The Scavenger Hunt Game Rules: Draw a card. Seduce the man. End of game.
Consequences for failure: Two weeks on a remote island with no internet—a career killer.
The Player: Josephine
How the hell could she draw a card with a cowboy on it? Josephine doesn’t want to seduce a cowboy, but when her friends remind her about the consequences of failure, she caves and goes to a rodeo.
But then a pair of snug-fitting, low-riding jeans, a Stetson pulled low on the forehead, broad shoulders in a white shirt, and wearing cowboy boots comes into her line of vision and her seduction quest doesn’t seem so bad after all.
Levi has never met anyone like Josie. She’s Dallas culture, and he’s Ft. Worth country. When she sneaks away in the middle of the night, leaving some crumpled bills, he knows if it’s the last thing he ever does, he’ll find his
Josie, and then he’ll explain the difference between business and pleasure.
The Scavenger Hunt series is intended for an 18+ audience and contains lots of raunchy love scenes. If you’re a family member and want to keep the image in your head that I’m sweet and would never have naughty thoughts, then I’d advise you not to read these books. I’m an introvert—big difference.
“Are we doing this or what?” Dakota asked.
Josephine set her cup of coffee back on the saucer and studied her friend. Dakota had a wicked sense of humor, but she didn’t look as if she was joking. “You were serious?”
“Of course I was serious. When you think about it, what could possibly go wrong?”
“What could go wrong?” Josephine could think of any number of things. If word got out, she could lose her job, suffer unbearable embarrassment, not to mention the chance they could all be murdered.
When a sudden cold chill ran down her spine, she shivered. No, the game would end before they were all dead. If she wasn't the first, then she wouldn't have to worry. That presented another problem. She didn't want any of her friends to die either.
She opened her mouth to explain precisely why this was a terrible idea at the same time as the doorbell rang.
“This is going to be the best meeting yet!” Dakota hurried to answer the door.
Josephine's mouth snapped closed. Of course Dakota wasn't serious. The idea was ludicrous. She chuckled. They were pranking her. She was too gullible for her own good, just like when they were in college.
She sighed as she thought back. They were six friends who met at college. Overachievers. Dakota, Bree, Abbie, Samantha, Candace, and herself. Now they all had jobs in the Dallas area. They met each month to set goals and analyze what wasn’t working in their lives. They were a female think tank, and it worked. They’d each risen high in their chosen field in a short space of time.
Josephine's thoughts pulled back to the present when Dakota returned to the dining room with Bree at her side.
Bree was like a soft breeze. Willowy, petite, with pale blonde hair and long limbs. She was a stark contrast to Dakota, who was five feet seven inches and had coal-black hair. Josephine always felt a little mousy around them. Her hair wasn't one pure shade of blonde. It was a mixture of shades from light to dark. She was of average height at five feet, five inches. Everyone said she had striking eyes, though. A translucent blue. Her Scandinavian heritage.
"Yes, I'm dead serious," Dakota said, continuing their earlier conversation. "Do you want what happened to Maggie happening to the rest of us?" She waltzed into the kitchen. Her house was an open concept, so she wasn't cut off from the others. "Coffee or tea?" she asked.
“Coffee,” Bree answered as she followed. “What are you dead serious about now?” She turned and winked at Josephine. They both knew Dakota could be a bit of a drama queen.
For someone who seemed to walk on air when she moved, Bree was always direct and to the point. Her motto was, why beat around the bush? That only wasted time. Time was precious to her. She was a buyer for a major department store and had to make quick decisions before the competition beat her out.
“What we talked about last month when we met.” Dakota refilled her cup and carried it back to the dining room table.
"You want to go through with it?" Bree raised an eyebrow as she took a seat across from Josephine.
“Yes. Aren’t you worried about what happened to Maggie? Any one of us could be next.” Dakota sat at the head of the table and leaned back.
“Maggie had problems,” Bree haltingly began. “She was overworked and stressed.” She looked to Josephine for help.
The doorbell rang again.
Dakota hurried to answer it.
“Is she serious?” Josephine asked when Dakota was out of earshot.
