Cover - Cinderella and the StripperCINDERELLA & THE STRIPPER
available now at
ISBN 978-1-59705-932-9

By JoEllen Conger

The sound of screeching tires behind her bodes another disaster about to happen. Heather squeezed her eyes tight, clutching the steering wheel even harder, waiting for the crash. “Hey, lady! Why don't you learn how to drive!” the driver yelled as he swerved around her.

Heather gulped and fought to steady her nerves. She looked again at the motorcycle that had skidded down the LA freeway in front of her. I could have killed him! Not that anybody else seems to care. Quaking, Heather forced her rigid fingers to uncurl from the steering wheel. She leaped out of her car, and ran over to the downed rider.

"Are you hurt?" she gasped in a quivery voice as she knelt beside the leather-clad motorcyclist. Anxiously, she clawed her wind-whipped hair out of her eyes. Her concern for the victim's welfare deepened when he did not reply. Suddenly noticing that the man's arm was pinned under the handlebar, Heather reached for the key and turned off the ignition.

Dizzying stabs still prickled the nape of her neck. Her heartbeat still pounded in her ears, her mouth had gone dry. She crouched beside the helmeted figure, glancing over her shoulder at the swerving traffic. At least, while her stalled VW blocked oncoming traffic, she reasoned, they wouldn't get run over. She had no idea how badly the man might be hurt. Obviously, his string of oaths weren't intended for her ears. She hadn't caused the accident.

Finally realizing he was trapped by the weight of the motorcycle, Heather jumped to her feet and threw her slight body against the machine. Her attempt to lift its weight was unsuccessful. She knelt again to open the face shield. "Hey, Mister, are you all right?" she asked. The sight of his penetrating blue eyes captivated her.

Noticing her for the first time, the rider stopped struggling. He gazed up into her face as though mesmerized. “Damn, what beautiful auburn hair.” He watched her long, free-flowing tresses tumbling about her shoulders. "Are you an angel, Pretty Lady?"

"No. Just a good Samaritan."

“Sam, who?"

"Samaritan. I stopped to help you."

The rider took a deep breath. "I think I'm in trouble here."

"Right," she stammered. "You've had an accident."

When the man struggled to unfasten his chinstrap, Heather reached out and pulled the helmet free. The sight of his blond curly hair tumbling loose about his face, his tanned good looks, and his quick brave smile snarled her heartstrings. Feeling lightheaded, she blinked her eyes, and brushed her hand jerkily across her forehead.

"Don't faint," he pleaded quietly, cupping her face with his gloved hand. "I think I'll live."

Without breaking his starry-eyed gaze, he reached for her, brushing his hand lightly through her hair, letting his fingers tangle in the curls that now cascaded over his chest.

"You sure you're not an angel?"

"I'm sure." Heather's head spun with vertigo as she drowned in the depths of his eyes, finding herself unable to shift her gaze.

Heather's head jerked up suddenly as she caught the motion of a traffic cop pulling his own motorcycle in behind the protection of her car. “The Calvary is here,” she quipped gratefully.

The good-looking stranger gingerly massaged his wrist, then, carefully extracted his hand from its black leather gauntlet. Tentatively, he tested his fingers and flexed his hand several more times to verify that it had only been pinned without additional injury.

He still lay on his side, trapped by the weight of the motorcycle. The highway patrol officer lifted the bike and punched down the kickstand.

"Stay put," he ordered the rider. “There's an ambulance on the way.”

"I don't think I need one," the blond responded. "I'm not really hurt. Maybe a sprained ankle."

Automatically, Heather offered a steadying arm as the motorcyclist gingerly took a few steps. The warmth of his firm, hardened muscles flexing against her, caught her by surprise. He was stronger and more lithe than he looked.

He flashed her a brave smile, which instantly faded. He curled his arm about her shoulders to support his weight as he took a few more experimental steps. The wind whipped her tangled hair across his face. Her lashes brushed his cheek; Heather became aware that his lips were much to close.


Charles burst through his office door into his outer office. "YOU!" he barked, "jabbing a finger at Heather. "Come here!" Turning just as suddenly, he returned to his office and grabbed up the phone receiver.

Startled, his secretary shrugged an apology for her employer's tactless behavior.

Heather's cheeks flushed, she waited, too stunned to move. "Me?" she asked Doris, her eyes widening in dismay.

Heather stepped hesitantly into the spacious office, not knowing just what to expect. Charles was on the phone again, his back to them.

"Oh!" she exclaimed as he turned, covering her gaping mouth. A pricking surge swept through her from head to toe. Giddiness nearly buckled her knees. Even in his expensive hand-tailored suit, she recognized him. "The motorcyclist!"

"Pardon?" questioned Doris leaning toward her.

"Nothing! Really, it's nothing!" Heather stood speechless watching the handsome, young blond she had nearly run over on the highway only a few days before.

I can't believe it. Just by chance, I stopped to help a stranger in trouble, and he turns out to be my employer. What are the odds of that happening?

But to her disappointment, he hadn't recognized her.

"I have her!" Charles shouted into the phone. He turned back to Heather. "If you have any plans for this evening cancel them!" he demanded.

Charles eyes scanned her appraisingly, examining her thoroughly from head to toe, cataloging every detail about her. Heather blushed even more deeply. He circled his fingers, in the American sign of approval.

"Turn around!" he commanded instructing her with a rotation of his hand.

Heather turned a half-hearted turn. She was beginning to feel indignant.

"I like your looks! I want you! It's only for tonight!"

The blush on her checks spread down her throat at the implication. "Me?" she gasped.

"Tony will teach you what I want," he stated without preamble. "The full routine will take most of the evening."

"I don't do that sort of thing," Heather began indignantly turning toward the door.

"Don't worry, of course, I'll pay you!" he reassured her. Reaching into his wallet, he pressed several one hundred dollar bills into her hand.

"No, I won't do it," she persisted

Reaching into his wallet he added a further insensitive. "Yes, you will. I really need you."

"I'm not that kind of..." she began. "I want to go home!"

Charles took several more hundred-dollar bills from his wallet, forcibly closing her fingers around them. Her heart fluttered and leaped at his touch.

"Please!" he pleaded. "I'm desperate! I really do need you tonight!"

When their eyes locked, she was drawn into the vortex of his compelling blue eyes. The intensity of his hungry gaze overpowered her volition and impelled her to comply. She ceased to struggle.