Sophie Dempsey wants to help her sister film a video and then get out of Temptation, Ohio. Mayor Phin Tucker wants to play pool with the police chief and keep things peaceful. But when Sophie and Phin meet, they both get more than they want. Gossip, blackmail, adultery, murder, vehicular abuse of a corpse, and slightly perverse but excellent sex: all hell breaks loose in Temptation as Sophie and Phin fall deeper and deeper in trouble... and in love.
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Sophie Dempsey didn't like Temptation even before the Garveys smashed into her '86 Civic, broke her sister's sunglasses, and confirmed all her worst suspicions about people from small towns who drove beige Cadillacs.
Half an hour earlier, Sophie's sister Amy had been happily driving too fast down Highway 32, her bright hair ruffling in the wind as she sang "In the Middle of Nowhere" with Dusty Springfield on the tape deck. Maple trees had waved cheerfully in the warm breeze, cotton clouds had bounced across the blue, blue sky, and the late-August sun had blasted everything in sight.
And Sophie had felt a chill, courtesy, she was sure, of the sixth sense that had kept generations of Dempseys out of jail most of the time.
"Slow down," she told Amy. "There's no need to rush." She stared out the window as she twisted the rings on her middle fingers. More riotously happy, southern Ohio landscape. That couldn't be good.
"Oh, relax." Amy peered at Sophie over the top of her cat's-eye sunglasses. "It's a video shoot, not a bank heist. What could go wrong?"
"Don't say that." Sophie sank lower in her seat. "Anytime anybody in a movie says, 'What could go wrong?' something goes wrong."
A green sign that read Temptation ? Mile loomed ahead, and Sophie reviewed her situation for the eleventh time that hour. She was going to a small town to make an unscripted video for a washed-up actress she didn't trust. There were going to be problems. They'd show up at any minute, like bats, dive-bombing them from out of nowhere. A strand of her dark curly hair blew across her eyes, and she jammed it back into the knot on top of her head with one finger. "Bats," she said out loud, and Amy said, "What?"
Sophie let her head fall back against the seat. " 'We can't stop here. This is bat country.' "
"Johnny Depp," Amy said. "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Stop quoting. There's nothing to be nervous about, you're just overreacting." She turned off the highway and onto the old road that led into Temptation. The exit was marked by a shiny new gas station and a less shiny but still-plastic Larry's Motel.
"Colorful," Amy said.
"Trouble," Sophie said.
"Oh, for heaven's sake," Amy said. "It's not the Bates Motel."
"You have no idea how dangerous small towns are." Sophie scowled out the window. "You were only ten when we moved to the city. You can't remember what hell all those little places we lived in were."
"And it's not as if we have a plan." Sophie stared with deep suspicion as they passed a blackened, log-built bar that sported a rusting neon sign: Temptation Tavern. Beer. Music. "It's all very well for Clea to say, 'We'll improvise,' but even if this is just an audition video, I need more of a script than 'Clea goes back to her creepy hometown and meets her long-lost love, Fred.' "
"Frank." Amy shook her head. "I don't believe you. We're finally filming something besides a wedding, and all you can say is, 'Trouble ahead,' and, 'Why can't we stay in Cincinnati?' and, 'I don't trust Clea.' Face it, the only reason you don't like Clea is because she dumped Davy to marry a TV anchorman. That's very sisterly of you, but it's time to get over it."
"That's not it," Sophie said. "I don't know what it is, it's just—"
"Come on, Sophie. This is good for you. It gets you away from Brandon."
Oh, yeah, sure this is good for me, Sophie thought, but Amy couldn't help it. It was in her blood to turn everything into a con.
"Why you're dating your therapist is beyond me," Amy was saying. "Your health insurance covered his fees."
"My ex-therapist." Sophie squinted at the deserted tree-lined road before them. Ominous. "It...
Welcome to Temptation
By: Jennifer Crusie