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By Alexis Fleming
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.Copyright © 2007 Alexis Fleming
All right reserved.
Chapter One"Um ... are you the lady who's going to teach me all about sex and romance? I know it's a lot to ask, but, you see ... I'm desperate for a woman."
Melissa jumped, dropping the telephone receiver down on the cradle. She jerked her head back and stared at the apparition in the doorway of her sister's office. Her office, if you took into account the fact she was pretending to be her sister. She'd expected Angelica to announce their latest client, not just send him along to the office.
Damn Jane for putting her in this position. She'd come down to Sydney for a holiday with her sister, not to fill in for her at the matchmaking agency she owned with her on-again-off again partner, Mitch Rivers.
Melissa had arrived at Jane's apartment to find Jane had disappeared. A scribbled note had awaited her, asking Melissa to take Jane's place as proprietor of the dating agency for a few days.
Shit, Jane, when will you grow up? Melissa couldn't believe she'd allowed her sister to manipulate her like this. Again!
Why hadn't she just turned right around and headed back to Brisbane? She was a kindergarten teacher, for crying out loud, not a matchmaker.
Because your sister needs you?
The words echoed through her mind. Reliability was a word totally missing from Jane's personal dictionary, but regardless of Jane's faults, Melissa had never been able to turn her back on her sister. Despite anything else going on in her life, she always came whenever Jane called.
Maybe it was time to break the pattern, force her sister to stand on her own two feet. Melissa sighed. It had always been this way. She'd been cleaning up after Jane ever since their mother had died, and all because of a promise made to her mother on her deathbed to look after her flighty sister.
The sound of a man clearing his throat brought her back to the present. Pushing herself to her feet, she gave a surreptitious tug on the bottom of the skirt she'd borrowed from Jane's wardrobe. She frowned. Did Jane have to wear her skirts so damn short?
The high heels she'd pilfered at the same time didn't help matters much either. If she weren't careful, she'd end up tripping right over and exposing her fanny to all and sundry.
"You must be Mr. Campbell. Welcome to Dreams Unlimited." She approached the client and extended her hand in greeting.
"Matthew Campbell, at your service, my good lady." He grasped her hand and bowed low over it.
His palm slid against hers and it suddenly felt as if a charge of electricity had zapped up her arm. Melissa dragged in a shaky breath as a delicious shiver feathered down her spine. Her eyes opened wide. What the hell? Where is this coming from?
Matthew Campbell straightened and she stared into eyes so dark it was impossible to differentiate between iris and pupil. An ungoverned thought hit her. She could drown in those eyes.
Sexual energy surged through her body, threatening to overload her system. Any twinges of nervousness at filling in for her sister disappeared beneath a blanket of warmth.
The man towered over her diminutive five feet two inches. So much so she had to tilt her head back to look at him. And what she saw wasn't bad. Not bad at all.
His olive complexion and dark hair and eyes suggested Mediterranean heritage. Possibly Italian. He wasn't strictly handsome, but he was striking. Strong. Sexy. Lean and dangerous looking. One of those men who just oozed sex appeal without even lifting a finger. So why would a man like this need to find his dates through an introduction agency?
Although, come to think of it, he could do with a change of image. His dark suit and pristine white shirt looked quite smart, but the red polka-dot bow tie didn't cut it. In fact, it made him look downright comical.
Something else caught her attention. Trying not to appear too obvious, Melissa stared even harder. She needed to verify her eyes weren't playing tricks on her.
The man was wearing hair oil.
No one wore hair oil these days. She had a sudden mental picture of running her fingers through his hair and coming away with oil dripping from her hand. Yuck!
Cut it out, Melissa. You're here to help the man, not run him down. At least it explained why he needed a dating agency, and she wasn't the one on the lookout for a partner, so how he wore his hair shouldn't affect her.
A small smile kicked up the corners of his sensual mouth as if he knew his effect on her. Melissa dragged her hand from his grasp and pointed to the chair in front of the desk. "Would you like to sit down, Mr. Campbell?"
She moved around to the other side of the desk and seated herself in the executive chair Jane favored. As her skirt slid up, she sighed, grateful the lower part of her body wasn't on show. Somehow, she had the feeling this man had seen it all, but she wasn't about to give him a free viewing of her legs.
Matt tried not to frown as he looked at the woman across from him. Something didn't feel right. For some reason, she didn't quite match up to the glossy photograph in the folder back at headquarters. For a start, the hairstyle was different. Instead of the long waves, her hair, warm brown shot through with vibrant strands of copper, was a riot of curls framing her face.
Okay, so that was easily explained-a bottle of hair dye and a visit to the hair salon. But it was more than that. A subtle difference he couldn't put his finger on. He had a feeling he was missing something. Something important.
The face was the same. Elfin, although less of the gamine look and more of the little-girl-lost. He felt an almost irresistible urge to scrape some of the make-up off her face and expose the beauty beneath. Not that the make-up wasn't perfectly applied. The only thing marring the flawless camouflage job was a small scar high on the curve of her right cheek. Funny, he hadn't noticed that in the photo.
She lifted her head and smiled at him. Tension slammed through him, coiling in his gut. His heart started to race. His palms grew sweaty. The blood pounded through his veins, heading south, and his cock hardened in reaction. He squirmed in the seat, trying to ease the constriction in his trousers.
What the fuck ... Hell, this had never happened to him before. He'd met women he'd desired, but he'd never felt such a strong instantaneous attraction. Shit, man, it's just sex. Deal with it.
Excerpted from Mortified Matchmaker by Alexis Fleming Copyright © 2007 by Alexis Fleming. Excerpted by permission.
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