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A Gift For Adam [MultiFormat]
eBook by Adriana Kraft

eBook Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Romance
eBook Description: Home and Garden assistant manager Evie Strand has painstakingly embroidered a set of seven thongs as a gag gift for her best friend--only she brought the wrong box to the store Christmas party, and now Adam Grant from Automotive is holding them up for everyone to see: Kiss my..., Tight Fit--could things get any worse? Adam may seem like a total rake, but he can tell Evie's deeply embarrassed and he resolves to make it up to her. Who knew where a simple dinner date would lead?

eBook Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press, Published: 2008
Fictionwise Release Date: February 2009

24 Reader Ratings:
Great Good OK Poor

"What a fun, sexy, and humorous Christmas read A GIFT FOR ADAM is! I enjoyed the humor and the realness of the characters. Evie is such a down to earth likable heroine that I rooted for her to get the hot sexy guy from automotive. Adam doesn't think at first that Evie is his type, but after the humorous thongs, a sexy hot first date where Evie's not quite so shy, and spending some time with her he sees that they have a lot in common. He enjoys her company and the sex sizzles between the two. Can the store rake and the sweet home and garden manager find love? I recommend curling up in a nice comfy chair with a warm cup of hot chocolate this Christmas season and reading A Gift For Adam to find out!"_Daria, Wild on Books Reviews

"A Gift for Adam is hilarious and a refreshingly new take on the old "opposites attract" formula. I have to admit that laughing until my eyes water and then immediately squirming in my seat from the "heat" of the next scene is a new experience for me...a powerfully good read... truly brilliant comedic rhythm and delivery. Season that with love scenes better handled with asbestos lined gloves and you get one HOT little story worthy of becoming a bedtime favorite. Adam is one of those slick play-boy types we avid readers adore seeing "caught" by the right woman. Evie is so accessible as the "any given girl-friend" type who I love to see get the hottie. I fear to gush too much about this delightful offering as I may give away the good surprises Ms. Kraft has in store for her readers. Well done, Ms. Kraft; give me more, please!"_Reviewed by Keely S., Sensual EcataRomance

"I loved A Gift For Adam and was thoroughly entertained from the first line to the last...There were so many humorous moments that I found myself wanting to read the story again when I had finished just to keep smiling. I found A Gift For Adam to be a very sexy, humorous romance that I will read again."_Whipped Cream Reviews

Chapter 1

Mortified, Evie Strand looked on in horror at the office Christmas party careening out of control. Her fellow employees stared at her in amazement. Some snickered. Some couldn't remain silent.

"What a hoot," Leslie whispered from the seat next to her. "You put old Adam in his place."

Evie shook her head and swallowed hard, willing herself to be anywhere but in this room. Adam Grant's dark eyes snapped, mocking her. Did he really think she'd given him that package on purpose? It was meant for Christie, her closest friend. That package wasn't even supposed to come to the office party. Christie didn't work for the store.

How could she be such an idiot? She'd wrapped so many Christmas presents late last night. It had never occurred to her that the two packages looked so similar on the outside.

To her dismay, she'd drawn Adam Grant's name for the annual gift exchange. She hadn't given it much thought once she'd decided to give him a tie.

Evie blinked as he rummaged through his gift. "No," she muttered softly, when he held up a second thong. This one, like the last, had hand-stitched lettering.

She should know. She'd painstakingly hand-lettered seven thongs for Christie. They were supposed to be a joke. She doubted Christie would actually wear any of them, but they'd each gone out of their way during the past six seasons to surprise each other with something that was outlandishly sexy. She had to admit she might've gone over the top this year.

Adam held high the pink Tuesday thong. He could hardly read it aloud for breaking up with laughter. "Tuesday: Wish you were..." The question mark below the lettering left little room for confusion about the intent--it would nestle comfortably over the wearer's mound.

More hoots and hollers followed. The powder-blue Monday thong had been more shocking, probably because it was the first one Adam had held up, or maybe because it said "Don't Dribble" across the front.

Evie pushed her chair back from the long banquet table where she sat with her fellow Grafton Department Store employees. Leslie grabbed her wrist. "Don't let him get the best of you. Mistakes happen. At least half the people here think you did this on purpose to get the rake's goat. If you leave, they'll know you screwed up."

