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Authors: Susanna Carr

Outrageously Yours

BOOK: Outrageously Yours
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He’s just the guy to ruin her reputation...

With a high-profile job opportunity on the line, Claire Miller must go from squeaky-clean wallflower to wild party girl in just one week. To do that, she needs the help of Jason Strong, her favorite client—and secret crush. He’s sexy, a notorious bachelor and just the guy to destroy this good girl’s rep.

Only Claire didn’t count on Jason’s spontaneous streak, or that his brand of improvising could turn their strictly professional relationship into something intensely personal—and incredibly hot. Now she has to trust him with her future, her body and her deepest secrets. And hope that by week’s end, she’ll have him out of her system without breaking her heart...

“You can’t go out like that after having pretend sex with me.”

“It looks like I haven’t touched you,” he continued. “You need to be more wrinkled.”

“And you should have lipstick on you.” Her lips tingled as she felt Jason’s intent gaze. “Should I put it on your mouth or on your collar?”

His eyes darkened. “Anywhere you think a man should be kissed.”

Claire’s breath caught in her throat. She wanted to kiss him all over. Drag her mouth down his chest and twirl her tongue against him.

“Maybe I should just kiss you.”

She saw his Adam’s apple bob. “Maybe you should,” he said huskily.

She brazenly claimed his lips just like she did in her fantasies. Jason greedily matched her fervor and bunched her dress in his fists. Claire’s gasp echoed in the small room when he grabbed her hips and lifted her. She clutched his shoulders as she wrapped her legs around his waist.

He claimed her mouth with his. There was no finesse, only raw hunger. And she wanted more...

Dear Reader,

I have always adored stories about makeovers and transformations. It probably started with my first fairy tale and continued on with glamorous Hollywood musicals. While I find a hero’s transformation entertaining, I prefer watching the heroine step out of the shadows, find the confidence to show her true self and grab the spotlight that was meant for her.

In
Outrageously Yours
, Claire has difficulty bringing attention to herself. Hiding in the crowd is the safest and most comfortable route. She knows that the harsh glare of the spotlight can expose her flaws and weaknesses. But she soon discovers that if she wants to live out her dreams and get the man who stars in her wildest fantasies, being outrageous is the only option to take.

Enjoy!

Susanna Carr

Susanna Carr

Outrageously Yours

Susanna Carr
has been an avid
romance reader since she read her first Harlequin book at the age of ten.
Although romance novels were not allowed in her home, she always managed to
sneak one in from the local library or from her twin sister’s secret stash.

After attending college and receiving a degree in English
literature, Susanna pursued a romance-writing career. She has written sexy
contemporary romances for several publishers and her work has been honored with
awards for contemporary and sensual romance.

Susanna lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family. When
she isn’t writing she enjoys reading romance and connecting with readers online.
Visit her website at
susannacarr.com
.

Books by Susanna Carr

HARLEQUIN BLAZE

Suddenly Sexy

The Bridesmaid’s Best Man

Wild Weekend

Let Them Talk

To get the inside scoop on Harlequin Blaze
and its talented writers, be sure to check out
blazeauthors.com
.

All backlist available in ebook format.

Visit the Author Profile page at
Harlequin.com
for more
titles

To my editor, Adrienne Macintosh, for shaping the original idea of this story into something even better.

1

C
LAIRE
M
ILLER

S
CHEST
tightened with anticipation as she turned her car into the parking lot. “Stop it,” she muttered. “He’s your best friend’s brother. A client. Nothing more.”

Her body wasn’t listening. It never did when Jason Strong was involved. The town’s golden boy now operated his family’s wine bar and tasting room. He was also the star of her wildest fantasies—and her wicked thoughts had become more frequent since they’d started working together. It was getting embarrassing.

The one fantasy that kept replaying in her head was inconveniently set in his office. During more than one of their meetings, Claire’s mind had drifted and she had imagined sweeping her arm across his desk and tossing everything to the floor. She would then lay Jason on the desk and rip open his shirt before she licked a path down his rock-hard abs.

He, of course, would then not be able to keep his hands off her. It was her fantasy, after all. In her dream, the man was overwhelmed with desire and stripped her bare before she straddled his hips and rode him hard. Yet somehow the fantasy ended with her bent over the desk as he took her from behind, the piece of furniture creaking in protest from his powerful thrusts and Claire encouraging him with delighted moans.

That was one of her tamer fantasies, but it kept looping in her head every time she visited him at work. It was worse when they actually met in his office. Last week she had been in there with him for a brainstorming session and she’d gotten so caught up in the fantasy that she actually pushed a pile of folders off his desk.

Claire felt her face turn red at the memory. After that, she’d made a point of meeting away from his office.

Still, her pulse skipped when she saw the sign for Mountain Creek Wine Cellars.
Stay focused. No more fantasizing
, she reminded herself fiercely as she parked her car.

