Saturday’s here! And I’m letting myself slack off a bit today. Sure, I’ll write my NaNo words, but I’m not going to do much more. I’m definitely not going to sit in front of the computer all day. A certain 9-year-old wants a special day, which to her mind includes popcorn, a movie, and me spending the night. Should be fun!
I’m featuring Tarzan & Janine today. It’s a very funny story, co-written by my sister, Elle James, and myself. We’d written the first draft eons ago, but real life intruded and we let it languish. Our mother insisted we resurrect it. She’d been waiting years for us to finish the darn thing. Hope you enjoy the excerpt!
I’ll post the winner of today’s contest Monday morning!
Post a comment and you’ll be entered to win a free download of this book!
See what happens when a secret billionaire and an aspiring actress get a little wild in Texas!
A man with a soft spot for women…
Closet Texas millionaire, Tanner Peschke has three months to prove he can make a profit at the family used car dealership or he will lose his job, disappoint his father and break his promise to his dying mother. The root of his problem is women. He can’t resist them—any of them. All it takes is the scent of delicate perfume or a misty-eyed gaze from an elderly woman with a sob story, and he becomes silly putty in the hands of his feminine customers. Until, with a stroke of luck and a buck of a mechanical bull, he hires Janine Davis to star with him in the dealership’s live TV ads.
A woman who won’t let a handsome cowboy get in the way of her dream…
Determined to make a name for herself, Janine needs to pay the bills between acting jobs. The offer to do a series of commercials for Peschke Motors is a chance to get her face “out there”. Recognizing a player when she sees one, Janine agrees to co-star with her handsome employer fully intending to keep their relationship strictly professional. First break she gets, she’s heading to Hollywood.
Their jungle-themed commercials take a crazy twist, and Tanner finds himself falling…from a sales banner while chasing a monkey. But more importantly, he’s falling for Janine. She’s just the one woman to tame this cowboy’s wild heart. Convincing her to stay with him might be harder than catching a mischievous monkey.
After the first commercial Tanner and Janine shoot, they’re local a sensation. Customers and news crews crowd the car showroom, and Barbara Stockton, a cougar who reneged on a deal with Tanner and fired Janine shows up just when Tanner thinks he’s got things under control…
Barbara let go of Tanner’s arm, a smile curling her blood-red lips. “I want to offer her a job.”
Tanner’s stomach completed a full gainer and he blurted out, “I’m sorry, but she’s working for me through the summer.”
The beauty maven’s professionally arched brows rose. “Do you have a contract?”
“Well, it’s under revision…” Revision, hell. Tanner hadn’t even considered a contract. He’d never hired an actress before Janine. What kind of contract did actresses need?
Barbara’s fingernail scraped across Tanner’s shoulder in a long, slow slide. Her lips puffed out all sultry-like, reminding Tanner of when he’d been inside her hotel suite being sized up as the next meat course on her table. “I feel badly about firing her last weekend, and I want to make it up to her.”
Tanner stepped away from the woman, his eyes narrowing. “She’s not interested.”
“Why don’t we let her decide?” Barbara insisted.
“I promise you, Janine is not interested.” Tanner held back his anger and panic. Janine was turning out to be a gold mine, and he didn’t want anyone else staking a claim on her…talents.
“I’m not interested in what?” The object of his panic walked up behind him with the monkey in her arms.
“In coming back to work for me,” Barbara announced, a sweet-as-sugar smile on her lips.
“Oh, I’m not interested, am I?” Janine’s voice dipped dangerously low.
Tanner recognized the first signs of the thundercloud building in Janine’s eyes. “I thought after the way you were treated last weekend I could safely say you weren’t interested in working for Mrs. Stockton again.”
“And you think I like working with a nasty monkey any better?” She glanced down at the animal wrapped around her arm. “No offense, Spunky.”
“I can guarantee we never use monkeys in any advertising for Barbara Stockton Beauty Secrets,” Barbara interjected.
“But Janine,” Tanner cajoled, “…the monkey’s not so bad. He made the commercial last night.” As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Tanner wished he could take them back, but knew they’d come with her footprints.
“So the monkey was the commercial, was he?” Gathering the little leash, she peeled the monkey from her arm and handed him to Tanner. “Here, you like him so much—you hold him.” To the monkey, she said, “Sorry, Spunky. It’s been fun.”
“Now Janine, be reasonable.”
Spunky obviously didn’t like the change either, because he scrambled from Tanner’s arms to his shoulders and knocked away his cowboy hat. Giving an ear-piercing scream, the little monkey bounced on his back legs while keeping a death grip in Tanner’s hair.