Evie gulped and nodded at her department manager. She drew in a deep breath. "All right."

She glanced back at Adam in time to see him holding up the yellow Wednesday thong: "Kiss My..." with a broken arrow pointing suggestively toward the backside.

Adam shook his head at her. She thought she might've caught a flicker of sympathy in his eyes. "Interesting thought," he mused. "I didn't know you cared. I think I'll look at the rest of these later."

Thank God for small favors. Evie hung her head and tried to breathe. At least he hadn't shown off the rest of her handiwork. What would he think when he did examine them? She had them memorized. The pale white Thursday thong touted "Home for the Brave." Friday's tangerine thong cautioned, "Tight Fit ... Tighter Fit," with another suggestive arrow drawing the observer's attention around the wearer's hip. Saturday's lavender thong simply stated, "Explosions Encouraged." And the bright red Sunday thong announced, "No Rest for the Wicked."

Did he really think she wanted his attention? That she'd intended him to open that package in front of their co-workers?

"Hang in there," Leslie urged, half under her breath. "They'll be ribbing someone else shortly. Half these people are probably too looped to remember anything anyway."

Evie nodded and mumbled, "Thanks." She peeked at Adam who studied her with an intensity that rocked her at her core. He wasn't likely to forget. If she had more guts, she should ask for her gift back. She'd put a lot of time and effort into it.

Strike that idea. Adam Grant had the reputation of the store ladies' man. Apparently, well earned. She'd hardly exchanged more than a half dozen sentences with him since she'd started working at Grafton's two years ago. Her home and garden department was on the opposite end of the store from where he worked in automotive and hardware.

She held back a snicker. Why had she been born with such a weird sense of humor? She didn't want to even remotely consider his hardware.

Fortunately, she was too plain and too drab looking for a man of his tastes and experience. He knew what she was--a down home girl from the farm, hardly his type. And that suited her just fine. Perfectly.

Leslie was right. Soon staff were laughing hilariously at the huge pink piggy bank given to one of the girls who was constantly trying to sponge money off of friends and colleagues because she couldn't seem to work in women's apparel without constantly buying the latest styles.

Evie used that opportunity to slip away from the table. When she reached the door, she glanced over her shoulder to see Adam Grant giving her a curious look. She attributed her shivering to having escaped the most embarrassing moment of her young life.

* * * *

Amused, Adam covered the remaining thongs with tissue paper and then the box cover. He'd reached for the white thong that read "Home for The Brave," but left it in the box once he'd realized the strained look on Evie Strand's face meant she'd been at least as surprised by what he found in the box as he was. He'd glanced around quickly and decided they'd all had enough fun at her expense, and possibly at his.

He was curious about the remaining thongs. No doubt he'd find seven in total. His curiosity would have to wait.

"So when you gonna fuck Little Miss Muffett?" Carl Chambers slurred into his ear. "Or maybe you already are."

"None of your damn business," Adam snapped, pushing back his chair. He never had liked Chambers from men's clothing. The guy was too eager to swap stories about his most recent "snatch conquests."

Adam didn't deny that he was probably as into entertaining women as Chambers. But he had a code. He didn't brag about his sexual adventures.

* * * *

Later that night, Adam slouched at his desk in his home office trying to make sense of the gift he'd received at the Christmas party. Evie Strand had surprised him, and women seldom managed to do that anymore. He grinned at the thongs spread across his desk. Yes, she had surprised him.

"Explosions Encouraged," he mumbled. So was she encouraging him? Why would she bother? She was hardly his type, and he doubted he was hers.

If he'd been interested in her, he would've made his play shortly after she started working at the store, before she'd been able to get much of a line on him. His reputation might exceed his prowess--and then maybe it didn't.

He'd never found her appealing. She was probably a very nice person, but she was plain in appearance and seemed satisfied that her clothing accentuated that drabness. Her Roman nose and wide mouth seemed too large for her face. Long dark hair simply hung from her head like she didn't care about it.

