Tarzan & Janine
Texas Billionaires Club, Book 1
co-written with Elle James
Publisher: Story Ink
On Sale: September 30, 2012
A laugh-out-loud romantic adventure!
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.
Note for Readers: You must be of legal age in your country of origin to read this excerpt.
“I can’t believe I let him talk me into this,” Janine grumbled. Adjusting the straps tied around the back of her neck, she glanced at her image in the mirror of the ladies restroom at Peschke Motors. She had to admit the top of the miniscule jungle-woman costume looked great, fitting her breasts a bit tight, accentuating their fullness. The matching brown suede bottoms, a cross between short-shorts and a skirt, was another matter altogether. The thing barely covered her cheeks and was sure to give the cameraman an eyeful of her ass. So much for anyone taking her acting seriously.
Janine sighed. She’d fought a losing battle against her over-abundant curves ever since she’d “blossomed” at age twelve. Her life-long dream to become a serious actress appeared like an impossibility. At every audition, the casting directors couldn’t see past her breasts to her acting ability. They wanted her to play in their beds, not act in their plays.
The few who’d bothered to audition her, as well as an acting coach she’d spent a summer studying under, had suggested she go for the vamp roles—and anything a Pamela Anderson-type might be considered for. Janine’s confidence had been dented by their well-meaning advice, but she knew she was capable of more than blonde-bimbo performances. If her idol, Marilyn Monroe, could rise above her caricatured image to impress critics before her death, then Janine Davis could, too. Not that she was in a hurry to die to earn those accolades.
She’d prove everyone wrong—when she got enough money together to move out to Los Angeles. In the meantime, she was trying her luck in Austin, the newest cultural center frequented by famous actors from Hollywood. She hoped to be discovered while appearing in the local plays she’d been auditioning for, if she could actually convince a director to let her have one of the leading roles. But auditioning didn’t pay the rent, and commercials were the closest thing to “real” acting as she could get right now and make a living.
Where was that Tanner Pesky, anyway? She was due in front of the cameras in less than five minutes, and there was no way in hell she was wearing this little, jungle-print handkerchief. She tugged at the bra of the itsy bitsy outfit in an attempt to cover as much of her chest as she could.
A knock on the door made her groan.
“It’s time, Miss Davis,” came a male voice, not Tanner’s, through the hollow panel of the bathroom door.
“I’ll be right out,” she called. Alternating between tugging down the hem of the bottoms to cover her fanny, and pulling up the top to cover her breasts, she stormed out of the bathroom, across the showroom floor, and out into the lighted car lot.
Judging by the gauntlet of wolf calls she passed through to get to the television crew, every salesman in the dealership must have stayed late. They all wanted to witness the live filming by a group of college students Tanner hired to keep the budget low. As part of the crew’s curriculum requirement, the commercial would air live on the university’s public television station.
A man carrying a spider monkey approached and shoved the critter into her arms. “This is Spunky. You need to keep a hold on the monkey at all times, or he’ll take off. Catching him will take us hours.”
“Hey! Nobody said anything about a monkey.” Janine pushed the little guy back at his handler, but the jerk turned and trotted to a position beyond the spotlights. Her chances of being taken seriously as an actress slipping through the seams of her skimpy costume and the busy fingers of the monkey, Janine suppressed the urge to scream.
“Quiet, everybody. Two minutes to take,” the young director’s voice boomed through a megaphone. “Where’s Tanner?”
The animal handler called to Janine from the sidelines. “Remember, whatever you do, don’t let go of the monkey.”
“Right, don’t let go of the monkey.” Janine’s head swiveled side to side in search of the nutcase who’d talked her into this crazy commercial. She’d felt more in control on the bucking mechanical bull at the convention than she did right now.
Suddenly, the crowd of used car salesmen parted. Tanner strode toward her with his long, loose-limbed gait and all the confidence and charm of a professional actor. Tanner, dressed casually in his ever-present blue jeans, chambray shirt, cowboy hat and cowboy boots, smiled as he worked his way through the crowd of onlookers.
Janine snorted. I’ll bet he’s never ridden a horse a day in his life.
He walked right up and turned the full force of his smile on her.
Damn. Her knees went weak, complementing the butterflies in her stomach and the monkey fidgeting in her arms.
As the cameras moved into position, panic filled her. “You never told me what my lines were. What am I supposed to say?”
“Just stand over there and look beautiful. I’ll do all the rest.” He adjusted his hat with enough confidence for both of them. “And smile when I introduce you. That frown makes you look mean.”
Janine opened her mouth to carve his enormous ego down to size and remind him she was an actress, not a model.
Before one word could cross Janine’s lips, she was cut off by the cameraman. “Mr. Peschke, I hope you’re ready because this is not a rehearsal, you’re going live in five…four…three…two…” He pointed ‘one’. The camera was trained on Tanner, the red button lit, and the feed was direct.
