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The Attraction of Adeline
An Off-the-Wall Proposal Romantic Comedy
By Lisa Wells, Vanessa Mitchell
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2017 Lisa Wells
All rights reserved.
Adeline Rigby sat at one end of the makeshift bar, swirling the wine in her glass and watching its thin red legs crawl along the curved goblet. Her goal: not to make eye contact with the Passion Party sales representative sitting at the other end of the bar who wanted to sell Adeline a purple vibrator.
Frisky women were animatedly chatting all around her. Thirty frisky women. She knew there were thirty because she counted them. Twice. And she knew they were frisky, because they weren't whispering their conversations.
Five of the guests were talking with Charlie, the sale's representative, about multiple orgasms. Charlie was hosting tonight's sex toys/pole dancing/book signing party at a dance studio. And if you didn't want to buy a purple vibrator to go with the sexy romance book being sold, Charlie was a woman to be avoided at all costs.
Kinley Foster, Adeline's friend and a New York Times Bestselling Romance Author, thus the book signing portion of tonight's shindig, didn't warn Adeline about Charlie before the party started. And after a fifteen-minute sales pitch in which Adeline couldn't get a word in, Adeline heard herself blurting to Charlie, "Masturbation is against my religion."
Maybe she should have just bought the handy-dandy orgasm toy. See if it lived up to the hype.
"Ladies, it's time for pole dancing," an attractive woman said. She wore an off-the-shoulder seamless black mini dress with lots of cut-out details.
Adeline half listened, her attention still on the women talking about multiple orgasms. In Adeline's experience, multiple orgasms were a myth. Much like the happy-ever-afters spouted about in the romance books Kinley wrote.
"And I understand we have a volunteer to help me demonstrate the moves," the instructor said. "Adeline, where are you? Raise your hand."
Adeline turned her attention to the wooden dance floor. To the dance instructor. The woman had straight blond hair with bright pink tips. Adeline raised her hand.
"Let's give Adeline a big hand for volunteering," the perky instructor said.
Kinley magically appeared in front of Adeline. "Aren't you the lucky one? You're going to get one-on-one lessons with Maggie." Kinley took Adeline's glass of wine from her tight grasp and turned her toward the dance floor.
Adeline planted her feet. "I didn't volunteer," she said in a low whisper.
Kinley set her lips in a firm line. "Don't be a spoilsport. You get to go first. And besides, this way you won't have to worry about dirty hands being on the stripper pole before you."
"Oh." Kinley had a good point. Adeline started to say so but got distracted by the sight of two men coming out of one door that maybe led to an office or something, and leaving Tu-Tus through the main entrance off the studio area. Da-amn their asses were fine.
"What are you waiting for?" Kinley said. "Go." She smiled like a tipsy angel at Adeline. "Everyone, this is Adeline. She doesn't know how to have fun. Let's help her have some fun."
"Ad-e-line ... Ad-e-line ... Ad-e-line," the party-goers chanted.
Adeline found herself moving toward the floor of poles. "I should have drank more," she mumbled. It was one thing to learn to pole dance with thirty other women learning to do the dirty tango at the same time, but to be on display while they watched her learn was a whole other thing.
"Hi Adeline, I'm Maggie Oliver. Have you ever pole danced before?" "I line-danced in fifth grade. Does that count?" Adeline's voice came out squeaky.
The instructor laughed. "Not even a little bit. The first thing you need to do is learn how to stand like a dancer. I'd like for you to roll your shoulders back and stand tall. Like this."
Adeline mimicked the instructor's stance.
"Grasp the pole with your right hand and stand up on your toes."
With more attitude than grace, Adeline did as she was told. "Now what?" She did her best not to think about all of the other hands that had been on this instrument of male sexual fantasies.
"You're going to dance-walk around the pole," Maggie said.
"Yeah, I'm going to need a little more instruction than that."
Maggie laughed. "Lucky for you, that's what I'm here for. With your inside foot, step, then bring the other foot forward, sort of dragging the big toe as you go. So it's step ... drag, step ... drag, step ... drag, step ... drag. You'll do that to a count of eight."
Adeline took a step with her right foot, and then dragged her left foot forward, leading with her big toe. "Got it."
"Let's try it with some music," Maggie said. "I'll count, you step."
Adeline nodded. Stood up on her toes.
"One, two. Three, four. Five, six. Seven, eight."
Adeline avoided glancing at the wall of mirrors out of fear it would confirm she resembled an overweight ballerina with a broken leg. Instead, she concentrated on following the instructions. Stepping on the odd numbers and dragging on the evens. She circled the pole for three eight counts before caving to curiosity and sneaking an eight-count peek in the mirror. Ugh. Jennifer Lopez she wasn't.
"Okay." Maggie turned off the music. "Great job. Next, I want you to lean your back against the pole, and then raise your right arm and wrap it behind the pole and grasp."
"Perfect. Now slowly slide your back down the pole, and, as you do, start to open your legs at the knees. Time it so that when your ass touches your heels your knees are spread wide open."
Adeline grimaced. "You really want me to spread my legs for a bunch of drunk women who've been purchasing vibrators and romance books all night?"
