Twelve young dancers are competing for the dream. Only one will win. But with sabotaged sets and flooded living quarters, the “Curse” threatens both competitors and crew. And unless she can turn this train wreck into a TV triumph, producer Meagan Tippan’s dream will be the Curse’s last victim….
Enter security head and former Special Forces soldier—and all-around pain in Meagan’s butt— Sam Kellar. He’s a nightmare…and the stuff that X-rated dreams are made of! But as tensions between Meagan and Sam become increasingly explosive, their only choice is to get it all out—and take it all off!
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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
“Is anyone hurt?” Meagan shouted loudly, because the water seemed to be muffling everything but the panicked voices echoing around her.
“Just scared,” Ginger said, shoving a wet mop of blond hair from her face, as Meagan did the same to her light brown hair. “And I don’t see a fire. DJ says he doesn’t see one downstairs, either.” DJ being her twin brother and male counterpart in the house.
“I called 9-1-1,” DJ shouted, rushing up to meet them. “Could be electrical though. Big trouble for a house this old.”
Right, Meagan thought grimly. Wouldn’t that be peachy? After ten weeks spent casting across the country, with one mishap after another—enough to prompt whispers of a “curse” that she’d hoped to put to rest—only to discover they’d also managed to move into a place with electrical problems, and have it catch on fire their first night there.
“Is everyone okay?” came the voice of another male dancer at the bottom of the stairs. “Do you need help?”
“No! Stay where you are,” Meagan yelled, taking in water as she spoke. “We don’t need help up here, and there is no fire.” That they knew about, but she didn’t say that. She didn’t want to freak anyone out any more than they already were.
“Get everyone on the lawn where we can get a head-count,” Meagan said, shooing Ginger and DJ down the stairs. The sooner they had this situation under control, the better. Control? After thirty-two years, and her own dance career destroyed by a knee injury, she should know control was a facade. Just when you thought you had it, it slipped away.
Eventually, Meagan finally had all her hot-bodied, dripping-wet dancers on the front lawn, looking as if they were posing for a kinky spread in an X-rated magazine. She could only imagine editing this segment. Their stationary cameras had no doubt caught everything and the studio execs would want this mishap included in behind-the-scenes footage. After all, they’d insisted on broadcasting every other disaster—from falling sets and broken-down buses, to a crazed fan who’d set the hotel lobby on fire.
A thought hit Meagan like a huge brick. Oh, God. It was a very bad thought.
Meagan whirled around to face the house, as if it were possessed, glaring at the monster that was about to ruin everything, even her own career. The chance to pitch the idea for this show had come after years of working as the producer for a top news show in Dallas, Texas. Leaving that job on the long shot that this could survive the ratings war had been a big risk. She knew the chips would be stacked against her. Tonight that stack had gotten bigger. Not only were the cameras getting wet, but the house, where they’d intended to spend the next twelve weeks, was being destroyed by the water. And she had enough experience with fickle network executives to know that her show, her darn dreamfulfilling show, was turning into a nightmare that might well be called “cancelled.”
And although the top dancer among her contestants was set to win a new car, a studio contract and cash, while the other dancers would earn major industry exposure that could change their lives, she wondered if it would all end tonight.
Meagan tried to comfort herself by recalling the high-powered panel of judges she’d secured for the live shows—a well-known choreographer, a highly respected casting agent and even a highly acclaimed pop star. Surely, the studio wouldn’t want to pay out their contracts and see no real return.
Who was she kidding? Studio executives always leaned toward taking their financial hits and cutting losses. Meagan had to do something to save the house, if she expected to save the show.
Meagan leapt to action, darting toward the house, ignoring shouts of her name. Clearly, there was no fire, only water—lots and lots of destructive water. She burst through the door, and headed straight to the basement through the kitchen. Though she had no real idea how to turn off the sprinklers, flipping the circuit breaker seemed logical, and she remembered seeing it by the washer and dryer.
