A Match Made by Cupid (Harlequin Special Edition Series #2170) [NOOK Book]

Overview




Melanie Prentiss doesn't believe in happy endings.

So when her latest assignment pairs her with tall, dark, off-the-charts-gorgeous bachelor Jace Foster, she figures it's Cupid's idea of a joke. Collaborate on an article about love with Portland's resident playboy? A man she finds more irresistible than anyone has a right to be?

Jace is a changed man. But thanks to his ...
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A Match Made by Cupid (Harlequin Special Edition Series #2170)

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Overview




Melanie Prentiss doesn't believe in happy endings.

So when her latest assignment pairs her with tall, dark, off-the-charts-gorgeous bachelor Jace Foster, she figures it's Cupid's idea of a joke. Collaborate on an article about love with Portland's resident playboy? A man she finds more irresistible than anyone has a right to be?

Jace is a changed man. But thanks to his popular Bachelor column, the world still thinks he's happily single. Truth is, he's been bitten by the love bug. He only has eyes for Melanie. And with Valentine's Day around the corner, now's the time to put his newfound settling-down skills to the test and prove to Melanie that they're made for each other!

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781459220706
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 2/1/2012
  • Series: Foster Brothers Series
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 399,725
  • File size: 274 KB

Read an Excerpt




Some days start off bad but end up redeeming themselves. Other days simply go from bad to worse. Despite Melanie Prentiss's best efforts to believe in redemption, today promised to be of the latter variety.

The bad-day vibe began when she lit her hair on fire. Well, more of a smolder than an actual flame. All she'd meant to do was heat up her eyeliner pencil so the color would glide on smoothly. She'd been going for the larger-than-life-eyes look, not the she-barely-escaped-a-burning-building-alive look.

Fingering the singed chunk of hair at her right temple, Melanie sighed. That was the moment she should have taken notice and called in sick. But because her mother had raised her to be tenacious, she'd ventured on—only to spill her grande-size caramel macchiato all over her lap on the drive to work. A little mishap that nearly caused her to rearend the car in front of her. Not to mention the so-not-fun sensation of steaming hot liquid drenching her thighs.

But did she turn her car around and head toward home like any sane person would've done? No. Something she regretted hugely when she entered her office building, rushing because she was already late, and managed to catch her heel on the rubber floor mat in the lobby. She'd flown across said lobby like a bird with an injured wing, landing in a pile of coffee-soaked clothes in front of the bank of elevators. Minus one shoe, naturally.

And now: this.

Melanie scowled as she stared at the hastily scrawled message from her boss stuck to her monitor: Melanie! My office. ASAP!

Why today? She'd hoped for a longer reprieve before being summoned by Kurt, the editor she worked for at the small newspaper in Portland, Oregon. How likely was it that he wanted to see her about something other than her latest column? Not very, she admitted to herself. Heck, she couldn't even blame him. She'd crossed a line she shouldn't have. Again.

Shrugging off her coat, she plopped down in her chair. No, the blame could only rest on her shoulders. Her emotions had gotten the better of her. Mostly because of her mother's latest broken heart. Loretta Prentiss had at least three of them per year, and it was always up to Melanie to help bandage together the pieces. Her mother was intelligent, attractive, the owner of a successful business, and ferociously devoted to finding her "one true love."

Too bad she had terrible taste in men.

Loretta's men, as Melanie called them, all fell in the "too" category: too suave, too handsome and too charismatic. They laughed too hard and too loud, and the far majority of them bleached their teeth a little too much. Basically, they were too good to be true.

At least the latest heartbreaker had waited until after

Christmas to commence with the wreckage. But with Valentine's Day less than two months away, Melanie wished he'd put it off for another seven weeks. That he'd wined and dined Loretta and gifted her with some roses and chocolates before waltzing off into the sunset.

Yeah, that would have been perfect, and so much easier on Loretta and Melanie.

Melanie's gaze landed on the note again, and she groaned. Giving advice that stayed on the right side of the line shouldn't be so difficult. And now… Well, there was a better-than-average chance she was about to be fired.

Maybe she'd be lucky and Kurt would assign someone else as the advice columnist and let her focus on her other tasks. It wasn't as if becoming the next Dear Abby was her lifetime goal. In truth, the only reason she'd accepted the position was to get her foot in the door. It had taken her nearly five years after earning her degree to get this job.

