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Authors: Laura Drewry

Prima Donna

BOOK: Prima Donna
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Prima Donna
is a work of fiction. Names, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

A Loveswept eBook Original

Copyright © 2014 by Laura Drewry

All rights reserved.

Published in the United States of America by Loveswept, an imprint of Random House, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York.

is a registered trademark and the L
colophon is a trademark of Random House LLC.

eBook ISBN 9780804177740

Cover design: Seductive Designs

Cover photograph: iStock



Chapter One

“Who’s scruffy lookin’?”

Han Solo,
The Empire Strikes Back


“What the—” Regan reached for her trusty Louisville Slugger tucked in beside the dryer and headed to the front of the salon.

The small town of Newport Ridge wasn’t exactly a hotbed of criminal activity, but she’d watched too many episodes of
Criminal Minds
not to take precautions. This time of night, with the lights on inside the salon, it normally would have been hard to make out the guy banging on the locked glass door, especially with his head down like that, but the leather jacket was a dead giveaway. So was the Harley parked at the curb.

Regan swung the bat up to her shoulder as she made her way slowly toward the door. Carter Scott leaned against the door frame outside, helmet dangling from his left hand, his head tipped slightly to the right. His eyes, almost as dark as his hair, crinkled around the edges and his mouth lifted in a little half grin that had her grinning back at him for no apparent reason.

It was disarming, that smile, a little cocky, a little boyish, and yeah, okay, those dark eyes were…well…
…but that hair…good God! Did he cut it with a knife and fork?

She twisted the lock, pushed the door open, then backed up enough to let him in. “Please tell me you’re here for a cut.”

He raised his brow and gave the bat a pointed look, the grin never leaving his face. “Are you going to put that down or should I get ready to duck?”

“Is that a yes?” Regan arched her brow, but left the bat resting on her shoulder, doing what she thought was a damn fine job of appearing unaffected by him standing so close to her. It wasn’t the first time they’d been in the same room, but it
the first time they’d been alone, and she’d be flat-out lying if she said he didn’t make her girlie side hyperventilate a little.

Okay, maybe more than a little, but this was Carter Scott—he had the same effect on every woman.

“Uh, no.” Carter stuffed his fingers inside the front pocket of his jeans and shifted on his feet a little. “I’m just here to help you pack up whatever’s left.”

“Jayne sent you.”

He shifted again, this time adding a bit of a shrug. “Yeah, but only because she thinks you’re going to blow off her party.”

That Jayne was like a frickin’ pit bull about the holidays. Wasn’t it enough that Regan had spent Christmas Eve at her place, surrounded by all that festive ho-ho crap? And wasn’t it more than enough that she let Jayne sit her beside Linden Mack, the young new orthodontist Nick’s father had just hired? Nice guy, Jayne had said. Cute, too.

Sure, he was nice, if you didn’t mind him staring at your teeth all night as he expounded on the fascinating world of overbites and misaligned midlines. And absolutely he was cute, if you were into the Willy Wonka look. Yes, the Gene Wilder version. And no, for the record, Regan was not into that look. She wasn’t even into the Johnny Depp version.

After that debacle, she’d rather thought she’d earned a pass on holiday get-togethers until next Christmas, but Jayne had been on her since Boxing Day, going on and on about how it would do Regan good to get out, how it was Jayne and Nick’s first New Year’s Eve together, blah blah blah. It was great for Jayne to celebrate every occasion that came along, but Regan would much rather sit on the couch in her flannel jammies and watch the ball drop in every time zone from London to Waikiki. If there happened to be a
Star Wars
marathon on, all the better.

Until Carter showed up, she’d had every intention of calling Jayne later and lying through her teeth about how she’d lost track of time with all the packing she’d been doing and how she still had so much to do. But now, thanks to Jayne’s sixth sense, the truth sat stacked right in front of Carter. Half a dozen boxes were all that was left, and once those were put in her car, Regan really wouldn’t have any reason to hang around the salon.

Still, given the choice, she’d much rather hang around her empty salon than go anywhere on New Year’s Eve.

Carter’s grin faltered. “You okay?”

“Yeah,” she said, waving his question away. “I’m fine.” She’d gotten so good at the lie it just rolled off her tongue now, and adding that smile was a stroke of genius. Why wouldn’t she be fine? Her business, the place she loved more than anything else, was closing, and instead of going home to mope, she was being guilted into slapping a smile on her face and ringing in the New Year at Jayne’s like everything was just sunshine and umbrella drinks. Yup, things were fine as frog’s hair.

“Look, Carter, I appreciate Jayne volun-telling you to come down here, but as you can see, there’s not much left to do, so thanks for your trouble, but I think I can manage.”

Why was he looking at her like that, with his head tipped to the side, and his eyebrow lifted, like he knew she was full of it? After a second, he lifted his shoulder in a half shrug and raked his fingers back through his crooked wild mess of dark hair.

“I’m here anyway, so you might as well put me to work.” He jabbed his thumb toward the boxes. “Want them in your car?”

She should have said no. She should have thanked him for his offer and then sent him on his way,
but that hair
. Did the man not own a mirror?

“Fine, yeah, okay, thanks.” She pulled the top box off the pile and set it aside. “Gonna need that one.”

“The rest can go?”

“Yup, but lift with your legs,” she warned with a snort. “Those towels can get pretty heavy.”

A flash of even white teeth smiled back at her. It obviously paid to have an orthodontist for an uncle. While he was busy with the boxes, Regan slit the tape on the box she’d kept and started pulling items out.

“What about the big stuff?” Carter bobbed a nod toward the dryers and black hydraulic chairs.

