The book Bestselling Author Susan Andersen
(Author of Burning Up) called "Sexy and Fun!"
ANYTHING YOU WANT
Suppose the solution to all your problems is the one thing you never wanted...
It figures the one time Sabrina Cassidy is determined to do the responsible thing, karma kicks in. After four years on the road chasing her musical dream, she's stranded six hours from home with no money, a ruined credit history—and morning sickness.
Out of options, she swallows her legendary independent streak and calls the only person who won't hang up on her. Luke, the man she left behind.
Marc Sterling's first instinct is to protect his business partner and best friend from another broken heart. That means letting her think she's talking to Luke, then finding a way to send her in the opposite direction.
When he shows up at her hotel room, there's something in the air beside their customary insults. Sure, her rebellious attitude, smart mouth—and purple panties—still drive him crazy, but now it's a different kind of crazy. The kind that has him driving her home instead of to the nearest airport.
And when Luke offers to solve all her problems if she'll only say "I do", Marc realizes he's just crazy enough—about her—to forget whose heart he wanted to protect.
Warning: Contains two people who don't like each other very much, a Toyota that can't quite handle the road trip home, and a spontaneous proposal. Or two. Or three. And foreplay with—what else—pie filling.
© copyright Erin Nicholas, 2011
Sabrina couldn't describe exactly how she was feeling.
She always felt energized after performing, but tonight it was different. The hum in her veins didn't dissipate once she was off stage. In fact, it seemed to grow stronger as she'd searched for and finally found Marc.
Maybe the problem was that she'd felt his eyes on her the entire time she was performing. Maybe it was that she'd seen him ask three different women, who were quite clearly wallflowers, to dance. He hadn't gone for the flashy, flirty ones. He'd asked the ones who were sitting and hadn't been dancing. They'd all said yes. With big smiles. Maybe it was that—how happy he made them, how sweet that was, how he'd smiled and held them and twirled them.
But he'd still kept his eyes on her throughout her performance. And she'd loved it. She almost never noticed specific people in the crowd, but it seemed that she couldn't avoid watching Marc.
They hadn't touched. She resisted the urge to touch his arm or even brush against him. It was like she wound so tight that one touch would release...something. She was too afraid to find out what it was.
Or was she?
She snuck a glance at him as he drove. He was chomping on a piece of gum and staring, almost angrily, out the windshield.
He was good—looking. That wasn't exactly a revelation. She'd known Marc for years and it was an established fact that he was a good—looking guy. But she'd never been attracted.
Or had she?
These questions were driving her crazy. She'd never felt this chemistry, never thought about kissing him, never wanted to kiss him—or anything else.
And now that she was thinking about it, she couldn't stop thinking about it.
"Knock it off," he growled, not looking at her.
"You're staring at me."
"I was thinking."
He cleared his throat. "About what?"
"Why do you think there's sexual tension between us now when there hasn't been before?"
He looked at her quickly, then back to the road. "Just put that right out there why don't you?"
She'd gotten used to being bold growing up. Being direct and specific about what she wanted and needed and was thinking was necessary to be sure her dad heard her. When she left home, she'd learned that being vague got vague results. Bold and fearless. That's what got ahead in the world.
And he wasn't denying the tension.
"Is there a reason we shouldn't talk about it?"
"It's awkward, don't you think?" he asked, staring resolutely at the road in front of the car.
"It's awkward whether we talk about it or not."
"It's easier to ignore when we don't talk about it."
He had a point. On the other hand, ignoring things rarely made them better. "Why ignore it?"
"How many reasons do you want?"
"One, Luke. Two, we don't like each other. Three, you're leaving in the morning never to return. Four, Luke."
That had been pretty easy for him. She frowned. "One, sexual tension between us has nothing to do with Luke. Two, as you said earlier, you don't have to like me to want to see me naked. Three is negotiable. Four, you don't want me to be involved with Luke anyway so I would think my being attracted to someone else would be a good thing."
He scowled at her. "One, sexual tension between us would upset Luke—to say the least. Two, wanting to see you naked and seeing you naked are different things. Three is not negotiable. Four, why can't you be attracted to someone who lives in Dublin or something? Why me?"
She laughed. She couldn't help it. "Dublin? Ireland? Why there?"
"It's far away."
"Ah. And why you? Hell if I know. I'm as surprised as you are."
He pulled into a motel parking lot. "It's probably hero worship."