Bree shrugged a slender shoulder. “Who knows? She looked serious.”
Josephine took a drink of her coffee. Even if Dakota was serious, it didn't mean the others would agree to her crazy new idea. She immediately began to relax.
Dakota returned with Abbie, Samantha, and Candace in tow.
“Sorry we’re late,” Samantha said in her soft, southern drawl. “We all met at Candace’s and rode together. Saturday morning traffic is such a bother. Did we miss anything?”
The three women followed Dakota into the kitchen and fixed their drinks before carrying them back to the table. When everyone was seated, Josephine filled them in about what they’d been discussing, “Dakota wasn’t joking last month when she said we all needed to get laid. She’s afraid we’ll end up like Maggie.”
"Maggie had no love life. That's a fact," Abbie supplied, then sighed as though she could relate.
“All she talked about was work.” Samantha brushed a stray lock of auburn hair behind her ear. “Who wouldn’t go crazy?”
“You can’t say we’ll end up in a mental ward blabbering like idiots,” Candace added. “Besides, I hear she’s due to be released next week.”
“They’re right,” Josephine said. “Getting laid is not the answer. Maggie had other problems as well. Totally different situation.”
Dakota shook her head. "Don't you see? We're exactly like Maggie. She worked fourteen to sixteen-hour days, seven days a week." Dakota leaned forward in her chair. "I can see us forty years from now. We'll continue to meet at someone's house every month and discuss how we landed a big account or designed an amazing skyscraper."
“I love what I do.” Abbie was the architect.
“But is that all you want from life?” Dakota pushed.
Abbie raised her cup, then apparently changed her mind about taking a drink and set it down. "I'm satisfied with what I have."
“But don’t you want more?”
“Are you hormonal?” Josephine asked.
“No, I’m not hormonal!” Dakota pushed away from the table and stood, marching to the sliding glass doors. She opened them so hard they banged the frame.
“Really, Dakota? Do you have to be so dramatic?” Candace asked with her usual dryness. “And shut the door before you let any bugs inside. There’s nothing in the great outdoors that I find remotely attractive.”
“Okay, fine.” Dakota slammed the glass door closed.
“I have a fantastic herbal tea that can help with hormone imbalances,” Bree told her.
Dakota turned and glared at them. “Why don’t I just take a Xanax?”
"I have a new script if you're out," Josephine offered. She wanted to help her friend, but this was a side of her she'd never seen.
"I…don't…want…a…pill. I want a man. I want sex—the hot, sweaty kind. I want to run naked through the streets. I'm tired of fucking duds!"
“You’re scaring us,” Abbie whispered, but it was loud enough that Dakota heard her words.
“Don’t worry, I won’t run naked down the street any time soon.” She came away from the doors, flopping down on the sofa. “Maybe this is what they call a midlife crisis.” She turned pensive. “Haven’t you ever wondered if there’s more out there?” She stared outside as if she could see past the manicured lawn and the glistening blue water of the pool. She sighed deeply before moving to the sofa and curling up on one end.
“I don’t think you can have a midlife crisis when you’re only twenty-nine,” Samantha commented and earned a glare from Josephine.
Samantha raised her eyebrows as if to say, well, it’s the truth, then examined her perfect manicure for any flaws. Not that she would find one. She epitomized the true southern belle. She always looked perfect.
Josephine came to her feet and joined Dakota on the sofa. Tears pooled in Dakota's eyes. She looked toward the other women as if they might have an idea what to do, but they all seemed equally clueless as they moved to the living room.
Josephine took her friend’s cold hands in hers. “Tell us how we can help.”
Dakota seemed to sink more into the plush white sofa. “I wish I knew.” Her laugh was bitter. “Maybe I am going through a midlife crisis. Maybe you can do that in your thirties, and I'm getting really close." She shook her head. "I only know there's something else out there. There has to be. Each day I feel as if I'm dying a little more inside. I'm afraid I will wake up some morning and realize that I missed out on something important. I don't want to have regrets." She inhaled a trembling breath. "Maggie didn't take time for vacations. She had no boyfriends and no sex, except for an occasional fly-by fuck. Instead, she had a complete mental meltdown."
