A taster from Boot Camp Bride by Lizzie Lamb
Just Another Frog
‘I can what?’ Charlee spluttered, thinking she’d misheard.
‘I said you can kiss me,’ Fonseca-Ffinch repeated patiently as though dealing with a simple-minded child. He leaned back against the window ledge and folded his arms - waiting!
Blushing, Charlee gave him a ‘get over yourself’ look. If he thought for one minute she was so grateful over not being sacked that she’d be willing to -
‘And why on earth would I want to do that? You almost got me fired and now you have some spurious assignment up your sleeve and want me on your team. For reasons you’ve yet to explain.’
‘Ever heard of looking a gift horse in the mouth?’ he asked.
‘Of course. But the saying also covers Trojan horses and warns me to beware of Greeks bearing gifts,’ she said bluntly. ‘So you’d better make it clear why you want me and not one of the more experienced journalists. And, just to be clear, I have no desire to kiss you,’ her tone made it clear that she found the whole idea repellent. ‘Nor have I any intention of working late, missing the last train back to town and “staying over” in some country house hotel with you. Where I’ll be shown to a suite of rooms which - surprise, surprise - have conveniently interconnecting doors …’
He gave her a considering look.
‘Don’t think you’d be able to keep your hands off me, eh
Chelsea? I quite understand; you’re only
human, I guess.’ He looked amused rather than put out by her show of
indignation. That made Charlee bristle, she’d had a lifetime of being
patronised by her brothers. What she didn’t need in her life right now was
another alpha male who found her ‘amusing’, and thought her a push over. She
didn’t like the way he was looking at her, as if he trying to weigh her up. Or
the way he kept referring to her as Chelsea,
when he knew damned well what her name was.
He cocked his head on one side and his grey eyes darkened to blue and Charlee sensed he was assessing whether her reaction to his proposal was genuine. Charlee guessed that he didn’t get many refusals … ha!
‘I might,’ she replied with a snap in her voice, ‘have trouble stopping myself from strangling you. If that’s what you mean. You are the most -’
‘Okay, relax. I was just testing.’
‘Testing?’ her voice rose to an almost inaudible shriek.
‘This investigation will mean us working in close proximity. Think you can handle that?’ Again, the long look, but this time his eyes had a faraway look as if he was remembering another time, another place. A different woman.
‘I can handle it,’ Charlee said. And you, her look assured him.
‘You see,’ he continued as though she hadn’t spoken, ‘I need a female assistant who won’t go all mushy on me. Who won’t be hearing wedding bells, dream of being a June bride or think of registering our wedding list at John Lewis and expecting more than I have to offer.’ As expected, that drew an extreme reaction from Charlee.
‘And I don’t want you going all mushy on me, either. There’s no room for a man in my life - I have my career to think of,’ she added, grandly. ‘And if I was looking for a life partner - which I’m not - you’d be the last man on earth I’d …’ Then she clammed up. Five minutes ago, she’d thought she was heading for the Job Centre and here she was with Mr Award-Winning Author, about to throw her second chance away. ‘Sorry. What I meant to say was -’
‘No. Hold onto that thought, and that expression. I rather suspect that being penitent isn’t exactly your bag.’ Closing the distance between them, he grasped her by the shoulders. Charlee took a step backwards and turned her head to the side, thinking he meant to kiss her after all. He surprised her by turning her to face the mirror on the wall. Left with little choice, Charlee raised her head and stared back at herself - with Ffinch standing at her right shoulder.
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