What does a man do with six month’s down time and no warm body to share his bed? For Sergeant Alec Douglas, contemplating that question led him to fall prey to his two best friend’s plan to find him that very thing. They know Alec has yet to stay with any one person for more than a few dates. They also know a tragedy from his past created the problem and while that haunts him, making it nearly impossible for Alec to trust his heart to anyone, they also know he’s a sucker for a challenge. Will the enticement of a few thousand dollars riding on him breaking his own rule be just the thing to break his cycle? Taking their bet might be profitable, but is winning the money they’ve dangled under Alec’s nose worth losing himself to the girl they’ve picked out for him?
In his quest to get her to say yes to his crazy proposal, he tracks her all over town only to discover the beautiful, long-legged blond isn’t the studious book worm he mistook her for. In fact, she's one of Jacksonville’s finest in the form of Orchid, exotic dancer. Her rejection only spurs him to make sure her dancing days are over and she only performs her private pirouette for him, and only him, for the rest of their lives if he has his way.
Please enjoy an excerpt:
With all the shades drawn in her tiny apartment, it was still relatively dark at nine when Piper left her bed. After a quick shower, she slipped on her soft worn robe and padded into the kitchen to start her day with her usual Coke Zero and chocolate glazed donut. Alec was lying on her couch on his back with one foot on the floor, one arm dangling beside him, and his mouth hanging open. She wanted to make a lot of noise just to irritate him, but then had second thoughts. As long as he slept, she could sit in the chair beside the tiny couch and stare at how good looking he was.
Too bad he was a Marine. He was definitely someone she could grow accustomed to looking at. In the dim light of the room, the auburn stubble running over his jaw only added to his rugged handsomeness. She caught herself staring at his lips, trying to remember the last time she’d been kissed. Had it been so long she couldn’t recall? God, how she needed a life. Just not at the expense of her goals.
She was putting her empty bottle in the recycle bin sitting near the door when she heard her guest stir and groan. Served him right. He should be miserable.
“Oh, shit.” He moaned and rubbed his head.
“Good morning, Prince Charming,” Piper whispered, leaning over him. “It’s time for Orchid to get ready for work. Therefore, you need to get up so I can drop you off on my way.”
His eyes flew open and darted around, finally focusing on her face just inches from his.
“In case you forgot, I’m Piper, AKA Orchid, and you’re two first names—Alec Douglas.”
“Yes, I remember who you are and my own name.” He eased up and sat back with his hands on his head. “You wouldn’t happen to have something for a headache around here would you?”
Piper disappeared and came back with two red and blue capsules and a glass of water.
“What, are you rationing?” His nose twisted up and he sounded annoyed.
“No, that’s how much one should take.” She sat in the chair again and pulled her legs up under her. “Okay, now explain this plan of yours to me thoroughly.”
“Your plan to make me almost rich by the end of the year.”
“Did we discuss that? Is that why I’m here? Which is where by the way?” With the glass empty, Alec got up, made his way around the couch, and wandered into the tiny galley kitchen behind it.
“This is my apartment and yes, we discussed it. You’re here because you threw up in my car last night and weren’t able to tell me where you live.”
Alec shook his head, drank another glass of water, and filled the tumbler again. “It’s very simple really. Chaney and Brady each put up a month’s pay to be turned over to me once I complete the mission, which is stay with one girl for six months before we deploy again. That’s where you come in. They picked you at the restaurant yesterday.” He sat once again. “Simple enough, you pretend to be my girlfriend until then and we win an easy fifteen hundred each.”
“What’s wrong with you?” Piper accused.
“Excuse me?” Alec said, scrunching his eyebrows together.
“I said…What? Is? Wrong? With? You?” she repeated slowly as if talking to a child. “Aside from either you can’t hear from too much artillery fire or you have a problem paying attention.”
“There’s nothing wrong with me,” he defended.
“Then why? Why do you need them to choose someone and what’s the problem they can’t believe you’d stay with someone for that long? Are you a man whore?” Piper accused, tapping one foot waiting for his answer.
“I…um…I’ve never stayed with one person for longer than a few dates,” he admitted.
“So you are a man whore,” she concluded.
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