Scroll down for more books by Wanitta Praks.
Turning thirty is like a big sale at the meat market. You have to go on discount before someone starts considering you. And that's not the only problem Clarice Mason has to deal with, because right now her biological clock is ticking and she realizes that one morning she might wake up with white hair and a walking cane as her only companion. So to soothe her problem, Clarice has resolved to have a baby.
Enter Anton Silverton, the man that possesses all the traits Clarice has ever wanted in a mate: tall, handsome, smart, and an overall gentleman--all the perfect genes for her baby. All she has to do now is ask him nicely to donate a little sperm so she can conceive. But damn Hunter Silverton--Anton's smart-mouth, no-good cousin with the title of number one Casanova in Australasia--has to come stirring up trouble. And now, under the influence of hormonal imbalances, Clarice finds her craving for a baby might not be enough, for she is beginning to crave the love of one of these men.
When the door opened, a naked torso faced Clarice. Not just any old torso, but a hot, muscled, six-pack naked torso. She blinked and blinked, and then she blinked some more. She couldn't understand why a grown man would be wearing a towel, just a single white, fluffy towel wrapped around his waist, to answer the door.
He was leaning against the doorframe, one hand supporting his tall, lean, muscular body that, Clarice noted, any female would want in her bed, including her. Not that she'd bedded any male, of course, since she was still a bloody virgin, for God's sake.
As her eyes traveled up to his face, her heart decided to do a disco dance, moving in time to the sound of the very popular music currently playing in the background somewhere inside the man's house.
She felt a little breathless and lightheaded. Her cheeks flushed the same shade as the bouquet of scarlet roses in her arms. Not that she was florist or a delivery person or anything. No, the florist was one of her best friends, Elise, and the delivery person was too sick with influenza. So being the great best friend that she was, Clarice offered to help.
Elise had begged because this was her VIP client. Elise herself was too busy preparing for the many orders for Valentine's Day, which was tomorrow, so the job was thrust upon her with little room for argument. And Clarice herself had succumbed to Elise's bribery of free roses, which she really loved.
Now here she was, knocking on the door of 99 Summerson Street in Herne Bay, one of the wealthiest suburbs in Auckland. At the moment, her eyes were busy blinking rapidly at the half-naked male specimen standing before her. But my oh my, did she almost forget she was holding on to the bunch of roses because, heaven help her, this man was G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S. That slightly wet, dusted-corn hair had a sparkling golden sheen beneath the afternoon sunlight. The man looked so hot she couldn't help ogling at him.
Putting all the symptoms together, which included the pronounced asthma-induced breaths, the after-the-marathon heart rate, and the light-as-a-feather feeling inside her head and stomach, Clarice concluded this condition was due to the fact that she had never seen a naked man in the flesh in her whole twenty-nine years of life. If she had counted the time she had seen her young nephews during their bath time, however, then yes, maybe she had seen the male species displaying their valued male anatomies. But for the likes of men like this one, so well toned, so well made, and with so much testosterone, then the answer would be a definite no. Those arms looked so strong, so muscular, so--
"Can I help you?" he asked, drawing her senses back to reality, breaking the spell, and making her blink a few more times before she became aware of the mission she came to accomplish.
"Umm." Suddenly, she realized she'd lost her voice. Her throat was dry as dust. She tried to speak, but the only sound that came out was, "Umm..." again. Knowing any attempt to speak again would only make her sound like more of a complete idiot, she resorted to using hand gestures.
Clarice practically shoved the bouquet right in his gorgeous face. That took him by surprise and he moved backward.
"So... sorry," she croaked. There, finally, she'd found her voice. Even though it didn't sound anything like her natural voice, at least she could pass her message across verbally.
"No, that's fine. Just a little startled, that's all."
Gosh, this man has such a nice voice, she couldn't help thinking.
"Darling, what's taking so long?" A singsong voice traveled from somewhere inside the house. "Come back to bed."
The hottie turned to smile at whoever it was, then said softly, "Be back soon."
He has such soft eyes, Clarice thought when he turned to smile at the woman she assumed to be his wife. They were azure blue, like a clear, cloudless summer sky.
Dear heaven! Why are all good and handsome men taken? They were like car parks. All the good and available ones were taken, whereas the ones that were available were the ones you had to parallel park to get. Damn my parallel parking.
His attention suddenly shifted back to Clarice, and what she saw written on his face she did not like. His once soft and subtle azure eyes that had spoken of gentleman breed had now completely vanished. In its place shone a glittering spark, those pupils exuding a strong, wicked gleam, like the devil about to play with his toy. His once broad and friendly smile had also been completely wiped away. Instead, the corners of those lips quirked up to form a devilish grin.
Danger! Danger! Playboy alert! Clarice's radar screamed at her when those wicked eyes started undressing her, causing her scarlet cheeks to burn even more. But before she could take a step back to assess her situation, the man caught hold of the bouquet, capturing her hands in the process.
