Zach Taylor wants to prevent his sister from making the biggest mistake of her life. But a little blonde with a killer body and silly-ass shoes keeps getting in his way.
Lily Morrisette knows Zach is wrong, wrong, wrong. And she plans to stick to him like glue until she can make him see that his plans are messing up his sister’s one shot at true love. First, though, she has to make the big Marine admit that’s a condition that even exists.
Between the Covers
My books always start with a character, and for some reason that’s usually the hero. In GETTING LUCKY, I remained true to form inasmuch as I’d already introduced Zach Taylor in HEAD OVER HEELS. But it was my heroine who first truly fired my imagination.
This book is for the girly-girls. You know who you are. Women who love jewelry. Clothes. Makeup. And most of all (you can see this one coming, right?) shoes. Women who don’t care to have their brushes with nature to be up close and personal. Women whom I’m betting can identify with Lily Morrisette who, for all her Marilyn Monroe looks and her abhorrence of bugs and dark woodsy places, is practical, competent, and good-hearted.
Of course, in Master Sergeant Zachariah Taylor’s estimation, she’s pretty much useless.
But then, hey, what’s the use of being an author if I can’t entertain myself showing my hero just how wrong he can be?
Awards + Kudos
- Getting Lucky won the Waldenbooks Bestselling Romantic Comedy award
- Getting Lucky is in the top ten on Amazon’s list for 2003.
- Getting Lucky spends its fifth week on the USA Today list.
- Getting Lucky spends yet another week (its fourth week) on the New York Times extended,USA Today, and Waldenbooks lists. This is its third week in a row at #2 on the Waldenbooks list!
- Getting Lucky spends three weeks on the New York Times extended list,USA Today lists, and Waldenbooks list! Getting Lucky debuted on the Waldenbooks list at #3, on the USA Today list at #41 and on the New York Times extended list at #24 on March 6, 2003!
Read an Excerpt
Lily Morrisette paused with her water glass suspended halfway to her lips as she stared in fascination at the big man letting himself in through the kitchen door. The granite tiles beneath her feet were smooth, and around her, the huge Laguna Beach ocean front house was silent, the only sound the distant ticking of the antique mission clock in the livingroom. Cool, salt breezes with an underlying hint of April flowers blew in on the man’s wake. But ‘cool’ wasn’t the first word to pop to Lily’s mind. He had to be about the hottest thing she’d ever clapped eyes on.
She knew who he was, of course, from the photographs Glynnis Taylor had shown her. But none of those came close to doing him justice, and Lily was caught flat-footed by the sheer impact of his physical presence.
He was six feet of dark and dangerous — you could tell the latter just by the way he held himself. As for the rest — the midnight black hair and dark jaw stubble, the long legs, andthose wide shoulders straining the navy material of his T-shirt — well, heck it was overkill, pure and simple.
Lily considered pouring her glass of water where it would do the most good to cool her down. She didn’t, naturally, but holypetunia. She’d finally met her fantasy man in the flesh.
Then he opened his mouth and wrecked the illusion.
“Who the hell are you?” he demanded, swinging an olive-drab duffle bag off his shoulder and down to the tiled floor. “And what are you doing in my kitchen? Where’s Glynnis?” His eyes were a clear, pale gray, the irises ringed in charcoal. Intense and unflinching, they narrowed between thick, dark lashes to rake over her, taking in her thin cotton, peppermint-ice-cream-colored drawstring pajama bottoms and tank top. The scrutiny served to remind Lily of every one of the extra ten pounds she could never seem to shed, no matter what. She set her glass down on the counter top with a sharp click, but refrained from responding in kind to his rudeness.
“You must be Glynnis’ brother Zach.” She stepped forward, extending her hand. “She’s away right now, but I’m Lily — Lily Morrisette. I’ve heard a lot about you since I started renting a room here.”
“The hell you say,” he growled, ignoring her proffered hand. His voice was so deep she could practically feel its vibration through the souls of her feet, the way she always registered the bass thumping from the car of the teenage boy who lived down the block whenever he drove past. It was also nearly as frigid as those iceberg eyes of his when he continued, “Glynnis’s always been a sucker for every con artist with a sad story to tell, but I didn’t think she’d go so far as to actually install one in our house while I was gone.”
