Up All Night


ISBN: 9781426853135

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The Wrong Bed
Harlequin Blaze #240
March 2006
Reissued January 2010 in eBook format

RITA FinalistThe right invitation delivered to the wrong man

What man can resist a request to appear naked, hot and ready? Certainly not Devon Baines. Even though he doesn’t know the e-mail sender, he has to check this out. And when he finds Jenny Moore wearing a little bit of something more comfortable, he knows he’s found his match made in insomniac heaven.

While she’s more than fine with steaming the sheets with Devon, Jenny is firm about the rules of their fling. Some sexy exploration and then they return to the real world—separately. At first that suits Devon. But the more time he’s with her, the more he wants. And when he discovers a personal secret about her, he knows he’s in a position to renegotiate….

Reviews

“Danger, sex and unique characters combine in Up All Night, a book that will keep you reading.” — Romantic Times, 4 stars

“Sexy and unforgettable… this is one novel you won’t want to miss.” — Cataromance, 4.5 stars

“Filled with adventure, spicy sex, and a smidgen of danger, Up All Night is romance at it’s best.” — Sinclair Reid, Romance Reviews Today

“Scorching love scenes and smart dialogue keeps you turning pages as fast as you can.” — Cat Cody, Romance Junkies: 4.5 stars

Excerpt:

“I don’t think we should see each other anymore.”

Jenny Moore blinked through her first date nervousness to stare at the heartbreak hero who’d made the unexpected pronouncement. The clank of bar glasses and buzz of a hundred conversations faded in the face of her abject mortification in a back booth of an Atlantic City nightspot. Surely she misunderstood him.

“Our drinks haven’t even made it to the table yet and you’re breaking up with me?” Jenny knew she wasn’t every man’s fantasy date, but she’d done everything right with the executive of a Jersey engineering firm she’d met online a few weeks ago. She’d gotten to know him through an Internet dating service first. Exchanged emails through the private addresses supplied by the company. Tonight she’d been careful to play it cool with him even though she battled a few personal phobias about being out in public. Meeting David Brady in person was half the reason she’d come to the conference in Atlantic City— a city she’d never liked in the first place, even if she didn’t suffer from mild agoraphobia that made it tough to leave her apartment under any normal circumstances.

Today was fast becoming far from normal.

“I’m sorry, Jen, but I just don’t think I can take things as slow as you’d like me to.” He gave her a lopsided grin that might have been endearing if she hadn’t wanted to box his ears for not giving her a chance to jump his bones— loser or not. “I just think we need to be open and honest with each other about our expectations, don’t you?”

In an email, she could have handled that question. She’d built up a million dollar empire in luxury goods sales online through De-Luxe, her successful brainchild run from the isolated safety of her home office. But now, face-to-face with a man in a situation that made her nervous to begin with, she was more likely to break out in hives than form an intelligent response.

“H-honesty?” Her breath caught in her throat while she tried to ward off a bout of hyperventilation sure to come if this man—a man who’d finally seemed like her chance for intimacy—truly dumped her in the retro lobby bar of Quintessence Hotel and Casino ten minutes after their first chance to meet in person.

She’d never been a fan of dating, but this encounter was off the charts in the hideous department.

“It’s not that I don’t like you. I’ve had a great time emailing with you the last few weeks.” The object of her online affection rose from the table and snagged a pen off the nearby bar, dodging the flirtatious waitress who brought Jenny’s drink—a pink halo— and his double shot of Scotch. He passed the server a twenty with a wink and proceeded to scribble on a turquoise-colored cocktail napkin with his pilfered pen, a fat ruby winking on what looked like a university ring around his finger. “I closed my email account with the dating service, but feel free to contact me at this address if De-Luxe ever gets in those platinum name plates we talked about. Gotta be the first in town to have one for my desk.”

With a quick kiss to her cheek, David grabbed his drink and sailed out of the bar, taking his khaki-clad cute butt and her only chance to score this weekend—maybe this whole flipping year—along with him.

Damn it.

Jenny couldn’t even look at the fizzy pink halo she’d ordered when she first sat down. Her drink order had been an optimistic choice. How much more upbeat could you get than pink and fizzy? David’s retreat had put her more in more of a bloody Mary mood.

“Can I get you anything else?” The busty waitress with long, dark hair peered down at Jenny’s untouched cocktail once she finally yanked her gaze off of Jenny’s departing date.

Thank God the server was a woman, even if the dishy chick had flirted outrageously with David when she’d taken their order. In general, Jenny did better face-to-face with strange women. Strange men were normally more intimidating. But between the online photo of David and their exchanged emails, she actually thought she had a chance of making it through a dinner with him. Possibly more.

“My friend’s a doctor and he just got called away,” Jenny lied in a face-saving effort, embarrassed to her toes to have a bar server feeling sorry for her. “I guess I’ll just head back to my room.”

