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A Love To Keep
By Cynthia Rutledge
Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.Copyright © 2003 Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneAmerican Teen
Dear Lorelei Love,
My father is being transferred and my parents say we have to move to another state. I don't want to leave my friends. What can I do?
Bummed in Birmingham
I'll soon be moving to a new city, too. Moving to a new place can be scary. But it can also be exciting. A chance to start fresh with people who don't know you threw up on the bus in third grade or that you were the only girl who didn't have a date to the freshman formal. Try to think of this move as an exciting adventure and chances are that's just what it will be.
* * *
"I'm sorry I've kept you waiting."
Lorelei Loveland turned and her breath caught in her throat. Though she knew it was impolite to stare, Lori couldn't help herself. Ever since she'd been a teenager she'd had a weakness for dark-haired guys with bright blue eyes.
"I was on a conference call and it went longer than I expected." The man smiled and strode across the study.
When he stopped in front of her, Lori noticed there were flecks of gold in the blue depths, and when he smiled a little dimple flashed in his left cheek. Her heart skipped a beat.
He extended his hand. "It's a pleasure to finally put a face with a voice." Lori took his hand, liking the firmness of his grip and the way he measured her with a cool assessing look. She met his gaze, her hand lingering in his. "You're not at all what I expected."
The man before her didn't look anything like the boring middle-aged executive she'd envisioned. And he certainly didn't look like anyone's father. Her hopes rose. Maybe being a nanny for the next six months wouldn't be so bad after all....
"Excuse me for interrupting."
Lori turned. The petite gray-haired housekeeper who'd shown her to the study stood in the doorway.
Mr. McCashlin lifted a brow. "Yes, Mrs. Graham?"
"Sir, Ms. Tobin is on the phone and insists on speaking with you."
"Tell her I'm in a meeting," he said without a hint of hesitation. "I'll have to call her back."
"Very well." The housekeeper slipped out of the room as silently as she'd entered.
Lori took a sip of iced tea and glanced around the spacious room. Cherry-wood shelves filled with leather-bound books covered the far wall. A painting that looked suspiciously like an Antonio Varas hung above a large executive desk. "You have a beautiful home, Mr. McCashlin."
"Please call me Drew." The dimple flashed again. "Mr. McCashlin is so formal."
"Only if you call me Lori." She offered him her most engaging smile. Flirting with an employer was never a good idea, but she told herself she wasn't really flirting. She was just being friendly.
"I know I shouldn't say this-" Drew paused "-but Clay never told me you were so pretty."
"Then we're even," Lori said. "Because he never told me you were so handsome, either."
She thought he would be used to such compliments but, though Drew laughed easily, a touch of red crept up his neck. Lori found the lack of conceit refreshing.
"So what did Clay tell you about me?" she asked.
That cute little dimple reappeared in his cheek. "He said you were a hard worker, loved children and had a wonderful sense of humor."
"I always knew I liked him," she said with a saucy smile.
"But the way he described you," Drew continued, "I didn't think you'd be so young."
"I'm not that young," Lori said, remembering the over-the-hill birthday cake at her last party. "I hit the big three-oh last month."
"Wow." His eyes widened in mock surprise. "You'll be getting those senior discounts in no time."
"Stop it." Lori couldn't help but respond to the twinkle in his eye.
He laughed and took a seat in the chair opposite hers. "I'd hate to hear what you consider forty-three to be."
"Positively ancient," she said promptly, tossing him a smile to show she was only teasing. Because Drew McCashlin was anything but ancient. His dark brown hair didn't have a trace of gray and the only wrinkles she could detect were a few laugh lines around his eyes and mouth. "Seriously, if I didn't know Clay, I'd never believe you had a grown son."
"Sometimes even I can't believe it. Karen and I were just kids ourselves when he was born." Drew shook his head. "We married right out of high school. Clay was born nine months later."
His eyes took on a faraway look and Lori had the feeling she knew just what he was thinking. She'd heard all about the tragic accident that had claimed Karen McCashlin's life.
"I'm sorry about your wife," Lori said in a low tone. "Clay said she died in a car accident a few years ago?"
"It'll be two years next month." Drew's gaze shifted to the window. "She and our youngest daughter were on I-90 during a thunderstorm. A drunk driver swerved into their lane. Karen couldn't avoid a collision. When I got that phone call ..."
He rubbed a hand across his face and Lori's heart ached in sympathy. Though she'd never been married, never lost a spouse, she understood what it was like to get such news. She'd been twelve when her father's semi had jackknifed on an icy road.
Excerpted from A Love To Keep by Cynthia Rutledge Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.
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