Patience Rush has never wanted a knight in shining armor. She's perfectly happy cooking and cleaning for her elderly charge. Here Patience feels safe, secure and protected for the first time ever.
Until rich and incredibly gorgeous Stuart Duchenko arrives, determined to figure out his great-aunt's unlikely housekeeper! He's sure Patience is hiding something but what?
Except as this unlikely pair grows closer, Patience realizes that letting go of her past might be the key to a blissful future with Stuart
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How long did it take to examine one little old lady? Patience paced the length of the hospital emergency room for what felt like the hundredth time. What was taking so long?
"Excuse me." She knocked on the glass window separating the admissions desk from the rest of the emergency waiting area. "My grandmother has been back there for a long time." She figured the lie would get her more sympathy than saying "my employer." Luckily there'd been a shift change; the previous nurse on duty would have called her on it. "Is there any way I can find out what's happening?"
The nurse gave her a sympathetic smile. "I'm sorry, we're really busy today, and things are backed up. I'm sure a doctor will be out to talk with you soon."
Easy for her to say. She hadn't found her employer crumpled at the foot of a stairwell.
Ana's cry replayed in her head. Frail, weak. If only she hadn't been in the other room if only she hadn't told Nigel he needed to wait for his dinner, then Ana wouldn't be here. She'd be having her tea in the main salon like she did every afternoon.
Patience couldn't help her sad, soft chuckle. A year ago she didn't know what a salon was. Goes to show how much working for Ana had changed her life. If only Ana knew how she'd rescued Patience, taking her from the dark and dirty and bringing her into a place that was bright and clean.
Of course, Ana couldn't know. As far as Patience was concerned, her life started the day she began cleaning house for Anastasia Duchenko. Everything she did beforehand had been washed away.
The hospital doors opened with a soft whoosh, announcing the arrival of another visitor. Immediately, the atmosphere in the room changed, and not because of the June heat disrupting the air-conditioning. The conversations stilled as all attention went to the new arrival. Even the admissions nurse straightened. For a second, Patience wondered if a local celebrity had walked in. The air had that kind of expectancy.
His tailored shirt and silk tie screamed superiority as did his perfect posture. A crown of brown curls kept his features from being too harsh, but only just. No doubt about it, this was a man who expected to be in charge. Bet he wouldn't be kept waiting an hour.
The man strode straight to the admissions window. Patience was about to resume her pacing when she heard him say the name Du-chenko.
Couldn't be a coincidence. This could be the break she needed to find out about Ana. She combed her dark hair away from her face, smoothed the front of her tee shirt and stepped forward. "Excuse me, did I hear you ask about Ana Duchenko?"
He turned in her direction. "Who's asking?"
For a moment, Patience lost the ability to speak. He was looking down at her with eyes the same shade as the blue in a flame, the hue so vivid it couldn't possibly be real. Lit with intensity, they were the kind of eyes that you swore were looking deep inside your soul. "Patience," she replied, recovering. "I'm Patience Rush."
She didn't think it possible for his stare to intensify but it did. "Aunt Anastasia's housekeeper?"
His aunt. Suddenly Patience realized who she was talking to. This was Stuart Duchenko, Ana's great-nephew, the one who called twice a week. Actually, as far as she knew, the only Duchenko relative Ana talked to. Patience didn't know why, other than there'd been some kind of rift and Ana refused to deal with what she called "the rest of the sorry lot." Only Stuart, who managed her financial affairs, remained in her good graces.
"I thought you were in Los Angeles," she said after he introduced himself. Ana said he'd been stuck there for almost a year while some billionaire's family argued over a will.
"My case finished yesterday. What happened?"
"Nigel happened." Nigel being Ana's overly indulged cat.
She could tell from Stuart's expression, he didn't find the answer amusing. Not that she could blame him under the circumstances. She wondered, though, if he would find the story amusing under any circumstances. His mouth didn't look like it smiled much.
"He was in the foyer meowing," she continued. "Letting everyone know that his dinner was late. Near as I can guess, when Ana came down the stairs, he started weaving around her ankles, and she lost her balance."
He raised a brow. "Near as you can guess?"
Okay, the man was definitely an attorney; Patience felt she was on trial with all the questions. Of course, that could also be her guilty conscience bothering her. "I was in the dining room polishing the silver. I heard Ana cry out, but by the time I got there, she was already on the floor." She shuddered, remembering. The image of Ana crumpled at the foot of the stairs, moaning, wouldn't leave her soon.
Ana's nephew didn't respond other than to stare long and hard in her direction before turning back to the admissions nurse. "I'd like to see my aunt, please," he said. It might have been said softly, like a request, but there was no mistaking the command in his voice.
The nurse nodded. "I'll see what I can do."
Finally, they were getting somewhere. "I've been trying to get an update on Ana's condition since we arrived, but no one would tell me anything."
"Nor would they," he replied. "Privacy laws. You're not family."
Well, wasn't somebody feeling territorial. Never mind that she was the one who'd brought Ana in and filled out the admissions paperwork. Anyone with two heads could see she cared about the woman. What difference did it make whether she was family or not?
