Sheltered by Her Top-Notch Boss [NOOK Book]

Overview


He can save her from scandal—but can she trust him?

Dedicated E.R. registrar Ellie Saunders has put her troubled youth behind her and now fronts a medical TV show. Yet her fresh start is threatened by the arrival of a ghost from her past…E.R. consultant James Birchenall—Ellie's new boss.

His titled family was responsible for the disintegration of hers, and Ellie still bears the scars. But when scandalous ...

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Sheltered by Her Top-Notch Boss

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Overview


He can save her from scandal—but can she trust him?

Dedicated E.R. registrar Ellie Saunders has put her troubled youth behind her and now fronts a medical TV show. Yet her fresh start is threatened by the arrival of a ghost from her past…E.R. consultant James Birchenall—Ellie's new boss.

His titled family was responsible for the disintegration of hers, and Ellie still bears the scars. But when scandalous headlines break, revealing her past, this sinfully handsome aristocratic playboy is the only man she can turn to….


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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781460319215
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 9/1/2013
  • Sold by: HARLEQUIN
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 928,989
  • File size: 212 KB

Meet the Author


Joanna Neil had her future planned. She enjoyed her work as an infant teacher and didn't envisage any changes to her way of life. But then she discovered Mills & Boon. She was surprised to find how absorbing and interesting they were and read them on a regular basis. The more she read, the more she had the overwhelming desire to write one. Encouraged by her family, she persevered until her first book was accepted, and after several books were published, she decided to write full time.


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Read an Excerpt

Ellie shifted restlessly on the barstool, crossing one long, elegant leg over the other. How much longer would it be before she could decently slip away from here? She cradled a cocktail glass between her fingers and watched her friends enjoying themselves. She was the only one out of kilter here.

The party was in full swing, the heavy beat of music drowning out the buzz of conversation, though every now and again a burst of laughter broke through the din. Some people were on the dance floor, and everyone seemed contented, eager to let their hair down.

If only she could feel the same way. She'd had an awful day, though, and she desperately wanted it to end. This was the last place she needed to be.

'I'm glad you managed to get here tonight after all,' Lewis said, moving closer. 'I know you had to work late today.' His hazel eyes were warm as he gazed at her. An errant lock of brown, wavy hair fell across his forehead.

She nodded and made an effort to put on a cheerful expression. But how much more small talk could she make? She'd spent the last hour doing that, and all the while she'd been hoping for the chance to say goodbye and leave the party relatively unnoticed, some time soon.

'I had to try,' she said. 'I know how keen Zoe was to have us all come to her celebration.' She smiled, seeing her friend circle the room, chatting to people who'd been her colleagues for the last few years. 'I'll miss her, but I'm glad she managed to get the promotion she wanted. It's just sad that she'll be moving away from here.'

'Well, she's only going as far as the next county—I dare say she'll be coming back to Cheshire to visit us every now and again.'

'Yes, I suppose you're right.' She drained the last of her drink and then said, 'I haven't seen your wife here tonight. Couldn't she make it?'

Lewis shook his head and looked uncomfortable. 'She…uh…had to go to another do. A family thing.' His voice trailed off, and just as Ellie was absorbing that, Zoe came over to them.

Ellie's eyes widened a fraction as she glanced at the man who accompanied her. His brooding gaze wandered over her in turn, and there was something about him that caused a frisson of awareness to shiver down her spine. Did she know him from somewhere? Snatches of memory flickered through her mind and dissolved as fast as they had come into being.

But how could she have forgotten him? He was tall, and exceptionally good-looking, wearing an immaculate dark suit. Peeping out from beneath his jacket sleeves, the cuffs of his shirt were pristine, fastened with stylish gold cuff links. But the feeling remained, niggling at the outer edges of her consciousness. She felt strangely uneasy.

'Ellie, I must introduce you to James,' Zoe said, bubbling with enthusiasm, her blonde hair quivering with every small movement she made. 'He's taking over from me at the hospital—honestly, I'm already regretting taking the new job. Would you credit it? Just as I'm leaving, he turns up?' She rolled her eyes in an 'Isn't he to die for?' kind of way, and James laughed, a soft, rumbling sound coming from the back of his throat.

He looked at Ellie, appreciation sparking in his smoke-grey eyes before he tilted his head in acknowledgement to Lewis.

'It's good to meet you, Ellie,' James said, his voice a deep, satisfying murmur that whispered along her nerve endings and turned her insides to jelly.

'Likewise.'

'I understand you work with Lewis?'

She nodded. 'We're in different departments, but we're both at the hospital. I'm a registrar in A and E.'

Ellie studied him from under her lashes. She could see what Zoe meant. He had the kind of looks that had her stomach doing peculiar flips, despite her initial misgivings about him, while her senses were falling over each other as they clamoured for attention.

He was gorgeous, there was no doubt about it. He had black hair, beautiful grey eyes and perfectly proportioned, angular features, along with a body that was lithe and muscular, radiating energy. Even in her present unhappy state of mind she managed to register all those things.

James turned to Lewis. 'Hi,' he said. 'Are you and Jessica still coming over to the house this weekend?'

'Yes, we are.'

'Good. We'll look forward to seeing you there.'

Lewis nodded. 'James is my cousin,' he explained to Ellie. 'He's always taken it on himself to watch out for me. I lost my parents when I was in my teens, you see, and his father took me in.'

'Ah, I see.' She hesitated. 'I'm sorry to hear about your parents, I never knew that. I guess there must be a strong bond between you and your cousin because of that—you're a bit like brothers, I suppose?'

'That's right.'

'I make sure he stays on the straight and narrow,' James said with a smile. 'Though I've been away for a while and perhaps I need to catch up with the latest news. I'd no idea he was working with such a beautiful woman.'

