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Road To Seduction (Kimani Romance) Mass Market Paperback – January 20, 2009
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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Whoa, thought Eric Warner. Who was that?
Whoever she was, he wanted her. Bad.
He froze, his hand poised to ring the bell of his friend Isabella Stevens's apartment in an old baby-blue gingerbread Victorian, and tried to decide what to do about the sexy woman walking up the sidewalk toward him.
Now was not the time for a hook-up with some random passing woman. He knew that. He'd just arrived here, in Cincinnati, to pick up Isabella, spend the night and take her to the Florida wedding of some of their college classmates in the morning. That was the only thing on his agenda for the weekend.
But damn. Look at her.
She was carrying a couple of plastic bags of groceries and walking a small dog on a leash. Short and lush, with healthy brown thighs and shapely calves rippling her fluttery flowered skirt, she wore one of those strappy tank tops that hugged every ample curve. Dark glasses covered a pretty face and sheets of sleek black hair skimmed her shoulders.
Bottom line: she was a knockout. World-class.
She worked it, too. There was a little extra strut in her step that was probably caused by whatever she was listening to on her iPod, and, seeing the sway of her hips, he thanked God for portable music. Her lips moved and she sang under her breath, in her own world and oblivious to Eric and his X-rated fascination with her mouth. Watching that supple body flow, he felt the curl of an electrifying knot deep in his belly.
Maybe she was a neighbor of Izzy's Maybe Izzy could introduce them No, he couldn't wait that long He should go ahead and introduce himself now No guts, no glory
Putting his overnight bag down, he moved to the edge of the porch, ready to charm, bribe or beg, whatever he had to do to get inside this delicious woman's panties at the earliest possible moment.
And that was when she saw him.
Her face broke into a wide, incredible, thrilled grin and something within the obviously malfunctioning gears of his brain lurched into place. Right before his disbelieving eyes the woman shape-shifted or morphed or something and became No, it couldn't be Yesyes it was Isabella.
Izzy. His best friend. The free spirit who'd been like a sister to him since the day he met her in college seventeen years ago. The woman he'd never ever lusted after.
Izzy, for God's sake.
With a sickening twist in his gut, all his erotic fantasies burned red-hot and incinerated in a pretty good impression of a satellite reentering the Earth's atmosphere, but the mistake wasn't entirely his fault. She'd lost weight. That was it. And her hair was different. Longer and straighter or something. And he hadn't seen her in almost a year. He wasn't a complete lunatic.
"Eric!" Izzy ripped the buds from her ears and ran the last several steps up the walk to him. "You're early."
That one lame syllable was all he could manage because this whole scene was way too freaky. His mouth flapped open and closed like a door on a well-oiled hinge, but words continued to fail him. Think, man, THINK. He tried again, but this second attempt at coherent speech produced only a strange gurgle from somewhere in his throat.
Luckily Izzy didn't seem to notice. With a squeal of excitement, she dropped her bags and launched herself at him in a blur of thrilled dimples and white teeth.
It was the wrong time to touch her, but that didn't stop Eric from opening his eager arms, catching her and pulling her as close as humanly possible without snapping her ribs like toothpicks. Her chin hooked over his shoulder, and suddenly she was everything wonderful and familiarthe friend he knew and loved, same as always.
And yet that alarming new sexual awareness was still there, too. He shoved it aside, hard, and tried to ignore it.
God, she felt good.
A shudder rippled through him, and he wallowed in the rightnessso strong it bordered on perfectionof holding Isabella. It was only now, at this moment of touching her again, that he realized how much he'd missed her since he last saw her. His work travel had tripled, but that was no excuse. Almost a year was way too long to go without seeing her, and he swore to himself he wouldn't let so much time pass between visits in the future.
Her wonderful light smellshe always reminded him of water, sunshine and airwashed over him, and the craziest thought ran through his mind:
It's good to be home.
He clung, sinking his restless fingers deep into her gleaming hair and reveling in the feel of her lush breasts against his chest. Never in seventeen years had he noticed Izzy's breasts, but whoa, boythere was no ignoring them now.
His conscience, which was slow but still functional, finally intruded.
This was wrong. Touching Izzy while thinking sexy thoughts about her was wrong, wrong, WRONG, and he was going to stop. Right now.
Well, not right now, obviously, but soon Pretty soon. Eventually.
But he didn't stop. Against all standards of decency and common sense, he tightened his hold on that supple body and wanted more. Wanted her with a ferocity that bordered on physical pain.
At last she pulled back. Eric, feeling bereft, peeled himself away and slowly slid his hands down the warm silk of her bare arms. Afraid to say anything at this strange new moment and give away his insanity, which he devoutly hoped was only temporary, he watched as she rummaged in her purse for her keys.
A hard knot lodged in his throat and he tried to swallow it down.
He would not lust after, long for Isabella and ruin the single most important friendship he'd ever had.
Distraction came in the form of the Yorkie, who yapped and bounced around Eric's legs, apparently of the opinion that he could leap into his arms if he jumped high enough.
Eric's dry mouth finally worked. "Hey, Zeus. Look at you, buddy."
