housekeeper

Dear Reader,

It is impossible for me to watch the images of service men and women returning home without wondering, what next? Do we expect these brave individuals, who, in shielding us, have seen more than we can possibly dream of, to blend seamlessly back into civilian life?

From personal experiences I know that my stepfather never truly recovered from his experiences on the battlefield, and my grandmother, who lost her only son when he was just eighteen, never recovered either.

With this background I talked to women who know what it's like to love a soldier, and I soon realised that Liv and Cade's story had to be told.I hope you enjoy sharing Liv's experiences with her soldier lover, Cade. There are plenty of humorous moments along the way as Liv grows into a strong, independent woman, and touching moments as Cade learns to laugh again. Oh, and it's hot. But when you put two such passionate people together on the same page, what else can we expect?

With my warmest wishes to you all,

Susan



Maid for his bed!

Lieutenant Cade Grant wears his scars well on the outside. He's rugged, strong and gorgeous, but his heart is as hard as they come. Sweet, innocent, and in need of employment fast, Liv will do almost anything. If that means donning her housekeeper's pinny for the brooding Lieutenant then so be it.

As sparks fly between them, Cade's more interested in having his beautiful new housekeeper between his sheets rather than washing them. But the plucky virgin's nervous. The job description has just been changed - the situation vacant is now in his bed - and Cade will teach her everything she needs to know...

ISBN-10: 0373127693 ** ISBN-13: 978-0373127696
October 2008

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Housekeeper At His Beck And Call
© Susan Stephens, October 2008

Excerpt:


He hardly had the temperament of a saint, Cade reistered grimly, cursing a second time when he scalded his wonded hand trying to rescue a second piece of shattered pottery from the sink. He was in a foul mood now

Hearing a knock on the door ratcheted it up a notch or two. He might have known someone from the film crew would forget something.

'Yes?' He flung the door wide. And was forced to adjust his eye line radically down to where a small bedraggled wretch stood at his doorstep wearing some sort of fancy dress.

‘Can I come in?’ she said.

He took in everything at a glance. Something inside him stirred, which required stamping on, plus a stern reminder that appearances could be deceptive. The girl was young with honey-coloured hair hanging in drenched straggles around a heart-shaped face. She wore a tiara, tilted at a precarious angle on her head, and her silk shoes were ruined. What appeared to be a bridal gown and veil were ripped and streaked with mud... and now he could see she’d been crying- whether from relief or grief, he couldn’t know. But one thing he did know- this was not fancy dress. ‘What do you want?’ he asked suspiciously.

‘The job you advertised... The notice on the gate?’

Standing back, he thumbed his stubble. He needed someone, and quickly, but first he had to make sure he’d got this right. He raised his brow as he looked the girl over a second time. ‘You’re applying for the job as my housekeeper?’

‘I know this doesn’t look good,’ she said, mashing her lips together as she struggled to convince him. ‘And of course, I would have preferred to make a proper application, wearing a suit—’

‘But?’

‘But events overtook me.’

Talk about understatement. But she held his gaze steadily enough, and this was hardly a high risk situation. ‘Okay, you can come in.’

‘Do you mind if I get warm?’ she said, walking straight past him to hold her hands in front of the blazing log fire.

‘Go right ahead.’ It was a reasonable request, and she was shaking- with cold or shock, he couldn’t tell. He closed the door and turned back to find her unpinning her veil. Her pale arms glowed pink in the firelight, adding to her air of vulnerability. Where there had been anger and impatience and frustration in his head, now there was only curiosity and more than a flicker of inconveient desire.

Between the flight from her wedding and her arrival here, in the kitchen at Featherstone Hall, everything was a horrible blur—up to now when it had snapped into sharp focus. Her senses were on full alert. And it was all thanks to the man resting against the door with his arms folded and his head tipped back, weighing her up. The power of his gaze, the spread of his shoulders, even his stillness, were arresting. When she had stumbled off the bus and found the notice on the gates advertising the post of housekeeper she had pictured some elderly retainer conducting the interview—not a hunk in jeans and a snug-fitting top with dog tags swinging round his neck. This man was as different from poor Horace—the almost-husband she had left at the altar—as it was possible to be. Stifling a guilty sob as she thought about the look on Horace's face when she had bolted, Liv started to tug at the wedding dress she didn't deserve to wear.

'What do you think you're doing?'

'Taking it off...' The man's voice was low and husky, and had done things to her insides that should be forbidden by law; things that stirred the guilt inside her to the point where she had to confess. 'I've done something terrible.'

'Robbed a bank? Killed someone?'

'Worse.'

'Worse?'

'Really, I have... And now I can't go back.'

'That bad?' He thumbed his stubble once again.

'Can I stay here?'



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