The Bachelorette Pact Mini-Series
Harlequin Temptation
March 2004
ISBN 037369167X

available at

Amazon or Barnes & Noble

In 2001: A Space Odyssey, HAL is one letter off from IBM. In Pillow Talk, JCN is one letter off from IBM. I just thought it'd be fun.


Adam had to stop this or he was going to go insane. He had spent his whole life polishing an image, but now his image was blowing up in his face. This wasn't right.

Her legs shifted restlessly, trying to pull him closer to her, trying to fit him against her.

Jess was like an armful of flame, and he needed to find the strength to resist. For God's sake, they were in a car.

It was no small feat to end the kiss, and he was mighty proud when he did. His eyes locked with hers, a muscle ticking in his jaw. "I need to leave. Now. I'll walk you up."

Her mouth opened then closed, her lips still swollen from his kiss. Her eyes had lost the soft haze she wore earlier. Now they were hard. He knew the exact moment when she remembered who he was.

She adjusted her dress with a shaking hand, but he didn't dare touch her. If he did, he wouldn't have stopped.

They made it out of the car without saying a word, her heels echoing a smart clip on the concrete pavement, and they walked to the elevator. Opposite sides for three floors.

He was going to explain this to her. Explain that making love was a bad idea. Explain to her that he was going home to settle in Alabama when this whole damned assignment was done.

But she never looked at him once.

When they got to her door, she fumbled with the keys and he reached out to help her. Finally the damned thing was open, and she turned to face him.

"Sorry, Taylor. Don't know what's come over me." She braced one arm against the door, a casual gesture.

"Jess." He reached out to touch her, and she jerked away.


He tried to straighten the mess he'd made. If he had just kept to his normal business procedures, none of this would have happened. "Don't be mad. This isn't right. It wouldn't be fair to you."

"Please don't do me any favors right now. I think you've done enough." She shoved her hair out of her eyes, and he remembered how the silky strands felt in his hands.

"I'm sorry," he said.

"And please don't apologize either. I'm an adult. You're an adult. These things happen," she said, in a cool, logical voice that flew in the face of the passion that sparked between them.

"This isn't just one of 'those things'," he said, simply because it sounded so trite and pithy, like so many things he'd said in his life, and he was determined that his feelings for her would not be subjected to such an insult.

"The grand love affair, then?" she asked, raising a skeptical eyebrow.

He stayed silent, a damning silence, watching as her eyes grew cold.

Then she really lit into him. "You're always such a professional, always the right words, never saying too much, always just enough. I bet you're used to all the girls just fawning all over you. And you'd encourage them until it was time to actually follow-through. I knew guys like you. The high school football team, right?"

"No. Chess club."

"Really? Imagine that. Good night, Mr. Taylor." She started to slam the door.

He caught his foot in the jamb, just enough to really hurt. "I'm not going to leave you like this."

"Because I'm too distraught? " she said, in a voice that implied she was definitely distraught.

"Yes. No. For God's sake, Jessica. Let's not have this discussion in the hall."

"Leave me alone."

If only it were that simple. "I can't," he answered.

Slowly, the door opened. "You have to stay away from me."

He didn't move, didn't breathe. "Is that what you want?"

"No. But it's what I have to do. This is temporary, an aberration. After a few days, it'll just go away."

"No, it won't," he said. Because he knew.

"Then we'll turn it into a game. I can handle a game. Of course, I can handle a game," she said, more to herself than to him. When she looked up her eyes were lit with fire. "Ten days. You can't seduce me."

It sounded like such a bad idea, but he knew what she was doing. It was the perfect way to keep Jessica Barnes at a distance. Threaten her with the one thing she couldn't bear- defeat. "We're going to do this, aren't we?" he asked in a tired voice, ready to bend to the inevitable, ready to do anything to avoid hurting her.

Already the wheels were turning in her head, plotting new ways to win. "Let's just be clear about the ground rules," she said.

There wasn't supposed to be rules. "No rules."

"There's always rules. 10 Days. Full penetration."

His mouth went dry. "Pardon?"

"Foreplay -- which you're very good at, by the way -- doesn't count."

He forgot his lines. "I think foreplay should count."

"I can take it," she said, so resolutely he wanted to disagree simply on principle.

He was toast. Stay the course, Taylor, remember the purpose. "10 days from today or 10 days from tomorrow?"

"I'll give you a handicap. 10 days from tomorrow." He loved to hear the snap of smug confidence back in her voice. They were doing the right thing.

He turned to leave, turned to go home to a long, cold, shower. Ten days.

He'd almost made it to the elevator.

"Adam, what are the stakes?" she called down the hall.

He hadn't made it out of the fog of thoughts of foreplay yet. "The stakes?"

"You know, what are we betting on?"

He ran a hand through his hair and clutched his keys like the lifeline they weren't. "Whatever the winner wants"

She leaned against the doorframe, long legs crossed in front of her. "Anything goes?" Long legs and a saucy mouth.

He punched the elevator button. Down. Hard. "Anything goes," he whispered to himself. Oh, hell.

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