Scooping up the napkin with David’s email address, Jenny rose from the table and headed for the elevator, her silky skirt that felt so sexy against her legs an hour ago now reminding her with each swish what a failure the night had been. She would not let herself contact a man who wasn’t even patient enough to sit through drinks with her, so she didn’t know why she clutched the stupid napkin in a death grip.

“Loser.” Punching the elevator button, she told herself she would simply enjoy the conference she was attending this week from a self-help guru who’d written a series of books on nurturing mental help through alternative therapies. She’d even been chosen to participate in a special forum with a research group compiling data on agoraphobics, so she wouldn’t miss out on her chance to help along other people with issues similar to hers.

Although it would have been nice to have indulged in some sensual therapy in addition to the mental coping strategies offered at the conference. Jenny had made an art form out of finding all her life needs online, but there were still a couple of crucial ones that couldn’t be procured on the Internet.

A real relationship, for one.

Real sex for another.

Staring blankly at an ad for the hotel’s boardwalk casino, she smoothed out the napkin with David’s address as the elevator button chimed for her floor. He had said he was concerned about how slowly she’d wanted to take things. But surely that was a reaction to the fact that she’d confided her privacy issues with him via email before they met in person. Maybe he just assumed she would want to move slowly after they met since she’d taken plenty of time to get to know him through emails first.

And if that’s what he thought, didn’t she owe it to herself to clarify his mistake?

Loser or not, Dave Brady was a known quantity and Jenny wouldn’t let this prime candidate for a fling slip away without exerting a little more effort. She needed a transition man while she worked her way up to a real relationship, and Dave had “temporary” written all over him.

Hot and lonesome and tired of worrying about her problems, Jenny unlocked her room and headed straight for her laptop on the king sized bed at the back of the suite. David might not be the most suave of guys, but he was a damn sight more fine than the men in her limited experience. DB@ShoreEngineers was about to find out how quickly she could move when it came to scratching a sexual itch.

****
Devon Baines loosened his tie as he slammed the hotel door behind him. Conferences sucked. Not because he didn’t enjoy engineering. On the contrary, the workshops kicked ass and the chance to school the new kids about real world projects was a guaranteed good time. But the b.s. networking which amounted to listening to a bunch of long-winded geeks sing their own praises…

Granted, he had low tolerance for people in general. An even lower tolerance for people who talked a big game and didn’t have the smarts to back it up. Thank God he brought his laptop so he could escape the social pressures of conference hell for a few hours. Cracking open the computer, he flexed his fingers and clicked the keys that would connect him to his message box.

His watch said it was just past midnight as he slid into one of the Lucite chairs at the ultra modern wet bar just off the kitchen. Spotting the round of new emails, he scrolled over the mundane reminders from various project managers about in-house responsibilities and a couple of notes from friends in the industry that probably contained good luck sentiments or possible job offers. Instead, his gaze lingered on an unfamiliar email address, a personal note that didn’t suggest he’d won or a foreign lottery or try to hawk Viagra.

As if.

The note from “deluxegirl” read:

I didn’t know what to say to you in the lobby bar tonight, but I came to the conference this week just to meet you in person. I’m not a woman who takes things slowly. When I see something I want, I go after it. And I want you. Naked, hot and ready for me. I’m in room 1016 if you’re interested in seeing where things lead tonight.
Jenny

Devon stared at the note, wondering who the hell Jenny could be. An engineering colleague from another firm? Obviously, the message writer was staying here at Quintessence so it made sense she’d be connected to the business if she was here for the conference. The time on the note read 11:55 p.m., shortly before he’d left the party full of windbags downstairs. He’d been in the fifties-style lobby bar a handful of times that night, mostly because the lines were shorter there than inside the welcome reception and he’d bought drinks for a handful of friends he hoped to do business with as a freelance consultant.

Finger hovering over the delete key, Devon tapped lightly on the button without actually pressing. He shouldn’t be interested in some sordid interlude with a woman he might possibly cross paths with again in his profession.

And yet…

How long had it been since he’d lost himself in sweaty, all-night sex? For a man who appreciated every nuance of amusement park rides in his gig as a mechanical engineer, he sure did deprive himself of the best thrill on earth.

Lifting his hand away from the keyboard, he left the message in tact but flipped down the screen. As if that would keep him from thinking about the mystery invitation and the potential adventure waiting one floor above him.

Suddenly thirsty, he unbuttoned his pinstriped shirt as he headed for the kitchen and poured himself a glass of water at the black marble sink with slightly gaudy— but probably pricey— gold fixtures. He didn’t need this kind of temptation with his whole future career teetering on his personal reputation. But he never indulged himself, damn it. Why should he say no now when a golden opportunity landed in his lap?

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