“I hope you got whatever you were angling for while the opportunity was ripe, lady.” His gaze was so scornful it took all Lily’s starch not to recoil. “But don’t let that shapely little ass get too comfortable, because the free ride is officially over. Go pack your bags.”
He thought her bottom was shapely? And little? Then she gave herself a sharp mental shake. Good God, what was the matter with her? His opinion of her butt was hardly the point. Straightening her shoulders, she tipped up her chin. “No,” she said firmly, and crossed her arms over her breasts.
“What?” He went very still, as if no one ever contradicted him.
Perhaps no one ever did, Lily surmised, recalling that he was some hotshot Marine who specialized in reconnaissance missions. Then his mouth went hard, and part of her attention got distracted by the thin white scar that bisected his upper lip.
Funny the difference a few minutes and an insulting attitude could make. What she undoubtedly would have considered sexy as all get-out a moment ago struck her now as vaguely sinister. Pretty is as pretty does, Grandma Nell would’ve said, and for the first time Lily understood on a bone-deep, fundamental level exactly what her grandmother had meant. This guy’s behavior wasn’t pretty at all, and she refused to be the first to flinch in the strange game of Chicken they played. “What part of the word don’t you understand?” she inquired sweetly. Then her voice adopted the authority she’d acquired from years of dealing with the temperamental chefs who’d taught her her craft. “I’m not going anywhere, so get used to it.”
The next thing she knew, she had a hundred and ninety pounds of irate male looming over her, making her painfully aware of her own less-than-impressive stature. “We can do this the easy way, or we can do it tough,” Zach said, and the deep timbre of his voice registered up and down her spine. “But one way or another, sister, you will be leaving.”
Lily’s head snapped back to meet his storm-grey eyes. “Back off, Soldier Boy. And let me make myself perfectly clear: you lay one hand on me, and I’ll have the cops crawling down your throat so fast it’ll make your head twirl.” She hated it when people used their size to try to intimidate her.
“Yeah, I quake in fear of a little operator like you calling in the local heat.” But he eyed her warily as if unable to figure out where she got her brass and stepped back. The retreat must not have set too well with him, though, because those mile-wide shoulders of his immediately adopted a stubborn set, his square jaw did the impossible and became even harder, and he leaned into her just enough to invade her personal space without actually crowding her to the point where she could warn him off again.
“Tell you what,” he said with soft menace, “I’ll save you the trouble and give them a call myself. Then they can escort you off the premises, and I can get a good night’s sleep. After playing hurry-up-and-wait on military transports for the past two days, I’m in no mood to deal with a wheeler-dealer out to fleece my sister of her inheritance.”
Oh, for —
Tired of the slurs against her character, Lily turned on her heel. She caught a glimpse of his satisfaction out of the corner of her eye and had to grit her teeth against the frustration that burned like napalm in the back of her throat. Refusing to give vent to her ire, however, she stalked out of the kitchen and down the adobe hallway to her room, where she headed straight for the little fire-proof safe she kept in the nightstand next to her bed.
Her blood raced so hot through her veins she was surprised steam didn’t rise through her pores, and her nerves jangled just below the surface of her skin. Then her knees abruptly buckled, and she collapsed onto the coverlet. Perching her bottom on the edge of the bed and clutching the small box in her lap, she took several slow, deep breaths. How on earth had everything gotten so far out of hand so flipping fast?
The truth was — Zachariah Taylor being a complete idiot regarding her role in his sister’s life aside — he probably had valid reasons for his concern. Glynnis was only a week or so from her twenty-fifth birthday when she was supposed to come into a sizable trust fund. Lily didn’t know where the trust originated — it had something to do with a family-owned corporation and Glynnis’ grandfather, she thought, but wasn’t actually sure about the details, since her younger friend had a tendency to go off on incoherent tangents whenever she came to that point in a conversation. What Lily did know was that Glynnis didn’t have a great track record picking her friends — at least when it came to men. Actually, that had recently changed, but the point was that Glynnis had been burned more than once by guys chasing after her for her money, and it was no secret she was an easy touch for anyone with a hard-luck story.
