-RT Book Reviews on NINE MONTHS WITH THOMAS
His Love Match (Harlequin Kimani Romance Series #366)by Shirley Hailstock
Will he be the last bachelor standing?
Wedding planner Diana Greer still believes in happily-ever-after. She's just given up finding her own dream man. Until an internet dating site matches her up with her ideal mate. Too bad he's someone she already knows . In college, Scott Thomas was the big man on campusarrogant and full of himself. So why is one… See more details below
Will he be the last bachelor standing?
Wedding planner Diana Greer still believes in happily-ever-after. She's just given up finding her own dream man. Until an internet dating site matches her up with her ideal mate. Too bad he's someone she already knows . In college, Scott Thomas was the big man on campusarrogant and full of himself. So why is one kiss from the high-flying bachelor making Diana's toes curl?
A failed trip to the altar has cured Scott of believing in storybook endings. So he's stunned when someone meets his unattainable requirements for romance. The brainy bookworm he knew has morphed into a beautiful, desirable woman. But Diana isn't ready to trust him. And then Scott unveils his secret. Now Diana wonders if she'll forever plan strangers' weddings and never her own .
-RT Book Reviews on NINE MONTHS WITH THOMAS
Read an Excerpt
It can't be him.
Diana knew him. No computer would do this to her. Not twice in one day. Diana Greer sat at the table of the local coffee shop across from Princeton University. Her usual unshakable demeanor had just taken a hit. The place was geared up for the lunch crowd, and both students and white-shirted lawyer types poured in like Christmas shoppers just before closing on December twenty-fourth. Glancing through the wall of people, her gaze darted around bodies, hoping against hope that what she looked for wouldn't be there. Her heart sank when the human sea cleared for a second and confirmation forced a groan from her throat. He had the DVD in his hand. The one they had agreed to both carry as identification. The cover photo faced her, despite his hand cutting a wedge out of the romantic couple. There was no mistake. It could be a coincidence, but Diana doubted it. It was her suggestion that they identify themselves using this method. She'd seen it in more than one movie. Usually it was a rose or a book. She hadn't thought the suggestion would prove so close to the Hollywood version of a couple who met online actually knowing each other. She could kick herself for not insisting on a photograph before they met. But not knowing what he looked like had been intriguing, romantic even. And they were only meeting for lunch. Opinions on vanity could be judged then.
She had to get out of the shop before he saw her.
Glancing at the ceiling she cursed the universe for its wretched sense of humor. "This is not funny," she muttered. People at a nearby table looked to see who she was talking to. She smiled quickly and dropped her head, choosing to stare at the golden liquid in her cup. Maybe there was some way she could get out without him seeing her. Diana looked from side to side. She was hemmed in. The tables were very close together and crowded with patrons. She knew it would be rude to leave without talking to the man she'd spent three months corresponding with through email. But if anyone deserved being stood up it was Scott Thomas.
He looked around, stretching his neck although he already stood head and shoulders above everyone else in the place. He was obviously looking for someone ?her. Diana looked down as he almost made eye contact with her. Instinctively she knew it was too late. He'd seen her. And her copy of You've Got Mail lay square and center on the table in front of the chair she saved for him one she'd stopped three people from taking. She wished she had something to hide the DVD with, a book or scarf even a napkin would help. But she had none of those things handy and Scott was already weaving his way through the crowd toward her.
"Diana?" He frowned, coming to stand in front of her. "Is that you?" He deliberately slipped his DVD into his suit pocket. "What are you doing here? I thought you were meeting someone for lunch?"
Of course, he knew she was meeting someone. Hadn't she told him so this very morning? Diana raised her chin and looked him in the eye. It can't be him, she told herself again, as if the thought could transform this man who'd stood in her office only an hour ago into someone else ? anyone else. Just, please, God, she prayed. Not him.
In her office that morning their encounter had been less than friendly. She wasn't in the mood for another one. Scott had come to the office to persuade her to move out and find other accommodations for the business she'd run there for the past five years. Their encounter had been unfriendly, and Diana was reminded of the sarcasm he'd subjected her to while they both attended the university that was only a few steps from where they stood now. Nothing appeared to have changed in the intervening years. He was still on the opposite side of everything she did, said or wanted.
And for no reason. At least none she could discern.
"I was just leaving," she said. As she moved to stand, he picked up the DVD. Diana flopped back down as her knees refused to hold her in position. At once Scott glanced from the DVD to her, then back again. Diana watched as he pulled his own copy from his pocket and realization dawned in his dark brown eyes.
