BEYOND DARING
The Red Choo Diaries Mini-Series
Harlequin Blaze
March 2007
ISBN 0373793138

available at

Amazon or Barnes & Noble

Let's see the Handler handle her!

Up-and-coming publicist Jeff Brooks is assigned to hot Manhattan celebutante Sheldon Summerville, whose scandalous behavior threatens the marriage proposal brokered by her tycoon father. The heiress hates being a commodity, but daddy bankrolls her extravagant lifestyle, so she's dealing the only way she knows how: shoe-shopping and party-hopping.

Jeff is supposed to retool sexy Sheldon's wild-child image (thereby earning his PR superstud merit badge). Only, he knows from media makeovers that he's a 'recovering player,' and should be cleaning up his own reputation.

But all his extra-naughty urges come roaring back the second Sheldon sets a stilettoed foot outside her limo door. She's headstrong, hard-bodied and seems determined to show him who's on top!

“Beyond Daring is the second book in Kathleen O'Reilly's Red Choo Diaries and you don't want to miss it! The passion between Jeff and Sheldon singes your fingers as you turn the pages along with a love story that will leave you sniffling.” ---Joyfully Reviewed

The positive response to this book actually surprised me. I had planned on a different heroine for Jeff, but when I saw the way he reacted to Sheldon, I thought, “Heck, why not?” And I did. She’s the party girl with depths that no one realizes. I was fascinated by that.

 
   

Jeff Brooks stood in his kitchen, furiously chopping green peppers, trying to expend some of the sexual frustration that currently had his shorts tied up Gordian knots. Making breakfast was infinitely preferable to fantasizing about the woman happily snoozing in his bed.

Sheldon Summerville. Party girl. Socialite. Professional shopper. She was off limits, with a capital O, little f, little f. O-F-F. F-F-O. He recited the little jingle in his head, while thinking about her father, who nearly three months ago had hired Jeff's firm to "redeem" her image. As if such a miracle could be performed by a mere mortal without the use of a padlocked chastity belt. Anything to lock up that perfect body that she seemed determined to share with the world.

He pulled out an onion and began to hack, his eyes burning from the juices. Today he welcomed the discomfort. Sheldon Summerville left him frustrated professionally, sexually, and mentally, too. He'd never met someone so determined to ignore what the world thought, especially her father, Wayne Summerville, the head of Summerville Consumer Products. They were the Number Two consumer product conglomerate in the world, proud maker of Toothbrite toothpaste, among other things.

Sheldon's party-girl image didn't sit well with Wayne's stockholders. Apparently, people with whiter teeth and fresh breath could be real frumps socially. But even Jeff thought she went to extremes, and he was no monk himself.

However, the bigger mystery was why? No matter how he racked his brain, he couldn't figure her out, and she provided no hints. Always smiling, in that vacant and clueless manner, which had stopped fooling him on Day Three. To make matters worse, she had no qualms about drinking copious amounts, making lewd, yet majorly imaginative propositions -- especially to him. He looked down at the mess he'd made of the onion and tossed the thing in the trash. Maybe shallots would be better.

Imaginative propositions he wanted to ignore. Propositions he should ignore. Okay, propositions that he didn't want to ignore...

Last night had been a stupid idea, but every night with Sheldon was a stupid idea. She had conveniently left him a message that she was going to the notorious club, Crobar. Jeff, knowing that was code for multiple doses of alcoholic beverages, had shown up at ten, hoping to play responsible chaperone. At ten-oh-nine, he'd pulled her off the bartender, at ten-thirteen, he'd pulled her off the New York Ranger's goalie, and when he caught her kissing the bouncer, he knew it was past time for her to go home.

They'd argued until the cops came, threatening to arrest her, which would be exactly what she wanted. So Jeff had poured her into a taxi and taken her home. With him. It seemed like a good idea at the time. It had still seemed like a good idea six hours later when he woke up on his couch. In fact, it had seemed like such a great denouement, that he had congratulated himself on finally lassoing her into some sort of obedient servitude.

Everything had been fine until he opened the door to his bedroom, and saw her curled up, one hand cupped under her cheek like a child, sheets tangled between bare legs that were anything but child-like. Instantly his body moved to code red.

Jeff wasn't a self-disciplined man, had never worried about consequences, but this… The quiet little devil on his shoulder began whispering in his ear, telling him to go wake up her up in the best possible way. She wouldn't mind. Ah, there's the rub. She wouldn't mind. She would welcome him with arms wide open, those sea-blue eyes promising so many things. Glorious, wondrous things….

