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Excerpt of Dating Mr. December by Phillipa Ashley

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Sourcebooks
November 2010
On Sale: November 1, 2010
Featuring: Emma Tremayne; Will Tennant
288 pages
ISBN: 1402241429
EAN: 9781402241420
Paperback
Add to Wish List

Romance Contemporary

Also by Phillipa Ashley:

12 Men for Christmas, October 2020
Trade Size / e-Book
A Perfect Cornish Escape, June 2020
Paperback / e-Book
A Perfect Cornish Summer, May 2020
Paperback / e-Book
Summer on the Little Cornish Isles: The Starfish Studio, July 2019
Paperback
Spring on the Little Cornish Isles, May 2019
Paperback / e-Book
Fever Cure, July 2011
e-Book
Wish You Were Here, June 2011
Paperback
Dating Mr. December, November 2010
Paperback

Excerpt of Dating Mr. December by Phillipa Ashley

Chapter 1

'Excuse me, love,' said the bearded man in the front row, ever so politely, 'did you say naked?'

Emma Tremayne clutched her folder of proposals tighter and smiled a smile that went no further than her cherry-scented lip gloss. 'That's right, Bob. Naked.'

Bob, bald, ruddy-faced, and fifty-something, nodded as if she'd just confirmed the price of a cheese scone in the local café. 'You mean without any clothes on?' murmured a whippet-like lad whom Emma recognized as a local builder. 'That's the general idea of a nude calendar, Jason, yes.' Smiling sweetly, she fixed her eyes on him, then regretted it as a blush spread to the roots of his hair, competing with his red curls for color.

Now that was odd, she thought, as a dozen faces tried terribly hard not to look in her direction. If she'd known how easy it was to turn a roomful of hard-bitten men into quivering jellies, she'd have tried it years ago. Unfortunately, right now it was exactly what she didn't want.

In front of her, leaning against fading walls, perched on rickety chairs and peeling Formica tables, were some of the most macho men in England. Tall and short, green and vintage, each of them looked like a nervous schoolboy hauled up before a particularly bossy headmistress. You'd certainly never have known they were a mountain rescue team from the look of them. Or that they'd saved over fifty lives in the past twelve months alone and were expert at rappelling and belaying and all kinds of skills which weren't needed among the sushi bars and coffee houses and mirror-window tower blocks of the city life Emma was used to.

They didn't look extraordinary at all. In fact, they could just as easily have been part of a church choir or, admittedly, a rather fit darts team. Which was exactly why this project was going to be such a huge success. It was a good thing, Emma told herself, that as a seasoned PR person, she had already run through this scenario in her head a dozen times. If she didn't believe in her idea 100 percent, how on earth could she expect them to?

She smiled even more broadly at Bob Jeavons, as he slouched on a broken chair. As team leader of the Bannerdale Mountain Rescue Team he had the power to crush her project with a single word. Emma wanted to take her jacket off but she didn't dare.

Bob placed his chipped mug, still half full of tea that by now must have grown cold, on the floor tiles and folded his arms. He studied her for a moment, oblivious to the bead of tea trickling down his beard. 'Correct me if I'm wrong, love, but doesn't that mean everyone in Bannerdale will see us with our kit off?'

'Oh, I do hope so,' she said airily, ignoring the gasp of horror from Jason. 'I really hope so, in fact, because if everyone in Cumbria sees you with your kit off, it will mean that I've done my job properly. It will mean,' she carried on, warming to her theme, 'that everyone will want to buy the calendar and that we'll raise heaps of money for a new base. Which, if you don't mind me saying,' she added, eyeing the paint peeling off the window frame, 'you do actually need quite badly.'

'Not that badly,' said a new voice.

Emma peered into the gloom of the room. It was difficult to see where exactly the voice had come from, as the late March evening was drawing in and the strip light had flickered and died shortly after they'd come in.

She looked at a dark figure standing in the door frame. 'Did someone else have a contribution to make?'

This time the response was easier to locate. It was a cross between a snort and a harrumph, rather like a rhino in heat-not that she'd ever met one.

'I'm sorry, but does someone have a cold?' she asked, with more than a trace of irony.

'No. But someone needs their head examined if they think this is a good idea.'

The owner of the voice stepped into the room and her heart seemed to stop. Will Tennant. She might have known. She'd only met him once before, a few weeks ago when she'd suggested the team get some rather funky promotional merchandise to sell at fĂȘtes and open nights. He hadn't been amused then and he certainly didn't look amused now.

As he rested his six-foot-plus, nearly two-hundred pound frame against a spare patch of wall, Emma felt herself grow even warmer. That super-strength antiperspirant might be good for trekking through a steamy jungle but it was no protection at all against a man who had all the charm of a grizzly bear.

'I know it seems a bit... radical,' said Emma defiantly, trying not to be intimidated. She couldn't quite see Will's face in the dimness, and anyway, she'd forgotten her contacts, but she knew what his expression would be. Patronizing, sarcastic, or hostile, possibly all three.

'Radical?' said Will, crossing his arms.

God, that man was massive, thought Emma, momentarily distracted by the muscles in his forearms.

'Is that what you call it? I'd have said bloody ridiculous. We'll be the laughing stock of all the teams, you know.'

'You might, mate,' laughed Jason, giving Emma a small victory. Hmm... she thought, a little phallic competition might not be a bad thing. With all this testosterone around, it could be a very good thing.

'You need the funds for a new base and you need them quickly,' Emma explained patiently. 'Donation tins and stalls at the village fĂȘte are all very well, but you need to do something really dramatic these days to attract attention.'

'We don't need that kind of attention,' growled Will.

'There are other ways of getting the money without fancy PR gimmicks.'

Emma's blood approached boiling point. At this rate the idea of a nude calendar would be thrown out without a meaningful debate and she'd worked so hard on the proposals-for nothing too. Helping the local mountain rescue team with their fundraising wasn't exactly in the remit for her new job with the tourist board. She was here out of the goodness of her heart and, she might have added, was offering them a free consultancy that back in London would have cost them hundreds of pounds.

As the water tank in the old slate roof gave a temperamental shudder, she sighed.

She definitely wasn't in London now.

'It would all be very tasteful, of course,' she went on breezily, feeling very exposed herself. 'No one would actually see anything.' She halted, not quite knowing how to put it. 'Well, I mean, you'd have things to cover your decency, of course.'

'What things?' asked Phil, a wiry-looking guy with a ponytail.

'Well... props. You know, tools of the trade. Helmets...'

Excerpt from Dating Mr. December by Phillipa Ashley
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