She grabbed her messenger bag and hopped out of her car. Realizing that she was a little too eager to see Jason again, Claire stumbled to a stop and took a deep breath. The September air held the scent of turning leaves and chimney smoke. The familiar aroma of fall did nothing to calm her. If anything, it made her think of Jason sprawled on top of her next to a roaring fireplace.

Be professional
. She pulled her blazer closer to ward off the breeze and looked out into the distance at the snowy cap of Mount Rainier. The wine bar had a great view and location, but so did all the other tasting rooms that sat side by side on the curving street at the edge of town. At the moment SUVs and sports cars zoomed by, but in the evening there would be groups of wine enthusiasts walking from one tasting room to the next.

Claire frowned when she noticed yet another winery shop had opened up across the street. She recognized the name and shook her head. No wonder Jason had asked her to drop by. Tasting rooms were a big business and she was Jason’s secret weapon.

As she strode to the entrance of Mountain Creek, she spotted a few of her neighbors sitting on the patio and enjoying the rare Pacific Northwest sunshine. She waved and they saluted her with their wineglasses. As she walked past them, she heard one of the women ask the others, “Who was that?”

Claire sighed as weariness settled in her chest but she didn’t turn around. She was used to that response. It was the disadvantage of always flying under the radar. Claire kept walking so she didn’t have to hear how the others would answer. From experience she already knew: they’d say she looked familiar but none of them would be able to place her.

Which should make her happy; she had cultivated her anonymity since high school. She’d grown up in the small and rural town of Woodinville but her former classmates would be hard-pressed to describe her as anything other than “nice” and “sweet.”

Claire was good at marketing her clients and one day she would work on marketing herself. But for now, it was better if she worked in the shadows and behind the scenes. It was safer. No one looked at her too closely or sensed the tension that resided in her every moment. She had hidden it well.

She stepped across the threshold of Mountain Creek Wine Cellars and was immediately aware of the casual and lively energy. The dark wood floors and red walls seemed almost too modern for the sleepy town. The wine bar was on the first floor and a large spiral staircase that wrapped around a huge wine rack led customers upstairs to the tasting rooms. There were windows everywhere, offering magnificent views of the mountain and evergreen forests. Instead of being stuffy and pretentious as some wine bars could be, she found Mountain Creek Wine Cellars warm and welcoming.

There were a few customers sitting at the dark wooden tables, enjoying the start of happy hour. Claire saw Jason walk out of the kitchen with a tray of appetizers. Her breath hitched in her throat as she studied him.

Jason Strong was tall and muscular. She noticed how perfectly his button-down shirt hung from his solid shoulders and laid against his broad chest. Claire bit her lip as her gaze traveled down his flat abdomen to take in the way his faded jeans clung to his thighs. The man had been handsome and athletic in school but now, at twenty-eight years old, he was in his prime.

Claire dragged her gaze back up to his face. It was risky—sometimes she couldn’t stop staring at him. She knew every line and angle of his blunt cheekbones, square jaw and slightly crooked nose. Today she noticed he needed to cut his dark brown hair. He usually kept it short because he didn’t like how it curled.

He spoke to a small group of elderly women who were enjoying a day out. She couldn’t hear what Jason said but she caught snatches of his deep, melodic voice. From the rapt attention the other women showed, Claire realized she wasn’t the only one who could listen to him all day.

The left corner of his mouth tilted up and then he smiled.

Claire sighed. Jason Strong was a charmer. A flirt. He knew how to tease gently and how to work that smile.

Jason must have felt her gaze. He suddenly looked in her direction. She tried to give a cool nod as she watched his bright blue eyes light up. Her heart thumped hard against her rib cage, but she wasn’t dumb enough to read anything into his reaction. Jason was just a friendly guy.

“Claire!” He motioned for her to meet him at the bar near the staircase.

He didn’t used to welcome her so warmly, she remembered. Claire had been the annoying friend of his little sister who was always at his family’s home growing up. He was only two years older but there had been times when it felt as if he had been a world away and just as far out of her league.

“Okay, Jason,” Claire said as she sat down on a bar stool and placed her bag on the seat next to her. “I came as quickly as I could. What’s the emergency?”

“Have a drink first,” He stood on the other side of the bar and rested his arms on top of the counter. “Merlot, right?”

She was surprised that he remembered her favorite drink from his family’s boutique winery. The wine bar had many loyal customers but she was usually here to discuss projects and rarely indulged in a glass. “No, thanks. Now, what’s going on?”

“I decided to have a party for our reserve label next weekend. Everyone is invited. Not just the wine club.” He gestured with his hands as he pictured his idea. “We have to promote it big.”

“Another event? Next
weekend
?” Claire asked cautiously. She should keep her mouth shut. Jason was her best client. She needed all the work she could get but this was getting out of hand.

Jason was always optimistic. Too optimistic. But then, the guy never failed. Every project he started, every idea that came into his head, was successful.

“Next Friday. It’ll be fine.” Jason gave another lopsided smile that made her forget to breathe. “Who doesn’t love a party?”

