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HER GREAT EXPECTATIONS Excerpt


Jack stepped onto the path to his door and stopped. Sienna stood beneath the porch light, her hair a burnished mantle flowing over her shoulders. Her feet were bare. Her shoes and purse dangled from her fingertips. In the space of a few hours she'd come all undone. It was a sexy look.

Friendship was a beautiful thing but he felt a stab of regret for the possibilities he was denying himself.

"The taxi's on its way," she said as he climbed the steps to her side. She shifted her shoes to her other hand. Glanced up and down the street. She was back to being nervous. "It's still warm."

Jack leaned against the pillar supporting the veranda roof. "I'm glad you were able to come tonight after all."

She glanced at her watch. "I wonder where that taxi is."

"It's only a little after 12."

"Oliver didn't know I was going out. I left a note but I've never been gone when he's come home before." As if realizing what this told him about her social life, she shrugged and gave him a sheepish grin. "I don't get out much since my divorce."

"Was it messy?" he asked, sympathetic.

"No more than most, I suppose." Her mouth tightened as she glanced away. "Anthony and I talk. Oliver keeps us amicable."

Why did he get the impression that despite her casual manner, she was hurting inside? "Are you sure you wouldn't like to join us for golf tomorrow?"

"I'd only slow you down. I'm guessing you're pretty good with all the free time you have to spend on sports." She flushed and tugged on a strand of coiled hair. "Sorry. I didn't mean that as a dig."

Maybe not consciously, Jack thought, but he decided not to take offense. Instead, he said mildly, "We don't play competitively. Renita's not much more than a novice."

"Thanks but it's the one day of the week I can spend time with Oliver." Sienna's gaze flicked to his clearly expensive house and back to him. "You really don't work at anything?"

"Life's short," he said flippantly. "I live for pleasure."

Suspicion clouded her eyes. "Then how do you get money?"

"I'm not a drug dealer. Nothing illegal is going on."

"But you must have worked at some time in the past."

"The past is a foreign country. I lost my passport."

"Mr. Mysterious, eh?" She leaned on the porch railing, studying him. "Are you really content with just hobbies?"

He sensed she wanted to like him. He wasn't being egotistical to think that. And he was attracted to her. Yet it was clear she couldn't help judging him. Self-indulgent. Lazy. Hedonistic. He could almost hear the pronouncements flowing through her mind. Those qualities weren't what she, a doctor, stood for.

"I'm not a bad person," he said, attempting to make a joke of it. "In fact, you and I operate by the same code--'First, do no harm.'"

"You don't do harm by having a job."

"I had a job once. I ran a light aircraft charter. I was a pilot. I also built and repaired engines and navigational systems." He gave a twisted smile. "A 'Jack' of all trades, you could say."

"That sounds amazing," she said. "Why did you stop?"

He shrugged. "I got tired of it."

"Really?" she said, dubious. "Will you ever go back to it?"

"No. Never." It had been a great job, one he loved. But he'd screwed up big time. Leanne had paid the price. "Look, it's best not to have expectations of me. I don't like to disappoint."

"Are you warning me off?" Sienna asked.

"No, that's not it. Not exactly."

"It's okay." Her glance went past his shoulder. "There's the taxi." She bent to slip her shoes back on. From somewhere she found a hair tie and tamed the mass of auburn curls into a ponytail.

"Thanks so much for a wonderful evening, Jack. The food was marvelous. Your friends are lovely." She was smiling as she circled around him, one foot on the next step down. "I really enjoyed myself."

"Come again, anytime."

"Love to." Her tone was light.

The taxi's headlights were behind her so he couldn't see if her expression. Did she mean it, or were her cool gray green eyes sending another message entirely?

In a way he supposed he had been warning her off. He'd built a comfortable life, one he could live with. His friends understood him--well, as much as anyone could understand someone who didn't spill his guts at the drop of a hat--and enjoyed him for who he was.

The problem with women was, they always thought they could change you. He was quite happy being himself, thank you very much. He didn't want anyone, not even a red-headed Venus de Milo, rocking his carefully balanced boat.




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All right. So Jack Thatcher has experienced deep, personal tragedy. Dr. Sienna Maxwell gets that. But how can the man drop out of life the way he has, pretending to be happy hosting fabulous dinner parties and puttering in his back shed? That's something she will never be able to understand. Because he's only pretending, right?
Sienna's a shoot-from-the-hip high achiever, who demands no less from everyone around her. Driven and determined to make her new medical practice--and everything she touches--a success, she wants a whole lot more from Jack than charm...and kisses. She wants nothing less than perfect.

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