Authors: Linda O'Connor
Table of Contents
SOUL MATE PUBLISHING
Cover Design by Rae Monet, Inc.
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, business establishments, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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Published in the United States of America by
Soul Mate Publishing
P.O. Box 24
Macedon, New York, 14502
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Karen Marcotte ~
who handed me the beautiful journal
she had just won
and said, “Write me a story.”
Here you go.
Vlad Kratky ~ I love you.
I would like to thank Debby Gilbert at Soul Mate Publishing for providing the ultimate encouragement to my writing with the leap to publishing. Huge thanks to the team at Soul Mate Publishing and to Rae Monet for the beautiful cover design.
Special thanks to my Canadian editor Ellie Barton, and to Shirley Baird, Wendy Reynolds, and Lesley Rooke – an excellent team of beta readers!
Thank you from my heart to:
Vlad, for sharing this journey with me (even though romance is not your genre :D),
Brad, Tom, and Mark, who answer all my research questions and never complain about leftovers,
my mom, for all of her wonderful advice,
Karen, artist of beautiful cards and my most avid supporter, and everyone who read Perfectly Honest and encouraged me along the way.
Here you have it – Perfectly Reasonable – another dream come true!
Do you ever wish you could turn back time? Me, too! Well, you’re going to enjoy Perfectly Reasonable! The events in Margo’s story, Book 2 in the Perfectly Series, actually occur a few years before Book 1 Perfectly Honest. Mikaela makes an appearance because Margo and Mikaela have been best friends for years, and you’ll hear more about Chloe, Margo’s assistant. This story is all about finding your passion – not easy to do because, of course, it’s always in the last place you look!
Laugh every day. Love every minute.
Margo MacMillan wished she could take the job.
Look at that view.
Beyond the picture window and down eighteen floors, waves lapped against the Lake Ontario shore despite frigid January temperatures. Above, it was all blue skies and sunshine. Very Zen.
This side of the window, it was blue eyes and sun-streaked hair. Trace, the pheromone-radiating, sweet-boy-next-door of her current client, was very . . . unZen.
“It has to be done by Tuesday,” he insisted.
Fat chance of that happening, considering it was already Friday afternoon. Too bad. He really was . . . breathtaking. “No can do. I have another client lined up for next week.”
Her eyebrows winged up. “I can’t do that. They’re waiting for me, and I promised to start Monday.”
“Trades do it all the time.”
She frowned at him. “Not me. If I say I’m going to start a job on Monday, I start on Monday. You’ll have to find another painter.” Her curls bounced as she turned to go.
“Wait.” He touched her arm, and Margo felt a zing of electricity shimmer through her. “You could do it this weekend.”
“I don’t work weekends.”
“I’ll pay double.”
Margo looked him in the eyes. Eyes that were icy pale blue, almost silver, and too intense to focus on, except they were set in a chiseled face with a square jaw and the most disarming smile.
Her fees were already pretty high. What could possibly be so urgent that he’d pay twice what it was worth?
She glanced around the room. Big open space and pristine beige walls. Sleek leather furniture. Glass, metal, and a zebra-skin rug. And staged for a cover shoot.
What was the deal? Was he desperate to erase the memory of a girlfriend? It was more than possible with the combination of those low-slung jeans, gray T-shirt showing off broad shoulders and flat abs, and that close-cropped blond hair. He towered over her, and she was taller than average. Yeah, it was definitely possible. Or maybe a new ladylove he had to please? She raked her gaze over him. Nah. He wouldn’t need a new paint color for that.
She sighed and thought of the student loan she had yet to pay off. If she prepped the walls that evening, she could probably get the painting done by Monday. “All right. But I’d have to start tonight and come back early Saturday and Sunday.”
His shoulders relaxed. “Not a problem. I can be here.”
“Have you chosen the paint color?”
“No, but it has to be blue.”
“Yes. Pale blue, gray-blue, dark blue, I don’t care. Just as long as it’s blue.”
She shrugged. “Okay then. I’ll bring over some paint chips later and you can choose. You’ll have to make a decision tonight, so I can stop on my way tomorrow to pick it up.”