A wallflower.
But no one had ever accused Jason of being one of those. He knew how to throw a party and these events showcased his strengths. Who was she to say anything?

“Think you can handle the short notice?” he asked.

Tension squeezed her chest as she considered the amount of work she had to accomplish for her other clients during the week. But to suggest she couldn’t handle the party would be admitting defeat. “Of course,” she said with a weak smile.

She watched him tap his fingers on the bar. The man had a restless, almost insatiable energy. Some people found it exhausting. She found it exhilarating. She wished some of it would rub off on her.

Claire had learned from experience that nothing would temper his enthusiasm for his latest project. He couldn’t be bothered with schedules and budgets. Still, she felt compelled to remind him of the potential problems. “Your events calendar is already packed.”

“I know, isn’t it great?” Jason asked. “Business has really picked up since we’ve been focused on our social media.”

Claire ducked her head as her face warmed from the compliment. It felt good to be recognized for her work. “You’re welcome,” she said gruffly.

“Hold on, Claire, I’m being called to the kitchen.” He walked around the bar. “I’ll be right back.”

She was tempted to watch him walk away. Instead, Claire grabbed her cell phone and checked her messages as if her life depended on it. A text came in just as she entered her password.

How’s the transformation going?

Claire grimaced. It was from Max Blair, the social media legend to the stars. At a conference last month, she’d been flattered that he’d singled her out, and he’d even dangled the possibility of working for him. But first he’d challenged her to create and manage an image. And he gave her the hardest subject to work on: herself.

Blond, stylish and dressed for success, Max Blair oozed money and confidence. He worked for celebrities and A-listers in Hollywood and quite a few people had followed him around the conference like groupies. They’d wanted to know how he got the high-profile clients and what it was like to party with the stars.

Her peers found him innovative and called him the future of their industry. They didn’t seem to notice that Max was brash, aggressive and always turned the conversation to sex.

Claire had no interest in celebrity parties. What mattered to her was that if she tackled his challenge and succeeded, she would get a job working for one of the biggest social media companies in the industry. The opportunity to be Max Blair’s protégé would be such a coup. It would prove to her family—and to herself—that she had finally made it.

What are you wearing?

But first she had to respond to his texts the right way.

Claire knew she should answer it honestly. Show him that she actually couldn’t transform herself into a wild party girl, as she’d boasted at the conference that she could. But she wasn’t ready to end this preinterview. She was going to show Max that she could do this. She wanted to be the best at something and she wanted everyone to know it.

What was she wearing? She looked down at her blazer and shook her head.

Nothing but a satisfied smile
, she replied.

She wasn’t sure where that answer came from. Probably from a TV show she’d just watched. She liked the answer, though. It was breezy, flirty and so not like her. She wished she could have come up with something this quickly when she’d been face-to-face with Max, but she always thought of a comeback hours later.

I’m intrigued
, he responded immediately.
What are your plans for tonight?

Her nights were usually filled with work and the occasional outing with friends, but she wasn’t going to tell Max the truth. This was the guy who’d at first thought she was a woman with no future. He’d taken one look at her at the bar during the conference and decided she didn’t have an original or scandalous idea in her head. And proceeded to explain why her small business couldn’t compete with his big company.

The worst part was that he’d been correct. But she didn’t let him know that. Her ideas were based on what had proven effective for others and her success was built on consistency and hard work. She was a grinder, not an innovator.

Claire had wanted to walk away and ignore him. But she was proud of her business, and she hadn’t liked hearing him dismiss it so easily. So she’d looked him in the eye and argued with him about his ideas, horrifying his disciples and fangirls.

But he’d seemed intrigued and asked her for more details about her strategies. Claire had been nervous while she told him what she had accomplished since she started her business. She didn’t have famous clients or an office filled with employees, but something she had said must have impressed him. Out of all the people at the conference, Max had said he wanted to interview her for a job. It had felt amazing and scary to be in the spotlight. She wanted to make the most of it.

She thought for a moment, wondering how to respond to his question. What could she say she was doing tonight? It had to be wild and fun.

Defending my title in the wet T-shirt contest
,
she answered
.
You?

That should keep him busy for a while. Claire bit her lip to contain her smile just as her phone was snatched from her hand. She squawked and whirled around to find Jason behind her.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a naughty smile,” Jason said as he held her phone out of her reach. It looked small in his hand.

“That’s not true. You have a mirror, don’t you?” She blinked and pressed her lips. Where had that come from? Jason seemed just as surprised by her sassy response. Claire decided it was best to ignore it, and she held out her hand. “Give me my phone.”

He shook his head. “You spend too much time on it.”

“I do not.” Okay, maybe she did. But her phone was her lifeline. It kept her focused and on schedule. Her gut twisted when she heard the chime of an incoming text. “Would you please hand it over?”

Jason glanced at the small screen and went very still. “Wet T-shirt contest?” he asked in a low, gravelly voice, his gaze still on the phone.

BOOK: Outrageously Yours
2.21Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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