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By Diana Palmer
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneEleanor Perrie peeked up from her typing. The distinguished man in the gray business suit had begun shifting restlessly on the luxurious couch. He seemed to be checking his watch every minute. She permitted herself a tiny smile before she touched the intercom button between the living room, where she worked, and the stables down below the big ranch house.
"What is it?" came the impatient reply.
"I think your souffle is done," she said, purposefully vague. "It's very puffed and browning off on top."
There was soft, deep laughter just for an instant on the other end of the line. She could almost see the grin on that swarthy face. "I'll be right up, Miss Perrie."
"I sincerely hope so, Mr. Matherson," she replied with sugary sarcasm, and cut off the connection. She glanced at the man in the gray suit and smiled. Her creamy complexion lit up and emphasized the odd pale green of her eyes, hidden by oversized round eyeglasses with black frames. Her jet black hair was coiled and pinned on top of her head.
"Mr. Matherson will be right up," she said courteously, raising her voice now so that he could hear her from across the room.
"Thank you," the impatient man said stiffly.
"One of our prize Appaloosa mares was foaling this morning," Eleanor added for effect. "Mr. Matherson wanted to see about her."
"I understand," the older man nodded, with a polite smile that didn't reach his eyes.
Oh, no, you don't, Eleanor thought with amusement as she dropped her eyes back to the letter she was typing. Curry Matherson knew how to get what he wanted from people, and this poor little fish was about to find it out. Curry had planned to build a very sophisticated office complex on land that belonged to this annoyed speculator. The whole deal hinged on whether or not Durwood Magins, sitting nervously on the very edge of the big sofa, could be persuaded to sell at a fair market price - not the exorbitant figure he was demanding.
Tired of bargaining with him, this morning Curry had called Magins to tell him he was dropping the whole project and had found another site. Fifteen minutes later, Magins had been sitting on the same sofa he was glued to now. And Curry, who was only looking at the new foal, not helping to deliver it, had allowed him to sit there and sweat it out for two solid hours. Eleanor watched the greedy little man with mingled compassion and amusement. His own avarice seemed to her to be his worst enemy. And he should have had the sense not to tangle with Curry in the first place. This was really one of her boss's nicer tactics.
Seconds later, Curry Matherson walked into the room. There was a half smile on his lean, tanned face that was at variance with the glittering, quite dangerous look in his silvery eyes. He towered over most people, and since Magins wasn't tall anyway, Curry made him look like a dwarf. Her boss's athletic body was built with hard riding and ranch work, as well as sports, at which he excelled. Curry excelled at everything.
She tried not to look at him too hard as he shook Magins' hand with a grip that probably bruised it, but her eyes kept going back to him, tracing the hard lines of his face, the thick dark hair that was just a little unruly from the wind. She'd loved him forever, it seemed. Since the day she applied for the job as his private secretary three years ago....
He hadn't been in a good mood at all on the morning of her interview, and Eleanor had been a little bit afraid of the tall, dark man. If she hadn't just lost her parents, and suddenly discovered how badly off she was going to be financially, and needed a job in such a desperate hurry, she'd probably have walked out the door.
Excerpted from Dream's End by Diana Palmer Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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