An Extract from Fantasy Lover

‘Honey, you need to get laid.’

Grace Alexander flinched at Selena’s overly loud voice in the small New Orleans café where they sat, finishing up
their lunch of red beans and rice. Unfortunately for her, Selena’s voice possessed a lovely octave that could carry
plainly through a hurricane.

And it was followed by a sudden hush in the crowded room.

Glancing at the nearby tables, Grace noted the men had stopped talking, and turned to stare at them with a lot more interest than she cared for.

Ah jeez! Will Selena ever learn to keep her voice down? Worse, what will she do next, strip naked, and dance on the tabletops?

Again.

For the millionth time since they had first met, Grace wished Selena could get embarrassed. But her flamboyant,
often extravagant pal didn’t know the meaning of the word.

Grace covered her face with her hands and did her best toignore the curious onlookers. An urge to slink beneath the
table, followed by an even greater urge to kick her companion, consumed her.

‘Why don’t you speak a little louder, Lanie?’ she whispered. ‘I don’t think the guys in Canada were able to hear you.’

‘Oh, I don’t know,’ the gorgeous brown-haired waiter said as he stopped by their table. ‘They’re probably headed south even as we speak.’

Heat stole up Grace’s cheeks as the obviously collegeaged waiter gave her a devilish grin. ‘Is there anything else I
can get you ladies?’ he asked, then looked pointedly at Grace. ‘Or more precisely, is there anything I can do for you, ma’am?’

How about a bag for my head, or a stick to beat Lanie with?

‘I think we have it,’ Grace said, her cheeks scalding. She was definitely going to kill Selena for this. ‘We just need our
bill.’

‘All right, then,’ he said, pulling their ticket off and scribbling across the top of the paper. He set it down in front of Grace. ‘Just give me a call if I can be of any further service.’

It was only after he left that Grace saw his name and phone number on the top of the bill.

Selena took one look at it and laughed out loud.

‘Just you wait,’ Grace said, suppressing a smile as she totaled her portion of the food on her Palm Pilot. ‘I will get you back for this.’

Selena ignored the threat as she fished in her beaded bag for her money. ‘Yeah, yeah, so you say. If I were you, I’d hang on to that number. He is a cute little thing.’

Young thing,’ Grace corrected. ‘And I think I’ll pass. The last thing I need is to be locked up for contributing to the delinquency of a minor.’

Selena slid her gaze over to where the waiter leaned with one hip against the bar. ‘Yeah, but Mr. Brad Pitt look-alike
over there might be worth it. I wonder if he has an older brother?’

‘I wonder how much Bill would pay to know his wife spent her entire lunch hour ogling a kid?’

Selena snorted as she placed her money on the table. ‘I’m not ogling him for myself. I’m ogling him for you. It was, after all, your sex life we were discussing.’

‘Well, my sex life is just hunky-dory, and not the business of the people in this restaurant.’ Tossing her money on the
table, Grace grabbed the last bite of cubed cheese and headed for the door.

‘Don’t get mad,’ Selena said, following her out into the busy crowd of tourists and regulars thronging Jackson Square.

A lone saxophone played jazz above the cacophony of voices, horses, and car engines as a wave of Louisiana heat assaulted her.

Trying her best to ignore air so thick it could barely be inhaled, Grace wended her way through the crowd, and
vendors’ booths that were set in front of the wrought-iron fence surrounding Jackson Square.

‘You know it’s true,’ Selena said as she caught up to her. ‘I mean, goodness, Grace, it’s been what? Two years?’

‘Four,’ she said absently. ‘But who’s counting?’

‘Four years with no sex?’ Selena repeated loudly in disbelief.

Several onlookers paused to look curiously from Selena to Grace.

Oblivious as usual to the attention they collected, Selena continued without pausing. ‘Don’t tell me that you’ve forgotten this is the Age of Electronics? I mean, really, do any of your patients know how long you’ve gone without sex?’

Grace swallowed her cheese and gave Selena a nasty glare. Did Selena intend to shout it out for every human, and every horse for that matter, in the Vieux Carré to hear?

‘Keep your voice down,’ she said, then added dryly, ‘I don’t think it’s the business of my patients whether or not
I’m a born-again virgin. And as for the Age of Electronics, I really don’t want to get personal with something that comes with a warning label and batteries.’

Selena snorted. ‘Yeah, well, to hear you talk, most men should come with warning labels.’ She lifted her hands up
to frame her next statement. ‘Attention, please, Psycho Alert. Me, he-man, am prone to nasty mood swings, lengthy
pouts, and possess the ability to tell a woman the truth about her weight without warning
.’

Grace laughed. She’d rattled off that spiel about men who needed warning labels countless times.

‘Ah, I see, Dr. Sex,’ Selena said with an imitation Dr. Ruth accent. ‘You just sit there and listen to them spout off all the intimate details of their sexual encounters while you live like a lifetime member of the Teflon Panty Club.’

Dropping her accent, Selena added, ‘I can’t believe after all the stuff you’ve heard in your sessions that none of it has ever gotten your hormones revved.’

Grace gave Selena a droll look. ‘Yeah, well, I am a sex therapist. It wouldn’t do my patients much good for me to have la petite mort while they’re in the middle of spewing out their problems. I mean really, Lanie, I’d lose my license.’

‘Well, I don’t see how you can advise them when you won’t go anywhere near a man.’