Sure enough, the breaker was where she thought it was, but any relief she felt at finding it was doused when she realized it was ridiculously high off the ground. Oh yeah, it was high, well above her reach, or any normal human’s, for that matter. Resigned to the climb ahead of her, she splashed her way closer.
She couldn’t help but ask herself if the night could possibly get any worse, as she heaved herself on top of the washer.
Footsteps sounded on the stairs, and she yelled over her shoulder, “I said go to the lawn!” She jerked the metal panel, but it wouldn’t open. “I need everyone outside and safe.” There was the sound of more splashing and she grimaced. “I said—”
“Come down from there before you get hurt,” came an order from behind her.
Meagan froze at the deeply resonating voice of Samuel Kellar, the sexy, blond-haired, blue-eyed, irritating, arrogant, six-foot-two—if she had to bet her life on it—head of studio security, who she knew all too well and wished she didn’t.
Samuel, or Sam as everyone called him, had directly coordinated much of the show’s security over the past few months, especially the open casting calls. She’d had innumerable occasions to know with certainty that few people could rattle her nerves the way Sam could. When Sam said jump, people jumped. He didn’t ask anyone to do anything, he ordered them. And since that trait irritated her to no end, how was it that the man made her want to both yell at him and strip him naked at the same time—she didn’t know.
But shouting wasn’t her style, nor was sleeping with a man like Sam. She preferred subtle and submissive, to his demanding and arrogant. Unfortunately, Sam wasn’t the least bit dissuaded by her sharp-tongued retorts meant to be off-putting. In fact, he infuriatingly seemed to enjoy sparring with her.
And just when Meagan thought Sam’s presence ensured that the night really, truly, couldn’t get any worse, it did. With frustration, she yanked at the panel door with an unsuccessful jerk that hiked her butt up in the air. Meagan froze, mortified, in the embarrassing position. Sam, her sexy pain-in-the-backside, now had a view of her backside. Because Meagan was pretty sure her skimpy, wet, hot-pink boxers weren’t leaving much to the imagination.
Sam Kellar might be former Special Forces, a man of restraint and discipline who considered himself a gentleman, but he was still a man when it came down to it. And the man in him was standing at attention for Meagan’s impossibly sexy, heart-shaped butt, despite the cold shower he was enduring. It said a lot about how much he wanted this “taboo” woman. Taboo because they not only worked together, but she chilled him with her ice-princess routine every time the sparks between them got too hot.
“Get down, Meagan,” he ordered, having no doubt he would get an argument—prickly arguments were part of her ice-princess routine.
She yanked ineffectively at the panel door. “Not until I turn off the water.”
“I’ll do that,” he promised. “Come down before you—”
She slipped before the words were out and then tried to right herself. He didn’t wait to see if she was going to succeed or fail. Sam wrapped his arms around her long, slender legs to make sure she didn’t fall.
“Sam!” she objected, pressing her hands to the ceiling, shifting unsteadily to stare down at him. Their eyes locked. Awareness flashed hot and fast between them, a silent understanding that she was half naked and in his arms, and that this wasn’t the first time either one of them had thought about such a moment.
“Let go of me,” she said, a hint of panic in her voice, the same panic he heard every time their combustible attraction flared to life.
“And let you break your pretty little neck?” he asked. “Not a chance.” Not giving her time to object, he slid his hands to her waist and forcefully lifted her down from the washer. Not an easy task from his lower position, and she ended up plastered against him as intimately as those shorts hugged her backside. And oh yeah, the man in him was alert and present all right. He’d wanted this woman too long not to react to having her lush body pressed to his.
“What do you think you’re doing?” she demanded. Her hips were melded to his, her hands pressed against his chest—hands he’d often dreamed of having on his chest and all kinds of other places. Sexual awareness had caught them like the water they couldn’t escape.
Her nervous energy escalated, just as her temper did, meaning their same routine as always. “Sam, damn it! The house is being destroyed. My career is being destroyed.” She squirmed out of his arms, and reluctantly he let her go. “I have to stop the water.” She turned back to the washer.
That, he wasn’t letting her do. Sam shackled her arm and pulled he…