Ruining Mr. Perfect (The McCauley Brothers)

BOOK: Ruining Mr. Perfect (The McCauley Brothers)
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Copyright © 2014 by Marie Harte

Cover and internal design © 2014 by Sourcebooks, Inc.

Cover design by Dawn Adams

Cover image by Claudio Maninesco

Sourcebooks and the colophon are registered trademarks of Sourcebooks, Inc.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems—except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews—without permission in writing from its publisher, Sourcebooks, Inc.

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.

Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc.

P.O. Box 4410, Naperville, Illinois 60567-4410

(630) 961-3900

Fax: (630) 961-2168

www.sourcebooks.com

Mom, this one’s for you.

Chapter 1

“Hello?” Cam knocked as he opened the door. “Yo, Mike, you here?” He entered the house and closed the door behind him. A study in brown, his brother’s living room might not be stylish, but it provided comfort and the perfect place to indulge in family Friday night poker.

But on this particular Friday afternoon, the house seemed dead.

A door opened and slammed shut, and a whirlwind of energy burst through the kitchen into the living room and stopped.

Cam noticed two things. Colin McCauley looked as if he’d been playing with Mike’s grease gun again, and he heard the shower running.

“Hey, dude.”

Colin didn’t smile, didn’t blink, and gave him the snake eye.

Cam sighed. For a six-year-old, his nephew could hold a mean grudge. “Still mad I told your dad about your prank on Abby?”

Used to be the place was full of nothing but men. Mike’s wife had died giving birth to Colin, and none of the McCauleys seemed to be able to hold on to a woman like their dad had. Then again, Beth McCauley was special.

Now they had a houseful of hot women living next door. Flynn and Brody had already claimed two of them, leaving the best for Cam. That’s if he could get the stubborn woman to stop arguing long enough to ask her out.

Colin continued to glare at him. The spitting image of Mike with those bright blue eyes and short black hair. They even shared the same dimple.

“Colin,” Cam tried again. “You know dumping water on someone in the shower is a no-no. And especially Ubie’s new girlfriend.” Ubie was short for Uncle Brody—Brody Singer, the blond “adopted” McCauley who had grown up as part of the family.

“But he told me to do it.”

Cam blinked. “He did? Well, you should never—”

“Dad thought it was kind of funny after he yelled at me.” Colin gave him a sharp nod, then added with a smirk, “Dad said he used to do that to you, and that you cried like a
girrrl
.” Considering Colin’s anti-girl phase, that was a high insult.

“Is that right?” Cam frowned, remembering being the butt of too many jokes while growing up. “Mike has no idea what he’s dealing with. You think your dad’s tough? Watch Uncle Cam.” Knowing he shouldn’t encourage the mischief in his nephew’s eyes but unable to stop himself from the unspoken dare, Cam hurried to the kitchen, found a large glass and filled it with ice-cold water. Considering the freezing January wind outside, Mike would be basking in a hot shower to warm up. Cam grinned, looking forward to his brother’s howl of misery.

Colin trailed him like a puppy. “Oh wow, Uncle Cam. Are you going to get Dad?” He clapped.

“Shh.”

“Oh, sorry.” Colin’s big grin showed a missing front tooth.

Cam walked down more ugly brown carpet that looked as if it had been vacuumed to death—Mike and his obsession with cleanliness—and tiptoed into the big guy’s room. He made sure he had a clear exit. If his goliath big brother caught him, he’d be toast. Fortunately, he could move like a gazelle.

Gliding into the master bathroom, he readied himself. One, two…
three
. He yanked open the curtain and tossed the cold water at…
Vanessa
Campbell
?

He stared in shock at the sexiest woman he’d seen in a long, long time. Naked, her creamy skin glistened with water as she gaped at him in horror. Which quickly turned to anger.


Cameron
McCauley!

“Oh, wow.” He couldn’t look away. Even as manners dictated he close the shower curtain and give her privacy, he couldn’t stop staring at her slender belly, legs toned from years of running, and those beautiful breasts tipped with rosy pink nipples. God, he’d imagined what she might look like, but reality far surpassed his fantasies.

She yelled a string of obscenities as she whipped the curtain closed.

While Cam tried to catch his breath, he heard muffled laughter behind him and turned to see Colin with his hand over his mouth. His nephew’s eyes widened and he took off.

Cam caught him easily, though the kid had made it to the kitchen before being snagged. As he took Colin by the collar, Mike strolled into the kitchen from the attached garage.

