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Authors: Shirley Jump

Really Something (9 page)

BOOK: Really Something
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“Klein could do this, you know. It's right up his alley.”

“I'm the one with the source, Steve. I want this shot.”

Steve considered for a moment, toying with the wireless mouse on his desk, the Russian 36Ds temporarily forgotten. “You want me to allocate valuable resources to this?”

“What valuable resources? It's me, a cameraman, and a couple of tapes. If you don't want the piece, I can always see if WISH or WTHR is interested,” he said, naming two of the main Indianapolis stations.

“Blackmail, huh?”

Duncan placed his palms flat on Steve's desk and looked him in the eye. “I took the weatherman job because you said it could lead into reporting. So far, it's been a way into nothing. I want more.”

“Your piece on the dance wasn't
bad,” Steve mused. “If you discount the live shot of a tabby dumping her partially digested 9-Lives.”

“And I'm the only one with the inside scoop—pun intended—” Duncan said, shooting Steve's words back at him, “on this deal. We'd have an exclusive.”

Steve tapped a finger against his chin. “It would be nice to have our little upstart network scoop the big three. That is, after all, how Fox got started.”


“All right. It's yours. Get me something by the end of the week so I can beat those Indy guys to the punch.”

Excitement bloomed in Duncan's chest, something he hadn't felt in years. It reminded him of the feeling he'd had when he'd met that reporter from NBC, seen how the guy had taken on John Henry, gnawed at the Henry patriarch's cocky arrogance. “Count on me, Steve,” Duncan said and turned to go.


He turned back. “Yeah?”

“Wear the blue shirt when you tape. The latest station survey says the women go nuts when you're wearing blue.”

Just when Duncan thought he was being taken seriously—it all came back to his damned S-factor. This time, he intended to use the S-factor
Allie Dean to get what he wanted.

Chapter 10

Having Allie in the driver's seat gave Duncan a decidedly nice view. She had worn a skirt, which showed off her long, lean legs, and high heels with little tiny straps and even tinier gold buckles. He wanted to run his hands down those legs, slip off those delicate shoes, then raise her onto his hips and put an end to the desire that had been pounding in his head ever since he met her three days ago.

He'd put his own life on hold for so long, he'd forgotten what it was like to have one. “So, where are you taking me?” he asked, before he acted on fantasy number one hundred and ten.

He was supposed to be working on getting her to agree to do an interview for WTMT-TV. But the station—and his reporter aspirations—had never seemed so far away.

Focus, Duncan.

Yeah, he was focusing all right. On her legs. Her breasts. Her lips. Not his job.

“Do you like Thai food?”

When he nodded, she smiled. A recognition bell dinged in his head. Her smile, so familiar. Had he seen it somewhere before?

“Good,” she continued. “I know this little place, on the outskirts of Indianapolis. I've got this thing for anything with cilantro and lemongrass.”

He chuckled. “I'll keep that in mind.” Once again, the feeling he knew her returned. He'd known someone who'd been a fan of Asian foods, who'd loved this little Chinese place that had opened in Tempest, but hadn't lasted long. A few years or so, because foreign food hadn't exactly been a hit with the stoic, traditional Midwest palates. But the memory, just a snippet of a conversation from years ago, flitted away before he could grasp it. “You know a lot about this area for someone new to it.”

“I'm a location scout. I'm supposed to be exploring.” But her smile held a hint of a secret, as though there were more.

Duncan shook off the feeling. They were talking Thai food here, not international espionage. “They say what someone eats says a lot about them.” His gaze roamed over those incredible legs again. “Hot and spicy, is that you?”

She grinned. “Not all Thai food is spicy.”

“And not all women eat Thai. Either way, you didn't answer my question.” The memory again tickled at the back of his mind, surrounded by the haze of high school.

Then, it hit him. Allison Gray. His study partner in Trig, hell, most of his math classes. He'd sat beside her, noticed she grasped the tricky math concepts and one question after class led to another, led eventually to early morning study sessions that saved his butt senior year.

Allison Gray. He glanced again at Allie Dean.

Could it be? Two women, similar names, both liking Chinese food?

