By: Lois Greiman

His lips hitched up a quarter of an inch. He has a scar on the right corner of his mouth. I don’t know how it got there but there have been more than a few occasions when I’ve fantasized about giving him a matching one on the other side.

“Of course,” he repeated, and reached down to absently fondle Harlequin’s ears. “It’s not as if a high-class broad like you would get yourself into some kind of trouble.”

I resisted rising to the bait. “The dog missed you,” I said. It just so happens I am a high-class broad, even if we were standing two millimeters apart and the smell of him was reminding me that I needed more fruit in my diet. USDA orders.

He straightened, still watching me with undiluted attention. When Rivera focuses, it sometimes seems like the rest of the world has taken a sabbatical. “I thought maybe there was some maniac with a shoe bomb and a mother complex holding you for ransom or something.”

“I try to keep maniacs confined to the vestibule,” I said.

He laughed with those Spanish black eyes. I felt weak in the ovaries. Harlequin was pressed up against his thigh like a love-starved groupie. For a second I wondered if there was room for two of us.

But before I could determine the answer to that age-old dilemma, Rivera raised a hand to my face. I held my breath. Was he going to kiss me? Was I ready? I could feel my temperature shoot off the charts. My mind was racing. It was too early. Or maybe too damned late. And I didn’t want to faint. Or seem too easy. In which case I probably should have worn a skirt that was bigger than my thumbnail and a blouse made of some sort of opaque material instead of—

Holy crap, he was leaning in. His dark charisma hit me like a hot wind.

“Is that toilet paper?” he asked.

My mind slammed to a halt. I stumbled backward, slapped my hand to my left ear, and felt the filmy tissue on my fingertips. It did indeed seem to be toilet paper. I just managed to refrain from sliding under my linoleum.

“I cut myself shaving,” I said, backing away. “Make yourself comfortable.”

“In the vestibule?” he asked, but I had already retreated to the sanctity of my bathroom.

My face was as red as Mexican hot sauce when I looked in the mirror, but at least there was no more toilet paper adhered to my ear. I patted my cheeks with a little cold water, calmed my breathing, and took a look at my hair. It wasn’t as bad as I had feared. I plied it with a pick just to give myself some time to think. Maybe it wasn’t too late to change back into pants…and a parka. Something to assure Rivera I had no intention of sleeping with him, that I hadn’t even noticed that he smelled like something you’d spread on pancakes. Or…I could barricade myself in the bathroom and slide a note under the door.

Go away. I’m working toward the celibacy world record.

I closed my eyes and paced. Water, or something similar, splashed against my shoe.



Luckily, or possibly because my toilet rebels with the regularity of Old Faithful, I keep a bucket and rags under my sink. Squatting was not a simple task in the Post-it-Note skirt, but I managed.

I could hear Rivera mumbling something to Harlequin, who seemed to be concurring in a series of hums and whines.

Two seconds later I was running water into the plastic pail. Cramped from squatting, I put the bucket near the toilet, spread my legs, and bent from the waist to clean up the floor.


I squawked and spun around.

Rivera was standing in the doorway, brows raised, gaze pinned to where my ass had been, half exposed in my cleaning lady imitation. He skimmed his eyes down the length of my legs. It took about half an hour.

“What?” I rasped.

A smile twitched his lips. Then he stepped inside and closed the door firmly behind him.


If they really wanted us to resist temptation, they shouldn’t a made it so damned tempting.

—James McMullen, Chrissy’s most astute and philosophical brother

I FELT AS if the oxygen had been sucked out of my lungs by a Power Vac. The world seemed to waver a little around the edges as Rivera stepped close.

My bathroom wasn’t big enough for a pair of pimentos. He was bigger than a pimento. I hoped.

Harlequin whined from the far side of the door. I may have done the same.

“What are you doing?” Rivera’s voice was deep and smoky.

“I just…” I nodded toward the bucket. “I had a little…trouble…” Breathing. What the hell? I was a trained professional. A licensed psychologist. And he looked as tasty as a raspberry truffle.

“You trying to seduce me, McMullen?” he asked.

“Whaa—” My huff sounded like I was clearing a blow horn, but he was still gazing at me, chocolate eyes bedroom-soft and felonious grin off-kilter. “No. I…No. My toilet—”