PRETTY BAD BY SHIRLEY JUMP

“You’re like a train wreck, you know that? Just rolling in, screwing up my life.”

“Hey, I was only trying to help,” Madison said, stepping forward and pointing a finger at his chest, the one that had sacrificed a nail to his

nasty front porch. “And I haven’t even known you long enough to screw up your life. If you have some history with the evil kitty cat woman back there, that’s your problem. I was just trying to keep your marketing project under wraps.”

He scowled. “You could have come up with a better plan.”

“I don’t exactly think well on my feet.”

“Must be the shoes,” he said, eyeing her Manolos. “Those pointy toes probably cut off the circulation to your brain.”

Madison’s first instinct was to grab a box of Fruit Loops—on sale for three-ninety-nine—and beat him with them until his head was the same

rainbow color as the cereal.

But that wouldn’t be a good choice for a woman whose entire financial future was hinging on this one job. So Madison sucked up her anger and

glared at Jack instead. “Then call off the wedding,” she said. “I’m sure no one would blame you for dumping me.”

“I’m sure they wouldn’t. You—” He had a finger pointed at her, then cut himself off at the sound of a familiar pair of high heels clicking up the aisle, warning of the approach of the evil cat.

Jack looked at Madison, she looked at him, both recognizing the sound at the same time in the nearly empty store. They had two choices—either

try to hide behind the Cocoa Puffs or go for an Oscar.

“She’s coming,” Madison whispered. “You’d better pretend to love me, at least for now.”

He glared at her. “I’d rather go bankrupt.”

“Men,” she muttered. “Stubborn as walls.” Then, before Jack could lose his shirt, she reached forward, drew his mouth toward her own, and

kissed him.

Once again, Madison hadn’t thought—she’d reacted. That had always been one of her greatest faults, and one of her greatest strengths. Most of the time, acting without thinking had led her to leap off cliffs she

never would have tried.

And other times, it had caused her to run face-first into a concrete wall of stupidity.

She hoped kissing Jack Pleeseman wasn’t in the second category.

Startled, he didn’t kiss her back at first, and it seemed as if the whole impetuous plan was going to backfire. She kept on, lifting her

fingers into his hair, curving into his body, asking him without words to go along with her. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Kitty round the corner and stop, gaping at them.

A monkey could have seen that there was zero carnal knowledge between Madison and Jack—and even less sexual attraction.

But then, something within him melted and the icy wall of anger washed away, replaced by the heat that had simmered in his office earlier. The game she’d begun, the act she’d put on, had suddenly become something real, tangible.

Instead of her kissing him, things shifted and he began to take the lead, his powerful mouth claiming hers, guiding her in a heated dance that urged her to open to him, to allow him access she hadn’t allowed anyone in a long, long time. She forgot about the store, Kitty, the marketing ploy. All she felt, all she knew, was this man and the magic touch of his lips, his fingers and the whisper of his breath against hers.

She arched against him, softening into his chest like butter on toast, her fingers tangling in his hair, her tongue sliding into his mouth,

tangoing with his, teasing, tasting, trying each other out, learning the curves, the valleys.

After a moment, Madison vaguely heard the distant sound of heels clicking angrily away, growing distant. Leaving. She heard a man clear his throat. Someone call for a price check on Spaghetti-O’s. The coast was clear.

And then, just like that, the magic dissipated and the kiss was over.