"Hey, let... let go." She struggled, trying to remove his tight grasp.
"Naaaoooohhh." He shook his head, that devilish grin still plastered on his face, his eyes still sparkling with mischief.
Clarice tried harder to release his viselike grip, but it was no use. His fingers were like dental clamps, wrapped around her hands so securely one would require pliers to release them.
"I said... " Clarice couldn't finish her sentence, as she almost stumbled backward when the man suddenly released her.
"Why--" She was about to give him a piece of her mind when he interrupted her yet again, and she was struck speechless.
"You like what you see?" he asked, posing even more seductively on the threshold of the doorframe, contorting his body as if he were a model out of Vogue magazine.
"Huh? Excuse me?" Clarice asked, puzzled.
"Obviously you came here to give me these roses," his voice drawled out huskily. "You must like me; otherwise you wouldn't be here. And Valentine's Day isn't until tomorrow."
"I..." Once again her speech was interrupted when she saw a blonde entering her field of vision, striking a pose as fashionable as the man before her.
The woman leaned onto the man and gave him a peck on the cheek, oblivious to Clarice's presence. The woman proceeded to move down to the man's lips, making a sucking sound like a fish out of water, then to his Adam's apple, until the man cleared his throat, drawing her attention to the fact that they had a guest.
Clarice's eyeballs almost dropped to the floor when the blonde turned to face her. She too was only dressed in a loose towel, covering just enough for her breasts not to spill out.
The woman eyed her briefly. Then sensing Clarice had the same significance as the potted plant displayed on the front porch, she turned back to her man.
"Hunter, honey," she whined and then kissed Hunter right in front of her again. "You took way too long, so I had to come and get you."
Hunter didn't look like he was interested. His eyes were roaming elsewhere, and Clarice just happened to be their target.
Gosh, get a room, you two! Clarice wanted to yell at them for being this intimate in broad daylight. And why am I still here anyway? Her job was done. She should get going. But somehow, though, she wanted to get even with this blasted Hunter, who was still grinning at her flirtatiously.
As if on cue, the blonde turned to her, giving her an evil glare. She said, "Why are you still here? Who are you and what are you doing here, kid?"
KID? All right, that did it. Clarice snapped. Who was this chick calling her a kid like she'd just been born yesterday? She was almost thirty, for God's sake. This bimbo was clearly her junior by almost a decade and had no right whatsoever to insult her. After all, she was very sensitive about her age, and her pride just couldn't take it when someone called attention to it.
Clarice wanted to growl. This younger generation, they just didn't show respect to their elders. She really needed to set the record straight.
With that thought in mind, she clenched her fists tight in self-determination, lifted her head to meet their eyes, and said, "I'm here--"
"To give me roses for Valentine's Day." Hunter grinned.
That did it.
"You bitch!" the blonde screeched, like an angry cat running its claws across a chalkboard, grating her eardrums. If Clarice were to stay around listening to this bimbo for another second, she could guarantee she'd lose her auditory senses.
What to do? she thought. That was when she saw Hunter's eyes again. There was that wicked gleam. That was when it came to her. She knew why he'd said all that stuff before about the roses and Valentine's Day. This blasted man wasn't this bimbo's husband. They were merely playmates. Oh, what was she saying? Why use euphemism? They'd practically just had sex moments before she knocked on the door, and now, if she suspected right, Hunter wanted to break up with the blonde and he was using Clarice as his outlet.
Not so fast, you handsome beast. You're not getting away this easy. Before the blonde could do further damage to her eardrums and before her hot temper exploded like a boiling kettle, she threw the bouquet in Hunter's face, grabbed both their towels, one in each hand, and yanked them off their bodies, exposing his and her anatomies to the black cat sitting on the fence, birds in the trees, the bees sucking nectar from flowers on the porch, and whoever happened to glimpse them at that moment.
The blonde screamed, the man growled, and Clarice twisted on her heel and ran for her life, sprinting like the devil had taken chase. Of course, she knew the devil would never come chasing after her in his naked state. But she did stop to catch her breath when she was halfway down the block because her limbs refused to take another step for fear of her lungs collapsing.
Wow! Clarice couldn't believe she'd just done that, yanking off their towels like that. Then she began to laugh--so hard her stomach hurt. Once she managed to calm down, she thought it was a shame she'd been too busy making her escape to clearly see his male glory.
Stop thinking stupid thoughts this instant!
What was with her and her sudden fascination with the male anatomy anyway? Was it because her biological clock was ticking, telling her it was almost time for her to start thinking about producing some babies? Good Lord, she wasn't looking forward to her big three-zero.
How was she supposed to make babies if her forbidden door downstairs had yet to be unlocked? And worse yet, where was she supposed to find the right key for her door? A naughty thought ran through her head. Maybe Hunter had a secret key to unlock my door. Then her heart did a little somersault.