Read An Extraordinary Match (The Match Series Book 3) Online
Authors: Barbara Dunlop
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance
A Match Series Romance
USA Today Bestselling author
An Extraordinary Match
Copyright © 2014 Barbara Dunlop
The Tule Publishing Group, LLC
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Other Books in The Match Series
Excerpt from An Astonishing Match
am Finnegan was
not a romantic man. Four months ago, he’d written a matchmaking algorithm. But it was only an intellectual experiment to humor his friends. Still, today he couldn’t deny the unexpected rush of pleasure at the pairing of his great-nephew with Lizbet Blythe’s granddaughter.
“One for you, Sam!” Daisy Vashon exclaimed from behind his right shoulder. The five of them—Sam, Daisy, JW Sterling, Lizbet and Hannah Sprite—were clustered around the computer screen in his garage at the Sunny Autumn Seniors Community in Port Aidin, Florida.
“Logan Edwards and Jade Korrigan,” Hannah read aloud from behind him.
“Logan’s a bush pilot up in Colorado,” said Sam.
“A bush pilot and a software developer,” JW mused. He was standing slightly back from the group. “Not the strangest match we’ve ever made.”
“Colorado is a long way from New York City,” Hannah pointed out.
“Logan does own an airplane,” said Sam. In fact, he thought his nephew owned a couple of them.
“That’s a long flight in a single engine,” said JW.
“Maybe we send Jade to Colorado instead,” Daisy suggested. She was obviously eager to start planning the group’s next covert undertaking.
“Jillian did say Jade was working way too hard,” said Hannah, referring to a conversation with Jade’s younger sister. “Perhaps she’d like a vacation.”
“I don’t think you understand the mentality of a workaholic,” said Lizbet.
Sam smiled at that. Lizbet had been a consummate workaholic her entire life, giving up family, friends and everything else in the pursuit of her career. He couldn’t say he was all that much different. The decades he’d spent working for NASA had been all-consuming. The organization ran twenty-four/seven, and problems tended to be time sensitive and mission critical.
“You’d have had to drag me kicking and screaming on a vacation,” he told them.
Hannah gave an unconcerned shrug. “So we drag her kicking and screaming.”
“But with stealth,” said JW. “She can’t know what hit her.”
“How exactly does that work?” asked Daisy. Then her voice took on an edge of excitement. “Will you have some of your Special Forces buddies kidnap her in the dead of night?”
“My Special Forces buddies are all pushing seventy,” said JW. “Besides, I think it’s better if we don’t get in the habit of breaking the law.”
Sam scrolled through the information on Jade’s profile. “It looks like she does her software work on a project basis. Maybe we could pay her employer the going rate to send her to Colorado.”
JW frowned. “How is bribery not breaking the law?”
“It’s not bribery,” said Sam. “It’s commerce.”
Lizbet stepped in. “You don’t think she’ll notice there isn’t a software project in Mirror Falls?”
Sam finished his thought. “What I’m saying is, while
might not be in a position to order her on a vacation, her employer is.”
“Why would they do that?” asked Hannah.
“For the money,” said Sam. “If the price is right, I bet they’d find an excuse to send her to rest and recreate in Mirror Falls.”
“Bribery,” JW repeated.
“You won’t find a law on the books against it,” said Sam.
Daisy clapped her hands together. “And Jade gets a great vacation. That’s a bonus. What do they do for fun up there in Mirror Falls?”
“Skiing and snowmobiling in the winter,” said Sam. “Mountain climbing, hiking and fishing in the summer. The area is full of high-end wilderness resorts that attract tourists from all over the world.”
“A tall, hunky bush pilot out there in the middle of the wilderness.” Hannah gave a little purr of appreciation and fanned herself. “Can’t get much sexier than that.”
The other four stared at her in amazement.
“I meant for Jade. But, I’m not dead, you know. I still remember sex.”
Sam moved the discussion forward. “I can speak geek, so I’ll make initial contact with the brass at Seaboard Development.”
“She’s my granddaughter,” said Lizbet. “So, I’ll write the check.”
“Logan is my nephew,” Sam pointed out. He knew Lizbet had considerable financial resources, but he wanted to do his part.
“Then we’ll split the cost,” she agreed. “And we can both pay for the wedding.”
“You really think it’ll work a third time?” asked Daisy, turning her attention back to the computer screen.
“Operation Matchmaker hasn’t failed us yet,” JW stated with authority.
