His Live-In Mistress [Secure]
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by Maggie Cox
Description: At his bidding ... and in his bed.... Adrian Jacobs needs a live-in housekeeper. But pretty, cheerful Liadan Willow is now what he has in mind. She's far too young and pretty to be at his beck and call ... and to put up with his dark, brooding moments. Liadan finds her new boss intimidating, bad-tempered and magnificently masculine. But does the heat in his eyes mean he wants her in his life--or just in his bed?
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Presents,
eBookwise Release Date: February 2008
5 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats [Secure - What's this?]: OEBFF Format (IMP) [280 KB]
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AS HER new boots crunched against the thick snow that covered the sweeping yew-lined walk leading to the house Liadan was struck by the beauty and grandeur of the dramatic, imposing edifice that rose up before her. She stopped for a moment to take it in. Draped in a glistening white mantle of snow, its forbidding stone exterior with four rows of perfectly symmetrical eighteenth-century windows gazed down imperiously at her approach, as if questioning her right to be there. For the first time since she'd decided to answer the ad she'd circled so hopefully in the local paper, Liadan experienced a small but impossible-to-ignore shiver of doubt.
Was she doing the right thing? Was she even capable of undertaking the role of housekeeper in such a large and awe-inspiring dwelling? This was vastly different from her parents' mid-size but manageable little hotel in Dorset.
Sighing a breath that immediately turned to steam in the cold, Liadan tried hard to banish her doubts and instead concentrated on putting her best foot forward and continuing her journey towards the house with a much more optimistic gait.
When she lifted the huge iron knocker, letting it fall twice against the grand double-doored entrance, the sound intruded on the chill frozen air like a drunken visitor blundering in on a wake. A flock of birds calmly nesting in a nearby denuded oak flew into the air in an indignant flurry of surprise, their combined chirruping echoing eerily in the dense winter landscape. Wrapping her orange wool scarf more securely around the collar of her long tweed coat, Liadan couldn't help biting down on her lip as her imagination briefly ran wild, and she wondered if some haughty grey-haired butler would open the door and arrogantly instruct her to go round to the tradesman's entrance. Her sense of humour surfacing, she allowed herself a tentative smile at the thought.
In fact the person who answered was a slim brunette, probably in her early forties, dressed attractively in jeans and a red polo-necked sweater. The woman extended her hand in welcome without hesitation.
'You must be Liadan? Hello there, I'm Kate Broomfield. We spoke on the phone.'
The friendly voice she recalled from her telephone inquiry just two days ago didn't disappoint now that Liadan came face to face with its owner, and her relief was palpable.
'Pleased to meet you. Gosh, it's cold out there!' She grasped Kate's outstretched hand firmly with equal warmth. Relaxing, Liadan let her blue-eyed gaze wander round the large, imposing entrance hall she was invited into, her heartbeat quickening at the sight of the huge lofty ceilings with their grand antique brass chandeliers and candle sconces on the walls.
'I didn't see a car. Where did you park?' Kate enquired, watching as the younger woman removed her orange woollen gloves and slipped open the top button of her coat. The hall was surprisingly warm for such a vast area.
'I didn't come by car. I walked up from the village.'
'You're brave in this weather! That's a long walk.' Kate smiled, her brown eyes approving. 'But of course you're a local girl, aren't you? Though you do realise this is a living-in position? Mr Jacobs insists on that.'
'I know. It's not a problem.' For a moment Liadan tried to absorb the full implications of living in such a grand if somewhat remote house, her heart sinking a little at the idea of leaving her cosy little cottage behind. But then that was the beauty of being local. On her afternoons off she could go back home and see to anything that needed doing in her absence. Maybe after a while, when she got to know her employer better, he might even let her have the odd night off so that she could sleep in her own perfectly comfortable bed and play her piano? Not to mention make a fuss of her cat, Izzy. As it was, she would miss not being able to do all those things whenever she felt like it. But as long as her neighbour Jack fed the cat and gave her a little attention now and again to make up for Liadan not being there, she would manage just fine.
Right now, all that was supposition. She hadn't secured the job yet and might not if she didn't look sharp. The ad had specified someone between the ages of thirty-five and fifty, and Liadan was twenty-seven. Kate had told her not to worry too much about that. If she proved to be the right person for the job, Mr Jacobs would waive the age restriction, in Kate's opinion.
'Want a cup of coffee before I take you in to meet Adrian?'
'Mr Jacobs. Initially he'll probably insist you address him more formally, but after a while no doubt you'll be calling him Adrian too.'
As much as she loved the idea of a warming drink to thaw her out, Liadan felt she'd much rather get the interview over and done with first. He might take one look at her and decide she was far too young for the job of housekeeper of such a grand old house, she thought anxiously. But she had grown up helping her parents run a very successful small hotel and she was no stranger to hard work and long back-breaking hours—especially after her father had died and it had been just her and her mother.
'If you don't mind, I'd rather meet Mr Jacobs first. Have you had many other applicants for the job?'
'We've seen two before you but they were both completely wrong. Follow me. He's doing paperwork this morning so he won't be in the best of moods, I warn you. But don't let that put you off. He's a fair employer and the pay is good, as no doubt you've noticed.'
Copyright © 2005 by Maggie Cox.