“A guy’s coming to get them in the morning, so that’s it. Have a seat there at the sink.”

“What for?”

Regan tried not to snort, really she did. “My salon might be closing, Carter, but I still have a reputation to uphold, and if you think I’m going to let you walk out of here with your hair looking like that, you are sadly mistaken.”

“What d’you mean?” He ran his hand along the side of his head, through the varied layers of disaster, and chuckled, deep, throaty, and sexy as hell. “It’s not that bad.”

“Seriously?” She set the electric razor on the shelf and plugged it in next to the hair dryer. “I mean, don’t get me wrong, if your skinny blond friend thinks it’s sexy, then by all means, leave it alone. But I gotta tell ya, in my professional opinion…” Regan hesitated, chewed her lip for a second, then snorted again. “It’s God-awful.”

He must whiten his teeth, too. Either that or he’d never had a cup of coffee or a blueberry muffin in his life. “Okay, first off—ouch! And second, what skinny blond friend?”

“That bottle-blond giggler who followed you around the Stomp last summer like you were Colin Farrell or something.”

She dug around inside the box until she found the comb and scissors she wanted, and when she looked up again, he was staring back at her with a raised brow and a smirk.

“You got something against bottle blondes?”

“Not at all; they’re the bread and butter of any salon, but that one…” Too late, Regan clamped her mouth shut. How did she even remember that girl? The Stomp, an annual dance party held every Loggers Sports weekend, had been almost five months ago. The arena had been packed with people doing their most embarrassing drunken renditions of the “Achy Breaky” line dance, and she’d been there with Todd. Needy, annoying, glad-to-see-the
-back-of-him Todd.

“Just let me do this, Carter. It’ll be like my final hurrah.”

“Jayne’s waiting for us.” Even as he spoke, he slipped off his jacket and tossed it over the far sink.

“Yeah, well, She-Who’d-Be-Late-For-H
er-Own-Funeral can just hold her water for a few minutes; we’ll be quick.”

His white long-sleeved T-shirt vee’d at the neck, revealing a silver medal hanging from a thin leather strap, and as usual, a jumble of bracelets wrapped around his right wrist, from thin braids of multicolored cloth strips to plain stretchy craft cord with plastic beads to crocheted string tied up with fraying knots.

“Haven’t seen you since the wedding,” she said. “But I guess that Vancouver hospital must keep you hopping pretty much all the time.”

He hadn’t been at Nick and Jayne’s Christmas party, and if either had mentioned him coming up for New Year’s, Regan hadn’t heard. Of course, she hadn’t paid much attention to anything besides her own problems the last few months. For all she knew, the Dalai Lama may well be coming to Jayne’s New Year’s party.

“Jayne didn’t tell you?”

“Jayne never tells anyone anything.”

Carter slid onto the chair and leaned his head back over the sink, his dark eyes following her every move as though she could possibly do any worse to him than what had already been done.

“A couple friends of mine took over Morty and Peskett’s old clinic space so I’m going to be working up here with them,” he said. “We’re opening next week.”

“Really? I heard there were new docs moving in, but Jayne never said it was you.” Regan turned on the water and held her hand under the stream as it warmed up. “Are your friends podiatrists, too?”

“What d’you mean ‘too’? I’m not a podiatrist.”

“But you…I’m sure Nick said…”


Regan’s hand jerked under the water, sending the spray splashing over his face and leaving him trying to blink past the drops pooling over his eyes.

“Sorry.” A quick pat down with a towel and he was good as new. “Pediatrician?

“Okay.” Carter’s breath came out in a short, wary chuckle. “So we’ve covered my hair and my career. What’s next—you going to take a shot at my mom?”

“No, I didn’t mean…” Regan stopped, clamped her mouth shut over a laugh, and tried her damndest not to blush. “You just don’t look…I mean…I guess I expect a pediatrician to look more…”

“More what?” He grinned slowly, those eyes mocking her with every blink. “More
Marcus Welby

“No.” She eased the nozzle around his head, careful to keep the water out of his face, and grinned down at him. “Well, yeah, okay, sort of.”


“No, not old.

He didn’t say a word, just laughed up at her with another one of those low, throaty chuckles.

“Give me a break,” she laughed. “How many doctors do you see riding Harleys? You’re supposed to drive a Mercedes and walk around in a white lab coat or green scrubs like they do on TV.”

“I’m not on TV.”

He could have been. God help her, he could easily out-hot any of those other TV doctors without even trying.

“Out-hot?” Carter’s shocked snort made her jump. Crap—did she say that out loud? “This from the same mouth that just told me I looked like shit?”

“I never said that! I said your hair was—”

As if it wasn’t bad enough she’d just stuck both feet in her mouth, the heat racing up her face could only mean one thing—her freckles were going to stand out like Pippi Longstocking’s, and that was always so very, very attractive. Not.

“God-awful.” If he was trying to sound hurt, he was doing a pathetic job of it, especially with that grin plastered across his face. “You said I looked God-awful.”

“No I didn’t, I said your hair was God-awful.”

“Same difference.”

“Sorry,” she laughed. “Ego took a bit of a hit on that one, did it?”

“Li’l bit, yeah.”

Was he ever going to look at something else? Anything? Maybe he’d like to count the ceiling tiles.

Shampoo, rinse, condition, rinse, just like she’d done thousands of times before. It sure as hell wasn’t the first time she’d had a good-looking guy in her chair, or the first time she’d had a guy gawk at her as she leaned across to rinse his hair. But it
the first time she’d ever had Carter in her chair, and that grin of his made her stomach flutter just like the time Jon Bon Jovi smiled at her.

BOOK: Prima Donna
8.65Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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