No doubt Brother Zach had a hard time believing her ability to read character applied solely to the male gender.
Lily also conceded she may have been the tiniest bit predisposed to think the worst of Zach before they’d ever met. Glynnis adored her brother, but from everything she’d ever said about him Lily had formed an impression of one of those macho, overly dominant types who live to keep their womenfolk dependent. She’d been momentarily sidetracked by his Greek god physique, but Zach’s insulting assessment of her character had immediately plunged her right back into that mind set.
But perhaps it was time to draw back and regroup. He was clearly stressed and likely worn to a nub from travel frustration. That sort of thing could prey on a person and turn even the easiest-going disposition nasty. So perhaps they ought to start over again. She opened the box on her lap, withdrew what she’d come looking for, then returned the box to its drawer and headed back to the kitchen. She’d show him this, then calmly explain how she had come to be living here.
Her willingness to give him another shot, however, didn’t render her so full of comradeship that she was ready to start tossing flowers at Zach’s oversized feet. She had her work cut out, in fact, not to lapse into defensiveness the moment she walked back into the room and found herself once again the cynosure of those take-no-prisoners eyes of his. So although she politely extended the document to him rather than slapping it against his hard abs the way she might’ve done five minutes ago, her posture as she faced him was screw-you erect.
“What’s this?” Not waiting for an answer, he opened the thrice-folded paper and began to read. His dark eyebrows suddenly gathered like thunderclouds above his nose, and his gaze snapped up from the document to pin her in place.
“A contract?” he said in a dangerously low tone. “You’ve got a contract to stay here? I don’t have to ask whose idea this was.”
Lily felt her good intentions slipping away. She didn’t like his tone of voice, much less what he insinuated. It was particularly insulting in light of the fact that she’d come up with this idea as a way of teaching Glynnis a little financial accountability — something Mr. Commando here might have taken the time to do himself. But she held onto her temper with both hands. “I’m not sure I understand your objections,” she said with hard-won equanimity. “As you can see, I’m paying a fair, market value rent, not staying here for free.”
He simply looked at her, and she said in exasperation, “You just read the contract — you must have seen for yourself that it doesn’t favor my interests over those of your sister. And it’s not as if I drew the thing up; Glynnis and I went to a perfectly reputable lawyer.”
“And he was — what? Let me guess.” His gaze took a leisurely up-and-down tour of her body, lingering over specific curves. “A very good ‘friend’ of yours?”
“I don’t believe you! How can someone as sweet as Glynnis have such a pig of a brother?” And how could I have harbored even a momentary fantasy about this guy? Lily concentrated the full force of her contempt on him, but he merely returned an expressionless stare. Expecting steam to come whistling out of her ears at any moment like some enraged cartoon character, she snatched the contract from his hand. “I’ve had it. I’m going to my room. You just stay the heck away from me.”
She heard him sweep his bag up off the tiles as she stalked stiff-legged from the kitchen. And although he moved quiet as a cat, she sensed him padding along in her wake and had to bite back the urge to scream. Fists clenched at her sides, she picked up her pace, eager to reach the haven of her own space.
She wasn’t quite quick enough, however, to avoid hearing him snarl, “Oh, that just fucking figures. You’ve even got my room.”
Mortification sent scalding heat up Lily’s throat. She’d offered to take the smaller bedroom down the hall when she’d first moved in, but Glynnis wouldn’t hear of it. She’d insisted that if Lily paid rent she ought to at least get her money’s worth by having an ocean view. The younger woman hadn’t once mentioned that the room she’d assigned Lily was her brother’s.
Not wanting to see his expression, Lily refused to look around as she pushed open the door. “I’ll have my stuff moved down the hall in five minutes.”
“Forget it,” he said sarcastically. “I wouldn’t want to put you out. I’ll crash in the guest room.”
