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Authors: Debra Webb

Tags: #romance, #opposites attract, #sassy, #faux fiance

Keeping Kennedy

BOOK: Keeping Kennedy
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KEEPING KENNEDY

 

Debra Webb

 

A note about the author: Though Debra Webb
has earned a reputation for outstanding romantic suspense, she
began her career with nearly a dozen sassy and spicy romances. For
the first time these heartfelt romances are now available worldwide
in e-book format. Previously published as a Kensington Precious
Gems, available only in Wal-Mart for one short month, Debra is
proud to present her beloved tales of romance.

 

HERE TO STAY

FREE FALLING

TEMPTING TRACE

UP CLOSE

BASIC INSTINCTS

KEEPING KENNEDY

TAMING GI JANE

GOING TO THE CHAPEL

 

This book is a work of fiction. Any
references to historical events, real people, or real locales are
used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents
are the product of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to
actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely
coincidental.

 

Copyright 2011, WebbWorks, LLC

First Printing: November 2000 Kensington
Precious Gems

 

All rights reserved, including the right of
reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

 

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your
personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given
away to other people. If you would like to share this book with
another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person
you share it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase
it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should
return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for
respecting the hard work of this author.

 

KEEPING KENNEDY

 

 

Debra Webb

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

He was naked
.

Kennedy Malone froze in the doorway to
Douglas Drake’s bedroom. Prone on the bed and sprawled amid a
tangle of rumpled sheets, he was down for the count. Fortunately, a
narrow length of the twisted linen covered his rear end. His tan
had deepened considerably with his time in Africa. Kennedy frowned
at the unruly tumble of thick black hair on his pillow. He looked
in desperate need of a close encounter with barber clippers.

All right, she might as well get this over
with. She took a fortifying breath and stepped into the dimly lit
room. When had he gotten back anyway? He wasn’t supposed to
arrive—she glanced at her watch—for another hour. Of course, that
was the one thing you could always count on with Drake: he didn’t
follow anyone’s schedule but his own. The man had no concept of the
rules or boundaries or propriety. He did whatever he wanted,
whenever he wanted and however he chose to do it. She had decided
long ago that Drake was half nomad and all playboy. She shook her
head. Though he wasn’t home often enough or for long enough to be a
nuisance, whenever Drake was around, females frequented his
apartment.

Pondering the obvious reasons why, Kennedy
folded her arms over her chest and scrutinized the man. He was
asleep; he’d never know. Usually she made it a point not to look
directly at him. He was one of those guys who liked to get close to
a person and make a lot of eye contact during a conversation. Under
normal circumstances, she did the same. It was part of her job. But
something about Drake’s direct, all too perceptive gaze unsettled
her. She had no intention of giving him the foolish idea she was
interested. In her experience men like Drake believed all women
were prepared to fall at their feet.

Well, not Kennedy Malone.

It was true enough that he was handsome in a
rugged sort of way. He had classic features, a square jaw, nice
nose, a strong chin…and full lips. The tanned shoulders now on
display were wide and powerful looking as was the chest that
tapered into a ribbed abdomen. Her gaze slid slowly down his long,
muscled legs. He had an amazing body; she had to admit it. Invading
his privacy like this made should make her feel guilty, but it
didn’t.

She pulled at the collar of her silk blouse
and averted her errant gaze. Yes, the man had all the right assets.
“And he’s a slob,” she muttered, squashing the strange sensation
that made her feel restless. She took a moment to survey his
enormous but sparsely furnished bedroom. He couldn’t have been in
the apartment for more than a few hours and already his room was a
wreck. Clothes were scattered on the hardwood floor. A
ransacked—
partially unpacked
, Drake would insist—duffel bag
stood in one corner. Two leather totes she recognized as his camera
bags sat at the foot of the bed. The closet door remained forever
open, shirts slung carelessly over the top and hanging on the
knobs.

Absolutely nothing could be considered
pretentious about Douglas Drake.
What you see is what you
get
was his motto. In no way did he resemble the men with whom
Kennedy worked every day. He was nothing at all like anyone she
even knew.

But he would do.

He had to do. There was no one else.

And she was desperate.

Desperate enough to ask her neighbor, a man
who was sinfully attractive, for a very personal favor.

Kennedy crossed the room and peered at the
haphazard contents of his closet. Not a suit in sight. “Damn.” Oh
well, she had suspected as much. Drake always wore jeans or cargo
pants with basic T-shirts. Sneakers and hiking boots were the only
footwear he appeared to own. He was definitely no clotheshorse.

No problem. She could remedy that with a
quick trip to the Men’s Shop. Edward, her favorite fashion expert,
would find just the right designer and fit for a man like Drake.
Well, she amended, for the kind of man she wanted him to
portray.

She turned in the direction of her
unsuspecting partner-in-crime and set her scheme into motion.

“Drake, wake up. I need to talk to you.”

He didn’t move.

She eased two steps closer to the bed.
“Drake!”

“What day is it?” he mumbled without moving
an inch. The words were muffled by sleep and the fluffy, white
pillow in which his face was all but buried.

“It’s Monday, 8:00 a.m., time to wake up,”
Kennedy replied crossly. She didn’t have time for this. The flight
was leaving at two that afternoon and there was entirely too much
to be accomplished before then. “Get up, Drake. I need your full
attention.” She nudged his leg with her foot when he still didn’t
budge.

His one visible eye popped open. “Kennedy?”
he asked, his voice rough, his tone surprised.

She blew out a disgusted breath. “You have to
get up, Drake. Now!”

