High-Powered, Hot-Blooded(9)

By: Susan Mallery

“I was. It’s not traditional.”

“His uncle is Lawrence Patrick. The boxer.”

“I’ve heard of him,” Julie said. “He’s, like, old, but he was really famous.”

Annie had heard of him, as well. “Interesting family,” she said.

“Duncan was raised by his uncle. It’s a fascinating story, one I’ll let him tell you himself. You’re going to be spending a lot of time together.”

Not something Annie wanted to think about as she took the second folder Cameron offered. This one contained a questionnaire she was to fill out so Duncan could pretend to know all about her.

What had she been thinking, agreeing to this craziness? But before she could even consider backing out of the deal—not that she would—Cameron had ushered them all to the stretch limo waiting to take them shopping.

Five hours later, Annie was exhausted. She’d tried on dozens and dozens of dresses, blouses, pants and jackets. She’d stepped in and out of shoes, shrugged at small, shiny evening bags and endured a bra fitting from a very stern-looking older woman.

Now she sat with foil in her hair, watching pink polish dry on her nails. When they’d moved from shopping to a day spa, she’d been relieved to know she could finally sit down.

Cameron appeared with a glass of lemon water and a fruit-and-cheese plate.

“Tired?” he asked sympathetically.

“Beyond tired. I’ve never shopped so much in my life.”

“People underestimate the energy required to power shop.” Cameron settled in the empty salon chair next to her. “Getting it right takes effort.”

“Apparently.” While she’d thought all the outfits had fit okay, he’d insisted the store seamstress tuck and pin until they were perfect.

Cameron handed her a sheet of paper. On it was a list of the outfits, followed by the shoes and bags that went with each. She laughed.

“You must think I’m totally inept, although I’ll admit I’m not sure I could remember this myself.”

“I couldn’t stand for you to clash. Putting a look together requires a lot of skills. It’s why the good stylists make the big bucks.”

“So you’re famous?” she asked.

He smiled modestly. “In my world. I have a few celebrity clients I keep happy. Several corporate types like Duncan, who want me to keep their wardrobes current without being trendy. Not that Duncan actually cares what he wears. He’s such a typical guy.”

“How did you meet?”

Cameron raised his eyebrows. “We were college roommates.”

If Annie had been drinking her lemon water, she would have choked. “Seriously?”

“I know. Hard to imagine. At least we never wanted to hook up with the same person. I was an art history major back then. I lasted a year before I realized fashion was my one true love. I moved to New York and tried to make it as a designer.” He sighed. “I don’t have the patience for creating. All that sewing. So not my thing. I took a job as a buyer at an upscale department store. Then I started working with the store’s really exclusive customers. The rest, as they say, is history.”

Annie tried to imagine Duncan and Cameron sharing a college dorm room, but she couldn’t get her mind around the idea.

“What about you?” he asked. “How did you get involved with the big bad?”

“Is that what you call him?”

“Not to his face. He might hit me.” But Cameron was smiling as he spoke and there was affection in his tone. “So what happened?”

She told him about Tim and the money. “I couldn’t let my brother go to jail,” she said. “Not when there was a chance to save him.”

“Honey, you are too nice by far. Be careful Duncan doesn’t chew you up and spit you out.”

“You don’t have to worry. This is business. I’m not interested in him personally.”

“Uh-huh. You say that now, but Duncan is very charismatic. A friendly word of advice. Don’t be fooled by the polite exterior. Duncan’s a fighter. You’re not. If there’s a battle, he’s going to win.”

“You’re sweet to worry, but don’t. Even if I did fall for him—” something she couldn’t begin to imagine “—he wouldn’t respond. Seriously. I can’t imagine that I’m his type.”

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