Miss congeniality

Shelly Laurenston
Miss Congeniality

CHAPTER 1
“Where do you get those stockings from, doc?” growled Niles Van Holtz, Van to his friends and family. Those stockings, with that one sexy line up the back of each leg, were like something out of a 1940s movie. He bet she wore garters too. Man, the woman drove him absolutely crazy and she didn’t even notice.
Cold, brutally pale blue eyes turned and locked on Van. “Ah, yes,” she sighed out. “Niles Van Holtz. My night at these charity functions wouldn’t be complete without your biting wit and continual obsession with my underclothes.”
“Why else do you think I’d drag myself to the science building, of all places, except to see you?”
Van had known a lot of mean women in his time. Coming from a wealthy background filled with lethal predators, he was more surprised to find a nice female than a mean one. But Irene Conridge, PhD several times over and Rhodes Scholar by the time she was fifteen, made mincemeat of them all.
Irene Conridge was what one would call a child prodigy. At least she had been. But at a luscious twenty-five she’d left her “child” anything long behind.
From the time Irene had walked onto the university campus, Van had locked onto her scent and had hunted her relentlessly ever since. She’d been eighteen at the time and Van twenty. He’d thought she was just another freshman. Or, as his buds had liked to call them, freshmeat. But he’d found out quick enough-when she’d coldly laid into him, leaving him standing speechless in the middle of the Square-that she was actually a guest professor. And a big deal. Ivy League universities all over the country and Europe had fought for her. But, for some unknown reason, she’d taken the job at this small but elite university on the border of Seattle, Washington. She’d turned down Harvard, Yale, MIT, Berkley, Oxford…all of them.
No one understood it, but Van did. Why go to a big university with a bunch of other former prodigies when you can go to a smaller one and be Head Shit in Charge? Because Irene had gone “small,” she ruled. They denied her nothing, gave her whatever she needed, and strove hard to keep her happy. In return, Irene kept the university’s name alive in academic circles, had students begging to get into the school so they could enroll in her class-until they actually had to get through one of her classes-and kept the money flowing in. The woman wasn’t charming but somehow she dragged money from some of the richest families in the Northwest. His included.
“Besides, I’m only obsessed with your underclothes, doc.” He knew she hated when he called her that. “Tell me, do you wear garters under those clothes?”
“Yes,” she replied plainly. “I don’t like pantyhose. I find them too binding.”
Van couldn’t help himself; he growled again. Enough that she turned and looked at him directly. “Did you just growl at me?”
“It was much more of a purr.”
“Fascinating.”
“Am I?”
“No. You’re not. But the fact that a grown man would growl over garter belts is fascinating. I’m sure the psychology department would find you a fascinating test study.”
“Sweet talker.”
She frowned, and it wasn’t a frown of annoyance or concern, but one of deep thought. “Am I? I’ve been told I’m cold and quite removed.”
Van had to try really hard not to laugh. To be honest, he didn’t know a colder woman on the planet. Female cavewomen who had been frozen in blocks of ice for millions of years were warmer than Irene.

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Miss congeniality