Suddenly Sexy

By: Kendra Little


And she definitely wasn't after him. Not unless he'd changed in the last fifteen years. She might like the package but she didn't particularly want to unwrap it and find out what made it tick. Probably an endless supply of expensive cars, even more expensive women and a hectic lifestyle. He'd never been the sort of guy to sit still and read a book for an entire day without getting off the couch. That was her favorite Sunday pastime—when Linda and Pete didn't talk her into babysitting.

She stared at the door, forcing a smile which felt as plastic as Emily's Barbie's. She could do this. He was just a man. And she was way smarter than him.

She counted to ten and pushed the door open.

***

"So, you're a scientist," said Sam.

Maddie welcomed the change in conversation. It was better than reminiscing over the old days, with the adults editing their stories so the children couldn't catch on. Since she was two years younger and had moved in different circles, Maddie wasn't interested in hearing about the time Pete got caught smoking p-o-t behind the boys toilets or the time Sam s-t-o-l-e a neighbor's car to get to his date on time.

She distracted herself by taking over Ronan's feeding, but ended up wearing most of the mushy pumpkin in her hair. Not a good look in front of a man as cool as Sam, but hey, she was over her infatuation with him, so what did she care?

Sam's question came during a break in the anecdotes when Pete's attention was distracted as he tried to convince David that broccoli florets weren't alien doggy-do.

"I'm a biochemist," said Maddie. "I work at BioDerma."

"Sounds interesting."

"About as interesting as watching this family at meal time," Linda piped up, taking over Ronan's feeding again. From the way he guzzled the food, Ronan seemed to prefer his mother's imitation of a choo choo train to Maddie's.

Sam chuckled. "I think your children are great meal time entertainment." He wiped a glob of baby food from his shirt with a napkin. "So what do you do at BioDerma, Maddie?"

She watched him through lowered lashes. Was he really interested or was he just being polite? Usually she ruined dates way before the meal arrived if she mentioned her job. One or two men had struggled through a second date and taken the conversation further, but their yawns weren't always successfully stifled. So far, Sam hadn't yawned. But it was still early.

"Maddie's developing the ultimate s-e-x aid, aren't you, Mad?" Linda's smirk said gotcha.

Pete dropped his fork and stared bug-eyed at his sister-in-law. Sam's brows merged with his hairline and Maddie's face burned. She was definitely going to commit fratricide before the night was over.

"It's an l-o-v-e potion," she said, resisting the urge to poke her tongue out at her sister.

"Love isn't a dirty word, Maddie," said Linda.

Emily and David giggled.

"You wouldn't say that if you'd dated half the guys I have." Maddie tucked a stray hair behind her ear and turned away from her sister who was definitely going to pay for this later.

"Tell me about it," Sam said.

"You want to hear about my bad dates?"

He laughed. "No, I want to hear about the love potion."

Maddie wanted to climb under the table and stay there. "Subliminal odors or pheromones," she said, keeping the conversation safely scientific to decrease her chances of foot-in-mouth, "influence an animal's choice of a mate and help develop bonding. There's a theory that humans also respond to pheromones. In other words, subconsciously we're attracted to people whose pheromones are compatible with ours."

"So, you're creating a fake pheromone?"

She nodded. "BioDerma's been commissioned by a perfume company to develop a synthetic pheromone that will have maximum impact for a large proportion of the population."

"So those who wouldn't usually find the wearer attractive, will."

Maddie stabbed a potato with her fork, concentrating hard on not looking up. She didn't need to. She could feel everyone staring at her.

"Sounds interesting," said Pete. "Who's going to test it out on the unsuspecting public?"

"Fred and Wilma."

"The Flintstones?"

"Lab mice. We'll also conduct a trial using human volunteers."

"Lucky them," Pete muttered. Linda glared at him and he shrugged. "What?"

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