HOW TO WIN A GIRL IN FIVE DATES
She says she doesn't date doctors. Ever. But brilliant neurosurgeon Noah Anson is determined to get Josie Campbell to go out with him. Noah never met a situation he couldn't control or a woman he couldn't charm until Josie. Winning over the beguiling beauty is a challenge he just can't resist!
Long considered the black sheep of her family, Josie is back in Jackson Hole to try to mend fences. And nothing would bring her parents over to her side like her dating a sexy doctor! But not even Josie can resist Noah's tempting proposal of five dates to win her over. By Valentine's Day, Cupid might just have a closer grip on Josie than she'd ever imagined
About the Author
Since selling her first story to Harlequin Books in 1999, Cindy has been forced to juggle her love of reading with her passion for creating stories of her own. But it's worth it. Writing for Harlequin Special Edition is a dream come true.
Read an Excerpt
"I don't even know you." Josie Campbell gazed up at the tall, broad-shouldered man in bewilderment. "Why would I agree to go out with you?"
"How else can you get to know me?" Noah Anson shot her a charming smile showing a mouthful of straight white teeth. With jet-black hair, a just-short-of-olive skin tone and bright blue eyes, the effect was mesmerizing. Toss in the cashmere topcoat, dark hand-tailored suit and red Herm s tie, and, well, it was quite a tempting package.
From his confident demeanor, Josie surmised the man's past efforts to pick up women had met with great success.
Tempting for most women, Josie reminded herself. Not for her, because of several reasons, including the most obvious. "You're a stranger."
"I introduced myself." Noah spoke with barely suppressed impatience. He gestured with his head toward the counter. "If you require a personal reference, Cole will vouch for me."
Cole Lassiter, owner of the Hill of Beans coffee empire, stood behind the counter. At the moment, the successful entrepreneur was busy instructing one of his staff.
Josie didn't need a reference. Once Noah introduced himself, she'd recognized the name. He was the neurosurgeon who'd joined her father's medical practice last year.
Though she'd been back in Jackson Hole for over a month, this was the first time their paths had crossed.
Just recalling how he'd introduced himself made her smile. Doctor Noah Anson. He'd obviously added the doctor bit hoping to impress her. What he didn't realize was he'd have had a better chance by leaving it off. In her experience, physicians didn't make good boyfriends or relatives.
"Thank you for the dinner invitation." She offered a perfunctory smile and tried to ignore her reaction to the testosterone wafting off him in waves. "But I'm not interested."
Josie offered no further explanation. She'd learned years ago that having a valid reason often made no difference to a man convinced his way was the right way, the only way.
Noah's eyes, as blue as the Wyoming sky, sharpened. She swore she could hear the gears in that analytical mind of his whirring.
Finally, he nodded. "Understood."
Josie was surprised by the easy acquiescence. She'd gotten the distinct impression Noah was cut from the same bolt of cloth as her arrogant father and brothers. She'd expected him to redouble his efforts and turn on the charm. Or, at the very least, press for an explanation.
Feeling oddly disappointed, Josie turned toward the door. "Have a good day, Dr. Anson."
Before she could take a step, the latte was lifted from her hand. "Not so quickly."
Josie whirled and found herself staring into those vivid blue eyes. Eyes that now held a hint of amusement.
She suppressed a sigh and forced a stern expression. "Give me back my drink."
Actually, it wasn't her drink at all. She still held her own caramel macchiato. Noah had grabbed her employer's nonfat latte.
"There's an open table by the window. I'm not through making my case." Without waiting for a response the doctor crossed the crowded shop with long purposeful strides, Pauline's latte in hand.
Josie shot a frustrated glance in Cole Lassiter's direction. The man who, up to now, she'd considered a friend, merely lifted his shoulders. He appeared to be hiding a smile.
There was no reason she couldn't simply order another drink and stroll out the door without a backward glance. An option certainly, though a rather cowardly one. And, other than running away from her family all those years ago, Josie had never been a coward.
Heaving a resigned sigh, she followed Dr. Anson across the small dining area.
Though dressed for the wintery weather in a red plaid coat, jeans and clunky winter boots, she sat in the chair he pulled out with a fluid grace born of years of yoga. She placed her drink on the table, then began unbuttoning her coat. "You're going to buy me another latte. And within the next five minutes or I'll be late for work."
Noah grinned. "Of course."
Her gaze met his. Time seemed to stretch and extend. He really did have a nice smile. Too bad it was wasted on her. Knowing he was associated with her father made her tread carefully.
