Bending to the Bachelor's Will. Emilie Rose

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Название Bending to the Bachelor's Will
Автор произведения Emilie Rose
Жанр Контркультура
Серия Mills & Boon Desire
Издательство Контркультура
Год выпуска 0
isbn 9781408942222

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cover the cost no matter how high,” he continued as if she hadn’t interrupted.

      Juliana and Andrea would be miffed, but surely she could make her friends understand. Guilt rode Holly like a hair shirt for twisting the bet to fit her needs, but buying men hadn’t been her idea. She’d argued against it from the moment of inception and been outvoted. “All right, Eric. I’ll buy you.”

      As soon as she said the words, the MC whipped out a copy of the sexy calendar and Franco stripped down to the thong he’d worn in the picture with a bump and grind worthy of a Chippendales dancer. The bidding frenzy Holly had expected erupted.

      When the gavel hit, her stomach sank. Her bachelor’s price had exceeded her limit. She could have been scot-free, but instead she’d been burned by the second promise in one night.

      “How about a kiss to seal the deal?”

      The reporter’s remark drew Eric’s attention to forbidden territory—Holly’s wide mouth. The siren-red shade of her lipstick could give a man all kinds of ideas about what she could do with those lips and where she could use them to optimal advantage—if he was inclined to think that way. Eric wasn’t. Not with Holly.

      So why did his brain engage the idea of tasting her like a heat-seeking missile locking on to its target?

      Judging by Holly’s open-mouthed stare she wasn’t any more enamored of the request than he was. And then Holly’s eyes narrowed and her lush lips compressed. She shook her finger at the reporter. “Octavia Jenkins, don’t play games with me.”

      “I’m just doing my job, girlfriend.” Octavia motioned for them to move closer while her photographer pointed his lens.

      “You know her?” Eric asked against Holly’s temple as he wrapped his arm around her waist to pose for the picture they apparently couldn’t leave without. His palm found warm, bare skin at the base of her spine. He quickly shifted his grip to her fabric-covered hip, but her thin dress did nothing to mask her body heat. His hand burned, and that burn spread up his arm and down his torso.

      “She’s one of my students,” Holly replied sotto voce.

      His sister had mentioned that Holly, a commercial stained glass artist, taught classes in the craft to subsidize the care and feeding her overpopulated pet collection. That’s how he’d come up with the idea to offer her money for her animals. “Is that going to be a problem?”

      “Not if I can help it.” Holly forced the words through the patently false smile she aimed at the photographer.

      “C’mon, folks, this isn’t a firing squad. Kiss for the camera,” the reporter cajoled.

      Kissing Holly appealed far more than it should. Eric blamed the unwanted attraction on her seductive dress and dangerously high heels. Holly had always been the girl next door who wore jeans or shapeless sweats. She’d never been a girlie girl. But tonight there was no doubt that she was all woman. A generously endowed woman. His gaze lifted from the smooth ivory curve of her breasts to her mouth.

      “Don’t even think about it,” Holly all but snarled through her clenched teeth. Pink dotted her cheeks, and her toffee-brown eyes sparked a warning.

      Was the possibility of kissing him so repulsive that she couldn’t tolerate even one platonic peck to pacify the pushy reporter? The idea slipped under his skin like a splinter.

      She shoved an errant curl behind her ear, and Eric noticed the polish on her short nails for the first time—the same dark red as her lips and toenails. He’d never known Holly to wear nail polish or makeup, and he’d certainly never noticed her doing anything with her shaggy, boyishly-cut copper-colored hair. Tonight it curled in sexy disarray, looking as if she’d just crawled out from under an enthusiastic lover.

      In fact, he’d never seen Holly look so desirable and she smelled…He filled his lungs. She smelled like a woman who didn’t wear cologne to mask her subtle, natural scent. He slammed the vault on his unacceptable thoughts.

      The reporter motioned them even closer. Holly shook her head, lowered her arched eyebrows and glared at the photographer beside the reporter. “You have three seconds to take your picture and then we’re out of here.”

      The shutter clicked.

      “Excuse us,” Eric said to the newshounds and then cupped Holly’s elbow and steered her toward the exit.

      Octavia kept pace with them. “Covering and reporting on your dates is going to be the highlight of this assignment for me, Holly. Just think of all the additional business the newspaper exposure will bring your way. Consider it free publicity. And of course, because you are my friend, I have a vested interest in the outcome of your dates.”

      The last phrase sounded like a warning to Eric, but before he could demand the reporter clarify her meaning Holly muttered a curse. A chorus of screams erupted behind them, drowning out whatever she said next. Holly stopped and pointed to the stage. “Look, Octavia. Another bachelor sacrifice. Go do your job. Good night.”

      The newspaper duo turned back. Holly slammed out the front door, veered off the sidewalk and trekked unsteadily across the thick grass toward the golf course. At nearly midnight the area was deserted and lit only by a slice of June moon. Eric followed because he needed to make arrangements to repay Holly.

      She stopped and bent so abruptly he almost fell over her. He caught her hips to steady them both. The nudge of her bottom against his groin as she removed her shoes and the suggestive position with her bare back sunny-side up played hell with his hormones. He released her and put a few inches between them.

      He hadn’t slept with a woman since Priscilla had dumped him four months ago. Not because he mourned his ex-fiancée or their aborted relationship, but because with the pending merger between Alden’s and Wilson’s, another privately owned bank, he hadn’t had time. The result of his abstinence reared its head.

      And then Holly straightened, with sexy heels dangling from her fingertips, and resumed her course. She plunked down on the bleachers at the edge of the eighteenth green and then instantly sprang back up and flattened a hand to her bottom. “I’m wet.”

      His heart slammed against his chest. So maybe the idea of kissing him hadn’t turned her off. And why did that excite him? He shifted his stance to hide his body’s reaction.

      She lightly punched him in the stomach and glared. “From the dew on the bench, Casanova.”

      He wasn’t disappointed. If anything, he was embarrassed. At thirty-six he shouldn’t be so transparent or so easily titillated. Besides, this was Holly, a plain spoken tomboy and Sam and Tony’s baby sister. Even if she had been revealing sexual arousal, he’d have done nothing to alleviate it. There was an unspoken rule between friends. He didn’t date their sisters, and they didn’t date his. Anything beyond dating qualified as grounds for an ass-kicking. He might be six-five and a solid two hundred and twenty pounds, but he didn’t want to go two against one with Holly’s brothers for something he could easily avoid.

      Besides, the Caliber Club was one of Alden Bank’s largest commercial accounts. Antagonizing the Prescotts could cost Alden’s business.

      Holly turned, giving him a clear view of damp fabric clinging to her perfectly shaped butt. There were no panty lines. He bit back a groan, drew off his tux jacket and spread it over the bench. After a moment’s hesitation, she sat on his coat, tipped her head back and met his gaze. “We have a problem.”

      “Besides the reporter?” And his unwilling and unwanted surprise attraction to Holly.

      “The reporter is the problem. Eric, you and I each work with the public. Our businesses rely heavily on our reputations. If we renege on these dates, Octavia will report it in her Saturday column, and we’re going to come out looking like welshers. Trust me, I know Octavia’s twisted mind. She’ll make each of us a laughingstock. I know that’s something I’d like to avoid. I’m guessing you would, too.”