Thump. Thump. Thump. He whacked the shallots with his cleaver. Hard. Right now he needed to destroy something, and vegetables seemed to be the victim of choice.

*******

Slowly Sheldon Summerville pulled herself from the fog of sleep into the fog that most people called life. She could smell him on the pillow, and she smiled, clutching it tighter to her. A persistent thump-thump echoed in the apartment, possibly the beating of her heart. Sunshine poured in through the window, and she stretched beneath the warm rays, her body sated…

Sated?

No, her body wasn't sated at all. There had been no touching, no kissing, nothing remotely sate-like last night. She was merely sleeping in his bed. By herself.

So if he wasn't in his bed, where was he?

Sheldon threw back the covers, looked around, and then rubbed the sleep from her eyes. The mysterious thump-thump was consistent, and now that she knew it wasn't someone's heart, the sound was merely annoying.

Silently she padded into the kitchen, watching him as he chopped, chef's knife in hand. Thump. Thump. Thump. First the green peppers, then back to the red ones. He didn't even notice that she was standing, staring, ogling.

It was criminal that Jeff Brooks could be so tasty, so buff, and yet still work in the stab-you-in-the-back world of PR.

What was criminal was how badly she wanted him.

She pulled at her tank top and leaned back against the wall, adopting her patented vacant, yet still sexy stare. As soon as he felt the weight of her stare, he looked up, took a long eye-drinking of her skin, cocked one brow, and then went back to chopping peppers.

"Can you put some clothes on?"

Even his voice was sexy. Deep and rough, with that scuffed up mark of New York City that he couldn't hide no matter how hard he tried. He was tall and lean, with strong legs emerging from the loose boxers that did more framing than concealing.

She soaked up the sight of him, her nipples hardening under the thin material, and without cold air, artificial device, and/or a drenching of water.

Did he notice? No. He was happily making breakfast. Like she didn't bother him at all.

Her mouth opened, so tempted to lash out at him, but it would ruin her image. Lashing out implied, passion, emotion, feeling. Instead she leaned one hip against the edge of the granite counter, and let the long cascade of her platinum blond hair fall over one well-formed breast.

From the time she was a kid, everything had been done for her. All her whims had been granted, all her wants fulfilled. When you were the porcelain doll in the glass case, there was no reason for ambition or dreams.

You would think someone with her life would be happy and at peace, and if she were normal, that would probably be the case. But there was something wrong with Sheldon, some piece of her wiring that never connected, because she only felt empty. A tinman without a heart, a scarecrow without a brain, and a lion without courage -- all rolled into one.

The only tangible assets that belonged to Sheldon were a classically sculpted face and a body that made dead men moan. Hall of Famers is what the tabloids termed her cleavage and Sheldon had learned to use it whenever necessary.

Like now.

"You're complaining?" she drawled.

His strong, capable hands never stopped their mechanical chopping motion. For weeks she'd had dreams of those hands on her. Steamy, vivid dreams that didn't stop when she woke up.

"Not complaining, just trying to be helpful." He smiled at her, a toothy, advertising smile, possibly attributed to Toothbrite toothpaste. She suspected that he knew she hated it -- both the toothpaste and the smile -- which was why he did it.

"Is there something I can do?" she purred, her eyes gleaming when his hand stopped for a tiny second.

He waved her off and continued working. "Hangover this morning?"

She pulled her hair into a ponytail, her chest lifting with the movement.

His gaze drifted down.

Her lips curved upward.

"Are you ever closed for business?" he asked.

Her eyes, normally vacuous and sultry, looked down meekly so that he wouldn't see the rage. Rage implied a depth that she didn't want to possess.

She backed away from the kitchen, the knife, and the man with the strong, capable hands, and then padded barefoot across the room.

"I think I'll take a shower," she stated, slipping the tank over her head. It was a picture designed to freeze a man's brain, but he wasn't even watching. She was furious at herself for such an obvious act of desperation, but not so furious that she didn’t slide the signature red panties down over her long, tanned legs as well.

"You don't mind do you?" she asked louder than necessary, her heart rapping inside her. He did this to her, reduced all her self-confidence to shreds.

Finally, his dark gaze lit over her, and she felt each and every white-hot touch. This time he didn't smile, only lowered his head and continued the whap-whap-whap against the cutting board.

