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  • Tainted Love: A Nannies Novel
  • Written by Melody Mayer
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780307498175
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Tainted Love: A Nannies Novel

Written by Melody MayerAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Melody Mayer

eBook

List Price: $7.99

eBook

On Sale: December 24, 2008
Pages: 272 | ISBN: 978-0-307-49817-5
Published by : Delacorte Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Smart girls.

Things are heating up between Kiley and Jorge . . . but the fire isn't out between her and Tom either. Tom's used to hanging out with gorgeous models—how can a girl from Wisconsin compete with that? The only way to cool off is at scuba class, except Kiley keeps having panic attacks. Is it because of the ocean—or her Bermuda love triangle?

Crazy boys.

Getting drunk and hooking up with Luis was not smart. That's why Lydia's decided to pretend the whole fiasco never happened. Why ruin what she has with Billy over one stupid mistake? But Luis won't take no for an answer.

Crazier girls.

Life's pretty sweet right now for Esme. She and Jonathan are free to be together, her artist-to-the-stars tattoo biz is booming, and the Goldhagens just gave her a raise. So when Tarshea, the girl Esme vowed to help, arrives in L.A. and begins to steal her life, Esme's not about to let it happen.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Excerpt

1



Kiley McCann



"I should have told you before--I don't actually know how to salsa," Kiley McCann blurted out as Jorge Valdez put his hand on the small of her back to guide her through the thick crowd near the front door of the Conga Room, a salsa dance club on Wilshire Boulevard. Her friend Esme Castaneda was in front of them both, leading the way with her boyfriend, Jonathan Goldhagen.

Jorge just smiled, but Esme looked over her shoulder and gave Kiley an arch look. "Salsa's not so big in Wisconsin, eh?"

"Only on taco chips washed down with a six-pack," Kiley joked. After all, Esme already knew that Kiley's hometown of La Crosse, Wisconsin, was famous for its beer and that her father in fact worked at the local brewery--that is, when he was sober enough to work at all.

Kiley had made two close girlfriends since she'd arrived in Los Angeles two months before. One was Esme, a beautiful and extraordinarily self-sufficient Latina girl who'd grown up in the tough Echo Park section of East Los Angeles. If your car stopped running, or you broke a stiletto heel and needed an emergency repair, Esme always seemed to know just how to fix it. The other was Lydia Chandler--smart, bold, blond, and striking. Born rich, Lydia had been raised in the Amazon rain forest after her parents moved to Amazonia to be medical missionaries. All three girls were nannies to wealthy Los Angeles families. They'd met at the Brentwood Hills Country Club and had become fast friends.

"Check out the drum." Jorge indicated a fifteen-foot-tall conga drum that hung over the entrance like a giant talisman of good times to come. Meanwhile, Santana's "Corazon Espinado" poured through the exterior speakers, mixing with the sounds of the nighttime traffic on Wilshire.

"I love this song!" Esme exclaimed. Eyes narrowed, she swayed to the music, hands overhead, as she moved forward with the crowd. Kiley saw Jonathan give Esme an appreciative look.

Let's face it, Kiley thought. She's curvy and sultry and hot. Unlike, say, me.

As Jorge and Jonathan talked to the bulky, bald Latino doorman--Jorge said he was able to get them on the guest list because his public defender father had once defended the owner's best friend on drug charges--Kiley took in the sexy outfits of those in line. Jorge had informed her that the dress code for this club was upscale casual. Kiley had no idea what that meant, so she'd called Esme for details. "Tight skirts, spike heels, shirt unbuttoned down to there, that sort of thing," Esme had filled in.

That was no help. Kiley didn't own a skirt or heels. It felt like playing dress-up when she wore a shirt unbuttoned down to there. Finally, she'd made the selection from the meager wardrobe she'd brought with her--one that had been barely supplemented by the occasional shopping expedition with her friends.

Esme and Lydia tried to help her upgrade her wardrobe,  but Kiley was saving every penny toward her goal. She'd come to California to qualify for in-state tuition at the famed Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She had one more year of high school, as did her two friends. If she saved diligently, maybe she could graduate from Scripps without a sinkhole of debt.

So, what to wear. She owned exactly two "sexy" items of clothing, both of which had been acquired here in Los Angeles. One was the bottle-green velvet camisole that the producers of the Platinum Nanny reality TV show had purchased for her. The other was a plunging white silk shirt that her rock star boss, Platinum, had literally taken off her own back and bestowed on Kiley before a date.

