Page 2 of Unexpectedly Yours


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Now the universe was being a big tease.

When her sister and Josh’s brother married, Caroline had been thrown back into teenage hell. She and Josh were sort of like family now. They saw each other from time to time, but he still barely acknowledged her existence. He’d come to family functions, but he never seemed comfortable. That hadn’t stopped Caroline from wishing for a few words, a little recognition that she was no longer the young daughter of his parents’ employees. A nod of the head would have been nice.

But this? This was not what she’d had in mind. Tonight, he was holding what looked like a neat scotch, inserting himself into a truly embarrassing situation.

She opened her mouth, but couldn’t speak. The only thing that came out was a tiny squeak.Great.Of course, Josh smiled, and once he did that, Caroline felt her knees jiggle and that’s when she realized, on the inside, she was still thirteen.

Josh had been the object of her affection from the first moment she realized there was a difference between boys and girls. He’d never paid much attention to her, mostly because he was six years older, so she wasn’t even on his radar when her family still lived on the Campbells’ estate.

Hell, she wasn’t on his radar now, either.

But as Josh stood there, grinning at her, waiting for her to verbalize a coherent thought, she drank him in. Big and broad, at six-four he towered over pretty much everyone in the bar. His hair was toffee brown, and his eyes were a crystal-blue color that lit up when he smiled. He didn’t have a thick, full beard, but he was one of those men who pulled off the casual scruff with perfection. He wasn’t just spectacular; Josh was her personal Kryptonite.

Finally, she smiled back, cleared her throat, and just as she was about to speak, Mel jumped in. “Hi, I’m Mel.”

Damn.

“Josh Campbell.” Josh folded his arms and leveled his most intimidating look in Caroline’s direction. “So, you still haven’t answered my question, Rossi. Mark who?”

Caroline didn’t know what to say. She knew her smile had vanished because she definitely didn’t love Josh’s tone. She wasn’t a kid anymore, and gorgeous or not, he was treating her like she’d been caught breaking curfew. Mark was nothing to her, and she wasn’t going to date her boss to get ahead. Fortunately or not, Mel jumped in once again. “I can answer,” she said. “I work with Caroline, and Mark is a man from our firm who wants to have dinner with her. He’s very nice. Quite successful.”

This was officially a nightmare.

“Is Mark here?” Josh turned his attention away from Mel and was addressing Caroline. At least that was a plus. She nodded and tipped her head at Mark, who was flipping a swizzle stick around his fingers.

Josh’s eyebrows shot up and his eyes narrowed. “The one who’s trying to stare me down or the manscaped one?”

“The one staring.” Caroline hated the feeling that she was being watched, and lately she caught Mark watching her a lot.

“Huh. He looks like the guy who lives next door to you, who has the perfect house with the manicured lawn, and turns out to be a serial killer.”

Caroline choked on her wine. Wow.

“I don’t think that’s fair,” Caroline said. Mark could be overbearing, and a little creepy, but a serial killer?No.Probably not. Maybe…

“Do you want to go out with him?”

Caroline shook her head. “No.” Glaring at Mel, she continued. “I never said I was interested.”

“Caroline...” Mel was about to jump in, but Josh held up his hand in a halting motion. He’d obviously heard enough. But again, who the hell was he to be questioning her? Caroline didn’t know who she was angrier at now, Mel or Josh. He might be trying to help, but his attitude needed some work.

“Caroline can’t go to dinner with Mark because she’s going to have dinner with me.”

“I am?”Whoa.

“She is?” Mel folded her arms.

Josh smiled and looped his arm around Caroline’s shoulder, and his power and warmth seeped right to her core. “Caroline,” he said with a grin. “Did you forget? I’m hurt.”

“Uh, I guess I did. I didn’t realize the plans were firm” She didn’t know how she felt about him taking control of the situation, but his behavior wasn’t completely surprising. Josh was a take-control guy, and Caroline’s girly side responded happily to the attention of the big, strong man.

She was weak. So weak. He was rescuing her and she hated it, but at the same time, this gorgeous, brilliant man was holding her close and he wasn’t treating her like a piece of furniture. So, even though he was being bossy and overprotective, she wasn’t going to complain.

She let the feeling swim around in her imagination, the one that was always getting her in trouble, and allowed it to take hold. She could use this. Most definitely.

Josh’s touch felt almost as good as watching Mel’s jaw drop and Mark grow pale.

Yup. Between the lust and the gloating, there was no doubt. Her inner thirteen-year-old was alive and well. It was obvious to Caroline that she hadn’t come as far as she thought. She was a well-educated professional living in New York City, but she still didn’t know how to handle the attention of an attractive man.

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