"When I attended the Romance Writers of Australia’s 2006 conference last August in Surfers Paradise, author Helen Bianchin kindly chauffeured Trish Morey and me around some of the most exclusive real estate on the Gold Coast. Unique high-rise apartments, tiny privately-owned islands, romantic beaches, luxury homes — I had to use the location as the setting for my new book, Business in the Bedroom. This is my fourth book for the ModernExtra/Sexy Sensation line."
Until Zak Forrester comes to terms with his wife’s death it’s strictly business between massage therapist, Abigail Seymour and her brooding workaholic landlord.
Abby is not Zak’s kind of woman; with her wild red hair, she’s alternative and way too perceptive …and she’s playing havoc with his libido. But he needs a model to advertise his new conference centre and she needs a place to set up her new business.
When they attend a friend’s wedding on a romantic tropical island, they pair up for the reception — then Abby talks Zak into some hands-on therapy…
According to her horoscope, this was Abigail Seymour's lucky day. And with a house named 'Capricorn', she'd figured she couldn't go wrong.
She stared up at the run-down house from the base of the stairs, comparing it to the photograph in her hand. The weathered board on the veranda trim pronouncing that this was indeed, 'Capricorn', hung at a dejected angle and swayed on rusted hinges in the sultry breeze.
In the photograph the classic Queenslander home stood on stilts for air circulation, enclosed with open lattice work. Wooden stairs led to a shady wrap-around veranda which would catch the sea air and provide stunning views of the coastline. Tropical plants added a lush green aspect.
With several coats of paint, some time and energy - correction: a lot of time and energy - it could be that enchanting dwelling once again. She'd be having a few choice words with the agent about false advertising.
Which reminded her - where was he? They'd arranged to meet here this morning. She checked the email print-out in her hand, then her watch. A bad feeling cranked up her spine. A very bad feeling. This Gold Coast house was supposed to have been the premises for her new business, Good Vibrations.
At the moment the only vibrations seemed to be coming from somewhere within. And they weren't good. They were the hammering-and-drill-and-not-ready kind. And since she hadn't organised any interior renovations yet… She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Think blue, Abby, and calm down.
Right now it didn't help.
"What the heck's going on?" she muttered. She climbed the stairs, found the front door unlocked and pushed it open.
And stopped in the middle of what looked distressingly like a demolition site. Her fingers clenched around the lease. The signed and dated lease that stated this place was hers from tomorrow.
Wood shavings and lengths of wiring littered the floor. Strips of faded wallpaper hung from one wall above where a large mirror might have hung once upon a time. Dust motes swirled in a thin beam of sunlight and over a wide plank supported by stocky A-frame trestles and covered in tools.
Worse, the place smelled of new wood and old mould, so not the way a massage and aromatherapy centre should smell. Everything was brown and beige and grey.
The usually cheerful jingle of her anklet and beaded sandals sounded out of place on the bare floor boards as she crossed the room. "Hello?"
No reply. Just the high pitched whine of a drill.
Picking her way over assorted debris, she skirted the plank table and headed for a door at the back. In the next room a ladder was propped open in a corner near another trestle table. The tinny sound of a transistor radio drifted through the man-hole above.
She'd have to settle for grilling the workman. She rapped on the wall. "Excuse me…?"
The drill reverberated to life again, drowning her voice. Okay, forget the fact that she didn't like heights and that she was trying for a bit of professional decorum here. Setting her bag and papers on the floor, she slipped off her sandals and hitched one side of her skirt under her panty strap.
The loud curse that rolled through the hole was followed by the overhead thump of heavy footsteps. One very bare, well-muscled masculine calf stepped onto the ladder. Then another. Tanned and liberally covered with dark hair. The thighs were no less impressive, and went up and up…until they disappeared beneath brief - and loose-bottomed - denim shorts.
Oh…my. Abby swallowed as those legs descended, followed by one firm, taut backside. She glimpsed a thick ridge of scarring on the back of one thigh disappearing beneath his shorts, then more bare skin, more shifting muscle as his back and a pair of plaster-showered shoulders came into view.
She took an involuntary step back - onto her discarded shoes. The movement caught his attention and the hunk swivelled his head and looked down at her.
Piercing blue eyes met hers. The kind of eyes that looked straight through a woman's clothing and saw her naked. Except this man's eyes never left her face. Still, she had the sensation that he knew exactly what she was wearing right down to her red lace panties.
"Can I help you?" His whisky and sandpaper voice shimmied down Abby's spine like the slow sweep of an exfoliating glove.
She shifted her shoulders inside her t-shirt to ease the tingle. Wiggled her toes back into her sandals. Tugged at her hitched-up skirt and smoothed it down her thigh. She was here on business. He, on the other hand, with his impressive sweat-sheened body and bulging biceps, looked more into brawn than business. More like…a personal trainer?
Her pulse did a little bump. Blue, blue, blue. Ice blue. Sky blue. Lake blue…like his eyes. Oh, for heaven's sake, get on with it. "I'm looking for the owner of this…" She swept an encompassing hand over the clutter.
Lips that were full and sensual and wasted on a man stretched into a smile, creasing his cheeks in a way that made her want to trace the grooves with a finger.
"You found him," he said, descending the ladder two rungs at a time.
"You?" Mr. Tall, Dark and Delicious? She belatedly covered the crack in her voice with a throat-clearing as he approached. Amazing - even at five-foot-eleven she still had to look up. Early thirties, dark hair, chiselled cheek bones. His slightly off-centre nose was part of the charm.
She wasn't here to be charmed.
Shaking herself into business mode, she retrieved her papers from the floor, straightened her shoulders. "Mr…"
"Zachary Forrester." He offered a hand along with another one of those stunning smiles.
Like everything about him, his grip was firm…and tantalisingly brief. But not brief enough for her to miss the sensation of hard calloused palm against hers. The sparkle of awareness that tingled up her arm.
"Abigail Seymour. Abby. Mr Forrester, I'm…" She trailed off, frowning down at the paper in her hand. Zachary Forrester wasn't the name on the lease. She fought a sudden spike of nausea as he grabbed a towel slung on the ladder, swiped it over his sweat-damp hair.
"If you're the insurance rep…" His brow creased as he glanced at her attire.
"Do I look like an insurance rep?" She blew out a breath. "I'm your new tenant." She tapped her thigh with the document that proclaimed that fact. "What's the deal here, Mr Forrester? because I'm confused."
His cute dimples winked out and his gaze narrowed. "That makes two of us."
"This book is about never giving up and making the best of the situation. It is also filled with a burning sensuality that tempts and entices a reader to peruse its pages."