A disbelieving sound escaped her. “And let you add that to my list of supposed crimes? I don’t think so.” She stalked across the room to grab her big suitcase off the shelf in the closet, then pulled the clothes that hung from the rod below it off their hangers. Tossing them into the case, she then gathered a dozen pairs of shoes off the closet floor, and swept the highboy clear of her framed photographs and perfume bottles. Next she emptied the dresser drawers and added their contents to the mix. She stuffed her jewelry box into one corner, looked around to be sure she hadn’t forgotten anything, then went into the attached bathroom to collect her makeup and toiletries.
When she came out it was to see Zach standing over her case staring down at its contents. Scorching heat settled in her cheeks. What was it, Murphy’s Law or something, that the lacy, silky contents of her undies drawer had to be right on top? Shouldering him aside, she added her armload from the bathroom. Then she snatched the case up in both hands. She’d crammed enough stuff in it for three suitcases — much too much to ever close it.
“I think that’s everything,” she said with hard-won civility, and carefully holding the case level to prevent any liquids from leaking from the bottles within, carried it across the room. “The room is officially all yours.” So grown up, a little voice in her head commended her. And polite. Yes, indeed — you’re nothing if not polite.
But she refrained from mentally issuing herself any self-congratulatory pats on the back for such mature handling of the situation. Because the sad truth was, had both of her hands not been fully occupied, she would have been hard pressed to keep from slamming the bedroom door so violently behind her it’d rattle the big goon’s pearly white teeth.
Zach strung obscenities in creative combinations as he prowled the hacienda-style house, locking up as he went. Irritation rode him hard, and he decided that this was just one more crime he could lay at Lily Morrisette’s dainty little feet — the fact that she had simply waltzed off without bothering to secure the house.
Then the absurdity of the notion brought him up short. Yeah, right. That was kind of like worrying that the fox hadn’t locked up the hen house, wasn’t it? Trouble from without was the least of his problems when it was already entrenched with a capital T right here inside the compound with him.
But he stood foursquare by the fox analogy, since that was exactly what she reminded him of. Wily, slick, and shrewd. Dangerously intelligent. All pink and gold and built like a —
He gave his head a furious shake and headed for his room. He wasn’t going to accomplish anything tonight when he was so damn tired he could barely see straight. Might as well catch some Zs and figure out in the morning how to get little Ms. Morrisette out of here.
That left him Glynnis to fret about. Where was she? And just when the hell did he get to quit worrying about her, anyway? It wasn’t as if she were a kid. Or that he wasn’t a liberated kind of guy — hey, he firmly believed that women were every bit as capable of looking out for themselves as men were. More so, many of them.
Only. . . Glynnie was different. There had always been something sort of sweet and innocent and a little bit clueless about his baby sister that made it just plain impossible not to worry. She’d been nineteen years old to his thirty when she’d come to live with him at Camp Lejuene in North Carolina, where he’d been stationed at the time. She’d never known their parents, Grandfather had just died, and she’d been in need of someone to bolster her emotional fragility. Since he was all the family she had left, that job had fallen to him, and he’d been happy to oblige — when he was available. But he’d been in and out of the country on a pretty regular basis, so he’d had to leave her on her own quite a bit. She’d hardly been a child, though. Hell, she’d been a year older than he had been when he’d left that cold mausoleum of a mansion in Philadelphia to join the Marines, so he refused to feel guilty about his inability to be there on a constant basis. He did sometimes wonder, though, if she might not have become a little more savvy during the past six years had he been around more to ride herd on her.
Especially when it came to money. Glynnis was dead hopeless in the finance department. He couldn’t remember a single month since she’d moved in with him that she’d managed to live on the allowance from her trust fund. Maybe that was his fault for always bailing her out. He probably shouldn’t have let her get away with ‘borrowing’ from him, particularly when nine times out of ten she’d just turned right around and shelled out his money to one of her lost causes. She was too damn trusting for her own good.
Which brought Zach’s thoughts swinging right back to the very curvy little Lily. Ruthlessly cutting them short, he ripped his clothes off and padded naked into the bathroom, ditty bag in hand. Don’t even go there. He washed up and brushed his teeth, then headed back to the bedroom with the full intention of getting some much-needed rest.