Sam felt a surge of pride in his invention. “That’s what happens when you use real science instead of high-tech snake oil.”
“You’re a genius,” Hannah told him.
“He did put a man on the moon,” said JW.
Daisy laughed. “Now we just need to put a woman in Colorado.”
Jade Korrigan deleted
another e-mail from WNT Incorporated, wishing she’d never pretended to be interested in the company’s job offer. She’d long since turned them down, but it was all but impossible to block unwanted messages from a cybersecurity firm. They kept finding a new way into her in-box, and now she was avoiding their phone calls as well.
She wasn’t looking to leave Seaboard Development. She’d merely been curious about how her skill set stacked up in the marketplace. But now she regretted the impulse. She was worried that her short-tempered boss, Virgil Emmory, would get wind that she’d spoken to the competition.
She hit a key to start a compilation process for her latest software coding then leaned back in her chair to stretch her cramped muscles. It was nearly six o’clock on a Thursday night. She’d been hunched in her cubicle for hours, and she was getting really hungry.
She frowned at the stack of file folders piled high on a corner of her desk, each one representing a different project from a different, anxious client. She wasn’t exactly sure how she’d diverged from database development into security, but these days most of the high-risk projects seemed to find their way onto her desk.
The deli across Sixth Avenue was open until seven. She could grab something there and work for a few more hours. Or she could finish up one more file and head home to watch the latest episode of the police drama
“Jade!” Virgil shouted from the doorway of his office.
She rose to her feet, looking over the maze of soft wall partitions that separated them. “Yeah?”
“Get in here.”
Some of her colleagues peeked over their walls. A couple rolled back in their chairs to glance curiously from their own cubicles.
“What did you do?” asked Cathy Margolis, her next-door neighbor.
“Not a clue,” Jade answered, glancing at the compilation process taking place on one of three screens on her desk. No errors so far. That was good.
“He sounds pissed,” said Cathy.
“He’s always pissed.”
Jade had worked for Virgil for three years now. His fuse was short, but his blow-ups were also mercifully brief. There was a better than even chance that he’d calm down before she even got to his office.
Unfortunately, when she walked in, his brow was still furrowed, and there was a deep frown on his rotund face.
“Hi, Virgil,” she opened tentatively.
“Close the door.”
Jade hesitated. Her boss didn’t normally care who overheard him yelling. This had to be serious, or maybe it was confidential.
Had he discovered she’d spoken to WNT? Was she about to be fired? It hadn’t occurred to her until now, but WNT could conceivably disclose their conversations, count on Virgil hitting the roof, then make her a lowball offer to work for them.
She swallowed as she closed the door behind her. She didn’t want to leave Seaboard Development. Virgil might be a pill, but he mostly stayed out of her way. And she had some very good friends here. Plus, she liked the work. And WNT was starting to freak her out. It was one thing to headhunt, but they were starting to look like stalkers who didn’t take no for an answer.
“Sit down,” said Virgil, still scowling.
“What’s going on?” She slowly lowered herself into the utilitarian chair opposite his cluttered, dark laminate desk.
“You need a vacation.”
It took a moment for the words to penetrate. Then she realized he had to be joking.
“Right.” She nodded. “Sure. Should I go to Hawaii or Florida?”
“No, you’re not. What’s going on?”
He was silent for a second, and a horrible thought crept into her mind. Was vacation a euphemism for fired?
“Colorado,” he said. “I hear the skiing’s great in Colorado.”
“Then I guess mountain climbing.”
“Have you lost your mind?”
Virgil sat forward, his tone turning even and serious. “Jade, I need for you to go to Colorado.”
“Have I done something wrong?” She gave him an opening. If he knew anything about WNT, maybe he’d speak up.
“You’ve been working too hard.”
“Since when is that a problem?”
“It’s not a problem. But I don’t want you to burn out. Colorado, Mirror Falls, all expenses paid.”
“Come again?” She was still waiting for the punchline.
“Mirror Falls. It’s a resort town in the Rocky Mountains.”
“I mean, who would pay? Why would anyone pay for my vacation?”
“None of your concern.”
Her thoughts immediately went to WNT. Was this some kind of bribe? Or would she get on a plane for Mirror Falls, only to disappear into a black site of some quasi-governmental security agency. There had to be a lot of secret bunkers buried in the Colorado mountains.
“It’s absolutely my concern.”
“Fine. Seaboard Development is paying. It’s a new human resources program. One of the guys at corporate took a seminar on employee burnout, and you’ve been identified as a likely candidate.”