Welcome to Temptation Read online





  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen


  This book was

  copied right, in

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  About the


  TITLE: Welcome to Temptation

  AUTHOR: Crusie, Jennifer

  ABEB Version: 3.0

  Hog Edition

  Turn left at small town secrets...

  Sophie Dempsey is content living a quiet life filming wedding videos until an assignment brings her to Temptation, Ohio. From the moment she drive into town, she gets a bad feeling; Sophie is from the wrong side of the tracks and everything in Temptation is a little too right. And when she has a run-in with the town's unnervingly sexy mayor, Phineas Tucker, making a little movie turns out to be more than a little dangerous.

  Yield to oncoming desire...

  All Sophie wants to do is film the video and head home. All Phin wants to do is play pool with the police chief and keep things peaceful. They both get more than they bargained for when Sophie’s video causes an uproar and the proper citizens of Temptation set out to shut them down.

  Welcome to Temptation...

  As events spiral out of control, Sophie and Phin find themselves caught in a web of gossip, blackmail, adultery, murder, and really excellent sex. All hell breaks loose in Temptation as Sophie and Phin fall deeper and deeper in trouble...and in love.

  “Crusie charms with her brisk, edgy style...a romantic comedy that adds luster to the genre, this effervescent tale will please readers.”

  —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  “Crusie blends a combination of likeable characters, gossipy small-town life, and a plot spiced with some steamy sexual situations into a highly entertaining read.”

  1. Library Journal

  * * *


  Tell Me Lies

  Crazy for You

  Welcome to Temptation

  Fast Women

  * * *

  Welcome to Temptation

  Jennifer Crusie

  St. Martin’s Paperbacks

  * * *



  Meg Ruley,

  the world’s greatest agent,

  who believed in this book

  when it was called Hot Fleshy Thighs;

  and for

  Jennifer Enderlin,

  the world’s greatest editor,

  who said, “Why don’t we get another title?”

  and then waited with the patience of a thousand saints

  until it was done.


  I must thank

  Valerie Taylor,

  who has read in manuscript every book I’ve written

  since 1993 and who has made them all immeasurably

  better with her critiques;

  and Cherie Heady,

  who read all of my MFA work and men still managed to write the magnificent

  “Salvation in Thirty Seconds or Less.”

  My thanks also go to

  Tom Stillman, who taught me how to play pool;

  Jeff MacGregor, who taught me how to make pornography;

  Monica McLean, who told me how to hide money offshore;

  Laurie Grant, who told me how to almost kill people;

  Jack Smith, who taught me how to electrocute people;


  John Finocharo, who told me how to get away with killing people.

  Without the help of these fine people, this would have been

  a book about lemonade, ice cream, and wallpaper.

  * * *

  “I wrote the story myself.

  It’s about a girl who lost her reputation

  and never missed it.“


  * * *

  Chapter One

  Sophie Dempsey didn’t like Temptation even before the Garveys smashed into her ‘86 Civic, broke her sister’s sunglasses, and confirmed all her worst suspicions about people from small towns who drove beige Cadillacs.

  Half an hour earlier, Sophie’s sister Amy had been happily driving too fast down Highway 32, her bright hair ruffling in the wind as she sang “In the Middle of Nowhere” with Dusty Springfield on the tape deck. Maple trees had waved cheerfully in the warm breeze, cotton clouds had bounced across the blue, blue sky, and the late-August sun had blasted everything in sight.

  And Sophie had felt a chill, courtesy, she was sure, of the sixth sense that had kept generations of Dempseys out of jail most of the time.

  “Slow down,” she told Amy. “There’s no need to rush.” She stared out the window as she twisted the rings on her middle fingers. More riotously happy, southern Ohio landscape. That couldn’t be good.

  “Oh, relax.” Amy peered at Sophie over the top of her cat’s-eye sunglasses. “It’s a video shoot, not a bank heist. What could go wrong?”

  “Don’t say that.” Sophie sank lower in her seat. “Anytime anybody in a movie says, ‘What could go wrong?’ something goes wrong.”

  A green sign that read Temptation 1/4 Mile loomed ahead, and Sophie reviewed her situation for the eleventh time that hour. She was going to a small town to make an unscripted video for a washed-up actress she didn’t trust. There were going to be problems. They’d show up at any minute, like bats, dive-bombing them from out of nowhere. A strand of her dark curly hair blew across her eyes, and she jammed it back into the knot on top of her head with one finger. “Bats,” she said out loud, and Amy said, “What?”

  Sophie let her head fall back against the seat. “ ‘We can’t stop here. This is bat country.’ ”

  “Johnny Depp,” Amy said. “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Stop quoting. There’s nothing to be nervous about, you’re just overreacting.” She turned off the highway and onto the old road that led into Temptation. The exit was marked by a shiny new gas station and a less shiny but still-plastic Larry’s Motel.

  “Colorful,” Amy said.

  “Trouble,” Sophie said.

  “Oh, for heaven’s sake,” Amy said. “It’s not the Bates Motel.”

  “You have no idea how dangerous small towns are.” Sophie scowled out the window. “You were only ten when we moved to the city. You can’t remember what hell all those little places we lived in were.”


  “And it’s not as if we have a plan.” Sophie stared with deep suspicion as they passed a blackened, log-built bar that sported a rusting neon sign: Temptation Tavern. Beer. Music. “It’s all very well for Clea to say, ‘We’ll improvise,’ but even if this is just an audition video, I need more of a script than, ‘Clea goes back to her creepy hometown and meets her long-lost love, Fred.’ ”

  “Frank.” Amy shook her head. “I don’t believe you. We’re finally filming something besides a wedding, and all you can say is, ‘Trouble ahead,’ and, ‘Why can’t we stay in Cincinnati?’ and, ‘I don’t trust Clea.’ Face it, the only reason you don’t like Clea is because she dumped Davy to marry a TV anchorman. That’s very sisterly of you, but it’s time to get over it.”

  “That’s not it,” Sophie said. “I don’t know what it is, it’s just—”