Learning the art of seduction has never been so much fun.
Lane Davis has never had time for love. Hard work, dedication and focus got her through uni and now she's a successful economist with qualifications in all areas - except the bedroom.
When a colleague airs those bedroom sheets in public, Lane decides it's time to upskill. She's always studied her way to success, so why not hire a teacher to help her out now? It's just a business deal - three months of private tutoring, no strings attached. Easy - or it would be, if the lessons didn't make her weak at the knees . . .
Her proposed teacher, Adam Quinn, has his own agenda. His sister - one of Lane's best friends - wants him to scare Lane into giving up her crazy scheme. But once he meets Lane, he can't quite bring himself to reject her.If Adam's going to teach Lane just one thing, it's that love can get in the way of even the best intentions . . .
Excerpt - Chapter 1...
Where was he?
Thirty minutes late was too late.
Late enough for Lane to wonder if, perhaps, Adam had changed his mind and wasn’t coming.
Lane swallowed, trying to get her head around that. Around the idea she might have to go back to the drawing board. She didn’t want to face that possibility. It had been excruciatingly embarrassing getting to this point; the thought of starting again was enough to make her feel faint.
She took a deep, calming breath as she looked around her living room, checking again nothing was out of place—which she’d already done a dozen times—and calculating how long it would take Adam to drive from his house in out-there Newtown to her house in not-so-out-there Mascot. Fifteen minutes, tops.
Still…he may have been caught up on a building site. Or stuck in traffic somewhere, given how close she was to Sydney Airport.
She took another deep breath. Settle down, Lane. There is no reason for him to back out.
Any man would jump at the chance—that's what her friend Sarah had said. Sarah had told her that he, specifically, had jumped. He knew the score, and had already agreed. Tonight was just a formality. Signatures on the page.
Lane felt her hands start to clench, and wiggled her fingers to ease the tension.
Nerves. She hated nerves. Had perfected the art of not letting them show, no matter how much her insides rioted, because the flustering, dithery fluttering of them made her look like a twit.
Logical, rational financial economists did not flutter, or pace floors, or chew fingernails. They crunched numbers and analyzed data and predicted trends so high-yield decisions could be made, built on a sound base.
A sound base. That was one way of looking at the succinct checklist she’d prepared for tonight, to review with Adam before they signed the contract she’d drawn up.
The checklist. She would just have one more read. That would help calm her down.
She walked swiftly to the glass-topped coffee table, bent to reach into the briefcase beside it and slid out the paper-clipped pages. Three of them. Neat. Error-free. Black type on white paper.
He'd already agreed, she reminded herself, drawing in another one of her silent, secret, calming breaths, as she skimmed the words she knew practically by heart.
It was a straightforward arrangement—nothing to panic over. Adam didn’t even have to like her. Liking wasn’t a prerequisite on either side. Although, of course, it would be easier if they did like each other. And really, they probably would. Lane liked his sister, Sarah. Sarah liked Lane. And Sarah adored Adam. Logic suggested there would be a mutuality of liking in there that would encompass Lane and Adam in some way, right?
Still, the most important thing was he had the credentials for the job. Sarah had assured Lane that Adam was the quintessential alpha male—a concept Lane didn’t quite believe in—with hordes of women making booty calls with impressive frequency.
Twenty-five years old. Builder. No unmanageable character flaws. No disgusting habits. Clean, handsome, not a psychopath.
What more do you need Lane?
And Lane had been so happy to get her problem sorted out, she hadn't given much thought to Adam as a flesh-and-blood being. She’d been relieved, of course, about the “clean” and “not a psychopath” bits, but she didn’t care about “handsome.” She hadn't been particularly interested in what he looked like, which was why she hadn’t been worried that the photo Sarah had emailed her had been grainy and out of focus.
Now, though, thinking of that dark shadowy image when she was on the very verge…
There went her fingers again, tensing up.
She slid the checklist back into her briefcase. Walked to the entrance hallway, listened carefully for sounds of arrival. Nothing.She checked her watch.
She would give him ten more minutes.
She caught sight of her face in the mirror above the glass-topped hall table. Pale—but that was normal. Blue eyes almost too calm—so deceptive. Lips very faintly smiling—nicely controlled. Hair pulled off her face—no stray wisps.
Perhaps the hair was too severe. She tugged a few copper-red strands free of the confining band and tried to arrange them around her face. Hmm. Messy. Unattractively messy. She removed the band completely and retied her hair into a ponytail at her nape. It would just have to do.
She gave up on the mirror and ran her eyes, as best she could, over the rest of her.
She hadn’t had a clue what she should wear tonight and had ended up staying in the square-cut navy suit she’d worn to work. Plain. Businesslike.
She sighed. It was so hard, the clothes thing. And tonight, harder than usual. How did you manage to look attractive, but not flirtatious? Appealing, but not desperate? Like you weren’t trying too hard, even when you were?
All right, she officially hated this!
She was calling it off. He was too late. It was too late. What had she been thinking?
She walked purposefully back to her briefcase and wrenched out the checklist, the contracts, ready to rip the pages to shreds.
Then it came. The sound. A car pulling up.
Stay calm. Breathe. Breathe. In—out—in—out. Maybe it’s not him.
Her front gate squeaked.
Good God, he’s here. He’s actually here.
Something being muttered outside the front door. A curse?
Oh. Oh, oh, oh.
The knock was loud and short. Two raps.