Like lightning, he bolted from the bed. The
sheet fell to the floor. Her eyes rounded, her mouth dropped open,
and the air evacuated her lungs.

“What’s wrong?” he demanded as raked his
fingers through his hair. “Is the building on fire?”

Belatedly her own sense of propriety kicked
in and Kennedy spun around. She blinked twice to dispel the image
of Drake standing naked before her. “No, the building isn’t on
fire,” she said, her voice uncharacteristically high-pitched. She
frowned and tried to clear her throat.

“Then what the hell’s the problem?” he
groused. “Did Iggy get out again?”

She shuddered at the mention of his pet
iguana. “No,” she croaked, then glanced around uneasily to be
certain. “Iggy’s around here, someplace.” The lizard had quickly
learned to make itself scarce when she arrived, or suffer the
earsplitting consequences. Frowning, she listened for any sounds of
rustling material to indicate that Drake might be putting clothes
on. No such luck. “I came to talk to you.”

He breathed a scorching swearword. “Well,
spill it then. I’ve been up forty-eight hours straight. I’m spent.
I need some sleep.”

“Could you…” She squeezed her eyes shut in a
last-ditch effort to erase his naked image. The man’s total lack of
modesty rattled her. “Would you mind getting dressed? I can’t talk
knowing you’re standing behind me…like that.”

He exhaled long and loud.

“Please,” she added hopefully.

“Sure,” he muttered. “Who needs to sleep? Not
me.”

Kennedy relaxed when she heard him fumbling
with his clothes. “Are you still planning to take a two-week break
before your next assignment?”

“What?” he growled.

Obviously Drake wasn’t a morning person,
especially when deprived of sleep. “You said before you left that
you intended to take a couple weeks off after Africa. Is that still
the plan?”

“Yeah, sure…I don’t know. Ask me later. I
haven’t thought past getting between the sheets.”

She shivered at his choice of words and
immediately chastised herself. This whole situation had her out of
sorts. She squared her shoulders and forced her mouth to utter the
necessary words. “I need your help.”

“What?”

Was the man deaf as well as exhausted? “I
said, I need your help.”

He moved closer. She could feel him. Damn it.
She should have known this wouldn’t work. How could she—someone
who’d made a career out of fixing other people’s lives—screw up her
own life so royally?

“You can turn around now. I’m decent.”

She somehow doubted his last statement. Men
like Drake were never decent in the true sense of the word. Even
fully clothed and in the most innocent of situations, they exuded
sexuality. Kennedy swallowed. She had known Douglas Drake for over
three years and never once had she been tempted by him—at least not
on a conscious level. She was immune to his devilish charm and his
drop-dead-gorgeous looks. Nerves, that’s all these alien feelings
could be. She was nervous about putting a spin on her own life.

Slowly, reluctantly, she turned around. Her
eyes widened.
That
was decent? He’d pulled on a pair of
faded, rumpled jeans, but nothing else and even the jeans weren’t
fully fastened. Her dismayed gaze followed the trail of silky black
hair that spread over sculpted pecs, then narrowed and plunged down
a muscular abdomen only to disappear behind his half-open fly.

“You said you needed my help.”

She snapped her gaze up to his face, which
proved even more distracting. Between the two days’ beard growth,
his tousled hair, and the sleepy look in those luminous gray
eyes—

“Kennedy, is something wrong?”

She blinked, suddenly remembering to breathe.
Wrong? Oh, yes, something was definitely wrong. She’d lost her
mind. She gave herself a mental kick in hopes of finding it. It
didn’t help. “I’m sorry.” She blinked again before meeting his
concerned gaze. This was Drake, she reminded herself—a pal, a
buddy. He never had this effect on her. No one did. She licked her
seriously dry lips and struggled to regain her bearings. “I’m just
a little distracted this morning. I—”

Something slid between her feet. She
shrieked. Her stomach roiled when a long, scaly tail curled around
one foot. She didn’t dare move for fear of tripping over the
iguana. Her shrieks usually sent the damned lizard scurrying, but
not this morning. Obviously feeling overly confident in his
master’s presence, the disgusting thing stood his ground—right
between her legs.

“Iggy, that’s no way to say hello,” Drake
scolded. He crouched in front of Kennedy, reached between her feet
and removed his pet. Her breath caught when Drake’s forearm brushed
the inside of her ankle.

What, for the love of Mike, was wrong with
her?

He stood, stroking his beloved Iggy. “Come
on,” he said, then padded barefoot toward the door. “I need a shot
of caffeine.”

Reminding herself to exhale, she followed him
into the great room. She was out of sorts, that’s all. She would
fine as soon as this was settled.

One of the perks of a corner apartment, the
huge window taking up the majority of wall space in his living area
flooded the room with light. The brilliant sun highlighted the
greenery surrounding the indoor rock garden and small fountain he
had built for the ugly lizard. With Iggy deposited into his
man-made habitat, Drake crossed to the island bar in the center of
the room. She forced herself to be patient while he readied the
coffeemaker to brew. By the time he turned his attention back to
her, a full three minutes had passed and the smell of fresh coffee
had filled the air. Anticipation had her nerves on edge. God, she
was running out of time.

“What’s up, Kennedy?” He propped one lean hip
against the counter and plowed his fingers though his long
hair.

Okay, this was it. No matter how ludicrous it
sounded, she had to do this. And he had to help her. He simply had
to.

“Would you like to wait until after coffee?”
he suggested when she hesitated.

She shook her head. “It can’t wait. I…I need
a favor from you.”

BOOK: Keeping Kennedy
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