Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You (v1.2)

BOOK: Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You (v1.2)
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Shelby had no idea what “going Dutch” meant, but she was reasonably sure it had something to do with her buying her share of the beer. She’d already paid for the shoe rental, and chipped in toward the alley. Now beer? She’d have to work two or more hours to make that much money.

And then she smiled. Yes. She’d have to work to spend money. Not just ask Somerton. Not just tap her charge card. Not just spend and spend, without a thought to how much she was spending.

How wonderful!

“Sure,” she said, getting into the swing of being just one of the guys. “I’d be happy to pay my share. But aren’t you any good at all?”

“Oh, I’m good, Shelley,” Quinn told her, picking up her right hand and placing it palm to palm with his own, measuring the length of her fingers. “I’m good at a lot of things.”

Shelby’s fingers tingled all the way up to her elbow. Her stomach turned to mush. Her knees all but buckled. She was being hit on. Oh, yes. By a tall, dark, and gorgeous man. A man who didn’t know she was worth thirty million dollars. A man who just might be hitting on her because he thought she was… nice.

Or not so nice.

That wasn’t so bad, either.

Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You

Kasey Michaels

Copyright © 2000 by Kathryn A. Seidick

Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-one

Chapter Twenty-two

Chapter Twenty-three

Chapter Twenty-four

Chapter Twenty-five

Chapter Twenty-six

Chapter Twenty-seven

Chapter Twenty-eight

Chapter Twenty-nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-one

Chapter Thirty-two

Chapter Thirty-three

Chapter Thirty-four

Epilogue

Chapter One

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

“USING WIT AND ROMANCE WITH A MASTER’S SKILL, KASEY MICHAELS AIMS FOR THE HEART AND NEVER MISSES.”

—Nora Roberts

 

“KASEY MICHAELS CREATES CHARACTERS WHO STICK WITH YOU LONG AFTER HER WONDERFUL STORIES ARE TOLD.”

 


Kay Hooper

For John
Scognamiglio, one of the good guys.

 

“If everybody minded their own business,” said the Duchess in a hoarse growl, “the world would go round a deal faster than it does.”

—Lewis Carroll

Alice
’s Adventures in Wonderland

Chapter One

There aren’t a lot of pity parties for beautiful young women with eight-figure trust funds. Then again, there aren’t a lot of people who have lived the life of a young woman with an eight-figure trust fund, not a lot of people qualified to know what life could be like inside a well-cushioned bubble.

Which is probably why Shelby Taite really didn’t give a good damn what anybody else thought. She was miserable, it was her own misery, and everybody else could just shut up about it and let her get on with her own life.

Sure, like that was going to happen.

Case in point. Shelby stood in the large drawing room of the Philadelphia Main Line Taite mansion at the moment, being read a lecture by her dear, and only, brother, on the duties and responsibilities of being a Taite. It was June, it was hot, and she was dressed in a cotton, Peter Pan—collared shirtwaist and sensible, if expensive, white pumps.

She owned a dozen pairs of shorts, but they were all tennis shorts, to be worn only on the courts. A halter top, cutoff jean shorts, and a pair of strap sandals were, in her social strata, completely beneath her. But not beyond her imagination.

Every naturally blond hair on her head was in place, sleekly falling to just above her shoulders. The style was classic Grace Kelly, as were her features, as was her lineage. Pedigreed, that was what Shelby Taite was. Thoroughbred, all the way down to her slim ankles.

But her wardrobe, her appearance, were just a part of what it meant to be a Taite. There was more. So much more.

Taites didn’t go to war; they went to school. They didn’t protest against wars while they were in school. Taites did not set trends, or follow them. No Taite ever spent so much as an hour in jail. Or at a rock concert. Or walking the streets. Or, God forbid, in politics. They had television sets, but the station was always tuned to PBS.

Taites were well mannered, well behaved. Well educated, well groomed. Their wedding pictures were reproduced in the best magazines. Their children attended private schools. Their friends were found among their peers, of which there weren’t a whacking great lot.

The men followed their fathers into the family business, the daughters married well, and the mothers planned charity balls and croquet tournaments.

Not a lot of giggles, being a Taite.

“Are you listening to me, Shelby? I hesitate pointing this out, and don’t wish to be cruel, but I don’t think you’re listening to me.”

Shelby turned away from the window overlooking the boring, well-groomed gardens outside the Taite mansion and smiled at her brother. “Of course I’m listening, Somerton,” she told him as she ran a hand through her hair, recklessly daring to shove a heavy lock of it behind her right ear. “The limousine will be here at seven, and for just once in my life you’d appreciate it if I would please be downstairs on time so that everyone else isn’t kept waiting. After all, who on earth could ever want to miss so much as a moment of the evening?”

Somerton Taite cleared his throat nervously, not quite looking at his sister. “Don’t be like that, Shelby . Is it really too much to ask that you be prompt? To hope that you’d make the least effort to enjoy yourself?”

Shelby sighed, shook her head. “No, Somerton, it’s not. I’m sorry. It’s just so
asinine,
that’s all.” Taites were allowed to be vulgar, but only articulately vulgar. Something could be asinine, for instance. It could not be a pile of bull—. Well, whatever.

Shelby took a discreet breath, then continued. “How many charity balls can one be expected to attend, Somerton? Is there a quota somewhere? When have we saved enough whales, or trees—or is it homeless Dalmatians this week? And wouldn’t it be more cost-effective to cancel the orchestra and florist and caterer, and simply send a check?”

Somerton didn’t have an answer to her questions. And why should he? They were Taites. They were fourth-generation Main Line Philadelphia. They attended charity balls. Why? Because they always had, they always would, into infinity.

