Read Ms. Match Online

Authors: Jo Leigh

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Ms. Match

BOOK: Ms. Match
7.06Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
“Two rooms, please.”
“I’m sorry, sir. All we have available is a single room.”

Paul looked at Gwen. Then back at the reservation clerk. “We’ll take it.”

“Wait a minute.” Gwen pulled Paul back a bit from the desk. “We can’t sleep together….”

“Don’t worry,” he said, smiling before she had a chance to protest further. “You can have the bed. I’ll take the chair.”


“Don’t worry. I’ll be a perfect, uh…”


He pointed at her. “Yes.”

Gwen wasn’t worried—not about Paul, at least. She was tired from all the drinks and dancing. And she lacked a toothbrush. But before Paul got the key, the nice reservation man handed him two baskets filled with all kinds of necessities. Everything they’d need to get through the night…

Including two shiny condom packets.

Dear Reader,

Okay, let’s get this out front—this book means a great deal to me. Even though I finished writing Ms. Match some time ago, I can’t stop thinking about Paul and Gwen.

Since it’s part of THE WRONG BED miniseries, the story started out on the light side, a frothy frolic, steamy and just plain fun. But Paul and Gwen soon let me know that they were complex people with things to accomplish. Not that they didn’t have a sense of humor about it, because frankly, they cracked me up, but this was no quick ride to the end of the block. Their road had twists and turns and detours, not to mention the rest stops in the bedroom, the shower, the…Well, you get the picture.

You wouldn’t think that landing in the wrong bed with the wrong man would be the best thing that could ever happen to Gwen, and vice versa. But then, isn’t it always the tricks of fate, the missed exit, that send us to our greatest adventures?

Enjoy the trip!


Jo Leigh


Ms. Match

Jo Leigh has written more than forty novels for Harlequin and Silhouette Books since 1994. A triple RITA® Award finalist, she has contributed to many series, most recently Harlequin Blaze. Jo loves that she can write mysteries, suspense and comedies all under the Blaze banner, especially because the heart of each and every book is the love story.

Jo lives in Utah where she’s hard at work on her next book. You can chat with her at her Web site,, and don’t forget to check out her daily blog!

Books by Jo Leigh


















To Ryan, who (thankfully) knows his sports.

And no, he won’t be allowed to read this book
till he’s forty.

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
THE COFFEE SHOP was crowded as always just before seven, a long line of men and women dressed in what passed for business clothes in Beverly Hills snaking through the small round tables and out the door. Paul Bennet considered skipping his bagel and heading straight to the office, but he’d only had a couple of Dodger Dogs last night for dinner and he didn’t like feeling hungry as he started his day. Not that kind of hungry at least.

Today would be a busy one. There was a new client on board, a television production company specializing in home improvement shows. They’d signed on to his public relations firm after being wooed by at least five other companies. But he’d done the final presentation pitch himself, and it had been a killer.

He bumped the arm of a young woman who glared up at him with fire in her eyes. The fire dimmed when he offered her a smile.

“Excuse me,” she said, a slight blush coming to her cheeks.

“No problem.”

She continued on her way and he silently urged the line to speed up. He could wait and ask Tina, his secretary, to order in, but she wouldn’t arrive till nine.

He liked to be the first in the office. In the quiet, he made his overseas and East Coast calls, went through his e-mail, did most of his real work. Once nine rolled around his day turned into a schmooze-fest. He shouldn’t complain. It was what he did best, the reason Bennet, Inc. was a success.

This morning, however, his first call would be to one Autumn Christopher. She would be in her hotel by now, relaxing with a drink and enjoying the view of the Piazza di Spagna.

He pictured her in her red-hot flight attendant uniform, with her long, blond hair pinned up primly. Her lips would match, scarlet and moist, but there would be no trace on her glass due to some feminine magic. That was only one of the ways she made him crazy. Like her smoky eyes when they looked him over from the ground up. The sound of her laughter. The fact that no matter what he did, no matter how charming, how lavish, how certain he was that he was on the mark, she simply wouldn’t sleep with him.

The woman was no dummy.

He’d always been intrigued by the chase. Up to a point. Autumn had streaked past that point into territories hitherto unknown. Why then was he still after her? By now, hell, months ago, he should have kissed her off and pursued other opportunities. There was a world of women out there, and being in Los Angeles meant a world of extraordinarily beautiful women, so what was the deal?

Finally, he reached the counter. He pulled out his smile once more, registering, barely, the response of the girl behind the counter. She blushed, glanced down, shuffled from side to side.