"Dr. Anson, I'm sure you're a perfectly likeable man. But I'm not interested in dating anyone at this time." Josie lifted the macchiato to her lips and a rebellious streak that had been the bane of her father's existence had her adding, "If you're interested in meeting someone new, may I suggest the produce aisle at the grocery store on the highway? Word is, that's a prime place in Jackson Hole for singles to connect."
Though the smile remained on his lips, his voice took on a clip of annoyance. "I don't have to prowl the aisles of a food market to find a date."
"Of course you don't," she said with a cheeky grin. "You prefer coffee shops."
To her surprise he laughed, a pleasant rumbling sound. Yet, when she started to rise, he reached out and grabbed her hand.
In the second it took Josie to jerk her fingers back, heat shot up her arm.
"You said five minutes." His sexy, deep voice held a hint of the East Coast and a challenge. "More than enough time to change your mind."
Intrigued despite herself, Josie chuckled. "Arrogant much?"
"Confident. There's a difference." Noah took a sip of the nonfat latte and grimaced. "I have a proposition for you."
Those blue eyes focused on her again, sending a shiver through her body. If he wasn't a doctor, wasn't in practice with her father, wasn't
Josie shoved the wistful thoughts aside. Hadn't she learned long ago that wishing things were different, wishing people were different, didn't change reality?
"First you ask me for a date. Now you have a proposition." She settled back in her seat and kept her tone light. "This just gets better and better."
"And this" Noah shoved the nonfat latte aside and motioned to Cole for some coffee "just gets worse and worse."
His disgust with the drink made her smile.
"It's not a proposition in the way you think." He spoke in a low tone, his gaze fixed on hers. "I'll explain."
Hoping she didn't regret the decision, Josie pulled the phone from her pocket and checked the timer. "Four minutes left."
His dark brows drew together in puzzlement. "I can't be late for work."
"Tell Pauline you were with me." Noah waved a dismissive hand. "She'll understand."
Now it was Josie's turn to be confused. "You know my employer?"
"Pauline Bettinger is my grandmother."
Two weeks ago, Josie had not only accepted a part-time position as the wealthy widow's personal assistant, she'd taken a room in the woman's gorgeous home. While Josie knew that Daffodil Prentiss, a local hairstylist, was related to Pauline, she couldn't recall Noah's name ever being mentioned. "Does that mean you and Daffy are related?"
"Daffodil is my sister."
With long straight blond hair and an ethereal quality reminiscent of a flower child from the 1960s, Daffodil could not have been more different from her brother. The hairstylist had arrived in Jackson Hole during the years Josie had been away. "I don't believe I've ever seen you with Daffy."
Noah's expression remained guarded, his blue eyes intense. "We're estranged."
"I'm sorry to hear that." Josie's sympathy was sincere.
She knew all about dysfunctional family dynamics and the pain of estrangement. That was why she'd come home to heal her relationship with her father and oldest brother.
"I'm determined to bridge the gap between us." Noah's jaw lifted in a determined tilt. "To do that, I require your assistance."
Something in Noah's eyes told her, regardless of the reason for the rift, the wall that existed between him and his sister brought him great pain. Josie steeled her heart at the tug it produced. "I make it a point not to get involved in family matters."
"All I'm asking is you vouch for me. I'm hoping if you plead my case that might make a difference."
Josie didn't bother to hide her confusion. "I don't even know you."
Before she could ask for clarification, a young high school girl brought his coffee. Noah slipped the girl a twenty and told her to keep the change. The teen's wide smile and effusive thanks made Josie give Noah the benefit of the doubt. Generosity wasn't something that could be learned.
Her heart softened, but not enough to reconsider. She began to rise. "Well, I need to"
Noah put a restraining hand on her arm. "I still have two minutes."
A quick glance at the phone's screen confirmed that fact. Resigned, Josie sat back down.
"Five dates." Noah paused for a sip of coffee before continuing. "That should be enough time for you to get to know me. That way, when you plead my case with Daffy, you'll feel confident I only have her best interests at heart."
Though Josie knew this man's family problems were none of her concern, she liked Pauline and Daffodil. And she was sympathetic to anyone who wanted to mend broken family ties. After all, wasn't that the reason she'd returned to Jackson Hole?
"Why don't you have your grandmother put in a good word for you?" Josie had seen firsthand how close the two women were and knew Daffodil respected her grandmother's opinion.
"Gram attempted to mediate but her efforts caused a slight rift between her and Daffy that's only recently mended. I won't put her in the middle again." A muscle in his jaw jumped. "Daffywell, let's just say she needs Gram to be on her side."
"Even if that means Pauline can't be on yours?"
