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Love & Oreos by

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Chapter 1 — Katherine

I couldn’t take my eyes off the surgically enhanced bubblehead hawking her herbal supplements. Either all that silicone was going to fall out of her teeny-tiny tank top or the balding, slightly paunchy guy in front of her was going to do a face plant right into the center of her highly expensive assets.

Whichever way it went, I didn’t want to miss it.

“What about you? You look like you work out,” Plastic Surgery Barbie said to a different guy in the front row.

I snorted, unable to help myself. I elbowed my best friend, Will, who still humored me by hanging out in the throng of people at the convention center while we were on a break from our own booth. Curling one hand around his bicep, I stroked my way up to his chest with the other.

“Wow. You look like you’ve been working out, too.” I channeled Marilyn Monroe the same way Plastic Surgery Barbie had.

Batting my lashes exaggeratedly, I looked up and lost my breath as I locked onto a pair of eyes that most assuredly did not belong to Will. These eyes were only a little lighter than the color of Oreos—easily my biggest personal vice. Worn a fraction of an inch too long, his rich, brown hair had honey highlights­ that could only have come from Mother Nature and the sun. The strands curled a bit on the ends and begged to have fingers run through it. My fingers, in particular, itched to do just that.

“Sorry, I thought you were someone else.” I still had my hands all over this perfect stranger, emphasis on perfect. I yanked them back. How did I miss that Will—my colleague and very gay best friend since college—was no longer standing next to me? I really should have noticed that the first second I touched all those muscles. Will kept in shape, but not like this.

“What? You don’t think she got that body with diet, exercise, and herbal supplements?” Mr. Oreo Eyes’ smooth bass voice would do any “love-songs-nothing-but-love-songs” radio show proud.

I raised an eyebrow. “Only her plastic surgeon knows for certain.”

“That’s harsh.”

“The truth hurts. And so does her back, I’m sure.”

“Hey, watch it,” he said. “That’s my sister.”

My eyes snapped to his as a humiliating sense of horror smothered me like a shroud.

A blush crept up my neck. “Oh God. I’m sorry.” I looked around for the nearest hole in the floor to jump in. When no escape hatch opened up, I scanned the room for Will, but he’d obviously deserted me in my hour of need or was lost in the crowd.

The annual business expo at the Cincinnati Convention Center brought people in droves. It didn’t matter what kind of local product or service you had to offer, this was the place for exposure. Which made it hard to keep up with wandering companions.

I started to ease away, but Mr. Oreo Eyes reached out and tugged me back. “I was kidding,” he said with a grin that brought out a devilish dimple in his cheek.

As if he weren’t beautiful enough without it. But what really did it for me was his height. That and his shoulders. He had those great coat-hanger shoulders that runners and basketball players have. They made an upside down triangle directly into a pair of slim hips and strong thighs that flexed under his dress trousers as he pulled me back from the crowd.

I narrowed my eyes on him. “That wasn’t very nice.”

His grin widened. “Never claimed to be.” He shrugged. “Haven’t you heard? Nice guys finish last.”

“And you’re always in it for first place.” He definitely had that captain-of-the-football-team personality thing going for him. Given my history with football captains, that thought should have had me running for the hills.

“You know it.”

I rolled my eyes at the blatant show of testosterone. I could almost smell it. Or maybe that was his cologne. Warm and clean and a little citrusy. Yumm.

“So I take it you’re not here for the herbal supplements,” he said with the kind of wink only truly beautiful people can get away with.

I had no idea why he was flirting with me, but I was willing to enjoy it as long as he was.

“Uh, no. My company has a booth. You?”

“The same.”

I was about to ask him which company he worked for when Plastic Surgery Barbie targeted my new friend. “You in the back. Your body is nearly perfect. What supplements do you take?”

Whenever she spoke, I heard, “Happy Birthday, Mr. President…

“Thank you, but I just eat my five fruits and veggies every day.”

“Give me a break,” I muttered as she went on to someone else. “She’s like a shark out trolling for chum.”

“Jealous?”

“Oh, pul-eease!” As if. I mean, sure, she probably got more attention than I would have if I walked naked through Times Square with a neon sign, but still.

Don’t get me wrong. I usually like me. I have it on good authority that I’m smart, funny, and even pretty. I have a great home, a fun car, and lots of good friends. And my job would soon be millimeters shy of perfect. Soon meaning tomorrow. Because there was one project standing between me and a permanent promotion to creative director at the ad agency where I worked.

If I could successfully lead it, then I would be the youngest director in the firm’s history. I’d get a new office and a hefty raise. And, I’d finally be out from under the oppressive supervisory weight of one Bennington Wurther III, son of the founder of Wurther Advertising and my current boss.

I am, however, well… the current term is zaftig. Curvy. Voluptuous. I carry it well—or as well as it can be carried, at least. But I would be the first to admit that I obsess about my weight too much. Friends compare me to Queen Latifah and Adele—compliments, both—but several really bad experiences have given me less than stellar feelings about my body. I should probably do something about it, but I have a lethal addiction to Oreos and an equally deadly aversion to exercise.

Problems clearly not shared by Mr. Oreo Eyes. He looked like he spent every waking minute in the gym. Not that he was muscle bound in an I-can-pull-a-truck-with-only-my-neck sort of way. Actually, except for the hair, he looked like a Marine. Lots of muscle definition—strategically shown off by his snug polo shirt—but still reasonably trim. Probably a runner.

