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by Carrie Cox

Copyright © 2012 by Carrie Cox

All rights reserved.

These stories are works of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author's imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

No part of this publication can be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without permission in writing from THE AUTHOR or the Publisher.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Note from Carrie Cox


Chapter 1

I stopped my old, red truck in front of a set of imposing, twenty-foot high iron gates.

The security guard stationed beside them recognised me and waved me on with a cheerful smile. I waved back. After a struggle, I managed to get the truck in gear, then put my foot on the gas and slowly drove along the winding driveway to Cliff House, one of the largest of the magnificent Newport mansions that lined the shoreline of Newport, Rhode Island.

As I drew closer to the grand building, I felt a slight flush of embarrassment, as I had every morning since I started working there.

I pulled round to the back of the house, not wanting to embarrass the owners any more than necessary. It was only seven-thirty am. So I still had half an hour to kill before Mrs. Wicker would open up the front doors.

I needed to sort through the stuff in the back of my truck, so my early arrival wasn’t a problem. I’d turned up early for work every morning this week. I don’t think I had ever been as excited about a job as I was about this one.

I jumped down from my truck and took a deep breath. I could smell the ocean and freshly cut grass. The smell reminded me of the other reason I’d turned up early this morning: The estate’s head gardener. At least I assumed he was the head gardener.

Yesterday morning, he had wandered over the grounds, wearing a tight, white t-shirt and faded blue jeans. He was absolutely gorgeous. I lusted over him for a full twenty minutes before starting work. If I was honest, he was the main reason I turned up early this morning.

I scanned the area, taking in the Elizabethan garden and the rose garden. There was no sign of him yet.

The property was immense, so it was entirely possible he was working on another area of the grounds today. I felt disappointment sit heavily in my stomach, which was stupid.

I set about sorting through my tools, arranging the brushes and solvents I would need today. Thankfully, after a series of early starts and long days, I’d broken the back of the project, and with just two days until the gala dinner, I thought I might finish in time.

I caught a movement to my right and turned my head. My heart leapt in my chest. It was him. He leaned over a flower bed, dead heading a couple of blooms. He wore a white t-shirt again today. This one seemed even tighter. It clung to his well-muscled chest, and immediately I imagined running my fingers along his torso and down to…

At that moment, he looked up, catching me staring at him. I felt the blood rush to my face. He’d seen me practically drooling over him. I quickly turned my head and ducked behind the door of the truck.

Way to go, Kate.

It had been a while since I’d been with a man, at least a year since my last date, and that hadn’t even made it as far as the bedroom. I wasn’t usually the type to get dizzy over men, and I didn’t usually salivate over hot guys quite so obviously. But there was something about him that intrigued me.

I leaned into the truck and began hauling out a box of paints. I figured it was a good idea to have them all in one container, but I hadn’t planned on how heavy they’d be. The box got stuck next to a large bottle of solvent, so I pulled harder. All of a sudden, the box was dislodged and slid forward easily. Surprised, I fell back, landing on my butt in the gravel.

Why was I so clumsy?

I scrambled to my feet, praying no one had witnessed my spectacular stupidity. I glanced around. Oh, hell.

The gardener was striding towards me with a concerned look on his face.

My cheeks grew hot and my mouth dry.

I turned back to the truck and busied myself with the tools. Hoping he’d decide I was all right and leave me to it.

No such luck.

Tanned forearms appeared in front of me and grasped the box of paints.

“Let me help you with that,” he said, in a deep, smooth voice that was impossibly sensual.

Butterflies danced in my stomach. I tried to conjure up a sassy reply, something sexy.

“Oh, okay,” I muttered.

Way to go. Bowl him over with your wit, Kate.

I finally gathered the courage to look up at him. He was tall. He pushed his dark hair back from his face and stared down at me with intense brown eyes. His lips curved upwards a little, as if he found me amusing.

Irritated, I stood up a little straighter and tossed my hair, which wasn’t very effective as I had scraped it back in a ponytail this morning.

“Thank you for your help,” I said in a stiff and formal voice. “I think I can manage from here.”

His soft brown eyes travelled the length of my body and back up slowly. “You look … very capable,” he said.

Dammit, that voice made my insides melt. How could his voice alone have such an effect on me? Was I really that desperate?

Before I could react, he reached his hand down to my backside and ran his fingers across it. “You’ve got a little dust on your pants from the gravel.”

My cheeks flamed. So he had seen me fall on my ass. Great.

I stepped back, out of his reach. “Thank you, but I can do

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