She'd considered herself fortunate to receive any offer. Especially with the undeniable fact that newspapers were laying off more people than they were hiring. So yes, she'd jumped at the position, even though her duties were mostly administrative in nature. Other than her column, she spent her time researching information and fact-checking for other staff members.

Swearing under her breath, Melanie grabbed the bright yellow Post-it and crumpled it in her fist. What would she do if Kurt fired her? She had little to no savings—not because she spent money carelessly, but because she didn't earn that large of a paycheck to begin with—and between her car payment and rent, she barely managed to make ends meet.

She could ask her mother for a loan, but that might squeeze her an extra month at most. Her mom's salon was successful, but not successful enough to support both of them for very long. Melanie tossed the balled-up note into the trash, leaned back in her chair, and closed her eyes in an attempt to ignore her building panic. In all likelihood, she was screwed.

"Out partying too late last night, Mel?"

The rich, melodic voice eased into her like sunshine on a cool day. The fact that such a voice came from such a man only served to irritate her more. Without opening her eyes, she said, "Not hardly. That's your game, Jace."

"That's where you have me wrong. I don't play games."

She cracked one eye open and immediately wished she hadn't. She'd never before come across a man who got to her the way Jace Foster did. Broad shoulders, narrow waist, tight hips, long legs, chiseled cheekbones and dark-chocolate eyes that promised long, sultry nights filled with tantalizing sex. She'd wanted him—no, she corrected herself, she'd yearned for him—from the moment they met. But dipping her toe into the water of the office's resident playboy was a mistake she refused to make. Tenacity wasn't the only lesson she'd learned from her mother, and Jace definitely fell in the "too" category.

"Go away," she said, closing her eye again. "I'm thinking."

"Go ahead and think, darlin'. I'm happy to wait…and watch."

Melanie felt him approach, heard him slide himself up on her desk, but she ignored him. Well, she tried to. She did okay until she heard the rat-a-tat-tat of a pencil tapping. Damn it!

"I know you don't see women thinking very often, so while I understand the appeal, I'd prefer to be left alone," she said.

He laughed, a deep rolling sound that unhinged something tight inside of her. And how frustrating was that? "I'm supposed to tell you that Kurt wants to see you posthaste," Jace drawled. "Did you do something to irritate the head honcho?"

Her eyes snapped open. "Since when did you become Kurt's assistant? Are you bringing him his coffee now, too?"

"Just passing the message along, like he asked." Glints of humor, and something else, shone brightly in Jace's eyes. As if he had a secret. He knew something, and he couldn't wait for her to find out what that something was. She was sure of it.

"Spill it. What's going on?"

Jace tucked the pencil behind one ear, his longish black hair covering most of it. Holding both hands in front of him, as if giving up the fight, he said, "Go talk to the boss. We'll talk when you're done."

Standing, she planted her hands on either side of Jace and leaned in close. The spicy scent of his cologne began a curl of heat deep in her belly. "What's going on?" she repeated.

"I said—" his head tilted forward "—go talk to the boss first." He brought one hand up, his fingers touching her temple, and the heat of it forced a tremble that began at her toes.

"Wh-what are you doing?" she stammered. A series of shivers stole over her, and for a breath-stealing second, she thought he was going to kiss her. Here. In the middle of the workplace. And why in Heaven's name was that idea so appealing?

Full lips turned upward at the corners in a smile that had surely charmed dozens, if not hundreds, of women before her. His fingers brushed back until they tugged gently at her hair. "I'm wondering when singed hair became the newest fashion statement, Mello Yello."

In an instant, the desire she'd began to feel evaporated. Pushing herself away, she centered herself by crossing her arms. "Bad morning. Is it about to get worse?"

"Depends on your definition of worse."

She angled her head toward Kurt's office. "What do you know that you're not telling me?"

Jace blinked long, sooty lashes in feigned innocence before shoving himself off her desk. "I'll be waiting for you," he said over his shoulder as he sauntered away.

Without fully realizing it, she watched him as he walked off, his long-legged gait one of lazy sexuality. How many women had been lulled into his bed by the look of those legs in tightly fitted denim? By the crazy, heart-pumping want of unbuttoning his jeans and stripping them off of him, one leg at a time? Far too many, she was sure. And all of them had likely believed in happily-ever-afters and all too easily had visualized Jace as their knight in shining armor. Well, not her. She would never become a notch on Jace Foster's belt.