But exhausted as he was, sleep was slow in coming. He had a month’s leave, and his plan had been to use the time to catch up with his sister and figure out how to hang onto the only billet he’d ever cared to have for the final two years he had left in the service. Now Glynnis wasn’t home, he was struggling with the fact that he needed to worry about his career at all, and to top it all off he was half hard from the scent on his pillow left by some Marilyn Monroe lookalike out to bilk his sister of her fortune. This wasn’t the way he’d envisioned his homecoming.
He flipped over onto his back, cradled his head in his clasped hands, and stared up at the ceiling. Big deal, so he was suffering a random surge of lust — that would get the zero attention it deserved. And since he wasn’t willing to go pound on Lily’s door to demand his sister’s whereabouts, there wasn’t much he could do about Glynnis tonight. But the remainder of his military career was a subject he could devote some attention to.
Nothing was the same as it used to be. He was the only one left from his original unit, for starters. His closest friends, Coop Blackstock, whom he’d met his first day of boot camp, and John, the Rocket, Miglionni, whom he’d met not long after that, had both been out of the service for several years now. Since their discharge, Coop had gone on to become a best-selling author of military-techno-thrillers and Rocket was a private detective with his own agency. And all the others grunts in their unit had either retired, transferred, or died.
Zach had somehow ended up as the ‘old man’ in a new recon unit full of eighteen, nineteen, and twenty year olds. Jesus. He scrubbed his hands over his face. How the hell had that happened? In any other business a thirty-six year old in his physical condition would be considered in his prime. But reconnaissance was a young man’s game and the brass was beginning to hint he should think about giving up field work to teach the younger men its finer points. To teach, for crissake!
Sure, the younger men could go for days on end without sleep and never have it catch up with them, and at some point during the last year or so he had lost that ability. And yes, this last assignment in South America had been a bitch. But, hell, it had been a hundred and ten fucking degrees with humidity to match. Even the daycare kids, as he sometimes thought of them, had gotten their asses kicked.
So, screw it. He could keep up with them any day of the week. Maybe lately he hadn’t liked being in the field as much as he used to, but that was surely temporary. He was just a little discouraged over the way the last assignment had shaken out.
All he needed was a little R & R and he’d be back in fighting trim. He’d always seen himself in a recon unit right up until the day he mustered out of the service for good, and that’s exactly what he planned to do until he had his twenty years in and was eligible for retirement. How to get the brass off his back in the meantime was the question.
He realized, though, that there was no use worrying about it tonight. Flipping onto his side, he pounded the pillow into submission, and stuffed it under his head, only to have another subtle waft of fragrance rise to tease his nose. An image of Lily immediately popped to mind and this time refused to be dislodged.
She was such a little thing — he’d be surprised if she topped out at five-two. But inch for inch, pound for pound, she was pure sex on the hoof. It was more than the sum total of that froth of blonde hair, those blue eyes, and that golden skin. It was the way she moved and the sheer femaleness of her. It was the pheromones she exuded. And it was those curves.
Man, oh, man. Those curves.
She had what used to be referred to as an hour-glass figure: round breasts, tiny waist, and full, lush hips. Like a top-of-the-line Cadillac, hers was a chassis designed for a smooth ride — a guy only had to take one look at it to get all sorts of ideas.
The wrong kind of ideas. Zach whipped the pillow out from under his head and hurled it across the room. He rolled onto his other side and pillowed his head on his biceps, swearing another blue streak beneath his breath when the scent he’d thought to rid himself of merely drifted up from the sheets instead. It had been a long couple of days, and he was beat — no doubt that was why he was feeling so susceptible.
But he didn’t try to fool himself — Lily Morrisette was the type of woman who could tie a man’s thoughts in knots without lifting so much as one single, dainty, rose-tipped finger. And that made her more dangerous than a field full of land mines.
So first thing in the morning, after he’d had a decent night’s sleep and his brain was once again working at its usual brisk pace, he’d find a way to send her packing.