When Lucy Hollister tried to drop-kick her personal computer out her second-story window, she had no idea it would eventually lead to the seduction of her very hot, very yummy best friend, Rory Carlisle.
After all, she’s the queen of passivity, and he’s the reining king of the non-committed relationship. When a sexy online flirtation leads the couple into some steamy situations, Rory realizes that his cute best friend is letting loose—in the best possible way.
Can this couple get past old hurts and guarded hearts to embrace the passionate love that awaits?

If inanimate objects could talk, Lucy Hollister would lay odds this one was giving her the finger right now.
The ruined computer tower sat on her bathroom floor, mocking her, the tail end of her graphic design project stuck somewhere in its depths.
A project due on her boss’s desk tomorrow.
The damn thing seemed to be gloating. "Just give me one reason," she taunted, "why you shouldn’t be a recycled can opener. I’ll do it."
The phone rang. Lucy picked it up, still eyeing the moronic machine. "Consider yourself saved."
"Yeah?" Fury and frustration burned through her, leaving her manners checked at the door. Or, more accurately, on the bathroom floor. At this point, she didn’t give a monkey’s butt if Emily Post herself waited on the line.
Her pulse jumped and little bombs of pleasure detonated in her at the sound of Rory Carlisle’s voice. "Hey."
Loud music played in the background, interlaced with several voices. He must be at Barney’s, thinking of their favorite bar.
"What’s up? You sounded weird on your message." His deep baritone, flavored with a thick Texas accent, flowed like warm honey over her bones. Warm honey she wanted Rory to lick off her body.
Get your mind out of the gutter, Hollister. Before her temporary leap from sanity, Lucy had placed a Mayday call to her best friend, and incidentally, the IT manager at her design firm, leaving a message that provided only the basics: "my computer’s broken"—which it was, technically, albeit in actual pieces—and "help"—which she needed.
"My computer’s broken," Lucy said again.
"Yeah, I got that part. What happened?"
"Um, it just…broke."
"They don’t just break, Lucy," he said, in his Master of the Universe voice, the one that hinted at his superiority in matters of technology.
"This one did."
He sighed. "Explain it to me."
In the background, she heard a husky female voice speak Rory’s name in a low tone filled with promise. He murmured something soft to the woman and they laughed, and a hot spurt of pure jealousy lanced through Lucy. Must be on another date.
Silenced stretched over the phone, and Lucy figured whatever distracted Rory were just boobs and a sexy voice. Nothing unusual there, she thought grimly. The man went through women like a box of Kleenex. A few moments later, Rory said, "Luce? Are you there?"
Her gaze cut over to the bathroom where the evidence of her carnage lay bruised and broken on the floor. This would be the hard part. Rory was of those weird techno-geeks who abhorred violence against machines. Go figure.
Then again, she’d committed capital murder.
"Well, see, it started smoking, which I took as a sign of impending doom."
Rory groaned.
"Then it popped."
"What did you do, Lucy?" Rory asked, worry for the fate of technology evident in his voice.
She hesitated a moment. He would take the news hard. Better to give it to him fast, ripping it off like a band-aid. She bit her lip, fearing his reaction. "I sort of tried to drop kick it out my bathroom window."
Lucy winced when Rory didn’t respond. Beyond him, guitar riffs and a crooning voice echoed into a microphone.
"Never thought to call me first?" he asked at length.
"Well, I thought that would be evident since you’re returning my call."
"I’m pretty sure I’m going to regret asking this, but why the bathroom window?"
"The community dumpster is right under it."
"Jesus H. Christ, woman. Where is the damn thing now? In pieces all over the concrete?" His frustration reached her from twenty miles away, and she winced again. "Your damned lucky no one decided to take out their trash when you decided to lose your fricking mind."
"Really, if you want to place blame, my landlord would be a fine start," Lucy said with rancor, referring to Arnold F. Granger, Landowner, or that rat bastard slumlord as he was better known by the tenants who occupied his five townhouses. "If he’d decided like a normal person to give each house its own trashcan, I wouldn’t have been forced to lob it into the dumpster."
"Taking it down there like a normal person slipped your mind, I take it."
"Had you been listening," she continued, railroading over him, "you would’ve realized I laid emphasis on the word tried. The use of deductive reasoning would conclude my plan failed."
"I repeat: Where is the damn thing now?"
Once again, Lucy’s eyes moved to the bathroom. "It’s on the bathroom floor."
"Still in one piece?"
"Ah, that’s debatable. I may have heard a rattle when I kicked it."
"You know what, forget about explanations. Nothing you can tell me will refute this truth: you are absolutely, one-hundred-percent nuts."
"This is not news, Rory."
"Don’t touch the computer. Back the hell away from it, go downstairs, have some tea. I’m on my way. Don’t touch it," he warned again before ending the connection.
She’d pissed him off, but that was a natural ability she possessed, and it wasn’t just Rory who enjoyed the benefits. Although, his reactions were the most entertaining and fulfilling, at least in Lucy’s masochistic mind, because he always riled her. Lucy must be insane if she scrambled after the breadcrumbs of his ire.