She did have pointy tits. That was a plus. The only reason he knew that was he'd seen her once at the office summer picnic as she'd climbed out of the pool. She wore a modest one-piece suit, but that did nothing to hide her peaking nipples when they hit the cooler air.

Adam glanced at the "Tight Fit ... Tighter Fit" thong and swallowed. He couldn't ignore his growing arousal. Even before the pool incident he'd known that her greatest attribute was her ass. He'd have to be blind not to notice that shelf. That had been tempting until he saw her face. Too bad. She might be a tight fit, but all that padding would make for a very comfortable ride.

He chuckled. "So who is riding your ass, Ms. Strand?" Clearly not Chambers from the men's department. That said something positive for her.

He started to put the thongs back in the box. They still gnawed at him. Why in the world would a woman he hardly knew and didn't want to know present him with seven thongs? Especially at a public event like the Christmas Party.

Adam replayed the tape in his head of opening the gift and seeing Evie Strand go pale and then blush like an overripe tomato. If he was the intended recipient, she hadn't expected him to open the box at the party. That much seemed obvious looking back on the evening.

If she wanted to convey the messages of the thongs, she could've given the gift to him privately. He shook his head. Nothing added up. Not really. A lot of women might want to take him to bed, but he doubted the garden lady was one of them.

So if not him, who? Who was the gift for? She must've mixed up her guys. He scowled again. But women wore thongs, not guys.

"Damn," he mumbled. She'd made these gifts for a female lover. It had to be. Maybe not.

Well, that at least made more sense. He could easily imagine the girl painstakingly stitching the lettering. He snickered. He'd heard she'd had a farm background. Maybe she knitted by candlelight. But he still couldn't imagine she'd gone to all that work for him.

Adam winced. He'd made fun of her in front of their co-workers. Looking back on it, that was a pisser. He'd enjoyed himself at the time until he saw how devastated she'd become. He might have a reputation among the women, but he doubted any complained about him going out of his way to embarrass them. They might be mad that he hadn't hung around long or maybe on occasion because he dated more than one at a time, but he took some pride in leaving most of his females friends satisfied and hoping for more. He'd made a point of not trying to lead anyone astray that he was the long relationship or homebody type. He was who he was and that was it.

"Shit," he muttered. He'd have to get Evie Strand's gift back to her. She'd made them for someone special. And he did owe her an apology. A big one. He didn't have to make her look like a fool or a wanton seductress.

Closing his eyes, he sorted through his options. He wouldn't risk seeking her out at the store. That could be bad for both of them. He'd find out where she lived and drop them by on Sunday. He wasn't working Sunday, and he'd double-check her schedule on the board, but that would be the best alternative.

Inhaling, Adam decided he could be a little more magnanimous. He was quite certain he'd made light of a mistake Evie had not intended. So he'd take her to dinner, and that should square things between them. Even he could suffer through one inane evening. Hell, he didn't even care if she told her friends at work, if that helped shore up her ego.

Satisfied with his solution, Adam yawned and looked forward to bed. He grinned. His chivalry would probably surprise his friends and likely enhance the mystery about himself that he cultivated with considerable care.

He fitted the box cover over the thongs. Would she explain the thongs over dinner? They did still pique his curiosity.

* * * *

Chewing absently on the end of a pencil, Evie reconsidered the formula for calculating earnings per share in her business accounting text. She tried to keep her eyes from crossing. She remained determined to finish the course and get a respectable grade, but she had expected it to be more interesting.

She pinched the bridge of her nose. She'd be ready for the exam. Fortunately, she'd decided to take only a course or two a quarter at the local community college. Sometimes two had proven to be one too many and she'd had to drop a course, which galled both her thriftiness and her desire to finish what she started.

She'd been promoted to assistant manager of the home and garden department, but she harbored higher goals. Someday she wanted to run her own business.

Rotating her neck, Evie tugged her housecoat tighter. She loved the feel of flannel against her skin--though even the neck-to-ankle pajamas and slippers along with the housecoat weren't warm enough. She hated the idea of getting dressed on her Sunday off when she had no plans on going out.