“Hi, Carol. I’d like an onion bagel, light cream cheese. Coffee, black. And I’d be delighted if you could add a smile to that order.”

Despite the fact that he used the same silly line every time he got a bagel, Carol always reacted. Flushed, flustered and yet she always hustled for him, which was the ultimate goal. He didn’t care for standing in line.

Quicker than it should have been possible, she returned with his order. “I put the bagel on the heat when I saw you two down,” she said, her voice just loud enough for him to hear.

“That’s what I love about you, Carol,” he said, handing her a ten, which included a generous tip. “You’re a treasure.”

She sniffed and touched her hair. “Thanks, Mr. Bennet.”

“I’ll see you soon.”

He was out of there in two minutes and into the building proper. He leased an entire floor of the high-rise. The lower floors were mostly concerned with banking, but the upper reaches had a number of offices that were unique to the area. Movie production companies, advertising firms that catered to the movie business, a casting office, two accounting firms that handled motion picture clients. It was showbiz all the way up here. His firm, for example, handled stars, film equipment firms, production companies, one of the smaller studios and three different commercial houses. They also had some sports clients, a few publishing companies and five, no six, authors.

He opened the doors to the front office, decorated to the nines by a leading Hollywood set designer. The artwork alone had cost him more than he’d earned his first two years in the business. The space smelled of the fresh flowers that were delivered weekly and that indescribable scent of money. Nothing about his business came cheap, which was the way he liked things.

He carried his bagel and coffee down the hall to his office. Here, on the twentieth floor, he was rewarded with a phenomenal view of the city. From Rodeo Drive to the Hollywood Hills, on a clear day it was the picture of fine living. Sadly, there weren’t all that many clear days.

He sat behind his desk and turned on his computer. As he ate, he scanned his e-mails. Several needed quick responses, but most of them could wait. He was careful about his response timing. His clients tended to get greedy if he jumped on their queries.

A few minutes later, fortified by his admittedly meager breakfast, he slipped on his Bluetooth and rang up Autumn’s cell phone. Three rings, then her lovely, soft, “Hello.”

“Hey, beautiful.”

“Paul,” she said, and in that single word, she said everything. She was glad to hear his voice, pleased he’d called her beautiful and a little too delighted that it had all been on her terms.

“How’s Rome?”


“Poor thing.”

“It’s not so bad. There’s a pool in the hotel. I was about to get into my suit.”

“Suit? Isn’t that a bit of a stretch? That bikini of yours is no bigger than four Post-it notes.”

She laughed, and just as it always did, the sound made his dick twitch.

“I know exactly what you should do,” he said. “Use the video on your cell. Let me watch you strip.”

Autumn sighed. “I have to hand it to you, Paul. You don’t give up easily.”

“Damn right I don’t.”

“I like that. I do. But I need to change the subject.”


“I have a favor to ask you.”

He hoped it involved lingerie and champagne. “Ask away.” He swung his chair around so he could view the city, the worker bees swarming to the hive. In New York, most everyone wore black. Dreary, even if the clothes themselves were daring. Not so in the City of Angels. It was warm today, and the colors on the people were as vibrant as the flowers lining Rodeo Drive.

“My parents are celebrating their fiftieth anniversary on Friday,” Autumn said. “Only I’m going to be here.”

“Okay,” he said, his attention back on the conversation.

“The thing is, my sister doesn’t have a date.”

“Your sister.”

“Uh-huh. Gwen. She says she doesn’t care about going solo, but I know it’s not true. I was wondering…”

“If she’s anything like you, I’d be honored to be her escort.”

Autumn laughed again. “No, not you. But you’ve got to know someone who wouldn’t mind.”

“Mind? Why would they mind?”

She sighed, one of those frustration deals complete with sound. “I don’t want to be mean or anything, but Gwen’s not exactly…She’s very smart.”

“Ah. She has a good personality.”


“How good?”

“She’s not a troll or anything, but, well, you know. On the plus side, people seem to think she’s interesting and funny.”

“Got it. Not a problem. I have just the guy in mind. What’s her number?”

“Don’t have him call. Tell him to show up at her apartment. I’ll let her know to expect him. Oh, and it’s formal.”

Autumn gave him the address and the rest of the details. He jotted it all down dutifully, even as he was busy counting the points he would earn for doing this little favor. He’d come through for her with shining colors. She’d have to say thanks. He could think of a hundred ways.

“You’re a sweetie pie, Paul. I mean it. The anniversary party is a big deal. Thank you.”

“I haven’t done anything yet.”

“You will. You were the first person I thought of to help out.”

“Good. That’s the way it should be.”

