The Baxter sisters come from a long line of women with disastrous luck in love. But this summer, Sunshine and Margot will turn disasters into destiny…
As an etiquette coach, Margot teaches her clients to fit in. But she’s never faced a client like Bianca, an aging movie star who gained fame—and notoriety—through a campaign of shock and awe. Schooling Bianca on the fine art of behaving like a proper diplomat’s wife requires intensive lessons, forcing Margot to move into the monastery turned mansion owned by the actress’s intensely private son. Like his incredible home, Alec’s stony exterior hides secret depths Margot would love to explore. But will he trust her enough to let her in?
Sunshine has always been the good-time sister, abandoning jobs to chase after guys who used her, then threw her away. No more. She refuses to be “that girl” again. This time, she’ll finish college, dedicate herself to her job as a nanny, and she 100 percent will not screw up her life again by falling for the wrong guy. Especially not the tempting single dad who also happens to be her boss.
“What’s your background?”
Margot smiled. “I started in hotel management. I received training to work with our international clients and loved it. I was recruited by my current employer and have moved to helping people deal with our ever-shrinking world.”
“Hmm, yes, that’s fascinating, but what’s your background? Where are you from? Who raised you?”
A different question than “tell me about your parents.” It was almost as if Bianca knew there hadn’t been parents. “My maternal great-grandmother,” she said slowly. “She owned a beauty and charm school for nearly fifty years. She trained pageant contestants.”
“Were you in pageants?”
“No. I’m lacking certain skills.” Like the ability to speak to a group. Margot still remembered the first time Francine had made her get up on the mock stage they had in the workroom and address the group. She’d barely taken her place when she’d projectile vomited and promptly fainted. It had been a fairly quick end to any hopes her great-grandmother had had about Margot taking the crown.
Margot had forced herself to overcome her deficiency and could now give a decent lecture, but she would never be a natural up on stage. Not that she’d ever aspired to be a beauty queen. She just wanted to do her job and live her life. Oh, and not be dumb about men, because she’d already done that enough already.
“Alec picked you,” Bianca said. “He looked over all the people at your agency and he picked you. Now I see why.”
Did she? Margot hadn’t known he’d been the one to make the decision. Why her? She wasn’t an obvious choice, was she?
“Can you do it?” Bianca asked before Margot could question her statement. “Can you help me be who I need to be so I don’t
Margot leaned forward. “I will use every technique I have, and if those don’t work, I will create new ones. I will work tirelessly to get you to a place where you are comfortable in Wesley’s world.”
“That’s not a promise.”
“I know. I don’t make promises when I can’t be sure of the outcome.”
Bianca looked away. “I make promises all the time. I rarely keep them. It’s just that in the moment, I want the person to be happy.”
Bianca shrugged again. “They always forgive me. Even Alec.” The smile returned. “All right. Let’s do this. Alec thinks I need about two months of instruction. You’ll have to move in here. There are a few guest rooms upstairs. I have the big one and I’m sorry but I’m not moving out for you.”
“I wouldn’t expect you to.” Margot looked at her potential client. “Bianca, I don’t live that far from here. I could easily drive over—”
“No. You have to stay here. It’ll be like we’re on location. Alec doesn’t care. He rarely looks up from his work to notice anything. The house is beautiful. You’ll love it and I’d feel better if you were close.”
Margot nodded slowly. She’d lived in before. She didn’t prefer it but when the client insisted, she agreed.
“As you wish. I’ll send over the contract as soon as I get back to the office. Once it’s signed and you’ve paid the retainer, I’ll be in touch to discuss a start date.”
“Monday!” Bianca sprang to her feet and raced around the table. She crouched in front of Margot, took both her hands and smiled. “We’ll start Monday. Oh, this is going to be fun. We’ll be best friends and have a wonderful time.”
Bianca rose and twirled, then ran to the house, her laughter trailing after her.
Margot watched her go. There was something, she thought, some secret driving Bianca. Margot wasn’t sure if she was running to something or away from it, but whatever it was, it was the key to the problem. Finding out what it was would be difficult, but she knew in her gut if she could figure out the mystery, she could teach Bianca what she needed to know and be gone in far less time than two months.
She glanced around at the beautiful gardens and the monastery’s worn, red-tiled roof and reminded herself that whatever she might have to deal with while helping Bianca, at least her living quarters were going to be extraordinary. Perhaps, if she were lucky, she might even run into a ghost monk or two.
With more than 25 million books sold worldwide, #1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery is known for creating characters who feel as real as the folks next door, and for putting them into emotional, often funny situations readers recognize from their own lives. Susan’s books have made Booklist’s Top 10 Romances list in four out of five consecutive years. RT Book Reviews says, “When it comes to heartfelt contemporary romance, Mallery is in a class by herself.” With her popular, ongoing Fool’s Gold series, Susan has reached new heights on the bestsellers lists and has won the hearts of countless new fans.
Susan grew up in southern California, moved so many times that her friends stopped writing her address in pen, and now has settled in Seattle with her husband and the most delightfully spoiled little dog who ever lived.
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