Miss Lonely Hearts
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by Charlene Teglia
Description: Love, larceny, and lies. When is a love letter not a love letter? When it's mail fraud. Or in this case, female fraud. Jason Alexander is one angry Alaskan, and he's out to get his woman; the letter-writing Lolita who's running the Miss Lonely Hearts con game in his bailiwick. She's taking lonely Alaskans for a roller-coaster ride and cashing in on love. When she hits the patrons of his bar The Last Resort, the retired gambler takes it personally and goes out for justice. Cassandra Adams has just been dumped by ex-fiancé number two. She's fed up with Romance Roulette and ready to trade her rosy daydreams for hardheaded practicality. The logical solution? She's going to search the classifieds for the mail-order marrying man she wants. She thinks she's found him in Jason, alias Alex Sanders. He thinks he's hooked Miss Lonely Hearts. And the regulars at The Last Resort think it's high time Jason got married, so they're not about to clarify matters when they discover his mistake. Together Jason and Cassandra will have to cut their way through the tangle of love, larceny and lies to unmask Miss Lonely Hearts and find a happy ending that's a sure bet. Product Warnings WARNING: This book contains hot, explicit sex between two people explained in graphic language.
eBook Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd., 2007
eBookwise Release Date: February 2011
8 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [265 KB]
Reading time: 168-236 min.
"Thank you for getting us out of there. I didn't want to have the first screaming fight of our marriage in front of all those witnesses," Cass said.
He set his glass down and stared at her. "Excuse me?"
She stared right back at him. "When were you going to tell me?"
He leaned forward and placed his hands on her shoulders in a firm grip, as if he was worried that she'd bolt. Ha. She wasn't going anywhere until they had this out. And then, well, they'd see.
"I was going to tell you, but I thought it might be best to have that conversation in private. For obvious reasons. And I thought I should make you some coffee first, in case the punch was still affecting your judgment." He studied her face, not at all discomfited by her deduction but with a lot of interest. "What gave it away?"
"I read a lot of nonfiction," she said.
"That would explain why the grout article had you so fascinated. You wanted some nice calm facts to fix your mind on during the trip instead of worrying about marrying a mystery man."
Ignoring him, she went on, "Last year I read a book called Blink. It's about how most of the thinking we do we never know we do. Little cues that we process and store away and aren't consciously aware of. And we use this information we don't know we have to make all sorts of decisions."
"There were a lot of little cues and I started to think about them." Cass started to tick them off, one by one.
"You came to meet me in Seattle and you talked to me like you knew me. You were trying to get a rise out of me, but you were too accurate with your shots. Sam and Mona and everybody else fell all over themselves to make this happen fast, before I could back out, and they were all happy for you. Not for somebody who wasn't there. You. They looked at us together like they approved, and like they had something to do with it. You kissed me like you had a right to and I kissed you back the same way."
She realized as she said it she was now staring at his mouth. She jerked her attention away from it before it distracted her and focused on his eyes again. "That was the biggest clue, I think. That wasn't a sneaking around kind of kiss. That and the way you were always touching me was like some kind of body language branding that said my woman. So why didn't you just tell me it was you?"
Cass really tried not to, but she ended on a near-scream. Maybe she needed to count to ten once more. Or maybe to one hundred. She really didn't want to start throwing things at him when she might regret it later.
"You didn't seem very impressed with me in person, for starters," Jason pointed out.
"I'm less impressed that you made up Alex. What was behind that?"
He started to answer, stopped and shook his head. "You want answers. You're entitled to them. And I will give them to you. But first, I want to make you an offer."
He took both of her arms, tracing his hands along her skin, up to her shoulders. "Do you feel that?"
She started to laugh in spite of herself. "Is that a joke? I'm out of practice but I'm not dumb."
Jason smiled at her. "I never thought you were." Then his face went serious. "We get one chance at creating the memory of our wedding night. I don't want to look back on tonight and remember how much I wanted to be with you and instead I spent the night on the couch. Tomorrow I will tell you anything you want to know. I will answer every question. I will explain the picture, everything. Tonight, I want you."
The hell of it was, she wanted him, too. And even though she knew he'd lied to her, she trusted him. It was beyond dumb, but there was probably some subliminal cue that made her believe she could trust him.
Of course, it could also be the way he was touching her and the dud year of sex she suddenly wanted to make up for. If there ever was a man who could make up for a dud year of sex, it was the one in front of her.
Figuring action spoke louder and words had only gotten them in trouble so far anyway, Cass stripped off her shirt, tossed it on the bar, and followed it with her bra before she lost her nerve.
"That looks like yes." Jason pulled her up onto the bar and she cooperated by climbing up to meet him. He drew her forward, facing him. Her legs fell to either side of his body as he drew her closer, until she was balanced on the edge of the bar with him standing between her legs.
She felt him reach for something she couldn't see and then he slid a brightly decorated gift bag across the bar top until it touched her hip. "Mona gave us a present," he said. "I'm guessing there will be condoms in here."
Cass tipped the bag over and let the contents spill free.
There were condoms. In a range of flavors. Gel that heated when applied to skin. Two kinds of lubricant, one non-vaginal. A Bad Boy vibrator. Handcuffs. A pink flogger. Three sort-of-jeweled clips with dangling beads that weren't earrings and that Cass had no idea what to do with but Jason probably did.
No matter what else happened after tonight, one thing was clear. Her year of dud sex was officially over.
She caught Jason's expression of horror as he stared at the items scattered on the bar top beside her and giggled. "I guess that means you don't want to take turns with the little whip?"
"I think we can skip that one, yes."
"Oh, I don't know." She picked it up and flicked it experimentally. "You've been bad. Lying to me. Maybe you should be spanked."
Jason plucked it out of her grasp and hid it underneath the bar. "Maybe you shouldn't mix alcohol with bondage and discipline."
"Does that mean you don't want to play with these, either?" Cass scooped up the handcuffs and dangled them in front of him.
"Maybe." He took them from her and turned them in his hands, examining them. "Hmm. They don't look dangerous." Jason snapped one over her wrist, tugged it behind her back, and cuffed her other hand. "How does that feel?"
Cass looked down at herself. She was naked from the top down, seated on a bar, her hands cuffed behind her back, with a man who was a virtual stranger standing between her open thighs. "Pretty damn kinky."
She licked her lips, suddenly aware of her nipples hardening into two tight buds, her sex growing swollen and slick, and waves of heat rippling through her body. "Hot."
Jason's eyes went darker. "I meant, did they pinch or feel uncomfortable. But if they make you hot, we'll keep them."