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Authors: Delphine Dryden

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BOOK: Art of the Lie
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In many ways, Richard seemed tailor-made for the job she had in mind, although it had taken Lindy a while to realize he was the perfect candidate. He had extensive experience with women, and she knew he wasn’t usually the type to get emotionally involved. She also knew he wasn’t seeing anybody right now, hadn’t been for months, in fact. And as a practical matter, she knew he was clean. She’d gone with him to the free clinic when he decided to make sure his ex-girlfriend hadn’t left any nasty biological legacies behind.

To hear the girls talk in college, Richard was also more than capable of rocking his partner’s world in bed…and she’d heard he liked things on the rough and naughty side, which intrigued her.

All those little pieces of stored information about Richard were more than enough to tip the balance in favor of Lindy’s plan to talk him into sleeping with her.

Two days from now, if everything went as she intended. Thursday night, just in case he already had plans for the weekend. She would invite him over for dinner, pop a suggestive movie into the DVD player, ply him with wine and flirting, and then make her move.

Because twenty-six was much more than old enough, and Lindy was sick and tired of being a virgin.

* * * * *

Richard stared at the canvas, determined not to waste the light for yet another day. The expanse of white, nearly twice his height and two times wider than tall, stared back at him. He had challenged himself by hanging up this behemoth on a scaffold smack in the middle of his loft, but right now the canvas was defeating him. It had been defeating him for months, and he had to resist the temptation to take the challenge to a whole new level by punching right through the damn thing.

He couldn’t help a smile at the sharp contrast between this broad, accusatory stretch of nothing and the vivid palette of colors and textures that was Lindy’s studio. Just as she always had in college, she had projects in various stages of completion all over the place.

Instead of focusing on the canvas, Richard’s unhelpful mind next offered up the smooth, creamy image of Lindy’s deliciously curved thighs, revealed beneath the fringe of cutoff denim shorts. She’d been so excited about her phone call, and he’d been busy admiring the way her face lit up with that enthusiasm. Her skin had always been like something straight out of a painter’s dream. And her genuine enthusiasm was contagious, drawing him in. Such a marked contrast to the cool calculation he’d grown used to from Natasha.

Something about Lindy relaxed him—and that caught him off guard, made him feel too comfortable, so he forgot to be careful. Forgot to keep his eyes from wandering away from her face to other, more interesting places. She’d almost caught him looking, too, which was bad. Lindy was a good friend, he reminded himself. His best friend, probably. And a low-down, womanizing dog needs a best friend more than he needs another conquest. No matter how tempting.

In college it had been easy to overlook her. She was cute enough back then, but he’d been pretty sure she was a virgin, a class he scrupulously avoided. But then Lindy had helped put him back together after Natasha’s cheating tore him apart, and he’d gotten to really know her. Sweet and quiet Lindy, the girl too innocent to hit on back then, but certainly all grown up now and with curves impossible to overlook.

Had that really been over nine months ago? That meant it was almost a year since he’d last done any work worth counting. And over six months he’d been staring at this giant piece of nothing where his latest masterpiece should be taking shape. Trying in vain to get the vision of his sweet neighbor’s surprisingly delectable legs out of his head.

Richard closed his eyes and sighed, then turned away from the silent blame of the empty canvas. Tomorrow, he thought, he really should just take the damn thing down.

Chapter Two


Lindy couldn’t stop thinking about the meeting and all the possibilities it might open up for her. Once the initial excitement had faded, she also thought a lot about Richard’s off-the-cuff remark.
Or if it’s even something you really want to do?

He had a point—a good one. The lure of a big job was tremendous, but Lindy hadn’t really been looking for something on that scale. She was just starting to feel confident about her ability to support herself as an artist and entrepreneur, after all. The choice to leave her temp-agency job and devote herself to designing full-time had been terrifying, but it was turning out better than she’d ever imagined. She’d pictured building her own business slowly, not being thrown into a corporate design world she knew little about.

“I can’t believe you’re even debating this with yourself,” her sister Tess said. “Of course you should do it. By the way, you’re getting the works. I hope you didn’t have anything else planned for today.”

