His Kind of Perfect (Sugar Bay #1) (4 page)

BOOK: His Kind of Perfect (Sugar Bay #1)
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Anabelle stilled, thinking about the
qualities Charlie deemed as necessary. Maybe Charlie had a point. Those
qualities weren’t necessarily bad and they would help towards her pursuit of a
male induced orgasm.

“Fine,” she said, ignoring Charlie’s
pleased expression. She crossed her arms over her chest. “Don’t you have a shop
to look after?”

Charlie ignored Anabelle’s irritation and
took her time selecting a cookie. “My mom is there.”

“Ha! Now I know why you’re so interested in
my love life. You big chicken.” Karma was a witch and since Charlie had gotten
her steamrolling tendencies from her mother, it was fun watching her best
friend get flattened by the master every once in a while.

“Mom’s between projects at the moment so guess
who’s the star of her project now?”

“Yeah, well, my mother’s the opposite. I’m
the last of her worries unless she wants something from me.”

“Want to adopt mine?”

“If I could, I would. You’re mom is great
but don’t worry, she’ll get distracted by something else soon enough.”

“Please God.”

“At least you have brothers to share the
spotlight. You guys can rotate whereas I’m an only child. So when she decides
to pay attention to me or needs something from me, there’s no one around to be
a decoy. I get all the attention, all the time and it’s not easy. Trust me.”

Charlie shrugged because she’d witnessed Anabelle’s
childhood so there was no debate.

“The fact that my aunt and uncle took her
on this tour has given me a reprieve.”

“Lucky.”

“I don’t want to know what she’d think
about this whole Cupid’s Match experiment.” She shuddered.

Besides, it’s fun watching you evade your mom. Maybe I’ll learn
how to deal with you since you two are so similar.”

Charlie made a face. “I’ll hang out here a
little longer.” She picked up a recent Kitchen and Bath Design magazine and threw
herself onto Anabelle’s treasured Barcelona lounge chair.

Anabelle turned back to the screen. “I’ll
look for fifteen more minutes then I have to switch gears and finish the Turner
presentation for tomorrow.”

“It’s going to take time to go through the
options.”

“College was easier. Hot guys were
everywhere.”

Charlie wore a smug look. “Yes they were.”

“The men I know now are either married, gay
or completely inappropriate.”

“You have a limited circle of male
acquaintances, sweetie.”

“No kidding. Finding possible men to sleep
with is not as easy as in the movies.”

Charlie’s eyes widened. “So you’re that
serious about getting back into the game? Good thing we added the sex god
qualification.”

“Are you kidding? It’s been so long that
every guy who walks through the door has starred in my fantasies.”

Charlie gave her a pointed look. “Even
Walter.”

Walter, the UPS guy, was an older gentleman
with portly proportions. “Okay, not
every
guy. Walter’s devotion to his wife of thirty five years has kept him in the
clear.”

“What about my brothers?”

“Eww, no. They’re practically my brothers,
so no.”

“Uh huh, but what about Derek?”

Anabelle avoided Charlie’s eyes and
pretended she hadn’t heard her. There was no way she would incriminate herself
to the mistress of torture but she felt her face grow hot.

“Ah hah! I knew it. I knew it. I knew it.”
Charlie jumped up and pointed at Anabelle.

“Knew what exactly?”

There was no choice but to play dumb or
she’d never hear the end of it.

“You’ve imagined Derek naked!” Charlie
danced about, clapping her hands.

“You look like a demented monkey when you
do that, you know.”

“So? No one’s around and don’t change the
subject.”

Her face continued to burn because she was
totally guilty of imagining Derek naked along with a hundred and one other
wicked things.

“You should give him a try Anabelle. He’s
given you
the look
ever since he
moved here.”

“Absolutely not.”

“Why?” She drew back and glared at her as
if she took a personal offense. “Derek is hot.”

“Yes but he’s also young, which is not on
my list.”

“So. Who cares? These are different times.”

“I’d feel like a dirty old lady. I can almost
hear my mother’s lecture on the impropriety of it all.”

“You’re mother is stuck in a time warp and
she’s raised you with those silly notions as well. Men have been dating younger
women for ages and no one cares anymore. Besides, he can’t be that much younger
than us.”

“Doesn’t matter. I have a strict age range.
See?” She clicked on her profile.

Charlie shook her head. “Up to four years
older? That’s too limiting and I think you’re missing some great possibilities
thinking that way.”

She shrugged. “We’ll see. There’s bound to
be an age appropriate guy in that database.”

She wasn’t interested in a relationship
with a younger man. Or at least she didn’t want to be interested in a younger
man.

“I know you don’t like talking about
specifics, but when you say it’s been a long time, what are we talking here?”

Anabelle paused, not sure she wanted to
confess everything. Charlie was the one who had no qualms about discussing her social
life while Anabelle listened and laughed. Anabelle never had anything to dish about.
It was embarrassing how little she knew about the male/female relationship but considering
her first and only sexual partner had been a closeted gay man maybe it was
understandable. Claire hadn’t explained the birds and the bees to her, so
Anabelle had learned by reading the Clan of the Cave Bears. She remembered
questioning the mechanics of sex then and although Gavin had been sweet and
since he’d a virgin too, which should have warned her, he hadn’t brought about
any earth shattering orgasm the editors at Cosmo wrote about.

