Read Attraction Online

Authors: Linn Young

Attraction

CHAPTER ONE
Riley Calderon opened the door to her parents’ house, carrying the bakery box that
contained double chocolate mud pie, on order from her mother. In the tiny foyer, she hung up her
purse and coat. For the weekly family dinner, she was dressed casually but chicly in a pencil
skirt of denim that reached just above her knees, a white silk blouse, and low-heeled mules.
Riley was short, almost five foot two, and quite slender except for very round buttocks. Her
breasts were size single D and would have not been so apparent if she had been more of an
average size. As it was, her body frame was quite delicate. Her complexion was rather swarthy,
taking after her father’s Sicilian side of the family, her hair thick and long, curling all around her
shoulders and back, framing her small, elfish-like face with its large eyes that technically were
labeled hazel, except that they tended to be more pale gray with yellow flecks. Her mouth was
large with full lips that betrayed her sensuous nature. In a family of tall people with fair coloring,
her mother sometime swore that she was not of them.
Riley, at times, would banter back at her parents if she were not adopted, because she was
the only one in the family who was short and had dark coloring. Her father, though, would
proudly proclaim that she was his, the only one in the family who took after his Sicilian
grandfather, who, her father was sure, had been a lieutenant in the Sicilian mafia. Although he
was quite mild mannered in temperament, Lawrence was deeply enamored with the whole mafia
mystique, having seen at least ten times the entire Godfather trilogy.
The only indication that Riley was a descendent of the heavily weighted Anglo-Nordic
race of her two parents were her hazel grayish eyes, their yellow specks giving her a cat-like
look, which she felt suited her feline, rather hedonistic nature.
Her mother, Caroline, proclaimed that her oldest daughter’s dark, sensuous appearance
suited Riley. She swore that her daughter had the heart of a wild gipsy, because she tended to be
much more carefree and unconventional than the rest of her family.
After Riley graduated from college with a liberal arts degree, she had decided the
mundane, nine to five corporate world was not her cup of tea, and that she preferred the chaotic,
often unpredictable life of working in nightclubs. She worked her way up from being a cocktail
waitress, to bartender, to a manager of clubs. When she was twenty-six, she had the thrill of
opening her own nightclub in the outskirts of downtown Santa Rosa. That had been four years
ago.
She entered the living room, where she found her father sitting in his usual chair a book
on his lap. Lawrence Calderon was a writer of biographies of historical figures. Currently he was
doing research on Woodrow Wilson.
“Hi,” Riley said brightly.
Lawrence looked up and gazed at his daughter above his reading glasses. “Hello, Riley.
I’m not quite sure you should go into the kitchen. Your mother seems to be on pins and needles.
Very important night, it seems.”
Riley kissed her father on the cheek. “I’ll brave it.” She tucked the bakery box in the
crook of her arm and headed for the kitchen.
Caroline turned from the stove and her eyes zoomed in on the bakery box. “Is that the
pie?”
“Hello to you, too.” Riley set the box on the table.
Caroline opened the box and after several seconds of inspection she was satisfied. She
kissed her daughter on the cheek. “Hello, dear.”
Riley watched her mother look worriedly at the cake then to the refrigerator, trying to
figure out if she should store the cake in the kitchen refrigerator or the one in the garage.
She asked, “What’s so big about tonight’s dinner?”
“Roberta is bringing Heron tonight? I think I better put this outside,” Caroline announced
after some internal debate.
When she came back into the kitchen, her daughter commented, “Ah, finally, we get to
meet this paragon of an ideal suitor, do we?”
“Yes, and, so, I’d like to have dinner be a little bit more special than usual tonight. I’m
not the world’s best cook, you know. And he’s used to eating foods cooked by professional
chefs. So, I’m afraid my Thursday night meatloaf with over-cooked vegetables isn’t going to cut
it.”
“So, what is for dinner?”
“How does my friend Marge sound?”
“What?”
A large, very tall woman entered the kitchen. She was wearing a crisp white apron over
black slacks and white dress shirt. She was a trained chef and owned a catering business.
“Hello, Riley,” Marge said cheerfully. She went over to a long counter and began to
unwrap a series of what looked to be Cornish hens.
“Hi, Marge.”
Caroline said to Riley, a little nervously, “I’ve hired Marge to cater for me, tonight. What
are we having again, Marge?”
