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Taking It All Off
By Cindi Myers
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneFROM NOW ON, we're going to do things differently.
Sure we are, Glynna thought as she read through the memo from Gordon McCormick - aka her father - about his plans to revamp Texas Style, the biweekly magazine he'd overseen for the past twenty-five years. Glynna had no doubt the magazine would change - her dad had already hired a new managing editor and a new art director, determined to transform the ailing publication's stodgy reputation and lagging sales. What wasn't likely to be any different was her own role as staff drudge.
She looked at her cluttered desktop. How had she gotten so far away from her real love, writing? Sure, she still produced articles for the magazine, but those were squeezed in between the rest of the tasks her dad assigned her. And what about the other work she wanted to do - the hard-hitting investigative stories that could really launch her career to the top? She had half a dozen such pieces crammed into file folders on her desk, clamoring for time she didn't have to give them.
She frowned at the thick folder on top of her inbox - reader surveys her father wanted her to summarize in a report. A report he would glance at once, then ignore. Contemplating that folder made her queasy.
Sucking in a deep breath, she picked up the file and dropped it in her trash can. She smiled at the sight of it balanced atop the fast-food wrappers and disposable coffee cups, relief stealing over her.
But the pleasure was short-lived, as her well-honed sense of obligation took over. What would her father say if he saw it?
Overwhelmed by guilt, she fished out the folder and put it back in her in-box. Having a conscience was a pain in the ass sometimes.
Her intercom buzzer sounded. "Glynna, can I see you in my office when you have a free minute?" Editor Stacy Southern's pleasant voice brought a smile to Glynna's lips. Here was one thing her dad had done that actually made Glynna's life easier. Stacy was a great editor and a true gal pal. The two women had bonded the day Stacy had interviewed for the editor's position. Glynna had found her in the ladies' room, frantically trying to stop a run in her stockings.
One new pair of panty hose and two aspirin later, Stacy had the job and Glynna had a new best friend.
She leaned forward and punched the button for Stacy's office. "I'll be right over." Any excuse to get away from that overflowing in-box for a while.
She headed toward Stacy's office, turning the corner just as the stairway door burst open and a familiar figure in motorcycle leathers barely missed colliding with her. He jerked back just in time, though the saddlebag slung over his shoulder popped open, spilling manila envelopes across the floor at her feet.
"Hey, sorry." Jake Dawson, staff photographer and unconventional thorn in her father's side, reached out to steady her. "I didn't expect anybody to be out here."
She shrugged out of his grasp, the leather of his fingerless gloves dragging against the silk of her blouse. With the ends of his shoulder-length blond hair tangled by the wind and his jacket unzipped to reveal a Museum of Modern Art T-shirt, Jake stood out amidst the suited office workers like a cobra in a cage of pigeons. And he was about as dangerous, at least to her sense of well-being. He had the annoying ability to fluster her, in spite of her best efforts to remain cool. Maybe it was the unnerving way his steel-blue gaze met hers directly, as if daring her to hide anything from him. Or the obvious enjoyment he got from refusing to adhere to any accepted standard of corporate behavior.
Or maybe it was the heat that built within her when-ever he was near, an unbidden flicker of desire that reminded her that she was a woman and Jake was a man with a capital M. A man she didn't want anything to do with, despite the automatic way her body responded to him. Why was it she could control everything else about her life but the way this one man made her feel?
"Where are you off to in such a hurry?" She hid her agitation by stooping and picking up a handful of the envelopes that had slipped from his bag. As she rose, one of them opened and a black and white photograph slid to the floor.
She stared at the photo, warmth flooding her face as she realized it was the image of a nude woman - a full-breasted, round-hipped woman seated in a chair, hair falling across her face, hiding her identity, while her spread-legged posture left nothing else to the imagination.
"Do you mind?" Jake eased the photo from her hand.
"Wh - what are you doing with those?" Glynna stepped back, struggling to remain calm, though her heart beat wildly and tension coiled between her thighs.
Jake glanced at the photo, a half smile on his lips. "Didn't anyone tell you? We figured it would really increase the readership of Texas Style if we started including centerfolds."
Typical Jake. He could never give a straight answer. Fine. She could play his game. "Uh-huh. And of course, you volunteered to do all the photography."
"And is that some of your work?" She nodded to the photograph, struggling not to stare at the arresting image. It was erotic, without being pornographic. Artistic, even. Not that she was an expert or anything....
"As a matter of fact, it is." He slipped the photo back into the envelope and replaced it in his bag. When he looked at her again, his expression was teasing. "Maybe you'd care to pose for me sometime? Bet your dad would like that, huh?"
She stiffened, even as her nipples tightened at the thought of getting naked with Jake. "What does my father have to do with it? Not that I have any intention of 'posing' for you."
He shrugged. "No surprise there. You're daddy's girl, after all." His gaze traveled up her legs, across her torso, lingering on her breasts before meeting her eyes once more. "It's a shame, really."
He turned and sauntered down the hall, his boot heels making muffled thuds on the carpet.
Glynna stared after him. "What do you mean by that?" But she spoke too softly for him to hear her.
Not that she didn't already have an idea of what his answer would be. Jake had made no secret of the fact that he thought she and her father were uptight, image-obsessed corporate clones "who wouldn't know fun and sexy if it climbed up on the conference table and did a dance." Or such had been his assessment at the last staff meeting he'd been forced to attend.
If he wasn't such a brilliant photographer, her father would have fired him weeks ago. But brilliance - and advertiser and reader praise - could convince a publisher to overlook a lot.
Excerpted from Taking It All Off by Cindi Myers Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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