Her two-year-old Boston Terrier, aptly named, The Beast, stood at her feet, his cropped ears perked and little smashed snout cocked at an angle while he studied his mistress.
"Don’t even start with me, dog."
Feeling a throb, Lucy looked down at the thigh she’d scratched during her ‘episode’ and winced. She really needed to get that cleaned up.
One floor down, her doorbell rang, followed by a series of rapid knocks. The Beast’s black head perked up before he tore out of the bathroom, his shrill barks traveling through her townhouse as he focused his ire on the visitor.
Lucy fished out a few tissues from a box on her desk. She held them to her scratched thigh and hurried down the stairs, trying not bleed on the carpet and incur any more home improvement charges. Between the cost of repairing her hacked bathroom floor and the blasted computer, she’d be broke.
In her mind, she heard her mother’s voice. You brought this on yourself, Lucille. Her impulsiveness, or what her mom referred to as her "tendency toward melodrama," had landed in her in one form of trouble or another her whole life. Lucy liked to think it made life more interesting. But to her family, it just drove their theory home: Lucy needed divine intervention.
Lucy knew before she opened the door her elderly and extremely nosy neighbor, Mr. Waverly, would be standing on her front porch step, cane in hand. She already saw him peering in the entry window. After all that racket, he probably thought she’d been attacked.
"Back, Beast!" she ordered.
The Beast ignored her.
She bent down and picked up her little dog, which forced her to remove the hand that staunched the bleeding. Taking a calming breath, Lucy opened the door and forced a smile. "Hi, Mr. Waverly."
He looked at her through rheumy blue eyes. "What the hell’s going on up there?"
Although no housing association existed in this neighborhood, Johnny Waverly had elected himself chairman. He took it upon himself to eyeball every tenant’s postage-stamp front lawn and the condition of their vehicles, and kept himself apprised of all of the goings-on on the street. Lucy knew he meant well, but there were times when she wanted to take that cane and beat him over the head with it.
Gently, of course.
"I moved some furniture and fell down," she lied.
The Beast barked after she spoke, as if revealing her dishonesty. She shushed him. Damn dog never took her side.
Something told her Mr. Waverly hadn’t joined the rest of the technological world. Besides, in the wake of recent events, Lucy had begun to think she might very well be insane, which would be even harder to explain, and only confirm what he already suspected.
He watched the blood trickle down her leg. "Looks like you cut yourself."
"Just a scratch. Thanks for your concern!"
She started to shut the door, but he stuck his cane in.
"It’s bleeding," he pointed out.
Thank you, Captain Obvious, she thought, but guilt settled in immediately. He’s just trying to be helpful, Lucy reminded herself. He’s a lonely, old man. He can’t help it if that makes him mildly paranoid.
"I’ve got some band-aids in the first aid kit upstairs," she told him, which was true. Maybe.
Lucy would tell him anything he wanted to hear, just to get him out of her house. She didn’t want Rory pulling in her driveway to find Mr. Waverly on her stoop. Everyone in Lucy’s life thought she showed no common sense. And yeah, trying to throw a computer out of her second-window showed a complete lack of said sense, but she was under duress. And, yeah, she’d called in the Calvary in the form of a six-foot-one sexy god, but this was Rory. He was the only person who treated her like an adult.
"You damage anything else?" Mr. Waverly asked, his concern replaced by dogged suspicion.
Lucy still wasn’t convinced her penny-pinching slumlord hadn’t planted Mr. Waverly onsite just to weed out information. Of course, she might be paranoid.
Must be the blood loss.
"Everything’s just fine, Mr. Waverly."
He made no attempt to remove the cane jammed in her door. Blue eyes she imagined were once clear and sharp, took in her face, searching, she was sure, for signs of deception.
Lucy rolled her eyes as her friend and neighbor, Emily Jenkins, came strolling around the front walk, eyes big and blue, her long blonde hair swinging, looking all of nineteen. Especially in the blue and white checkered jumper; an outfit she hadn’t been wearing when they’d gone for their standing monthly spa appointment earlier.
"Nice outfit," Lucy said.
"My sister is playing the lead in The Wizard of Oz in her town’s community theatre. I promised I’d make her costume."
"And that explains why you’re parading around in it how?"
"We’re the same size." Emily raised her eyebrows at Mr. Waverly’s back. "What’s with all the raucous?"
Mr. Waverly turned and smiled at Emily, the only person on earth, Lucy was positive, the old man liked. "Your friend’s having some trouble." He puffed up like a bird. "I just came by to see if she was alright."
My ass.
"I’m fine. Just a little tumble is all. No need to invite the whole damn neighborhood," she muttered.
This was turning from bad to worse. Any minute, Adam and Kate Johnson, who lived in same townhouse as Emily, would come traipsing over with their three kids and Golden Retriever to join the show.
