Em's voice rose, then just as quickly reduced to just above a whisper. She peered over her shoulder as though unseen eyes might bear witness to her bad manners. God forbid. "You were a mean girl back in the day. My high school years were torture because of you. And might I remind you, people don't forget, especially here in little ol' Plum Orchard. Why, you're lucky I even picked up the phone during Landon's last days, knowing it was you I had to talk to on the other end of the line," she finished on an offended harrumph.

But Dixie knew better than to take Em's outburst personally. Em was as kind as she was generous, and nothing, not even a faded-around-the-edges grudge, would keep her good heart from beating selflessly.

For all her leftover high school anger with Dixie, Em had called her religiously with updates on Landon's last days, because he'd asked her to. Em always did what was right. That was just who she was.

Still, Dixie gave her a sheepish glance, and bumped her shoulder playfully to ease the lines of Em's frown. "This is about the cheerleading squad, isn't it?"

Em's arm stiffened. She lifted her chin. "You told me my legs looked like sausages in that stupid cheerleading skirt, so I couldn't be on the squad. But my split jumps were better 'n Annabelle Pruitt's, and you knew it."

True. Every last word of it. She'd been cruel, twenty or so years ago. Yet, comments like that, among the many she'd hurled at Em, obviously crept into a person's soul and hung around. From the moment she'd seen Em after being gone so long, Dixie had known she'd be met with extreme caution. Maybe some angry outbursts and plenty of tests to see if she really had changed.

So Dixie's next admission was without hesitation.

"I did."

Dixie let her hand slide down along Emmaline's arm to thread her fingers through hers, giving them a light squeeze. "I'm not that person anymore, Emmaline. I'm really not. You were right then and now. Your split jumps were at least a hundred feet higher than Annabelle's. I lied back then out ofjealousy. Your legs are long and gorgeous." They were. Em was undeniably beautiful.

Em ran a self-conscious hand over her bare leg and said, "Don't you try and flatter me after all this time. Not after I spent four months' worth of babysitting money on the ThighMaster because of you."

Dixie winced. "Then, if nothing else, you know, for every mean thing I did to you back then, I hope you'll remember, the Lord says to forgive is divine."

"The Lord didn't go to high school with you."

"Fair." Dixie let her chin drop to her chest, noting under the lights of the funeral home, the long curls of her red dye job were fading dismally.

Em's nostrils flared at the pin Dixie'd effectively poked in her bubble of anger before her rigid posture deflated, and she let out a half chuckle. "Don't you be nice to me, Dixie Davis. I'm not one hundred percent buyin' this 'I've changed' act. You've done that bit once before, and we all fell for it ten years ago, remember? Not so fast this time. So just keep your compliments to yourself." It was obvious Em was trying to keep her resentments in check out of respect for Landon, for which today, Dixie was grateful.

If not for Em, she wouldn't have been able to speak to Landon the one last time he was still coherent-nor would she have known about a single funeral arrangement. So Dixie nodded in understanding. "No rights allowed."

The tension around Em's crimson-colored lips eased some, her expression growing playful. She fingered one of the lilies in a fluted vase on the table near the couch. "And as a by the by, Lesta-Sue and the Mags said they'll never allow you access to the Plum Orchard Founders Day parade committee, if you were hopin' to worm back into everyone's good graces, that is."

It was a "take that" comment meant to hurt her- to remind Dixie, when she'd been head Magnolia, the town's decades-old society of women, and a rite of rich Southern girl passage, she'd once used her popularity and status to shun others via the town's elitist club. Especially Em.

If Lesta-Sue was here already, that meant the rest of the Mags would be here, too. Terrific. Surely, Louella Palmer, Dixie's head Magnolia predecessor, wasn't far behind.

Louella hated her, too. In fact, there was a special kind of hate reserved by Louella just for Dixie. Because she'd broken the girlfriend code ten years ago.

Really broken it.

But Dixie nodded again, and this time, if there was such an act, she did it with even less hesitation than the time before. "Lesta-Sue shouldn't allow me access to a public gas station bathroom after what I did to her. Stealing her high school beau of three long years by offering to let him get to second base with me was a horrible thing to do. So it's a good thing I'll be long gone by the time they break out the hot glue gun and crepe paper. I'm not here to stay, Em. I'm just here to say goodbye to Landon."

The statement tugged at Dixie's heart. She'd missed home-even if it hadn't missed her.

Em's dark brows knitted together while her gloved fingertips fluttered to the pointed collar of her black-belted dress with the flared skirt. "You're upsetting me, Dixie."

"How so, Emmaline?"

"You're still bein' sweet."

Dixie flashed her a warm smile. "Aw, thank you."

"Stop that this instant!" Em insisted. "It's unsettling. I should hate you just like every woman still left in this town who attended Plum Orchard High does." She stiffened again, as if her years of piled-up high school hurts caused by Dixie were warring with her naturally forgiving nature.