Seeing their absorption with one another, Zoe gave a satisfied smile and walked away from them, taking a reluctant Lewis along with her. 'I want you to meet a friend of mine,' she told him.

Ellie set her empty glass down on the bar and glanced at James. 'I thought I caught a glimpse of you earlier,' she murmured. Even then, she'd been on edge without knowing why. Perhaps it was all down to the horrible day she'd had.

He smiled. 'Same here. I saw you come over to the bar a few minutes ago. The truth is,' he confided, 'I've been badgering Zoe to introduce us ever since.' His glance wandered over her, drifting down over the dress that clung where it touched, over her long, silk-clad legs, still crossed at the knee, and came back up to linger on the mass of burnished chestnut curls that lightly brushed her shoulders.

Her skin heated as though it had been licked by flame. No man had ever had this effect on her, turning her body to fire with a single glance.

She struggled to get control of herself, and then looked at him once more. Perhaps she knew him from seeing him around the hospital?

'I heard you've already started working in A and E,' she said, 'but I don't think we've actually met before this, have we? Somehow, I had the feeling…' She added quickly, 'It gets so busy in the emergency unit, I don't always have the opportunity to meet up with new people straight away.'

'I've been working the night shift,' he answered, 'getting to know the lie of the land. Officially, my job as consultant doesn't start for a couple of days.' He studied her once more. 'I feel I do know you already, though. I often watch your TV programme—Your Good Health' He gave her a crooked smile, and there was a mischievous glint in his eye.

'I have to tell you, you're my very favourite TV presenter—you look terrific both on and off camera, and you make medicine seem like child's play. I imagine every red-blooded male who watches the programme secretly yearns for you to be there to mop his brow.'

She laughed. 'I very much doubt that, but thank you anyway. I enjoy doing the show. It makes a change from A and E and I hope I might be doing some good, maybe helping people to look after themselves.'

'I'm sure what you do is extremely useful.' He looked at her empty glass. 'Can I get you a refill?

She shook her head. 'Actually, I was just about to leave. It's been a long day, one way and another. I think I'll ring for a taxi.'

'You're not enjoying the party?' He frowned. 'I wondered if there was something amiss when I saw you earlier. You seemed preoccupied, a little despondent maybe? Is it something you want to talk about?'

'Not really.' She eased herself off the bar-stool, pulling down the hem of her dress and smoothing the material over her hips. His gaze followed the movement of her hands and she said huskily, 'There's no reason for me to spoil your evening by involving you in my problems. I've had a difficult day and I should never have come here, but I didn't want to let Zoe down.'

'I understand.' He frowned. 'I'm sorry you're feeling that way. Maybe I could see you home? I have my car outside. Whereabouts do you live?'

'Ashleigh Meadows, but I don't want to put you out. I'll be fine, really. You should stay and enjoy the party.'

'That's okay. It's no trouble. I didn't intend to stay long anyway.' He glanced at the gold watch on his wrist. 'I have to be on duty at the hospital in just over an hour, and Ashleigh Meadows is on my way.'

'Oh, I see.' She hesitated. It wouldn't hurt to accept his offer, would it? 'Well, in that case, okay. Thanks.' She glanced quickly around the room. 'I'd better take a minute to go and say goodbye to Zoe.'

He nodded and went with her, and a few minutes later they were both sitting in his luxuriously upholstered car, with the air-conditioning switched on and soft music coming from the CD player. She gave him directions to her house, and after driving for a few minutes James turned the car onto the Ashleigh Road. Ellie sat back, lulled by the soft purr of the engine, trying to relax and let the music soothe her battered soul.

James slanted her an oblique look. 'Are you sure you don't want to tell me about it? Whatever it was, it seems to have made a powerful impact on you. Was it personal or something that happened in A and E?'

Her first instinct was to stay closed up and keep things to herself. She certainly wasn't going to tell him her worries about her brother and his constant battle with debt. Noah had phoned her first thing that morning, worried about the way things were going with his finances. She loved her younger brother and would do anything she could to help him out, but his situation troubled her.

But as to the other problem—what was the point in keeping it to herself after all? No one could make it better, but perhaps talking it over with a colleague might help her to come to terms with what happened.

She gave a shuddery sigh. 'A patient died,' she told him. 'I know it happens from time to time, and as doctors we should be able to deal with it, but this was someone I knew—the aunt of an old schoolfriend of mine. I knew her quite well and it was such a terrible shock when she died. It was upsetting that I couldn't save her. I kept asking myself if I did everything possible.'

His brow creased in sympathy. 'I'm sorry. It must have been terrible for you to go through that, especially with someone you knew.' He turned off the main road and the car's headlights picked out the country lane, stretched out like a ribbon before them, throwing the overgrown hedgerows on either side into deep shadow.

She nodded. 'But it was worse for Amelia.

Her aunt virtually brought her up, and she was devastated when she died.' She hesitated, her voice dropping to a hoarse whisper. 'She blames me for letting it happen.'

He exhaled sharply. 'You mustn't take it to heart. It's the shock—sometimes people just can't accept it when a loved one dies. They say and do things while they're emotionally upset and often come to regret it afterwards. I'm sure you did everything you could for your friend's aunt.'

Ellie winced. 'I'm afraid Mel doesn't see it that way. Perhaps if she knew me better she might have more confidence in me, but we lost touch after we left school and moved in different circles.' She frowned, thinking back over what had happened. 'She thinks I should have changed her aunt's medication and sent her for surgery, but I'm not sure if there was anything I could have done to change the outcome.'

'What was wrong with her aunt?' He slowed the car as a cluster of houses came into view, yellow points of light illuminating the village in the darkness.

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