"Imagine your dream man is the only one watching," Maggie countered.
Adeline took a deep breath and tried the move. It wasn't pretty. She slid like there were patches of glue catching her back and holding her, forcing her to jerk to get loose.
The audience laughed.
She laughed with them.
On the third try, she decided to do what Maggie suggested. Imagined her dream man. Since she didn't have a dream man, her brain conjured up the ass of one of the men she'd seen leaving earlier. He'd been wearing a fedora, and she sort of had a thing for men in fedoras. Magically, she slid down the pole like a pro.
"That's what I'm talking about!" Maggie cheered.
Her audience hooted and hollered like the horny drunks they were.
Adeline took a bow and then took a step toward the bar.
"Where are you going?" Maggie asked.
"To sanitize my hands."
Maggie's eyes crinkled around the corners. "Stay put. It's everyone's turn. Anyone who wants to learn can come on up. Adeline and I will help you with the stepping, and then I'm going to teach all of you to twirl and hang upside down. And, if you like, I'll teach you a move that I guarantee will drive your man wild."
"Guaranteed to drive a man wild?" Adeline was skeptical. But learning to swing upside down did sort of sound like fun.
"Guaranteed," replied Maggie.
Adeline grabbed her pole with both hands. "Let's do this."CHAPTER 2
Jack Foster dropped onto a bar stool next to his best friend, Ian, and ordered a beer. He'd prefer a whiskey, but his gut told him the party next door might get a little out of hand and someone, him, might be called on to drive drunken women home. "My eyes have seen things not meant to be seen," he said to Ian who was married to Jack's little sister, Kinley. "Why didn't we just drop off the wine and get the hell out of there?"
Leave it to his kid sister to host a happy-hour book signing and not have enough wine on hand. Or did she have plenty of wine, and it was just a ploy to get him back to the party so she could parade potential women in front of him for her half-baked idea? He took his hat off and ran his hand through his hair.
Ian set his bottle down and gave Jack a look of amusement. "Dude, don't blame that on me. You're the one who wanted to see if the redhead bought the purple dildo she was examining."
"Oh yeah." Jack's beer came. He took a swig and stared at the bottle. He wasn't going to lie, the sight of the woman with crazy red curls and big blue eyes boldly holding the sex toy up to the light, twisting it this way and that ... Turned. Him. On. Unfortunately, he'd also witnessed his sister fondling similar merchandise. He shuddered. Not okay. No brother should ever witness his sister holding a sex toy.
Maybe if he poured the beer in his eyes it would burn that memory away.
He'd spent the afternoon helping his sister set up for the event and venting to her about his mentor's declaration over lunch that "the retiring managing partner would never allow Jack to advance to branch partner until he married."
Antiquated bullshit. As if his selection of a spouse had anything at all to do with his abilities in the workplace. Hell, if anything, his single status should be viewed as a bonus, not a detriment, proving that he was 100% dedicated to his job. No wife, child, or family obligations to distract him. But no. Mr. Carpenter was old school. Believing first and foremost in the importance of family and community, and balance in life.
When Jack mentioned all of this to his sister, she'd assumed he was asking for advice. She'd been wrong. In no universe would he have asked her for advice or help to remedy the situation. Not of his kid sister. The Ying to his Yang. The head-in-the-clouds possibilities to his black-and-white rules.
Jack worked for Carpenter & Company Accounting Firm. A global firm with its headquarters in Kansas City where the company first started seventy-five years ago. The partner hierarchy consisted of the retiring managing partner, the managing partner, six headquarter partners, and twenty-five branch partners.
Jack currently held the title of senior accountant. Branch partner came next. Five of the twenty-five branches were up for new branch partners. He wanted one of those spots.
It was an asinine viewpoint in this day and age to expect your male employees to be married before offering advancement. But the retiring managing partner still held the final approval, and he wouldn't retire for another two years.
Jack owed his mentor for letting him in on the secret handshake that opened partner doors. He invited Jack to lunch to let him know his name had been submitted. But ... it wasn't likely he would be green-lighted for the promotion. He'd asked Jack if there was anyone special in his life.
Like an idiot, Jack said yes.
"Are you going to go ask her out when the party's over?" Ian asked.
"Who?" Jack asked, realizing he'd been staring moodily at his beer like a girl with a broken heart.
"The redhead. Maybe she can be your pretend fiancée," Ian said, elbowing him in the side.
Pretend fiancée. A smile tugged at his lips. That had been Kinley's idea. And, according to her, she had the perfect woman in mind for the job. He and Ian had had a good laugh over Kinley's idea. "You're hilarious, dude." Of course, Jack wasn't interested in a pretend fiancée. Or a real one. Marriage got marked off his to-do list many years ago, when he'd been left at the altar. But, then again, desperate times called for desperate measures. "I bet Red's got men lining up to date her. No time for pretend shit."
"You're probably right." Ian glanced at his watch. "Hell. I've got to go. I'll catch you tomorrow."
"Later." Jack watched his friend leave and then turned back to his beer. His thoughts drifted back to Red.