“We’re having tequila-marinated Cornish hens, fusilli with eggplant and smoked
mozzarella, grilled asparagus wrapped in procuitto, strawberry watercress salad. The desert you
picked up.”
Riley went over to a pan where the asparagus wrapped in percuitto lay waiting for
grilling. She tried to nip some strips of the percuitto that were on the counter and got her hand
slapped from Marge.
She waved a knife at Riley. “I’ve still more to make, so keep your hands out of the
kitchen.”
Riley said, “I don’t know what the big deal is, Mom. You’ve never treated any of our
other boyfriends like this.”
Caroline was putting flowers in three vases. “None of them were Heron Wait. He’s one
of the richest bachelor in California, I think in the country, come to that. His family go back
before gold was discovered in San Francisco, and he’s a very influential corporate lawyer in the
state.”
From the living room they heard the front door open and close.
“Hi, everyone,” Roberta called out, her voice a little tremulous.
“Oh, they’re here.” Caroline rushed out of the kitchen. Riley followed, but taking her
time.
Roberta was hugging her father than she turned to her mother. Lawrence took their coats
and hung them up.
Then Roberta took the hand of a tall man who had up to now stood back. “Mom, Dad,
this is him. This is Heron Wait. Heron, these are my parents, Lawrence and Caroline Calderon.”
The parents looked awed, almost star struck, as they took in their daughter’s guest.
As greetings and handshakes were exchanged, Riley hung back and watched her sister
and Heron. Roberta was quite beautiful with an ethereal quality. She was tall and had the slender,
statuesque body of a model. Her hair was quite blond, her eyes a deep, summary blue, and a
creamy complexion that had the matte perfection of a petal of a white rose just fresh in its bloom.
She had the sweetest nature of anyone Riley ever knew, soft-hearted, and only wanting to think
the best of everyone she met.
Riley thought her sister looked even more beautiful tonight, if that were possible, her
cheeks flushed, a her blue eyes bright with excitement, her whole body almost trembling with it
as well as nervousness.
Riley supposed that Roberta should be excited, and maybe a bit nervous, being courted
by a man like Heron Wait. Her eyes cast over him, little admiration or awe in the grayish, hazel
depths that her parents were feeling. She examined him critically. Nobody in their wildest
dreams had ever thought that a man like Heron would pay any attention to a woman like Roberta
Calderon, as beautiful as she was. He came from wealth and privilege in San Francisco, his
family in international finance, and he himself owned a very successful law practice, and often
being pictured in society pages with famous starlets and heiresses on his arms. And to add to his
list of desirable qualities was his extremely striking good looks and a tall, athletic body. Roberta
Calderon, on the other hand, came from a middleclass family, born and raised in Santa Rosa, a
small city situated in Sonoma County about sixty miles north of San Francisco. She worked as
public relations executive for Heron’s family corporation, which was headquartered in San
Francisco.
That was where he had first seen Roberta.
Roberta had told her sister that she had been walking out Roy Wait’s office, having just
had a meeting with Roy, and Heron had just entered the reception area. He stopped and watched
her as she walked past him and through the door. After lunch, Heron went to Roberta’s office
and asked her out. She had been shocked with disbelief and flattered that for a moment, all she
could do was stare at him.
“I’ll take that as a yes,” he had drawled with lazy amusement. “I’ll call you and let you
know when I’ll be picking you up.”
Rather than being impressed, Riley had merely commented. “Damned cheeky of him,
wasn’t it?”
Roberta, ever the romantic, had sighed, “He was so manly and so sexy, though.”
After two months of dating Heron, Roberta was finally bringing him home.
While her family were getting acquainted with Roberta’s newest suitor, Riley studied him
a little. Everything about him spoke of money, status, and privilege, from the toes of his Italian
Magli shoes to his well cut hair. He was quite tall, about six foot three or four, and exceedingly
good-looking, his features strong but very well cut and even. Riley guessed his age to be in the
early thirties. His body was slender, rangy, with broad shoulders, long limbs. His hair was black
as midnight, thick and tended to wave. It was cut in the style of Hugh Grant, short but long at the
top so that thick strands fell in enticing waves.
Riley watched Roberta stand next to Heron, his arms around her. They made quite a
beautiful-looking couple. Their children would be stunning, she mused.
