Read Body Language Online

Authors: Suzanne Brockmann

Tags: #Fiction

Body Language

BOOK: Body Language
8.58Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

For Melanie
& Jason

Dear Reader,

 

As a writer, I find it’s always fun to take a traditional romance story line such as the
Pygmalion/My Fair Lady
transformation, and turn it on its head.

 

This romantic comedy—one of many I wrote for Bantam early in my career—is the story of Sandy Kirk, the successful owner of a video production company, who wants to win the heart of high-powered attorney James Vandenberg, the man of her dreams. Sandy’s childhood friend, Clint McCade, roars back into her life to take on the role of a motorcycle-riding, leather-wearing, long-haired Henry Higgins, willing to teach Sandy a thing or two about what men
really
want.

 

Of course, the lesson Sandy learns is that she’s been dreaming about the wrong man.

 

I hope you enjoy Clint and Sandy’s journey!

 

Love,

Suz

ONE

T
HE ELECTRONIC RING
of the telephone shrilled through the darkness of the bedroom. The first ring woke Cassandra Kirk from an uneasy sleep. The second ring made her sit up and glare groggily at the glowing red numbers on her clock radio.

Two forty-five.

A phone call at two forty-five could only mean one of three things. Disaster at the studio—maybe this interminable and unseasonable rain had flooded the video archives. Death or injury in the family—maybe her mother who lived in Florida had fallen and broken her hip. Or…

She picked up the phone after the third ring. “Hello?”

“Yo, Sandy, did I wake you?” Or maybe Clint McCade was in another time zone and just wanted to say hi.

With a groan, Sandy pushed her long, blonde hair back from her face. “McCade, it’s quarter to three in the
morning.
” The line crackled. “Where are you?” she asked. “It sounds like you’re calling from the moon.”

He laughed. “I’m back in the States,” he said. “You up for a visit?” McCade’s familiar husky voice was laced with amusement, as always.

“Is it that time of year again?” She lay back in her bed. “Time for the annual misfits of Henderson High reunion?”

“Is that a yes?”

“What would you like, McCade? An engraved invitation? Of course it’s a yes. But you know, I’ve made my second bedroom into an office. You’ll have to crash in the living room. The couch pulls out.”

“Hey, last week I was sleeping in a tent in the rain forest. Trust me, there’s nowhere to go from there but up. Your couch sounds first class.”

“What’s your ETA?” she asked. “My schedule’s pretty heavy at work. I’ve got meetings all morning, but I can hide the key outside the condo for you—”

“You got a meeting in five minutes?” McCade said.

“What!”

“I’m calling from the U-Tote-Em on the corner.” He laughed again. “See you in a few.” The line disconnected with a click.

Only Clint McCade would dare to call her in the middle of the night from the convenience store down the block. Only Clint McCade would be gutsy enough to assume that she wouldn’t get angry at being woken up, and that she wouldn’t mind the inconvenience of an overnight guest with no advance notice.

Sandy rolled over to hang up the phone and turn on the light. Shrugging into her bathrobe, she glanced into the mirror. She looked exhausted, exactly as she should, having been awakened at quarter to three in the morning after suffering for hours with work-related, anxiety-induced insomina. But Clint McCade wouldn’t care what she looked like. McCade didn’t see her as a woman. She was Sandy to him, his old grade-school buddy, his pal, his best friend.

She went into the kitchen to set her coffeemaker on stun. She knew from past experience that she wasn’t going to get any sleep for the next few hours at least. McCade would ask her what she’d been up to in the months since she’d seen him last. Then he’d have to fill her in on
his
latest projects before she came face-to-face with her pillow again. Rain forest. Hadn’t he said something about a rain forest? Come to think of it, this could take all night.

Sandy smiled. She loved having McCade around.

 

It wasn’t supposed to rain in Phoenix, Arizona. It was the
desert,
for Pete’s sake. But the rain had been following McCade for weeks now, starting when he was down in South America, and continuing even after he hit his current home base of L.A.

So why should he have been surprised that it rained on him nearly his entire trip along Route 10 from L.A. to Phoenix? Hell, with his current record, he could take a trip to the moon and it would rain all the way there.

He pulled his Harley under the protection of the condo complex’s carport, next to Sandy’s little blue Geo, and cut the motor. Mercy, he was soaked. His black leather jacket was soggy, and his boots squished when he stood up. His bag of clothes was supposedly waterproof, but he doubted anything could have withstood the deluge he’d been through.

Except for the case protecting his video camera. He could sink that camera with the
Titanic,
and the case would stay airtight. Not that it would matter. This camera would operate just as well underwater as above it.

