Skin Deep—Book I
Copyright 2006 by Marilyn Lee
All rights reserved.
I’m Jake, one of Marilyn’s new characters. She asked me to stop by and introduce myself and give you a preview of my upcoming confession, Skin Deep. I don’t generally like to talk about myself and I can’t say that this will show me in a particularly good light, but I’ve found that talking about it helped me come to terms with my less than sterling character.
These days I feel a lot better about myself. It wasn’t easy to reach this point. Before I did, I experienced a lot of problems and troubles. But let me start at the beginning…
I've always heard beauty is only skin deep. Maybe so, but my philosophy has always been, show me a man who doesn't prefer a beautiful woman to a plain one and I'll show you a blind man. Despite my mother's efforts, I'd never dated a female I didn't find drop dead gorgeous. Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against ordinary women. I've just never seen the need to date one.
So what spell did Bree cast on me to turn my life so upside down? I have no idea. But before I tell you what she did to me, let me explain how I came to meet her in the first place.
The moment I saw Bree, my date for the night, I knew two things. First, I'd been had--big time. Second, I would be getting revenge. Well, I knew three things. The third was that I had to go through with the date-no matter how much I wanted to turn and run away from Bree.
Before you think I'm some fickle dickhead unable to see past appearance, I'll save you the trouble and admit that, like most males, I prefer a woman I spend time with to be at least pretty. Her being beautiful would be even better.
I stared down at the woman smiling so shyly up at me. I liked slender, petite, gorgeous women with green eyes, fair skin, and long, flowing redhair. Bree's skin was dark and clear, her eyes were an ordinary brown, and she wore her dark hair short and natural. I guessed she was roughly five eight--hardly petite. There would be no carrying her off to bed after a night of wining and dining.
I could have dealt with Bree's other shortcomings--had she at least been pretty. Granted, she had a nice smile. Okay, actually she had a fantastic smile, but it would be a stretch to call her anything other than…almost cute. I don't mean to imply that she was thoroughly unattractive. She wasn’t, but she'd have to work hard to be cute.
“You must be Jake.”
I blinked at the sound of her voice. It was kind of husky--in a surprisingly sexy way. She had a nice smile and an interesting voice, but that would only carry her so far with me.
“Jake? I'm Gabrielle.”
I swallowed hard, hoping no trace of the dismay I felt showed on my face. I might have managed that, but for the moment, I was literally speechless at the situation I'd allowed myself to be maneuvered into.
She offered her hand. “My friends call me Bree.”
I smiled and shook her hand briefly. It was soft and warm, yet she had a firm handshake. “Jake Volmer.”
She glanced briefly over her shoulder into her apartment. “Would you like to come in for a drink?”
“No!” Realizing I'd spoken too quickly and decisively, I smiled again.
“We have reservations. If you're ready, we should go.”
She gave me a long, piercing look, sighed, and then shook her head.
“This is a mistake. Isn't it?”
“What do you mean?”
“You're…I'm not what you expected. Am I?”
Now that was an understatement if ever I'd heard one. “What?”
“What did Lea tell you about me to get you here tonight?”
Lea was my sister-in-law who was forever complaining that I was too fickle when it came to women. She’s a fine one to talk about fickleness, but I'd lost track of the number of times she'd told me that I wouldn't know a good a woman if I fell over her. Why the hell had I allowed her to talk me into a blind date just to prove--what? What the hell was this date going to prove except that even married to my younger brother, Ed, Lea could still push my buttons and manipulate me?
It had taken awhile, but I finally had Lea's number. She expected me to take one look at Bree and find a way to back out of the date. Then she could gloat and say I-told-you-so for the next year or so every time we met at some family function. Well, hell would freeze over before I gave Lea that satisfaction.
I arched a brow and smiled down at Bree. “I'm between dates at the moment and she said you were too, so she thought…I thought we could have dinner.”
“I can see that my appearance surprises you.”
“I have no idea what you're talking about.”
She nodded. “I think you do. So, let's both get real. You don't have to go through with this.”
If she didn't want to go out with me, why had she allowed Lea to set up this date? Were she and Lea in this together? Were they both expecting me to back out? Then they were both going to be disappointed. I narrowed my gaze, wondering just how deeply she had plotted with Lea. How far was she prepared to go to make me look bad?
“Jake? Do you want to call this date off?”
In her damned dreams. I shook my head. “Absolutely not. As I said, we have a reservation.” I offered her my arm. “Are you ready?”
She hesitated for several moments before she turned that slow, enchanting smile of hers on me.
I stared down into her warm brown eyes and swallowed. Damn. That smile of hers was—nice. Very nice.
She slipped her arm through mine. “If you're sure, I'm ready.”
Looking down into her dark, alluring gaze, the only thing I was sure of was that this was going to be a long evening. But hell would freeze over before I backed down. At the end of the evening, I was going to teach her a lesson it would take her a long time to forget. In the morning, she would think long and hard before she conspired against another man.
“Great. So let's go.”
In my car, the soft, seductive scent of her perfume seemed to engulf me, making it difficult to concentrate on my newly formed game plan. I realized she was speaking and frowned. “I'm sorry. What did you say?”
She brushed her fingers against my right hand on the steering wheel and I felt a jolt of heat rushing up the back of my neck. What the hell was she doing touching me? I tightened my grip and clenched my jaw.
If you want to know what happened on our date and when I took her home, Marilyn will be posting my story, Skin Deep, on her Yahoo Group, Love Bytes.