High-Powered, Hot-Blooded(8)

By: Susan Mallery


The twins giggled in response.

Annie went out into the living room where a tall, thin blond man stood looking over her cousins.

“Love the hair,” he said, fluffing Julie’s ends. “Maybe a few more layers to open up your face and give your hair volume. Try a smoky eye. You’ll be delish.” He looked past them to Annie and raised his eyebrows. “Now you look exactly like a stereotypical kindergarten teacher, so you must be Annie. What were you thinking, agreeing to help someone like Duncan? The man is a total ruthless bastard. Sexy, of course, not that he would ever notice me.” He smiled. “I’m Cameron, by the way. And yes, I know it’s a girl’s name. I tell my mother it’s the reason I’m gay.”

He glanced over her shoulder as Kami came in the room and he sighed. “I don’t know who you are, honey, but you’re giving these beauties a run for their money. Yummy.”

Kami laughed. “Get real.”

“I am real. The realest.”

Annie introduced the girls. Cameron sat on the worn sofa in the living room and pulled out a couple of folders.

“Come on, little teacher,” he said, patting the cushion next to him. “We have to go over the schedule. Duncan has fifteen social events between now and Christmas. You’ll be with him at all of them.”

He passed her one of the slim folders. “You got the background information, didn’t you?”

She nodded, although she’d only read the basic bio. “Impressive. He put himself through college on a boxing scholarship.”

Cameron’s hazel eyes widened slightly. “You sound surprised.”

“I was. It’s not traditional.”

“His uncle is Lawrence Patrick. The boxer.”

“I’ve heard of him,” Julie said. “He’s, like, old, but he was really famous.”

Annie had heard of him, as well. “Interesting family,” she said.

“Duncan was raised by his uncle. It’s a fascinating story, one I’ll let him tell you himself. You’re going to be spending a lot of time together.”

Not something Annie wanted to think about as she took the second folder Cameron offered. This one contained a questionnaire she was to fill out so Duncan could pretend to know all about her.

What had she been thinking, agreeing to this craziness? But before she could even consider backing out of the deal—not that she would—Cameron had ushered them all to the stretch limo waiting to take them shopping.

Five hours later, Annie was exhausted. She’d tried on dozens and dozens of dresses, blouses, pants and jackets. She’d stepped in and out of shoes, shrugged at small, shiny evening bags and endured a bra fitting from a very stern-looking older woman.

Now she sat with foil in her hair, watching pink polish dry on her nails. When they’d moved from shopping to a day spa, she’d been relieved to know she could finally sit down.

Cameron appeared with a glass of lemon water and a fruit-and-cheese plate.

“Tired?” he asked sympathetically.

“Beyond tired. I’ve never shopped so much in my life.”

“People underestimate the energy required to power shop.” Cameron settled in the empty salon chair next to her. “Getting it right takes effort.”

“Apparently.” While she’d thought all the outfits had fit okay, he’d insisted the store seamstress tuck and pin until they were perfect.

Cameron handed her a sheet of paper. On it was a list of the outfits, followed by the shoes and bags that went with each. She laughed.

“You must think I’m totally inept, although I’ll admit I’m not sure I could remember this myself.”

“I couldn’t stand for you to clash. Putting a look together requires a lot of skills. It’s why the good stylists make the big bucks.”

“So you’re famous?” she asked.

He smiled modestly. “In my world. I have a few celebrity clients I keep happy. Several corporate types like Duncan, who want me to keep their wardrobes current without being trendy. Not that Duncan actually cares what he wears. He’s such a typical guy.”

“How did you meet?”

Cameron raised his eyebrows. “We were college roommates.”

If Annie had been drinking her lemon water, she would have choked. “Seriously?”

“I know. Hard to imagine. At least we never wanted to hook up with the same person. I was an art history major back then. I lasted a year before I realized fashion was my one true love. I moved to New York and tried to make it as a designer.” He sighed. “I don’t have the patience for creating. All that sewing. So not my thing. I took a job as a buyer at an upscale department store. Then I started working with the store’s really exclusive customers. The rest, as they say, is history.”

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