THE RIGHT BED
The first time Blaine Saunders spies the antique brass bed, she has to have it. Practical in every other way, she's suddenly discovered a weakness for sensuous beds where dreams come true.
THE WRONG ADDRESS
But the chances of her beautiful bed being delivered to the wrong address twice are about the same as lightning striking twice. Who knew that could happen? Tracking down the elusive bed is exhausting. So when she finally finds it in a stranger's apartment, she's sure no one will notice if she has a quick nap .
THE RIGHT MAN!
Where is his bed? When Donovan Roy arrives home late one night, the last thing he expects to find is a different bed complete with a sleeping beauty! And in a white-hot flash of shared passion, he knows he'll do anything to keep her and the bed.
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About the Author
After graduating with honors from the University of California Santa Barbara, Colleen worked as a film production assistant, improv comic, technical writer/editor and private investigator. All these experiences play into her writing.
Read an Excerpt
By Colleen Collins
Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.Copyright © 2003 Colleen Collins
All right reserved.
Chapter OneBlaine Saunders glided her fingers along the cylindrical metal and closed her hand tightly around it, loving its hard, smooth texture. Then she sucked in a gasp of air and sneezed.
Damn allergies. Still gripping the section of metal on the brass headboard, Blaine stuffed her other hand into her pants pocket and withdrew one of the always-present tissues she kept handy this time of year. Just a few minutes ago, she'd sneezed her head off outside the Spice of Life coffee shop, one of her fav haunts in Manitou Springs. But then, almost everywhere in Manitou was a fav haunt - what wasn't to like about a picturesque mountain community filled with quaint shops and winding streets nestled at the base of Colorado's Pikes Peak?
But when summer hit, the temperatures spiked and the afternoon thunderstorms rolled in, changing the cozy little town into a bowl of pollen.
She blew her nose. June should be declared Pollen Month.
Tucking away the tissue, Blaine brushed her fingers along the glistening headboard and imagined how pleasurable it would be to sleep in this beauty every single night. She leaned closer, catching her reflection in its polished surface. The shimmering metallic image gave her big green eyes and shoulder-length auburn hair a magical allure she never felt in everyday life. If she held her head a little higher, her gold-tinged reflection looked almost like Liv Tyler in Lord of the Rings.
Blaine sighed deeply. Then coughed. Damn allergies.
Dabbing the tissue at her nose, she stroked her finger in a lazy path along a metallic curve, enjoying the streak of moisture left from her hot skin making contact with the cool metal. So cool. So hot outside. Would anyone notice if I pressed my hot face against this cool metal?
She looked around. Jerome, the store owner, stood by a window, his hair glinting silver in a stream of sunlight, where he fastidiously dusted off an antique cabinet. But no one else was around. Great. She leaned over and pressed her forehead, then her cheek, against the sleek metal.
This had to be better than sticking her face in front of a fan, which she'd been doing back at her office all morning long. Especially after David called to announce he was engaged to another girl, although the fan didn't, unfortunately, blow away her disappointment. So she'd reminded herself that four months of Thursday-night dates didn't necessarily equate to ever-after.
For David, it didn't equate to exclusivity either, it appeared.
But for Blaine, it had been a close-enough, sorta-boyfriend situation that she'd suggested they take a romantic Alaskan cruise, a dream she'd nursed since grammar school when she'd written a report on the northern lights. When David agreed, Blaine had exuberantly spent her income tax return on a cruise ticket. Which she'd been on her way to get a cash refund for when this beguiling bed had snagged her attention.
She pressed her cheek harder against the metal, loving its sleek, cool texture. If only men were like this. Stable, reassuring, cool when it was hot outside ... hot when it was cool inside ...
"Blaine, dear, are you all right?"
Blaine, her cheek still pressed to the section of brass bed, shifted her gaze. Jerome stood stiffly next to her, his gray, cookie-duster mustache twitching. His gaze darted to the metal pressed to her cheek, then back to her eyes.
"I'm fine," she murmured, easing ever so casually to a standing position, hoping she didn't have a cylindrical indent on her cheek. Jerome's cologne, which always smelled like spicy orchids to her, traced the air.
"Still haven't fixed your air-conditioning?"
"When my accounts pay up, I might."
In the moment of silence that followed, Blaine knew that Jerome knew exactly what she was talking about. Several months ago, Jerome had hired Blaine to organize an estate sale, for which he had yet to pay. As owner of the Blaine Saunders Temporary Agency, she normally brokered temporary personnel for others - anything from accounting to technical writing - but because Jerome had been an old friend of her mother's, Blaine had taken on management of the estate sale herself.
Then, the economy took a surprising nosedive. Businesses started cutting back on everything from office supplies to employee head count. The latter hit Blaine's business hard because before a company reduced its own employee base, it eliminated all workers contracted through outside agencies. Which was, unfortunately exactly what the Blaine Saunders Temporary Agency specialized in - contracting workers, from secretaries to database specialists, to businesses.
Almost overnight, she lost three-fourths of her contracts with local corporations. To make ends meet, Blaine had moved out of her condo and rented a small room in someone's house. And she applied for a small-business loan, which she'd hear soon if the bank approved or not. She'd also requested her outstanding accounts to please pay up, but when Jerome had pleaded tight finances, she'd told him to pay when convenient.
Which made her feel a tad guilty for her quick retort, but if Jerome wanted to mention her not being able to fix things, well ...
He glanced around his shop, then leaned forward slightly. "You're second on my list," he said under his breath. "Right after I pay Ralph."
"Ralph?" She thought she knew everyone in Manitou Springs.
"He delivers the antiques to my customers." Straightening, Jerome raised his voice. "Heard your father's working with you."
When the economy faltered, her dad had volunteered to help Blaine out at the agency. Having let go of her part-time assistant, Blaine had appreciated her dad's offer. Plus, she knew he welcomed a respite from spending the bulk of his retirement years parked in front of a TV.
"Yes, he's having a wonderful time playing receptionist," Blaine said. And a wonderful time playing matchmaker, or trying to. She had yet to tell him about David getting engaged to another woman ... Blaine felt bad, yes, but she knew her father would be downright devastated.
A slightly crooked lamp shade caught Jerome's eye. "Also heard your sister's getting married." He reached for the shade and leveled it with a flick of his fingertips.
Sonja, Blaine's kid sister, had always been one for surprises. Her most recent being her news that she planned to elope in a week with a cadet who'd just graduated from the prestigious Air Force Academy in nearby Colorado Springs. Their dad, after darn near kissing the ground, had convinced Sonja to at least have a small ceremony in town, claiming it's what her dearly departed mother would have wanted.
"Yes, she's getting married," Blaine affirmed, realizing Jerome had successfully steered the conversation away from his debt. "Mom would have been so proud."
Excerpted from Lightning Strikes by Colleen Collins Copyright © 2003 by Colleen Collins
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I lived in Manitou Springs (the location of this book) for years--and Ms. Collins captures the area perfectly! Plus this story has enough steam to keep me up past my bedtime!!! Great read, keep on truckin', Ms. Collins!