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Gotta Have It
By Lori Wilde
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter One"YOU KNOW WHAT you need?"
"To get plastered and pick up the first sexy stud who crosses your path. It's the best cure for those pesky just-got-stood-up-at-the-altar blues."
Abby Archer arrowed a glance at her best friend, Tess Baxter. They were seated side by side on wooden playground swings behind the church rectory. Abby was still wearing her eight-thousand-dollar ecru Vera Wang wedding gown and matching ballet style slippers, while Tess was dressed in a peach-colored spaghetti strap maid-of-honor dress and opened-toed sandals.
It was only then that Abby realized Tess's toenails were painted electric-neon-green. She couldn't help smiling at her quirky gal pal's choice of polish.
Tess wagged a bottle of Jose Cuervo Gold in one hand, a baggie of sliced limes in the other. "I've got the hooch, now let's go find us some stallions."
"Thanks for trying to cheer me up, but honestly I don't need to get drunk or have a one-night stand in order to salve my ego. Jilting me is the best thing Ken could have done for either one of us."
"Will you just stop it?" Tess twisted the top off the tequila and tossed it over her shoulder. The lid landed with a quiet plop onto ground still soft with the rare treat of an early-morning May rain in Phoenix.
"Making lemonade from lemons. You got ditched on your wedding day. You're entitled to be p.o'd."
"Seriously, I'm cool with it. In fact ..."
"In fact what?"
Abby lowered her voice, fidgeted with the powder-blue chantilly lace on the hanky she was supposed to have tucked into her pocket for something blue and admitted, "I feel relieved."
Tess made a derisive noise. "Be that as it may, Ken humiliated you. If I'd gotten stood up, I'd hunt the guy down with a pickax and dispatch his manly parts. Chop, chop."
"My best friend the drama queen," Abby said affectionately.
"Hey," Tess snapped her fingers. "Do you want me to emasculate him for you? I volunteer to be your personal hit woman."
"I appreciate the loyalty, but I think I'll let Ken keep his manly parts. He might need them for his future with Racy Racine."
"I still can't believe he ran off with an exotic dancer." Tess took a swig of the tequila, grimaced and bit down on a lime wedge. She extended the bottle to Abby and arched an eyebrow invitingly.
Abby shook her head and waved away the tequila. The swing's rusted metal chains creaked. "I just never expected Ken to do something so out of character. I mean the reason I was marrying him was because he was stable and predictable and reliable."
"And because your dad approved of him."
"You know what? I think we oughta cash in your honeymoon tickets and go on a trip. You already have two weeks off and I'm in between jobs. Let's do something completely wild and crazy. Like drive to New Orleans and get our tongues pierced."
"Come on, I heard it enhances the sexual response," Tess cajoled.
Abby rolled her eyes. "You think everything enhances the sexual response."
"Well, if it doesn't it should."
"Sex is overrated."
Tess grinned impishly. "You're just saying that because you've never had great sex."
"I don't see what the big deal is."
Tess sighed and ran a hand through her short, spiky red hair. "Jeez Abby, don't you ever just allow yourself to get carried away by the moment?"
"You know how I feel about letting my emotions spill out of control. It's undignified and destructive."
"Come on, tell the truth. Somewhere deep down inside, when you were sleeping with Mr. Boring Buttoned-Down, didn't you fantasize about an explosive, passionate man who would sweep you off your feet, spirit you away to some mountain top and savagely ravage you?"
"Just answer the question."
"Sometimes," Abby mumbled.
All the time, she thought to herself, and that was why she fought so hard to keep her sexual desires under wraps. She knew from experience the havoc unbridled passion wrought. Dark obsession scared the pants off her.
Tess's eyes lit up. "Do tell! Is he somebody famous? Or is your dream lover someone you know?"
"I don't really want to discuss this," Abby said, but a mental picture of Durango Creed immediately jumped into her head.
In her mind's eye he looked exactly as he had at eighteen when he had ridden out of her life forever. Black jeans, black leather jacket, black White Snake T-shirt, straddling his Ducati and begging her to run away with him. His ruggedly handsome face had glistened in the moonlight. His shoulder-length ebony hair was windblown, his black eyes deep and penetrating.
And his wicked, wicked smile had promised nothing but trouble.
He'd been the dead opposite of a knight in shining armor on a white charger.
In her daydreams, she longed for him to fulfill the promise inherent in his smile, but in reality, she'd sent him away without crossing that dangerous line. She had not acted on her impulses.
Excerpted from Gotta Have It by Lori Wilde Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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