“Sex isn’t everything,” Samantha said.
Dakota glared at her.
Samantha curled up on the sofa with a shrug. “Well, it isn’t.”
Bree, Candace, and Abbie sat across from the others in matching powder-blue chairs.
“When was the last time any of you had sex—with a man?” Dakota asked. “Vibrators don’t count.”
That narrowed it down. She thoughtfully frowned as she thought back. “A few months. It hasn’t been that long since I broke up with Raymond,” Josephine said. “These things take time.”
“Wasn’t that a year ago?” Samantha asked.
Had it been that long? She quickly tallied the months. Samantha was right. “A year isn’t that long,” she defended herself.
Where had the time gone? Work had consumed her. Maybe she was more like Maggie than she thought. Goosebumps popped up on her arms. She quickly rubbed them away. She didn’t want to end up in a mental institution.
“Sex with him wasn’t that great,” the usually quiet Abbie spoke up. She met Josephine’s gaze and blushed. “Your words. Not mine.”
"Okay, so I'm not the best one to ask if you want to know about hot, sweaty sex." She shrugged. "Sex isn't that big a deal. Look what else I have. I'm a top executive at the firm. How many twenty-nine-year-old women can say that?" She glanced at the other five women. "Well, most women can’t.” She was tired of the third degree, and maybe she did harbor a twinge of unease about Maggie’s breakdown.
Dakota leaned back in her chair. “Let me rephrase my question. When was the last time any of you had a mind-blowing orgasm with a living, breathing man?”
She'd already confided to her friends, not just Abbie, about her less than earth-shattering sexual experience with Raymond, so lying was out of the question. Sex with him was just above going to the dentist. But only just barely.
She'd timed him once. Only because she hadn't wanted to have sex, but there was nothing on television, so she figured she might as well. He took all of three minutes from the first grunt to the last.
After he’d used her bathroom, he politely kissed her on the forehead, then said he’d call her the next day. He did call, but she told him the relationship wasn’t working. He understood.
No dramatic breakup. Just, ‘if you think that would be best’. It made her wonder what Raymond had thought about sex with her.
“Is there even such a thing as mind-blowing sex?” Josephine had a feeling it was a fantasy perpetuated by men to get women in bed.
“I had mind-blowing sex once,” Abbie said, then blushed when everyone looked in her direction. She was an architect, designing modern buildings for important people who owned major companies. She spent a lot of time alone, sketching. She never went anywhere without a pad and a pencil.
“When?” Bree asked. “You might have at least mentioned it. I didn’t think there was any such thing.”
"It was before I met any of you." She wore a dreamy look, hugging herself as though she remembered someone else's arms holding her close. "Right before I left for college. Tony was what some people referred to as the bad boy in town. He was half Italian with dreamy, dark eyes that could undress a girl with one slow look. His hair was a little too long, and he rode a badass motorcycle. When girls heard the roar, they automatically stopped to watch him ride by."
"And you had sex with him?" Josephine wasn't sure Abbie hadn't dreamed this Tony up. Abbie was the only artist in the group, and she had her head in the clouds most of the time.
“No. Not sex.” She sighed deeply. “He made love to me. I swear the earth moved.”
“Why isn’t he around now if he was so great?” Candace asked with more than a trace of skepticism.
"My parent's found out I was secretly meeting him when I was supposed to be at the library. They quickly shipped me off to college. By the time I went home for Christmas vacation, he was gone. I never heard from him again." She shrugged, "I guess it wasn't meant to be."
There was a moment of silence, as if they paid homage to something they’d never had or would never have again.
“So, do we take a chance or what?”
“It was an earth-shattering experience,” Abbie reaffirmed.
“Oh hell, why not,” Bree said. “How does this work?”
Dakota eagerly sat forward and brought out a box from under the coffee table. “We each draw a scrabble tile. The person who draws the letter closest to A is the one who will go first. Agreed?” Dakota asked as she shook the bag with the scrabble tiles.
Josephine couldn't believe this was happening. They were smart women. Playing games was for college kids. No, she wasn't going to let them pull her into another one of their crazy schemes. She wasn't, and that was final.