Authors: Debbi Rawlins
Tags: #Romance, #Category
It is my uncle!” Gina panicked. “You should not be here!” To her left was a closed door. She grabbed Mike’s sleeve and pulled him into the dark room with her. Only, it was a closet.
Mike started to protest but stopped abruptly at the sound of her uncle—
—calling for Gina. The closet was small and crowded and he was pressed against Gina and her tight, skimpy dress. She moved her arm and her breasts rubbed against him. At his sharp intake of breath she froze.
Mike tightened his arms around the bare skin of her back. She stood on tiptoe to whisper in his ear. Soft silky hair brushed his jaw, robbing him of rational thought. “What are we going to do?”
Mike wished he knew. If he weren’t so aroused maybe he could figure it out. How could he explain
to his boss? He tried to shift, but only managed to stroke her hip with his erection and press closer to her breasts.
There was nothing he could do but enjoy the delicious agony….
This book is a favorite of mine. Writing about Gina and Mike was like telling the story of two old friends. After it ended, I genuinely missed them for days. I think part of the reason I bonded so quickly with the characters is that I really identified with Gina.
Like her, I went to an all-girls Catholic high school, though in a small town in Hawaii. A grand total of one hundred and sixteen girls made up the tenth, eleventh and twelfth grades. Obviously there is some of me in Gina, although which aspects, I’m not saying. After all, my mother will be reading this book.
You all take care. And don’t forget to check out tryblaze.com!
WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAY?
HIS, HERS AND THEIRS
LOVING A LONESOME COWBOY
His friend and co-worker, Robert Scarpetti, kept his attention on the tall blonde at the water cooler outside Mike’s office. “Maybe she’s a sales rep for one of our distributors. I haven’t seen her before, have you?”
Robert looked at Mike. “I heard every word you said. You think California wine sales are up on the West Coast because gas prices are up and it costs too much to ship our wine across the country.” His gaze went back to the young woman who’d briefly stopped at their secretary’s desk. “Good. Cori should know who she is.”
“Dammit, Rob, if you weren’t the boss’s son, your ass would be fired by now.”
Robert slid off the edge of Mike’s desk and flashed him a big grin. “Not when I have you to make me look good.”
Mike grunted. He was tired and hungry after missing another lunch hour. Normally Robert didn’t annoy him. After fifteen years of friendship, he’d learned to take the overgrown kid with a grain of salt.
They’d met during their sophomore year in high school soon after Mike’s mother had started working for the Scarpetti family. The company distributed wine in the States from their vineyard in Italy and she had been their bookkeeper. The job had been a godsend. A recent layoff had left her unemployed and penniless. Mike’s father hadn’t been in the picture for ten years, ever since the bastard had walked out on them.
“Don’t worry, bro.” Robert clapped him on the back. “I’ll talk to Pop about looking into Daly City as a possible site for a distribution center. It’s near enough to San Francisco but not so high rent that it’ll inflate Pop’s blood pressure.”
“You checked it out already?”
Robert snorted. “Hey, I’m not a total waste. Want to go have a beer?”
“It’s only four-fifteen.”
“Your point being?”
Mike rubbed his eyes and loosened his tie. “I still have another couple of hours of work to finish.”
“Damn, Mike, I wish you’d relax. This company’s been around for over a hundred years. It ain’t going anywhere.”
“Right.” Easy for Robert to say. He was a Scarpetti. Automatically entitled to a secure position in the family business.
As great as they’d all been to Mike, giving him a job, even contributing to his college education after his mother’s death, he was still not one of them. It didn’t matter how hard he worked or how many holidays he spent at their table, he would never be a part of the inner circle.
Robert and Antonio would both deny it if questioned. Not that Mike would ever broach such a subject. He was grateful to be the only non-family member in management, and he knew he had a good chance to head the West Coast operation someday. They already trusted him to handle a major part of the business.
At twenty-eight, he had no student loans to pay off, and he made a damn good salary. More than most guys his age. No question he owed them big time. But he could never shake the need to belong, to have their unconditional acceptance.
“If you change your mind about that beer, Joe and I will be down at Angelo’s.” Robert stopped at the door, checking his reflection in the glass inset, and then pulled out his comb. “But I’ll only be there until five-thirty. I’ve got a date with Melanie tonight.”
A date. Mike couldn’t remember the last time he’d had one. He’d caught a couple of movies and late dinners with Daphne from the real-estate office upstairs last year. But she thought he was too work-obsessed, and when he’d called a couple of months ago, she told him she’d be washing her hair for the next year or so.
“Count me out today.” Mike opened his middle drawer looking for chips or anything to quiet his noisy stomach. “I still have the quarterly budget to work on.”
“Screw that. Work on it tomorrow.”
Mike found an open package of cheese crackers and sniffed it. Smelled okay to him. “I want you to review the figures before you go on vacation.”
An incoherent bellow interrupted them.
Mike looked up.
“Dammit, I gotta go.” Robert threw a disgusted glance down the hall. “The old man is hollering for me. How many times have I told him to use the intercom?”
