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Intend To Seduce

By:Cara Summers

Chapter 1

"Let me get this straight," Sophie said. "You're planning to ask some man to offer himself up as a sex object so that you can practice on him?"

"Sex object isn't exactly the word I would have chosen." MacKenzie Lloyd kept her gaze locked on her best friend. Just as long as she didn't look down at the ground, the bubbles of panic rolling around in her stomach were going to subside. "I've conducted all these surveys on techniques and collected all this narrative data on male sexual fantasies. The next step is to test its validity in the field. What I need now is a research companion."

Sophie rolled her eyes. "Okay, nix sex object. We'll go with research companion. But I got the practice part right. You're not quibbling over semantics there."

Sophie was clearly upset. Mac could tell by the way she slapped her wineglass down and began to tap her fingers on the wide-planked floor of the tree house. They were seated just outside the doorway on a narrow platform. Only a small, flimsy railing separated them from a drop to the ground thirty feet below. If she let herself think about that…

Biting down on her lip, she fought against the sudden spin of dizziness that whipped through her. She would have been just fine if she hadn't glanced down on her climb-up-the-rope ladder. It had been the laughter from the tennis courts that had distracted her. The sound floated up again, bright, rich and infectious, but this time she resisted the temptation to look to her left beyond the hedge of forsythia bushes where four Wainrights were playing.

Tomorrow was Sophie Wainright's birthday, and the entire clan had gathered to celebrate it. Family was important to the Wainrights. It was something Mac had always admired about them – and envied.

What she intended to do was the best chance she had of creating and preserving that kind of family for herself.

"I know what I'm doing, Sophie."

"Do you?"

"I've been very thorough in my research, and I've learned so much."

Sophie rolled her eyes. "Some research. You have interviewed hookers and madams."

"Madame Gervais does not refer to herself as a madam. She runs a very exclusive finishing school for female companions. It's really more like a matchmaking service. Most of the girls she's trained have married the men she's introduced them to. They're really very bright women. The only difference between them and me is that they were very beautiful and very skilled at pleasuring a man in bed."

"And they shared all their secrets with you?"

Mac studied her friend. In addition to the worry in Sophie's eyes, she saw curiosity. Leaning a little closer, she said, "Pretty much. Did you know that if you wrap a string of pearls around a man's erection during fellatio, you can get amazing results?"

"Pearls?"

"You can use a silk tie – or better still, a wispy silk scarf – but pearls are the best. You wrap them around several times, then draw them slowly up the entire length, and then down again. Men love it."

"I don't doubt it. It's just that I…I don't like the idea of you wrapping your pearls around a stranger." Pausing, Sophie shook her head with a rueful sigh. "I should have known the minute you suggested coming up in this tree house that you were going to spring something on me. You dragged me up to the roof of my shop the night before you tried that last experiment in your lab – the one that gave you a breakthrough."

Mac tightened her grip on her knees and kept her eyes fixed on Sophie. "I figure if I can face my fear of heights, I can succeed at all the other things that scare me."

Sophie pointed a finger at her. "There. You are nervous about inviting some strange man to be your boy toy. And you should be." Then swearing softly, Sophie picked up Mac's wineglass and handed it to her. "Here. Take a drink of this. You're white as a sheet."

Mac took a careful sip.

"Why don't we get you out of here? I'll call Lucas. Between us, we can get you down the rope ladder."

"I'm fine."

Sophie studied her over the rim of her glass. "I wish I could be sure of that. This field-testing thing you're planning … it's not you."

"You're wrong. It is me. That's the beauty of it. I'm not good at dating or relationships, but I'm excellent at doing research and then devising a way to put the results to work. If I approach keeping a husband that way, I know I can do it."

"But you don't even have a husband yet. Shouldn't that be your first step?"

"That's the plan that most people follow and over fifty percent of all marriages fail. Research shows that the number one cause of divorce is infidelity. Usually it's the man who strays – just as soon as routine sets in. I saw that happen to my parents, and my plan is designed to prevent it."

