With: Eileen Dreyer
Quinn Rutledge has been hired to remodel historic Hartley Hall into a 5-star hotel.
Ian Matthews, a Special Forces officer in the Queen's Protection service, is vetting the hall's security for a secret international meeting, and presents himself to Quinn as a corporate officer checking on her progress.
All seems simple enough, until the pair uncover a crazed band of terrorists, a destructive ghost with an odd sense of humor, and an inconvenient attraction to each other.
Neither have time for love, and Ian is the embodiment of everything that went wrong with Quinn's first marriage. But Love doesn't care.
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He was about to reach behind him for the door, intent on closing her out, when she turned to him. She opened her mouth and then, suddenly, her eyes. She was looking over Ian's shoulder.
Ian's reflexes were the best, but this time he never stood a chance. Before he could move, the heavy oak door slammed into his back like a battering ram, pushing him right at Quinn. His choices were to grab on to her or fall on his face. He grabbed on to her. And then he fell on his face.
"Urn.... excuse me."
It was all Quinn could manage with the wind knocked out of her. Ian had landed right on top of her, his weight mashing her against the floor. The slamming door still echoed faintly down the hallway, and down in the foyer, Copenhagen barked. Quinn lay flat on her back trying to get a breath, trying to get her mind to work as fast as her heart. Trying to quell the sudden chills racing through her from the intimate contact of a very virile man.
"Sorry, "Ian mumbled in her ear, the whisper of his breath sending shivers down her legs. His face was in her hair, his body stretched out over hers, his arms still around her.
Quinn couldn't imagine what she should do next. She couldn't believe what she wanted to do. Her heart was thundering, and it certainly wasn't from the ghost's latest surprise. She actually fought the urge to turn her face to his, to nuzzle the rich gold of his hair.
"No... no problem," she managed, acutely uncomfortable. "I'd really like to move, though, if it's all the same to you."
He didn't budge. Quinn could hardly feel him breathing against her. "In a moment. Do you mind?"
She turned her face toward him. "I beg your pardon?"
She'd been in England too long. Back home it would have sounded more like, "What the hell do you mean, do I mind?" But then she realized how tight his voice sounded, and remembered that limp.
"No," she obliged instead, trying to relax a few muscles. "No problem. Anything I can do?"
She couldn't believe she was being so calm. Here she was lying on the floor in a strange man's arms and they hadn't even had supper together yet.
"Thank you, no."
Quinn wasn't quite sure what to do next. Her own arms were still around Ian's back, and she could feel the quiver of taut muscle. She smelled wood smoke and heard the rasp of his breathing. Those curious little chills still raced up and down her back, multiplying, snaking along her limbs.
"Your leg?" she ventured carefully, eyes rigidly to the ceiling molding where Antique Ceiling White had been untidily splattered against Old Ivory.
"Feel free to curse," she suggested diffidently. It was certainly something she was considering.
He actually smiled. Quinn could feel it against her cheek. "Wouldn't be sporting, now, would it?"
Quinn chuckled. "I wasn't aware we were on a playing field."
It took him a second to make up his mind. His voice wasn't quite as robust as the colonel's, but Ian's repertoire was at least as impressive, leaving Quinn with the impression that he'd also spent his share of time in the military. Either that or he was an ardent soccer fan.
"Better?" she asked without moving.
Quinn fought the urge to stroke that rich soft hair that tickled her cheek. She considered curling her arms just a little tighter around that rock-solid back.
The thought died stillborn. Without warning, Ian pushed himself up to a sitting position.
She stared at him, stunned. Considering the fact that he'd evidently been disabled enough to keep him from moving out of a strange woman's arms for what had seemed like at least an hour, he looked pretty damned composed. His face was a bit pasty, but his eyes sparkled with the most annoying humor. And Quinn was still lying on the floor with the smell of his hair in her nostrils, wondering why she should resent his moving.
"Need a hand up?" he asked, reaching over. “I'd like to continue looking about. But first, I need a change of clothing.”
It took Quinn a minute, but she reached for his hand.
His pull was easy and strong, not a hint of discomfort marring his classic features. Stiff upper lip, hell, Quinn thought. The way this guy healed he should have been a football player.
Then he smiled again. "Your hair smells wonderful, by the way."
Quinn froze. He still held her hand in his callused one, and he looked down on her with those crystal-gray eyes. And Quinn, who had spent the majority of her life avoiding complications just like Ian, found herself enchanted.
"Thank you. Uh... the chapel in fifteen minutes then?"
I'll be the one praying for sanity.
"Has all the elements of a good British mystery and a ghost story combined. A jolly good story!" ~Inside Romance
KORBEL CLASSICS: HUMOROUS SERIES, in order
The Ice Cream Man
Isn't It Romantic?
A Prince of a Guy
The Princess and the Pea
A Fine Madness
ALSO by Eileen Dreyer:
If Looks Could Kill
New York Times bestselling, RWA Hall of Fame author Eileen Dreyer has published 31 romance novels in most genres, 8 medicalforensic suspenses, and 10 short stories.
2015 sees Eileen enjoying critical acclaim for her foray into historical romance, the Drake’s Rakes series, which Eileen labels as Regency Romantic Adventure that follows a group of Regency aristocrats who are willing to sacrifice everything to keep their country safe. She is also working on her first nonfiction book, TRAVELS WITH DAVE, about a journey she's been taking with a friend's ashes.
A retired trauma nurse, Eileen lives in her native St. Louis with her husband, children, and
large and noisy Irish family, of which she is the reluctant matriarch. She has animals but refuses to subject them to the limelight.