MUCH ADO ABOUT MARRIAGE Harlequin Yours Truly by Shawna Delacorte reissued by Harlequin in ebook
G-EXCERPT #1: (opening)
“Hey! What’s with all the racket?” The angry tone matched the disagreeable utterance. “Is it absolutely necessary for you to be banging on my wall?”
The sound startled Ashley Thornton. She jerked her head in the direction the voice came from and saw its very masculine owner framed in her opened front door. The stranger’s voice projected a combination of perfected smoothness and a hint of the thickness associated with someone who’d just woken up.
“I’m sorry.” Her tone conveyed a bit of an edge as she leaned the picture against the wall, set the hammer on the table and glanced at her watch. Four o’clock in the afternoon did not seem like a time when a little noise should be as bothersome as this grumpy, though good-looking, man professed. “I didn’t realize I was disturbing anyone. I was trying to hang some pictures.” For some inexplicable reason she felt the need to add, “I’ve just moved in,” as if the jumble of boxes strewn around the studio apartment did not speak for themselves.
She examined the man in her doorway even more closely. Something about his persona, some sort of magnetic aura that surrounded him, told her everything she needed to know. She used to be engaged to his type. The signs were all too familiar to her—his irresistible looks, his arrogant behavior. This was a man who clearly partied too much and who probably had a string of casual affairs, one-night stands and simultaneous girlfriends to his credit. Or, more accurately, to his discredit.
She noticed the way his gaze darted around the room. He seemed to be searching for something, but she wasn’t sure what.
Britt Carlton surveyed the scene, carefully taking in everything. His anger softened considerably. He had only gotten to sleep four hours earlier and his head felt as large as a watermelon, neither of which were this woman’s fault. If only he had been scheduled for a flight, he could have begged off from attending the bachelor party. Besides, bachelor parties reminded him of weddings. A shudder ran through his body at the memory of his own near nuptials. Now that was a lesson he had learned the hard way, but a lesson that had stuck. As far as he was concerned, marriage was a thoroughly repugnant topic to be avoided if at all possible.
“So I see.” His expression softened and then he flashed the most dazzling smile Ashley had ever seen. “I didn’t mean to yell. You woke me from some much-needed sleep.”
“Oh?” She crossed the room toward him. “Do you work nights?” Her first impulse was to make a caustic comment about it not being her fault that he had been out carousing all night, but she thought better of it. There was no reason to create an awkward scene with a neighbor before she even settled into her new apartment.
“No, just a bad night that lasted too long.” He extended his hand toward her. “I’m Britt Carlton, your next door neighbor.” He cocked his head to one side, indicating the direction of his apartment. “Welcome to the building.”
“Thank you. I’m Ashley Thornton.” The warmth of his touch tingled her senses as they shook hands. He was even better looking up close. His silver eyes, though slightly bloodshot, sparkled as he smiled—a smile that seemed to come easy to his sensuous mouth, blending perfectly with is handsome features.
She stepped back from the front door. “Excuse my lack of manners.” Even if he had been tactless in chastising her unjustly, she would show him she was above it. “Please, come in.” She picked up a box from a chair in order to make a place for him to sit.
“Here, let me get that for you.” He took the box from her and set it on the floor as his gaze slowly drifted over her. Britt Carlton had had lots of practice in sizing up women.
He looked around the room at all the cartons. “Would you like some help? Tote that barge, left that bale…” He glanced toward the campaign couch that doubled as a bed—the brass back and side railings polished to a high gloss, the couch back cushions resting on the floor—and gave her a mischievous grin and a wink. “I’d be happy to help you make up the bed.”
She tried to suppress a grin, but did not quite make it. His glib comments, charming manner and subtle innuendoes seemed to come easily to him. Yet more evidence of the womanizer she suspected him of being. The corners of her mouth turned up slightly. “You’re much too kind, and I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate your generous offer, but I think I can manage that one by myself.”
“Never let it be said that I neglected my gentlemanly duties by not offering to help a lady in distress.”
“That vicious rumor will never escape these lips.”
His gaze dropped from her eyes to her mouth. Her pink lips were slightly parted, tantalizingly curled upward at the corners and much too tempting. He felt the tightness across his chest. It was a mouth that simply begged to be kissed. He tried to project a casual outer manner, even though it was a far cry from what was going on inside him. “Exactly what would escape those lips?”
MUCH ADO ABOUT MARRIAGE, a Harlequin Yours Truly by Shawna Delacorte, is a Harlequin reissue in ebook available at http://ebooks.eharlequin.com (do search for author name Shawna Delacorte). Also available at Barnes and Noble in NookBooks www.bn.com and Amazon for Kindle www.amazon.com Information is available on my website www.shawnadelacorte.com
WHEN BRITT MET ASHLEY
Britt Carlton wasn’t looking to fall in love—he’d been there, done that…and didn’t want to do it again! Then Ashley Thornton moved in to his apartment complex, all smiles and sass—and incredibly sexy—and Britt knew there was only one safe course of action: they had to be strictly friends. Nothing more. Uh-uh, no way.
No matter how hard they resisted the pull between them, no matter how vehemently they rejected the idea of love and marriage, Britt and Ashley couldn’t get away from one inescapable fact: they might have started out as just friends, but that just wasn’t enough anymore….