Forever Mine, Valentine [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Vicki Thompson
eBook Category: Reference
eBook Description: Talented artist Jill Amory is tired of her "Jill of All Trades, Mistress of None" reputation. She just can't seem to settle down into the fulfilling, crackerjack career everyone expects from her. So this is going to be the year she decides what to do with her life, traveling across the country to find her bliss. And that means no man--period!--until she's landed the perfect gig. But destiny, in the form of warmhearted, elderly Charlie Hartman, has other plans. Charlie's convinced he's a modern-day Cupid with his eye on Jill for his friend Spence Jegger, Colorado Springs' resident marriage-a-phobe. Convincing Spence he's going to wed the first woman he sees on Valentine's Day might take some doing ... until Spence takes one look at his intended. Destiny is full of surprises....
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Special Releases
Fictionwise Release Date: February 2006
8 Reader Ratings:
JILL STOOD in front of the camping supply store and plotted ways to sell the manager on painting his window for Valentine's Day. You've backpacked your way into my heart. Nope. Warm her heart with a Coleman stove. Ugh. My canteen runneth over with love. Yuck!
Of all the stores in this mall, Jegger Outfitters promised to be the toughest sell, but she liked challenges. Maybe she'd walk in without a specific window plan, and if the manager sounded the least bit interested, she'd come up with an idea on the spot. Sometimes pressure could be inspirational. That's how she'd snared the optometrist, with her sudden brainstorm of Give her rose-colored glasses for Valentine's Day.
Jegger Outfitters smelled of canvas, crepe soles and pine shelving. Old-fashioned picks and shovels hung on the walls, along with tins for gold panning, old mining claim maps and a ragged banner that vowed Pikes Peak or Bust. In the merchandise on the rustic shelves were several camping items she could have used, but she was here to sell, not buy.
As she continued down the aisle toward the rear of the store, she overheard an angry voice and a placating one coming from behind a closed door marked Private. Damn. Store managers with problems seldom wanted their windows painted with hearts and flowers.
Just then a thin young man in a rumpled cotton shirt and parachute pants rounded a counter and came toward her. "Can I help you?" he asked.
"My name's Jill Amory. I'd like to see the manager please. I think," she added as the tirade from behind the door continued, punctuated by an occasional distinct "Dammit, Charlie," or "She's crazy."
"Uh…" The clerk hesitated and followed the line of her gaze.
"This seems like a bad time. Perhaps I could—"
"No," he said quickly, assessing her with a glance. "I wouldn't want to make that decision for him."
"Thanks, but I could easily come back tomorrow. I'm taking orders for valentine window decorations, and it's really no trouble for me to come back." Jill was certain rejection lay behind that office door.
"No," the young man said again, continuing to appraise her from behind wire-rimmed glasses. "Stay right there and I'll tell him you're here."
His blatant perusal didn't disturb Jill; she was used to being ogled. In tandem with orders for window decorations had come several offers for coffee and/or drinks from the male managers she'd approached. Her polite refusals hadn't lost her a single order, which delighted her, confirming that in the past seven months she'd learned to deal effectively with predatory men.
The clerk rapped on the closed door and without waiting for clearance, opened it. "Someone to see you, Spence," he said.
"Who is it?" The voice was still gruff with anger.
"Jill Amory. She wants to decorate the windows for Valentine's Day."
Through the open door Jill heard a bark of laughter. "Has she cleared this with Tippy the Lip?"
"I didn't ask."
"Well, I don't think—"
Jill sighed, knowing what would come next.
"Wait a minute, Spencer, my boy," interrupted a second, older-sounding male voice. "Horace, did you say her last name was Amory?"
"I think that's what she told me, Charlie," the clerk said. "You know her?"
"No, but the name is…nice. Is she, ah, young?"
"Maybe early twenties."
"That's young," said the older man, chuckling. "Spencer, couldn't you at least find out what she has in mind?"
Jill was grateful for this unknown Charlie who thought she had a nice name and wanted to give her a chance. At that point the clerk lowered his voice and she heard only snatches of his comments. "Foxy-looking brunette," came through pretty clearly, though.
"Okay." The man named Spence sounded weary. "Send her back."
The clerk stepped out of the office and motioned to Jill. Clutching her scrapbook of Polaroids showing samples of her work, she walked toward the open door. The clerk gave her a thumbs-up signal and returned to his position behind the cash register as she entered the office.
Both men stood, and the man behind the sleek oak desk held out his hand. "Ms. Amory? I'm Spence Jegger, and this is my sidekick Charlie Hartman. What can I help you with?"
Jill smiled her way automatically through the introduction, but one look at Spence Jegger told her that he could be trouble. He had a shaving-commercial face—square-cut jaw, strong nose, high forehead. His short brown hair waved just enough to give it shape, and his green turtleneck and jeans revealed an athlete's physique. Jill hoped that Spence Jegger was unavailable.
She watched his brown eyes widen in appreciation as he looked at her and she hoped her reaction hadn't been as obvious as his. She'd traveled through thirty-three states so far and managed to avoid romantic entanglements in every one. With her goal only fifteen states away, she couldn't let an attractive man stop her now.
She turned and shook hands with his friend Charlie, a sweet-looking old guy in a red vest and bow tie. "Please sit down," Charlie said, indicating one of two chairs in front of Spence's desk. "We were just discussing what an interesting name you have. 'Amory' means loving, of course, and here you are to paint valentine decorations on windows. Quite fitting, I should say." He beamed at her. "You appear surprised, my dear. Weren't you aware of your name's origin?"
"Um, no, I wasn't." Jill sank to the upholstered chair and tried to get her bearings. Discussing the origin of her name was a strange beginning for a sales call. "I decorate windows for every holiday, not just Valentine's Day," she said, opening her scrapbook and turning it so that Spence could see. "Here are examples of other windows I've done."
Copyright © 1990 by Vicki Lewis Thompson.