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Authors: Sandy Curtis

The Marriage Merger

BOOK: The Marriage Merger
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© Sandy Curtis 2015






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Undeniably sexy.

Even her bone-numbing fatigue couldn't stop
the tingles of awareness racing up her spine as Jenna gazed at the
man framed in the doorway. A white polo shirt stretched across
perfectly sculptured chest muscles that begged Jenna’s hands to
caress them so badly her palms actually started to itch. Tanned,
muscular arms lightly covered with dark hairs added to the
impression of strength and power.

Jenna Martin knew a great body when she saw
one. In her line of work... Her gaze flicked to his face. And
gorgeous. Not handsome in movie star fashion - no soft angles and
pretty boy looks; the black hair and eyebrows over stormy grey eyes
and long straight nose were undoubtedly attractive but the angles
of his face were lean and hard. But, she decided, the generous lips
added just the right amount of sensuality.

In the two seconds it had taken Jenna to
register that Jeff’s taste in flatmates had definitely improved,
the scowl that had creased his forehead as he opened the door had


Jenna raised an eyebrow. So much for the big
welcome home! Still, if he was a friend of Jeff’s she’d try to be
civil, which wasn’t easy when she hadn’t slept in a bed for almost
two days and anything vaguely horizontal was almost

She smiled. “Is Jeff Martin home?”

She wasn’t prepared for the look of disgust
he threw her.

“Jeff doesn’t live here any more. Now if
you’ll excuse me...”

The door closed.

If her suitcases had been more solid Jenna
would have collapsed onto them. The flight from London to Brisbane
should have only taken twenty-three hours but a bomb scare at the
Singapore stopover had added another six hours to the journey. Then
she had spent three fruitless hours at Brisbane airport waiting for
Jeff to show up. Her calls to his mobile only got his messagebank.
She wouldn’t put it past him to have forgotten she was arriving, so
she’d caught a bus to the Sunshine Coast and a taxi to his
Maroochydore apartment building, thinking she would surprise

Well, it certainly wasn’t Jeff who’d been
surprised, she thought as she pressed the buzzer again. The
frowning male opened the door with an even deeper scowl marring his

“Look, I told you, Jeff doesn’t live here any
more. And I don’t have the time to cater to the hysterics of
another one of his women.”

“His ... women?” Jenna spluttered in
surprise. She realised he was about to close the door again and
quickly stepped into the doorway and glared up at him. At five feet
nine inches she could glare most men straight in the eye, but even
with her two inch heels this man towered over her.

Although the black eyebrows hung
thunderclouds over his grey eyes Jenna couldn’t help noticing how
attractive those eyes were. Gunmetal grey, with flecks of blue that
seemed to intensify as he gazed at her.

“You’re the fourth one to turn up on the
doorstep this week.” It was evidently an occurrence that he
disliked dealing with judging by the look he flung at her. “If Jeff
hasn’t let you know he was leaving then it should be obvious that

“Hold it!” She held up her hand. “Let’s get
one thing straight. I’m not one of Jeff’s ... women. I’m his
sister. And I would appreciate ...”

“His sister!”

He ran assessing eyes over the tailored navy
slacks hugging her long legs and the long-sleeved white silk blouse
that moulded gently around her full breasts. His gaze lingered
there just long enough to bring a flush to her cheeks before it
travelled up her pale neck to the crown of curly dark auburn hair
and back to her eyes.

“Sea-green,” he murmured, voice so soft it
could have been a caress. His look of surprise was quickly replaced
by suspicion. “You can’t be Jeff’s sister. She’s gawky, skinny ...”
his voice trailed away as his eyes returned to her figure and she
read the thought that said there was no way her womanly curves
could ever be called skinny.

She groaned. “Don’t tell me Jeff still
carries that dreadful photo in his wallet.”

If she had blushed before it was nothing to
the deep colour that suffused her face now. She had been sixteen
when Jeff had taken that awful photo of her. She’d been a late
developer and the camera’s truthful eye had captured her thinness,
the lanky limbs not yet filled out, her hair a long unruly mop of
flame that hadn’t yet darkened to the more attractive auburn.

A hint of amusement lightened his expression.
“And your name is Jinx.”

It was too much. She would kill Jeff when she
caught up with him. Rip his secret-spilling tongue out of his head
and strangle him with it. Bad enough he had shown that dreadful
photo to this attractive man but he had obviously discussed her
childhood exploits as well. “My name is Jenna. Jinx is a nickname
Jeff gave me a long time ago. I wasn’t aware he still used it.”

To her chagrin his amusement seemed to
increase and he stepped back into the entry. “Obviously you’re not
aware Jeff no longer lives here. You’d better come in and I’ll

She glanced back to her two suitcases and
cabin bag. He followed her gaze, frowned, then walked out and
picked them up as though they were shopping bags instead of the
heavy luggage she knew them to be.

She walked into a huge lounge room.
Bisque-coloured floor tiles complemented deep cream vertical blinds
and drapes and pale walls. She admired the elegant style of the
mahogany wall units, oval coffee table and curved, russet leather
lounge. Tasteful, but expensive, and she wondered how Jeff could
have afforded the rent. Through the ceiling to floor windows on the
opposite side of the room she could see the sun’s dying rays streak
pink and gold across a fading blue sky.