When Roberta turned Heron to introduce him to her sister, it was somewhat of a different
reaction on all sides than the stunned awe that the parents showed and the controlled but gracious
welcome that Heron returned to them.
“Heron, and this is my dear, dear sister, Riley,” Roberta effused. “Riley, this is him, at
last, the man I’ve been telling you endlessly about.”
When Heron’s dark, dark brown eyes took in the sister, at first there was shock on his
face, which quickly disappeared behind a smooth mask. Riley, seeing his eyes go cool, instantly
felt her back going up. Carefully, taking his time, Heron took in Riley’s narrow jeans skirt, the
low-heeled mules, and the white silk blouse that, despite it’s roominess, did not hide the
prominent thrust or the size of her large breasts, and her hair that curled riotously around her face
and shoulder. Riley saw his eyes coolly taking stock of her, and she thought she saw a hint of
contempt in the inky depths of his eyes. And her hackles began to turn to hostility.
She knew that there was a vast difference between her and sister, and not just in looks,
but also in temperament, attitude, and world viewpoint. Roberta was quite sweetly natured,
wanted to please others, and accepted others readily and warmly. Riley, on the other hand,
tended to hold herself back from others, was more critical of people, and viewed life with a
satirical eyes.
“Riley, is it? You are Roberta’s sister,” Heron said in his deep, smooth voice. It sounded
like velvet, and it made the nerves beneath Riley’s skin skitter.
“You sound surprised,” Riley said.
“I must apologize if I seem so. You don’t look like the rest of your family.”
“Hmmm. And you look exactly what I thought you would look like?”
The dark eyes narrowed slightly. “And what is that?”
Just as deliberately as he was in taking stock of her, Riley let her gaze lazily run over
him. “A very attractive man who wears his wealth and status very comfortably, like a second
skin, because he is so well ensconced in his life of privilege.”
“Human society does have to put up with their rich.”
Riley lifted a sardonic brow. “Do we? I’d say let’s do away with anyone who earns more
than fifty thousand dollars.”
“Why fifty thousand? Why that cutoff?”
“Well, it’s just about right, wouldn’t you say? It’s just enough to meet your needs and be
able to indulge in small luxuries, you know, fripperies, every once in awhile. More than that,
then people tend to get cocky, get above themselves.”
Roberta blinked at her sister, then at Heron, then back at Riley. “Uh, Heron, would you
like a drink, darling?”
Heron turned and smiled warmly down at her, chasing away the chilly hardness from his
face. He bent and kissed her on the cheek. “Yes, I would.”
Not surprisingly, while her parents were effusive in their welcome of her sister’s newest
admirer, Riley was reserved in her complete acceptance. While she could not fault Heron Wait
on his manners and in displaying sincere regard for the family, his genuine passion and affection
for Roberta, she thought there was something slightly proprietary in his demeanor towards her
sister. Her indignation rose when she saw that with Roberta’s natural docile nature and her
inclination to want to please others, her sister more than usual demurred to Heron’s decision.
Robert mentioned a stray kitten she had found in her backyard. “It was so cute and fluffy
gray, with big blue eyes and the tiniest meow. But Heron said I couldn’t keep it. He was going to
take it to the pound, but thankfully my neighbor wanted it.”
“Why was it his decision to get rid of the kitten, when it was in your backyard where you
found it, and it is your house?” Riley asked, not quite able to keep the acid out of her tone.
“He said I already have too many pets, with my two cats and a dog. And I’m not home
enough to take care of a small animal.” Roberta hugged Heron’s arm. “He was right, of course. It
would have been impractical to keep a kitten when I’m barely home.”
For a moment, the irritation in Riley’s light hazel eyes clashed with Heron’s dark cool
ones.
“Come, Heron, come, let me show you my stamp collection,” Lawrence offered quite
generously.
At first Heron thought the suggestion was in jest. When he saw the almost giddy
anticipation in the other man’s eyes, he swung his eyes to Roberta. She gave him a slight shrug
and a wan smile. Somewhat resigned, Heron followed Lawrence into his den.
Roberta slipped her arm through Riley’s. “So, what do you think, Riles?”
“About what?”
Robert gave Riley’s arm a shake. “About him, silly. My Heron?”
“When you say that, it sounds like you’re talking about some bird who happened across

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