He unlocked the camera case from the back of his bike, and glancing up at the lights blazing in the windows of Sandy’s condo, he lugged it and his duffel bag toward the courtyard.

Damn, now that he was here, he was scared to death. What was he going to tell her? That one minute he’d been sitting in his living room in L.A., trying to unwind after a rigorous three-month stint on location as a cameraman on a picture about the rain forest, and the next he’d been screaming down the highway toward Phoenix with only his camera and a couple of changes of underwear and T-shirts stuffed into his duffel bag?

Was he going to tell Sandy that in L.A. his entire life, his entire existence suddenly seemed so plastic and surreal that he’d nearly panicked, unable to remember a single moment in the past year when he had felt happy—sincerely, honestly
felt
happy?

But then he’d remembered the trip he and Sandy had made to the Phoenix Zoo the last time he’d been in town. He’d been happy then. In fact, he had been happy the entire two weeks of his visit. They’d spent two solid days movie marathoning—going to a multiplex theater for the first screening of the day and staying until the place shut down, seeing six different movies in a row, living on a diet of popcorn and soda and ice-cream nuggets. They’d also gone hiking out in the desert, looking for sidewinders and jackrabbits—two kids from the streets of New Jersey versus the wilds of Arizona. They’d laughed so hard it had hurt.

Sandy was his best friend, his confidante, his rock in a world of quicksand.

Beautiful, golden Sandy, with the shy smile and the purest blue eyes he’d ever seen. Sandy, who was smart, gorgeous, and talented, but totally unable to see it in herself. She had no self-esteem, no idea how special she was. When she looked into the mirror, she still saw the awkward little girl in ill-fitting clothes, the girl who lived on the wrong side of the tracks in a wealthy suburb of New York City, where high-school popularity was directly related to the kind of car daddy could afford to buy his daughter. But Sandy had had no daddy, and her mother couldn’t even afford to buy herself a car, let alone one for Sandy.

That little girl had adopted a “to hell with them” attitude and a great sense of humor, but the insecurities had never fully disappeared.

Setting his camera on the floor, he rang the doorbell.

The door swung open, and the warmth and light of Sandy’s smile spilled out into the hallway. But the welcome in her eyes quickly turned to disbelief and barely concealed horror.

“Oh, McCade!” She backed away. “You’re covered with
mud.

He was splattered, from the top of his wet hair to the tips of his black cowboy boots.

“Don’t move,” she ordered him, taking both the camera and his duffel bag out of his hands and carrying them quickly across the rug to the linoleum floor of her kitchen, where the mud would be easier to clean up.

“Off,” she demanded, coming back out and pointing to his muddy attire. “Everything off out here. You are going directly to the shower, do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars.”

McCade leaned against the door, crossing his arms. “Sandy, old buddy, old pal, you’re not
really
going to make me undress out here in the hall, are you?”

“Damn straight I am.” She crossed her arms, too, smiling sweetly up at him. “I just had my carpets cleaned, old buddy, old pal.”

Her hair was loose around her shoulders, and her face was free of makeup. She looked fresh, scrubbed clean, and much younger than her twenty-seven years. From an artist’s point of view, her face was damn close to perfection. It was a near-perfect oval, with a wide, high forehead and well-proportioned cheekbones that took on an almost exotic cast when she smiled. Her nose was neither too big nor too small, and her chin and jaw were strong, almost too strong, if one really had to find a fault with her face. Her lips were full, her mouth generous, curving into a smile that revealed her white, perfect teeth. But her eyes…

Delicately shaped with an alluring tilt, they were blue gray, and so totally blue gray that they were nearly colorless. Unlike many average pairs of blue eyes, like his own for instance, Sandy’s had no flecks of gold or green mixed in. Pure blue gray, with thousands of tiny lightning bolts of white shooting from the pupil toward the edge of the iris. Fabulous. Sandy truly had fabulous eyes.

McCade had searched the world for another pair of eyes like Sandy’s but came up empty-handed every time.

There was a questioning look in those eyes now, questioning the length and extent of his scrutiny.

“You look good, Sand,” he said with a quick smile as he sat down heavily on the stairs and began pulling off his boots.

“You look like hell,” she replied. “What’s with the beard, Grizzly?”

It was hard to tell exactly how McCade looked underneath all the mud. His rain-soaked hair hung in dark, stringy strands a good three inches past his shoulders, and the entire lower half of his handsome face was covered by a curly beard and mustache. His nose was definitely McCade’s—long and straight and a touch too big, the dominant feature of his face. Until he smiled, that is.

