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Authors: Ginny Aiken

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A Cut Above

BOOK: A Cut Above
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A Cut Above

Fiction by Ginny Aiken

The Shop-Til-U-Drop Collection
Priced to Move
A Steal of a Deal
A Cut Above

Silver Hills Trilogy
Light of My Heart
Song of My Soul
Spring of My Love

Deadly Décor Mysteries
Design on a Crime
Decorating Schemes
Interior Motives

A Cut Above
A Novel

Ginny Aiken

© 2008 by Ginny Aiken

Published by Revell
a division of Baker Publishing Group
P.O. Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287
www.revellbooks.com

Printed in the United States of America

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—for example, electronic, photocopy, recording—without the prior written permission of the publisher. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Aiken, Ginny.
        A cut above ; a novel / Ginny Aiken.
     p. cm. — (The shop-til-u-drop collection ; bk. 3)
ISBN 978-0-8007-3229-5 (pbk.)

  1. Home shopping television programs—Fiction. 2. Television personalities— Fiction. 3. Gemologists—Fiction. I. Title.
PS3551.I339C88 2008
813'.54—dc22

2008029469

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Scripture is taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Published in association with the literary agency of Alive Communications, Inc., 7680 Goddard St., Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80920.

“There is gold . . . but the lips of knowledge
are a precious jewel.”
                                            Proverbs 20:15

Table of Contents

100

200

300

400

500

600

700

800

900

1000

1100

1200

1300

1400

1500

1600

1700

1800

Epilogue

100

Louisville, Kentucky

With both fists, I pummel my knight in gravel-encrusted summer-wear. The blows don’t even begin to faze him. “Put me down, you great big jerk.”

What does the great big jerk do? Put me down and help me inside? No. Not Max Matthews. He stuns the breath out of me. Again.

He laughs. And then he kisses me.

Long and hard.

On the lips.

Oh my . . .

Over the electric buzzing in my head, I hear the sweet, tender strains of “Stranger in Paradise.” Again. As I’ve heard them a time or two since Max barreled into my life about a year ago.

“Dum-de-dummm . . . dum-de-dum-de-dum-dum-de-dummm
. . . ”

How can this be? These warm lips belong to
Max Mat-
thews
, the California surfer-boy gem-dunce . . . and he’s kissing me! He showed up, ruined my TV shopping channel– hosting gig, and I couldn’t stand him . . . but then he did save my life . . .

He eases me to the ground again. But only my feet touch down.

Max . . . I learned to tolerate him . . . he saved my life one more time, and now this . . . a kiss . . . an incredible, dizzying, Hollywood musical–worthy kiss . . .

Cue in the violins.

Oh yeah! This does tilt my world, all right. Swirls of light and color dance across my eyelids, and my heart seems to grow to the bursting point. I float through reality, clinging only to the warmth of Max’s touch, the tenderness and sweet passion of his kiss. Max . . .

“. . . Take my hand, I’m a stranger in Paradise—”

“Hallelujah! They’re alive—”

“Hot diggity dog! Will ya look at that lip-lock?”

The two elderly female voices at my right ear pierce the Kismet-flavored illusion, and my eyes pop open wide. I find myself nose to nose with the best-looking male I’ve ever seen, our lips still grazing.

I jerk backward. A tiny squeak bursts from my mouth. My cheeks hit the scalding point.

“Um . . . ah . . . well . . .” I let my voice drift off. Nothing I can say will change what my Aunt Weeby and her best friend, Miss Mona Latimer—my boss, no less—have seen.

Or what just happened between Max and me.

As I stumble and bumble, trying to catch up with my elusive composure, I watch Max—the rat!—approach the Daunting Duo, a mile-wide smile on his gorgeous face.

I press my hands to my hot face. What can I say? What should I do?

Aaaack! How am I supposed to work with the man now? It was bad enough when he was just a new hire, ignorant of anything related to our work, and I couldn’t stand him. But he grew on me.

Sure, he did. Like fungus.

I sniff.
Mushrooms are fungi, and you do love mushrooms,
my too-honest and too-familiar-with-my-mental-convolutions conscience pipes in.

I’d done everything I could think of to avoid falling for Max, but now I suspect this is bigger than my will and my efforts. My stomach does a flip and a lurch. In the beginning, I’d thought Max a blight, but now . . . well, now he’s gained some gemology basics, and as far as the not-liking-him business . . .
that’s
changed, and has nothing to do with work. I sigh.

What is our work, you ask? We’re in big-time bling-bling. On TV. We’re the jewelry and gemstone cohosts on the Shop-Til-U-Drop Shopping Channel.

Oh. You want to know who I am? Well. I really should introduce myself, shouldn’t I? I do it every single day in front of millions at the start of my show. But I am understandably flustered right now. I’m Andrea Autumn Adams, Master Gemologist and the
real
host of the S.T.U.D.’s show. At least, I was before the appearance of the heart-stealing, knee-melting, too-gorgeous latecomer.