“I can do that. And I’ll invite some of my buddies over to move the furniture.”
“That would be great. Just push everything to the center of the room. I can cover it with plastic.”
Trace nodded. “Thank you for this. I really appreciate it. I’ve heard you’re the best.”
She smiled. Charm and good looks. He’ll go far. “You’re welcome. I’ll finish the job next door and come back at about seven.”
“Works for me. See you then.”
Margo let herself into the condo next door, calculating how much time she’d need to finish, clean up, and grab a bite to eat. The rich aroma of a spicy stew almost masked the paint fumes.
“How’d it go?”
Margo looked up. “It went well, Mrs. Crombie. I got the job.” She gave a crooked smile. Lost her weekend, but cash was cash. “Thanks for the recommendation.”
“Oh. I’m going tell all my friends about you, no doubt about that. I love what you’ve done here. But actually it was Trace who recommended you to me.” Green eyes twinkled in a round face surrounded by waves of white hair. Mrs. Crombie wore an apron over her practical tweed skirt and stood in the doorway of the kitchen, holding a wooden spoon.
“Really?” That was the first time she’d met him. How did he know her?
“Yes, dear. I decided I wanted a change. I was a bit worried about having a stranger in my home, and my friend, Emma, had a painter who was absolutely dreadful. Left a mess everywhere. Didn’t show up half the time. Charged her more than they agreed. It was a nightmare. One day I mentioned it to Trace. He’s such a sweet boy. I tell you, if I was fifty years younger . . .” She wiggled her eyebrows and laughed. “Anyhow, he gave me your name. Said you were excellent. A bit pricey . . .”
“But excellent. And I’m very happy I called you. It was worth every penny.” Mrs. Crombie smiled broadly.
Margo smiled back. “Thank you very much. I’ve enjoyed working here the past couple of weeks. And I’m glad you’re pleased with the result.”
“Oh, yes. It’s absolutely lovely. I’m sorry it’s done. I’m going to miss your company.”
“Me, too. I’m going to have a hard time going back to paper-bag lunches. You spoiled me.”
Mrs. Crombie threw her head back and laughed. “That’s my specialty. After so many years of cooking for six, it’s hard to scale back for one. Trace is always happy to take a share. He comes over to do the odd job for me, and I send him home with the leftovers. He’s a sweetie.”
Margo nodded. “I’m glad he’s looking out for you.” Made her feel better about giving up her weekend. “I promised I’d start his place tonight.”
“Well, I have a nice stew simmering. By the time you get all cleaned up, it will be ready. We can have one last meal together. And I’m going to write down the number of the soup kitchen you mentioned. What did you call it?”
“Yes. I’d like to get out more, and cooking for others would be a pleasure.”
“Definitely. They’d love your help.” She’d become attached to Mrs. Crombie. The elderly woman was lonely and had spunk to spare. “And I can vouch for your delicious cooking.”
Mrs. Crombie beamed. She waved the spoon in her hand. “Oh, get away with you.” She smiled and winked. “I have time to make some apple spice muffins. You could share them with Trace.”
Margo smiled. Matchmaking? She couldn’t say she minded and hey, bonus, homemade baked goods. “Sounds wonderful.”
Margo stood in the hallway with two huge canvas tote bags over her shoulder and a Tupperware container in her hand. She checked her watch, seven o’clock on the dot, and knocked on the door.
A guy with short brown hair and a boyish face opened the door.
Margo blinked. “Daniel?”
A wide grin split his face. “Hey, Margo. Long time, no see. How are you?” He reached to give her a quick hug. “Let me help you with that stuff.” He took one of the tote bags off her shoulder and waved her inside with the hand holding a beer. “You must be the hot painter Trace is expecting,” he said with a laugh.
She flicked a glance at Trace who was standing with a group of guys across the room. “I guess I am,” she said with a grin. “I can’t believe you’re here. How do you know Trace?”
“Friend of a friend. We’re heading out to the game tonight, but Trace needed some manpower to shift around some furniture, so we stopped by here first. We’re just having a beer. You want one?”
