Silhouette Yours Truly
Original Print Release: June 1998
eBook Reissue: July 2011
eBook ISBN: #978-1-459-26724-4
Available at: (do search for author name)
Available at: for Nook Books
Available at: for Kindle

Britt Carlton wasn't looking to fall in love -- he'd been there, done that... and didn't want to do it again! Then Ashley Thornton moved in to his apartment complex, all smiles and sass -- and incredibly sexy -- and Britt knew there was only one safe course of action: they had to be strictly friends. Nothing more. Uh-uh, no way.


No matter how hard they resisted the pull between them, no matter how vehemently they rejected the idea of love and marriage, Britt and Ashley couldn't get away from one inescapable fact: they might have started out as just friends, but that just wasn't enough anymore...


Read G-rated Excerpt inside front cover
Read Excerpt #1 (G-rated)
Read Excerpt #2 (G-rated)
Read Excerpt #3 (PG-rated)


Inside front cover:

What the opposing sexes say about marriage:

He Says: "Marriage? Forget it. I'll never consider marrying another woman ever again -- one broken engagement's enough, thank you very much. No, I enjoy my bachelor life too much to get serious about anyone. Of course, my very attractive next-door neighbor has been causing me some sleepless nights -- no, just friends, that's all I'm looking for... "
--Britt Carlton, 31

She Says: "Marriage?! I'm taking a break from dating for the rest of my life. I'm young, I'm attractive... I'm stupid. After all, I was the last to know that my fiancé was the Womanizer of Wichita! Anyway, I'm not bitter, I just want to start a new life... with new friends. Speaking of friends, there's this handsome charmer who lives next door. He could be fun to hang out with -- on a strictly platonic level, of course... "
--Ashley Thornton, 25

You'll Say: "Just friends? Yeah, right... "


G-excerpt #1 (opening)

"Hey! What's with all the racket?" The angry tone matched the disagreeable utterance. "Is it absolutely necessary for you to be banging on my wall?"

The sound startled Ashley Thornton. She jerked her head in the direction the voice came from and saw its very masculine owner framed in her opened front door. The stranger's voice projected a combination of perfected smoothness and a hint of the thickness associated with someone who'd just woken up.

"I'm sorry." Her tone conveyed a bit of an edge as she leaned the picture against the wall, set the hammer on the table and glanced at her watch. Four o'clock in the afternoon did not seem like a time when a little noise should be as bothersome as this grumpy, though good-looking, man professed. "I didn't realize I was disturbing anyone. I was trying to hang some pictures." For some inexplicable reason she felt the need to add, "I've just moved in," as if the jumble of boxes strewn around the studio apartment did not speak for themselves.

She examined the man in her doorway even more closely. Something about his persona, some sort of magnetic aura that surrounded him, told her everything she needed to know. She used to be engaged to his type. The signs were all too familiar to her -- his irresistible looks, his arrogant behavior. This was a man who clearly partied too much and who probably had a string of casual affairs, one-night stands and simultaneous girlfriends to his credit. Or, more accurately, to his discredit.

She noticed the way his gaze darted around the room. He seemed to be searching for something, but she wasn't sure what.

Britt Carlton surveyed the scene, carefully taking in everything. His anger softened considerably. He had only gotten to sleep four hours earlier and his head felt as large as a watermelon, neither of which were this woman's fault. If only he had been scheduled for a flight, he could have begged off from attending the bachelor party. Besides, bachelor parties reminded him of weddings. A shudder ran through his body at the memory of his own near nuptials. Now that was a lesson he had learned the hard way, but a lesson that had stuck. As far as he was concerned, marriage was a thoroughly repugnant topic to be avoided if at all possible.

"So I see." His expression softened and then he flashed the most dazzling smile Ashley had ever seen. "I didn't mean to yell. You woke me from some much-needed sleep."

"Oh?" She crossed the room toward him. "Do you work nights?" Her first impulse was to make a caustic comment about it not being her fault that he had been out carousing all night, but she thought better of it. There was no reason to create an awkward scene with a neighbor before she even settled into her new apartment.

"No, just a bad night that lasted too long." He extended his hand toward her. "I'm Britt Carlton, your next door neighbor." He cocked his head to one side, indicating the direction of his apartment. "Welcome to the building."

"Thank you. I'm Ashley Thornton." The warmth of his touch tingled her senses as they shook hands. He was even better looking up close. His silver eyes, though slightly bloodshot, sparkled as he smiled -- a smile that seemed to come easy to his sensuous mouth, blending perfectly with is handsome features.