There was something about the way she carried herself that owned his attention from the moment he entered the dance studio. When she'd held that dildo up to the light and examined it with such concentration, his mouth sprung open. It wasn't until Ian popped him on the shoulder and told him he was drooling that he'd pulled his shit together.
Was Red the one who would be teaching the participants how to pole dance? The thought caused Jack to pause, and an image of what her ass might look like took hold. She was a vision with her curves beneath that tight, vintage T-shirt.
Were all of the participants drunkenly swinging on stripper poles right now?
If Red was still there when he got back to help Kinley clean up, maybe he'd ask her out for a drink. What could it hurt?CHAPTER 3
The party was over. All that remained was Adeline, Kinley, and a bottle of red wine.
Adeline sat on the floor, leaning against her stripper pole. "I named my pole Stud Muffin. Stud Muffin is long and hard and can go all night without getting limp ... unlike my last hookup." Who had been a one-and-done kind of guy.
Kinley giggled. She took a swig of wine and almost dropped it in the handoff to Adeline. "Oops. My arms feel like melted rubber bands. Ian better not want a hand job tonight." Ian was Kinley's husband. A man Adeline had yet to meet.
Adeline snorted. She wiped the top of the wine bottle with the hem of her T-shirt and then took a long drink.
Kinley tilted sideways. "I named my pole Big Boy. I'm going to buy him for our apartment in New York." Planting both hands on the floor to balance her sways, she made a concerted effort to sit up straight.
Adeline rolled her eyes and wiggled a finger in Kinley's face. "If you do that now, Ian's going to expect you to still be stripper-poling it when you're old." Adeline peeled off her T-shirt, revealing her pink sports bra and enjoying the cool air on her hot skin.
"Working a stripper pole is minor compared to some of the things Ian expects of me already. Have you ever heard of a spanking society?" Adeline grimaced. "No. NO! And I don't want to." She placed her hands over her ears. "La, la, la, la." She had no desire to hear more about Kinley's love life. Especially if she did that spanking shit. Well, maybe she was a little bit curious.
Kinley hiccupped. "Who would have ever thought that Adeline Rigby could dance a pole like a pro? I'm pretty sure you could get paid to do that. You totally twirled on that pole."
"I'm pretty sure my birth mom did get paid to strip," Adeline said. Well ... hell. She hadn't meant to share that. Damn wine.
Kinley hiccupped again. "Your mom stripped?" Adeline shrugged. "It's no big deal." She didn't need anyone to feel sorry for her.
Kinley's wine smile faded. "You never talked about your birth family when we lived together in college."
"Not much to say." Adeline couldn't even remember what her birth mom looked like. Had she been pretty? It had been so long. And she didn't have any pictures. Not that she wanted any. "You're killing my fun."
Kinley gave a hiccup-sigh. "How's Dottie?"
Adeline exhaled a slow breath. "She has cancer." Dottie was her final foster mom growing up.
"What kind of cancer?"
"The kind that kills you." Talking about Dottie made Adeline's chest hurt. Made it hard to breathe. Made her feel like a hand grenade blew up inside of her. Time to change the subject. "I thought your brother and husband were coming?"
"Shit. Why didn't you introduce us? I wanted to meet the man who declined the offer of your virginity when you were sixteen."
Kinley gave her a goofy grin. "You were busy."
"Carefully examining a certain purple toy."
Adeline grimaced. "Charlie made me examine it." The buxomly woman had completely out-bullied Adeline. And Adeline prided herself on being a pretty good bully when the occasion called for it. Thank God Kinley didn't try to introduce her to the two most important men in her life in the middle of that episode.
"Charlie can be pushy," Kinley said. "She's why I came back to Kansas City to host a book signing."
"That I buy. Unlike the purple, dilly-doe-doe-thing-y. That, I did not buy."
Kinley took her hair out of its bun. "I bought two. You can have one of them. Do you like being a company chef?"
Adeline jumped on the change of subject. "It's a stepping stone on my five-year plan. If you'd held your book signing at a normal venue, I could have prepared a fantastic spread for the party."
"I wanted you to come and have fun, not work." Kinley wiggled a finger at her. "I bet the last stone in your five-year plan is to get married."
Adeline wiggled a finger. Her middle finger. Not on purpose. It just popped out, sort of like inappropriate comments tended to blurt out whenever she opened her mouth. "You'd be betting wrong. It's opening a French bakery." She folded her middle finger back in.
Kinley pursed her lips. "Is marriage in there anywhere?"
"Love destroyed my mom and my childhood. Why would I take a chance at having the same bad taste in men as she did?"
Kinley's forehead puckered.
Adeline could tell she was debating whether to argue her point or not. Eventually she shrugged and offered a genuine, if slightly drunken, smile. "I'm glad your career dreams are coming true."
Adeline lifted her hair off her neck. She hated talking about herself. "I can't believe you eloped to Las Vegas. That is so cliché."
Kinley gave her a grin. "Speaking of marriage, and the fact you're not searching for love, my brother needs a pretend fiancée."
Excerpted from The Attraction of Adeline by Lisa Wells, Vanessa Mitchell. Copyright © 2017 Lisa Wells. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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