Lane closed her eyes, just for a moment, gathering her courage. To calm herself, she neatened the edges of the pages she’d nearly torn, then positioned them on one end of the coffee table and headed for the door. He wouldn’t notice the tremors in her fingers, she told herself, as she reached for the handle to let him into her house.
Then the door was open. She stared at his work boots and scanned up past his blue jeans and faded black shirt. Chest. Neck. Face. She was looking up—and she was five feet ten!
Then her mind went blank. She was staring. She knew she was staring, but she couldn’t seem to stop. He looked…good.
Not conventionally handsome, but…oh, my, the alpha male concept was real after all.
He waited, unsmiling.
“Oh,” she said, feeling breathless, and thrust out her hand awkwardly to shake. “You must be—”
“Yes, I must,” he said, and took her hand—not to shake it but to hold it.
As she blinked up at him, he drew her close to him. Close enough that Lane could smell the soapy scent of his skin. He smelled wonderful.
He drew her a little closer and she stumbled, catching her heel on the hallway rug. He reached out his other hand to steady her, gripping her arm. Two hands on her now, reeling her in. “Careful…Lane,” he said softly, lingering over her name.
Her heart lurched and started beating fast as their eyes locked. His eyes were dark. Black almost. With laugh lines fanning out from the corners. He must laugh all the time, Lane thought. But he wasn’t anywhere close to laughing now. He seemed about to pull her even closer—could she get any closer?—then stopped. Frowned as though he’d lost his train of thought. Released her and walked inside.
Lane rubbed at her arm, just above the elbow, where his hand had gripped her. He hadn’t hurt her, but she had felt him down to her bones.
Squaring her shoulders, Lane turned to face him. He stood dead center of the living room, looking around without any indication he liked what he saw, which was basically her mother’s cast-off furniture.
Lane saw him glance at the canapés she’d arranged on a white oval platter in the center of the coffee table. She fought a blush. It was so obvious, now she’d seen him, that Adam Quinn wasn’t a canapé eater. And suddenly she felt like she was pretending to be a grown-up. Blue suit. Canapés. What would he expect next? A Scrabble board, lap rug, and cup of hot cocoa?
He turned and faced her. His lips were smiling but his eyes were not. “Now where were we? Ah, yes, I must be—” The smile vanished. “Adam Quinn. Reporting for duty.”
Reporting for duty? Another deep breath. “I was hoping we could approach this situation with some…sensitivity.”
Adam looked down at the coffee table. “It will take more than smoked salmon on rye to achieve that, don’t you think?”
Lane felt her stomach dip. “Sarah said you were willing,” she said.
“I know what she said.” Adam’s voice sounded almost like a growl.
Something wasn’t right.
She ran her eyes over him, trying to work out what it was. Her heartbeat, which hadn’t yet recovered from his entrance, kicked up an extra notch. Black hair, close-cropped in a don’t-mess-with-me style. Stubble on his jaw. He wasn’t only tall; he was incredibly big, too. He filled her living room the way an army tank might. The fact that he was watching her just as intently as she was watching him made a funny, jittery feeling that wasn’t exactly nerves erupt in her stomach.
Was he disappointed, now that he’d seen what he’d be working with? Was that the thing that wasn’t right? Her? Could he tell, just by looking at her, what a massive job he had ahead of him? Perhaps she should let the poor guy off the hook. Tell him thanks, sorry for the inconvenience, I’ve changed my mind, goodbye, give my love to Sarah.
But…he was here. And he smelled wonderful. And he looked like…well, like he could teach her things she’d never even imagined.
She could find someone else, her rational brain argued.
Or maybe she could just buy a book or a DVD.
Or look it up on Google—and get three trillion suggestions she could spend the next few years sorting through.
Her nostrils flared as she caught that soapy scent again.
No—she was not going to resort to Google or a book or a DVD, and she was not going to find someone else. She didn’t want to take any more time. She would do this, and she would do it with him. He had already agreed and she was holding him to it! He would just have to suck it up and make do, regardless of what he thought about her. She didn’t care what he thought of her; she wasn’t paying for his thoughts.
She set her jaw. “Adam, have you or have you not agreed to help me?”
“Good. Regarding the smoked salmon, I was aware of the inconvenient hour I chose for this meeting, so I thought you might like some refreshments. But of course, you’re late, and I imagine you’ve eaten. Fine. I’m happy to get down to business straightaway.”
Adam crossed his arms over his chest in what Lane considered a very…well, “alpha male” pose. “By all means, Lane, let’s get down to business. Oh, sorry, should I call you Lane? Perhaps you’d prefer Miss Davis? Ms. Davis? It’s not Dr. Davis, is it? Because I know you were some ace university student, right?”
Lane did not allow even the flicker of one eyelid as she picked up her briefcase and retrieved the all-important paperwork off the coffee table. “It’s Ms., but Lane is fine.”
“All right. Lane.” He drew out the sound of her name until it was thick and honeyed and beautiful.
Lane caught her breath before it could hitch in her throat. Checklist. Checklist. Concentrate on the checklist. But her eyes didn't seem to want to focus on that perfect document in her hand. “Then let’s move on,” she said. “We can sit at the dining table and get away from the smoked salmon. Follow me, please.”
She could feel him following, though he lagged several steps behind. The knowledge of him was as pervasive and intimate as a layer of musk oil on her skin.
She was about to contract Adam Quinn for three months of sex.
God help her.