She stepped back from the front door. "Excuse my lack of manners." Even if he had been tactless in chastising her unjustly, she would show him she was above it. "Please, come in." She picked up a box from a chair in order to make a place for him to sit.

"Here, let me get that for you." He took the box from her and set it on the floor as his gaze slowly drifted over her. Britt Carlton had had lots of practice in sizing up women.

He looked around the room at all the cartons. "Would you like some help? Tote that barge, lift that bale... " He glanced toward the campaign couch that doubled as a bed -- the brass back and side railings polished to a high gloss, the couch back cushions resting on the floor -- and gave her a mischievous grin and a wink. "I'd be happy to help you make up the bed."

She tried to suppress a grin, but did not quite make it. His glib comments, charming manner and subtle innuendoes seemed to come easily to him. Yet more evidence of the womanizer she suspected him of being. The corners of her mouth turned up slightly. "You're much too kind, and I can't begin to tell you how much I appreciate your generous offer, but I think I can manage that one by myself."

"Never let be it said that I neglected my gentlemanly duties by not offering to help a lady in distress."

"That vicious rumor will never escape these lips."

His gaze dropped from her eyes to her mouth. Her pink lips were slightly parted, tantalizingly curled upward at the corners and much too tempting. He felt the tightness across his chest. It was a mouth that simply begged to be kissed. He tried to project a casual outer manner, even though it was a far cry from what was going on inside him. "Exactly what would escape those lips?"


G-excerpt #2 (plane crash)

She watched him walk away from the table, confidence radiating from each step of his smooth, sure stride. He was an emotionally dangerous man to be around -- charming, intelligent, witty and far too sexy. Again, there was no doubt in her mind that he was a scoundrel who was incapable of making a commitment to one woman -- exactly the type of man who was totally unacceptable.

One thing confused her, though -- one thing that she could not reconcile with her assessment. They had spent so much time together that she was sure he could not possibly be seeing someone else. Even though his flirtatious behavior continued, he had made no overt moves toward her. The physical connection between them had been limited to casual pecks on the cheek or forehead, a quick brushing of the lips, his clasping her hand in his, putting his arm protectively around her shoulders -- comfortable things, nothing more. That was the way it should be. After all, they were just friends.

Britt returned from his phone call and they left the restaurant. A short while later he pulled his car up to the office of a charter company at the airport and escorted her inside the building. A woman in her fifties sat behind a desk in a large room, one entire wall covered with some sort of schedule board. "Ellen, this is Ashley Thornton. You two spoke on the phone during my recent uh... illness."

The two women exchanged greetings, then he turned his attention to Ellen. "Is everything ready?" Receiving an affirmative nod, he grabbed Ashley's hand and led her out the door. Just outside, a small single-engine Cessna 210 sat on the tarmac.

Her eyes grew wide with surprise. "We're going up in an airplane?" Her excited smile spread across her face.

"This is a perfect day for flying, clear and sunny. We'll be able to see for miles."

After a smooth takeoff, they flew over the city as Britt pointed out the sights. Then he headed the small plane north along Puget Sound. "We'll take a turn around the San Juan Islands before heading back to the airport."

She settled back in the seat, her excitement barely contained as each stunning new vista crossed her line of sight. They were well out over the water when he pointed toward an island on the far horizon. "That's the... "

His voice trailed off as his attention became riveted to the instrument panel. His features hardened into a tense expression as he tapped his finger on the glass covering one of the gauges. He quickly scanned the horizon.

A slight tremor of anxiety moved up her spine as she watched him. "Is something wrong?" He did not respond to her question, as if he had not heard her.


His voice was calm and very much in control. "We have a little bit of a problem. The oil pressure gauge has dropped to nothing. My guess is that we've broken an oil line. We have maybe three minutes before the engine conks out." He reached for the radio and called in a distress signal identifying the plane, their position, their heading and his assessment of the problem.

Britt glanced over at her. "Don't be concerned. This baby can glide for quite a distance after the engine goes. We'll be perfectly okay." He reached over and gave her hand a quick squeeze and flashed her a confident smile.

She may have seemed in control on the outside, but inside her heart pounded like a drum and her pulse raced almost out of control. Her mouth felt dry, and she experienced a bit of difficulty swallowing. She did have enough of her wits about her to know that the last thing Britt needed at that moment was a frightened, hysterical passenger to deal with. "Is there something I should be doing, something that would help?" Her voice was not as firm as she would have liked.

He gave her hand another squeeze. "Don't worry. We'll be fine." He spoke rapidly, splitting his attention between flying the plane and instructing her. "We may have to ditch in the water. You'll find a floatation package and some life jackets under the seat behind you. See if you can get them out. Put one of the jackets on and give the other one to me."

