Tempt Me, Taste Me, Touch Me - Bella Andre

Bella Andre - Tempt Me, Taste Me, Touch Me

Tempt Me, Taste Me, Touch Me
Bella Andre




TONIGHT WAS THE NIGHT the world would say good-bye to Carrie Anderson, single-girl-in-the-city, and hello to Carrie Anderson, deliriously happy woman -engaged -to-a -wealthy-hunk.

Ever since her boyfriend, James Carrigan, had asked her to dinner at Farallon, San Francisco's most elegant restaurant, she'd taken to staring at her bare left hand with a secret smile. She'd have bet the contents of her 401(k) that, come Thursday night, a sparkling diamond was going to be weighing down her left ring finger. Farallon was their special place. It was where they'd dined for their first date, the night they'd first slept together, and their one-year anniversary.

Dinner had been lovely. Although, to be honest, she hadn't really tasted the butternut squash soup. And she'd barely been able to swallow her grilled salmon on a bed of polenta. With every moment that had passed, her stomach had twisted into a tighter, tenser knot. And when the waiter had asked her if she'd like to see the dessert menu, she'd nearly bitten his head off. No, I don't want flan, she thought. I want an engagement ring! At long last, the waiter cleared their plates away and brought over two snifters of warmed B&B. Carrie had never been a huge fan of the potent after-dinner drink, but as it was James's favorite, she gamely took a sip. It burned her tongue and stung her throat, but she didn't mind, because James was finally reaching into his pocket. For a ring!

Her very own Prince Charming was about to bend down on one knee and ask her to become his wife. She'd run through the scene at least a hundred times. Her eyes were going to be filled with tears as he popped open the Tiffany's box; her hands would be trembling slightly as he slipped the engagement ring on her finger. She would whisper yes, and then they would kiss passionately to a backdrop of applause. But James didn't bother getting down on one knee. Instead he simply put the open ring box on the place setting before her and said, "It's finally time for you to become the next Mrs. Carrigan." Carrie's breath left her chest in a whoosh of disappointment.

She knew she was supposed to gasp with glee, to offer James her hand so that he could slip the ring on at the very moment she said "yes." Carrie worked to swallow her dissatisfaction at James's unromantic proposal. She tried desperately to get her lips to form the one word that would ensure her position as newly crowned Princess of the San Francisco elite. She pushed her tongue into her molars and opened her mouth. She could do it, she could say it. "Yes" was a one-syllable word. Even her one-year old niece could say it. But all that came out when she forced the air up from her lungs was, "Yeourgh."

What was wrong with her tonight? Of course she was going to marry James and live happily ever after. They were going to have 2.4 children and live in a large ranch house in the wealthy suburbs of Palo Alto behind a remote-activated iron gate. She was going to drive a HUMMER with booster seats in the back, and she'd drop off her kids for swimming lessons in the summer, piano in the fall. They'd play tennis every Saturday with the Williams gang, winter in Hawaii at the family beach estate, get their teeth whitened twice a year by his uncle John. They'd have the perfect life, the perfect kids, the perfect marriage.

It was all so perfect that Carrie's head swam. She felt nauseous. This perfect life was what she had always wanted. Wasn't it? Evidently, a badly mangled "yes" was good enough for James.

He reached for her clammy hand and slid the enormous, square-cut, canary yellow diamond onto her ring finger. The huge jewel sparkled in the candlelight, but Carrie felt like it was mocking her, telling her she'd never fit into his world of society galas and charity lunches. Of gray-haired moguls with barely legal, siliconeenhanced second wives. Sure, during the past two years she'd learned to play her part to perfection. She went to the right hairdresser, used the right personal shopper at Neiman's, made the right witty remarks at exactly the right time. But could she do everything just right for a lifetime? And, she couldn't help but wonder, did she really want to?

James's voice cut through