It’s Excerpt Wednesday once again! I thought this week I’d mix it up a little and highlight a book from my backlist, namely Our Little Secrets. So here you go!
He shook his head, laughing. “I really did make a bad first impression if you would think—”
“Oh no, you made a very good first impression,” she rushed to cover yet another flub.
He shook his head. “In spite of Cold Springs’ abundance, Miss Baldwin, I am not in the habit of hiring company.”
“And no suitable young lady has offered herself up for the position?” Her cheeks were hot with embarrassment. “I find that hard to believe.”
He stared at her as if she was a jewel in a curiosity shop. “You wouldn’t if you knew the town and its gossip better.”
Her heart and mind raced. One leap of faith and she could change her life. As long as she could keep her past in the past.
“So I take it you would be looking for someone who could help run both a general store and a home.” She set her fork down and looked him in the eye.
“Well,” he mirrored her gesture and set his own fork down, “only if she knew what she was doing.”
“Someone with a college degree, perhaps, and a head for figures?”
“Someone with a bit more sophistication than the locals? Who might be able to carry on a decent conversation over dinner or with clients even?”
A grin spread across his lips and his shoulders relaxed. “That would be a decided advantage.”
“Perhaps someone who wouldn’t ask too many questions about the past as long as not too many questions were asked in return?” Again she tapped her carpetbag with the toe of her boot to reassure herself it was still there.
He smiled in earnest. “Yes, exactly.”
She returned his smile and picked up her fork with an, “Oh,” and took another bite of her lunch.
He was silent as he watched her eat, his eyes dancing with deep consideration. He was struggling with his thoughts, debating with himself. She didn’t blame him. It was one thing to toy with an idea as outrageous as marrying a stranger, no questions asked, but it was a whole different kettle of fish to actually commit to it.
She let him consider, let him think it was his idea. For all she knew it was. He was the one who had invited her for lunch and he had mistaken her for one of Miss Helen’s girls. Miss Helen had insisted that her girls were brides not whores. It could have been the luckiest mistake of her life.
“Miss Baldwin, will you marry me?”
She glanced up to catch the puzzled, triumphant, expectant expression flushing his face. She could practically see his heart hammering in his chest at his gamble. Or maybe that was her own heart.
“I…I think I will.” She forced herself to be cautious, as much as she didn’t want to be. “But would you mind giving me the afternoon to think about it?”
“Not at all.” He nodded, once again the businessman considering a deal. “I’ll arrange for us to have supper at the hotel to talk more in depth. And I can reserve a room there for you if you’d like.”
“That’s very thoughtful of you, Michael.”
Impulsive or not, the facts were the facts. Life as Charlotte Baldwin was a disaster. Life as Charlie West would be a whole new world.
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