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Paying the Playboy's Price [Secure eReader]
eBook by Emilie Rose

eBook Category: Romance
eBook Description: For Sale: Bachelor #9 Reformed Bad Boy. Checkered past included. Trouble guaranteed. Wealthy Juliana Alden longed for a taste of life on the edge. The second she saw Rex Tanner at a charity bachelor auction, she knew she had her rebel. All she had to do was buy him.... Rex hated being "purchased," especially by the so-called elite. Yet Juliana wasn't just another rich girl. The electricity between them promised much, much more. But Rex had made a vow--keep his wild behavior locked away. Because if Juliana knew just how bad he really was, he'd lose everything.

eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Silhouette Desire
Fictionwise Release Date: July 2006

29 Reader Ratings:
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"Is our uptight account auditor ready to be corrupted? Your bachelor's coming up next."

Juliana Alden downed her complimentary champagne with the grace of a beer-guzzling dock worker in hopes of drowning the second thoughts swarming around her midsection like angry bees. She discarded her glass on a passing waiter's tray and grabbed another for courage before facing Andrea and Holly, her two best friends and cohorts in tonight's foolhardy scheme.

"I've never felt more naked in my life. I will never grant the two of you carte blanche with my wardrobe again. My nightie covers more skin than this slip dress."

She yanked the thin strap of her dress back onto her shoulder again, and then tugged downward on the short hem, which barely covered her hips. Sneaking out the club's back door gained appeal with each passing second, but if she bolted Andrea and Holly would never forgive her. Then again, they were the ones responsible for garbing her in a dress that could send her father into cardiac arrest if he ventured out of the cigar room long enough to see it, so their opinions were suspect.

Andrea waved away her objections. "You have the figure for it and red is a great color on you. Don't wimp out now, Juliana."

A sea of screaming, nearly hysterical women surrounded them, bidding on the men being auctioned off in the name of charity with the same ferocity as the shark feeding frenzy Juliana had witnessed at a nearby aquarium. She'd bet her monthly pedicure the walls of the prestigious Caliber Club ballroom had never reverberated in quite the same way before. The pandemonium only increased her doubts about the plan the three of them had concocted over quesadillas and, clearly, one too many margaritas.

Praying for courage and finding none, Juliana took a deep breath and then another sip of champagne. What in the world had possessed her to believe she could cast off thirty years of being a Goody Two-shoes to bid on the baddest bachelor on the auction block tonight? She should have started with a smaller rebellion, but no, she'd chosen to launch a massive insurrection on her first attempt. As an account auditor in her family's privately owned banking chain, she was cautious by nature. She worked a predictable job and drove a sensible sedan. She found comfort in following the rules, having her life add up in precise, orderly rows and in steadily ascending the career ladder the way her mother had before her.

But the sudden pressure to marry for the good of the company had shaken that ladder and made Juliana feel more like a commodity being bartered in the merger negotiations between Alden Bank and Trust and Wilson Savings and Loan than a human being.

"I can't believe I let you talk me into this. Maybe I'm not ready for the tarnish-your-halo type of man. Perhaps I should choose someone a little less…" At a loss for words, she shrugged. How could she describe the man whose picture in the bachelor auction program had given her hot flashes?

"Studly?" Holly asked with a wicked grin.

Understatement of the year. Juliana nodded.

Bachelor number nine took the stage and Juliana's heart cha-chaed erratically. The crowd of usually dignified ladies hooted, whistled and stomped their expensively shod feet. If any man could tempt a woman to take a few risks and break a few rules, that one could. Looking completely at home in the spotlight, he flashed an I-dare-you grin and encouraged the already rowdy crowd to make more noise by clapping his hands and swinging his hips to the loud music like the headlining performer he'd once been.

The man knew how to move. She'd grant him that. A shiver skipped down her spine.

His tight black T-shirt stretched across broad shoulders, molding a well-developed chest and encircling bulging biceps. Jeans, faded in those intriguing places she ought to be embarrassed to look at rode low on lean hips, and he wore cowboy boots—something you didn't see often in the port city of Wilmington, North Carolina. Given that every other man who'd crossed the stage before him tonight had worn a tux, the bar owner's casual attire screamed renegade—coincidentally, the name of his bar and the word emblazoned across the back of his shirt.

Juliana's pulse boomed so loudly she could barely hear the MC's long-winded introduction. Had the woman never heard the old cliché "silence is golden"? If she'd hush and let people look at Rex Tanner, then her job would do itself. What woman wouldn't want to be carried off in those muscle-corded arms or be coerced by that naughty I'm-gonna-get-you smile?

"'Feel the power between your legs—one month of Harley and horseback-riding lessons,'" Andrea read aloud from the program. "Juliana, if this guy can't show you what you've been missing, then I'm going to check to see if you still have a pulse. He's exactly what you need to derail you from your mother's insane idea."

Juliana gulped the remainder of her drink. The bubbles burned her nose and brought tears to her eyes. "I'm still not convinced there's anything wrong with my mother's suggestion. Wally is a nice guy."

"You're not in love with him and he's boring," Holly stated.

"More effective than a sleeping pill," Andrea added. "And he's a pushover. You'd be wearing the pants in that relationship."

And that was a problem? The woman-in-charge role had worked for Juliana's parents. "I love you both for worrying about me and I understand your concerns, but logically, Wally is a good choice. He's steady, even-tempered and ambitious—like me—and he's the only man I've ever dated who understands the demands of my career and the hours it requires. We can talk for hours without an awkward silence."

Copyright © 2006 by Emilie Rose Cunningham.

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