From the street beyond the concrete walkway that curved around the side of her house, she heard the telltale sound of Rory’s 1965 vintage Corvette. The engine roared with three-hundred-and-twenty-seven cubic inches of pure, unadulterated power. The door slammed, and seconds later Rory rounded the corner, adding to the party. Lucy reminded herself to yank her tongue back into her mouth.
He jammed his keys into the pocket of snug, well-worn blue jeans that molded to him like a soft glove, and Lucy wished she had been reincarnated as a pair of Levis. He raked a hand through short, spiky black hair, a scowl pulled low over his deep-set, cobalt eyes.
Eyes that narrowed with every step that took him closer to her door.
He nodded at Emily. "Hey, Em. Where’s your little dog, Toto?" His thick accent tickled over Lucy’s skin. Just the sight of him made little tingles flush over her body. You are so pathetic.
Emily used her middle finger to scratch her nose.
"This little spitfire givin’ you trouble, sir?" Rory asked.
Mr. Waverly twisted as fast as his old bones allowed, and turned those shifty eyes on Rory. "Seems like she’s having a bit of trouble herself, moving couches and tables around with just those tiny arms for support."
"Hey," Lucy protested. "I may be small, but I’m wiry."
Both men shot each other a glance that ended with a snort of laughter.
"Face it Luce," Rory said with a grin, "even if you went head to head with a class full of preschoolers, the odds are dicey."
"If you guys are done with your merciless, and may I add, completely unprovoked attack, I’ll be leaving now." Lucy tried to shut the door again, groaning in frustration when she realized the wily old bastard still hadn’t removed his cane.
Rory moved around Mr. Waverly and, in typical Rory fashion, bullied his way inside her house.
He looked down at her. "What happened to your leg?"
"Don’t ask."
"Show me the scene of the crime."
Lucy rolled her eyes, but led him up the stairs and around the back to her home office and the half-bath inside. Rory stopped behind her. She smelled his aftershave and something exotic and distinctly feminine, which made her think of the sexy voice and boobs. Her heart melted a little bit at the idea he’d left his date to help her out.
Loud clumping followed along with the click-click-click of The Beast’s toenails tapping along the hardwood floor. When Lucy looked up, Rory, Emily and the uninvited, always nosy Mr. Waverly had their eyes trained on the mess that lay below.
"What in name of Ike Turner is that?" Mr. Waverly asked.
The "scene of the crime" lay just as she’d left it, though she’d hoped the evidence of her temporary leap from sanity had been a bad dream.
Not so much. In fact, it looked even worse. Maybe I don’t have any common sense. Maybe what everybody thinks is true. Lucy ordered her inner critic to shut the hell up, trying to focus on the present.
"That, my fine man," Rory said, "is an example of what takes place when bad things happen to good computers."
"Them one of those iPod thingies I been hearin’ so much about on the idiot box?"
"Close," Rory replied, though how he maintained a straight face, Lucy had no idea.
Emily rolled her eyes.
He crouched down on long, lean legs that pulled against the worn cotton of his jeans and examined the ruined remains. "It looks like you took a sledgehammer to it." He ran his fingers over the twisted, tortured metal.
Touch me like that.
"Oh, Lucy, what did you do now?" Emily asked.
Lucy bit her lip and tried to stem the tide of self-doubt that threatened to overwhelm her. She knew her friend meant well, but it only reinforced Lucy’s view of herself. She was torn between the urge to burst into tears or start punching something.
Emily leaned closer and whispered, "You know, they say violence against inanimate objects is a sign of deeper issues."
The tears that had threatened drifted away like clouds in a storm. "Zip it, Dorothy, or I’ll sic my flying monkeys on your corn-fed ass."
Rory turned and looked up at her. "Where’s your laptop?"
Lucy looked away and stared intently at a spot high on the windowsill.
"Lucy," he said, warning in his tone.
"I wasn’t using it! It’s so hard to work on that thing with the little…pad-mouse-thingamajig. I can’t create any decent design without it looking like a toddler on crack made it."
"What did you do with it?"
She waited a beat, and then admitted, "I sold it on eBay. I got a really good deal on it, and I used the money to buy that Coach bag I’ve had my eye on plus the matching wallet. Oh, and the scarf and hat, too," she added.
Rory shook his head. "Well, as long as you got the scarf and hat." He pierced her with his deep blue eyes. "You do know your mouse problem is easily remedied, right?"
She sent him a look that said she thought he was nuts. "Would we be having this conversation if I did?"
"How is it that someone who hates computers chose a career where she works on one daily?"
Lucy chewed on her thumb. "Still trying to figure that one out myself, Sporto." She nodded her head at the mangled machine. "So, can you work your magic?"
Rory let out a short bark of laughter. "Not even I’m that good." With gentle ease, he lifted one end of the silver tower, wincing when a chunk of metal dropped to the floor with a clatter. "I’ll see what I can do."
From behind them, Mr. Waverly asked, "Is that a rip in the linoleum?"
Lucy groaned.