Thursday, June 12, 2014

Twice Shy by Mary Hughes Excerpt

Twice Shy by Mary Hughes

Can tripping over your own feet lead to love?

Media superstar Zan is tired of high-gloss, meaningless dates. He just wants to meet a nice girl--like shy Vicky. He arranges a meet through her sister, his model ex-girlfriend Ronnie. Ronnie thinks he wants to get back together with her.

Now Vicky has to overcome her shy nature, her sister, and her own feet to win Zan's love.

The usher led Ronnie and Vicky to one of the closed alcoves. She knocked on the wall next to the alcove, turned, and swept a hand toward its red curtains.

Vicky froze. That hand, held out, meant they were supposed to do…something. Damn it, she was a communications expert, knew enough social scripts and cues to ace any standardized test. But she had no idea what the usher wanted from her.

Ronnie, thank goodness, parted the velvet eagerly. The usher gave them a brief, almost awed bow and left, her herringbone-covered heels flashing. Vicky watched her go, then turned. Time to get this over with.

In those few seconds, Ronnie had shimmied through the gap and disappeared, the curtains swinging closed.

Vicky’s heart tripped. She lurched forward to stick her hand into the closing gap.

She stumbled over her heels. Her fingers clutched the curtain, trying to catch her balance. The rod wasn’t strong enough to hold her plummeting weight. She wrenched the curtain down, bending the rod. A gap sprang open at the top of the arch, mellow candlelight glowing through.

Vicky got her feet under her then stumbled again, cheeks burning hot, just as the curtain parted.

Zan Sinclair stood there.

“You’re right, the red velvet is pretentious.” His lips were curved. “The curtains, I mean. But it’s the only way to get privacy. Come in.” He held the velvet open for her.

She wanted to melt into liquid and dribble off the balcony. She ducked her head and hurried to sit—only to trip.

Strong hands caught her shoulders. “Careful,” his dark, potent male voice murmured right in her ear. “There’s a step.”

Of course there was. The booth was raised, and she’d missed it. Liquid? Embarrassment would flame her straight to gas.

Cursing the unaccustomed heels no matter how long they made her legs look, she managed to stumble onto the riser with the help of Zan’s strong hands. She slid onto the nearest corner of the banquette, nine o’clock if the archway was six. She stuffed her little purse in her lap, stared at it, and concentrated on dissolving into as small a puddle of unnoticed goo on the seat as she could.

From the corner of her eye, she saw her sister’s leg in the ten o’clock position—all of it, Ronnie’s slide having hiked her skirt to the lacy tops of her thigh-highs. “Ronnie,” Vicky whispered. “Your skirt—”

“Hi.” Ronnie stuck out her hand to the man sitting at twelve. “I’m Ronnie Rivers, the actress. You must be Nate Winters. I’ve heard so much about you.”

“And I, you.” Dr. Nathaniel Winters smiled and took Ronnie’s hand—and Vicky’s breath. In his pictures, he was handsome; in person, his lips had a decidedly sensuous curl that made her tummy buzz. He leaned into Ronnie and kissed the air by both of her cheeks.

Ronnie laughed the bell-like trill she’d perfected in junior high. “You’ve heard good things, I hope.”

“Of course.” Winters switched his grip and brought Ronnie’s manicured fingers up to his lips. Kissed the tips. “Beautiful things about a beautiful lady.”

Watching this interplay, Vicky was unprepared for a significant weight denting the seat beside her, and she rolled into a hard, warm body. A long, muscular thigh pressed along the length of hers…it was Sinclair. Gasping, she scooted over to make room.

She hit Ronnie. Ronnie’s hand speared Winters’s mouth. He jerked back.

“Sorry,” Vicky spluttered. “I’m so sorry!”

“No harm done,” Winters said, blood welling on his upper lip. Ronnie’s nails were long, sharp, and wickedly strong. The blood started trickling. Winters tested the tear with his tongue. “Or not much.”

Ronnie tsked. “Oh, look how we’re all crowded together. Alex, go sit over there.” She pointed at the banquette opposite her, at the three o’clock position. “Vicky, slide out for a moment.”

Sinclair raised one black brow but dutifully backed off the banquette and went to sit on the other side. Vicky started to slide out.

Before she could stand, Sinclair caught her eye.

And patted the red leather next to him.

Vicky froze, the air in her lungs evaporating. Dr. Alexander Sinclair wanted her to sit next to him?

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