He's going to show this wedding crasher just how dirty the outdoors can be.
Seattle Steam, Book 3
Allison Siegel is out to stop a wedding. With one of her best childhood friends about to marry a gold-digger, who wouldn't at least try to stage an intervention? Apparently, her other childhood bestie, Clint.
The minute Allie grew out of her sneakers and into her curves, Clint's hormones went ballistic. But she had eyes only for Ken, so Clint made himself scarce, even after the relationship fizzled. Now she's back, looking better than ever--and hell-bent on sabotaging Ken's wedding. So Clint knows he needs to do whatever it takes to head her off at the pass.
Kidnapped! Allison can't believe it. Now she's stuck in the Montana backwoods fending off nature's friends, and fighting a losing battle to resist Clint--the sexiest forest ranger on the planet.
Clint has big plans for Allie. Not only will he convince a city girl that she needs to embrace her inner nature freak, but he's going to prove there's sparks flying in more places than just the campfire.
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July 18, 2011
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Excerpt from Seducing Allie by Shelli Stevens
Allison climbed out of her car and faced the front of Burnham's Seafood restaurant, her pulse quickening. Maybe she shouldn't be here...should've taken the hint when she'd tried to call Kenneth and his number had been changed.
Or maybe the fact you weren't even invited to his wedding.
But damn it this was wrong. They were friends. What was going on with Kenneth?
She lifted her chin and hurried up the steps, holding her head high as the doorman opened the door for her.
"Thank you," she murmured and stepped past him into the air-conditioned building, smoothing the skirt of her red dress down.
The interior of the upscale dining spot was dark with hardwood floors and mahogany tables spread about. She scanned the room until she found what she was looking for. The private room in the back.
Fortunately there were windows, and she could see the small party gathered inside. Fifteen, maybe twenty people. Most likely just friends and family of the Williams.
"Excuse me, ma'am, do you have a reservation?"
Allison jerked her gaze back to the waif-like-model in front of her. Hmm. Maybe it would be good to get a table first, then find the perfect moment to launch the meeting.
"Actually, I don't. My fianc� suggested meeting here for dinner tonight," she lied, tilting her head to give a hesitant smile. "You wouldn't happen to have a table available, would you?"
"Hmm." The hostess glanced down at the podium in front of her. "I think we can accommodate that. A table for two?"
"That would be wonderful. Thank you."
"Did you want to wait for your fianc�, or--?"
"If you don't mind, I think I'll wait at the table. He's notorious for being late."
"All right," the hostess nodded and stepped away from the podium. "Follow me."
The hostess led her to a small table where a floating candle lay flickering in the middle. Allison sat down and took the menu she was handed.
"You're welcome. Your waiter will be with you shortly."
Once the hostess disappeared, Allison raised the menu in front of her just high enough to cover all of her face except her eyes.
Peering over the leather folder, she scanned the room only feet away from her now. They were all there. The Williams family and a few of Kenneth's close friends she recognized.
Shrill, high-pitched laughter drifted through the glass window just as a flash of bright red hair appeared from the corner of the room. All eyes were on the bride-to-be, who wore a floral sundress with a crown on her head.
Allison narrowed her gaze and made an inaudible harrumph. A crown? Really? And Kenneth's parents were beaming like he actually was marrying royalty. Maybe they were just happy he was settling down.
She shook her head. Had she stepped into the Twilight Zone? This was all just too weird.
With a startled gasp, she turned her head and looked up at a male server who'd appeared next to the table.
"I'm Jordan, and I'll be your server today. Can I get you something to drink while you wait for the other half of your party?"
"Mmm. I think just water for now."
The server gave a brief nod, and she didn't miss the male appreciation in his gaze as he gave her a brief smile.
"Very good. I'll return shortly."
Generally she would have been flattered by his attention--she'd grown used to male interest over the years. Ever since the day she'd decided to drop the tomboy image and embrace all things girly. Makeup, dresses, manicures. Since she'd gone from being invisible, to being somewhat sexy by today's standards.
The server disappeared and she jerked her gaze back to the room, watching the people inside like they were some kind of exhibit in a zoo.
Kenneth, Kenneth, Kenneth. Where was the guy? She skimmed the room. Lord, look at all the pretty men. It looked like a freaking Ralph Lauren convention. Maybe he'd--there.
She narrowed her eyes as he appeared from behind a group of people and slipped his arms around Ashley, who giggled even louder.
"How did you do it, Ashley?" she muttered.
Allison resurrected her smile and took the glass of water from the server, wondering if he'd heard her comment.
"Would you like to order something to start with? Our calamari is a very popular choice. Or we have--"
"I'm fine." She winced at the edge in her voice. Easy girl. She glanced up at the server through her lashes and murmured in her best husky voice, "Thank you, Jordan. I'll signal you if I need anything else."
A flush stole up his neck and he gave a brisk nod before scurrying away.
Good. Hopefully he'd let her be for a bit. She turned her gaze back to the room, just in time to see the bride-to-be plant a wet kiss on Kenneth's mouth. And he allowed that? Kenneth hated PDAs.
Allison scowled, but her frown died as Kenneth stood to leave the room. This was her chance for an intervention.
Lowering her menu, she waited until he'd passed by her on the way to the bathroom, then stood to follow after him.
Before she'd taken two steps, strong fingers wrapped around her arm, halting her progress.
"Long time no see," Clint murmured.
Her eyes widened, but she didn't protest as her old friend tugged her through the restaurant.
In an empty hallway, out of view of the diners, he came to an abrupt halt and she bumped into him.