He motioned for her to sit down. She sank
into the comfortable lounge with a sigh, her eyes heavy, her body
telling her that its rhythms were still trying to adjust to the
different time zone. She had slept on the plane, but not well, and
now her body was demanding retribution.

She watched his jeans tighten over muscular
thighs as he sat down near her. Not too close, thank heavens. She
wasn’t so tired that she didn’t respond to the prickles of
awareness his sexual magnetism created in her. She’d have to be
half dead not to react to the warm male scent of him and the
promise of satisfaction in his perfectly contoured body. But who
was he?

“I’m Braden Fleetwood.”

All that sex appeal and mind-reading too,
Jenna thought dryly.

“Jeff works for me.”

Oh, no, not THE Braden Fleetwood. Jenna’s
brain shifted a few cogs into reverse and tried to remember all
Jeff had mentioned in his long but rare phone calls and brief
letters. Braden Fleetwood, billionaire businessman, owner of three
major companies and several small subsidiaries. Brilliant mind,
dynamic personality, great boss if you worked well but scathing if
your mistakes were caused through your own stupidity.

“I sent Jeff up here three months ago on
business. This company penthouse was available so I authorised him
to stay here.” He seemed to hesitate. “Last week I had need to stay
here myself and urgent work arose in Sydney so I sent Jeff down to
handle it. He'll be gone at least two months, and then he'll be
returning to Brisbane.”

Sydney. Jeff was in Sydney. Once again
visions of the macabre torture she would inflict on his person when
she got hold of him danced before her eyes.

“Why didn’t he tell me?” she asked, more to
herself than Braden Fleetwood.

“Perhaps you’d better explain how you turned
up here. I thought Jeff had mentioned you were overseas.”

“I have been for the last two years. I’d made
arrangements to fly home to Sydney, stopping off in Brisbane for a
couple of hours so I could catch up with Jeff. The morning of my
departure Mum phoned to tell me she and Dad were flying to
Tasmania. Her uncle had died and they were going to the

She rubbed a weary hand across her forehead.
“Mum must have thought I already knew Jeff was back in Sydney.
Anyway, I couldn’t see the point in going home if no-one was going
to be there so I tried to call Jeff to tell him I’d stop over with
him for a week instead of a couple of hours. I left a message on
his mobile and sent him an email and a fax to make sure. I can’t
understand why he didn’t let me know he wasn’t going to be at
Brisbane airport to meet me. We made the arrangements three weeks

“There’s a phone in the kitchen. Would you
like to call him? He’s staying at your parents’ house.” The
amusement was back in the grey eyes and Jenna had the distinct
feeling that he had already labelled her as incompetent, an opinion
probably germinated through Jeff’s tales of her awkward

He escorted her to a phone situated in an
alcove between the dining room and the kitchen. An expansive but
functional kitchen, with pale timber cupboards and cream flecked
marble bench-tops and the same bisque-coloured floor tiles that
flowed through from the lounge room.

Five minutes later she returned to the lounge

“Well?” A dark eyebrow raised.

“It looks like a comedy of errors. Jeff
thought Mum had told me he was in Sydney. He never received my
messages saying I’d stay here with him for a week, so he’s been
sitting out at Mascot Airport all day waiting for me to arrive. He
said he’d called me, but,” she pulled her mobile phone from her
pants pocket, “my battery died just before my flight landed.”

A frown creased Braden’s forehead. “Did you
send the fax to the Brisbane office or the Sunshine Coast

“Brisbane - it was the only number I had. I
thought they’d send it on to him. I’d only received one letter from
him in the last two months and it had this address on the envelope
- no apartment number though.”

“Then how did you know to come to the
penthouse? And how did you get into the building?” The grey eyes
narrowed suspiciously.

Jenna could sense the annoyance that still
simmered in him. Her lips tightened. She felt too tired to be
bothered answering such trivial questions but the fact that he was
Jeff’s boss stopped the impatient reply that tipped her tongue.

“When I was reading the apartment list one of
the other tenants arrived back from a business trip. He told me
Jeff was staying in the penthouse, and let me in so I could
surprise him.”

Her limbs were starting to feel as though
they had lead weights tied to them and the almost forty-eight hours
enforced sitting had caused aches in her back that needed a long
hot shower to ease. “Would you mind calling me a taxi and
recommending a motel where I could stay the night? I’ll catch a
flight to Sydney tomorrow.”

Before he could reply a door closed in the
hallway leading off the loungeroom and a plump, grey haired woman
walked into the room. She dropped a suitcase at her feet.

“My son-in-law should be here soon, Mr
Fleetwood,” she said. “I’m sorry to leave you in the lurch like
this. I hope you can get another housekeeper without too much

Braden half-raised his hand as though in
supplication. “You know I can’t leave Caitlin with just anybody,
Mrs Jenkins...”

A loud buzzing interrupted him. He crossed to
an intercom system on the wall, spoke briefly and turned to Mrs

“Your son-in-law is waiting downstairs.” He
picked up the suitcase. “I’ll take this down for you.” Without
another word to either woman he walked out the door. Mrs Jenkins
looked at Jenna as though seeing her for the first time, gave a
half-apologetic smile and followed.

Jenna couldn’t believe it. Her 'comedy of
errors' was swiftly turning into a fiasco. Braden Fleetwood had
apparently forgotten all about her. She dropped onto the lounge,
her eyes closing. As soon as he returned she would ...

BOOK: The Marriage Merger
10.47Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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