Em had just wanted to fit in back then, and Dixie'd used it to her advantage at every outlet. She wouldn't forgive someone for treating her the way she'd treated Em, but if regret counted, she had plenty of that to give.

Dixie shot her another smile full of more gratitude. "Yes, you should hate me. You still can, if you'd like. But I appreciate you, and everythin' you've done. So see? We balance each other out."

"The only thing that keeps me from shunning you just like the others is I can't help but feel badly for you, Dixie. I, unlike you, have a conscience. You've had a horrible patch. I mean, first we all hear you lost your fancy restaurant-"

"That was almost two years ago, Em." Two long years, scraping together a pathetic living with the degree she never quite got, and working odd jobs with her limited-really limited work skills.

Em clucked her tongue. "Two years, two days. Does the amount of time since the descent into financial devastation truly matter?"

Dixie had to nod her agreement. It only mattered to her. Her and the investors she'd let down.

"Okay, but then, your best friend, Landon, asks me to keep you-of all people-up to date on his journey to the end, knowing darn well I'd never say no because one, I grew to love him, too, and two, for gracious sake, he was dying. Then that best friend in the whole world of yours, I'm guessin' your only friend left, dies."

"You're a fine human being, Em. I mean that." Dixie refused to take the bait and let Em get a rise out of her.

Em pushed some more. "Adding to all that misery, there's Caine Donovan. Your heart must be in an emotional tizzy about seeing him after, what is it now? Ten years…"

Dixie remained stoically silent. About all things failed restaurant and especially all things Caine Donovan.

"You remember him, right? One-time Plum Orchard High heartthrob and all-county track star, now one of Miami's biggest real-estate moguls… Oh, and the man you claimed to love but bet on like a Derby horse?" Em was dropping a line into Dixie's ocean with a juicy worm on the end of it to see if she'd rear up and bite.

The bet. God, that damn bet.

But the truth was the truth. Her restaurant had failed because she'd been too busy partying and running up her credit cards to bother with silly things like managing the restaurant she'd convinced herself, with absolutely no experience at all, was as good a place as any to escape her hometown and run away from the horrible thing she'd done to Caine.

Her engagement had failed because at the time, Dixie Davis didn't know how not to turn everything into a three-ring circus.

And yes, Caine was successful, and she wasn't.

All ugly truths.

Topping everything off, there'd been Mason-the beginning of her end.

Dixie lifted her sunglasses once more and forced a smile, letting her eyes purposely meet Em's. "Sorry to disappoint, but there's no emotional tizzy here. Seeing Caine is part of the process of saying goodbye to our mutual best friend. That's all. He has as much right as I do. He was Landon's best friend, too."

Liar.

She'd practiced those words in her bathroom mirror hundreds of times before she'd left Chicago so they'd come off cordial and, above all, gracious. She'd almost convinced herself this imposed meeting was just that- two people who hadn't worked out, simply running into each other again and chatting niceties until it was time to go back to their lives.

But seeing Caine meant remembering how madly in love they'd been for a time. It meant hearing his voice, a voice so warm it could probably still make her thighs clench.

If they ended up in a close setting, it meant possibly brushing against his granite wall of a chest or watching him confidently smile while he arrogantly tilted an eyebrow at her. It meant that swell of clawing longing for him rising upward and settling in her chest.

It meant reliving emotions that still ached almost as fresh as the day they'd happened.

No one since Caine had ever touched her quite the same way. Caine Donovan was like a drug, and she was his junkie in need of a Caine Anonymous meeting.

Dixie chose to avoid Em dangling the Caine carrot under her nose. Talking about Caine meant stirring up all the emotions that went with everything that had happened. Today all her turmoil was reserved for Landon and her gratitude toward Em.

That Em had walked this far out on the ledge, offering to come with Dixie to Landon's funeral in front of all of Plum Orchard's very prying, judgmental eyes, was more than was her due.

The ache of more tears tickled the back of Dixie's eyelids. "You know, even though I knew Landon's death was inevitable, it really is just like everyone says-you can never prepare for it."

Em waved a hand around the room, chockfull of life-size pictures of Landon doing everything from zip-lining in Alaska over an icy glacier to cooking in Bobby Flay's kitchen. "Well, if no one else was prepared, this sendoff is a sign Landon was prepared. He knew how he wanted to go out, and he left strict instructions about it. You don't think his mother arranged those drag queens on stilts outside, do you? The Plum Orchard Bible study ladies nearly fell faint to the ground when they arrived."

A glimmer of a smile outlined Dixie's lips, lips still chapped and peeling from her nervous habit of tugging them. "He wasn't shy, was he?"

"Landon was whatever the antithesis of shy is."

That Landon had been. Loud and proud. Just thinking about him always made Dixie smile.

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