Libby Marchant first meeting with her boss goes off with a bang Rafael Alejandro top-of-the-range sports car, unfortunately! The unpredictable and alluring Libby throws Rafael completely off-kilter but, luckily, as she his employee, he'll be able to keep her at arms length. At least that the plan, because in the perfectly oiled machine that is Rafael life there no room for distractions. But soon Rafael no-office-relationships policy is in imminent danger of being broken by the boss himself!
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Harlequin Enterprises, Limited
March 01, 2012
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Excerpt from The Thorn in His Side by Kim Lawrence
Libby's phone rang just as she was taking the exit into the motorway services.
She pulled into the first convenient parking space and eagerly reached into her pocket. 'Mum...?'
'Do I sound like your mother?'
Not unless her mum had developed a strong Irish accent in the two weeks she'd been in New York. 'Chloe?'
'Libby, love, I was just wondering if you're going through the village on the way home from work?'
'Actually, I'm not in work. I'm on my way back from the airport.'
There was a pause before her friend gave a self-recriminatory groan and added, 'Oh, God, of course you are! Sorry, I forgot.'
There was a lot of it around, Libby thought with a worried frown. 'I don't suppose you've seen Mum or Dad, have you, Chloe?'
'Haven't you? I assumed one of them would be picking you up from the airport.'
'They were meant to,' Libby admitted. 'But they were a no show and when I rang I couldn't get a reply...so I got a hire car.' She stopped and shook her head, her smooth brow creasing into an anxious frown. 'It's just not like them, but I'm sure there's a perfectly simple explanation...?' she added, unable to keep the questioning note of doubt from her voice.
'Of course there is,' Chloe responded soothingly. 'And it has nothing whatever to do with ambulances or heart attacks, your dad is fine, and don't deny that's what you were thinking. I know the way your mind works.'
Before Libby could respond to this charge a yawn reverberated down the line so loud it made her grin.
'Why does nobody mention that motherhood turns your mind to mush?' her friend complained.
Libby gave a sympathetic grimace. 'You sound exhausted.'
'I was up all night,' Chloe admitted with another yawn.
'How is my god-daughter?'
'She's teething or colic or something. I've only just got her to sleep. Now how was your trip?'
'And did friend Susie set you up with some gorgeous American hunk?'
'As a matter of fact.'
There was a squeal of delight at the other end. 'Tell me all.'
'Nothing to tell, he was nice but--'
A groan vibrated down the line. 'Let me guess--not your type. Is anyone your type, Libby?' Chloe sounded exasperated. 'Looking the way you do you could have any man--one for every day of the week!'
'You mean I look cheap and tarty?'
'You look about as cheap as vintage champagne, which is why you scare half the men off--too much class.'
'Nice theory but on a more sane note.. what did you want me to get you from the village?' Libby asked, stifling her need to get home. Whatever was happening there, five minutes was not going to make that much difference.
'No, don't worry about it, it doesn't matter.'
After a short argument Libby established that the item Chloe needed picking up was Eustace, their accident-prone Labrador, from the vet's.
'Someone left the gate open and useless Eustace got out. I swear that dog was an escapologist in another life. Mike found him tangled up in some barbed wire.'
'Ouch! Poor Eustace, but don't worry, it's on my way, I'll--'
'No, it isn't.'
Libby ignored the interruption. 'It's no bother,' she lied.
An hour later Libby was relieved to see the village come into view. The rain that had made motorway driving a nightmare had finally stopped but the puddles on the narrow country lane where she parked were the size of small lakes. By the time she'd brought the Labrador back to the car her shoes were saturated and her legs splashed with mud.
While the excitable animal strained on his leash Libby fumbled for her keys to open the car door. Her fingers closed around them at the same moment her heel caught in a pothole in the uneven surface. Libby staggered, and, losing her balance in her efforts to stay upright and not land in an inelegant heap in the mud, she lost her grip on the dog's lead.
'Great!' she muttered, maintaining a fixed smile as she approached the dog, who was sitting a few feet away looking pleased with himself.
'Good boy, Eustace,' she cajoled, approaching him slowly with her hand outstretched. 'Just stay exactly where you are.'
The lead was a tantalising inch away from the fingers when he took off, barking madly as he raced away down the lane.
Libby closed her eyes and groaned. 'I don't believe this!' Then she set off after him.
She was panting and had a stitch by the time she caught up with the errant animal. He was sitting in the middle of the narrow lane, his tail banging like a metronome against the ground as he looked at her with soulful eyes.
'Glad someone's having fun,' Libby croaked as she bent forward, hands braced on her thighs as she tried to drag some air into her lungs. 'Oh, my God, I am so not fit.'
Sweeping wayward strands of her thick chestnut hair from her eyes with her forearm, she straightened up and, tucking her hair in a businesslike fashion behind her ears, took a cautious step towards the dog. The dog barked and took a playful leap backwards.
Libby bit her lip and glared in frustration at the animal.
'I refuse to be outwitted by an animal who even his owners admit isn't the sharpest knife in the box!' she yelled, and thought, You're talking to a dog, Libby.
Worry when you start expecting him to answer back.