Pain attacked his skull with each of Spunky’s bounces. Desperate, Tanner reached out his empty hand. “Honey, you know I didn’t mean it the way it sounded. Take back the monkey, please. He likes you better.”
“No way. He was your idea—you deal with him.” The blonde turned to Barbara. “What kind of terms are you offering me?”
“Janine, you can’t be serious.” Tanner hurried to her side, while the monkey pounded the top of his head like a bongo drum. “Hey, cut that out, Spunky. Tommy, where the hell are you?”
Ignoring his predicament, Janine continued her conversation with Barbara. “I’d want double the salary with a signed contract and a specified appearance schedule.”
“You’ve got it,” Barbara agreed immediately.
“Janine…” Tanner stepped between the two women, hoping to stop the handshake that would seal the deal.
The sudden movement startled Spunky, and he leapt onto Barbara’s head, then across to a light pole behind the startled woman.
“Oh no, Spunky!” Janine yelled, the handshake forgotten as she rushed to pole. “The handler said not to let him go. He’s almost impossible to catch.”
Tanner glanced up at the monkey scaling the light pole, silently thanking the critter for his perfect timing. “That’s okay, he’ll come down sooner or later.”
“You don’t understand. If he gets up into the electrical lines, he’ll be killed.” Janine glanced up the pole at the monkey, then back to Tanner, her big, blue, beautiful eyes, clouded with worry. “Please, get him down, Tanner.”
Tanner’s chest tightened. How could he walk away from such a heartfelt plea? Afraid her next step would be to turn on the waterworks, Tanner heaved a sigh and looked up the pole at the delighted monkey.
The creature had climbed up to perch on the banner strung from the pole to the top of the showroom building, advertising the “Monkey Off Your Back” sale. The irony did not escape the media, and they rushed outside to film the little monkey’s antics.
Scotty walked up behind Tanner. “You weren’t supposed to let go of the monkey,” he said, his tone dry.
“I know that, damn it. Get maintenance on the radio and have them bring me a ladder, ASAP.”
Scott clicked the button on his walkie-talkie. A maintenance truck arrived in minutes with the requested ladder.
Reassuring himself that everything was going to be all right, Tanner reminded himself the monkey wouldn’t be up there if not for his negligence. The least he could do was go get the little guy before he got injured. It didn’t hurt a bit that reporters kept clicking cameras all around as well. This whole new fiasco was yet another opportunity to get more airtime.
When the maintenance man set the ladder in place, Tanner made the climb himself. He figured the effort wouldn’t be much to snag the monkey as long as the ladder was tall enough—which it was…just. Standing on the top rung, his arm hugging the round pole, he grabbed for the monkey.
Spunky moved a little farther out on the banner.
“Come here, Spunky,” he said, doing his utmost to keep his irritation with the miniature primate out of his voice. “I have a nice banana waiting for you at the bottom if you’ll just come here.”
Spunky moved out a little more and eyed the far end of the banner.
If he wanted to grab the monkey, Tanner knew it was now or never. Failure was not an option with Janine, his dad, and the entire state of Texas watching. He had to go for the monkey.
Making a jabbing stretch, Tanner grabbed for the monkey, but Spunky was quicker and skittered away across the top of the banner. Tanner in mid-reach, his fingers clawing the air, felt the ladder listing to the right. Letting out a startled yelp, he grabbed for the banner and hung tight as the ladder rocked once, then fell crashing to the ground.
Just as he was congratulating himself on his luck that the banner was strong enough to hold his weight, the monkey swung out to join him.
“You sorry little…”
A renting sound ripped through the air, announcing the demise of the banner and the loss of Tanner’s precarious perch. The end attached to the light pole tore free, carrying Tanner in a mad swing toward the showroom steps. Tanner yelled long and loud as he swung through the air toward certain pain. Putting out his feet, he managed to break his crash, absorbing the force of the fall with bent knees.
Tanner heard an excited shriek and stared upwards just as the monkey slid down the ruined banner and landed in his arms.
“Sweet Jesus! Did you see that Beans?” Joe’s voice rose above the stunned silence.
One person in the crowd clapped, another joined him, then another, until the applause grew louder, joined by cheers from the people gathering around the showroom steps.
Three feet away, Janine stood tall in her jungle outfit, one hand planted on a hip, a grin stretched across her face. Raising her voice enough to carry over the noise from the crowd, she shouted, “Way to go, Tarzan.”