Kiley opted for the white shirt and added one of her three pairs of no-name jeans, then considered her two choices of footwear--Doc Martens or Converse All Stars. Both looked incredibly stupid. Then forces greater than her intervened. That is, she dropped a silver earring, which skidded across the polished wooden floor of her guesthouse bedroom at Platinum's estate and wound up so far under the mahogany dresser that she had to move the furniture to retrieve it. Back against the wall, she found not just her earring but a pair of silver sandals with kitten heels that probably had belonged to some long-dismissed former nanny. Platinum fired employees the way other people changed their thongs.

Miraculously, the sandals were nearly the right size, though the sling-backs pinched her heels something fierce. She was definitely not a suffer-for-beauty kind of girl, but she wore them. She had to.

Even with the sexy shirt and too-small heels, Kiley felt she paled--pun intended--in comparison to Esme. Her friend had twisted her long dark waves up onto her head and stabbed them with a rhinestone barrette; sexy tendrils fell down her back and around her golden face. She wore a red halter shirt that ended just below her bust and a black pencil skirt that fell to just below her knees, slit up the back so that her perfect legs showed when she walked. In very high black heels, she seemed utterly confident.

Kiley knew that wasn't true, of course. Esme had insecurities like everyone else; she just hid hers better than most people. For example, Esme wasn't all that confident about her relationship with Jonathan Goldhagen, who happened to be her very rich employers' son.

Their tickets secured, the velvet rope was moved aside. Jorge took Kiley's hand and led her into the club. "Did I tell you how nice you look?"

She nodded, smiling. When he'd picked her up at Platinum's in his bomber of an old Chevy, he had complimented her immediately. "Nice" was such a bland word, though. "Fantastic" would have been good. Or "hot." "Hot" would have been excellent. Not that Kiley would have believed him. But still.

"Don't sweat the salsa thing," Jorge assured her. "They give lessons. Or I can teach you. It isn't hard."

For you, maybe, Kiley thought as they made their way into the front bar called Caliente Island, the first of many rooms that comprised the club. The walls were chili-pepper red, the cocktail tables round discs of dark wood that sat atop large drums. It was packed with even more of the young, beautiful, blond, and thin, as opposed to how Kiley saw herself: brownish reddish hair, brown eyes, slightly-below-average height, more than slightly pear-shaped, and utterly unsophisticated. By La Crosse standards, she'd been a seven, maybe. By Hollywood standards, she figured she was more like a four point nine.

"Straight through that door." Jorge pointed to an archway that led into the main ballroom. There was a large stage at the far end of the room. Tables banking the dance floor were set on raised platforms behind iron railings. Music that Kiley didn't recognize wailed through the sound system as she saw a small group on the dance floor, gathered around a handsome Latin couple dressed in black and silver lame. The couple was teaching the group basic--very basic--salsa steps.

"Lessons or tapas before the show?" Jorge asked as they found their reserved black roundtop and sat down.

"Tapas are--" Esme began.

"Little appetizers," Kiley filled in, glad she wasn't totally ignorant. She eyed the female dance teacher, whose round hips swiveled seductively to the music, and doubted very much that she could copy that motion either vertically in public or horizontally in the dark. Not that she knew yet exactly how she'd act horizontally in the dark, but she had a vivid imagination. Even if she could picture it, shouldn't she be picturing it with Tom Chappelle, who was supposed to be her boyfriend (even though he'd been off on a slew of East Coast modeling assignments for the last several weeks), rather than with Jorge Valdez, who was supposed to be just a friend?

"Tapas," Kiley decided.

"Me too. I'll take this one," Jonathan declared as he looped an arm around Esme and kissed her cheek. He was tall and rangy, with the broad shoulders and easy gait of a natural athlete. His perfect golden tan, acquired from hours on the tennis court or aboard his parents' yacht, highlighted his startlingly pale blue eyes. He wore a baby blue linen shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and faded Ralph Lauren jeans. "Something tells me she doesn't need salsa lessons."

"Esta en mi sangre," Esme replied, giving Jonathan a soft kiss.

"It's in my . . . something," Jonathan translated.

"Blood," Jorge filled in.

Jonathan shrugged. "What can I tell you? I got a C in high school Spanish. Even that was a gift."

"Fortunately you have other redeeming qualities," Esme informed him, and they kissed again.

Kiley looked away. She was happy that Esme and Jonathan were now officially a couple--and had been for the better part of six weeks--but any and all PDAs made her uncomfortable, especially when she was on a date with Jorge.

The raven-haired waitress came by to take their drink orders--Kiley asked for a virgin Long Island iced tea and thought about how she'd introduced the drink to her mom when she'd been in Los Angeles. Kiley's mom was a waitress at a truck-stop diner just outside La Crosse called the Derby and suffered from a serious anxiety disorder. Often, her panic attacks kept her from doing the simplest things, like shopping at the mall or going to the movies.

But I still owe her, big-time.

