Ten years ago, Dustin Ramsey and Erica Mann shared their first sexual experience in the back seat of Dustin's red Mustang. And the interlude was...a complete disaster. Now Dustin is facing a huge challenge--taking over the family business. But before he does, he has to get past his one and only failure. His plan: to find--and seduce--Erica again. Only, this time he's got to do it right....
Erica is amazed when Dustin shows up on her doorstep. True, he has a business proposition for her, but the look in his eye tells her what kind of proposition he's really offering.... Erica has come a long way in ten years. Her newsletter, Dateline: Dallas, has gained her a reputation as the Dr. Ruth of the Dallas area. So if Dustin thinks he can just walk in and seduce her senseless, he'd better think again. Because Erica intends to seduce him first....
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Truly, Madly, Deeply
By Vicki Thompson
Harlequin EnterprisesCopyright © 2002 Harlequin Enterprises
All right reserved.
Chapter OnePeering at the computer screen, P.I. Jennifer Madison muttered a few swear words in her native Spanish. The investigative software she'd installed was malfunctioning yet again. Finding Erica Deutchmann should have been a snap, but computer glitches were turning it into a two-day nightmare.
Then, miraculously, the program coughed up the information she'd been struggling to find.
"Ayiyi! There she is, living in Dallas!" The minute the triumphant words left her mouth, she cringed. Sure enough, the baby in the crib next to her desk woke and started to cry.
"Ah, baby Annie, your mama didn't mean to shout." Quickly activating the print icon on her computer screen, Jennifer rolled her chair to the crib and reached for the wailing baby as the printer began to hum.
"What happened?" Still holding a whirling automatic toothbrush, her husband Ryan charged into the home office. "Is Annie okay?"
"She's fine." Jennifer held Annie against her shoulder and rolled the desk chair back and forth. "But you're getting toothpaste all over."
Ryan glanced down at the toothbrush and shut it off. "Whoops." He swiped at the droplets on the door. "But I heard you shout and then Annie started to cry...."
"That's my fault." Jennifer stood and carried the baby over to Ryan. "I got excitedwhen I finally found Erica Deutchmann, and I scared Annie. She's okay, now, see?" She turned so that Ryan had a view of the baby as she settled back to sleep on Jennifer's shoulder.
And the agency was all hers now that Morales and Budnicki had both retired. She loved being in charge. She'd closed the downtown office and moved home temporarily, but now that Annie was two months old, Jennifer was looking for a new office close to home, a place where she could meet with clients a couple of days a week. With her recent software problems and the time spent office-hunting, she was way behind. No, she really couldn't have Ryan staying at home. He needed to be out inspecting his drilling sites so she could do her job.
"I see." Ryan's voice softened with love. "She's so sweet, Jen. I hate going to work. I'd rather stay home with you guys."
"I wish you could, too." Although to be truthful, she wondered if she'd get any work done if Ryan stayed home. They'd both waited impatiently for the doctor's permission to have sex again, and abstinence had made them ravenous for each other. It seemed as if whenever Annie slept, they got it on.
Ryan placed a soft kiss on the baby's head. "At least one of us can stay with Annie."
Jennifer laughed softly. "Too bad it's the one with the big mouth. I get involved in what I'm doing and forget she's right there next to me. Well, I guess I'd better put her down and let you scrub the toothpaste off your shirt so you can get on with your day." She walked slowly to the crib and eased Annie back into it.
"I could call in and say I'll be a little later than I thought."
Jennifer turned to discover that tenderness for the baby had been replaced by good old-fashioned lust directed at her. If she looked into his eyes for very long she'd give in to that sexual pull. Making love to Ryan Madison was one of the best things life had to offer.
Slowly she shook her head. "Now that I've found Erica, I need to call Dustin Ramsey right away."
Disappointment clouded his expression. "He couldn't wait a few hours?"
"I projected I'd have this information two days ago. Considering how influential the Ramseys are in Midland, I want to make the best impression I can."
Ryan sighed dramatically. "Everyone told me it would happen sooner or later."
"My wife would get bored with the same old routine. Maybe it's time for me to buy some sex manuals and -" The rest of his sentence was obliterated as Jennifer threw herself into his arms.
"Take me, you wild man. Take me, now."
He grinned down at her. "What about Dustin Ramsey?"
"He can wait a few more hours." She grabbed a fistful of Ryan's shirt. "Did I ever tell you that the smell of toothpaste gets me hot?"
* * *
Dear Erica, My boyfriend loves it when I give him oral sex, but he's stingy about returning the favor. Should I keep him or dump him?
Erica drummed her fingers on the edge of the keyboard while she contemplated her answer. Then her clock chimed the half hour, reminding her that Dustin Ramsey would show up in thirty minutes, and her stomach began to churn.
She needed to make use of this time before he arrived. Her newsletter was due at the printers by noon tomorrow. If she'd had any backbone whatsoever, she'd have told Dustin this wasn't a good time for him to make the trip from Midland. The first of next week would have been better.
But no, she'd been too dumbstruck by the call, too eager to see him after all this time. Too awed by the great Dustin Ramsey, just as she had been at eighteen. Now she was so nervous about the meeting that she couldn't concentrate on her work. Her New Age mother would tell her to "live in the moment" and stop obsessing, but Erica hadn't perfected that yet.
With a sigh, she rolled her chair away from the battered desk. Then she stood and wandered around her small living room, adjusting the cushions on her flea-market rattan furniture. She also should have suggested meeting him at some neutral location instead of going along with his too-intimate suggestion of coming to her apartment. She couldn't imagine that soon he'd be standing on her sisal rug. Once she'd left Midland ten years ago, she'd never expected to see him again.
Never wanted to see him again, either. In her view, if you had embarrassingly bad sex with a guy there were only two options - hang in there and try to get it right, or avoid each other forever. She would have voted for Option A if she'd had an ounce of sexual confidence. Instead she'd allowed Dustin to dictate what happened next, and he'd chosen Option B. She could hardly blame him. Virginal and fumbling, she'd been more of a liability than an asset in the back seat of his Mustang on that warm April night.
Years later she'd realized that a more experienced woman could have changed the wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am into a night of ecstasy for both of them. She could have taken charge of the situation by teasing him, petting him, suggesting varied positions, moving the action outside, even performing a striptease. Instead she'd simply spread her thighs. No doubt a savvy guy like Dustin had been bored, so bored that by now he'd forgotten the whole incident. Unfortunately, she believed him when he said he'd looked her up to discuss a business proposition, something to do with her newsletter for singles.
She could have told him that she'd started Dateline: Dallas on a dare and that she planned to abandon it the minute she landed a juicy hard-news slot on a major daily. But then he might have changed his mind about discussing this business proposition, and she couldn't resist the possibility of spending a little time with Dustin. She'd never been able to resist that prospect.
Excerpted from Truly, Madly, Deeply by Vicki Thompson Copyright © 2002 by Harlequin Enterprises
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.