So who’s the latecomer on the other side of the killer kiss? This Max who turned my life upside down? He’s Max Matthews, a former Ohio State Buckeye football player. You know, the kind who majors in football and minors in whatever. This one, however, graduated
summa cum laude
, wouldn’t you know? In Max’s case, the whatever was meteorology, definitely
not
geology, or as he so . . . hmm . . . humorously put it once, rockology.

Okay, okay. I already told you he’s acquired a basic grasp of gemological knowledge. And he’s signed up, believe it or not, to work on his Gemological Institute of America Graduate Gemologist certificate. Who’d a thunk?

I shoot a glance at my erstwhile nemesis and spot Chief Clark heading toward me. Oh, joy. The man and I have a checkered past. And why not? He once tried to pin a murder on me—of course, I had nothing to do with the poor ruby vendor’s demise, but the good chief took some persuading.

“Well, Miss Andie,” he says as he approaches, “looks like you’ll have to come on in to my office for a spell. I’ll be having some questions for you, and I’ll be needing a statement too.”

I sigh—again. There’s no getting around it. Doesn’t matter whether I’m up to it or not. As if, after getting nearly run off the road, being threatened at gunpoint, and wrestling with a maniacal gem thief, I’m in any condition to try to string two coherent thoughts together. You know? If Chief Clark keeps Max in the room . . . well, then, I’m done for.

At least this time there’s no possible question about my guilt or lack thereof. Chief Clark’s buddies in blue have the culprit in shiny steel bracelets—not the kind I’m likely to feature on one of my shows anytime soon.

I square my shoulders. “Lead on, Macduff.”

The chief arches a graying eyebrow. “I do believe, Miss Andie, that the Bard did write it as ‘Lay on, Macduff.’ ”

Not looking good. Aw . . . come on. How many police chiefs do
you
know who know Shakespeare so well they can correct you when you misquote?

Yep. That’s what I mean.

Sometime around midnight, our highly literate chief lets me head home—well, to Miss Mona’s house. The gem thief the cops just arrested recently torched the Adams home, where I’ve been living with Aunt Weeby. After the fire, we moved in with Miss Mona, and that’s where I head after the inquisition . . . er . . . interview.

I collapse onto the backseat of Miss Mona’s new powder blue Jaguar, while Aunt Weeby slides into the front passenger seat. Miss Mona’s behind the wheel—yikes! The woman’s known for her lead foot.

“Never would’ve thought she had it in her,” Miss Mona says, her voice full of regret. “If I hadn’t hired her . . . the girl did seem so sweet.” She shakes her silver-haired head. “Mm-mm-mm . . .”

My aunt murmurs a sympathetic sound. “Guess that there old cliché about the book and its cover works backwards and forwards.”

I think about the beautiful camerawoman, who Miss Mona had hired about a year ago and who now finds herself behind bars, and her un-beautiful deeds. You never can tell about a person. And here I’ve been all bent out of shape with jealousy—yes, Andie. Face it. It
was
jealousy, and all because she’d spent most of our recent trip to Kashmir sucking up to Max.

Then it hits me. Did I miss a clue in her actions because

I spent the trip with my nose out of joint from the jealousy? Could I have brought her to justice sooner if I’d not been so caught up in Max’s spell?

I drop my head against the supple leather seat back and close my eyes. The man’s trouble—T.R.O.U.B.L.E.—for my poor, overworked head. And my heart.

Just like that, the sensation of falling through space, of warmth and passion and comfort and . . . and— Max.

How can just the thought of him make me feel like I did when he kissed me? And what does it mean? How am I going to face him . . . or the piercing, revealing spotlight of the camera with him at my side?

I groan.

“You all right back there, sugarplum?” Aunt Weeby asks. “Mona, dear. Do you have any of that wonderful cod-liver oil Great-Grandma Willetta used to give us all at your place?”

I fight the urge to groan again.
Anything
but the infamous internal lubricant! “I’m fine, Aunt Weeby. Really. Just thinking it’s too bad we didn’t figure out what Miss Mona’s newest hire was up to before she burned the house.”

“Sure, sure, sure. But none of us have any of that there silly ESP stuff. We can’t go reading nobody’s mind.” My aunt tsk-tsks, and does it better than anyone else I know, mind you. “You sure it’s not that corroded gut a’ yours kicking up a fuss again?”

I’ve known forever that I have to be über-careful around Aunt Weeby. Anything I say can and will be used against me. “Aunt Weeby, you’ve got to let go of that image. Good grief! I only said it once. I was overworked and overtired at the time, but you’ve latched on to it as if it had been your last slice of bread in a worldwide famine.”

BOOK: A Cut Above
13.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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