Resistance is no longer an option...
A Tahoe Nights story.
Faced with the annual family reunion in Lake Tahoe, Amanda Harding cringes inwardly like the awkward teenager she used to be, not the successful bookstore owner she is now. Once again she'll be bombarded by questions about her dreadful status as a single woman. And, like always, she'll feel the weight of her parents' disappointment that their only child isn't happily married and pregnant with their first grandchild.
As she relates her troubles to her good friend Leo, she's shocked to the core by his offer to pose as her soon-to-be fiance. Then all she can think about is getting tangled up in the sheets--and with Leo's deliciously hard body.
Leo Prentice has always wondered what his quiet, bookish Amanda looked like beneath the conservative suits, but the prospect of wrecking their friendship has kept his dirty mind in check. Until their first fake kiss. Playing Amanda's lover seemed like a win-win. But the little bookworm stirs a fire in him unlike any other woman.
Soon, the teasing touches and sensual looks are all too real...and not nearly enough.
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October 11, 2010
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Excerpt from A Little Bit Naughty by Anne Rainey
As he set out the last of the food, Leo heard footsteps. He looked up just in time to see Amanda coming into the room, a piece of paper clutched in her hand. "He gave you his number?" And why exactly did Leo have the urge to grab it and toss it in the trash?
She blushed and clutched the paper tighter. "Maybe."
He rolled his eyes. "No maybes about it, the guy was staring at you like you were an all-you-can-eat buffet."
She laughed and waved the compliment away. Why did she find it so impossible for a guy to look at her with hunger? After all these years spent telling the hardheaded woman that she had it going on, Amanda still wouldn't listen.
He took her by the shoulders and pulled her in for a hug. "How many times do I have to say it, sweetheart? You're a hottie. Men are always going to hit on you."
She pushed out of his arms and sat at the old, scarred wood table. "I'm slightly overweight, and I have zero fashion sense. Hardly a hottie, Leo."
Leo straddled the chair across from her and waited until she dug into her pork before saying, "It's like when a dog spies a juicy hamburger on the edge of the counter. I don't care how well behaved the dog is. He's going to try and get a taste. And you, sweetheart, are juicy."
She stopped chewing and frowned up at him. Swallowing back a bite, she said, "Are you saying I'm a hamburger? If you're going to compare me to beef at least make it a steak."
He chuckled and dug into his own food. "You're a filet mignon and don't you forget it."
She ate a few more bites of her pork before saying, "Right now I just feel desperate. My mother called earlier."
Leo scowled. He'd never met Amanda's parents, but he hated them for the way they treated their only daughter. They acted as if there was something flawed about her just because she wasn't married and knocked up. It pissed him off to think anyone could possibly consider Amanda flawed. "Did she give you the We're Not Going To Live Forever speech?"
She picked up her egg roll and swirled it around in the sweet and sour sauce, but he noticed she didn't take a bite. "No, this time it was to tell me the annual family reunion is coming up, and she wants to know if I plan to attend. Alone. Again."
Leo had forgotten about the Harding family reunion. Shit. Last year when Amanda had returned from that crappy trip, he'd had a hell of a time getting her out of the depression the event had put her in. Her parents had lectured her the entire damn time. When was she going to marry? When was she going to give them grandchildren? Why did she have live clear across the United States and work in that dreadful little bookstore?
Leo opened the lid on the hot and sour soup and picked up a white plastic spoon. "Don't go. Skip it this year." He couldn't handle seeing them tear down her self-esteem yet again.
She shook her head as she pushed the egg roll through the orange sauce. "I can't. She's expecting me to be there. It would be so much easier if I could've brought a guy along, but I haven't dated anyone since Roger and he was such a horrible dud."
Oh, Leo remembered Roger. "The nose picker."
She grimaced. "It was so gross watching him eat too. The man had no manners at all."
Leo dropped the spoon and reached across the table. He plucked the egg roll out of her hand. "Stop drowning the thing and eat it." He held it to her lips, somewhat mesmerized as she closed them around it and took a bite. She moaned a little, her eyes drifting shut. Watching Amanda eat had turned into one of his favorite hobbies. She did it with such obvious pleasure. Each bite received special attention.
Leo cleared his throat and let her take the deep-fried roll out of his hand. He dug into his soup and they ate in silence for a while. His soup finished, Leo pushed the Styrofoam cup aside and said, "We'll figure something out about the reunion."
She dabbed her mouth with a napkin and sat back in her chair. "What's there to figure out? I'm going to have to attend this blasted thing. Alone. I'm going to have to sit there and listen to them go on and on about how disappointing I am."
Leo shrugged. "Take someone with you. It's just a weekend, Amanda. It's not like you have to make a big commitment to a guy just to spend the weekend with him."
Amanda bit her bottom lip and stared at him, as if thinking over his words. "I had thought maybe T.J. would like to go with me," she said, her voice low, a little unsure.
Leo stiffened. Was she dating someone and he didn't know about it? "Who's T.J.?"
"That customer I was talking to earlier. He comes in a lot. He's asked me out a few times. Today was the first time he gave me his number." She shook her head. "No, it'd be too bold to ask him to spend the weekend with me in Lake Tahoe. Much too bold."
Mr. GQ with Amanda for the entire weekend. Now why did the thought of that make him queasy? She took a sip of her cola, and an idea struck Leo. He smiled.
She cocked her head to the side. "Why are you grinning like that?"
She narrowed her eyes and pointed her finger at him. "You have that look. The one that tells me I'm not going to like what you're thinking."
Leo leaned forward, grabbed her finger, and brought her hand to his lips. He placed a gentle kiss on her knuckles before releasing her. "What would you say if I told you I have a way for you to attend the reunion with a man and not have to worry about the guy expecting a single thing from you except a nice little vacation?"
He bobbed his eyebrows and crossed his arms over his chest. "Yep."
Amanda leaned forward. "How? Who?"
"You're going to take me, and I'm going to be your soon-to-be fiance."
Amanda rolled her eyes and stood. "Have you lost your mind?"
She started to clear away their food, but Leo wouldn't be deterred. The more he thought of it, the more he liked the idea. "Think about it for a second. It's the perfect plan. We'll play it up. Do the whole we're so in love thing and your parents will be so thrilled they'll leave you alone for once."
"Great idea. There's just one little problem here. What happens when we get back and they realize there's no wedding on the horizon?"
Leo stood and moved around the table, helping clean their mess. "So what? People break up all the time. You can tell them I turned out to be a loser."
After tossing napkins and plastic forks in the trash Amanda stopped and turned toward him. "This could go terribly wrong, Leo."
Leo closed the few feet separating them and took her by the shoulders. "A weekend in Lake Tahoe with your best friend," he whispered. "How is that wrong?"