The fur around his little black face had been trimmed since he saw him last, and he looked like a soulful-eyed teddy bear with brown muzzle and eyebrows. Flustered and grateful to have something to do with his hands other than grope his best friend, Eric stooped to catch the dog, who was wearing a tiny Cincinnati Reds tee with the number 00 on it, hooked him under his arm like a football, and rubbed his soft little head. Zeus squirmed and smiled his tongue-dangling smile at him.
Eric scratched behind Zeus's ears and grinned at Izzy. "He's a monster. Have you been feeding him raw steak?"
Isabella beamed with motherly pride. "He's six pounds now. You didn't think he'd stay a puppy forever, did you?"
"I should've kept him for myself." Eric lowered Zeus to the porch, where the dog danced on his tiny brown paws, his entire body wriggling with excitement.
"Don't even try it." Izzy continued to root through her enormous purse. "You gave him to me. Best birthday present I ever got."
"I know. So did they kick you out of the office?"
The reminder of the place made Eric snort as he picked up his bag. His elegant office was beginning to take on the rough outline of a prison every time he thought about it. "Nah. It was time to call it a day."
"What's up with the suit?" Smiling, she gave him a pointed once over. "Who drives for an hour and a half in the car wearing a suit?"
Staring down at his starched-but-rumpled white shirt, Eric felt a little sheepish now that she pointed out the obvious. Since he didn't want to tell her he'd been so anxious to see her he hadn't even thought of taking the time to change before he left Columbus, he decided to ignore the question altogether.
"What's up with you?" he asked instead. "You can't return phone calls anymore? What's with the silent treatment?"
This was a sore spot with him, one he intended to address immediately. Her phone calls and text messages had tapered off to next to nothing in the last month or so, and the few messages she did send had gotten a little cryptic. The upshot was that he was now officially worried.
His protective gene, which was dormant when it came to other women, kicked into hyperdrive with Izzy. Always had.
What was bothering her? School was out for the summer, so he knew it couldn't be one of her little kindergartners giving her a hard time learning his or her ABCs. Money, on the other hand, was always a potential issue. She didn't make much and wasn't exactly Alan Greenspan when it came to managing it. Or it could behe swallowed hardboyfriend trouble.
This last idea, for some reason, made him feel like smashing something to smithereens, running over it a time or two with a steamroller, and then incinerating it with a flamethrower.
"Well?" he demanded.
"Sorry," she muttered. "It's been a busy month."
Busy? This was her explanation for not keeping in touch with him? Was she for real? She'd have to do a hell of a lot better than that if she wanted to get back in his good graces.
"How's that?" he snapped.
His tone must have been rougher than he intended, because her head jerked up and she gave him an exaggerated pout. "Uh-oh. Someone's being a grouchy puss today."
He flashed her a dark look because his equilibrium still hadn't quite returned to normal, and he was in no mood for teasing. But she scrunched her face up into a purse-lipped glower, and he had to laugh.
"I don't look like that," he told her.
"Yes, you do. Is this about the Hong Kong deal? Did it close?"
"That's wonderful. Congratulations. Another triumph for the CEO of WarnerBrands, eh?"
Eric grunted, feeling unaccountably surly. "Yeah, well, I've been trained for this since birth, haven't I?"
Izzy's genuine delight for his accomplishments big and small had always been one of the best things about her. But now it sort of pissed him off.
Opening a Hong Kong branch of his family's multi-billion dollar clothing company, as she well knew, involved his spending large amount...
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Top customer reviews
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This story is heartwarming and leaves the reader feeling lighthearted. I love best friends falling for each other. Eric finally saw the beauty in his best friend Izzy that had been there forever. I enjoyed the banter back and forth between Izzy and Eric; the dialogue is too funny. Her free spirit was the perfect match for Eric's corporate background. I respect the fact that Izzy is not too vunerable and Eric is not too overpowering. They are equals. The love scenes scorch the pages. You will need a glass of water. I am in love with this family.
The suprising secondary character from this book is the dog. The dog is too cute. Catching up with Andrew and Viveca from "Tender Secrets" was icing on the cake. Buy this book... you will love it!
Ann Christopher has written a beautiful love story with a lot of funny moments, a lot of deep searing passion, a lot of heart-ache, and a lot of really good moments that touched my heart. Eric was so sexy, so sweet, so caring and so loving towards Isabella that it was the sweetest thing. Even though he says he's not the type to show his emotions, Eric wore his heart on his sleeve when it came to Isabella.
Ann Christopher did a beautiful job in capturing the emotions that played on Eric's and Isabella's face and the thoughts that went on in their heads. Isabella is such a great heroine. She is strong, confident, and held her own, especially when it came to Eric's family (what a bunch of snobs). My heart went out to her when her secret was reveled that my respect for her went up another notch.
As you can tell, I really loved this book and hope you give it a try!
Since we met Eric in Tender Secrets, we knew it would take someone truly special to reform his "playa" mentality. It was so cute to see how vulnerable Eric had become now that the shoe was on the other foot, wanting a committed relationship with a woman for the first time ever. What goes around comes around! Oh, did I forget to mention some shocking secrets are revealed along the way that make this story more profound and add even more depth? You are missing out on a real treat if you don't purchase this book immediately!
I'll definitely be reading the next installment of the Warner series.
Keep 'em coming, Ms. Christopher!