Lindy frowned at the fluffy white robe in her hands. It bore the logo of the day spa Tess had dragged her to, insisting Lindy needed to be better groomed for her upcoming gallery appearance. Lindy had decided to take the opportunity to groom herself for other things, too, but she was hardly going to tell Tess about her plans to seduce her hunky but dissolute neighbor. Tess had known Richard in college too. She would probably flip out if she knew what Lindy was planning for the following evening.

“I really should spend the afternoon getting caught up on some things,” Lindy hedged. “I have two of my student seamstresses coming in tomorrow to do some piecing, too, and—”

“The works, Isabelle. Do everything to her. She’s horribly unkempt. Lindy, you can get caught up on work later. This is deep, deep girly preparation stuff, and you need to catch up on this right now since I finally got you to come here and I’m the one footing the bill.”

Lindy smiled uncertainly at the attendant, who was indeed wearing a name tag that read “Isabelle” in elegant italic lettering. The woman was very petite and very sleek, with perfectly smooth, milky skin and a silky sheet of jet-black hair spilling down around her shoulders from a high ponytail that accented her delicate features. She looked like a walking advertisement for the spa.

“Don’t worry,” Isabelle said. She had a trace of a French accent. Lindy thought it seemed vastly unfair she should sound like she looked. “We’ll take good care of you. If you have any questions, just ask. And just because Tess has signed you up for something, don’t be afraid to tell us no or ask for a different service. I think she hasn’t gotten much input from you on what you like, has she?”

“No, she hasn’t,” agreed Lindy, sticking her tongue out at Tess as soon as Isabelle turned away.

“You people never let me have any fun,” Tess mock-pouted.

But it
fun, Lindy discovered. Before the day was half over she thought she could easily become just as addicted to the spa experience as Tess was. She’d never been one to focus much attention on her grooming, but it was fascinating to see all the options that were available. An infinite variety of gels, creams and other gooey substances were applied to every inch of her skin. Things were filed, tweaked, trimmed and painted. At one point in the morning she found herself agreeing to be wrapped in seaweed. She felt stupid, but had to admit that afterward her skin was transformed into something she barely recognized, soft and glowing and infinitely touchable.

“I’ve never had such an urge to feel myself up,” she confessed to Tess during lunch, as they nibbled finger sandwiches between sips of mineral water and mimosas.

“I told you you’d love it. Now you just need to find somebody else to feel you up and you’ll be all set.”

Lindy blinked, a moment of panic that quickly passed when she realized Tess was just kidding.

“Oh. Well. Look who’s talking.” Lindy knew Tess hadn’t dated anybody seriously in months, and that her heavier relationships generally had the shelf life of ripe fruit—good only for a few perfect days and then spoiling overnight.

“True. Sad but true. Hey, are you riding with me to the game or driving by yourself?”

Lindy felt a twinge of guilt. She hadn’t yet told her family she wouldn’t be attending the first pre-season football scrimmage in her hometown, even though her little brother was the starting quarterback this year. The game was on Friday. She already had the morning meeting with Red House taking up part of the day, and she didn’t want to commit to anything else the day before her exhibit opened.

Not to mention the uncertainty of how she might be feeling following her night of lustful frolic.

“I’m sorry, Tess. I need to call
and let him know too. I can’t make it, I have to stay around in case there’s any last-minute stuff to do for the show.”
Or in case I need extra time to wallow in post-coital bliss

“Lindy! You can’t not go.”

“I wouldn’t be any fun anyway, I’m just too nervous. But say hello to Jake for me, okay?”

Tess just gave her a withering look. Jake Hogan, hometown boy and longtime family friend, was the man they all assumed Tess would end up with. For years she’d insisted she wasn’t remotely interested, which made it even more fun to rib her about it at every opportunity.

After lunch was when things really got interesting. Unbeknownst to Tess, Lindy had indeed made some changes to the agenda her sister had set up for her. To begin with, she got her first real haircut in years, and the new layers allowed her curls to spring out in a tumbling auburn frenzy of ringlets. There were styling products involved that kept it from looking frizzy by mystical means she didn’t fully understand.