She immediately turned her efforts to the task he had assigned her, even though her hands were shaking. After freeing the gear, she turned to him for more instructions. Her heart pounded so hard she feared it would actually burst from her chest.

He continued to scan the horizon. "If we do have to ditch in the water, make sure your door is ajar before we hit. This plane will glide, but it absolutely will not float. If your door is closed, the outside water pressure will prevent you from getting it open. As soon as we hit the water, get out of the plane as fast as you can."

She offered him a feeble smile and nodded that she understood his instructions.

Suddenly the engine sputtered then died. A suffocating silence totally engulfed them. She quickly looked at Britt. His face was set in an expressionless mask, his gaze constantly darting between the instrument panel and the surrounding area.


PG-excerpt #3

Ashley swallowed the last bite of her omelet, then placed the fork on her empty plate. "You're right, Britt, you do whip up a mean omelet. That was delicious. You'll certainly make someone a good wife some day," she teased as she cocked her head and extended a mischievous grin. "Do you also know how to sew?"

"A wife?" He scrunched his face up and feigned a disagreeable expression. "That sounds ominously like marriage." He chuckled as if a thought had just occurred to him. "I've managed to survive thirty-one years without being trapped. There's no reason to change a winning streak."

Marriage... She had not meant for the conversation to take a turn down that road. "You still seem to really know your way around the kitchen, though, especially for -- "

He turned to face her, fixing her with a questioning look. "Were you going to say, especially for a man?"

She averted her gaze as she felt the flush spread across her cheeks. "Yes, I'm afraid I was." She looked up in time to catch his quizzical expression. "You just don't seem like the type of man who would be doing anything more difficult than popping something into the microwave."

He eyed her with amusement. "Grab your coffee, and let's go into the living room."

She followed him into the other room and sat on the end of the couch while he sat cross-legged on the floor facing her. "Now, just what type of man do you think I am? Go ahead, be brutally honest." He flinched and put one hand in front of his face, as if deflecting a blow. "I can take it," he teased.

She saw no reason to spoil the light and easy mood with her truthful assessment of his character. So instead she laughed and said, "You're outrageous!"

"Whew! I'm glad that's over." His twinkling eyes turned serious as he reached out and ran his fingertips lightly across the back of her hand. "But that doesn't answer my question, does it?"

Britt searched the depths of her eyes. He wanted to know more about her, much more. She was so different from the women he had become accustomed to -- women like Julie and Cindy. By contrast, Ashley was so real and honest, exactly what she appeared without any pretenses. She was like a breath of fresh air blowing away the storm clouds that had filled his life for the past four years.

She squirmed uncomfortably on the couch as she shifted her position, drawing one leg up under her. The conversation had taken a much-too-serious turn. She quickly changed the subject. "I was wondering, you have this nice apartment and nice furniture but there's not one personal touch here. It's almost as if you didn't really live here. Is there any reason why your apartment is so... so sterile?"

He shifted his weight, the movement awkward and seemingly ill at ease. "I don't know. I guess I just haven't gotten around to decorating since I moved in."

"Oh? Are you new to the building, too? How long have you lived here?"

His gaze seemed focused on a faraway place. A great sadness filled his eyes. He answered without any inflection in his voice. "I've lived here four years."

Britt furrowed his brow as he looked around, as if seeing his own apartment for the first time. "You know, you're right. I really need to do something with this place." He offered her an engaging smile. "That might be a good project for us to do later this week."

He quickly glanced at the floor in a surprisingly shy manner, then looked up into her eyes. "That was rather presumptuous of me. Let me try again." He cleared his throat and squared his shoulders, instantly becoming all business as he spoke in a matter-of-fact tone of voice. "Would you mind giving me a hand decorating my apartment?" His familiar, practiced smile returned along with a teasing glint in his eyes. "I know, I know... I'm already so far in your debt now that I'll never get out."

She chuckled. "A little further in my debt and you could be my slave for life." The total impact of her spontaneous comment hit her a second later. She tried to hide her embarrassment over its implication by adopting a businesslike attitude. "I'd be happy to help you decorate your apartment."

He shot her a comical leer, refusing to let her initial choice of words drop. "Your slave for life? That sounds very interesting, but nothing too kinky -- okay?"

"Kinky is in the eye of the beholder," she teased back. "You're just going to have to take your chances."

He scooted closer to her, obviously warming to the easy nature of their banter. "Does your eye behold kinky as having any connection with whipped cream, flavored oil or body paints?" Suddenly his smile faded and he furrowed his brow as if in deep concentration. He looked at her questioningly. "Wait a minute -- you're not thinking in terms of things made out of leather, are you?"