She looked at him, waiting for the punch line. He parked the car and turned off the ignition then moved to open the door. "What's probably hero worship?"
"How you're feeling about me."
She snorted. "There are two words wrong with that. Hero and worship. You've been anything but a hero to me for as long as I've known you and I think you need to look up the definition of worship if you think that's how I feel."
He turned in his seat to face her, pinning her with a direct stare. "I haven't been a hero to you? You're in Laramie, Wyoming rather than Soggy Swamp. Who did that?"
"You brought me here to put me on a plane."
"I could have left you alongside the road."
"You came to save Luke, not me."
"I bought you dinner."
"I'm paying you back."
"You know, Seattle, you could be a little grateful."
She sat looking at him. This was Marc Sterling. He thought she was selfish and self—centered. And she'd often wondered if he was right. Like she wondered if Luke and her father were right about the fact that she couldn't make a good decision until she'd tried all the bad ones.
"You're right," she finally said softly. "I should be grateful. You came to get me when there was no one else."
Obviously her acquiescence surprised him.
He started to move to open the door again, but she put her hand on his arm. He froze.
"No, really, Marc. Thank you. You saved me. If you hadn't come I'd... Well, I don't know what I would have done." The reality of that hit her and she had to swallow past a thickness in her throat. "I was out of options."
The muscles in his arm under her hand bunched.
"Luke or Kat would have come eventually if I hadn't."
"But you did."
"I couldn't have just left you there."
"Because you're a good guy. We haven't always been the best of friends, but you still helped me out and I won't forget that. Maybe we can..."
He was watching her closely. "We can what?"
For some reason it felt like the temperature in the car went up a few degrees. "Be friends?" she asked.
He didn't say anything for a long moment. He seemed to be studying her for something. Then he drawled, "Being sweet and agreeable isn't going to keep me from driving you to the airport tomorrow morning, Seattle."
It was strange. He kept calling her Seattle and she liked it. Not because she loved Seattle. She did, but there had been some not so great times there too. But because it felt—intimate. No one else called her that.
Being intimate with Marc was a bad—tempting, but bad—idea.
Then she remembered the rest of his words. "I'm not being agreeable to win you over."
"Talking about having sex with me isn't going to win me over either."
Sabrina glared at him. "I wasn't talking about having sex with you. But," she said as a thought hit her and adrenaline surged, "if I did have sex with you, it would make you want to do anything I want for the rest of your life."
She wasn't sure where the bravado came from. She knew for a fact that having sex with her didn't exactly make men fall at her feet. Maybe Luke, but he'd been—she could admit it—pretty much at her feet already. And she hadn't hung around for long after to see how it went. Paul had high—tailed it in the other direction, in fact. Maybe not because of the sex, but that certainly hadn't slowed his departure. Still, there was—and always had been—something about Marc that made her want to push him, no matter how dumb that was.
Marc leaned in and his voice dropped low. "Having sex with you would be a diversion while I'm far from home and on edge. Trust me when I say that I'm not worried about the rest of my life."
She leaned in too and narrowed her eyes, in spite of the fact that her stomach flipped simply in response to his husky voice. The sexual chemistry between them was not one—sided and while she doubted there would be worshipping from either of them, she wasn't going to let him be quite that nonchalant.
"I don't think it's sudden hero worship," she said.
He seemed to lean closer. "You been harboring secret desires for me for years? You should have said something."
"I could have helped you out. Then you could have left Luke alone."
"I did leave Luke alone. Like a few thousand miles and four years alone."
"Not soon enough." Marc's jaw tightened, but then he paused and visibly relaxed. "But if you and I were getting it on, Luke would have been pissed off enough to stay away from you."
She'd been a virgin until she was twenty and she'd had no sexual feelings for Marc that she remembered, but now thinking about having sweaty, new, teenage sex with him on a blanket by the river or in the backseat of his car made her thighs clench and rush of heat flow from head to toe.
"You would have risked pissing Luke off that way?"
Marc's gaze flickered to her mouth, then slid lower, over her body, then back up. "As a dumb, horny teenage boy? Very likely."
"I'm not a teenager anymore."
"What about the dumb and horny part?"
"Some times more than others."
He was kind of funny. Which also surprised her. "How about now?"
"Feeling dumber by the second."
That definitely caused a stomach flip. "Funny, I'm feeling one of those things too."