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Jessica Steele Vacancy Wife of Convenience

Jessica Steele Vacancy Wife of Convenience

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Published by Jahaine Reid

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Published by: Jahaine Reid on Mar 31, 2013
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08/09/2013

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Vacancy Wife of ConvenienceJessica Steele
 CollyGillinghamis in a bind. She has a week to pack her bags and get out of her home.For the first time in her life she needs a job - and fast! So, seeing an advert for a secretaryat Livingstone Developments,Colly jumps at the chance...The moment Silas Livingstone seesColly he knows she's exactly the woman he's beenlooking for. There's only one vacancy that Silas is advertising now - and that's for a wifeof convenience. WillColly take him up on the offer...?Contract Brides - from paper marriage to wedded bliss! Left penniless by her father's death, Columbine "Colly" Gillingham desperately needs a job, but she lacks experience. Then Silas Livingstone makes her an unorthodox proposal.If Colly will fill his
Vacancy: Wife of Convenience
(3) to help him save his family'sfirm, he'll provide the cash to finance her dreams. Neither plans to marry otherwise, soit's a sweetheart deal—until they spoil everything by falling in love. Jessica Steele'snewest is charming and employs a classic plot, but certain aspects of the story (e.g.,marrying because of the hero's family, then keeping it a secret from them) are slightlyconfusing. 
CHAPTER ONE
SHE had first seen him at her father's funeral, and had not expected to see him again. Buthere he was standing in front of her, tall, as she remembered, dark-haired and somewherein his middle thirties.Collyhad not had the chance then to learn who he was; her stepmother of two years, onlyfive years older than her, hadmonopolised him as they stood at the crematorium after theservice. 'Do come back to the house for some refreshment',Colly had clearly heard Nanette urge.He had suavely declined, looked as if he might come over toColly to offer hiscondolences, but she had been buttonholed by someone else and had turned away. Hespoke to her now, though, apologising thatMr Blake—the man she was at the Livingstone building to see—was unfortunately incapacitated that day.'Silas Livingstone,' he introduced himself. She had not known his name; he obviouslyknew hers. 'If you could hang on here for ten minutes, I'll be free to interview you in hisstead.'
 
'Would you rather I made another appointment?' She would prefer not to do that. Shewas nervous enough about this interview as it was, and was unsure if she would ever have the nerve to come back.'Not at all,' he replied pleasantly. 'I'll see you in a short while,' he added, and was alreadyon his way to the adjoining office.'Would you like me to wait elsewhere?'Colly asked the smart, somewhere in her latethirties PA, who appeared to be handling at least three tasks at one and the same time. 'Better not,' EllenRothwell replied with a kind smile. 'MrLivingstone has a busy day. Now that he's found a slot for you, he'll want you to be where he expects you to be.'Collysmiled in return but decided to say nothing more.She found it embarrassing enough as it was that apparently, so EllenRothwell hadexplained, Vernon Blake's present secretary had phoned around all the other applicants tocancel today's appointments. But, on phoningColly's home at the start of business thatday, had been informed that she was out and that there was no way of contacting her.She had known that her stepmother had a spiteful streak.To deliberately refuse to call her to the phone when she had been in all the time onlyendorsed that fact.Collyheld back a sigh and tried to direct her thoughts to the forthcoming interview.Vernon Blake was the European Director at Livingstone Developments, and was lookingfor a replacement multilingual senior secretary. Thesalary advertised was phenomenaland, since Nanette wanted her to move out, would, ifColly were lucky enough to get the job, enable her to rent somewhere to live and be independent.That had been her thinking at the time of spotting the advert. Never again would she bedependent on anyone. She had read the advert again.'Multilingual senior secretary.'What was so difficult about that? She could, after all, type.And, though a little rusty with her languages, she had at one time excelled in French andItalian, and had scraped through with a pass mark in Spanish and German. So what elsedid a multilingual secretary need?Watching EllenRothwell expertly deal with telephone calls, take notes in rapid shorthandand then calmly and charmingly sort out what seemed to be some sort of a problem,Collyrealised that there was a lot else to being a secretary. And what experience of being a
 
secretary did she have? Absolutely none!She almost got up then, made her excuses, and bolted. Thensheremembered why she wanted this job that paid so much.Very soon she would be homeless. And she, who had never had paid work in her life,desperately needed some kind of well-paid employment.It hurt that her father had left his will the way that he had.His twenty-eight-year-old widow had inherited everything; his daughter nothing. He hada perfect right to leave his money and property to whoever he cared to, of course. Butshe, his only child, his housekeeper since the last one had walked out seven years ago,was now about to lose the only home she had ever known. Not that it felt like home anymore.Collyhad been little short of staggered when, just over two years agonow, her dour, oftengrumpy parent had gone all boyish over the new receptionist at his club.The firstColly had got to suspect that he was seeing someone was when he'd suddenlystarted to take an interest in his appearance. She'd been glad for him. Her mother had diedwhenColly was eight—he had been unhappy for far too long.Her pleasure for him had been tinged with dismay, though, when a short while later hehad brought the blonde Nanette home—Nanette was about forty years his junior! 'I've been so longing to meet you!' the blonde twenty-six-year-old had trilled. 'Joey has toldme such a lot about you.'Joey! Her staid father, Joseph, was Joey IFor his sake,Colly smiled and made her welcome and tried not to see the way Nanette's eyes swept round the room takinginventory of anything valuable.HadColly secretly hoped that her father would still be as happy when Nanette backedaway from whatever sort of relationship they had, then she was again staggered when, far from the relationship ending, Nanette showed her the magnificent emerald ringJosephGillingham had bought her, and declared, 'We're getting married!'For the moment speechless,Colly managed to find the words to congratulate them. Butwhen, adjusting to the ideathatNanette was to be mistress of her home,Colly mentioned that she would find a placeof her own, neither her father nor Nanette would hear of it.'I'd be absolutely hopeless at housekeeping,' Nanette twittered. 'Oh, you must stay on to be housekeeper,' she cooed.

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