Without missing a beat, Tanner smiled, looking completely at ease in front of the camera. “Howdy, folks. It’s a jungle out there. We know how difficult wading through the gimmicks and sales jargon is when buying a used car.”
She had to admit he sounded charming and genuine. After sabotaging her job with BS-Squared, he’d conned Janine into taking this job. She bet he could sell ice to Eskimos.
Spunky’s hairy little hand slipped beneath the bra of her outfit.
Janine slapped at his hand, eliciting a shriek from the monkey. “You must be a male,” she muttered, wishing Tanner would fall on his pretty face in front of the camera.
“Are you sick of the new car prices and immediate depreciation when you drive a car off the lot? Let us take the monkey off your back…” Tanner swung an arm in her direction.
Spunky crawled up on her shoulders and played with her hair. How about getting this monkey off my back? Crap. She’d spent hours trying to fix her hair beautifully for the commercial. Great, when they finally get the cameras on me, I look like the monkey.
“…and show you what we’ve got in low mileage, pre-owned vehicles at rock-bottom prices.”
At that moment, the creature latched onto the strings holding her halter-top in place. She felt her boobs dip and her stomach knotted.
“Stop that, Spunky,” she whispered, making a grab for both of his tiny, dexterous fingers and the tail that seemed just as facile.
The monkey ignored her, chattering happily, hands and tail dodging her flailing attempts.
“Join us this weekend for our ‘Monkey Off Your Back Sale.’ We’ll be servin’ free banana milkshakes to all the folks who come out.” Tanner’s voice kept up the running monologue despite the monkey’s antics, true to form for a car salesman.
Janine simmered as she struggled for control. Let’s get this over with before this monkey craps on me.
* * * * *
Joe adjusted the volume on the set a little higher. “Not too bad, so far. A little dry, but gets the message across, don’t you think?” He glanced at Beans for confirmation. All he got was a huge yawn and an exaggerated rolling of the eyes. “Well, it ain’t over yet. Give him a chance, will ya?” Joe grumbled.
“Didn’t say a word, Joe,” Beans said, in his soft southern drawl.
“Ya didn’t have to.” Joe pressed his lips together.
“Let us take the monkey off your back.” Tanner swept his hand to the right, and the camera took in a woman in a skimpy jungle costume with a monkey sitting on her shoulders. “Drop by this weekend and meet Spunky the Monkey and Janine who’ll be celebrating the beginning of our Jungle Days of Summer sale-abration.”
“Whoa, Beans, am I seein’ what I’m seein’?” Joe scooted forward in his seat.
“I need my specs.” Beans fumbled in his shirt pocket for his reading glasses and then hooked them over his ears. A moment later, he produced a long, low whistle and leaned forward himself. “By golly, maybe the boy’s got something there.”
“Not, something—someone,” Joe corrected.
Edging closer to the screen, Beans squinted into his reading glasses. “What’s that monkey tryin’ to do to that girl?”
Joe scratched his head. “I don’t know, but I think it’s gettin’ fresh with her…uh…tah-tahs.”
“Yup, and them’s some bodacious tah-tahs, if you ask me.” Beans’s bushy eyebrows rose to the middle of his high forehead.
“Now, it’s crawling around her neck. What’s that Tanner’s sayin’?” Joe turned his good ear toward the speaker.
Beans shrugged. “Who cares? I want to see what that monkey’s gonna do next. Don’t crowd the T.V.”
Tanner looked a little distracted now, saying his lines and glancing worriedly over his shoulder at each ear-piercing shriek from the increasingly animated duo.
The monkey jerked the ties of the halter-top the girl wore and pulled them high above her head.
Joe’s jaw dropped as the top loosened, exposing creamy skin, and the woman’s eyes rounded, her mouth shaping into an “O” as Tanner dove between her and the camera. A high-pitched squeal sounded through the speakers, coming, no doubt, from the pretty blonde.
In the next second, the cause of the commotion, namely one hairy little monkey, leapt into view with a halter bra hanging from his nimble fingers.
Tanner stood in front of Janine, shielding her from the cameras that shifted to the right then the left, trying to get a better view of what was going on with the topless beauty.
Joe’s mouth hung open for a few moments, and then he broke into a delighted grin. He clapped Beans on the back and chuckled. “I think you’re right. The boy’s got something there. Care to up the ante on our bet? I think two months may be sellin’ the boy short.”
Beans scratched his chin, his lips twitching. “Could be, could be.”
“What say, you and me make a surprise visit to the lot tomorrow?”
“Wouldn’t miss it for the world.” Beans settled back into his chair. “I want to meet that monkey—and the girl, of course.”