Authors: Janet Wellington
Tags: #romance novel
“You think he’s cute?”
“The Green Zone guy. Jason Ryan Macdonald—I love a man with three names...always means something special, don’t you think?”
“Hush, I’m enjoying my flowers.”
“You think he’s my type?”
Angie turned away from the lavender to look at the twenty-something Claire who wore a red leather mini-skirt, matching cropped jacket that barely covered her midriff, spiked black hair, and a nose ring. “Might have to tame down a little for him.”
Claire sighed. “Too old for me?”
“Nah—well, maybe.” She’d guessed Jason might be somewhere in his thirties, though it was hard to say for sure.
“Oh, well. Makes for nice eye-candy—and he should look good on camera.”
Angie had to agree. He would. He had that all-American look that men paid good money to hair stylists and personal trainers to get. All the men she knew either went to the gym like addicts, or had a personal trainer. She’d quickly determined men here were nowhere near in as good a shape as the boys she’d chummed with back home.
Here, most of the men worked hard after work instead of at work. But that was fine. She’d grown to like the guy friends she’d met at her own gym, some of whom were eager to give her image tips. They’d been crucial in helping her make her own transformation.
And when she’d finally landed a job working at KSUN, Derek had immediately taken an interest in her, helping her further update her look and her wardrobe. Even at the beginning she knew he was the perfect choice for her—nothing wrong with finding someone to fall in love with who understood her goals and desires.
She was absolutely convinced if everyone would learn to take a step back when it came to relationships—realizing marriage was more like the ultimate merger—there would be a lot less divorcing and extra-marital affairs. Courtship was highly overrated, in her opinion, and she was glad Derek understood her so well. He was romantic enough, and showed it in reliable, predictable ways. He was a perfect match.
“I wonder how he figured out how much I loved lavender,” Angie murmured as she turned back to the bouquet, squeezing some of the flower heads to release more fragrance. Maybe she’d dry them and make some sachets for gifts.
“Jason?” Claire asked.
“No, what I’m saying is, Jason brought them.”
Angie pulled her face away from the flowers and turned toward Claire only to see Derek walk in, sending the receptionist scurrying back to her post.
“Hey, what’s with the weeds?” Derek asked, then sneezed.
To him they would look like weeds, she realized, compared to the beautifully exotic flower arrangements he had delivered to her the first Monday of each month. Last month’s had been a single, perfect hibiscus surrounded by geometrically bent horsetail reeds. It had been exquisite...fragrance-free...but exquisite. His allergies, he’d explained when she’d finally asked about his penchant toward non-fragrant flowers.
Which was why he’d never stayed at her apartment. Too many plants, too much cat dander. It was a dilemma they’d yet to discuss as their wedding plans had begun. She was counting on Derek’s easy-going manner to concede to the idea of Max and Gracie making the move with her into the new downtown condo he’d picked out that was currently in escrow. She figured weekly cat baths and daily combing would take care of the problem and he’d grow to at least accept her cats. She didn’t expect him to feel any kind of strong emotion for them, of course, but was confident he’d see things her way in the end.
“You okay with the Green Zone decision?” he asked, fishing a pressed handkerchief out of his breast pocket.
“Sure. I can live with a day of filming.”
“Actually...” He blew his nose and returned the handkerchief to his pocket.
She didn’t like the sound in his voice or the way his dark eyebrows were wiggling. It was his one annoying habit. When he had a surprise to tell her, his eyebrows wriggled like two carefully trimmed and groomed caterpillars. She’d learned to look away so she wouldn’t laugh or make a face.
“Go on,” she prompted as she blinked a few times to avoid staring at the dancing eyebrows.
“Dad thought we’d really focus on Green Zone for the spring season; do lots of filming to get before and after shots in the garden. You know, kids working in the fertile soil, time-lapse shots of plants growing, that sort of thing.”
“You’re angry.” He stepped backward, putting some distance between himself and the lavender.
Angie took in a deep calming breath. “I was just looking forward to being in on the process, that’s all.”
“It’ll be a great series, darling. Probably earn you some awards. Dad is assuming you’ll agree.”
“When does he want me to get started?”
“Right away. Mr. Macdonald left his availability at the front desk and he’s opening up his schedule completely to you. He’s breaking ground, I think is how he put it, on Saturday in the neighborhood we want to cover.”
“But Saturday’s our appointment with the caterer—”
“I know, I know. I’ll give you a full report Saturday night. Chart House at eight—we’ll talk about it then, okay?”
“Okay.” She should be glad. He was handling things like the perfect fiancé should. And, more importantly, he was demonstrating he valued her role as a professional.
“Come here,” he said, holding out his arms to her. When she walked to him, he pulled her in for a quick, perfunctory hug. Between the earlier kiss and the hug, Derek had shown more public displays of affection than she’d ever gotten from him at the office. He was really trying, she knew, to please her.
He pushed her away from his chest and placed a wet kiss right on the spot Jason had kissed.
“Now,” he said as he released her and took a step toward the door, “I’m sure you’ll end up liking the Green Zone project as you spend more time with Mr. Macdonald.”
“You’re probably right.” Angie brought her fingertips to the spot Derek had kissed. No zing. No heat.
“I usually am, darling. Gotta scoot. Enjoy the rest of your day.”
Angie returned to her desk and touched the pale blooms of the lavender stems, bringing her nose to them once more to breathe in the sweetness. And now she’d been spending big chunks of time with a man who’d given her half a kiss that made her poor sore knees weak just remembering it.
End of excerpt.
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