“Thanks Daniel, but I’d better not. I have some work to do.”
“You sure? Painting and beer sound like they go together.” He set the tote down near a window.
She laughed. “Maybe if you’re painting an abstract.” She shrugged the other tote off her shoulder and Daniel reached over, lifted it, and placed it beside the one on the floor.
“Those are heavy. What have you got in there?”
“All the stuff I need to do a good job,” she said.
“I’m going to stop complaining about carrying around medical equipment.”
“You just need stronger muscles like me.” She flexed her bicep.
He nodded and laughed. “And twenty-five hour days so I can get to the gym.”
“How’s the residency going? Are you enjoying emergency medicine?”
“Loving it. I haven’t seen much of the Emergency Department yet. We’re rotating through surgery. I’m in the middle of gen surg right now.”
“Wow. Long days I imagine. It’s hard to believe you’re already halfway through your first year. It goes by fast.”
“One day blurs into the next.” He took a sip of his beer, hazel eyes watching her closely. “When are you coming back?”
Before she had a chance to answer, Trace came up and gave Daniel a pat on the shoulder. “You two look like you know each other,” he said, looking from Daniel to Margo.
Daniel raised his beer to Margo. “Same med school class. Margo here graduated with the gold medal around her neck.”
Trace’s eyebrows went up.
“Daniel got the silver and was a sore second place finisher.”
“It should’ve been a tie. A difference of half a percent. Literally two multiple choice questions separating us.”
“Actually, it’s probably closer to five,” Trace said, looking at them.
Margo shook her head. “Yeah. Yeah. Heard it all before. That’s what you get for choosing to study with Cynthia Peters instead of me.” She laughed and brushed imaginary lint off her shoulder.
“You’re a doctor?” Trace asked, staring at Margo.
Margo looked at him. “Technically, yes. I have a medical degree.” She held out the Tupperware container. “Mrs. Crombie sent these over. Apple spice muffins. She said we should share.”
Trace glanced from her to the container and back again.
“Oh, and I have the paint samples here so you can pick a color.” She reached down into one of the totes and pulled out a paint fan. “I put stickies on the ones I thought would work.”
Trace barely glanced at the colors. “Yeah, one of those would be great.” He tilted his head. “Aren’t you too young to be a doctor?”
“I hear that a lot. Or at least, I used to,” she said with a wry smile. “But no, I’m not. I did two years of undergrad and three years of medicine. No summers off so it was a little faster.”
“And more intense,” Daniel added. He took another sip of beer.
“But worth it to finish in three years instead of four, right?” Margo asked.
Daniel shrugged. “Maybe. I was just happy to get into any medical school.”
Trace nodded. “Do you know the odds of getting into medical school are roughly one in three hundred, depending on the number of applicants? There’s more chance of living to a hundred.”
As he spoke, one of his friends sauntered over. He bumped Trace’s shoulder. “At least when you finally get in, you can have a nice long career,” the friend said, clinking his beer bottle with Trace’s. “You don’t want to rush these things. Better to take your time. Finish your master’s degree and think it through.”
Trace snorted. “You’re just worried about losing your math tutor.”
“That’s true.” He grinned. “Cheers,” he said to Margo, raising his beer.
“Hey, we should get going,” one of the other guys shouted from across the room. “The game starts in forty minutes.”
Trace turned to Margo. “Is the furniture okay where it is?”
The sofa, end tables, and a large cabinet were pushed to the center of the room.
“Yeah, that’s perfect. About the color, did you want to choose?”
“Any of your stickies are fine,” he said, looking around and patting his pockets. “Hey, Bren, do you have the tickets?”
“I do. Go Cascades! Woohoo!”
Margo looked over and smiled. Someone had enough to drink.
“What time tomorrow morning?” Trace asked Margo.
“Ouch,” his buddy said.
Trace shrugged into a jacket and nodded. “See you then.”
“Bye, Margo. Keep in touch,” Daniel added, giving her a hug.
“Will do. Don’t work too hard.”
Daniel smirked. “Tweet that to the dean.”
She laughed as the group grabbed their jackets and waved good-bye.