Her heart flip-flopped as she realized she and Noah had something in common. He was as much an outsider looking in as she was in her family.
She brought the cup to her lips and took a thoughtful sip. "I'd be willing to mention to Daffodil that I ran into you and you seemed nice."
He shook his head.
"I promise to leave off the part about you stealing Pauline's drink." A smile tugged at her lips as she strove to lighten the mood.
His expression remained somber. "Daf would say you don't know me. She'd be right. At this point, you and I are strangers."
The misery in his eyes pulled at Josie. She had to resist the urge to reach over and give his hand a squeeze. "I hope you and Daffy resolve your differences, I truly do."
"But you won't help me." His voice turned as flat as his eyes.
Though she told herself he didn't deserve an explanation for her refusal, she felt as if she owed him something.
"It's just I have enough family issues of my own." Josie's voice grew thick and she cleared her throat. "I simply can't get in the middle of yours."
Josie thought of Noah often over the next few days. She couldn't stop thinking how he'd looked at her as if she was the only woman in the world.
She'd spoken with Pauline about the encounter with her grandson and his unusual request. A sadness had filled the older woman's eyes as she'd confirmed the estrangement between her two grandchildren.
Pauline had surprised her by adding, "In her own way, Daffodil is as mule-headed as her brother."
When Josie informed her employer she turned down Noah's odd request, Pauline had nodded and said that was her choice. Josie was left with the uneasy feeling her employer wished she'd agreed.
They hadn't spoken of the matter since that day. Pauline kept Josie busy with errands, correspondence and dress fittings. A prominent member of the hospital board, Pauline had been invited to attend a New Year's Eve masquerade ball thrown by Dr. Travis Fisher and his wife, Mary Karen, and was eager to look her best.
The couple's parties were well known. According to Pauline, the Fishers normally preferred casual events but this year they'd decided to go formal. Pauline insisted Josie attend as her plus one.
Josie felt a stir of excitement as the home in the mountains overlooking Jackson came into view. The large two-story house was lit up as bright as the sky on the Fourth of July. Silver glittery lanterns lined the walkway. The home's front door had been festively decorated with black-and-white tulle and two silver masks.
Though limited parking required most attendees to park a good distance away on the side of the mountain road. Travis had hired several town cars to ferry the elegantly dressed partygoers from their vehicles to the front door.
As the sleek black vehicle approached the house, Josie saw men in tuxedoes and women in cocktail-length dresses and long gowns, all wearing masks, streaming through the front doors.
Seated next to her in the toasty warm town car, Pauline cast an admiring glance at the royal blue cocktail-length satin dress visible beneath Josie's fur coat. "I know I said it before, but you look very lovely this evening, my dear. Your mask is incredible."
Her father, Dr. John Campbell, had given in to Josie's pleas and bought her the mask on a family vacation in Venice. The trip had been a halcyon time before hisand her brothers'expectations of her had become too much to bear.
Josie raised her fingers and touched the papier-m ché edge. Multicolored in vivid shades with a gold leaf finish, the mask was anchored to her face with ribbons the same color as her dress.
Pauline's own mask was equally stunning. It had a silver leaf finish and was decorated with crackle glaze, macramé and Swarovski crystals. Her employer looked positively regal in a charcoal-colored gown that was the perfect foil for her silver hair pulled up in a stylish chignon.
"We're going to be the prettiest girls there," Josie declared and made Pauline laugh.
The two women entered the house arm-in-arm. After being greeted by their hostess, Pauline startled Josie by announcing she would meet her back in the foyer at twelve-thirty. According to her employer, mingling on their own would ensure they'd have much to talk about on their way home.
It seemed odd to Josie that the woman had asked her to come as her plus one, only to separate the instant they entered the home. Thankfully, Josie was comfortable being on her own. She'd had plenty of experience. For the past seven years she'd had only herself to rely on.
With head held high, she made her way through the spacious home, confiscating a glass of champagne from a passing waiter and a canapé from another. She gazed in open admiration at the black, white and silver balloons caught up in a shimmery net overhead, waiting to be dropped at midnight.
The great room at the back of the house brimmed with beautiful people of all ages and shapes, each wearing the requisite mask. As Josie wove her way through the crowd, her confidence received a boost when she became aware of several admiring glances being cast her way.
It might sound vain, but she knew she looked her best this evening. Although Josie hadn't been able to banish all the curl from her blond hair, tonight the strands hung in loose waves down her back. Not an out-of-control corkscrew in sight. Her strapless blue dress flattered her figure and fair complexion. Three-inch heels made her legs look longer than they were and brought her height up to five feet seven inches.