“But you’re not in your office.”
“That’s not the point.” Robert stalked off, muttering under his breath.
Mike smiled as he tore into the cheese crackers. The Scarpettis sure were a boisterous bunch, especially Antonio. He’d left Italy thirty years ago but still clung to some of the old ways, personally and in business. Good thing the company was so well established and making a lot of money. But then again, there was a downside to their fairly easy success. No one seemed particularly interested in expanding or modernizing.
Except Mike. Once he got the West Coast operation into action, he knew he could double the company’s profits. Wouldn’t that make him nice and cozy with the family?
The blonde walked past his office again, this time slowing to smile at him. He nearly choked on the stale cracker. He had to admit, she did have great legs.
Hell with it being a long time since his last date. It had been a century since he’d gotten laid.
Robert opened his father’s window, ignoring the humid August air that rushed in. Traffic noise from the street below the three-story Brooklyn office rose to compete with their conversation.
“All right, all right,” he grumbled over the din. “I’ll put out the cigar. Now close the damn window.”
Robert gladly shut out the warm air and noise. But that was the least of the problem. His father smoked too much, ate and drank to excess and stayed out late every night, a pattern that began after Robert’s mother died last year. It worried the hell out of him.
“What did you want, Pop?” He took a chair across the old scarred desk that belonged in a junkyard.
“Your cousin Gina is coming from Italy in three days.”
“Gina?” Robert frowned. He hadn’t seen her in eight years. Not since his last trip to Tuscany. She’d happened to be home from Catholic boarding school in Milan, shy, quiet, the perfect convent-school student. “Why?” Robert couldn’t imagine his timid cousin flying across the Atlantic alone. “Not that it won’t be nice to see her, but…how old is she now?”
“Twenty-three. She’s just finished all her schooling and your aunt says she’s been a little rebellious lately.” Antonio shrugged expansively and muttered something in Italian. Robert knew only a few choice words. “You know your aunt Sophia, the drama queen.”
“Is she coming alone?”
Antonio sighed and mopped his forehead. There seemed to be more and more of it each day, and Robert shuddered at the thought his hairline would one day recede like Pop’s.
“Unfortunately, yes, and she’ll be here for a month.”
Robert started to get a bad feeling. “I still don’t understand why Gina would come here.”
“To cut loose.” Antonio waved a hand. “That’s how you say it, right? You know, get the wildness out of her system.”
“What’s this?” Antonio scowled. “You suddenly don’t have time for family?”
“Who else should I ask to escort her around the city?”
“Oh, no.” Robert abruptly stood. “I’m on vacation starting this weekend, remember? I already paid for the cruise. Two weeks. Me, Melanie, lots of sun and piña coladas. I’m not baby-sitting anyone.”
“I will reimburse you for the cruise.”
“No way.” Robert backed toward the door. “Melanie pulled a lot of strings at work to get two weeks off.”
“Roberto.” Antonio slammed his palm on the desk. “This is family. This is important.”
“I understand.” But Melanie sure wouldn’t. “I’ll only be gone two weeks. Let Mike show her around in the meantime.”
Robert mirrored his father’s expansive shrug. “He’s practically family, right?”
Antonio frowned. “Practically isn’t good enough. He’s a male, and she’s a female. You do the arithmetic.”
“Yeah, but we’re talking about Mike.”
“I’m talking about hormones or testosterone, or whatever those things are.” He shook his head in that stubborn way Robert hated. It meant the subject was closed. “You will pick Gina up at the airport and stick to her like glue. End of discussion.”
“Pop, don’t make me say something I’m gonna regret.”
Antonio narrowed his dark eyes. “What?”
Panic assailed Robert. He couldn’t cancel this trip. He and Melanie had been planning it for six months. What a damn mess! “It’s about Mike.”
“Roberto, I remind you.” He picked up the cigar he’d put out. “You brought up the subject.”
“You can’t tell anybody, Pop, including Mike. This is a very sensitive issue.”
“All right, already.”
Robert took a deep breath. He really hated involving Mike, but what else could he do? “It’s no problem if he accompanies Gina around the city.” He cleared his throat. For this lie, he would surely go straight to hell. Not to mention Mike was going to kill him. “Mike bats for the other team.”
Antonio’s bushy brows drew together. “What are you talking about?”
“You never heard that term before, Pop?”
“I know what it means.” He looked uncertain. “It means he could be an interior decorator or something. Am I right?”
Robert choked back a laugh. “I guess you could say that.”
“But Mike? I’ve known him half his life. He’s not that way.”
“When was the last time you saw him with a girl?”
Antonio toyed with the cigar as he thought for a moment. “Last year, Thanksgiving, he brought that short redhead to dinner.”
“That was three years ago, she was his neighbor’s daughter and she was fifteen.”
Antonio frowned. “How come he doesn’t look like one of those kind?”
“Pop, don’t be so old-fashioned. He doesn’t have to look any particular way. The important thing is, he can show Gina around the city without you worrying.”
Antonio chomped on the cigar, his bushy brows drawn together as he thought. “Okay, tell him to get in here.”