“Colin, I said get me the paper towels five minutes ago.” Mike glowered at Cam holding his son. “What’s up, little brother?”

Gritting his teeth, because he hated always being reminded that he was the baby of the family, Cam shook Colin like a rag doll.

Colin, of course, laughed and asked him to do it again.

“Your son played a nasty prank.”

“Yeah?” Mike’s lips quirked. “What did he do?”

“He convinced me to throw cold water at you. In the shower.”

Mike frowned. “But I’m… Shi—oot.” Mike looked from Colin to him and tried to hide a grin. “So, um, how is Vanessa?”

“Why is she in your shower?” He’d called dibs. Secretly, but still.

“Wouldn’t you like to know.” Mike’s wide grin wasn’t helping. “So you froze her thinking it was me, eh? Poor, poor Cam. You never learn. I am the master of the prank.”

“And me,” Colin added proudly. “Shake me again, Uncle Cam. It’s fun.”

“Gah.” Cam dropped Colin, tickled him soundly, then gave him a light swat on the behind. “You owe Vanessa an apology.”

“Oh?” Mike crossed his mammoth arms over his chest. “Seems to me you’re the one who threw cold water on my unsuspecting neighbor. Or are you trying to tell me that my six-year-old forced you to mess with her?”

Cam glared. “You’re just encouraging him.”

“Now, now. Take responsibility for your actions. Act like the twenty-seven-year-old you should be.”

“I’m twenty-nine, moron. Just because you’re older doesn’t mean you can boss me around like you
tried
to
when we were kids.”

Mike just raised a brow. Then Colin did it. The similarity made it hard not to laugh.

“For God’s sake. Fine. I’ll apologize.” He turned.

“Might want to wait until she’s dressed. Then again, if what I saw at Christmas is true, maybe not.” Mike chuckled at the look Cam shot him and yanked his son with him back into the garage.

“What, Dad? What did you see?” Colin pestered as Mike shut the door.

There hadn’t been that much
to
see. After Cam and Vanessa had eavesdropped on Cam’s parents, they’d hidden in Colin’s room, so as not to be discovered. Then, well, then Cam had kissed her. To keep their cover when his parents found them. Yet honesty compelled him to admit he’d been dying to kiss her for months. Ever since Vanessa had moved next to Mike nearly a year ago, he’d been fascinated by her.

Drawn to her beauty, her brains, and that waspish tongue that never stopped moving. But holy hell, when she’d used that tongue during their kiss, she’d hooked him but good.

He waited in the living room, wondering how to take the next step with her. She was going to be livid after getting spied on in the shower. And on a normal day, Vanessa wasn’t a typical woman to be wooed with charm and wit. She saw through games. A lot like him. Unfortunately, he had a feeling the truth would freak her the hell out.

I
think
we’d be good together. Let’s date, see where it takes us. Then we’ll get married, have kids, double the size of our mutual portfolio…

Fifteen minutes later, Vanessa stalked down the hallway holding her bag. She must have brought a hair dryer with her, because her golden blond hair gleamed down her back. Her blue eyes were lighter than his, bright and full of a cold anger.

How screwed up was he that her rages turned him on? She was so different from other women he’d dated. She didn’t try to cozen up to him or flatter him with true but tired compliments.

“So, Cameron. What do you have to say for yourself?”

“I apologize for dousing you with cold water.” He couldn’t hide his grin, especially when her arctic eyes narrowed on him in displeasure. “I was aiming for Mike, but Colin steered me wrong.”

“Hmm. Colin. I can see where that might happen. I’ll have a talk with him.”

Poor kid.

“But that doesn’t excuse
you
.”

“I said I’m sorry.”

“Yeah? Well that didn’t stop you from getting a nice long look, now did it? I don’t think you blinked once.”

He hid another satisfied grin, knowing that would only irritate her more. “I was in shock, not expecting to see
you
there. You don’t look a thing like Mike.” He cleared his throat and added innocently, “I’m really sorry if I interrupted anything between you guys. I just never expected to find you with him—”

She interrupted, “Give me a break. Mike and I are
not
together, in any way. Abby’s taking her sweet time in the bathroom at home and I have a work thing to get to. Your brother was nice enough to lend me his shower.”

“Because Mike is all about being neighborly to attractive women.”

She smirked and seemed to relax. He hoped she’d forgiven him.

“Where are you going? You look nice.” Nice? She looked like a model wearing a pair of wool gray trousers and a silky top that clung to her beautiful breasts.

She sighed. “You’re no longer seeing me with clothes on, are you?”