Then he shook himself. Given the proliferation of egg rolls across the USA, he'd be hard-pressed to find someone who didn't like Chinese. And the fact that these two women, one from his past, one from his present, had similar first names, was just coincidence. They had nothing in common looks-wise, and as far as he knew, Allison Gray had moved far from Tempest immediately after graduation, maintaining few, if any, ties with anyone in town.

Especially him.

“Duncan? Were you listening?”

He drew himself back to Allie. “Sorry, got distracted there. What'd you ask me?”

“Whether you like hot and spicy food.”

“I do. But you never answered my question. Are
hot and spicy, too?”

She paused a moment, eyes on the road, avoiding his gaze. “I am now.”

“A woman of mystery,” he said, intrigued—by her, by the unanswered puzzle in his head. “Are you going to tell me more?”

This time, she flashed her smile right at him. Dead-on, that gesture had a whole lot of wattage. “I'd need to know you much better before I play too much show-and-tell.”

“I thought we got to know each other quite well back in the farmhouse.”

Her face flushed. He liked the heightened pink in her cheeks. It gave her an air of vulnerability, another shade to her personality.

“I like to keep you on your toes,” she said.

He chuckled. “You do that well.”

“That's my plan.”

“Speaking of your plan, tell me what a location scout does. Besides show up on people's doorsteps and demand to use their property.”

“Hey, I wasn't on your doorstep and I didn't demand.” She cast a teasing glance his way. “Yet.”

“The house isn't for rent, no matter what you say.”

He saw her bite her lip and decided he didn't just like the way she looked when she was wet, or embarrassed, but also when she was frustrated.

“Everyone has a price.”

“Not me.”

“We'll see about that,” she said, her voice dark and husky.

He liked the determined side of her, too. Hell, did the woman have a side he didn't find intriguing?

That sent his mind straight down a path paved with whipped cream again. So much for his plans to advance his career. So far, all he was advancing was his libido.

They reached the restaurant and pulled into the parking lot before Duncan—who couldn't remember being at a loss of words before—thought of a rejoinder. By then, a petite Thai woman had led them to their table, giving them a quick bow. Her gaze stayed on Duncan, though, and she stammered out a quick, red-faced “Mr. Henry” before she returned to the hostess station.

“You have multinational appeal,” Allie said.

“Yeah, well, all they see is this.” He waved a hand around his face.

“And you'd rather be seen for your brains not your brawn, is that it? For what's inside instead of what's out?” Something flickered in her gaze—understanding?—then it faded.

“To get that, I should have gone into something other than TV. Law or something respectable, like business. Then my father would have been proud.”

“He didn't agree with your career choices?”

Duncan shook his head as he took his drink from the waitress. “I never quite lived up to any of my father's expectations.”

Before they could take the conversation further, they were interrupted by the task of ordering. Relief ran through Duncan. He'd rather visit Timbuktu than his past. His father's continual disapproval, no matter how many touchdowns he scored. The impossible standard to which Duncan never measured up. The perfectionism that dictated an image, an image all based on a lie.

The two of them ordered a variety of dishes, to have a sampling of the menu. The population of Indianapolis clearly hadn't discovered the My Thai restaurant yet. Only two other couples sat in the restaurant, talking quietly, sipping at hot green tea.

“You haven't told me anything about yourself,” Duncan said as he loaded his plate with a little pad thai, gai yang, and yam nua. The array of scents from the Asian spices, coupled with the familiar scents of grilled meats, awakened his appetite and he dug in, pleased to find the food as good as Allie had promised.

“Maybe I want to remain a mystery.”

“Then this won't be much of a date, will it?”

“Is that what it is?” Allie spun a lemon wedge in her icy water with a straw. “A date?”

“A man, a woman, alone, having dinner. Seems like a date to me.”

“You already know my name, my job. What I'm here for. What Chicken Flicks wants with Tempest.”

“Chicken Flicks. I still can't get over that name.” He chuckled.

“Hey, don't laugh. You were the one covering a live tabby dump on TV.”

He grinned. “You have me there.”

“Besides, it's the perfect name for a company that makes your standard movies about some guy in a hockey mask wiping out teenagers engaged in various levels of sin.”

“And is that the kind of movie you want to make?”

“Of course.” Her nod came a bit too quick, a bit too short.