Dismissed.

She left her clothes in a messy heap in the middle of the floor, and retreated to the loneliness of his shower. She turned on the warm spray and let it wash over her body, slipping between her breasts and thighs like a lover with strong, capable hands. She shouldn't have been alone. He should be there, too.

Men didn't ignore her -- ever. Especially men like Jeff. He was no extraordinary example of humanity. He was nice looking, with a hot body of his own. But those dark, devilish eyes weren't supposed to be steely strong.

He should be weak.

Like her.

Men in the media business weren't supposed to have scruples. She was sure of it.

Life truly wasn't fair.

******

Jeff continued chopping until all eleven green peppers had been diced into precise triangles. When there were no more peppers left to chop, he exhaled slowly, wiping the sweat from his forehead. It was a good thing she hadn't touched him because he knew in his heart, he would've jumped all over that.

He clicked on the television, letting the perky morning news shows dull the throbbing ache of his erection, that needed to be inserted into the golden, shimmering skin that nestled happily beneath her thighs.

Brazilian. Why Brazilian?

Jeff groaned, loud, ragged. A rutting stag deprived of dinner. Would she notice if he spent the next thirty minutes jerking off? Probably. She'd want to help. That was her way.

He threw the peppers into the sauté pan and cranked up the gas burner, watching the thick skins pulse as the heat licked them into submission. Next he poured on the shallots, hacking off a chunk of butter, the butter sizzling from the burn. He took eight eggs from the refrigerator and kicked the door shut with extra force. It didn't help ease the pain, but these were desperate times that called for dramatic gestures, meaningless or not.

One by one he cracked the eggs, stirring them into a fine glop of something that resembled the aftermath of particularly athletic sex, and then poured them over the tenderized vegetables. The heat of the flame melted the two into a fiery joining of two culinary souls tasting the full extent of their passion.

Life really wasn't fair. He didn't want to want Sheldon. But there were parts of him that weren't cooperating. Parts of him that longed to be acquainted with parts of her.

Re-acquainted. Because according to Little Miss "I Put My Body Where I Want To," said cock had already met said bare, naked nethers in a fiery joining of their own. Six weeks ago she'd dropped that little nuclear bombshell on him. According to her, they'd had wild, untamed sex. Four times. And all he could remember was Sheldon trying to drink him under the table at Club Red. The rest of the night was a gut-rotting blank.

Expertly he flipped the omelet, shredding some gouda over the smooth, golden body of the eggs.

Eventually, the cheese melted, sliding into each and every crevice of the sensual delicacy. Jeff flipped it onto a plate, ruthlessly sliced it into two halves, and then laid the plates on the bar.

When exposed to the sunlight, it looked liked nothing more than breakfast. His mind latched onto the commonplace thoughts, pushing aside visions of naked thighs and full breasts being drenched by the water from his showers. Damn it. He thought he was safe. Thought she'd given him a reprieve.

He was wrong.

Sheldon came into the living room, using a towel to dry the long lengths of her white-blond hair. The rest of her was still dripping wet. Nude -- and dripping wet. His eyes noticed, his hands began to shake, and his cock…well, at the moment he really didn't want to think about the tortured appendage that used to be functional.

She walked-- walked being a very inadequate word to describe the sensual movement of her body -- over to the small pile of underwear, picking up her bra and panties.

"Can't believe I was such a slob," she said, her eyes catching at the waistband of his boxers. "My, my, my…" she said, clicking her tongue against her teeth. He hated the celebration in her eyes, but he was a weakened piece of flesh. It was self-preservation alone that kept him motionless.

Her hand reached toward him, and he closed his eyes, steeling himself for her touch. He was strong. He was invincible. And mostly, there were ten million reasons that he could not touch her. Again.

"An omelet? You are talented," she whispered, her hand flirting near his waist. Yet, she didn't touch him.

He swallowed.

She noticed.

Her hand fell away, and he told himself that he was relieved, lying bastard that he was. But then, the gates of hell opened before him. She leaned down, the golden angel of temptation, and touched the tip of her tongue to the engorged, pained, tortured, while panting-like-a-happy-puppy, tip of his cock.

She popped back up, wearing a smile of victory and nothing else. Then she wiggled her brows at him and strolled back into the bathroom. He couldn't suppress his groan.

"I heard that," she yelled.

At the moment he didn't care.

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