Courting Trouble: A Western Romantic Comedy
— The Texas Two-Step Series, Book 4
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Diedra Palmer likes her men in neckties and starched collars—all the better for mussing—and attorney Alec Sparks is the starchiest man Diedra has ever met.
Trouble is, Alec lives to maintain control, and Diedra’s an accident waiting to happen. Electromagnetically challenged, Diedra unintentionally burns out light bulbs, stops watches, and makes appliances go berserk when her emotions run high.
Alec would love to have nothing more to do with Diedra. But his law partner’s marriage to Diedra’s sister is on the rocks, and Diedra’s promising to get out of his hair if he’ll just agree to her hair-brained scheme to reunite the pair. Yet, how will he ignore the sparks Diedra is setting off in his heart?
Previously titled: Stuck on You
Excerpt of Courting Trouble
A.C. generally enjoyed being responsible and looking after the interests of others. It was one of the reasons why his law firm was exceptionally successful.
But there were limits.
He looked after his mother, his cousin and his clients. Diedra Palmer desperately needed someone to take care of her, but she was not his responsibility. No retainer fee would be large enough to add her to the list of people he protected.
He kept his eyes closed and gave himself a mental shake. After what he’d been through since entering Diedra’s shop, when he opened them again it would prove to be a bad dream, he assured himself.
He forced his lids open.
No such luck.
Diedra’s face was within inches of his own and he could feel her soft breath feathering across the coolness created by the rubbing alcohol. “Are you certain the spots are coming off?”
Diedra bit her lip, obviously upset. “Yes, Chuck, they’re fading.”
He dismissed a feeling of pity. Either Diedra Palmer was the worst practical joker he’d ever had the misfortune to meet, or the most dangerous accident‑waiting‑to‑happen. She shouldn’t be allowed out in public.
Dealing with her was worse than trying to have a sensible conversation with his mother. He’d never met a looser screw—until he’d met Diedra. At least his mother’s heart was in the right place. Diedra’s might be as well, but she wasn’t his responsibility.
She was right, though. The rash didn’t seem as bad now.
As soon as the spots were gone, he’d make good his escape. If he was really careful, maybe he’d never set eyes on her again. And if he did, he’d run as fast as he could in the other direction.
He watched her work on the spots. Her golden gaze brushed over his skin, warming him, as though he were sitting out in the sun gathering rays. Her lips were slightly pursed, as if waiting for him to kiss her, and he was tempted to pull her closer to do just that.
Good grief. What had come over him? It must be the after-effects of that herbal poison he’d so stupidly allowed her to put on his leg. “Aren’t you done yet?”
“Almost.” She blinked at him, a different kind of blink, involving a quick flutter of lashes, a blink so fast it was over almost before it started. “Just a minute longer.”
He decided to look anywhere other than at her. His gaze fixed on the cat, who’d let him know in no uncertain terms that this shop and this woman belonged to him. The cat could have them.
Interesting that the cat’s coat shone with the same gold as Diedra’s hair. They moved with the same slow, feline grace. They even blinked at him in the same manner. Identical gold eyes were hypnotizing him. They probably helped the cat catch its prey.
His gaze shot to Diedra’s face.
She didn’t think of him as prey, did she?
He was being ridiculous. She wanted his help, that was all. “There.” She took two nervous steps back.
Not a good sign. “The spots are gone?”
She nodded, and he headed back to the mirror. Not that he didn’t trust her, but … One glance at his image and he verified that he looked as good as new, except his head probably sported new gray hair. Now, if he could just make good his escape.
“I’ve been thinking about it, Diedra.”
She looked at him expectantly. Was that hope in her eyes?
She seemed fragile and he felt like a heel. “I’d like to hear your plan.”
“I thought we could lock them into a closet or something.” Diedra concentrated on folding a crease in her skirt, almost like she deliberately avoided looking him in the eye. “If they just sit down and talk, I’m sure they could work things out.”
Alec shook his head. “That would never work. Jeff would spend all his time on an escape plan rather than doing any serious talking.”
“Do you have a better idea?”
“I think we could trick Jeff and Meagan into getting back together again. How about if we tell them we’ve arranged blind dates for them?”
“I don’t think that would work. Meagan, unlike your lover‑boy cousin, isn’t ready to date. Hmmm.” Diedra’s forehead wrinkled as she thought over his suggestion, reminding him of a kitten, and he fought an urge to reach out and smooth the lines. No matter how cute she was, women like her caused ulcers.
“How about if we tell her we’re dating and you want her to come along as a chaperone?”
Diedra laughed, showing even white teeth. “Now, that she might believe, with all my accidents. But that won’t work either. She’d know I wouldn’t want her around on a date.”
Why did he feel disappointed she hadn’t taken him up on the idea of a date? A.C. stuffed his hands into his pants pockets. “I’m out of ideas. I guess there’s nothing we can do.”
Now to get out of here. “Maybe I’ll see you around.”
She grabbed his arm. “Wait. I have another idea.”
Of course she did. He’d never get out of here alive—or clothed. He turned and looked down at her. “What?”
“How about if you and Jeff go out to dinner and we’ll go out to the same restaurant? They’ll never know we set them up.”
He sighed in resignation. At least he got to keep his clothes on.