It was past confession time no matter how
embarrassed she felt because Charlie knew everything. And in this case, she
would bow to the master.

“Five years.”

“Holy shit! Are you serious?”

“Unfortunately.”

“So that means—“

“Yep. The last two years of the marriage was
a loss. I thought he was too stressed from work.”

“Oh Anabelle. How are you not hating the
guy?”

She shrugged. “Waste of energy, I guess.”

Most of the times she was okay with the
events. To forgive and forget had been easier than sustaining the energy to
hate, so she remained friends with Gavin and Kyle. Friends and family had been
baffled and in truth, it was bittersweet watching them together, but it would
have been worse to remain with someone who didn’t recognize you as a treasure.

She wanted that.

Maybe she was a hopeless romantic, but
there it was.

“What bothers me the most are the whispers speculating
that I couldn’t keep Gavin’s interest, that I wasn’t sexy enough, that I’m
crappy in bed so he turned gay, as if that were possible.”

“Oh honey. I’m sorry.”

“Yes. Well, coming from a long line of
strong Southern women, keeping my emotions contained is a rite of passage and
with Claire as a mother…you know how she hates emotional displays.”

“Anabelle, there is nothing wrong with you
and I don’t want you to think, for a moment, that there is.”

“Thanks.”

“You’re putting yourself out there now and
that’s the first step. Just you wait. Someone is going to snatch you up if
you’ll give him a chance. No more looking through men as if they were
invisible. You better cut that shit out, right now. That’s your mother’s influence.
Jeez, after Gavin, you never gave anyone a chance, so you haven’t had the
chance to sow your wild oats.”

“Hmph…wild oats, right.” She sniffed
through her tears.

Charlie wrapped her arms around Anabelle.

“Sorry for the waterworks. Certain times of
the month leave me more pitiful than I want.”

“I don’t blame you. Vent all you want. You
deserve it.”

“I usually stuff myself full of Oreos.”

“Not this time.”

“Is there something wrong with me? Am I not
feminine enough? I want to be someone’s object of desire for once. I want to
inspire someone’s fantasy, not some psycho’s fantasy, mind you, but a normal guy.
Is that impossible?” She slapped her hands on the table and stood.

“Of course not.”

“Do I have an invisible crown that screams,
‘hey look at me, I’m sugary sweet and too dainty for words?’ because, I’m not!
I want hot, dirty sex!” she shouted.

Charlie’s response wasn’t what she’d
expected. Instead of a rousing, ‘here, here’ in support, Charlie had an attack of
sorts. She moaned and thumped her chest, clearing her throat as if something
were stuck.

“Charlie! What’s wrong?” Anabelle joined in
the thumping. “I can’t remember the Heimlich.” She grappled with the phone. “I’m
calling 911.”

Charlie grabbed her hand and shook her head,
her eyes were huge and red strands flew around her head like a crazy woman.

“What is it then?”

“You may want to give her some space,” a
deep voice said from behind.

Anabelle’s eyes widened and she snapped her
head around so fast she almost lost her balance.

“Oh, shit,” she whispered as she faced the
object of her many fantasies. The tide of humiliation threatened to consume
her.

“I came by to install the unit but no one
responded to my knock. The door was unlocked…” Derek trailed off, the tip of
his ears were red which eliminated the possibility he hadn’t overhead them.

C
rap.
Double crap.

By then, Charlie’s coughing had dwindled
down to a slight wheeze but an unrelenting pressure squeezed Anabelle’s head
and made her see white spots while her face caught on fire.

Black
hole open now
.

Chapter 3
 

For the second time in five minutes, Derek re-measured
the blocking height and cursed his lack of focus. He wasn’t normally like this
and he blamed it squarely on the hot brunette working at her desk.

Damn, but hearing the object of his
fantasies declare she wanted hot, dirty sex left him hard and horny. The fact
that he hadn’t yet hammered his thumb was a miracle.

He shouldn’t have eavesdropped. Hadn’t
meant to. He’d knocked several times but they’d been focused on their conversation,
they hadn’t heard him.

He snuck a glance at Anabelle and was
relieved she looked almost normal. Earlier, her face had been so red he thought
she was going to faint. Of course, if she had, he would’ve been ready, willing
and able to resuscitate her.

For a year, Anabelle Broussard had held him
at arm’s length. Whenever Dani, his pain in the ass little sister, saw Anabelle
on the appointment list, she harassed him to no end about his ‘crush’ as she
called it. Obsession was more accurate but he let Dani keep it G-rated since she’d
been there the day Anabelle stumbled into the studio for the first time and
he’d gone from alpha male to a tongue-tied loser in seconds.

Fucking idiot.

