by Kate Davies
He's vice. She's nice. Watch out. Seattle!
It seemed easy enough. Hit the local all-male strip club, pick a likely target and hire him for her best friend's bachelorette party. But the stripper who catches Caroline's eye has a different agenda. He's an undercover cop, and Caroline ends up under arrest—for solicitation!
Tony DiMarco realizes too late that he's made a mistake. Caroline's reputation and business are suffering, and he feels responsible. He feels something else too—the pull of red-hot desire. He wants Caroline, but she's afraid that he's just trying to make up for his mistake. Can this determined vice cop teach her to trust him?
THIS BOOK HAS BEEN PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED. It has been lightly edited and revised.
WARNING: This book contains people taking their clothes off. Which is kind of the point, right?
© 2006 Kate Davies
Caroline Richards was trapped in the eighties.
A bad music, big hair, completely tacky version of the eighties.
She sighed and stirred her over-watered drink, wishing she were anywhere but here. Mollie had a lot to answer for.
Of course, if Mollie knew what she was up to, she'd probably bust a blood vessel.
But she couldn't throw a proper bachelorette party without a stripper, could she?
"Hey, baby." A raspy voice interrupted her thoughts. She turned to find a man with Farrah Fawcett hair, a beer belly, a bow tie and what amounted to a Speedo standing at her table. "You ready for another screaming orgasm?"
She blinked twice, then looked down at her drink. Oh, yeah. "No, thanks," she replied. Why try another? It hadn't lived up to its name the first time around. More like a whimper.
He shrugged and headed back to the bar, leaving her alone again.
For a Friday night, the place was pretty dead. A group of five women whooped it up a few tables over, passing around some physically impossible sex toys and ignoring the man gyrating on stage only a few feet away.
Caroline didn't blame them. It was painfully obvious the guy was lacking in the toy department himself, and his dancing-to use the term loosely-reminded her of a toddler learning the Macarena. The music built to a crescendo, and he whipped the cowboy hat off his head, flinging it into the air.
She lunged sideways, barely missing being smacked in the face with the limp, battered felt hat. The song ended and he yee-hawed himself offstage, leaving his hat as a memento no one seemed inclined to collect.
One more. She'd stay for one more, and then she was out of there. Best friend or no best friend, she was fast reaching her tolerance level for talentless guys taking their clothes off.
She could get that on a blind date any day of the week.
Caroline snorted. Maybe that was why she hadn't dated in almost a year.
She sighed, wondering if she could talk Mollie's fiancé into being the stripper at the bachelorette party. God knows he'd look better than any of the losers she'd seen this evening.
On second thought, better not. Mollie was a terrific friend, generous and thoughtful, but she'd probably draw the line at letting her friends ogle Cade while he took his clothes off.
Caroline sighed again, taking another sip of her watery drink. Maybe she should give up now, head home and put in the DVD of Pride and Prejudice for the umpteenth time. She felt stupid and awkward sitting alone in this creepy place, and she obviously wasn't finding what she was looking for here.
Not for the first time, she wished she had come here with a friend. At least with a partner-in-crime she'd have someone to crack jokes with, instead of feeling so conspicuous. Pathetic. Alone.
But other than Mollie, she didn't have any close friends, certainly no one she'd feel comfortable asking to join her at Seattle's newest-and only-strip club for women. And she couldn't ask Mollie to help her pick out a stripper for her own bachelorette party, for obvious reasons.
Well, tonight had been a massive waste of time. She bent over and reached for her purse, which had migrated under the table during the evening. Her fingers brushed the straps, but it was beyond her reach. Cursing under her breath, she twisted underneath the tabletop and stretched a little further.
Suddenly, music blasted from the ancient sound system, startling Caroline and making her jump, smacking her head against the underside of the table. Tossing out a few more curse words for variety, she wriggled out from under the table, rubbing her head.
Then she stopped, riveted on the stage in front of her. She was tempted to pinch herself, just to make sure she wasn't fantasizing the man who'd appeared onstage.
And oh, what a fantasy he was! The faux police uniform looked spray-painted on, showcasing a drool-worthy body. His arms flexed and bunched as he released each button on his tight shirt one by one. It fell open to reveal a wide, muscled chest, with the perfect amount of hair-not too fuzzy, not nonexistent-and sleek, lightly tanned skin that begged to be touched. He stripped off the shirt, tossing it away as he began to work on the fly of his pants. Caroline swallowed, her mouth suddenly dry, as she noticed that the rest of him seemed as large as what had already been revealed.
The music throbbed in the air around her, the theme from a popular police show adding a strong drumbeat as he stripped down to a well-filled-out, and extremely small, brief.
Caroline was gripped by a sudden urge to scream for him to take it all off, even though she knew this was as far as he was going to go. The other strippers had all stopped at their skivvies, which hadn't bothered her a bit. Not until now.
Now, she would buy a round of screaming orgasms for the whole room if she got to see Officer Friendly do the full monty.
The music ground to a halt and the lights dimmed, announcing the end of the act. She sat back, disappointed, as he flashed a grin but nothing else while he made his way offstage.She glanced around, not surprised to find the few other women in the club just as enthralled as she was in the latest act.
The partiers had even abandoned their investigation of the X-rated gifts piling the table and were chanting for his return. Until that moment, Caroline would have given Strippendale's another three months in business, if that. There was probably a very good reason the club had no competitors, because really, how much of a market was there for a women-only strip club? The audience tonight had been pathetically small. But with a man like that showing off his assets, the club might stand a fighting chance.
Another song started playing, and Caroline shook off her musings. This guy, whoever he was, would be perfect for Mollie's bachelorette party. And she'd better get backstage and find out if he was available before she lost her chance-and her nerve.
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