If Veronica Jones' prince is coming, he's lost her address. Resigned to the single life, she buys a house and settles down with her man-hating cat. But single doesn't have to mean celibate, especially with her sexy new neighbor on the scene. Determined to get a life that includes an affair to remember, she had no idea what she was getting into.
Scott Davis has a plan. Seduce his new neighbor into commitment and prove to her that he's as right for her as she is for him. As Veronica's knight with a shining coffee pot who rescued her from caffeine withdrawal, Scott is off to a good start. He just has to convince her that they have what it takes for the long term. And then he has to convince the cat.
Note: Catalyst was previously self-published in 2005.
An Excerpt From: CATALYST
Copyright © CHARLENE TEGLIA, 2005.
All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.
Sighing, Scott ran a hand through close-cropped blond hair and wandered back to his hammock. By himself. Not for lack of effort, however.
There was a certain irony in his present situation. With his brown eyes, broad shoulders and perennial tan, he drew his share of feminine attention. Unfortunately, the attention tended to be the wrong kind. Since he looked like a roving lady-killer, women didn´t take him seriously. He seemed to interest only women interested in a good time.
When he´d been younger, he hadn´t minded enjoying a little temporary fun with Ms. Right Now while waiting for his Ms. Right to come along.
The fact that he´d entered his thirties had changed his perspective, however.
It had brought home to him the realization that he would one day grow old and find himself rocking on the front porch all by himself, and he wouldn´t even have the comfort of grandchildren if he couldn´t find the right woman and persuade her to pair up with him permanently.
Seeing his last single friend get married had been the final straw. He´d decided the time had come to find his Ms. Right, settle down and start raising babies.
He´d always imagined that finding the right person and settling down together sort of worked itself out without any effort. Now that he´d gotten fed up with waiting for true love and happily ever after to just fall into his lap, he was finding out that making an effort didn´t guarantee results, either.
Whoever his Ms. Right was, she definitely wasn´t any of the disastrous dates he´d endured in the past weeks.
Maybe, Scott reflected, taking names and numbers from his mother had been a bad idea. He had no idea how she came up with them, but since she was always urging him to date this or that woman, he´d thought he could use her well-meant interference to work for him instead of against him.
So much for thinking.
Love and logic apparently didn´t go together.
At the thought of his mother, Scott abruptly remembered that she could call any time to grill him about his love life. She´d grown even more persistent with his unwitting encouragement. No doubt she´d want a report on his latest date.
He shuddered at the very thought and was glad for the peaceful retreat his hammock offered conveniently out of earshot.
That date had been discouraging enough to make him question the wisdom of continuing his present course.
"Remember Dave and Janine´s girl, Debra?" his mother had prodded. "She´s single again. Here´s her number. Call her."
Debra had turned out to be the ambitious type who didn´t think much of a man who found it fulfilling to work with his hands. She was not the type to enjoy lazing away a summer evening in a hammock with him. Vacations on Martha´s Vineyard would be more her style. And she probably wouldn´t want kids on the grounds that it would ruin her hips and give her stretch marks. As if all a man cared about was a woman with a perfect body.
He couldn´t even imagine marriage to her. The thought of the merely physical fling she´d wanted to have had left him beyond cold.
Scott finished his beer in morose silence and settled back to listen to the quiet hum of an early summer afternoon. He had that much, at least, he consoled himself. The sun warmed his roses and a light breeze carried the scent his way.
It made for a pleasant place to drift and dream of a future with more companionship than a Saturday night poker game provided. More than a brittle sophisticate like Debra could offer. Much, much more. Remembering how Tony´s bride had looked at him brought home just how much Scott wanted what everyone else seemed to be finding. He wanted a woman to look at him that same way, as if he was the only man in the world.
He wanted love.
Love of the kind legends were made of. Love that could change the course of history. Love that could inspire the soul of a poet. Love that ran deep and lasted a lifetime.
Eventually, the gathering twilight told him he´d stayed safely out of range of the telephone long enough to avoid his mother´s phone call. With a stretch, he rolled out of the hammock and gained his feet.
And stopped dead.
There, in the next house, as if conjured by his romantic yearnings, stood a lushly feminine silhouette backlit in the window. She wore a man´s shirt. And nothing else.
Scott stood transfixed and utterly unable to look away as the vision pulled the band restraining her hair free. It spilled over her shoulders as she shook it loose with sensual grace. She turned sideways, and he caught his breath as the light struck the white cotton and turned it transparent, outlining an uptilted breast.
When she reached for something out of sight, the shirt´s hem rode teasingly higher, revealing a deliciously round derriere and a hint of soft feminine curls before the cotton hem skimmed back down over bare thighs in an erotic caress.
He´d never envied a garment. He´d never realized he could ache with all his soul to trade places with the inanimate. He´d never thought he´d stoop to spying through open windows, either.
But it hadn´t been planned, and once he´d glimpsed her, he was spellbound, no more able to stop looking then he could stop breathing.
When the light winked out and left him staring at a blank, darkened pane he felt the loss like a physical blow.
For a long moment he stayed there, rooted to the spot. Finally, he managed to tear his eyes away from the window and swallowed. Hard.
So. That was the new neighbor.
Maybe she´d need a cup of sugar. Or something.
Scott was all too aware of what he needed. Her.
And most of all, he needed to believe that whoever´s shirt she´d been wearing wasn´t up there with her, out of sight, that somebody else hadn´t beaten him to the right to fill his hands with her intensely feminine rounded softness.
For the first time it occurred to him that his Ms. Right might not have waited for him, might have settled for Mr. Good Enough. That he might have drifted a little too long, content with things as they were.