“Supermodel hair,” the stylist had said, clearly pleased with the result.

“It’s very Victoria’s Secret catalogue,” Tess had agreed, giving her little sister the critical once-over from the next chair. “In fact, dare I say it,

Lindy wasn’t sure about Victoria’s Secret or
, but she did like the way her hair framed her heart-shaped face now, enhancing her cheekbones and bringing more attention to her eyes.

She was also taking a plunge, doing something she’d always wanted to try, but if it turned out badly she didn’t want to hear about it from Tess. She was embarrassed enough as it was, but determined to see it through.

While Tess thought Lindy was just getting a bikini-line waxing, Lindy was actually going the whole nine yards with a Brazilian. Everything, front and back, not so much as a landing strip. She had no idea if she’d ever work up the nerve to do it again, and she figured she might as well go all out if it was going to be the only time. She’d always been curious about what it would feel like, the process and the result. And she thought it would be just the thing to boost her confidence; prove to herself she could do daring and sexy things.

Besides, she gathered men liked that sort of thing. With any luck, Richard would be among them.

Isabelle was very gentle, and applied some sort of cooling gel afterward that worked like magic on the residual tender redness. The whole process was far less painful than Lindy had feared. And the first time Lindy’s fingers sailed over the smooth area where hair had been, she got an immediate erotic thrill. She had gone to the restroom, the better to get acquainted with her newly visible topography, and she didn’t really want to come out when it was time for her next bit of spa treatment. Tess had to knock twice, finally asking her if she was okay.

“I’m fine!” Lindy assured her sister. She was still standing on her tiptoes in front of the bathroom counter, trying to look her fill of her cleanly waxed pussy in the mirror. And she was more than fine. She felt about as turned-on as she ever remembered feeling.

“You’re supposed to be getting a deep-tissue massage in five minutes.”

“I’ll be out in a sec.”

Staring at herself, she suddenly pictured a pair of familiar eyes watching her, evaluating her. Judging her fitness for pleasure or something Lindy couldn’t put a name to. Dark, intense, wicked bedroom eyes. Richard

She thought about what a mutual acquaintance had once confessed during a game of I-Never in college, that Richard had spanked her before they had sex and she’d enjoyed it. Lindy felt her labia and clit tingle at the thought, and knew it wasn’t just the wax. Not good. She shouldn’t be looking at her
and daydreaming about Richard and spankings when she still had an afternoon of girly spa junk to get through.

Lindy jumped when her cell phone rang, sounding abnormally loud in the small, stone-clad space. It was her generic ring, and she glanced at the caller ID as she pulled the phone from her robe pocket.

“Shit,” she said softly when she read the name
on the little screen. Flipping the phone open, she answered quietly. “Hello?”

“Miss Moore? I’m sorry, did I catch you at a bad time?”

“No, no. Just, um, getting my hair done.” She glanced down at herself, noted her nipples were as hard as tiny rocks then shifted her gaze to the wall. It didn’t help. Her nipples were still as hard as tiny rocks, even if she couldn’t see them. “What can I do for you, Mr. Maddox?”

She realized as she spoke that it sounded suggestive. Her voice was huskier than usual, possibly as a result of all the sexy daydreaming or maybe because of all the mimosas.

“Call me Paul, for one thing.”

Oh man
. “Paul.”

“I wanted to let you know that I spoke with Stephen and he’s planning to be back in time to meet with you Friday. He’s eager to get a contract signed, and you didn’t return his email right away so he’s worried now that you’re being courted by some other company.”

“I’ll email him as soon as I get home tonight,” she promised. “And I’m not being courted by any other companies. It’s just a busy week and I’m really absorbed in this gallery show I have coming up.” Despite herself, Lindy couldn’t help sneaking a hand back down to finger her pussy. She couldn’t keep her hands off herself. The difference in sensation was fascinating, and feeling it was its own reward in more ways than one.

“I’m glad to hear that. I really enjoyed talking with you. I’ve been looking over the photos from that article on you, and some samples that Stephen had, and I must say I find your work very stimulating.”

BOOK: Art of the Lie
12.32Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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