He smiled at her again, his familiar, crooked grin. The beard hid the way his face dimpled up in lines around either side of his mouth, but his teeth seemed even whiter against the darkness of the curly hair. He looked tired, and he had more crow’s-feet around his eyes than he’d had the last time she’d seen him. And there was an odd light sparkling in his blue eyes as he looked up at her.

“I was going for that ‘back to nature’ look down in South America.” He shrugged out of his leather jacket.

“In other words, you forgot to pack your razor.”

He grinned, but didn’t deny it. The black T-shirt he was wearing was also soaking wet, and he quickly pulled that over his head.

Muscles. McCade had always had lots of muscles, even back in middle school, where they met when he was in seventh grade and she was in sixth. Sandy had quickly become immune to the sight of his perfectly sculpted body. Even now she could go out in public with McCade and be totally oblivious to the fact that he had a hunk rating of about twenty-five on a scale of one to ten, even while women were hyperventilating and fainting all around them.

Well, maybe she wasn’t totally oblivious.

If she were totally oblivious, she wouldn’t be standing there, watching him peel his wet jeans off his powerful thighs, suddenly painfully aware that it had been nearly four years since she’d been in a physical relationship with a man.

She smiled to herself. With any luck at all, that was going to change, and soon.

“What’s the joke?” McCade asked, wrestling his pants down around his ankles.

“My life,” Sandy said. “Shower first, then I’ll give you the gory details.”

Sandy grinned, imagining what old Mrs. Hobbs across the hall would think if she looked out the peephole in her door right now.

McCade was wearing a pair of teal-colored briefs, and he hooked his thumbs in the white elastic waistband and looked at her. “You sure you want everything off?” he said questioningly, one eyebrow raised.

“No, no, McCade,” she said hastily. “Come on in. You’re clean. I doubt even
you
could manage to get mud on your underwear.”

“Don’t wash my leather jacket,” he said, disappearing down the hall toward the bathroom.

“Of course I’m not going to wash your leather jacket,” Sandy muttered, shaking her head as she gathered up his dirty clothes. After dropping off his boots and jacket in the kitchen, she put what was left in the washing machine, then went back for the rain-soaked briefs McCade had tossed on the floor in front of the bathroom door. Teal. McCade looked good in teal. He would also look good
not
in teal.

Shame on you, Cassandra Kirk, she scolded herself silently, for thinking such lascivious thoughts about your old pal, McCade. He had made it more than clear for the past fifteen years that they were friends, period. Besides, a man who regularly dated models and actresses would never even look twice at her.

With a sigh, she went into her bedroom to fish in her closet for her old terrycloth robe. Even though it was pink, it was the largest and least frilly of her bathrobes.

The shower was going full force, and steam escaped from the open bathroom door. Sandy pushed it open even farther, raising her voice so that McCade could hear her over the sound of the running water.

“I’m putting a robe on the back of the door,” she said, “and a clean towel on the rack, okay?”

“You know what I could really use?” McCade’s husky voice said from behind the shower curtain.

“I’m almost afraid to ask,” Sandy muttered. “What?”

McCade pulled the curtain back slightly and looked out at her. The expression he wore on his face was one she had never seen before. His eyes were haunted, hungry, and his lean face unsmiling. He looked predatory. Must be the beard, Sandy thought. But still, something prompted her to ask, “Are you okay, McCade?”

“I could really use a beer,” he said, as if he hadn’t heard her, then pulled the curtain closed.

Underneath the pummeling water of the shower, McCade closed his eyes, letting the full force of the spray hit his head. Lord have mercy, he was
not
okay. He was a psychological wreck, a total mess, and now that he was here, he couldn’t seem to bring himself to tell her why he had come.
You know what I could really use?
he had asked her. But he hadn’t answered the way he’d wanted to. You, he’d wanted to say. He should have climbed out of the shower and taken her into his arms. She was probably wearing one of those silly little nightie things underneath her bathrobe.

He groaned, then pulled his mind back to the problem at hand. He was going to have to tell her, he was going to have to just say it. That’s why he’d come here, wasn’t it?

McCade turned off the water. Plastic rings screeched along the metal rod as he pulled the shower curtain back and grabbed the towel Sandy had laid out for him. He’d dry off, go out into the living room, drink a beer, and gather his courage while listening to Sandy tell him about her current gigs at work. Then he’d take a deep breath and just tell her…what? That he needed her? That he wanted her more than he’d ever wanted anyone or anything? That God help him—he was almost one hundred percent certain that he
loved
her?

BOOK: Body Language
8.58Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Unforgettable by von Ziegesar, Cecily
Convictions by Julie Morrigan
Love Inn by Kim Smith
Between Two Ends by David Ward
The Mandarin Club by Gerald Felix Warburg