The Care and Feeding of Unmarried Men by Christie Ridgway - Romance>Contemporary
Page Four asks: Which Palm Springs party girl has been caught canoodling with an out-of-town "Adam"?
Eve Caruso keeps her finger on the pulse of Palm Springs and reports every spicy celebrity tidbit to her loyal readers. She knows everyone in this townâexcept that mysterious hunk who just strolled into the exclusive spa where she's conferring with hot new starlet Jemima Cargill.
Nash Cargillânicknamed "The Preacher" by all his rowdy friendsâis here to protect his flighty sister from a stalker, not fall for a sexy society columnist. But Eve has the perfect nameâshe's wildly tempting. Nash should resist; after all, her luscious lips speak trouble, her two sisters are too interested in their affair, and the rest of her family defines "notorious." But Eve is more vulnerable than she seems, and Nash has never said "no" to a lady in distress . . .
"Leader of the Pack"
"A" side, single (1964)
The rain was pouring down on the Palm Springs desert in biblical proportions the night he stalked into the spa's small bar. He was a big man, tall, brawny, the harsh planes of his face unsoftened by his wet, dark hair. Clint Eastwood minus forty years and plus forty pounds of pure muscle. Water dripped from the hem of his ankle-length black slicker to puddle on the polished marble floor beside his reptilian-skinned cowboy boots.
She flashed on one of the lessons her father had drilled into her. A girl as beautiful as you and with a name like yours should always be on guard for the snake in Paradise.
And as the stranger took another step forward, Eve Caruso heard a distinctive hiss.
The sound had come from her, though, the hiss of a quick, indrawn breath, because the big man put every one of her instincts on alert. But she'd also been taught at the school of Never Showing Fear, so she pressed her damp palms against the thighs of her tight white jeans, then scooted around the bar.
"Can I help you?" she asked, positioning her body between him and the lone figure seated on the eighth and last stool.
The stranger's gaze flicked to Eve.
She'd attended a casual dinner party earlier that eveningâescorted by her trusty tape recorder so she wouldn't forget a detail of the meal or the guest list, which would appear in her society columnâand hadn't bothered to change before taking on the late shift in the Kona Kai's tiny lounge. Her jeans were topped with a honey-beige silk T-shirt she'd belted at her hips. Around her neck was a tangle of turquoise-and-silver necklaces, some of which she'd owned since junior high. Her cowboy boots were turquoise too, and hand-tooled. Due to pressing financial concerns, she'd recently considered selling them on eBayâand maybe she still would, she thought, as his gaze fell to the pointy tips and her toes flexed into involuntary fetal curls.
He took in her flashy boots, then moved on to her long legs, her demi-bra-ed breasts, her shoulder-blade-length blonde hair and blue eyes. She'd been assessed by a thousand men, assessed, admired, desired, and since she was twelve-and-a-half years old, she'd been unfazed by all of them. Her looks were her gift, her luck, her tool, and tonight, a useful distraction in keeping the dark man from noticing the less showy but more famous face of the younger woman sitting by herself at the bar.
Eve placed a hand on an empty stool and gestured with the other behind her back. Get out, get away, she signaled, all the while keeping her gaze on the stranger and letting a slow smile break over her face. "What would you like?" she asked, softly releasing the words one by one into the silence, like lingerie dropping onto plush carpeting.
"Sorry, darlin', I'm not here for you," he said, then he and his Southern drawl brushed past her, leaving only the scent of rain and rejection in their wake.
Eve froze inâshock? dismay? fear? "I'm not here for you."
What the hell was up with that? Granted, life hadn't been going her way lately, but though she knew not to depend on men, surely she could depend upon their reactions! Blonde hair and blue eyes, long legs and big breasts . . . they'd never failed her before.
What did it mean? What was the world coming to? Rain in the desert. Men underwhelmed by her beauty. Next the dead would rise from their graves. A shiver rippled down her spine. Come to think of it, just a few weeks before that had actually happened.
"What the hell are you doin'?"
The sound of the man's next words released Eve from her paralysis. She spun around, but his wide shoulders blocked her view of the person...