"There has to be a mistake," she said, reaching for her copy. Scott glanced at both covers.
"I believe there is."
Diana grabbed for her DVD but encountered resistance from Scott. As she raised her eyes to him, she saw that playful disapproval that had been there when they were college students. Quickly it disappeared and he released his hold on the case.
Getting up, Diana inched around the crowded table and started for the door. It seemed as if the universe was mocking her. A line of people that hadn't been there before now stood between her and the door. She would need to wait to get out of the place, when all she wanted was to get as far away from Scott as possible. Around him she couldn't breathe. It had always been like that. Even all those years ago, when they were in college and he would harass her whenever he could, she found it difficult to breathe in his presence. Apparently time had not changed that reaction, either.
There was another door, she thought as she looked over her shoulder. She'd try to get to it. However, when Diana tried to turn around, she realized it was a mistake. Scott was directly behind her, and her body was now in contact with his. Despite the air-conditioning, her temperature flew off the scale. She was surprised she didn't double over in pain from the bends. And it didn't help that Scott's arms instinctively came up to steady her. The urge to lean into him was so great that she grabbed his hands and pushed them away with more force than she intended.
"I apologize," she said. "I'm under a little stress." That was more than the truth. Stress followed her, sat on her shoulder, worked its way into the marrow of her bones any time Scott Thomas's name came up or even entered her mind. And having him close enough that she could smell his cologne and feel the heat of his body threw her back to the one other time in her life when she was this close to him. Close enough to kiss. That time there had been a kiss. He'd kissed her. Devastated her. Left her wanting more when the passion that flared within her burned deep and hot and out of control. When it ended as abruptly as it had begun, he turned and ran away. She watched him disappear. Then she fled, too. Running across the campus in the opposite direction from the one he'd taken, competing with the wind for dominance.
And that had been the last time she'd seen him until ten months ago when, practically on the heels of his attorney's exit, he'd walked into her office and doubled the offer if she would vacate her offices. She refused.
She hadn't told her online friend about the encounter. She needed to keep Scott Thomas relegated to a corner of her brain that was as inaccessible as possible. Lately the folds in that area were vibrating with the need to access the data stored there.
"I guess leaving through the rear door is out of the question," Diana said, her voice slightly breathy.
Scott glanced over his shoulder. Looking back at her, he said, "It's just as crowded over there."
Diana turned back. She held her breath, relieved that he was no longer touching her, but still aware that he was close enough for her to feel the heat of his body. How could MatchforLove.com have paired her with Scott? They had nothing in common. Nothing except she owned a wedding planning business in a complex that he wanted.
Diana was not moving.
Finally the crowd at the door moved and she was on the street. Taking a full breath, she felt as if she could gulp the air. Not looking back, she started up Nassau Street intent on reaching her car and getting as far away from Scott Thomas as she could.
A hand curling around her arm stopped her. Diana turned, taking two steps backward to keep some distance between them.
"At least we can be civil," he said.
"If this is another of your attempts to get me to give up my offices, it's not going to work. As I told you this morning ?"
"It has nothing to do with the property," Scott interrupted her.
Diana shifted her weight but said nothing. If he didn't want to make another pitch to get her offices, what did they have to discuss?
"How do you think we ended up here together?"
"Obviously by some computer glitch."
Diana knew it was a mistake to follow her partner Teddy's urging. Diana had told her that she didn't have time for a man in her life, but Teddy, in her usual persistent manner, had worn her down, and finally Diana had gone into the MatchforLove.com system and filled out the profile. And now she stood in front of Scott Thomas, a mistake if she ever saw one.
Before he could continue their conversation, his cell phone rang and Diana took the opportunity to leave. She felt she'd get to her car and be done with him. At least when she turned the corner at the end of the block she could relax. But Scott was not to be eluded. He fell into step next to her, all the while continuing his phone call.
"What?" Diana heard him say. He stopped walking, but caught up with her several steps later. "Can't you find someone else?"
He listened for a moment while she walked faster. Her shoes were the latest style, very high heels on a small platform. They elevated her five-foot-five-inch height by five additional inches.
"All right," he said as if giving in to something.
Diana got to the corner and turned. The garage was half a block away. Hoping Scott would continue up Nassau Street, her thoughts were doused as he turned with her.
"Yes, I said I'd do it." A moment later he nearly shouted into the receiver. "What did you say?"
Diana couldn't help listening while she walked.
"Who's doing it?" he asked.
Again there was a pause.