She laughed, and somehow he knew the conversation was over, that there would be no video message sent to his phone, no more teasing on the international call. That was how Autumn did things.

“I’ve got to go if I’m going to catch that swim.”

“When are you coming back?”


“Can’t wait,” he said, and he knew that any other woman would have melted to those words, but not her. Not Autumn.

FOUR-FORTY ON FRIDAY afternoon and the office was shifting down to first gear. Paul had finished his last call ten minutes ago, and was now jotting down notes for the week to follow. He was looking forward to the evening. He had his monthly poker game, something he relished. No women were involved, only beer, fine cigars and the kind of raucous bullshit that could only come from a bunch of guys who’d known each other since college.

When Sam Ensler stepped inside his office, Paul’s happy buzz died a quick death.

“Don’t do this to me, Sam.”

“You know I wouldn’t if I had a choice.”

“The party is tonight.”

Sam, his go-to man in charge of literary PR, seemed miserable. He always looked kind of miserable, hence his nickname of Eeyore, but even Paul could see this was serious.

“I’ve got to go to Michigan,” Sam said. “My mother broke her hip. She’s having surgery in the morning.”


Sam nodded. “There’s no one else. She’s eighty-five.”

“I understand. Go take care of her. Take the time you need.”

“I’m really sorry, Paul.”

“No problem. What time was Gwen expecting you?”

“Seven.” He put a piece of paper on Paul’s desk. “That’s her address.”

“Got it,” he said, his mind already racing through his list of friends and even acquaintances who could step in. “Let me know how your mother’s doing, huh? And leave your cell on.”

Sam smiled grimly as he turned to leave.

The minute he was alone, Paul cursed, vehemently. He had no idea who he could get for this gig on such short notice. Woody? No, Woody was in New York. Maybe Jeff…Shit. Jeff wasn’t about to give up a Friday night to go out with an unattractive stranger. Who was he kidding? None of his friends would. Paul’s only hope had been finding someone who either worked for him or who owed him. That second group should have given him a number of options. Except that it was a Friday night and there was just no time.

Cursing again, Paul dialed Cary’s number. He got the voice mail, and left the message that he wouldn’t make it to poker. Then he checked out Gwen Christopher’s address. She lived in Pasadena. He’d have to get it in gear if he wanted to be on time. Thank God he always had at least one tux at the ready.

Autumn was going to owe him big-time.

HOLY SHIT. He was stunning.

Tall, unruly dark hair, stunning dark eyes, features that one would expect to see on the cover of GQ. He was one of the best-looking men Gwen Christopher had ever seen in person. Poor guy. He still hadn’t gotten into Autumn’s pants. It was the only reason Gwen could think of that a man who looked like him would agree to be her escort. “It’s not going to work.”

“Pardon me?”

She held the door open for him to come in. “Cinderella’s not going to sleep with you because you’re taking the ugly stepsister to the ball. She’ll still make you wait.”

The dazzling man blinked in charming confusion. “I’m not—”

She sighed as she closed the door. “I appreciate that you got all dressed up, so I’ll make it easy for you. I’ll tell Autumn you were perfect, a fabulous date. And I’ll even give you a tip. She won’t want you until you don’t want her. Then her legs will part like the Red Sea. The night’s young, and if you hurry, you can still make it to a premiere or whatever beautiful people normally do on a Friday night.”

“Hey, lady, I’m just here to see if you want a copy of the Watchtower.”

Gwen laughed out loud, amazed that someone Autumn knew actually had a sense of humor. “Very good. It’s Sam, isn’t it?”

“No, actually it’s Paul. Paul Bennet. I’m Sam’s pinch hitter. He had to leave town. His mother broke her hip.”

“Ah, well, then this really is your lucky night. Seriously, you don’t need to stay.”

“I didn’t need to come. But I’d still like to take you to the party.”

“Trust me. You don’t.”

Paul leaned back slightly and cocked his right brow, which made him even better looking. “Okay, so you really are Autumn’s sister.”

“What do you mean?”

“Stubborn.” He took a step toward her. “I haven’t got a single thing to do tonight. I’m dressed for the part. And I wouldn’t mind checking out the rest of the family.”

Wouldn’t her whole clan just die when she walked in with Paul Bennet on her arm? It wouldn’t last—a heartbeat after the shock wore off they’d all figure out that he was a mercy date. Still, it would be fun to see Faith with her perfect little mouth agape. “I’ve given you the secret to getting Autumn into bed. Don’t you believe me?”

“I prefer to reach my own conclusions. What do you say then?”

BOOK: Ms. Match
7.06Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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