When would the damn beady-eyed landlord get around to fixing their furnace? It blew warm air, but barely. Janice didn't seem to care about it much anymore. She slept at her boyfriend's apartment most nights. Evie sighed. She'd likely have to start looking for another roommate soon. That was a drag. She didn't expect to be buddies with a roommate, but she did want a girl who had a reliable job and who didn't have wedding bells ringing in her ears.

Evie scowled at the intrusion of the apartment buzzer jangling. She glanced at the clock on the way to the door. Three thirty. She wasn't expecting company. Most of Janice's friends knew she could be found at her boyfriend's place.

Evie peeked through the peephole. "Shit." Why was he on the other side of her door? She squinted. He was holding a bag in his hand. She groaned as she recognized her Christmas gift box poking out of the bag. Adam didn't appear overly comfortable--more like a boy being led to the confessional by his mother.

She wanted to run and hide, but she should be safe enough. She had more layers on than she often had at work. Adam Grant didn't know her roommate wouldn't likely be back until tomorrow night. She drew in a deep breath. She wasn't convinced any woman was safe with Grant, even if they wore plate armor.

Evie stepped back after opening the door and watched Adam Grant stroll into her apartment as if he belonged there. His eyes roved around the small living room before they settled on her.

"Nice slippers," he said.

She frowned and looked down at her feet. Her skunk slippers probably were eye catching. She'd had them for a couple years, a novelty gift from Christie. She'd fallen in love with the slippers. She shrugged at Adam. "They're warm. So why are you here?"

He gave her a half smile. "I expect those slippers are warmer than that welcome."

"I'm not accustomed to having uninvited men drop by."

"Okay," he said, looking quite exasperated. "I'll be quick about this." He glanced at the end table where she'd set aside the accounting text. He cocked his head at her. "Are you a student? I read that text a few years back for a class at CVC."

She blinked. If she'd thought about it, she probably would've never guessed Adam Grant read anything outside car manuals or comic books. Wary, she nodded. She didn't want to extend his stay, but he had tapped her curiosity, which had proven too often to be her Achilles heel. "I'm working on my associate degree in business. A course a quarter is about all I can manage."

"I finished my business degree at CVC a year and a half ago. I've thought of transferring to the U to get a four-year degree." He shrugged. "Probably won't happen."

Adam looked at Evie as if suddenly remembering why he was there. "Look," he said, thrusting the bag at her. "I thought you'd want these back."

Evie accepted the bag without a word.

"I was surprised," he said lamely. "I didn't like how things were getting out of hand at the party."

Evie remained silent.

Adam arched an eyebrow. "I assume this gift wasn't intended for me?"

She shook her head. "I made them for Christie and didn't realize I'd wrapped your tie in the very same wrapping paper."

His eyes blazed. "Figured something like that. Must've taken a lot of time to hand-stitch these. I'm sure your lover will enjoy them. She must be something special."

Evie jerked backward. "What? She?" She narrowed her eyes. "What do you mean? Oh!" she gasped, covering her mouth. "I'm not a lesbian. These are a joke. Christie and I exchange joke gifts at Christmas. We try to outdo each other to see who can be most outrageous."

Adam had begun to laugh before she'd even finished explaining. Why did she even have a need to explain?

"That's hilarious," he gasped, catching his breath. "You were playing a joke on your friend, but wound up playing one on me," he ducked his head, "and on yourself."

"It wasn't intentional."

"I understand. And then I got carried away by putting each of those thongs on display."

She smirked, remembering the shock on his face at the time. "At least you stopped after Wednesday. Thanks for returning them," she added, moving toward the door.

Not taking the hint that she was ready for him to leave, Adam stood anchored in place. "Look it," he began, "I really do feel badly that I embarrassed you in front of our co-workers."

She shrugged. "We'll all get over it."

"I feel like I owe you. Why don't you let me take you to dinner? You look like you could use a study break. You could change and I'd have you back here in plenty of time for you to go back to studying."

She shook her head. At least he hadn't said anything about joining her in bed. "You don't owe me anything."

"But I feel badly."

Evie couldn't fathom why he was wasting his time with her. She drew herself up on her toes. "How you feel isn't my concern. And I don't go out with guys on the spur of the moment."

His smile confused her. Hadn't she just told him no?

