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Annette Blair, NY Times & USA Today Bestseller

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOT TICKET

An Anthology by

Julia London, Deirdre Martin

Annette Blair & Geri Buckley

Meet my Yummy  inspiration for Tiago:

Excerpt: You Can't Steal First by Annette Blair

 

 

Dodging a corporate takeover suddenly seemed like a walk in the park to Quinn.  Because this, this was like being struck by lightening, twice, in the same day.  A loser double-header: her thirtieth birthday and a certain long-haired Latino ballplayer from her past appearing at the same time. 

Her heart beat so fast, she feared she wouldn’t survive the encounter, but maybe The Losers were right.  Maybe this was a good idea, if only to rid her of an adolescent crush she refused to let go. 

But damn, he looked good.

Handsome and charismatic, Tiago’s beard and shoulder-length hair, however outdated, only served to augment his allure, as did his piercing amber eyes, so compelling and penetrating that when he looked at her, she was always sure he could see clear through to her--  Well, not her soul.

No wonder he collected women’s underwear.  He could probably see the lace and silk beneath their clothes, not to mention what lay beneath that.

Tiago was, simply put, drop-dead gorgeous.  No wonder he had been her first—as she had been his—a powerful bond, after all, and probably the reason he had lingered in her mind, and heart, so long. 

He cleared his throat.  “Let’s get you inside,” he said, catching Quinn’s distraction, she feared, as he indicated that she should precede him into the train.

The forties railroad car into which they stepped smelled of chocolate, radiated old-world charm, and held an invitation to leave stress behind.  Art deco end tables topped by carnival glass bowls of Baby Ruth candy bars sat between chunky red easy chairs.  Outside the wide picture windows, the sun was setting over an old Massachusetts mill town.  A lot like Lowell, where they grew up, its granite and brick mill buildings had been transformed into trendy condos, shopping malls, and museums--improving, but not changing the face and character of New England. 

While Tiago carried her broken bag under his arm, a funky runaway top tickled his chin.  “Fascinating wardrobe,” he said, blowing on a froth of teal and turquoise feathers.

“It’s not mine,” Quinn said.  “I never saw those clothes before.”

“Sure.  Right.  Okay.”  The twinkle in his luminous eyes skewered her to the spot.  

“I resent your cocky grin,” she said.

“You always did,” Tiago said following her into another car.  “I resent the bruises on my shins.”

“You always did.”  Quinn’s laughter surprised them both.

“Wait!” Tiago said.  “What was that sound?  I barely remember it.”

“Up yours, Bra Boy.”

“Damn, that’s another point for the visiting team.”  He smiled as if he were enjoying himself at her expense.  “So, you’re going commando this trip?” he said, proving her right.  “What happened to your underwear?”

“I seem doomed to having friends who steal it.”  Quinn found it hard to believe that this was the same guy she watched play baseball with tears in her eyes, because she was so proud of him.

“Surely you’re not saying we were friends?” he said.  “Or was that a Quinn-dig at its finest?”

“If the panties fit . . . ”

“They don’t,” he said.  “Not enough room for Big Dick and the Jewels.”

“Dumbass.”

“Tightass.”

“Nice mouth,” she said.

“I remember a day you thought so.”

Quinn was spared a response when a woman in a tight red designer dress sashayed—yes, that’s exactly what she did, she sashayed—up to Tiago and frenched him . . . forever.  “We’re not having any fun without you, Sugar Pie,” she drawled with a squeaky voice that lowered her IQ by twenty points.

Quinn wanted to puke, but that was nothing to her ghastly urge to bite the magnolia-white finger sliding down Tiago’s chest. 

But before she could bare her teeth, the discourteous digit drifted up and into the air, and the hussy sashayed away.

“Later, Juguete,” Tiago said . . . playing the Latino toy boy to the hilt. 

Quinn’s shock morphed to disgust.  “You’re a regular piece of meat, you know that?”

“Want a bite?”

Quinn walked on.  “You didn’t try to steal a thing from The Peach Pit.  I’ll bet that lingerie collection of yours is as fake as you are.”

Tiago shook his head with regret.  “Damn, but you’re right.  She totally lowered my take for the day.  Save my panty-stealing record, will you, and make a contribution?”

“I’d rather be strangled by a g-string.  Besides I’m wearing the only panties I have.”

“Take ‘em off.  I can wait.  I’m flexible.”

“You’re hopeless.”

“That’s what all the girls say, and that’s how they like me.  Want to see what I’m packing today?”

Quinn stopped, and told herself she shouldn’t encourage him, but unfortunately, she was curious, so she looked, and the twinkle in Tiago’s eyes hit her like fireworks on the fourth, sparkling to life beneath the surface of her skin.  Déjà vu, all over again.

Before she could recover, he’d pulled a plum satin postage-stamp from one pocket, and a lemon lace cobweb from the other. 

“Spare me,” Quinn said, denying jealousy, and rolling her eyes--at herself, as well as him.  

“Bit late for that,” Tiago said.  “Years late.”

“Ah yes, I suppose this is as good a time as any to thank you for never telling the media the name of your first panty-theft victim,” Quinn said, “though as it turned out, that was just the beginning.”

She gave him points for the wince.  “Okay,” he said following her into Damon’s Den.  “So I stole your panties from your gym locker.”

“And started down the road to glory.  But that was almost nice,” Quinn said, “or have you blocked the real embarrassment, because I wish I could.  It was your announcement over the PA--the one telling the whole school that “The Mighty Quinn” wore her Sunday panties on Thursday--that made me want to move to Alaska.”

“I was a pre-pubescent male, so sue me.”

You were pre-pubescent in third grade,” she said. 

“It was a kiss.  I stole a kiss.”

“Daddy said that you were showing signs of delinquency before you were twelve.  He was sorry he failed you.”

“I’m not a delinquent.  Daddy was wrong.  Think about it.  Which reminds me . . . I heard you made his team.”

Quinn twisted her grandmother’s ring around her finger.  Given the afternoon’s series of humiliations, as witnessed by the nemesis of her youth, she should at least sound successful, so she forced a smile.  “As a matter of fact, you could say that I’m the president . . . elect . . . of Murdock, Inc.”

Tiago hesitated just long enough to make Quinn wonder if he believed her.

She turned to hide the warmth climbing her neck. 

“Well, hey,” he said as she started moving again, “Congratulations.  We can still make the headlines:  “Tiago Steals Pants off Murdock Pres.”  Wha’d’ya’think?  You make sports equipment and I’m a jock.  It could work.”    

Quinn tried to put some distance between them.  “Grow up.”

“Let it go, then,” Tiago said.  “We’re not in Junior High anymore.”

She stopped and turned to face him.  “And yet, you pilfer panties for publicity.”

 

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© Annette Lague Blair, Last website updates: 10/12/2014 05:55 PM