Friday, 10 June 2011

Author Spotlight - Excerpt from Temp to Permanent

Temp To Permanent Blurb

Because Carina Carrington equates happiness with success, she has a sound business and a nonexistent sex life. To replace her ailing secretary the agency sends over Greg Lawless, a secretive temp without credentials but with pecs to die for and Carina soon discovers he had exceptional office skills.

With this temp comes temptation, and Carina's problems multiply. Her strong attraction to Greg leaves her in breathless confusion. Her longing for his hard body interferes with her work.

Then Carina learns someone, perhaps even Greg, seeks to destroy her company. Torn between her belief in his innocence, and the likelihood of his guilt, Carina fires Greg, but he convinces her to give him twenty-four hours to find the one responsible.
The villain kidnaps Carina. Greg discovers her stalker's true identify and figures out where he's taken her. Her safe rescue makes his day. Then he learns he passed the bar exam, and with his future now secure can propose to his boss and reveal his past.

Temp to Permanent Excerpt

Carina Carrington's fingers flew across the computer keyboard.
Not fast enough.

She'd never meet her schedule without another pair of hands. Of all possible days, why did Rachael pick today to call in sick?
And what happened to her replacement? The temp agency had promised to send a secretary an hour ago. What was keeping her?

At the scrape of a leather shoe sole, Carina's concentration cracked.

"Hello, is anyone here?"

Startled, Carina hit a wrong key. Unless his face matches that heart-stopping voice, I'll throttle this salesman.

She abandoned the keyboard and swiveled around in her chair. Six feet of tanned muscles crossed her carpet. No way would she choke this hunk.

"There's no one at the desk out front," a husky male voice rasped.

Surrounded by masculine scent, Carina riveted her gaze on his business card, then glanced up. Devilish blue eyes locked with hers. She looked away to conceal her unprofessional, very unladylike reaction.

"I'm Gregory Lawless from Data Services. Pat Kilpatrick said to see Mrs. Carrington.

Your receptionist--"
"Has the flu."

This perfect example of centerfold material could not possibly type.

With all the work still to turn out, I'll kill Pat, instead.

Reluctantly Carina pushed back her chair and stood to shake his hand. Good grip, self-confident.

"That's why you're here, Mr. Lawless. I'm short handed today, and it's Miss

She indicated a chair and waited for him to sit. "The agency didn't say they were sending a man." Oops. Maybe employers weren't supposed to say things like that anymore.

"Is that a problem?"

"Only if you can't do the job." She wasn't about to acknowledge how difficult he made the simple act of speech.

He folded his lanky frame into the visitor's chair she'd indicated and placed a folder on her desk. "Ms. Kilpatrick asked me to give you this copy of my résumé."

A deep cleft creased his chin. How could she think with that distraction? With her weakness for cleft chins she couldn't hope to actually work around this man. His devastating smile belonged in a bedroom. In a bar. Anywhere but in her office, ruining her concentration.

Carina sank into her own chair and opened his file to study the brief list of qualifications while steadying her heart beat. San Diego Data Services normally provided exceptional help, but Pat had warned this flu epidemic had also left her short handed. Gregory must be the last healthy soul available.

Healthy? He was that, all right. From what she could see, far healthier than a man had any need to look.

He'd indicated a willingness to work. Any warm body could man the phones in her secretary's absence. What about this unexpected heat? Maybe Mom was right and she was sex-deprived.

Perhaps tomorrow Pat would have a real secretary available. Her mind pictured a prim woman. Someone wearing a skirt whose very presence wouldn't take her mind off her work.

She glanced up from the résumé to study Gregory. Information in the agency's file was scant, little more than name, address and social security number. He looked about her age. Why would a man approaching thirty resign himself to temporary work?

Carina drew a steadying breath. "Have you been with Data Services long?"

He tilted his head, obviously mulling over a reply. "This is my first assignment."

Great. Disgruntled by his admission, she looked away. Few skills and even less experience. Carina stole a glance. The smile hovering about his mouth prevented objective reasoning. "With a busy week ahead of me, there won't be much time for training."

He peered at the scribbled notes on her calendar and lifted one cocky eyebrow, giving him a rakish appearance that almost brought her out of her chair.

"Tell you what. Let's not waste any more time. Give me a chance to help and if I don't meet your requirements, you don't owe me a cent."

Desperation evident in his voice caused her to give him a sharp look. "So you're a gambler, too."

He straightened his back against the chair, then leaned forward and gazed at her. "I've nothing to lose," he admitted with admirable honesty.

