THE MARRIAGE PATENT

(Formerly PATENT FOR PASSION)

by Mary Z. Wolf Copyright 1996

Published by Hard Shell Word Factory

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      Sputtering at the cold, Julie lathered shampoo into her hair. Eyes closed, she stepped forward to rinse it out. Something brushed her big toe. She felt around with her foot; she didn't want to slip on a bar of soap. A broken limb would be catastrophic right now.
     When her foot touched it again, it moved.  It was alive.
     She shrieked and scrambled out of the shower. She half slid, half fell out onto the floor, taking the curtain, rod and all, with her. Dashing the wet, soapy hair out of her eyes, she turned to look.
     One glimpse was enough. Another screech accompanied her dash from the motor home. She cleared the steps with one leap, still half blinded by shampoo, half-wrapped in the trailing shower curtain.
     Julie cannoned into something solid, the force driving the breath from her body in one whoosh. Strong arms clamped around her, preventing her from falling. She fought to breathe, beating at what she recognized as a man's chest, until he loosened his grip and she was able to suck in a lungful of air.
     She pulled from his grasp, still gasping, and barely able to see. She pointed, "S-s-snake! In the shower--"
     The shrill voice of her eight-year-old nephew, Tyler, drowned out the man's, "What?"
     "Oh, no! Did you hurt my snake?"
     Julie stepped back from the man, noticing several things at once. Not only was Tyler headed into the motor home to check on the damage she'd done to 'his' snake, but her screams had drawn a small crowd of fellow campers. To top it off, the man she'd run into happened to be the most attractive guy she'd seen in ages.
     She swallowed a groan, her stomach giving a queasy lurch. Her gaze traveled up over the man's broad chest and shoulders, to meet sparkling dark blue eyes. The stranger returned her attention, his gaze sliding up her curtain covered, wet body, to settle on her warm cheeks.
     "Excuse me!" Julie gasped. She tried wrapping the vinyl shower curtain more securely around her, not sure how concealing the curtain was. Although it had a floral pattern, there were spaces between that were clear. Hoping the flowers covered the important parts, she forced her shoulders straight and headed back into the motor home.

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