"Ah, but my feeling badly is your concern. I'd been having a pleasant day until I opened your gift."

Evie groaned at his logic.

Adam crossed his arms over his solid looking chest. "You weren't even a blip on my radar screen, and now I worry that I might've tarnished your reputation."

An involuntary giggle escaped her lips. "And letting you take me to dinner is supposed to repair my reputation?"

"So you do have a sense of humor." He gave her a crooked smile. "I thought whoever came up with those little sayings stitched on the thongs had to have a funny bone." He tilted his head to the side. "You did come up with them?

She wet her lips and nodded. Was he thinking she was as experienced as the thongs might've implied? "I have an exam to study for. You have to leave now."

Adam stiffened. "Only if you agree to let me take you to dinner ... next Sunday."

"Why me?" she squeaked.

"Because you piqued my curiosity, because you owe me, and because you wouldn't believe how many men and women have come to me to find out what invitations the other thongs had on them."

"You didn't!" She watched him shake his head slowly and saw a tiny smile work across his lips. "You wouldn't. That's blackmail!"

"I'd feel better if you'd just say yes and not make me resort to blackmail, as you call it. You've already made me feel guilty about lifting you up to public ridicule." He sobered. "Look, I'm only asking you to dinner. Once. If it helps, I'll even promise I won't make a move on you."

Evie fought for breath and for sanity. "All right," she said, through clenched teeth. "I'll go to dinner with you, and that's it. Once. And we'll be even."

"Good enough," he said, humming as he turned to the door. "See you Sunday at six."

Evie puffed her cheeks and blew air through pursed lips as the apartment door closed behind Adam Grant. What the hell had she just agreed to? Dealing with Grant was like dealing with the devil. She knew that. Yet she'd made a pact with him.

The puzzling part of it all was she couldn't figure out what he was after. He'd seemed quite sincere--but wasn't sincerity the grease of a womanizer? She squared her shoulders. She could deal with him. She knew he didn't find her attractive. He'd spent much more time looking around the apartment while they talked than looking at her--at her apartment, and at her skunk slippers.

Evie set the box of thongs aside. She hadn't expected Adam to return her gift, so she'd already gone ahead and given Christie several feather ticklers for Christmas. Evie grinned. Christie would probably hang them on her bedroom wall as decorations.

Heading back to the couch to resume studying, Evie stopped abruptly. Did Adam Grant really think she was a lesbian? She thought she recognized relief in his eyes when she'd made clear that wasn't true.

She hugged herself and swallowed. She and Christie had never talked about that. They just enjoyed teasing each other. There was nothing wrong with that. She felt her nipples tighten under the flannel pajamas. There wasn't anything wrong with a woman desiring a woman--that just wasn't her. She frowned. She'd never thought it was Christie either.

Adam's persistence surprised and annoyed her. Why did it matter so much to him that she accept his dinner offer? They didn't have anything in common, not that she knew much about him. He was stubborn.

Evie snickered. They did have that in common. He probably had a very difficult time accepting no from a woman.

She kicked herself for not sticking to her decision. He needed to hear no now and then. But he'd threatened to keep the thong spectacle brewing at the store. She didn't need that. At least he knew she wasn't eager to spend time with him. That was no doubt an unexpected blow to his male ego.

She smiled. She'd considered herself too practical to get caught up in a war of male and female egos. But it did feel nice to know that she'd set the Casanova of Grafton Department store back on his heels. The nerve of him, to expect she'd stop everything she was doing at the drop of a hat to go out to dinner with him.

Suddenly hungry, Evie headed for the kitchen to find a frozen meal she could quickly warm up before getting back to cramming for the accounting exam.

When she reached the fridge, she saw the note she'd pasted there reminding her of her Christmas gift from Christie. She glared at the salon appointment and gift certificate. If she wasn't so damn frugal, she'd just toss the gift certificate in the wastebasket where it belonged. She wished she'd thought of giving a salon certificate to Christie for Christmas--at least they could've gone together.

She smirked. She'd try to enjoy pampering herself. She wouldn't let them do anything really radical. Double-checking the appointment, she scowled. Adam Grant better not think she'd primped and preened for him.

* * * *

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