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"What the hell?"
Simon Holcroft dropped his suitcase. It landed with a thud on the Brazilian maple flooring. The sound reverberated around his master bedroom, echoing the sonic boom in his chest. Absolute silence followed. Setting his hands on his hips, he contemplated his unmade bed and the woman asleep in it.
Nine days touring Australian wineries. A twenty-six hour flight back to Atlanta, seated beside a man who snored like a chainsaw, followed by a two-hour delay in customs. Start to finish the trip had been a test of patience and endurance. No rest. No relaxation. No fun. Only frustration.
By the time the elevator swept him toward his tenth floor condo, he was ready to trade his newly purchased K2 Hellbent skis for a hot shower and clean, lavender-scented sheets.
Instead, he got Goldilocks.
From the coved ceiling above his king-size bed, diffused light spilled over the stranger. She slept on her side, her hands clasped beneath her chin. Her pose appeared serene, but he sensed an inner turmoil shadowed her dreams. She'd twisted in her sleep. Her restless movements had pulled her yellow T-shirt tight against her small, round breasts.
How long had her troubles pursued her into oblivion? His own difficulties with suppliers and distribution channels had eaten into his shut-eye for the last three months. Expanding the business would double his income, but what he wouldn't give for eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.
The woman's straight blond hair cascaded over his gold-toned sheets and across her face like a scarf. Worn khaki shorts showcased slender calves and long thigh muscles. Her bare foot dangled over the edge. She fit into his cream-and-gold decor like a decorative throw pillow, the perfect feminine accent for his sensual, luxurious, wholly masculine room.
Appreciation tickled his nerve endings, sharpening his curiosity. Who was she?
He stepped closer. His toe nudged an empty laundry basket. At the same time, a blend of citrus and ginger struck his nose. He reached out to shake her awake, but stopped, his hand hovering over her shoulder as he recognized the orange smell as the cleaning product used in his bathroom. The ginger scent rose off her warm skin.
So, this was his maid. Interesting.
Although she'd been cleaning his house for the last six months, they'd never met. They had, however, traded notes on a weekly basis. Witty, humorous exchanges that he'd enjoyed to no end.
Okay, so this explained the who. The why would have to wait until she slipped free of Morpheus's grasp.
Simon swept one finger along her cheek and tucked the curtain of her hair behind her ear. She stirred and frowned, but didn't awaken. He studied her face. Delicate, curving eyebrows, high cheekbones, and full lips combined to produce an arresting face that hovered between pretty and beautiful.
She wasn't at all as he'd pictured her. In his mind, she was one of those brainy girls in high school, long on smarts, short on looks. He'd imagined her with hunched shoulders from carrying a backpack loaded with books, short brown hair that required nothing more than finger combing and tortoiseshell glasses because all those hours spent studying in the library's dim lighting would have ruined her eyesight. Bookish, unattractive, and since he knew she was in college, twenty-one at the most.