THE LONGEST NIGHT
The Bachelorette Pact Mini-Series
Harlequin Temptation
June 2004
ISBN 0373691793

available at

Amazon or Barnes & Noble

I admit, the idea of writing a loose heroine was appealing to me. The
female equivalent of the rake. It was a challenge, but I love doing
different things. There was a non-fiction book that I read on fast
girls and what made them that way, and I used the material in shaping
Cassandra. The book was nominated for Best Temptation of 2004 by
Romantic Times.

 
   

"You can drop the act," Noah said, the carnal fog starting to ease. It frustrated him that he'd spent the last six months aching for a woman who seemed more comfortable on the stage than in his dreams. "I came here to ask you to lunch. I wasn't prepared for the Playmate of the Month routine."

Cassandra's jaw twitched. "Is that what you think of me?"

"You're selling yourself short. My opinion of you is a lot higher."

"Oh, please." She had a way of sounding bored that made him feel both stupid and disposable. "Don't give me that holier than thou routine. I have eyes, Mr. Barclay. Noah. It always comes down to sex. Are you going to stand there and tell me otherwise?"

Suddenly Noah felt stupid, disposable, and cheap. Not his favorite emotional state of mind. "The thought was there, but I'm not your own personal power-switch to be flipped when you're in the mood to play," he said.

She folded her arms across her chest and looked at him. "Playmate of the month? My opinion of you had been a lot higher, too, but I suppose everyone can be wrong once in their life. I have rules," she continued, holding up a hand just as he was about to interrupt. "First, no promises, either given or received. Second, you have to agree with a medical inspection. Third, condoms are required. Fourth, no monogamy. You see who you choose, and so do I. Lastly, no bondage. No explanation necessary and if you need one, it's not going to work between us anyway."

Noah's hard-on withered and died. "No monogamy? You've got to be kidding."

She didn't even smile. "Sex is a serious business. And by the way, if I'm not coming, I'm going, if you get my meaning. Sometimes it's there, sometimes it isn't, but I'm not wasting my time if it isn't happening."

Then he understood. She was still pissed at him, and this was the price he was going to have to pay. Her own little practical joke. Okay, he deserved this.

"All right, all right, you got me. Look, I'm sorry about the six months ago. I told you I was stupid. You can understand why I had my doubts, but I'm over that now."

She stared at him blandly. "What does that have to do with anything?"

He lifted his hands. "You know. The joke, making me pay for what happened at the gala."

"I don't do revenge, Mr. Barclay. It's another time-waster. Those are my rules."

As he watched her, saw the steady state in her eyes, he realized this was serious. She was serious. "You're not joking?"

"No. I never joke about sex."

He didn't think he joked about sex either, but this took that to a whole other level. "Look I don't mind about the condoms and the physical. That's good thinking, but the rest? Excuse me, that sounds like business, not sex."

"I don't charge money, if that's what you're asking. But sex is definitely a business. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. I don't believe in hiding behind all that touchy-feely kitsch."

Noah had never thought of himself as touchy-feely believer himself, but now he was insulted. "That touchy-feely kitsch is the best part of a relationship." Then he realized what he said. "Okay, the sex is important, too," she raised her brow, "but you can't just rip out all the other stuff."

"Yes, I can."

Noah sighed. This was going nowhere. "You never compromise? You'd never make a promise, or ever stay faithful?"

She shook her head and the dark hair brushed against her breast, but he kept his eyes glued firmly to her face.

What she was proposing was a one-night-stand. A cheap roll in the hay. Wham, bam, thank you, Noah, goodnight.

So why was that a problem?

Maybe it was the ten years he'd spent overseas, maybe he was old-fashioned and never guessed it, or maybe it was because he wanted to be the different one.

She aroused him, and fascinated him, and intrigued him. He'd never met a sexier woman, never met a woman so sure of herself. And now he realized that he'd never met a woman who thought so little of herself.

So now he just needed a new plan. A way to differentiate himself from the pack, and he knew there was a pack. His looks weren't going to cut it, his name didn't seem to mean a hell of lot to her, but he did have one other idea.

A painful, yet effective idea.

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