To his delight, she wore a blush. “No, Vanessa. Sadly, I’m not.” He gave her another thorough once-over. “I just have to say, you are toned all over. Just, wow.”

She flashed him a surprising grin. “Good. I aim for
wow
but always worry I’ll fall short of an
oh
boy
.”

He chuckled and thrust his hands in his pants pockets, to keep from reaching for her. “So you have a work thing?”

“Yes. My boss apparently doesn’t believe in giving us minions time off. But it’s okay. A corporate anniversary party for a job well done.” She paused. “I think when McNulty leaves, Peterman’s going to offer me the partnership.”

Cam smiled. “That’s awesome. Congratulations.” The woman couldn’t be more than thirty, if that. And a full partner? “So instead of McNulty, Peterman Accounting, it’ll be—”

“Peterman, Campbell Accounting, hopefully. McNulty is retiring.” She shrugged. “I’m pretty sure I’ll take it.”

“Why ‘pretty sure’? Aren’t you the firm’s top accountant?” It was something he’d heard her say often enough.

She snorted. “My skills are not in question.”

Translation: her skills
were
never
and
would
never
be in question. “Then what?”

“I don’t know. Maddie and Abby working on their own makes me question why I continue to work for someone else when I’m more than capable of handling my own business. But I like my job.”

“So stay.”

“You work for yourself.”

“Yeah, but I’m me.”

She crossed her arms and raised a brow at him. “Meaning?”

He swallowed a sigh. In that position, her breasts plumped up, giving a tantalizing view of cleavage where her shirt parted. “Meaning I graduated high school early, college early, and am pretty much a genius in the world of finance. Not bragging.”

“I know.”

That she seemed to accept his words as truth warmed him. “Yeah, well, two years spent interning with an investment bank taught me a lot. I prefer working with high-net-worth clients and small tech companies on the cusp of sharing new ideas that influence society. I’m snooty like that.”

She nodded. “I can see the appeal.”

“Yeah. Most of my clients know what I’m talking about when I mention investment strategies and hedging risk.” He flushed. “And on that note, I’ll stop before I get carried away.”

Vanessa looked interested. “I like the way your mind works, Cameron. It’s just other parts of you I find less than thrilling.”

“Not my body.” He smirked at her. “Because if I recall, that kiss in Colin’s bedroom had you practically begging me for another go. I’m more than happy to oblige.”

A smile darted over her lips, then disappeared. “It’s a good thing for you that you’re handsome, because charm is not in your vocabulary.”

“Actually, it is. I was spelling bee champ all through middle school. Gave it up in high school because it was no longer a challenge.”

“Are you through bragging? If you want my opinion…” She studied him from top to bottom and shook her head. “Meh. Not bad. Average, I’d say. Now I really must go.”

He gaped at her. “Average?”

“But you have nice eyes. I’m partial to blue.” She gripped her bag tight. “Tell Mike thanks for me, would you? And let Colin know I plan to get even. That should make the little cretin sweat.” She gave him a sly smile. “Later, Cameron.”

It took him a few minutes to compose himself. After he’d borrowed the tool he’d initially swung by the house to get, he drove himself back to his condo and let himself inside. Then, like the rest of the McCauleys taught to handle tools from birth, he fixed the leaky faucet in his bathroom sink.


Average?
” He pulled too hard on the wrench and water sprayed. As he cursed and hurried to fix the problem, he thought about how next to deal with the blond making his days, and his nights, a sexual hell.

***

Vanessa spent the evening with her coworkers trying to enjoy herself, but she couldn’t for the life of her stop thinking about her encounter with Cameron. He’d seen her naked…and he seemed to like what he’d seen. She felt overly warm.

“Enjoying yourself, Vanessa?” Bill Peterman, her boss, asked. He took a sip of what smelled like Scotch and nodded to the full lounge they’d rented for the evening. A swanky celebration for the firm’s twenty-fifth anniversary. Not bad, especially having made it through the economy’s bumps the past few years.

“I am. Thanks, Bill.” She smiled. She genuinely enjoyed Bill’s company. The older man was devoted to his family, ran a tight ship, and expected the same kind of results Vanessa lived to perform.

“No date tonight?” he asked.

She thought about Cameron. It had been on the tip of her tongue to ask him to join her, but he might have taken the invitation as a weakening on her part. Vanessa didn’t do weak. “No. But I’m sure I’ll have someone on hand for our annual Halloween bash. Last year’s was terrific.”

BOOK: Ruining Mr. Perfect (The McCauley Brothers)
7.46Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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