"You're kidding!" Scott said. This time he sounded as if something incredible had happened.
Diana didn't get the impression that there was any kidding going on. But she heard Scott agree to the final unheard question. "It's all right. I get it. I'll be there." He ended the call and pocketed the phone.
Diana could tell something was not as he wished it to be, but she wasn't interested in finding out what was off in his world. She had her own to deal with.
"Why are you following me, Scott? I have a high-profile wedding to get the final plans on, and I don't have time to be bothered with childish pranks. You've already said it's not about the offices, so what do you want?"
Scott hesitated a moment. "I want to know if you told the truth."
She frowned, not understanding his question.
"On your profile. Was everything you put in there true?"
Anger, hot, red and eruptive sliced through her like the knife edge of an arctic wind. "As I remember it, lying is your department. And since we aren't likely to see each other again " She emphasized again, closing the door on him making further offers on her offices. "I think we should just forget this day ever happened."
Pivoting on shoes that were now hurting her toes, Diana straightened her back and shoulders and walked away from him. He didn't follow her, a good choice on his part, she thought. Practically calling her a liar to her face was enough. Another word from either of them would require police protection.
"How was he?" Theresa "Teddy" Granville jumped up from her chair the moment Diana came through the office door. "Was he as good-looking as we thought?"
Diana dropped her purse on the chair and gave Teddy the look. It should have been patented between them. It was the look they gave each other when a bride chose something that was totally wrong for her theme.
"That bad?" Teddy was nonplussed. She flopped back down in her chair. "After we had such high hopes."
"After you had high hopes." It was at Teddy's insistence that Diana go to MatchforLove.com. Diana had done it to silence her partner. But after she began talking to F9021@MatchforLove.com, things changed. He seemed to understand her. Even though they never identified themselves by name, he knew she owned her own business and she knew he flew airplanes. She thought he was a pilot.
"What was wrong with him?"
"He was Scott Thomas."
Teddy came forward in her chair as if she'd been pushed. "Scott Thomas? The Scott Thomas who wants us to move? That Scott Thomas?"
"One and the same," Diana said.
"I couldn't believe it myself. It was all I could do to get out of the coffee shop."
"Without seeing him?"
"Unfortunately, no," Diana said. She took a seat in front of Teddy's desk. The place was neat as a pin, although Teddy was juggling three weddings for the next two weeks. It was time for the brides to get crazy and the mothers of the brides to go ballistic over something minor. Luckily at this moment the phones weren't ringing with complaints. "I wished I could have become invisible when I saw him, but he spotted me and we talked."
"We both agreed that the dating service had made a terrible mistake. No way are we compatible."
"Pretty much, what?" As usual Teddy read between the lines and persisted.
"As we were parting he called me a liar."
"What?" Her eyes grew big.
"Not in those exact words. He asked me if everything I put in my profile was true."
"Well it was, wasn't it?" Teddy asked.
"I mean," she stammered. "We all like to embellish ourselves a little online."
"I did not embellish."
At that moment the phone rang. Diana got up to leave. At the door Teddy stopped her. "Well, at least he's good-looking," she said.
Diana frowned at her and went to her own office. It was a contrast to the orderliness of Teddy's. Diana worked in chaos. She knew where everything was, and she could put her hands on it without error.
Good-looking, Teddy had said. Diana supposed if she thought about him without the animosity that clouded his image, Scott was pleasant to look at. More than that. He had great eyes. They were probably his best feature, dark brown, fringed by long lashes. His cheeks had dimples that drove the women crazy in college. They hadn't diminished in effect in the ten years since they graduated. He wasn't a football player, but his lean features boded well for the diving team. Diana remembered the broad shoulders that tapered to a thin waist and strong muscular legs. Diana had to admit he was good-looking. If she was planning one of her bridal fashion shows, he'd be a shoo-in for a tuxedo model.
Diana glanced down at her desk. Several bridal magazines lay open in front of her. One by one she scanned the pages and studied the grooms. Not one of the men smiling up at her had an ounce of the gorgeous good looks that Scott Thomas had.
Looks weren't everything, she thought. The man was still a jerk. And even though he could turn the head of every woman in town, Diana knew the two of them should never have been matched.
Meet the Author
Shirley Hailstock likes to explore new worlds and visit exotic places. As an author, she can visit those places, and be the heroine of her own stories. The author of over thirty novels and novellas, Shirley has received numerous awards. Her books have appeared on BlackBoard, Essence and Library Journal bestseller lists. She is a past president of Romance Writers of America.
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