Battling the annoyance rising up, she inhaled a mouthful of air. The sound of a throat clearing caught her off guard.

"You want to have this discussion out here, or shall we go to my office?" asked Kurt, now standing in front of her desk. "Either works for me, but you might appreciate some privacy for this conversation."

Yep. She was going to be fired. "Your office. I was just on my way," Melanie replied, nervous all over again. "Just let me grab my notebook—"

"Don't need it." He turned on his heel with the confidence of a man in charge, knowing she'd fall in behind. Not that Kurt Winslow was a bad guy, because he wasn't. But he was most certainly the boss, and the people who worked for him respected and feared him in equal measures.

Well, except for Jace. He respected Kurt well enough but seemed to fear nothing.

She waited two beats before following, trepidation existing in every step. She'd learned within her first week of employment that the best way to deal with Kurt was to stand behind her work. He didn't like simpering. He despised wishy-washiness. She took a careful step into his office and sent a silent prayer upward that this would be quick and relatively painless.

Kurt glowered at her from behind his desk. His too-small-for-his-face blue eyes narrowed when he saw her hovering. "Close the door behind you."

"Can we do this later? I have to—"

"Now, Melanie. You've gone too far this time."

With a sigh, she stepped farther into his office and shut the door. "I'm almost done with next week's column," she said, hoping if she started with the positive, she could derail the negative. The advice column was due each Friday, to appear in the following Tuesday's edition of the Gazette. Of course, she knew her boss was ticked about today's edition, not next week's.

"Can't wait to see it," he said with more than a note of sarcasm. "But, Mel—"

"I know why you're mad," she interrupted. "If you'll just let me explain."

"What's there to explain? You're supposed to be giving good advice. If you can't, then you tell them to get advice from a professional. Stating that love doesn't exist, and women who believe in love are deluding themselves, is not the type of advice we hired you to give."

"I didn't say love doesn't exist! Not exactly, anyway."

Kurt grabbed the newspaper sitting to his right. Leafing it open to the correct page, he read, "I've been with my fiance for over six years. He keeps stalling on setting a date for our wedding but says he still wants to get married. I'm getting tired of waiting around. What can I do to get him to set a date once and for all? From, Never a Bride."

"I know what it says," Melanie hedged. "You don't need to read it back to me."

Kurt continued as if she hadn't spoken. "Dear Never a Bride, If your fiance has waited this long and still refuses to set a date, then I'm sorry to tell you, a wedding will never happen. Wake up from your delusions and take a good hard look at your relationship. You're better off becoming a nun than waiting around for this loser to seal the deal. Throw him away like yesterday's trash and go it alone. You'll be happier." Kurt slapped the newspaper on top of an already toppling stack.

"See? Told you I didn't say love doesn't exist. And come on, that man obviously doesn't want to get married." Even to her own ears, the argument sounded weak. "I'm not going to lie!"

Kurt leaned back in his chair and glowered some more. His bushy eyebrows scrunched together, looking very much like a caterpillar had taken residence on his forehead. "Then you tell her to talk to him, you suggest counseling, you express how important communication is."

"Yeah, but—"

"I explained to you what we want from this column. We want sound advice, Melanie. Advice that will perhaps actually help your readers, not make them feel like crap."

"You said to go for humor," Melanie pointed out, trying to grasp on to something.

"Gentle humor. But this—" he swiped at the paper, causing it and two others to fall to the ground "—isn't funny. We're not out for sarcasm or snappy one-liners."

"Well…there are a lot of people who enjoy edgy sarcasm. And that style is certainly valid." She huffed out a breath. "Jace uses it in his columns! So, maybe—"

"There is no maybe here." Kurt shook his head in frustration. "Your audience isn't Jace's. The majority of your readers are women who are looking for relationship advice."

"Okay, but—"

"Melanie! Stop trying to cover the real issue here." He ran his hands over his eyes. "Do you think you're particularly good at this job?" He waited a second, and then, "Because I don't."

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2012

    Patient Love

    This is a story of overcoming opsticles and fears to have the sweet prize of love and the patient to wait for that prize to come. The characters were developed enough to grow, learining about one another and themselves. A sweet satisfying story.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2012

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