Series: The Trouble with Twins
Author: Sylvia McDaniel
Publisher: Virtual Bookseller
Length: 167 pages/70,000 words
Genres: Contemporary Romance (Comedy)
Heat Level: Sensual
The trouble with identical twins…
He's back. The one guy she never wanted to see again. Her high school indiscretion, Brent Moulton, has returned to Tyler, Texas. Only Jennifer Riley knows the truth about that night so long ago when she switched places with her twin sister, Julie, and gave her virginity along with her heart, to her sister's boyfriend in the backseat of his father's Mustang.
…they look alike.
Fifteen years later, life has thrown them back together. Will Brent realize he slept with the wrong twin? Will he overcome his commitment issues and realize that Jennifer just might be the right twin for him.
"Never again," Jennifer Riley vowed as she stepped into the black-paneled wooden coffin outside the entrance to the Hilton Hotel in downtown Tyler, Texas. Traffic whizzed by on Main Street, some cars slowing at the sight of a woman climbing into a coffin.
Jennifer tugged at her filmy black chiffon dress, trying to cover as much of her exposed cleavage as possible. "No matter how busy Julia gets or how much she pleads, I refuse to do this again. I didn't come back to Tyler to dress up as an over-the-hill sex queen."
Paul, her sister's employee, stood quietly by, holding the lid open. "Ready?"
Jennifer took a deep breath, dreading the darkness that would engulf her. "Yes, make it quick. I hate lying inside this creepy box."
Jennifer watched the coffin lid come down, shutting out the noise and headlights from the traffic.
"You all right?" Paul asked.
"Hurry!” Her breath sounded harsh in the darkness. She felt the pallbearers lift the coffin onto the cart and roll it along the sidewalk into the hotel.
After tonight, Julia, her twin sister, would have to find someone else to jump out of coffins and sing seductively when she needed help with her business. No ifs, ands, or buts!
As the new Development Director at County General Hospital, Jennifer would be way too busy to fill in at her sister's fledgling singing telegram company. Not to mention that popping out of coffins could be damaging to her career.
The cart jostled along the hallway of the hotel until she heard wolf whistles and loud, boisterous, voices cheering, and she knew they'd arrived at the party.
Paul rapped on the coffin lid. "Are you ready?"
Jennifer cleared her throat and searched for the button that would pop open the door. Whatever happened to women jumping out of cakes? What nut case thought coffins were funny?
The coffin lifted. She gripped the sides, trying to find her balance as the pallbearers slid the casket off the cart until the box stood upright. She landed with a jarring thunk on the floor. Why couldn't you get good pallbearers these days?
Paul tapped on the side of the coffin to let her know it was show time.
"In honor of your birthday, your friends and family have given you a gift from the other side. The other side of the hill, that is," Paul announced as the noise from the crowd swelled.
Music started to play, and Jennifer hit the button on the inside of the wooden box. The lid sprang open and she slinked out, her chiffon dress clinging like a second skin that left little to the imagination.
"Happy Birthday," she sang in her alto voice, her eyes blinded by the lights. She blinked rapidly, hoping her eyesight would adjust to the brightness of the room. When her vision finally cleared, she found herself staring into the face of the one man she'd hoped never to see again.
There before her, wearing a stunned expression on his face and a Marvin the Martian child's birthday hat on his head, sat Brent Moulton.
"Well, I'll be damned," said the captain of her old high school football team, the person voted most handsome and most likely to succeed.
Jennifer's voice cracked as she gazed into the emerald eyes of the boy who'd once been the object of her teenage dreams. A lock of dark hair lay across his high forehead. His full lips smiled as she stumbled over the words to the song she'd sung countless times.
I should never have agreed to do this tonight!
Dancing for a man who, almost fifteen years ago, hadn't known the difference between her and Julia was anything but special, but the show had to go on.
She slinked around him, her heart beating in her throat as she ran her hands along the hard, contoured muscles of his shoulders. Brent must have existed on nothing but Wheaties, because his physique resembled a professional football player's rather than that of a high school kid.
Of course, he would never remember her. She had portrayed Julia that night so long ago when they'd pulled a switch on him. Nevertheless, deep down inside, the foolish young girl Jennifer had been back then had convinced herself that he’d known which twin he was with. Yes, they looked alike, but when someone really knew the two of them, their differences were obvious.
With a coo that she hoped resembled Christina Aguilera’s crooning, she ran her fingers down his cheek as she began the last chorus of the song, the place in the act where she was supposed to lean forward and placed a chaste kiss on his cheek. She gazed at his lips, full and inviting, and remembered the feel of them against her own that moonlit night when he believed he was kissing Julia's lips.
She chickened out.
As the song ended, Brent reached up and unexpectedly pulled her onto his lap, wrapping her in his muscular arms. A full-blown explosion of magnetism rushed at Jennifer like a Eurail locomotive as she gazed into his laughing emerald eyes, catching her completely off guard.
Fifteen years had passed since that night, and still he'd tag teamed her libido and brought back all those annoying yearnings she thought she’d buried long ago.
Sprawled across Brent's lap, her bottom rested against his legs, and her head lay against his muscular arm. The memory of his kiss had her heart beating a sharp rhythm against her chest. Hopefully he'd forgotten his date with Julia the night before they left for college.
He ran his hand down her arm, leaving a trail of goose bumps beneath the black chiffon sleeve of her dress. "Hi," he said as his gaze swept down the length of her, his voice deeper, sexier than she remembered.
"Hi," she managed as a shiver ran down her spine and her lungs tightened beneath the unyielding black dress.
“It’s been a long time.” The corner of his lips turned up in a cocky grin. "Shouldn't I get some kind of official birthday kiss?"
Determined to control the situation, she placed her hands on his jaw and brought his face close to her lips. She placed a quick, chaste kiss on his cheek. "Happy birthday!"
Sylvia McDaniel and her very supportive husband Don, the love of her life, live in Texas with son Shane, Putz the klutzy dachshund and Ashley our shy dachshund. During the day, she works for a small insurance agency from home, helping clients with their commercial insurance coverage.
The weekends are spent working out in the garden until the temperature climbs above ninety degrees. Recently, with the help of her husband, she learned to make homemade blueberry and blackberry jam. Cooking is not her favorite past-time and she prefers Don’s cooking any day of the week.
Currently, she’s written fourteen novels. In the last year, she’s been a finalist in six writing contests and was a 1996 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart finalist. Sylvia is very involved with the Dallas Area Romance Authors.
She can be reached by email at Sylvia.McDaniel@verizon.net.
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