She had to admit, Ana's nephew wasn't at all what she expected. Ana was always talking about how sweet "her Stuart" was. Such a pussycat, she'd coo after hanging up the phone. The man standing next to her wasn't a pussy anything. He was far too predatory. She could practically smell the killer instinct.
Apparently, his singlar request was all they needed, because less than a minute passed before the door to the treatment area opened, and a resident in pale green scrubs stepped out.
"Mr. Duchenko?" He headed toward Stuart, but not, however, before giving Patience a quick once-over. Patience recognized the look. She folded her arms across her chest and pretended she didn't notice. The trick, of course, was to avoid eye contact. Easy to do when the man wasn't looking at your eyes to begin with.
"I'm sorry to keep you waiting," the doctor continued. "We were waiting for the results of your great-aunt's CAT scan."
"How is she?"
"She's got a bimalleolar fracture of her left ankle."
"Bi what?" Patience asked, her stomach tightening a bit. Hopefully the medical jargon sounded more serious than it actually was.
The doctor smiled. "Bimalleolar. Both the bone and her ligaments were injured."
"Meaning what?" Stuart asked the same question she was thinking.
"Meaning she's going to need surgery to stabilize the ankle."
Surgery? Patience felt horrible. She should have been paying closer attention. "Is it risky?"
"At her age, anything involving anesthesia has a risk."
"She's in terrific health," Patience told him, more to reassure herself than anything. "Most people think she's a decade younger."
"That's good. The more active she is, the easier her recovery will be. You know, overall, she's a lucky woman to have only broken her ankle. Falls at her age are extremely dangerous."
"I know," Stuart replied. For some reason he felt the need to punctuate the answer with a look in her direction. "May we see her?"
"She's in exam room six," the doctor replied. "We'll be taking her upstairs shortly, but you're welcome to sit with her in the meantime."
Exam room six was really a curtained area on the far left-hand side of two rows of curtains. Stuart pulled back the curtain to find Ana tucked under a sheet while a nurse checking the flow of her IV. The soft beep-beep-beep of the machines filled the air. Seeing Ana lying so still with the wires protruding from the sleeve of her gown made Patience sick to her stomach. Normally, the woman was so lively it was easy to forget that she was eighty years old.
"We just administered a painkiller, so she might be a little out of things," the nurse told them. "Don't be alarmed if she sounds confused."
Stuart stepped in first. Patience followed and found him standing by the head of Ana's bed, his long tapered fingers brushing the hair from the elderly woman's face. "Tetya? It's me, Stuart."
The gentle prodding in his voice reminded her of how she would wake her baby sister, Piper, before school. It surprised her. He honestly didn't seem like the gentle type.
Ana's eyelids fluttered open. She blinked, then broke into a drunken smile. "What are you doing here?"
"That fallalert necklace you refuse to wear notifies me when 911 gets called. I was on my way back from the airport when I got a message."
The smile grew a little wider. "Back? Does that mean you're home for good?"
"I missed you, lapushka"
"I missed you, too. How are you feeling?"
"Good, now you're here." Her gnarled hand patted his. "Is Nigel okay?"
"Nigel is fine."
"He was a naughty boy. Make sure you tell him I'm disappointed in him."
"I'll let him know." There was indulgence in his voice.
"Don't make him feel too guilty. He didn't mean it." The older woman's eyelids began to droop, sleep taking over once again. "He's stubborn, like you."
"You go ahead and get some sleep, Tetya. I'm back home now. I'll take care of everything."
"Such a good boy. Not at all like your grandfather, thank goodness." She closed her eyes only to open them wide again. "Patience?"
Until then, Patience had lingered at the foot of the bed, not wanting to crowd Ana any more than necessary. Upon hearing her name, she drew closer. "Yes, Ana?"
"There you are," Ana replied. "Thank you."
"You don't have to thank me," she said.
"Yes, I do," the older woman insisted. "You take such good care of me."
Out of the corner of her eyes, she saw Stuart shift his weight and felt the moment his gaze slid in her direction. She kept her attention on Ana and pretended she couldn't see him. "I was only doing what any person would do. Now, why don't you get some rest?"
"Take care of Nigel while I'm here?"
She assumed Ana meant for her nephew to help take care of Nigel. Either that or this was the confusion the nurse mentioned, because the man next to her definitely didn't need taking care of. Certainly not from someone like her.
From the tick in his cheek, Stuart thought the same thing.
They stayed until a different nurse came to check Ana's vitals. The small space was barely big enough for two visitors, let alone three, so Patience stepped outside. To her surprise, Stuart followed.
"You know what's crazy?" she remarked. "That foolish cat causes her to break her ankle and he's still going to get gourmet cat food for dinner." A dinner that, she realized as she did the math in her head, was now several hours late. Hopefully he didn't kick cat litter all over the kitchen floor in retaliation. Or worse, break her ankle.
Stuart was watching her again, his face as dour as before. Apparently drawing the exam room curtain closed off more than Ana's bed. "Are you positive Nigel tripped Ana?" he asked.
