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Need You for Mine(8)

By:Marina Adair

Or had she, she wondered, remembering that kiss. She knew Adam was trying to prove a point, but when he pressed his lips to hers, ran his hands over her body as though he liked what he found, she had felt that power simmer from deep within. And it was intoxicating.

Then she remembered he’d been on a secret tryst with another woman and happened to stumble and fall into Harper’s mouth.

“You don’t need Baby to impress that rep,” Harper said, just like she didn’t need to change to impress some guy. She straightened to her full five feet eleven inches and squared her shoulders. “You’re Clovis Owens, respected panty pusher and living lingerie legend. And I’m Harper Owens, summa cum laude graduate from San Francisco School of the Arts. Between your boardroom skills and my design and merchandizing genius, we’ll have Lulu Allure begging you to carry their fall line.”

Clovis chuckled, but Harper held her ground, because what was there to laugh about?

The shop had a wonderful history, a loyal customer base, and great bones. Some of the customers may have been born in the wrong century, and some of the bones were in the wrong spot, but so what? It wasn’t about changing the heart of the Boulder Holder—it was about how it was staged. By moving some of the sexier things forward and downplaying the less appealing items by placing them in the back, such as body-shapers, girdles, and banana-hammocks, they could make this shop that exclusive, sensual, high-end environment that manufacturers like Lulu Allure were dying to place their products in.

Not to mention, Harper wasn’t just a graduate from one of the top art design schools on the West Coast—she had graduated top of her class. Sure, her fine arts degree was in set design, which meant she could dress an amazing window, but she’d taken several art editorial classes, excelled in market research, and even interned for a famous men’s magazine.

Her first job had been for a food network, dressing sets for cooking shows. Then she’d moved into kids’ television. Not that knowing which colors promoted deeper learning would help here, but looking around the shop, Harper knew that all it needed was a facelift—a little updating to the already strong foundation.

It would be fun even. She loved her job managing the Fashion Flower, but she missed the creative freedom of setting a scene that told the right story.

“Oh dear,” Clovis said in a hushed voice. “You want to help.” It wasn’t a question, nor was it a compliment. It was a statement.

“Why not? I’m the demographic they’re targeting, I know more about merchandizing and staging than anyone in town, and I have to admit, I dress a mean window.”

“That you do.”

“I could re-dress the window to be more boudoir chic and stage the shop to feel like a trunk show, draped in lace and silk and full of secret fantasies and firsts. Not in a raunchy way, but more of a summery breeze meets Nicholas Sparks film way. Fun, flirty, hot, sexy.” Harper snapped her fingers. “Summer of Seduction.”

“It sounds lovely, dear, and I appreciate the enthusiasm,” Clovis said, patting Harper’s head and making her feel like she was twelve all over again. Harper hated twelve. She’d grown five inches that summer—and not a single cup size. “But who’s going to bring the sexy?”

It was well past the lunching hour by the time Adam dragged himself through the doors of Stan’s Soup and Service Station. He was supposed to meet his brothers there for a bowl of chili at one, but after pulling another all-night shift, which included corralling a few of the smart-assed seasonal hires into doing their jobs, he’d slept through his alarm.

He’d kept on dreaming a crazy dream about him and a Playboy bunny in a game of pin the tail—only when the ears came off, it was Harper standing there in that fiesta-inspired bra and thong. Her lips were shiny from his kiss, her legs wrapped around his waist, and she was suddenly holding a ruler, having morphed into the role of naughty schoolteacher.

“Jesus.” He ran a hand down his face, wondering what was wrong with him, then decided he’d been too long without sex. Yup, that was his problem—he was in a sex drought.

Not surprising, since he’d spent the past thirty days with a bunch of dudes in the heart of a summer fire that was raging south of Tahoe, digging ditches and sharing the occasional fart jokes when things got squirrely, and it had taken its toll. Then he’d blown his first chance at getting laid by kissing Little Miss Sunshine.

Sure, Harper was one hell of a kisser. And she had boobs, so what? Of course there was expected standard equipment on a grown woman—and she was a woman, no question. He just wasn’t sure he’d noticed before.