Older than Shelby by four years, and shorter by three inches, Somerton Taite was slight, blond, aesthetically handsome, and rather fragile-looking, with his wet-combed blond hair and rather weak blue eyes. He was the sort of man who wore suits, never sport coats, and even his tennis whites dared never to wrinkle. He did not, Shelby believed, sweat. When one was a Taite, perspiration was simply not allowed.

And now Somerton was pouting. He did pouting quite well as he pursed his lips, twisted them about a bit, then sat on one of the Sheraton sofas with his legs primly crossed at the knee, his arms folded and just sort of plopped in his lap, his dimpled chin rather high, nearly wobbling.

He’d broken one Taite rule himself, Somerton had, an unspoken one, but a rule nonetheless. And, especially considering how timid Somerton believed himself to be, it had been a doozy of a transgression. The sort that would have had whole generations of Taites spinning in their marble mausoleum if they hadn’t already been so stiff and rigid before death that spinning couldn’t possibly be an option now.

He and Jeremy, his “very good companion,” were fortunate that being gay was “in” this Season. And Somerton could overlook Shelby’s small rebellions because Shelby had accepted Jeremy without a blink. He did not pursue the why of her acceptance, whether it stemmed from some hidden liberal, Democratic failing or if she just didn’t care one way or the other what her brother did. The latter thought depressed him, so he neatly shoved it out of his mind.

Shelby sensed her brother’s nervousness and smiled at him, hoping he’d believe his eyes and not look too deeply into hers.

“Oh, Somerton, I’m sorry,” she said, sitting down beside him, putting her arm around him. “I forgot the Taite motto, didn’t I? ‘Ours is not to question why, ours is but to wine and dine.’ “ She kissed his cheek, then stood up once more. “I’ll be on time tonight, Somerton, I promise.”

He looked up at her, arms still folded, lips still in a pout. “No, you won’t. You’ll keep us all waiting for at least a quarter hour. Uncle Alfred will amuse himself by drinking half the brandy in the house, Jeremy will fret and change his tie a half dozen times, and Parker will phone from the club, sure you’ve been kidnapped. I think you could treat your fiance with more consideration, Shelby .”

“I know, I know,” Shelby said, ready to agree to anything Somerton had to say, just so she could leave the room. Not that she had anywhere to go except for upstairs, to her own apartments, to the bath her maid would draw for her and to the gown laid out for her on the bed. There were whole days when she believed she did nothing but dress and undress and get dressed once more.

“But don’t worry about Parker, Somerton. I’d like to think he worries because he can’t stand to be without me, even for a moment, but we both know that isn’t true. The Taite-Westbrook marriage will be just another in a long line of matrimonial mergers.”

Somerton sighed, stood, and placed his arm comfortingly around his sister. He loved her; he really did. He simply didn’t understand her anymore. “You know that’s not true, Shelby . Parker has assured me that he’s madly in love with you, and I believe him. He’s a good, upstanding man from an impeccable family, and his wife will be a fortunate woman.”

Shelby slid out from beneath her brother’s arm, surprised at her own vehemence. “Fine. You like him so much,
you
marry him.”

Somerton’s grin bordered on devilish. “Jeremy wouldn’t like that,” he said, then looked around the room nervously. He’d finally moved Jeremy into the house six months earlier, openly acknowledging their relationship. But that didn’t mean he’d quite gotten past the notion that his late father would show up at any moment and pummel him to death with a yachting trophy. “Perhaps we can get Uncle Alfred to marry Parker? He could use the income.”

Shelby put her arms around her brother and hugged him. “Oh, I do love you, Somerton.”

“And you’ll admit you’re being silly? You’ll admit that you and Parker will have a lovely wedding in September, and a lovely life after that? After all, you’re the one who said yes, who agreed to the marriage. Nobody is forcing you to marry the man.”

Shelby sighed. “No, of course not. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, Somerton. Chalk it up to prewedding jitters, okay? I guess I just thought there should be more romance in the thing, and less china patterns.”

She gave Somerton another kiss, then went upstairs, determined to be dressed and ready to go to the charity ball before the limousine arrived. If it killed her.

Chapter Two

Quinn Delaney leaned his tall frame against the side of the limousine, pushed back the cuff of his tuxedo, and glared at his watch. Seven-twenty.

He’d had twenty minutes to devise suitable tortures for Grady Sullivan, his partner in D &
S Security. Because it was Grady’s fault that Quinn was here, playing bodyguard to the Rich and Repulsive.

This wasn’t part of their deal, damn it. Grady handled the R&Rs, and loved it, and he handled the corporate security. Quinn acted as bodyguard for businessmen, captains of industry, or at least he had until he’d completely taken over the business end of their partnership, leaving fieldwork behind him in exchange for computer printouts. Of all the things he did do, he did
not
dress up in his tuxedo and spend the night watching a bunch of society morons eat, drink, and make asses of themselves.

So how in hell had Grady conned him into this gig?

Quinn frowned, his gray eyes stormy as he remembered the magazine page Grady had waved in front of his face a few hours earlier. “Look at her, Quinn, old boy. Just look at her. Miss October, Quinn. Likes poodles and raspberry ice cream, hates hypocrisy, wants to be a marine biologist while working for world peace, and her favorite color is warm flesh on black satin. Not to mention having legs that go up to her neck. And she’s
mine,
all mine, until her plane takes off in the morning. You can’t ask me to give this up, can you? And the Taites insist on having one of the partners. That’s you. I’ll owe you, buddy. I’ll owe you big-time.”

BOOK: Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You (v1.2)
13.84Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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