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Meant To Be Hers excerpt

Carly glanced out the bay window overlooking the quiet residential street. A vintage red Mustang had just pulled in to the curb. Her heart leaped as a man, easily six foot three, unfolded himself from behind the wheel. He ran a hand quickly through his wild dark hair and straightened the long black waistcoat beneath the slim-cut, asymmetrical suit jacket in ebony satin.

Finn Farrell, at last. Carly saw him glance at the house and his mouth drew down, tight and sad. She could feel his grief from here and her own chest grew heavy. Then he took a deep breath, unclenched his hands and started purposefully up the front path. He was almost at the steps when around the side of the house, a dog barked. Rufus, Irene’s ditzy Irish setter. Finn changed direction and headed for the side gate, disappearing from view behind a camellia bush in bloom.

Carly carried on dispensing tea to the mourners but her gaze kept drifting to the hall from which Finn would appear if he entered by the back door. She accepted condolences and offered hers in return. Her generous, loving Aunt Irene had touched so many lives.

A warm, furry body nudged the back of Carly’s thigh. Rufus had been distressed all week, restlessly searching the house for Irene and whimpering outside his mistress’s closed bedroom door at night. Now he bumped Carly’s hand, his red, silky body wriggling for attention, already forgiving her for banishing him to the backyard during the reception.

“Where did you come from?” she said, even though she knew Finn must have let him in. “I’m sorry but you have to go—Rufus, no!” The dog rose on his hind legs and planted his front paws on her chest. Tea jostled out of the pot onto her silk blouse. “Rufus, get off! Help, someone!”

“Down, Rufus. Sit.” Finn grabbed Rufus’s collar and hauled the dog off. He looked at Carly, his dark eyes connecting with hers. The years apart dissolved in a moment of shared grief. Then his gaze turned curious as he took her in, cataloging the changes, no doubt. Her blond hair a shade darker, and shorter, just brushing her shoulders. A few extra pounds. Fine lines at the corners of her eyes. He had those, too, as well as laugh lines around his mouth.

Coming as she did from Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Carly had once thought of the poor-but-talented Finn as a modern-day combination of Byron and James Dean—sexy, poetic and tragic. Naturally, she’d grown out of that silly fantasy. Poetic and sexy he might be but he wasn’t tragic, just unreliable.

“Take him out.” She dabbed at the wet splotch on her blouse. “Please.”

“Sorry I missed the service.” Still holding Rufus’s collar, Finn leaned in to kiss her cheek. His warm breath stirred old memories, which she ruthlessly shoved away. “I wasn’t thinking. As soon as I heard, I just got in the car and drove. Should have taken a plane.”

“Irene would have understood.” No matter how badly Finn had let Irene down, she’d always forgiven him. Carly wasn’t quite so generous. She didn’t mind for herself, but her aunt deserved better treatment. She forgot now why she’d wanted him here so badly. He caused ripples, disturbed the equilibrium. People were glancing over at the dog, at the larger-than-life figure Finn cut, shaken out of somnolence.

“How’ve you been?” Finn’s gaze searched hers, oblivious to everyone but her. “You look terrific.”

“Good. Well, not so wonderful at the moment obviously.” She felt her cheeks heat, and she couldn’t take her eyes off his face, drinking in the thick straight slashes of eyebrows, the curling bow of his upper lip, the sexy mole on his right cheek. The eyes that saw everything. Despite his trendy suit, he had a slightly disreputable air about him. How could she possibly feel a tug of attraction after all this time, and everything that had happened between them? 

Or rather, hadn’t happened.

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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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