"Clint?" His name fell from her lips in dismay. She still couldn't quite believe he was here, but then why wouldn't he be? He'd been Kenneth's best friend when they were kids.
Just seeing Clint again robbed her of the ability to speak. It had to have been at least a year since they'd seen each other.
She ran her gaze over him. Black hair just a bit too long, piercing blue eyes, and a tall--at least several inches over six feet--muscled body. Apparently being a forest ranger agreed with him. He hadn't looked this good last time, had he? Or maybe he had and she just hadn't been looking?
The realization that he still held her arm blinked her back to reality and her thoughts dissipated into annoyance. Why had he dragged her across the restaurant like she'd been ready to shoot it up?
"What are you doing?" she asked.
He arched a brow and smiled, but the gesture didn't seem to hold much humor. "I was just going to ask you the same thing, Allie. Last I checked you weren't invited to this dinner."
Allison's cheeks burned with the reminder. So it was like that, was it? At one time she, Kenneth and Clint had been thick as thieves. She'd grown up just houses away from Kenneth and Clint--who was originally from Montana--had always spent the summers with his grandma who lived next door to Kenneth's family. Even after college Clint had still come out. It was a habit he hadn't broken.
It was only when she and Kenneth had started dating that Clint had stopped making the trip to Washington state. Hadn't really replied to any of her emails either, just a short reply. Not unfriendly, but definitely not what they'd once had. It had saddened her, made her wonder if he just felt like the third wheel and didn't want to hang out?
But that was months ago now. Why was he acting like such a dick now?
She gave Clint a slight shrug and said, "What dinner? I have no idea what you're even talking about. Now if you'll excuse me, I was just on my way out."
"But you haven't yet eaten."
Now how did he know that? Oh. She drew in a slow breath. He'd been watching her. Watching her watch them. She should've known better. Clint had always been perceptive as all hell.
He laughed, and the sound came out low and a bit sexy, sending little shivers down her spine. "You can't expect me to believe that you showing up during Ken and Ashley's dinner is purely coincidence."
He cut right to the quick, didn't he? Deciding on a different technique, and wanting to erase any of his suspicions, she relaxed and let her mouth curl into a smile.
"All right. Well, since you were on your way out, let me walk you."
Had he always been this bossy? Her smile disappeared and she glanced back in the private room. Maybe if she--
"Allison." This time her name was a silky warning on his lips.
As she watched, Kenneth left the bathroom and returned to the private room, never seeing her or Clint at the other end of the hallway.
Well, shit. Annoyance flickered through her and she scowled. Thanks, Clint, for screwing up my plans. Who knew when she'd get a chance to meet with Kenneth alone now?
Frustrated with Clint blocking her efforts and not wanting to make a scene, she gave a sharp nod and allowed Clint to lead her out the entrance of the restaurant.
Once in the parking lot she tugged her arm away.
"There, you walked me outside. I hope it was good for you." She rummaged in her purse for her keys. "As much as I'd like to catch up with you and chat, I should be on my way now."
Two hands came to rest on either side of her and she drew in a startled breath. Clint stepped forward, boxing her in between his body and her Toyota.
"Let me just make one thing clear, Allie." His words brushed hot across her face, and a tremble ran through her. God, was it his cologne or aftershave that smelled so good? Whatever it was, was rich and masculine, teasing her senses and slowing her thoughts.
Clint, this is Clint. Not some hot guy you're hitting on at a bar. How weird she was having this reaction to him. Maybe because it had been a year and she hadn't realized how much she missed him. Though right now she was kind of just wishing he'd go away again.
"Make what clear?" she finally asked, shaking her head so she could think straight again.
"It took Ken a long time to get over you, but he's clearly moved on." His gaze locked with hers, no amusement, just sober determination.
"What?" Her mouth gaped. "Are you serious? Kenneth never--"
"Look. Just take my advice. Stay away from him now. Whatever you're thinking, just stop it. He's getting married to someone else."
She quirked an eyebrow before folding her arms across her chest.
"What is wrong with you? I thought we were all friends. Why are you acting like I'm some crazy party crasher?"
"Times have changed, Allison. We've all changed. And if you were still such a good friend he would've invited you to the wedding and tonight's dinner."
Times have changed. Why did hearing him utter those words make her heart twist a little? When had everything gotten so complicated?
Unfortunately now wasn't the time to bring that up. Now was the time to try and save Kenneth's ass from a crappy future. Deciding to drop any pretense of not knowing about the dinner, she said, "And I'm sure he would've invited me tonight, if Ashley hadn't told him not to."
Skepticism flashed in Clint's eyes. "Why on earth would she do that?"
"Because she knows I don't like her."
"And why don't you like her?"
Maybe it would be better to tell him, possibly gain an ally. At this point what could it hurt trying to explain her rationale?
"Why? Because she's a trashy gold digger, Clint. I have a feeling she's faking a pregnancy to get him to marry her."
Clint stared at her for a moment, his expression unreadable. Hope sparked inside her and she held her breath.
"Really?" he finally said deadpan. "That's the best you got?"
Allison let out a growl of frustration and glared at him. "Oh, I shouldn't have said anything to you. I don't know why you don't trust me anymore."
"I just don't trust your motives."
"Don't you have a dinner to go to?"
"Yes. I do." He smiled, seeming amused by her loss of temper now.
"Then why don't you go."
"I will." He dipped his head, until those lips just about brushed her ear. "Just remember what I said, Allie."
Her pulse jerked and heat spread through her body. Shocked at her reaction, she raised her hand to push him back, but before she could touch him he'd pulled his arms away and released her.
"Good to see you again, Allison. We should do lunch and catch up."