Tonight With Tarzan
Tia St. James, interior decorator, discovers “Tarzan” lives in Picardy Heights. He’s London T. Parker, a charter pilot and adventurer, who posed as the famous hero for the poster she hangs in the Jungle Jangle.
London soon wants to whisk her away to a real African rain forest. Yet, Tia tries not to love a man who risks life and limb. How will London help Tia jump over the cliff of the past--and land in the arms of… Tarzan?
"Tonight with Tarzan is pure reading bliss. Karen Hudgins continues to delight readers with the trials and tribulations of romance and falling in love....a fun-filled must read."
"Karen Hudgins has penned a novel filled with wonderful characters whom you can't help falling in love with."
"Dynamic story spiced with humor, suspense, and more than a little jungle heat. Great read!"
"Loved it! Tonight With Tarzan definitely deservers a place of honor on your bookshelf."
"TWT makes me believe in romance!"
5 Pawprints "Tonight With Tarzan is a book you don't merely read, you become part of it. A clever interweaving of love, sex and danger, this tale held my interest from start to finish... Top shelf!"
Exploring a bit, Tia ambled to the first tent and looked inside. It was all made up homey and comfy-like. Yet, the footprint wasn’t nearly large enough. She soon left that one and passed the next row of spruce trees. She stopped outside the screen door of the second tent. A dad and his two sons walked toward her on the path.
“Have you seen the salesman?” she asked as they all met.
The dad replied, “No, but there’s a guy in the last tent who knows a lot about them. He might be able to get you started.”
“Thanks,” she said and moved on to tent number three. She eyed it carefully from the outside. Overall, this one was much larger, which should fit the requirements she needed to fill. She approached the front, walked onto the verandah, pushed aside the door flap and entered. As her eyes adjusted to the dimmer light, she saw a man sitting at the folding table with his back to her. His legs were stretched out and crossed at the ankles. He wore a bush hat, hiding his hair and the back of his neck. Clipboards and papers littered the table.
“Hi,” she said amicably. “I hear you know something about these tents.”
There was a long beat of quiet then a sigh.
“Are you following me?” the man asked getting up.
Tia halted mid-step. She knew this voice. Hands on her hips and elbows akimbo, she spun back to face its owner.
London Parker ambled toward Tia. He stopped a mere two feet away from her, which turned on all kinds of sensory modes in her body. His was an alarmingly sweet presence and she recollected herself.
“Not really,” she said forthrightly. “I’ve better things to do, thank you.”
He pushed the bush hat that he now wore back from his forehead. His sunglasses were still tucked in the front of his shirt.
“How’ve you been?” he asked as if he hadn’t seen her for a week.
Tia replied, playing along. “Busy in the jungle. It can get rough.”
He whistled. “More than you know.”
“I’m sure, but I’m here to buy a tent.”
London seemed to be weighing her before he asked, “How’s Ollie?”
Tia twitched her mouth from side to side. Didn’t London work at the airport? Didn’t Ollie annoy him? Didn’t she wish she’d checked her lip-gloss?
“He’s in good hands,” she said keeping it cool. “So, this is a surprise. What’re you doing here?”
“I’m going over some notes,” he answered. “Not much business tonight.”
Tia nodded. “It’s Saturday night. People are out on dates, or at home or whatever.”
London shrugged. “You’re not.”
Tia hedged. “No, I--I’m not.” She caught the question in his eyes. “I’m working, focusing on my project and staying--”
“Dates might do you some good,” London interjected matter-of-factly.
“Excuse me?” she asked growing irritated. How could he know what she needed? How could he assume anything about her? She could feel the spitfire brewing in her own eyes.
“Just a suggestion,” he said, winking.
“Good,” she retorted. “Because what I don’t need is lovelorn advice or hit on.”
“Then, you make the moves,” he replied. “Give yourself a chance to loosen up. Breathe. You’ve had a serious bad turn, but life’s not over yet.”
Tia stood motionless. She couldn’t tell which was worse. London’s audacity and persistence, or the rising heat blistering in her neck. Did she have “loser” written on her forehead? By the grace of God, she kept her surface demeanor cool. Somehow, she needed out of here--preferably with a tent.
“You’re right. It’s not over yet. When I find a man who’s sensitive, truly cares about me, is attractive and doesn’t have a death wish, I’ll give it some thought.”
“Thinking won’t be enough, darlin’. You might lose your chance.”
She straightened her spine. “Are you always this…pushy?”
He paused. “Just trying to help.”
“And I look like I need help?” she asked bravely.
“Yes,” bolted from him.
She recoiled. “Well, I do. Only with a tent--which is why I’m here.”
London stood still holding the clipboard in his hand. She got the feeling he was doing more. With just the two of them inside, things got cozy real quick.
Tia warily eyed the top page that was filled with scribbling and sketches. Nodding at them, she asked, “So, you’re working on notes. What kind of notes?”
“Tent type notes.” A yellow pencil with a pink eraser rested behind his ear.
“Uh huh,” she said looking squarely into his eyes. They glimmered, even here in the lantern light. She learned earlier today that, once snared, Tarzan’s eyes were hard to let go. Now, it seemed even tougher. But she prevailed, keeping this all business casual.
“Do you know when the tent salesman will be back? Because I’ve got some questions, and I can’t leave here tonight without a tent.”
Dropping the clipboard on a folding campstool, London hiked a corner of his mouth into a half smile. “What sort of questions?”
“Brian-the-salesman type questions,” she replied with sugar coating.
“Brian is the manager and owner of this store. He knows these tents better than most. But I’m covering for him until he comes back in about an hour. So if you really want to talk with him, it can be arranged at a later time.”
Tia shook her head from side to side which silenced London. Time was pressing. She was close enough to him now that his body heat found her. Why she had to run into Tarzan again today was beyond her. He twisted her insides and confused her. Still, she held her ground.
“I’m interested in this tent, actually.”
London pushed back his bush hat and spoke with authority. “We’re standing in Big Piney. It’s the largest and top of the line for Cricket Tents. It was developed through years of outdoor personal experience, tested in the best and worst of conditions.” He spread his arms open wide. “These tents are more than tents, Tia St. James. Much more.”
Tia couldn’t help admiring his enthusiasm. “How so?”
He lowered his arms. “Giving you some details requires a personal tour.”
Despite how he was oozing with charm, Tia lifted her chin. “A standard, run-of-the-mill tour will do, thanks.”
Curious light glinted in London’s eyes. “So you are ready?”