Excerpt: Be Bad, for Goodness Sake by Tara Lain; MF Holiday Romance
Christopher “Kit” Merchant is a flaming — metrosexual. Though he’s great at his job in product marketing for a high tech firm, he loves fashion, grooming, design and planning parties. Sadly, he also loves the CEO of his company, Elizabeth “Bett” Harding, who is ten years older, ten times richer, and has a successful CEO as a boyfriend. When Bett asks Kitt to plan the big company holiday party at her house, he’s thrilled. Maybe she’ll come to see him as eligible. But when Bett’s boyfriend finds them together in bathrobes sipping wine, Kit discovers Bett thinks he’s gay. On top of that, the boyfriend is trying to take over Bett’s position as CEO “for her own good”. Santa Claus is going to have to work hard to make Kit’s wishes come true. Will Kit and Bett ever get the chance to be bad, for goodness sake?
Oh God of lucky metrosexuals, Kit was about to go swimming with Bett Harding. Yes, she had a boyfriend. But she loved Kit’s furniture and she wanted him to pick out her clothes and, oh yeah, he got to eat dinner with her. He sighed. A lot of things were going right.
He hurried into the indoor swim area and found the dressing room. Stripped down to his black boxer briefs, he grabbed a couple of towels that he dropped on a chaise, took two big steps and dove into the pool. The water was Caribbean warm. He loved to swim. Swimming, tai chi, and karate were his favorite forms of exercise. He fell into a slow crawl that took him under the glass wall that separated the indoor from the outdoor areas of the pool. The cold air hit his back and he shivered, but just kept swimming. At the end, he did a racing turn and crawled his way back into the indoors. Arm raised, head to the side, breath, stroke, stroke, arm up, head to the side… Holy shit! He sucked water, coughed, and dunked himself, struggled to get upright, and finally sputtered his way into the air.
“Are you okay?” Bett bent over the side of the pool, still wearing the two pieces of devastating, ought-to-be-a-law-against-them strips of fabric covering only the essentials of a body so perfect, lean, and toned she would have done justice to the cover of Sports Illustrated. Clearly, she had no idea why he’d almost drowned looking at her. She seemed no more self-conscious in her two-piece than she was in her serviceable slacks and shirts.
“I’m fine. Sorry. You just startled me.”
“Good.” She did a crisp, shallow dive and came up a few feet past him. She fell into a slow crawl. He pushed off and swam up beside her. In a minute, their arm motions synchronized, their legs kicked in unison. It was like a time in tai chi class where all the people practicing had suddenly breathed as one and he’d known the meaning of harmony. Stroke, stroke, their ripples flowed together creating one wake between then, one movement, one heartbeat. No need to ever stop.
Minutes, hours. Maybe days. How long did they swim feeling so at peace? Finally she came to the end of the pool and stopped. He grasped the side.
She gave him a gentle smile, water dripping from her dark hair slicked back on her head. “Thank you. That was…nice.”
“You hungry? I put some water on to boil earlier and I can have the pasta made in a few minutes.”
She pressed her hands over her board flat stomach. “I just realized I’m starving. I don’t remember if I ate lunch.”
“We’ll take care of that.”
“Hang on. I’ll grab you a robe.” She jumped out. Okay, he was staring. That cute round butt filled out the suit bottom with a little extra to enjoy, flexing as she walked. She stepped inside the dressing room and emerged cuddled in a fluffy terrycloth robe and carrying another one. She set it on a chaise. “Here. I’ll meet you in the kitchen.”
He waited for her to leave the pool area before he jumped out. Seeing him in clinging cotton might not be the best under any circumstances, but with a full erection? No way.
He wrapped himself in the terrycloth, pulled off the soaked briefs and hung them over the back of a lounge chair. Time to eat.
A half hour later, Christmas carols played on the MP3, she’d served up salads and he put the finishing touches on a tomato and broccoli sauce for their pasta.
She pulled a couple of place mats from a drawer. “Let’s eat by the fire. That way I can lean against my new couch.”
By the fire? Wow. “Sure. Lead on.”
She set up the mats on the low, modern coffee table. By the time he had the plates in place, she brought a bottle of wine and two glasses. This was quite a celebration. She handed him the corkscrew and he opened the chilled white with a soft pop and poured two glasses. He scooched under the coffee table beside her.
She raised her wine glass. “To a wonderful holiday party. And my wonderful new furniture.”
They both drank and she dug into her pasta. She pressed a hand to her full mouth. “You are kidding me. This is like gourmet. It’s delicious.”
She swallowed. “What don’t you do well?”
He grinned. “I’d make a lousy linebacker.”
“I consider that a major failing.”
They settled down to serious eating. He’d missed lunch too, so he fed the fiery stomach.
When they slowed down to drink the wine, she leaned her head back on her new couch. Her soft hair was nearly dry and looked pretty against the deep plum color of the cushion.
“Tell me something.”
“How could you possibly get me so completely when you barely know me?”
“Do I get you?”
She raised her head. “Yes. I mean the couch, the party plans, this food. It’s like you read my diary—if I kept one, that is.”
“I guess we’re just compatible. Plus, I’ve made a study of Bett Harding.” Damn, maybe he shouldn’t have said that.
She raised her eyebrows. “What do you mean?”
“Not stalker or anything. I work for you in marketing. I have to understand how you like things, how you want things that represent you to look.”
She gave a small smile. “No one else seems to understand that.”
“For most people, their own ideas get between them and the person they want to please so they end up pleasing themselves.”
Her blue eyes seemed to darken. “Do you want to please me?”
He smiled. “Very much.”
“What the fuck is going on here?”
Kit’s head snapped up at the voice that thundered from behind them. Bett looked back too.
“Ollie. What are you doing here?”
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