Aunt Adelaine's final will and testament said that "Addy Tyler shall inherit all of my estate, including my quirky but very large castle of a house and its current tenant, the very stubborn lawyer, Spenser Reed. The only condition on this will is that Addy be married within the year...."
Sometimes Addy thought it was all a dream. No way was she going to be bulldozed into marriage, like some nineteenth-century Victorian! But then she found herself standing at the courthouse saying "I do" to Spenser, the most gorgeous and sexy man she'd ever met. It was to be a temporary marriage in name only. Then they started talking about the sleeping arrangements....
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By Amy Cousins
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2005 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
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Chapter One"I admit I didn't expect a professional appearance, but I thought at least you'd be clean."
The crisp voice crawled like ice down Addy's spine, drawing her up straighter with each word. Pride and irritation kept her from turning around to respond to the man who'd walked into the law office behind her.
She brushed a hand reflexively over her filthy blue jeans. No sense even trying to straighten her ratty curls. Running her fingers through her hair wouldn't remove the caked mud, although, according to the mirror in her pickup truck, she was fairly sure she'd managed to pick out all of the twigs. The rest of her muck-covered body was definitely a lost cause.
"I told your assistant this was a bad time for me, but she insisted this was the only appointment you had available."
Sharp footsteps on the worn linoleum floor allowed her to pull her body to the side, avoiding the man's passing. As he moved to stand behind the scarred wood desk, she got her first glimpse of the man who'd been leaving increasingly irritated messages on her answering machine over the last month.
She wondered if Mr. Spencer Reed ever cut himself on the sharp creases in his pants. Certainly the suit he wore as if it had been hand sewn for him by a London tailor was worth more than her entire wardrobe. Even his horn-rimmed glasses looked more stylish than anything she'd ever owned. Ignoring the demon in her mind that whispered of a blond Christopher Reeve in Clark Kent mode, she let her gaze roam casually over his face and body in a manner calculated to return insult.
Dark blond hair waving in deliberately casual disarray indicated an excellent barber. His cheekbones screamed good breeding, and that firm mouth surely never uttered words unless it was to bend courts and clients to his will. The emotionless ice-blue gaze made it difficult to look away. She reminded herself that she'd always found her family's uniformly dark eyes to be warm and welcoming. This man, she thought, was easily summed up by a few of her least favorite words.
Slick. Cultured. Upper-class.
Because she couldn't stomach hypocrisy, even her own, she admitted that a couple more words could be added to that list. Compelling. Coolly handsome. The seduction of assurance. If he bothered to turn on the charm, she'd probably be a lost cause.
The mismatch of his appearance with the ratty look of his office momentarily sparked her curiosity. Mr. Sharp-Dressed Man just didn't fit in with these worn and tatty surroundings. She forced herself to ignore the temptation to speculate on his circumstances.
The trust fund on legs was still speaking. She dragged her attention back, annoyed further that he seemed to take no notice of her rudeness.
"I am very busy, and most people find ten o'clock to be a perfectly civilized hour for a business meeting."
"I'm not most people."
Addy kept a throttling grip on her temper. She wished she possessed the same control over the flush she felt heating up her cheeks. Her awareness of being inappropriately dressed combined with his implication that his time was far more valuable than hers had kindled a fire of embarrassment and anger that she knew he read on her face.
"Listen, Mr. Reed. You called. I came. What's so important I had to interrupt my job for you?"
"Your job. Would that be ladies' mud wrestling?"
Her vision blurred. Addy was dimly aware that she might have spit at him in her struggle to get the sharp-edged words out fast enough. She glanced at his stunned silence then grabbed the closest solid object. Only his quick grip on her arm stopped her from pitching his etched-marble nameplate at his elegant face.
"I'm sorry." The words took a long moment to penetrate the haze of her anger. "I'm sorry. That was completely uncalled for and very unprofessional. I've had a long, frustrating morning, but that is no excuse for taking out my bad temper on you. Can we begin again? I'm Spencer Reed. Would you care for a cup of coffee?"
