San Francisco, California
Desperate but determined computer geek Marnie LaTour
THE SOLUTION--THE SKIRT!
After the guy she thinks she's dating tells her she's not 'girlfriend' material, Marnie LaTour decides to make some changes. She's going to learn how to be a femme fatale--or else. Only, attracting guys isn't as tough as she thinks. Especially when she's wearing the skirt her landlord swears works like a man magnet.
And it sure isn't long before rugged construction worker Zach Renfro finds himself under the influence....
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August 31, 2007
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Excerpt from Male Call by Heather MacAllister
At the sound of an old-fashioned wolf whistle, Marnie LaTour looked up from her laptop, which was currently sitting on the serving counter of the Deli Dally next to her cold meatball sub. Her three coworkers from Carnahan Custom Software--all male--had swiveled on their stools to stare out the window.
"Whoa, would you look at that?" murmured one. Marnie looked. A long-legged blonde walked by in a flippy skirt that fluttered alarmingly in the San Francisco wind. Glued to her side was one of the men from Technical Support.
"All right, Gregie boy!" Two of the guys highfived each other.
Marnie watched long enough to see that Greg was taking the blonde to Tarantella, the new Italian restaurant down the street, then returned to the screen full of code she was trying to debug. If she had written the code in the first place, there wouldn't have been anything to debug.
"You think she's wearing a thong?" This comment came from Barry Emmons, who was sitting next to Marnie since it was his program she was trying to fix.
She assumed he meant that as a rhetorical question and didn't answer.
The three men slid off the counter stools and walked over to the window.
"All I'm asking for is one really good gust of wind before they make it to the door." It was probably Doug.
"Oh, yeah." That was Barry again.
Marnie wished he'd stayed with her instead of heading for the window with the rest of them. She also wished she was dining alone with him at Tarantella instead of going with the guys to two-for-one Italian night at the Deli Dally. After all, she'd just spent three hours fixing the code for his animated oilfield tool instructional video. At least he'd bought her meatball sub.
Well, actually he'd paid for his and had given her the free one. Still. It was something. A start. And right now, Marnie needed a start.
She'd worked at Carnahan since graduating from college six years ago and had eliminated all the dating possibilities among her co-workers. Barry had been working at Carnahan less than a year and was still in the "possible" column. Word was that he'd spent time in a couple of women's "possible" columns, but wasn't dating anyone currently.
Marnie figured it was her turn, except that Barry was proving slippery to pin down. Thus, she'd volunteered her code expertise to help with his projects. Several times.
She glanced over her shoulder at the men. Clearly, he needed a nudge.
While they stood at the window, Marnie found and corrected a repeating error in a line of code. And that should do it. She brought up the animation of a rotating tool that did who-knew-what on screen and watched as it turned, opened, swiveled and let yellow arrows parade through it.
"Hey, you fixed it!" Barry and the others returned to the bar stools, the wind apparently not having cooperated.
Barry leaned one hand on the counter, blocking her from the others' sight. "You're a genius," he murmured and looked down at her, smiling.
Marnie looked up at him and her heart gave an extra blip. It was a movie moment. Inches separated their mouths and if he'd wanted to, he could have kissed her, not that he would here in the delicatessen in front of their co-workers, but still, Marnie knew they'd made a connection.
He reached in front of her and typed on her keyboard--almost suggestively--so that the program ran again. "Man, I owe you, Marnie."
She waited a beat. "Take me to Tarantella and we'll call it even."
"Tarantella." He made a rude noise. "Good one, Marnie."
"Hey, I'm serious!" She'd heard the restaurant was expensive, but it wasn't that expensive. She'd even order spaghetti instead of the seven-layer lasagna.
"Come on." He sat on the stool. "Tarantella is where you take your lady for a very special--" he raised and lowered his eyebrows "--evening."
"I happen to think three hours of my time fixing your mess is worth a special evening." "What do you say I buy you a six-pack? You name the brand. I'll even spring for imported."
"Ooo, imported," the others mocked.
Marnie extended her hands palms up, imitating a scale. "Let's see...a six-pack of beer...dinner at Tarantella...helping Barry out of a jam...letting him spend all night trying to figure out where he screwed up in time for the client's demo tomorrow. Gee, Barry, I dunno."
"What, you want wine instead?"
There was general snickering.
Marnie glared down the bar. "No, I want dinner at Tarantella."
The others looked at each other, then stared at their plates.
"Marnie, Tarantella is a date restaurant. You know, it's dark, there're candles, booths, tablecloths--all that stuff. There's even a violin dude."
"Yeah, chicks love that stuff," Doug said.
Barry lowered his voice and leaned toward her.
"It's where you take your girlfriend."
Marnie waited for Barry to connect the dots, but he was as bad at that as he was at writing code. "So?" she prompted.
He laughed as he picked up his soda. "You're not the girlfriend type."