At that point, the studio hadn’t been open
long. He’d moved from Seattle months earlier to help their sister, Dylan, with
her kids after her husband had died. Florida weather had been a strange change
and it had taken some time to adjust to the fact it could rain on the front
side of his business yet be sunny in the back.

Three o’clock summer storm with forty-five
degree rain had rolled in and along with it walked in Anabelle, shaking her
umbrella and looking like a wet dream come to life.

Have mercy.

According to Dani, his tongue had rolled
out of his head while his eyes bugged out like a cartoon character. Trust Dani to
act out his moment of weakness as often as she could for anyone who wanted to
watch. She was damn lucky she was family and he couldn’t fire her for
insubordination.

He remembered distinctly the sight of
Anabelle as she shook out her dark, wet hair as if in slow motion. Air had
rushed from his lungs and left him floundering like someone had dropped a load
of two by fours on him by mistake.

That was the day he developed a
connoisseur’s eye for white silk blouses.

Man.

Anabelle may have chosen her top for its
classic lines but damn, add rain, and it turned into a Maxim cover in a flash.

Hell
yeah.

The image of twin hard bullets pushed
against the front of her wet top demanded his attention and has since featured
in many of his fantasies.

It was unfortunate that was the only time she’d
been less than polished in his company. For appointments she wore business
suits, cardigans or whatever professional dress weather permitted, but there
were no more thin, wet or barely there shirts. She remained the ultimate
professional, brisk and to the point. She had meticulous taste and was a model
client. And each time he held her gaze for longer than conversation required,
she’d slide her gaze away, leaving him frustrated.

He hated how elusive she was and he wanted
to rattle her perfect façade for a glimpse of the real Anabelle. There was no
way the untouched façade she wore could be real since she’d been married but he’d
heard the local gossip about her husband and it made him wonder. He shook his
head at the stupid ass. A part of him wanted to kick the guy’s ass for hurting
her, yet at the same time, he wanted to thank him for leaving the field clear.

The impromptu inspection the other day had
been different, almost as if her protective armor had been absent. For one
thing, she hadn’t worn her customary business wear, had looked casual even. And
they way she’d looked at him, with heat, had shocked the hell out of him. But
when he responded, wanting to draw her out, she’d retreated. But now, he knew
what was different.

Finally.

Anabelle hadn’t realized he’d been waiting
for a signal of interest for the better part of the year. There would be no
retreat for her now because he wasn’t about to stop.

He’d been patient. Had waited as Dani had
suggested when he’d wanted to pursue her from the beginning but Dani had been adamant
that Anabelle needed time. So, reluctantly, he’d adhered to the distinct ‘hands
off’ signal she’d given.

But the other day he’d seen a clear green
light.

Game
on.

Derek studied the object of his obsession.
Today she looked like a pin up model from the forties with her black and white
polka dotted shirt buttoned and tucked into a tight knee length black skirt.
The shirt was almost see-through. He wondered if she realized he could make out
the lines of her white bra. She had a preference for lace, which was fast
becoming his favorite as well. The outfit wouldn’t normally be considered sexy
as it bordered on classic, except for the fuck me heels. Jeez, the dichotomy of
her choices kept him up literally and physically, more nights than he preferred
to count.

He wiped the sweat off his brow and snuck
another glance. She leaned over her desk and argued with Charlie over something,
he couldn’t hear but
from
their whispers and body
language, he guessed it was about him. He didn’t care because her position
showcased her perfect ass and he worked hard on not swallowing his tongue. He
wanted to stop and fully enjoy the view without pretending to work but that
would have been too obvious.

He couldn’t make out panty lines, which
meant one of two things, either Anabelle had a preference for thongs or she was
going commando.

Have
mercy.

It was a bonus Anabelle didn’t wear short
skirts. He’d yet to see her in one for which he was glad, he wasn’t sure his
heart could take the strain.

He tugged his plaid shirt away from his
body, fanning it slightly. His nieces had given it to him for his birthday, but
now it was wet with sweat. “Would you ladies be offended if I took off my
shirt?”

Two wide pairs of eyes snapped to him. “Of
course not, Derek,” Charlie said while Anabelle looked horrified.

He shrugged. “Okay…maybe not then.”

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw
Charlie elbow Anabelle and winced when she winced. Their sibling like bickering
made him smile.

“Go ahead, we don’t mind,” Anabelle said a
few minutes later although she didn’t sound certain.

He met her hazel eyes. Today they were more
green than brown. She had trouble meeting his eyes and kept glancing away. “Are
you sure?”

“Definitely.”

He didn’t think so but between the labor
and his lusting after Anabelle, he was hot. Still watching her, he unbuttoned
his shirt while her gaze followed his progress. He sucked in a breath and
caught her apple lemon scent. He slowed his movements liking how she watched
him. Her breathing sounded shallow. Too soon she realized he’d caught her
watching him and averted her gaze.

Interesting.

The sight of his chest affected her. He
smiled, pleased at the thought and filed away that bit of knowledge.

BOOK: His Kind of Perfect (Sugar Bay #1)
4.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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