Even with the panic attacks, Jeanne McCann had accompanied Kiley to Los Angeles so that she could be on the reality TV show designed to choose a new nanny for uber-rock legend Platinum. Through each elimination round, she'd stood by her daughter's side, even when the producers did their best to make Kiley look stupid for the cameras. When the show got canceled before it ever got on the air--something about focus groups giving it a big thumbs-down--she'd been right there to comfort her daughter. Most of all, when the champagne-guzzling, notoriously bed-hopping star offered Kiley the job anyway, Jeanne McCann had actually said yes. Even after that, when disaster struck, she hadn't ordered Kiley home.

"So, what do you think?" Jorge asked, pulling Kiley out of her reverie. Eighteen, with smooth skin the color of rich caramel, Jorge had deep-set eyes that seemed to look inside whomever he was talking to. He was going into his senior year at Esme's old school in Echo Park. "Of the club?"

"It's pretty cool. So . . . how's your aunt doing?" she asked, waiting for the drinks and tapas to come.

"Eighty years old and still works for La Raza every day." He chuckled ruefully. "When I'm eighty, I want to be on the south coast of Spain, telling stories about my wild youth. You getting along any better with the colonel?"

Kiley groaned. The colonel was Platinum's brother-in-law. After Platinum had been arrested for having drugs in her home, the colonel and his wife, Susan--Platinum's sister--had come to Los Angeles to save the three kids from even temporary foster care. He ran the household like marine boot camp. It was everything Kiley could do to keep the kids from executing a coup d'etat with live ammunition.

"I say 'yes, sir' and 'no, sir' a lot; try to stay on schedule and out of his way," Kiley replied, shaking her head. "The man probably showers in full combat gear."

Jorge chuckled. "Doesn't exactly make you want to en-

list, eh?"

"Do they even have marine biologists in the military?"

She considered that for a moment. She was definitely going to become a marine biologist, or choose another career that satisfied her great love for the ocean. She hadn't really considered it before, but the military would be one way to reach her goal. She had a cousin who'd joined the National Guard to help pay for college. Of course, he got sent to the Persian Gulf, and was still there.

"I don't think I'm military material."

"I know, I know, you're going to Scripps," Esme singsonged.

Kiley nodded emphatically. "Somehow, some way."

"I like that about you," Jorge acknowledged. "Determination. It gets you places." He stood and held out his hand. "Dance?"

Kiley glanced at the dance floor, where a handful of couples were swaying to a low, seductive song. What the hell.

"Sure."

When one arm slid around her and the other took her hand, it was the first time Jorge had done more than touch her lightly or offer a fraternal hug. To Kiley's surprise, his arms felt wonderful. He was only a couple inches taller than her, and he smelled clean, like soap. He wasn't tall and broad like Tom. Yet they fit just fine.

"So, the Latin Kings are doing a gig next weekend," he said after they'd swayed together for a while. He was talking about his rap group. "That's the date we missed when I went to Texas. I thought you might want to come."

"Let me check with the colonel. Call me."

"Excellent." He hummed as they danced. "I was wondering. How is it that you fell so in love with the ocean?"

"The one and only family trip we ever took," Kiley explained. "To San Diego. I saw the ocean for the first time and . . . something just clicked for me. I can't explain it."

"Maybe you were a mermaid in a former life," Jorge teased.

"Maybe I was on the Titanic," she shot back.

"Interesting. Tell me, if you were Rose, would you have fallen in love with poor-but-proud Jack?"

"Of course," Kiley replied. "That is, after I got my degree and an excellent job so I wasn't dependent on poor-but-proud Jack."

Jorge threw his head back and laughed. "Very practical. I thought all girls were romantic."

Kiley knew herself to be ridiculously romantic, though it wasn't a quality she emphasized. If she wasn't so romantic, would she have fallen so hard for Tom, or been so hurt when he couldn't seem to decide just how serious he was about her? No. She would have simply jumped his bones and enjoyed it, no strings. That was certainly what Lydia would do. But though she was in Jorge's arms, she still thought about Tom. He was probably right that second at a South Beach nightclub with some of the most beautiful girls in the world, partying after a photo shoot, probably--

"Kiley? Where did you go?" Jorge prompted.

"What?"

"You looked a million miles away."

Yeah. South Florida. With a hot male model.

Not that she'd say that aloud. Or even admit the thought. In fact, she was about to suggest they go back to Esme and Jonathan when she found her mouth very occupied. Jorge was kissing it. She was startled. But just when she began to think that it was weird, that she really should explain about Tom, Kiley found herself kissing Jorge back.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
Melody Mayer

About Melody Mayer

Melody Mayer - Tainted Love: A Nannies Novel
Raised in Bel Air, Melody Mayer is the eldest daughter of a fourth-generation Hollywood family and has outlasted countless nannies. She lives in Los Angeles.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

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