In Desert Rose, delightful heroine Rose Badger keeps secrets. The very sexy hero, Jonah Livingstone has quite a few secrets of his own. If everything is so secretive, how is it possible to find facts?
1) Rose goes somewhere every Saturday night. No one knows where.
2) Rose makes money running a secondhand dress shop in a semi-ghost town. How?
3) Rose loves having men admire her. Will she ever be able to choose one?
4) Everyone knows there’s a woman living in Jonah’s apartment in Reno, but no one has met her. Who is she?
5) Here’s the description of Jonah: rangy, with tousled hair so dark it’s blue under the lights, an explorer’s bone structure and weather honed skin, deep brown eyes. Of course he’s gorgeous: he’s a wonderful mixture of Paiute, Italian, and Swedish.
Desert Rose: A secret life is the best protection against love
Men love Rose Badger, and if the other inhabitants of dead-end Blake’s Folly, Nevada, don’t approve, she couldn’t care less. With a disastrous marriage far behind her, settling down is the last thing she intends to do. Isn’t life for fun? Doesn’t a stable relationship always mean predictability and boredom? Well… perhaps things might be different with Jonah Livingstone, but he isn’t available. So, why fret? Rose has another, quite secret life, and she’ll never give that up for any man.
The last person Jonah Livingstone expected to meet in a semi-ghost town is Rose Badger. She’s easy-going, delightfully spontaneous, and Jonah is certain their attraction is mutual. But Rose is always surrounded by a crowd of admirers and doesn’t seem inclined to choose a favorite. No problem: Jonah is too independent to settle into a permanent relationship again. He’s leading his own, very secretive life, and secrets are an excellent protection against love.
Excerpt from Desert Rose
“Uh, I’m uh… in Reno at the moment. Actually, I’m in your neighborhood. In fact, I’m in front of your building. Are you busy?”
“No, I’m not busy.”
“Can I come up to see you?”
“Come up to the loft? Yes… sure.”
Had he hesitated? She was sure of it. Was he in there with another woman? She could just picture it: wine on the table, soft lighting, the air of intimacy. Then she pushed the image out of her mind. So what if there was another woman up there with him? She could always say she was just passing through town and wanted to say “hello”.
“Do you want the code for the electronic keypad?”
“No, I don’t need it. I remember it from when I came here with you last time.” She felt like slugging herself. She sounded like a stalker, remembering the code, coming all the way here, to his loft, late at night.
“Fine.” He didn’t sound worried. “See you in a minute, then.”
Rose tucked her telephone into her handbag, punched in 046J. Then, assailed by a million doubts, almost tiptoed up the two flights of metal steps leading to Jonah’s floor. What if he really wasn’t interested in her? Of course he was, she told herself. He wouldn’t have made such an effort to be with her if he weren’t. If she were wrong? Well, this was the moment of truth. After this evening, she’d know where she stood… more or less.
She raised her hand to knock at the heavy steel door, then stopped. What if he was annoyed that she had come here? She didn’t have to take off her coat, did she? Show him the outfit she was wearing — an outfit that screamed seduction.
“Oh, stop being a coward,” she muttered. Still, she waited, listening hard. Did she hear conversation on the other side of the door? No... So, he was probably alone. Probably…
She raised her hand, knocked.
She heard him turning the lock. Then he was standing in front of her, staring at her with surprised amusement, not annoyance. My, didn’t he look wonderful. The very sight of him was like a deep taste of rich red wine. His white shirt set off the tightness of his shoulders and the tawny hue of his skin; the tight jeans outlined the length of his legs. The natural scent of him was heady musk.
He stepped aside. “Come in.”
She entered, stared around the room. There was no other woman present, but the loft had changed dramatically. No more boxes piled up, no heaped furniture. Books lined the finished wooden shelves along the far wall; a sofa and several armchairs stood on a Turkish carpet in the center of the room. The lighting was soft, seductive. Near the window, beside a music stand, was the cello.
“It looks great.”
“Thanks.” Although smiling and evidently pleased at her approval, he was also watching her with undisguised curiosity. “This is quite an unexpected visit. What brings you to this part of the world on a Wednesday evening?”
Slowly, she turned back toward him. Met his eyes squarely. “I’ve come to seduce you,” she answered, more than a little breathlessly.
“Ah.” He stared at her for a minute, then laughed softly. The sound shivered over her flesh, and the temperature in the room seemed to heat up by several degrees. Still, he made no move toward her.
What if he didn’t want her? What if he considered this an intrusion? What if this whole idea was a bad mistake?
Then she stopped thinking and did what she was longing to do, anyway. With one step she closed the distance between them, reached up, undid the buttons on his shirt, ran her hands caressingly over the taut skin of his chest. The hiss of breath through his teeth was music to her ears. His eyes glittered, but he watched her, not moving. Only after what seemed like an eternity, did he reach out, pull her into his arms and bring his mouth down on hers with a passion that took her breath away. Her eyelids closed as if weighted, and she moaned softly.
“I know,” he growled, his mouth against hers. “It feels so good.”
The kiss turned into another, then another. Arching her hips, she pressed against him in a demand that was unmistakable, and feeling his pulsing hardness, liquid heat filled her belly. She needed him inside of her. But, she could wait: she had to. This might be the only night she would ever have with Jonah, and she wanted it to be memorable. She wanted it to be an experience he would never be able to forget.
Forcing herself to step back out of his embrace, she opened her coat, let it slide down over her arms. She watched his eyes take in the short, skin-tight black vinyl skirt, the black vinyl vest pushing her full breasts upward, and the heat in his eyes scorched her.
“I want you to undress.” Her voice was so husky, she hardly recognized it. “I want to watch you. I want to see you naked.”
He lifted his hand, let his fingers caress her rosy, kiss softened lips, then move downward to the sweet hollow between her breasts.
She caught his hand, shook her head slowly. “No, this is my call. You first.”
He hesitated, only for a second, then kicked off his shoes, slowly undid the remaining buttons on his shirt, let it drop on the floor. Undid the buckle of his belt, stepped out of his jeans, then his shorts, until he was standing naked before her in all his male glory. There was no doubt that he wanted her, and she felt her own body throb with desire. She wanted — needed — to touch him, to taste him.
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