“You don't strike me as the horror film type.”

“I love to be scared.” She looked at him, her emerald eyes dead-on with his. “You, for instance, scare me to no end.”

“I'm not scary,” Duncan said. “Not at all.”

“Oh, but you are, Duncan Henry. You're the kind of guy mothers warn their daughters to stay away from. The kind fathers chase off with a shotgun. The kind who has ‘broken-heart expert' tattooed on his bicep.”

He took a sip from his tea, avoiding the reputation she'd just nailed. Allie Dean had skated very close to the kind of man he used to be—or at least the perception he'd given off. Part of the Henry legacy, the part he disliked the most. “Sounds like you have personal experience with that kind of man.”

“Very personal.” Her gaze met his and the uncanny feeling that he should know her struck again. But there was nothing familiar in her deep green eyes, in the crimson curve of her mouth. “So, what do you do at WTMT-TV? Exactly?”

He had the feeling she already knew the answer to her question. And why shouldn't she? He was on every afternoon and evening. That's what he got for trying to pretend he was something he wasn't. “I'm not exactly a reporter. I'm the weatherman.”

“So did you know it was going to rain that day at the farm, or was that just a convenient little storm?”

He grinned. “Both.”

She laughed. “What does a weatherman do, anyway? I guess I thought they just read the forecast, but I bet there's a lot more involved than just that.”

“You really want to know?”

“We're in sister industries. Of course I do.”

“Well, I look at the sky, then at the computer, and tell people whether it's going to rain or”—at this, he grinned—“be sunny.”

“There's more to it than that,” Allie pressed. “Tell me how it works. How do you really know what the temperature is going to be?”

With every other woman Duncan had dated, the short, one-sentence explanation, coupled with a bit of flirting, had been enough. No one he'd dated had ever been interested in more than the sound-bite version of his job.

“It's, ah, pretty technical.”
Leave it at that
Don't probe any further.
His witty set of answers only went so far.

“I work for a production company. I understand technical.”

Oh, shit. He couldn't explain what he did. Hell, even
didn't know what he did. And the Magic 8 Ball was back in his desk drawer, its little set of twenty answers far away.

“I don't want to talk about work,” Duncan said.

“Then what shall we talk about?” Allie put a finger to her chin. “Oh, I know. Chicken Flicks using your property for its next film.”

He leaned forward, arms crossed over the cloth-covered table. At least she'd changed the subject, albeit to one he liked less. “Why my farmhouse? This is Indiana. You can't sneeze without running into a farm.”

“I like yours. It has…atmosphere.”

“Or is that an excuse?”

She arched a brow. “Excuse?”

“To get to know me better.” Was she, like him, using the job to spend time with him? Who was he kidding when he'd proposed that idea to Steve? Sure, this movie thing was a scoop, a really great one, but would he be half as excited about it if the location scout had been some balding guy in his fifties?

Hell, no.

Allie leaned back, arms across her chest. “You really think I couldn't possibly be here for a legitimate reason? That maybe this isn't about you and me, but about my job?”

“And is that what you were doing back inside my house? Taking off your shirt, kissing me? All part of your job?”

“Well…no,” she said with a grin that said he'd touched on the truth. “
was purely for fun.”

Against his hip, his cell phone vibrated. Duncan wanted to take it off, throw it across the room. Chuck the responsibility for just one night. But he couldn't. He already knew full well where one night could lead.

“Excuse me,” he said to Allie, cursing the timing, the interruption, but unable to ignore it. He flipped out the Motorola. “Duncan Henry.”

“Out on a date?” Katie asked.

“Yes. Did you have an emergency?”

“Mrs. Loman—” Katie's voice broke off.

Duncan bit back a sigh and turned his body slightly away from the table. “Mrs. Loman what? Didn't give you what you wanted?”

“No, she fell. She's hurt and you don't even care because you're out with some woman on a date.”

“She fell?” Panic rose in his chest. Another accident, and again, he'd been away from home, from Katie. “Are you sure?”

In answer, Katie pulled the phone away from herself. He could hear the faint strains of someone moaning.

“Did you call the paramedics?”

“You really want Tempest's finest volunteers in here?”

BOOK: Really Something
11.06Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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