Birthday Dare (novella)
by Nina Crespo
Opposites attract. Enemies ignite...
There's nothing personal stylist Tabitha Drake loves more than pissing off Andrew Bode. He’s uptight, he refuses to agree with her on anything, and she loathes the hideous brown suits and red power ties he wears. The man even hates ice cream. How can her best friend work for a man who hates ice cream? But the absolute worst thing about Drew? He’s sexy as hell, and she's totally and ridiculously attracted to him.
Military contractor Andrew Bode is convinced he and Tab will never get along. Unfortunately, the infuriating—and sinfully tempting—stylist is his ticket to a major account. The only way to get what he wants is to agree to Tab's terms: a style makeover. However, Drew has a few terms of his own, most of which involve her naked in his bed. But neither of them are prepared when their lust-fueled hostility turns into something altogether unexpected...
Tab yanked the sleeves of her extra-large sweatshirt and trudged downstairs. Coffee and Fruit Loops. The only sensible things in the midst of a week living in insanity. She’d expected her deal with Drew would place her in uncomfortable territory, but she hadn’t anticipated it dropping her into the hot zone. Not even Bode-Wynn’s golden connections had been able find a hotel not taken over by the convention or spring break. She should have waited until Drew’s assistant had confirmed everything before canceling her reservations.
Morning sun glared off highly polished marble and steel in Drew’s kitchen. Not staying in a hotel should have rated as an enjoyable experience, but his stick-up-the-butt tendencies stretched way beyond impossible. Like yesterday when she’d taken a towel from the linen closet to dry her hair, causing the weekly housekeeper to freak out. At first, she’d thought the woman inhaled too much pine cleaner until she’d explained. Only blue towels, not green ones, belonged in the upstairs guest room. Why? Because Drew wanted order.
The list didn’t end there. No dishes left in the sink. Pillows properly spaced on the couch. The thermostat set at precisely frigid-ass cold. Throw in his other quirks about no TVs in the bedroom and the evils of junk food, and she existed in the equivalent of Siberia. Alone. He left early. Came home late. When he was there, he kept to himself and barely spoke. The beautifully decorated house felt unlived in and unloved. More than ever she needed the homey touches she used to make long trips bearable. Her Cinderella blanket, Dallas Cowboys sweatshirt, and comfort food. Two more weeks and then she would head for Virginia and a hotel room. She couldn’t wait.
Tab opened the top cabinet. Beans, brown rice, organic peanut butter. Where was it? She searched through other cabinets, top and bottom. Sadist! He wouldn’t.
“What’s wrong with you?”
Keeping her back turned from him, she gripped marble. “Where are my Fruit Loops?”
Spoon, bowl, those words matched. Joking didn’t fit anywhere in the scenario. She’d endured his house rules, but messing with her cereal went too far.
“No. I’m not.” She whirled around to face him, and her breath hitched.
Drops of water slid into the divide of his pecs, traveled over the ridges of his abdomen, melted into the soft, downy looking hairs leading like a silken arrow into his short, square-cut swim trunks.
“I want my treat.” Prickles surged into her scalp. “I mean cereal. It was here yesterday.” Damn, she sounded mental.
He took the towel from his shoulder and wrapped it around his waist. “I put it where it belonged.”
“And where’s that exactly?”
He walked in and opened the cabinet near her head. His closeness tempted her to touch, stroke, follow the drops of water with her tongue to the bulge under his towel. She should look away, but only a blind nun could stare and not lose every scrap of sense.
About Nina Crespo
Nina Crespo lives in Florida where she indulges in her favorite passions—the beach, kickboxing, a good glass of wine with her own real-life hero, and dancing. Her lifelong addiction to romance began in her teens while on a “borrowing spree” in her older sister’s bedroom where she discovered her first romance novel. Curiosity about people and places, including what’s beyond the stars, fuels her writer’s imagination. This wellspring of inspiration allows Nina to create sensual contemporary stories and steamy paranormal tales, which she hopes will feed your own addiction for love, romance, and happily ever after. Her debut novella, TAKE ME IF YOU DARE, was released in June 2014 by Entangled Publishing. The sequel, NAUGHTY LITTLE WISHES, will be released January 2015. Her debut romance, fantasy novella, THANE’S REDEMPTION, is scheduled for release in March 2015.