You know you're hard up when you have to buy a date....But Annie Davis's big family reunion is looming, and she needs a stand-in man fast or she'll never hear the end of it. Any gorgeous guy will do. Her solution? The drop-dead-sexy man at the charity bachelor auction. His good looks and blue-collar background make him perfect for her! Or is he?Sean Murphy has a bit of a surprise for Annie. Not only is he not blue-collar, he's actually a sophisticated European entrepreneur, one who's made pleasuring women an art form. And he wants to permanently pleasure Annie! But Sean knows that if she discovers his secret, their wickedly delicious liaison will be over. Lucky for both of them, he's learned enough tricks to keep Annie distracted for a long, long time....
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June 30, 2008
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Excerpt from Heated Rush by Leslie Kelly
Given the choice between sticking flaming skewers up her nose and attending her own parents' thirty-fifth anniversary party without a date, Annie Davis would, without hesitation, reach for the lighter fluid and a match. Instead, she was reaching for her checkbook. Wondering just how far she could go--how much she could spend--to ensure she avoided a fate worse than burned nostrils.
"Twenty-five hundred, that's all I can swing," she murmured, reminding both herself, and her friend Tara, who sat beside her at an empty table near the back of the hotel ballroom. Twenty-five hundred was about as much as she could stretch it and still make her bills, as well as eat next month.
Tara, who occasionally helped out at Baby Daze, Annie's successful day care center, had come only to this charity bachelor auction for moral support. Her aspiring actress's checkbook wouldn't allow room for a guy auctioned off in a Salvation Army parking lot, much less one at Chicago's glamorous Inter-Continental Hotel.
If she were honest, Annie's couldn't bear the strain, either, and her savings account was strictly for emergencies only. Sheer desperation had driven her here tonight. Desperation caused by the thought of a weekend back home--sans a guy--being pitied and clucked over by all the women in her family, teased by all the men, especially her brothers, and set up by everyone else in her small hometown. Not to mention answering the inevitable questions about why she was alone when her entire family knew she'd been dating a nice, handsome man for the past several weeks.
Looking into her parents faces and admitting that nice, handsome man she'd been seeing had been a married jerk? She'd sooner add raw meat to those flaming skewers and call herself shish kebab. Wiping out her checking account seemed a small price to pay to avoid the agony. Maybe the savings, too.
No. Not a chance. Not unless Johnny Depp and Josh Duhamel both appeared on that stage, offering a weekend of pure carnal exploitation to the high bidder.
"Nobody has gone for less than three thousand so far," Tara reminded her. The petite brunette, usually bubbly and sassy, sounded uncharacteristically pessimistic. "Not even the wimpy-looking blond dude who made a complete dork of himself doing that pretend striptease."
Annie cringed, wishing she had a bar of soap to wash away the mental image of the pale twenty-some-thing doing a white-men-can't-dance bump-and-grind that had women near the front pretending to swoon. Ick. Bringing someone like that home to meet her family? She'd probably do better picking up a homeless person who wanted to make a few bucks for a weekend holiday in small-town U.S.A.
Now there's an idea....
It would definitely be cheaper than this ritzy charity auction. "Maybe I should just check out the park benches near the El. There's bound to be some guy who will do it for a whole lot less than twenty-five hundred."
"You're desperate," Tara reminded her. "Not suicidal."
"Is that any riskier than what I'm doing now? These guys are all strangers, too."
The only difference was they were being paraded and hawked in front of a crowd of rich, half-past-tipsy-and-well-on-their-way-to-being-drunk women in a hotel ballroom. Yes, they were offering legitimate dates--romantic dinners, beach walks, afternoon cruises and picnics--to the highest bidder. But these men were still complete strangers to her.
Besides, she wasn't even certain she'd be able to talk any bachelor she won into going along with her visit-the-folks date rather than whatever he'd offered.
So why was she doing this again?
Tara seemed to read her mind. "Desperate times call for..."
"An escort service?"
Tara snorted. "Sure, show up at your folks' with a male hooker. That'll go over real well."
"He wouldn't necessarily be skeevy. He could be nice, normal, handsome."
"Stop channeling that movie The Wedding Date." Tara smacked Annie on the arm with her rolled-up auction brochure. "Professionals like that one don't really exist."
"But I need a Plan B," she mumbled, knowing time was running out. Maybe some decent-looking young man coming out of the unemployment office? As long as he had all his teeth and four limbs, how would her family know he wasn't the one she'd been dating?
Or even three limbs...he could be a noble accident survivor.
Noble was good. Very good. Which was why she'd immediately scanned tonight's program looking for firefighter, rescue worker or policeman types. Her dad would totally be into that.
Her family didn't know what her ex-boyfriend, Blake, did for a living. They knew almost nothing about her relationship with him at all. Just that she'd been swept off her feet by someone tall, dark and handsome. They didn't know specifically what he looked like. So she could introduce practically anybody and say he was the wonderful guy she'd been telling her family about.