Copyright © 2012 Tina Leonard
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
Elijah Stone was Monet Goody’s secret fantasies come to life, every single one of them, standing on her porch in small-town Pecan Creek, Texas, oozing attitude and let’s get hot together on this very cold night in January.
Just for once, it would be nice if she really were Allure Crimson, her wild-girl alter ego of the saucy personal advice column she wrote. But she was Monet, daughter of the sheriff, proper librarian for a very uptight town, the denizens of which would be shocked if they knew about her “wild.” Allure was the opposite of Monet in every way—and there were moments, like this one right now, Monet thought as she stared at the very tall, very handsome stranger, when she wished she were a lot more wild.
Not a very proper librarian thought at all.
“So about that room your father mentioned,” Elijah said, the introductions completely stalled as Monet tried to catch her breath. “Is it still available?”
“It is. Please come in.” He did, and Monet walked down the hall. There were extra bedrooms, as the Victorian was large and spacious, entrenched with history and the elements of a bygone era. Elijah was large, masculine, sexy, completely overwhelming the low-hung ceilings and fairy-spun gingerbread adornments. Somehow, the contrast made him even sexier.
“This is the largest room we have available at the moment, if you decide to take a room here.” Monet opened the bedroom door. Her younger sister, Brie, lived in the house too, but she was gone often, living life. Two other sisters, Sandy and Caruth, lived at home with their parents, helping out with the small farm the Goodys owned. Rooms were regularly rented at the old Victorian gingerbread house in town by sightseers, mainly folks who wanted to take advantage of the wonderful pecan groves and relaxing at curling, lazy Pecan Creek.
“I’d need it for a couple of months,” Elijah said.
Putting him in the room right next to hers, separated by only a single wall, was Allure the romance-advice columnist overcoming Monet the librarian, for the moment. “Mom leaves food in the kitchen for guests. Dinners you’re on your own, and weekends.”
He smiled, slow and sexy, temptation in blue jeans with dark brown eyes and collar-length darker hair that wouldn’t lie flat even if it hadn’t been ruffled by riding the motorcycle he’d roared into town on. Monet had heard him on Azalea Street long before he’d rung the doorbell, the sound startling on the quiet street occupied mostly by retired couples and the occasional feckless soul who returned to Pecan Creek thinking to bring the sleepy town back to life.
Wasn’t going to happen. Pecan Creek was asleep, a town filled with Rip Van Winkles. Brie always said that virgins and spinsters in Pecan Creek were up the creek, destined to live like sexless mannequins in a shop window unless they went hunting for hunks outside the bucolic county.
“This will work fine,” Elijah said, his voice deep, his smile sexy, as if they shared a secret. Monet gazed at the crinkles around his eyes, his sturdy six-foot-two frame, the wide chest, the teasing, knowing smirk, and thought, very fine indeed.
“That darling hunk knows you’re a virgin,” Brie said the next day as she watched her sister clean some of the street-facing windows outside. Monet shot a fast glance at Elijah, who leaned against his motorcycle, a huge black thing that looked like something out of a biker flick.
“He knows no such thing.”
Elijah grinned at her, amused that he’d caught her looking at him, an invitation clearly there. Monet went back to wiping the windows of the elegant Victorian with vigor.
“Then he thinks you’re hot. He seems really interested in your legs, or he’s got a thing for short black boots with stiletto heels,” Brie said with relish. “You can thank me later for suggesting you borrow my black leather miniskirt to go with your proper frilly white blouse. I like the good-versus-bad vibe it sends.” Brie’s eyes danced with amusement as she studied Elijah. “The women in this town are going to go after him like hungry cats. Better lose your inhibition fast, sister dear. I’d love to see you have one great fling in your life, something real to put in your The Virgin Fakes It advice column, before the Pecan Creek cats catch that very inviting hunk of hot.”
“I’m not faking anything when I write Sex with Allure. Most people just want the answers reinforced that they already know themselves. Then I throw in a few imaginative, spicy details. Anyway, it makes no difference to me if all the women in Pecan Creek hit on him.” Monet wiped harder, though the window was clear as crystal.
“It should,” Brie said. “This may be your last chance. We live in the dry gulch of ex-football players and steel magnolias. Do you really want to hit thirty and still be—”
“I’m twenty-six,” Monet stated, “and there’s nothing wrong with waiting for the right one.”
“The right one what?” Elijah asked, his deep voice asking the question easily, not seeming to notice that Monet’s face flooded with red, which she knew it was. Hot, on fire. She moved to another window, and his hand closed over hers, taking the rag.
“I’ll do the upper ones,” he offered, “unless you’ve got a ladder, which, it seems at the moment, you don’t.”
Brie laughed. “If you start washing the windows of this dump, Elijah, you may be here longer than February.”
“Dump?” He looked at Monet; then his gaze caressed the old building painted in mauves and delicately touched with trims that curled and scrolled. “This is a beauty. She just hasn’t been loved properly.”
Brie laughed again. “I’ve got to get to work, kids. Duty calls at the Bait and Burgers. Big excitement, huh? See you.”
He looked down into Monet’s eyes, and she backed up a bit. All that sexiness felt like it was burning through her. “Thanks for the help, but you really don’t have to.”
He smiled, dark eyes twinkling mischievously. “I’m dressed more for it than you are.” He glanced down her body, eyed her legs with before winking at her raised brow. “Nice skirt.”
She was on fire, and she had a feeling he knew exactly what he was doing to her. Monet took the rag from him. “Thank you.”
He nodded and watched her back through the front door. “Any chance you’d have dinner with me tonight?”