Carina pondered everything she would gain if Gregory could fill Rachael's shoes. She wouldn't need to postpone tomorrow's meeting and might still land that contract.

Quick decisions were her trademark. "I'll only expect you to answer the phone. On Mondays it rings constantly."

He grinned, nodding. "How shall I answer?"

Criminey. Would she need to hold his hand and walk him through the office as well?

"Carrington Graphics will do."

"I'll manage. What is the nature of your business? Ms. Kilpatrick said you needed someone in a hurry and didn't take time to fill me in."

"Advertising." From the bookcase behind her desk Carina selected two brochures and unfolded them for Gregory to examine. "This is a terrible time to come up short handed. I've two important presentations scheduled, one tomorrow, and another on Friday. Rachael always handles my prepress. Without her, I'll never be ready."

After a moment, Gregory leaned across her desk to return the brochures. Fragrance, spicy-clean and fresh, teased her nostrils. Aftershave and a recent shower, a masculine scent far too likely to distract her, if she gave it a chance. She wouldn't, absolutely couldn't. Not this week. "I've had some experience with--"

"It's likely the phones will occupy all your time." She couldn't picture his neatly trimmed fingertips flying over a keyboard.
Imagining his hands tangled in some woman's hair though...

Easy. Far too easy.

Cut that out. "Why don't I get you settled at the front desk, Gregory."

He followed her into the outer office. "I prefer Greg."

She ignored the thump of her heart. "Greg it is."

The phone rang. Carina reached for it, only to find Greg's hand already there. He gave her a complacent look and shrugged.

"Good morning, Carrington Graphics," he said into the receiver. "How may I direct your call?" He listened a moment longer.
"Certainly, just one moment, please." He placed the caller on hold. "There's a typesetting question on line one."

"Thank you. I'll take it in my office." She rubbed the circulation back into her fingers as she walked away.

The less she heard Greg Lawless' voice, the more she'd accomplish. Carina decided, and pulled her door closed before lifting the receiver. She had her secretary's work to finish and when she hung up the phone a few minutes later, she settled down to do it.

Several hours passed before Greg's deep voice sounded over her intercom. Startled, she jumped.

"Miss Carrington, Acme Imaging called earlier. Although they promised delivery this morning by nine, they couldn't deliver before three. When I discovered they had your order ready, I sent a courier to pick it up. Nathan's here with it now."

She gripped the phone. If time allowed, she'd keep this circuit open just to hear that seductive voice speaking in her ear. "How did you know about Nathan?"

Greg chuckled. "I found him in the Rolodex. Is that all right?"

He wasn't all good looks and muscle after all. Delighted to learn initiative hid beneath his dark curly hair, she smiled for the first time today.

"Fine. I'll be right out."

Carina unlocked the petty cash drawer, withdrew a ten and re-locked it. She opened her door to sign the charge slip. Nathan gave her his usual appreciative once-over. Smiling, she pressed the tip into the courier's hand.

"Thanks, Nate. I really needed these today."

He pocketed the cash and headed for the door. "Have a good day."

Without those images it wouldn't be.

A yellow package lay on Greg's desk. She opened the envelope and slid out the contents.

"You saved me a lot of heartburn, Greg. Thanks."

His blue eyes failed to reveal his thoughts. "These are your messages. You seemed preoccupied so I took the liberty of screening your calls."

Wise move. She could easily adjust to his thoughtful manner, but found it impossible to ignore his presence. Even at her desk behind closed doors his deep voice had disrupted her thoughts.

She glanced through the stack of pink slips. Cleaners, dentist, a salesman of some kind.

"Good." Carina pulled one from the stack and held it out to him. "I need that suit for tomorrow. Have my cleaning delivered, please. There's nothing else here that can't wait."

"Yes, Miss Carrington."

His submissive reply weakened her knees. "Carina will do fine."

"But Miss Carrington--"

"I insist, and Greg, thanks again for getting those images delivered."

The phone rang and they both stared at it. Greg picked up the receiver, his well-groomed fingers caressing the mouthpiece. Her mouth went dry. He bent his dark head and jotted down a number, lifted his gaze and caught her staring.

He grinned. She blushed and her heart skipped. Four quick steps away from his desk took her to the relative safety behind her office door. She pushed it closed, leaned against it, and shut out his deep, disquieting voice.

What was wrong with her?

It wasn't every day a handsome man shared her office. Regardless, she should be able to carry on with her work. Greg had a job to do. Heaven knows, she had, too.

For a chance to win a free download on Temp To Permanent and an "I need my reading time" T-shirt, email Toni from her website. Winner will be announced on June 30.

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