New York Times bestselling author of Cold Ridge Florida's lush Gold Coast lends an exotic backdrop to this dazzling tale of fiery sensuality and searing suspense from New York Times bestselling author Carla Neggers.
Mollie Lavender just moved to Palm Beach to start a public relations business and things are going swimmingly. So far her clients include a dog, a ninety-year-old ventriloquist, and a grumpy astronaut. But when she runs into hard-hitting reporter Jeremiah Tabak, she learns that even a decade isn't enough time to heal a broken heart.
Society parties aren't Jeremiah's usual beat, but there's a cat burglar on the loose and a hot tip suggests his old flame is right in the thick of things. Seeing Mollie stirs up old desires...and new suspicions. Is it coincidence she attended every gala where the burglar struck? Jeremiah thinks not. The only way Mollie can prove her innocence is to help set a dangerous trap to catch the real thief. But Jeremiah's touch triggers powerful emotions...and the next thing stolen might be Mollie's heart.
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February 06, 2004
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Excerpt from White Hot by Carla Neggers
Jeremiah Tabak squinted at the scrawny kid sitting across from him at a popular South Beach sidewalk café. "You want me to check out who "
"A woman up in Palm Beach. Her name's Mollie Lavender."
Croc spoke in his usual matter-of-fact, it's-nothing-to-me tone. He claimed to be twenty-four, which was a stretch, and he liked scavenging the streets for information he could bring to Jeremiah, an investigative reporter for the Miami Tribune. He would be the first one to admit that Croc occasionally came up with good stuff. But never in his wildest flights of fancy would Jeremiah have imagined Croc, aka Blake Wilder, would come up with Mollie Lavender, the one woman on the planet who had damned good reason to roast his balls on a spit.
Croc had to be talking about another Mollie Lavender. Or maybe he'd somehow learned of Jeremiah's week-long affair ten years ago with a college flute player named Mollie Lavender, down from Boston for spring break, and was pulling his leg.
Jeremiah shifted uncomfortably in his chair at the rickety wooden outdoor table. It was winter in south Florida, and Ocean Drive, famous for its restored Art Deco buildings and jet-setters, was crowded with scantily clad Rollerbladers, trendy Europeans, snowbirds down from Michigan, retirees in sensible shoes, and everything in between, all out to enjoy the beautiful afternoon. Water, sun, sand, pastel-colored ornate buildings. Jeremiah had first bumped into Mollie not too far from here, sitting out on her big beach towel emblazoned with musical notes. She'd had Saturday Afternoon at the Opera playing on her radio, and she was wearing a floppy hat and tons of sunscreen because she was fair-skinned and burned easily. She'd left her flute at her hotel. She'd said she felt lost without it, and Jeremiah had fallen for her on the spot.
Ten years was a long time, but some memories stuck. His week with Mollie was one of them.
Croc had to be talking about a different Mollie Lavender.
But he said, "She's living above the garage at some fat opera singer's place up in Palm Beach."
Pascarelli, Jeremiah thought, swearing to himself. Mollie -- his Mollie -- was the goddaughter of world-famous tenor Leonardo Pascarelli. He owned a house in Palm Beach. She'd declined to stay with him that week ten years ago, she'd said, because she wanted to experience an ordinary college student's spring break. She hadn't, of course. Instead she'd had a fling with a hard-news reporter out for his first front-page story, and had gotten herself burned in a way she'd never imagined.
Not that she'd have had an "ordinary" spring break even if she'd never met Jeremiah. She was not, he recalled, an ordinary twenty-year-old. When he'd ended their affair and packed her off to Boston, she'd tilted her chin, flashed those lovely blue eyes, and said philosophically, "Well, I suppose every woman must have her encounter with a dark and dangerous man."
He'd felt like a rake out of a Victorian novel. Then, less philosophically, she'd called him a lying son of a bitch, and he'd felt better. Lying sons of bitches he could understand. Apparently so could she, because he hadn't heard from her in the ten years since she and her flute and her wounded pride had boarded the plane home to Boston. He sometimes pictured her playing in an orchestra, traveling the world with other people who listened to opera on the beach, teaching young flute students, perhaps cautioning them about falling prey to men like him -- but secretly pleased she'd lost her own virginity not to some washed-out tuba player but to her one and only "dark and dangerous man."