Thursday, July 25, 2013

Thursday's Opening Scene from A Silken Seduction by Janet Lane Walters

A Silken Seduction


Chapter 1


            “Done.”  Megan Blakefield closed her laptop and sank back in her chair.  Move, she told herself.  “Friday at last.”  Unlike her siblings and co-workers she refused to use the cliché.  And unlike most of them she had no plans for the weekend beyond reviewing her rules of life.  Should she scrap them and start anew?  They certainly hadn’t taken her to the place she desired, a home settled by the man of her dreams.  What she’d received as a reward for obeying those rules was a handful of failed relationships. 

Her hands dropped to her lap.  The next issue of Good Lookin’ was at the printer’s, a perfect ending to an intense week of work and a very long day.  She yawned.

The office door opened.  One of her brothers stepped inside.  “Good, you’re still here.”

She looked up.  “No, it’s my ghost.”

“I need a favor.”

“Sure.”  She wanted to bite her tongue a moment too late.  She’d just tramped on one of the rules.  Know what you’re agreeing to before you make a commitment or you’ll find yourself in trouble.

“Thanks.  You can pick up Steve Morgan at the airport tonight.  His flight arrives around nine.”

“Wait a minute.”  Megan’s shoulder muscles tensed.  Once more she had leaped into the steaming kettle.  She stared at her brother.  What did his smile mean?  Was this some kind of sick joke?  “You want me to do what?”

“Go to the airport and meet Steve’s plane.”  He spoke each word as though addressing a child.

“I’m the last person he would want to see.  Remember the scene I created three weeks ago.”  Though she hadn’t yelled her accusations she had definitely made them.  She would never forget Steve’s reaction.  After a flash of angry denial he had laughed and resigned.

“Come on.  Steve doesn’t hold a grudge.  Kiss and make up.  He would like that.”

“Right.”  Megan glared at her brother.  She couldn’t tell him or anyone about the impact of her first meeting with the photographer.  He’s the one, her body had signaled.  You’re crazy, the sane part of her had yelled.  The inner debate still raged every time she saw him.  And her body reacted in the same way.  She blushed and his knowing green eyes showed he read the strength of the attraction.  Then he made another teasing remark that increased her unease.  Most of the time she avoided him but how she felt hadn’t changed.

“Remember how he reacted when I accused him of leaking the details of my exclusive interview to that witch at Beauty Spot?”

Mark chuckled.  “Yeah, I do.  He resigned.  Then Allie explained how you shoot first and regret at leisure.  He stayed.  He even looks on the incident as a joke.”  Mark put his hands on her desk and leaned forward.  “You never explained why you thought he was the culprit.”

Because she hadn’t wanted to believe the man she’d been dating was the one had been the person to leak the information.  “They had a relationship.”

Mark hooted.  “They had a fling.  At the time you jumped to that conclusion she was a month behind him.”

“She used to be his boss.”

He nodded.  “She was but he quit and came to work for us.  Be a sport and do the airport run.  You’re the only one who can.  Dad’s away.  Luke’s tied up.  Allie’s at Greg’s restaurant and I’m off to check some B&Bs.”

“Maybe I have plans.”

“Do you?”

“Sort of.”

He studied her.  “No you don’t.  What is your problem?”

She couldn’t tell him how much she felt like a dumb teenager lusting after the school jock when she was around Steve.  “I …”

“Meg, you live the closest to JFK and drive that huge sedan.”

“You could hire a limo.”

He nodded.  “I could but you know that’s not the way the Blakefields treat their employees.”

She did.  And Steve knew the policy.  When any staffer was out of town on an assignment unless they were being met by their own, a member of the Blakefield family played chauffeur.        

Why was her sedan so important?  She closed her eyes and began to plan.  The plane landed at nine.  They could leave the airport by nine thirty.  The drive to the Hudson River village where he lived would take about an hour.  Thirty minutes later she would be home.  She could handle the temptation Steve posed for that long.  “You win.  I’ll go.”

Mark patted her hand.  “Good girl.”

She considered barking.  Instead she waved him to the door.  “You owe me.”

He paused.  “One more thing.  Take the wheelchair that’s in the hall.  Steve had a small accident.”

“How small?”

“Just a broken leg and a lot of bruising.”

Megan rolled her eyes.  There went her plans for a quick pickup and delivery.  She would have to escort him into his apartment.  Before she voiced another objection she realized Mark had vanished.  She thought about throwing something but the only things on her ultra neat desk were her laptop and a stack of page proofs.  “You really owe me and I’ll collect.”

Steve Morgan.  A sound midway between a sigh and a groan escaped.  She was in trouble.  He was hot.  So was she but his teasing remarks always made her bristle.  His green eyes made promises he would keep for a time.  She wanted to believe he could commit to forever but she’d heard about his short attention span.  According to her sister there had been at least four women since he’d begun at the magazine group.

You don’t want an affair, Megan reminded herself.  Rule number two.  Find a man who wants a lifelong commitment.  No matter how hard she wished Steve wasn’t that man.  She laughed at herself.  Saying no to what hadn’t been offered was foolish.

With her laptop in hand she stepped into the hall.  Mark hadn’t been joking.  There really was a wheelchair outside her door.  She pushed the battered vehicle down the hall and rode the elevator to the basement parking garage.  After putting the chair in the trunk she drove to her apartment and made an omelet for dinner.  Then she checked the arrival time of Steve’s flight.

She was going to kill her brother.  Around nine thirty was a few minutes before ten.  By the time she delivered Steve she wouldn’t have the energy to drive back to the city.

Megan paced around the living room.  She needed to revise her plan.  She reached for the phone.  She could camp on the couch in her sister’s fiancé’s riverfront apartment.  In the morning she could visit the Peek-A-Boo Boutique, check the lingerie and speak to the owner about the possibility of a magazine spread for the February issue of Good Lookin’.

She dialed the apartment.  The answering machine invited her to leave a message.  “Allie, Meg here.  I need a place to crash for the night.  Bringing Steve home from the airport.  Arrive around midnight.”  To make sure her sister received the message Megan called Allie’s cell phone and left the message again.

Megan rolled her shoulders and the tense muscles uncoiled.  She had a plan to minimize the time with Steve.  Was that what she wanted?  No, but it was the only way to keep her rules

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