Sophie gazed helplessly at Mac. "You're making it sound so logical, and it's not! Sex and relationships aren't something that you can map out and predict like something in your lab. Shit happens. Take it from someone who's been out there in the trenches."

Leaning forward, Mac took Sophie's hands in hers. "I'm sorry I'm laying all of this on you right now when you've just broken up with Bradley."

Sophie shrugged impatiently. "Bradley Davis is history. But he's a good example of what I'm talking about. When it comes to a relationship, there are no guarantees. And the only man I've ever been able to predict is my brother. He never gets involved emotionally in his relationships. He runs them the same way he runs Wainright Enterprises. And he thinks he has the right to run mine that way too."

Mac didn't say anything for a moment. Although more than a month had gone by, she knew Sophie still resented that Lucas had uncovered information on Bradley Davis that had caused her to break off her engagement. "The one thing that you can always depend on is that Lucas loves you, and he cares about what happens to you."

"He's smothering me. Ever since he took over Wainright Enterprises, he's decided that he can run all of our lives. He's even having me followed. But…" Sophie stopped, shook her head and then narrowed her eyes at Mac. "Oh no you don't. You're not going to change the subject. I want to know what I can say to convince you to drop this whole idea."

"Nothing."

Sophie slumped back against the wall of the tree house. "There's got to be something I can do."

"You don't have to worry. I've taken every possible safety precaution."

"I'd feel a lot happier about this if you were going to try out your research on someone you knew. What about that representative from the biotech company that's been wining and dining you lately?"

Mac made a face. "Vince Smith is panting over my research not me. All he talks about is how brilliant I am, what wonderful lab facilities they could provide for me if I would just sign over exclusive rights to anything I might discover."

Taking a sip of her wine, Mac pushed the thought of the man out of her mind. The truth was she wasn't good at dating. It probably had something to do with the fact that she'd started college at fourteen. The men she'd met had treated her like a kid sister. If they'd called her, it was to get help on some assignment they were having trouble with. And then, later, in graduate school, her two forays into the realm of romance had been disasters. "Men just don't seem to think of me in a sexual way."

"And they won't until you start to think of yourself that way."

"Now you sound just like Madame Gervais. In fact, she thinks field testing my research will increase my self-confidence."

Tilting her head to the side, Sophie studied Mac for a moment. "Maybe I'll have to revise my opinion of her. Is she the one who talked you into lightening your hair?"

Mac tucked a loose strand back into the bun she wore at the back of her neck. "Yes, and she took me shopping for a new wardrobe."

Sophie's eyes widened. "Why aren't you wearing it?"

"I bought most of the clothes for the field testing I'm going to do. I don't feel quite myself in them. When I put them on, I feel like I can do things Dr. MacKenzie Lloyd would never do."

Sophie paused with her wineglass halfway to her lips. "Oh? More stuff like the pearl trick?"

"Yes, and other kinds of things too. When Madame Gervais and I shopped for the clothes, we chose pieces that would facilitate some popular male fantasies."

Sophie studied her friend over the rim of her glass. "Okay, I'm hooked. How about filling me in a little more on the specifics of this research of yours?"

"I started out by reading a number of anthropological and sociological texts."

"Let's just fast-forward to the good stuff."

Mac grinned at her. "It's always good to have a sound theoretical background."

"Mac…"

"There's so much. You have no idea how many books have been written on sex. Or what's available online. There's this one woman who makes her living giving all-day seminars on how to … pleasure the penis."

Sophie choked on her wine. "All-day seminars?"

Mac nodded. "I went to one. We worked on plastic models."

"And you're actually going to field-test that on a complete stranger?"

"I'm trying to think of a fantasy I can fit it into."

Setting down her glass, Sophie sad, "And these fantasies – what exactly are they like?"

"Well, there was one I found very interesting. It involved male bondage."

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