Drop Dead Gorgeous
Mystery of Love, Book 1
© 2017Jennifer Skully
Previously published by HQN
All books in this series are standalone, connected romances.
“This mad-cap romp is high-energy fare, swirling with kooky characters, office intrigues, a lawsuit, even a stalker. And some laugh-out-loud scenes.”
~ Romance Reader at Heart
“If you’re in the mood for something that’s edgy, somewhat saucy, a little quirky, loaded with sexual tension and intrigue then Drop Dead Gorgeous is the book for you.”
~ Once Upon a Romance
She’s kooky, she’s drop dead gorgeous, and she’s never been in love.
More than anything in the whole wide world, Madison O’Donnell wants to fall in love before she dies. And she’s convinced that fateful event might just take place before her next birthday. So when she gets a wrong number from a stranger who sounds totally delicious, she knows it’s providence knocking on her door.
He’s older, he’s bald, and he’s an accountant. How’s he supposed to compete with delicious?
She’s not just his secretary. No, to T. Laurence Hobbs, Madison is…more. And more than anything, T. Larry needs to protect Madison…from herself. So when she gets the kooky idea that the anonymous man on the other end of a wrong number could be The One, there’s only one way to save Madison. T. Larry must put all his skills to proving The One she’s desperately looking for…is him.
Oh, and he probably needs to convince her she’s not going to die before her next birthday, too.
Series in order:
Drop Dead Gorgeous (Madison & T. Larry)
Sheer Dynamite (Opal & Jack)
It Must Be Magic (Lili & Tanner)
One Crazy Kiss(Kate & Joe novella)
You Make Me Crazy (Kate & Joe)
One Crazy Fling (BeeBee novella)
Crazy for Baby (BeeBee)
Drop Dead Gorgeous
© 2017Jennifer Skully
Madison O’Donnell loved a lot of things. Chocolate peanut butter cups and hot dogs with extra mustard. The treasures she found on her once-a-month rounds of the Saturday garage sales with her mother. A good mystery, a great romance, and erotic movies on streaming. She loved telling clients she’d cut her boss into pieces and stuffed his body parts into the bottom drawer of her filing cabinet. It made them smile, and goodness knew people needed a smile when faced with a tax consultation early in the morning. Madison loved to make people smile. She loved her wavy titian hair—the word red would never do. She loved her three older brothers, her mother, and her mother’s sugar-n-lemon pancakes.
Yes, Madison loved,but she’d never been in love,and falling in love was something she absolutely had to do before she turned twenty-eight. Which meant she had only fifteen days left to achieve that nearly impossible goal before it was too late.
But fall in love with whom? After pondering the question the entire day, Madison still hadn’t a clue.
T. Laurence Hobbs, her staid yet adorable boss, entered her cube and blew her musings to the winds. On the other side of her cubicle, fingers tapped ditties on keyboards and the low rumble of voices drifted through the six-foot partitions. The phone rang on the desk in front of her. T. Larry—a nickname she loved and he’d endured with long-suffering sighs over the seven years he’d employed her—harrumphed when her hand went automatically to the receiver. During office hours, T. Larry liked the personal touch of a real human being talking to clients rather than a voicemail menu. So, choosing the phone over him, Madison swung her chair, put her back to him, and answered with a chipper smile.
“Carpal, Tunnel, and Syndrome.Mr. Hobbs’s office.”Spoken fast and slurred, the client wouldn’t understand the play on words, which should have been Carp, Alta, and Hobbs, CPAs. T. Larry would know, though. His frown jabbed her between the shoulder blades, and her smile widened. She loved teasing him.
“Hey, beautiful, what are you doing?”
She didn’t recognize the voice on the other end, but hanging up on anyone calling her beautiful was inconceivable. A nice voice, sexy, deep.The perfect voice for phone sex lite. Who was it? She could have asked, but relished figuring out his identity on her own.
Hoping for a clue, she said, “Just waiting for your call.”
At her back, T. Larry puffed like a fire-breathing dragon.
“What are you wearing?”
Could it be Jim? He’d always wanted to know the color of her panties. Though he’d never asked over the phone.“Something red and lacy,” she told him.
T. Larry broke into a spasm of coughing, recovering before she had to turn around and pound his back.
“You’re driving me crazy, how was your day, did you think of me?” was said as one purring sentence, as if her mystery man had only one thought on his mind.
Not Jim, the voice was too tempting. Not Matthew either, since he’d broken it off over a month ago at the beginning of May. Unless he’d decided he’d made a mistake. She was willing to forgive just to find out if she could have fallen in love with him given more time. Hmm, what was the best way to play this? “I can’t say I did think of you today.”
“I’m wounded. Make it up to me by having dinner with me.” A touch of laughter laced the deep voice. Matthew, for sure. He had a quirky sense of humor, a thick skin, and it was just like him to forget he’d snapped her in two like a twig.
But she’d forced herself to get over it. Being moody and depressed didn’t do anyone any good, least of all her. Still, “Don’t you think we ought to talk about what happened first?”
T. Larry cleared his throat, then his arm slid into her line of sight, the finger of his other hand tapping the face of his watch. At five minutes to five, she was still on his time.
Matthew went on. “Let’s talk about it over champagne and veal picatta.”
Veal? She couldn’t bear to think about those poor calves stuck in pens and slaughtered like... Madison shoved T. Larry’s arm away. “I’d love to have dinner, but I’ve got to catch the 5:20 train home, and my brother Patrick’s picking me up—”
“—and it’s too late to tell him I won’t be on it.” Besides, she shouldn’t have dinner with her former beau without first discussing that goodbye. “So call me tonight, Matthew.”
“Matthew?” A quizzical tone, probably raised eyebrows, too. Oops, she’d put her foot in it. She was always doing that.
“My name’s not Matthew. Is this Kim?”
With only fifteen days left until her birthday, she was beyond the usual embarrassment. “I’m Madison.”
He laughed, a lovely, full laugh that must have come straight from his belly. “I’m really sorry. I thought—”
“And I thought...”
“So what are you doing tonight?” A deep breath, a smile still in his wonderful voice.“How about dinner?”
Madison laughed with him. “You don’t even know me.”
“You’re Madison. I’m Richard.”
“Nice to meet you, Richard, but I still can’t have dinner with you tonight.”
“Because your brother’s picking you up from the 5:20 train.”
T. Larry knocked the back of her chair with his knee. She waved a dismissive hand and plugged a finger in her ear.
“How about tomorrow?”Richard pushed.
Friday. She was free. He really did have an amazing voice. Madison was never one to dismiss coincidence. Coincidence was destiny patting you on the back. Especially with her birthday bearing down like an avalanche.Twenty-eight. What if she never knew what it was like to fall in love? What if Richard was The One, her destiny?
“Okay, I’ll have dinner with you tomorrow.” She bit her lip to keep the excitement from bubbling over. “But no veal.”Then she gave him the address of their office building, named a restaurant nearby, and told him what she looked like so the man of her dreams could recognize her across a crowded room.
Good God. Laurence adjusted his glasses on the bridge of his nose. Madison O’Donnell had just told a complete stranger the color and texture of her underwear. With the whole office listening on the other side of her cubicle walls. Then she’d made a date with the man.
Unbelievable.Unimaginable. But then Madison always did and said the unthinkable. She wasn’t quite...normal.
Yet T. Laurence Hobbs found himself hopelessly fascinated.