That was dumb question. "Of course, I'm sure," she replied. "I mean I don't know for certain. But, it was dinnertime, and the cat does have this annoying habit of bothering the nearest warm body when he wants to eat. Why are you even asking?" Ana had already told him that the cat had caused the accident.
"Just want to make sure I have all the facts."
Facts? For crying out loud, he sounded as if they were in one of those hour-long detective dramas. "Trust me, you've got all the facts. Nigel is one horrendous pest." Not to mention spoiled rotten. "Besides, who else would trip her? I was the only other person in the house and I "
She glared up at him through her bangs. "You think I had something to do with Ana's accident?"
"Why would I think that? Ana blames Nigel."
"Because Nigel tripped her." His mistrust was serious. Unbelievable.
No, actually, it was very believable. A guy like him, used to the cream of everything. Of course, he'd suspect the help. "Are you suggesting your aunt is lying?"
"Then why would I be? Lying, that is."
"Did I say you were lying? I told you, I was simply gathering facts. You're the one who read deeper meaning into my questions." Immediately, she opened her mouth to protest, only to have him hold up a finger. "Although," he continued, "you can't blame me if I am suspicious."
Oh, couldn't she? The guy was practically insinuatingnot practically, he was insinuating that she had pushed a helpless little old lady down a flight of stairs. "And why is that?" She folded her arms across her chest. This she had to hear.
"For starters, Aunt Ana hired you directly while I was in Los Angeles."
So that was it. The man was territorial. "In other words, you're upset because Ana didn't talk to you first."
"Yes, I am." Having been expecting a denial, Patience was surprised to hear him agree. "Normally, I vet my family's employees and you, somehow, managed to bypass the process. As a result, I don't know a damn thing about you. For all I know, you could be hiding some deep, dark secret."
Patience's insides chilled. If only he knew
Still, no matter what questionable decisions she'd made in her life, there were lines she'd never dream of crossing. Hurting a defenseless old lady being on top of the list. "You're right," she told him, "you don't know me."
Yanking back the curtain, she returned to Ana's side.
My, my, quite the bundle of moral outrage aren't we? Stuart ignored the twinge from his conscience as he watched Patience sashay behind the curtain. He refused to feel guilty for taking care of his family. After all, until eight months ago, he'd never heard of Patience Rush. Suddenly, the housekeeper was all his aunt could talk about. Patience this, Patience that. No need to worry about me, Stuart. Patience will take good care of me. Patience is moving into the brownstone. And the final straw Patience takes care of writing out the checks now. With Aunt Ana incapacitated, Patience would have an awful lot of power. Or rather, she would have, if he hadn't come home. He kicked himself for not being around the past eleven months. Now his aunt was attached to a stranger he knew nothing about. Ana might be sharp for her age, but when all was said and done, she was still an old woman living alone who had a soft spot for sob stories. Her big heart made her vulnerable to all sorts of exploitation.
It certainly wouldn't be the first time a pretty young thing had tried to grab a piece of the Duchenko fortune.
Unfortunately for Miss Rush, he was no longer a lonely twenty-year-old looking for affection. Nor was he still naive enough to believe people were as guileless as they appeared. Ana was the only family he had left. He'd be damned if he'd let her be burned the way he had been.
There was the rustle of a curtain, and Ana's gurney appeared on its way toward the elevator. As she passed by, the older woman gave him a sleepy wave. Stuart grabbed her hand and pressed the wizened knuckles to his lips. "See you soon, Tetya," he whispered.
"The surgical waiting area is on the third floor," the nurse told him. "If you want to stay there, we can let you know as soon as they're finished."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Loved this story very much. Always nice to have a happy ending for people that well deserved it. Fun story.
Sometimes it just takes being in the mood for a particular storyline in order to fully appreciate it. Apparently that was the case for me while reading A Millionaire for Cinderella, as I did enjoy this 256 page, mildly angst-filled Harlequin contemporary romance. Admittedly, it was the refreshingly romantic cover that first caught my attention. All too often romance authors choose risque over classy when writing and selecting book covers. It was the book summary, however, that reeled me in. Though the synopsis pretty much reveals the gist of the story, there are enough twists and turns along with witty banter and likeable characters to make this sweet, clean romantic tale engaging. The author’s writing style seemed to flow effortlessly, and she did a good job with character development and keeping the storyline focused. My only complaint would be I wish the main heroine’s secret had been something else. Overall, if you are looking for a short romance that is not dark, twisted, or steamy to cleanse your reading palate, you might want to consider A Millionaire for Cinderella. This one worked for me. Series: In Love with the Boss (Book #1), Author: Barbara Wallace (This review is based on ARC e-book generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest, unbiased opinion.)
What caught my attention and tempted me to read Barbara Wallace's A Millionaire for Cinderella was the concept. Every woman dreams of having her own fairy tale. Ana has a good heart and is a good person she is fond of her job and the woman she works for. Stuart is not a person who wears his heart on his sleeve and he has a hard time trusting. Ana looks for the bright side and Stuart is more reserved in his opinions and feelings. An endearing story with a little bit of fairy tale magic mixed in. I received A Millionaire for Cinderella for an honest review.