His outstretched hand across the desk was meant as a peace offering, she supposed. And the lopsided grin was meant to be soothing. She managed to keep her mouth shut, but enjoyed thinking about where he could stick his charm.
"Save it for someone you can still make a good impression on," she snapped. "What do you want?"
He sighed and eyed her briefly over the tops of his glasses, as if debating whether to continue his apologies. She caught herself before she could ask him to take the glasses off so she could see if he looked as good without them as he did with them on. After a moment, he shrugged and lifted a stack of legal documents off the corner of his desk. With a gesture, he indicated the armchair facing the desk.
Addy shook her head. Whatever business he had with her, she preferred to hear it standing. Getting cozy was not an option.
"I hope I'm not the bearer of bad news," he said slowly.
"Last month Mrs. Adeline O'Connell passed away in her sleep."
A glancing wave of shock made her falter for a moment. Although she'd not seen the woman since she was a baby, Addy was her great-aunt's namesake. She hadn't known of her death. Carefully schooling her face to blankness, she replied briskly.
"My condolences to her family."
"You are her family." The stern look he shot at her felt like a scolding.
"Mr. Reed, the last time I saw my great-aunt, I was in diapers. I haven't heard from her since, and I certainly don't consider her a part of my family." She clipped the words out as she glanced at the men's watch on her wrist. There was still time to return to her crew and try to clean up the disaster she'd left behind at the construction site.
"Perhaps you don't. However, Mrs. O'Connell apparently considered you a part of hers. The reading of her will took place immediately after her funeral, and she has left you a significant bequest."
With one hand, he plucked a document off the top of his stack and placed it on the desk in front of her.
"Is that what this is all about?" Her astonished laugh echoed in the sparsely furnished room. "I could have saved us both a lot of trouble if you'd bothered to mention that in your messages." She pushed the papers right back at him. "I'm not interested in anything that woman wanted to give me."
"Don't be too hasty, Ms. Tyler. Think of it as your Free Parking jackpot."
It took her a moment to place the Monopoly reference.
"Oh, shut up." The words she'd repressed at the mention of Adeline O'Connell burst out of her like an erupting volcano. "That woman treated my mother like dirt her entire life. She took pleasure in hurting people. Took pleasure in trying to make people feel ashamed of themselves." She grabbed her backpack from the floor, where she'd originally dropped it. "I wouldn't take anything of hers if you plated it in gold and tied it up with a pink ribbon. Thanks, but no thanks. I'm out of here."
Excerpted from Sleeping Arrangements by Amy Cousins Copyright © 2005 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was a delightful addition to the Tyler's series! This is the story of Addy and Spenser. Addy is a civil engineer who has inherited a huge house from an estranged great aunt. The catch is that she must be married in order to inherit it. Spenser is Addy's great aunt's lawyer and willing to help Addy out in this regard. But can a temporary marriage turn into something real? I really enjoyed this book. It was great to have a nice guy hero for a change, and that's exactly what Spenser is. He's funny, he's sweet, he's caring and although they don't hit it off so well at their first meeting (under strained circumstances to be fair) he goes out of his way to show Addy that he's willing to go the distance with her (in more than just the bedroom) if she'll let him. Addy is a wonderful heroine, feisty and full of life. She resents the situation she's been put into but at the same time the sexual attraction she feels for Spenser overwhelms her and she starts to let him into her life. Addy's other family members are an important part of the story as well, showing the close knit relationships she has with her siblings and mother. That they accept Spenser so readily is frustrating to her as she doesn't want to admit to herself that he is becoming an important part of her life. The development of their relationship from wary uncertainty to friendship to love was fun to read. There were even parts that brought tears to my eyes as Addy begins to accept that Spenser's feelings for her run as deeply as he says they do. I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading more from this author. 5 stars!