I did an admirable job of not shuddering at the idea of running without a really good reason—like getting out of a burning building, for instance, or fleeing a pack of rabid wolves.

“Katherine Mendoza.” I stuck my hand out by way of introduction.

He hesitated for a really long moment as he took my hand into his much larger one. “Tyler Michelson.”

The warm tingle his touch gave me told me what I already knew. Tyler Michelson was the last kind of man I needed around.

The kind who would break my heart.

Chapter 2 — Quinn

Even as I said it, I knew giving this curvy dish a fake name would come back to bite me in the ass.

I didn’t care.

I knew from Will’s repeated assurances about Katherine’s professionalism that once she knew she was going to be heading my company’s ad campaign that she wouldn’t flirt with me. And she was flirting with me. And liking it. I liked it, too.

Which was weird. Katherine wasn’t my type.

That didn’t stop me from wanting to buy her coffee and chat her up. Maybe take a peek down her blouse. And looky there. A Starbucks right down the aisle.

She shivered and not because of the sub-zero air conditioning. Excellent.

“Coffee?”

“Excuse me?”

I stood a little closer to her than was strictly necessary, but what the hell. I guessed the effect it had. “You look cold. Give me five minutes, and I’ll get your hands warm, your heart pounding, and have you completely ready for action.”

“Good Lord. Does your mother know you’re on the loose?” she asked with an exaggerated eye roll.

“Probably best to leave my mom out of it.”

“I’m sure she would agree.”

Mom. Good grief. She’d love a girl like Katherine. Mom was tired of the type of women I usually dated. Note to self: Don’t let Katherine anywhere near Mom. I wasn’t ready to make plans or give Mom a reason to think I was.

“Mom just shakes her head.” I gave Katherine a grin.

“I believe that.” She smiled back.

Whoa. Killer smile. “So how about that coffee?”

She kept me hanging for a long moment before turning toward Starbucks. I followed her, enjoying the view.

Why? She wasn’t beautiful like most women I dated, but she had eyes the color of my favorite diving spot in Cozumel. And her lips looked like a red bow on top of a gift. She wore a long-sleeved shirt with her company’s logo on the pocket, which should’ve looked kind of butch, but instead served to draw the eyes of a breast man like myself right to the promised land.

She was tall, which was good. I get tired of hunching over to look women in the eye. I usually liked blondes, but Katherine had dark hair, pulled into some twisty thing on the back of her head. I wondered what it looked like down.

I’d eat my own shoe if she’d been to the gym any time lately. She wasn’t fat but definitely well rounded. All those curves made my hands twitch.

“I’d like a Mocha, please,” Katherine said to the barista.

“Would you like whipped cream on that?”

“Sure.”

The calorie counter in my head went spinning out of control. I reminded myself not everyone had a diet-and-exercise regimen like mine.

“Coffee,” I said on the tail end of Katherine’s order, pulling out my wallet. “Black.”

“Separate bills,” she told the barista.

I raised an eyebrow. “I invited you. I pay.” Though even when a woman invites me out, which happens pretty often, I pay.

Katherine’s eyes narrowed. “You’re one of those guys who thinks all he has to do to score is pick up the check,” she said with a pseudo-shocked expression.

Was she kidding? Probably. “Oh, I can score without there being any money involved.”

She laughed like she didn’t mean to. A little explosion of mirth straight from her belly button.

I liked the sound. A lot. And wondered what it would take to make it happen again. I also wondered how long it would take for her to let me see her belly button.

What the hell was wrong with me? Obviously, I needed to get laid. But messing with Katherine was fun.

I paid for our coffees and sat down at one of the small tables Starbucks had set up.

“So you do this often?” Katherine asked.

“Do what? Pick up beautiful women at herbal supplement seminars?”

“Oh, ack. Do me a favor?”

I leaned in a little closer and gave her my best bedroom eyes. “What’s that?”

When she reached her hand slowly toward my face, I figured I was making better progress than I’d realized. When she poked me in the forehead, I knew I was wrong. She had my number.

“Stop slinging the malarkey.” She took a deep breath. “A, you’re wasting your time. B, you’re losing my respect. And C, I’m not as desperate as I may appear and it takes a lot more than flattery to get me naked.”

Ouch. Shot down. I hadn’t been so brutally rejected since my junior year in college. Maybe not even then.

I ignored her rebuff. “Why would I think you seem desperate?”

Before she could answer, Will found us. Catching his eye, I shook my head once. He raised an eyebrow but didn’t give me away.

“Who do we have here?” Will said to no one in particular.

“Tyler Michelson,” I said to my old friend, deciding for some reason to keep up the lie. Keep digging the hole, idiot.

Will cleared his throat. “Er… nice to meet you.”

Katherine didn’t seem to catch the sarcasm in his voice.

“Your turn to man the booth,” Will said to her. “Ben’s had his fill. He requested you personally.”

Her jaw clenched. “Of course he did.”

Will grinned. “I’ll keep your new beau company for you.” He raised an eyebrow at me.

She exploded. “He’s most certainly not my beau.”

“Not until the top of the hour, but I’m working on it,” I said.

She picked up her coffee cup. “Tyler, it was interesting meeting you.”

“I think you’re forgetting something,” I said. “Like the part where you give me your phone number?” Might as well save some face.

She laughed. “Like you’d use it.”

I would have. For one thing, it would prove her wrong. For another, she amused me. Not to mention all those soft-looking curves really did it for me.

She disappeared, but I knew something she didn’t know. I’d be seeing her tomorrow. The thought made me grin again. I could hardly wait.