Christmas Fantasy [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Janelle Denison
eBook Category: Romance
eBook Description: Austin McBride's business was fulfilling women's fantasies, but he'd never indulged in one of his own. Then he met Teddy Spencer. She was smart, sexy ... and terrified of commitment. But she also needed him--to play the role of her lover at the company Christmas party. Austin was willing to take the job ... as long as he could convince her to make it a full-time position!
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Special Releases
Fictionwise Release Date: December 2007
79 Reader Ratings:
TEDDY SPENCER'S two good friends, Brenda and Laura, could always be counted on for a good time, especially when it came to marking a special occasion. It was the perfect excuse for them to get wild and crazy, and although Teddy considered herself the more reserved of the trio, after a few mai tai's that feisty, rebellious side of her personality—the one her parents hadn't been able to tame—usually made an appearance.
After spending the past hour and a half at a subdued birthday dinner with her parents at the local country club, and listening once again to her parents' favorite speech lately—that she was getting older and needed to settle down like the rest of her siblings had—Teddy welcomed the opportunity to let loose with her friends. She was on her second mai tai, and thoroughly enjoying herself, even if Brenda had embarrassed her by swiping the deejay's microphone and announcing to everyone in the Frisco Bay Bar that it was Teddy's twenty-sixth birthday. Teddy had thought that fairly obvious by the half-dozen balloons attached to her chair and the I'm-the-birthday-girl pennant Brenda and Laura had insisted she wear, but Brenda had a way of coaxing everyone to join in on the fun.
If that hadn't been embarrassing enough, having fifty pairs of eyes watch her open presents from Brenda and Laura brought a warm flush to her cheeks. The gifts had included an array of skimpy lingerie, not to mention other sensual delights. The single men in the room had issued wolf whistles, and Teddy found herself overwhelmed by invitations to model the silky, provocative underwear.
The bartender delivered the chocolate cake Laura had smuggled to him earlier and, as Brenda lit the single "26" candle, the deejay played "Happy Birthday." Everyone in the lounge chorused the traditional song just for her.
It was all in good fun, and just what Teddy needed to take a break from the stress she was under at work, and make her forget about her parents' quest to diminish the independence she'd worked so hard to gain over the past few years. She knew her mother and father meant well. Unfortunately, their views of what was important to her, and for her, varied drastically from her own.
Determined to enjoy the evening, she pushed aside those troubling thoughts. As the lounge settled back to its normal din, and she was able to relax without being the center of attention, Teddy shook her head at her friends. "You two are outrageous."
As if Teddy had just issued a compliment, a grin brightened Laura's classical features. "Yeah, we are outrageous, aren't we?"
"And damn proud of it, too," Brenda added, her eyes dancing with mischief. "Heck, there's no telling what we might do next."
Teddy lifted an eyebrow at the insinuation in Brenda's voice, but her friend merely feigned innocence. Suspecting something was up, but unable to guess how they could possibly top the evening so far, she glanced at her cake…and frowned at the inscription they'd chosen.
"Happy birthday and congratulations?" She looked from one friend to the other.
Brenda nodded. "We're combining your birthday and your senior graphic design promotion all together."
Teddy smiled, genuinely touched. "That's sweet of you, but I haven't gotten the promotion yet." Whether she did or not wouldn't be decided for another two and a half weeks, just after the new year.
Laura gave Teddy's knee an encouraging pat. "See how much faith we have in you?"
Teddy wished she had that much faith in herself. It wasn't that she wasn't qualified for the job—she'd double majored in graphic design and had a master's degree in business administration, not to mention being an exemplary employee. It was her boss, Louden Avery, who was making her advancement within Sharper Image Advertising so difficult.
"Come on, Teddy." Brenda nudged her with her elbow. "Blow out your candle and make a wish."
Teddy absently toyed with the ruby and diamond band on her left-hand ring finger. It bothered her that she felt forced to wear a ring to discourage Louden's subtle interest in her, and back up the claim that she had a steady boyfriend. But it was the only thing she could think of. Taking a deep breath, she blew out the single flame and hopefully secured her future. Her wish was simple. She wanted that promotion, awarded to her on her own merit.
"Wow," Brenda breathed dreamily. "If I had to make a wish, he would be it."
Teddy followed her friend's line of vision to the entrance of the Frisco Bay, and caught her breath at the sight of a gorgeous hunk making his way through the Tuesday-evening crowd. Every woman in the establishment was staring at him—for two very good reasons. One, his mere presence was captivating, and two, his unusual attire stood out conspicuously against all the power suits filling the trendy bar. He was the epitome of a cowboy, from the beige Stetson on his head, to the pearl-snap western shirt covering a wide chest, to the chaps and worn jeans that molded to trim hips and muscular thighs, all the way down to his scuffed leather boots. He looked as if he'd just stepped out of the Wild West, though he didn't appear to be uncomfortable in the ultra-urban setting, surrounded by a crowd of Ivy League patrons.
He sidled up to a vacant spot in front of the bar and ordered a drink. While he waited for the bartender to return, he scanned the people in the lounge as if searching for someone. Annoyingly enough, the brim of his Stetson cast shadows over the upper portion of his face, but Teddy caught a glimpse of chiseled features, a well-defined mouth and dark brown hair that curled over his collar at the nape of his neck.
Copyright © 1999 Janelle Denison.