Read Distracted Online

Authors: Madeline Sloane

Tags: #romance, #love, #travel, #love story, #pennsylvania, #key west, #florida, #artist, #sailing, #washington, #cabin, #washington dc, #outer banks, #lake, #sailboat, #marina, #sexy romance, #sexy love story, #catamaran, #sexy contemporary romance

Distracted

BOOK: Distracted
11.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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A Great Beach Read!

This is a charming story that had all my favorite
things in it: Books, Boats and hunky men (not necessarily in that
order).

--Jen C.

Thoroughly Enjoyable

Madeline Sloane brings romance to the table with her
first book! “Distracted” is cleverly written; the dialogue is
well-delivered, easily readable and certainly enjoyable.

-- Lucinda J. Knier

A Cute Romance

This was a cute romance. Erin is supposed to help
Stephen hurry up and get his book done, which turns out to be an
impossible task. Stephen’s tendency to put things off and enjoy
life is cute and funny, but in real life, this guy would annoy me
to no end. (And I’m laughing as I write that.)

-- Ruth Ann Nordin “Historical Romance Author"

A Refreshing Read

What a refreshing read, unlike so many romance novels
of the past, which made the female lead out to be some kind of
second-class citizen who could never stand up for themselves. (Many
of these books I’d throw against the wall in disgust.)

-- Susan Ward

 

 

 

 

 

Distracted

 

By Madeline Sloane

 

 

Copyright 2011 Madeline Sloane

Smashwords Edition

 

 

 

 

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment
only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people.
If you would like to share this book with another person, please
purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading
this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your
use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your
own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this
author.

 

 

To lvan

 

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

Erin fidgeted in the pin-striped chair. The
“two-minute” wait promised by the receptionist stretched into
ten.

She glanced again at the magazines spread on the side
table. The titles were unfamiliar. Some scholarly, some technical,
none very interesting. She pushed them aside until she found a new
copy of “Them” magazine, a slick tabloid that specialized in
reporting the latest scandals and love interests of the stars.

The cover featured its typical fare of movie stars
and beautiful people. In one photograph, a man and woman ducked
their heads to avoid the paparazzi. He wore sunglasses, an
unbuttoned island-print shirt, a pair of baggy, khaki shorts and
sandals. Hmmm, nice abs, she thought.

The woman looked familiar. An actress, maybe? She was
wearing a pink bikini top and a black sarong knotted at her slim,
tanned hip. They were holding hands and walking down a pier in a
tropical locale. Erin glanced out the large window at Washington’s
overcast skyline and shivered. Smog and low clouds nearly obscured
the Capitol dome.

She flipped through the magazine; the first ten pages
or so were filled with advertisements. Then she came to the cover
feature: The island couple. There were several photographs of the
hunk with various beautiful women. In one, he was standing at the
wheel of speed boat, shirtless, sunglasses on again, his
sun-streaked wavy hair whipping in the wind. In another, he was
strumming a guitar at a beach bonfire.

“Like what you see?”

Erin dropped the magazine and stood up.

“Patricia. How are you?”

“Fine. Sit down, Erin.”

Patricia McDowell slid behind her massive desk. An
imperious veteran of the publishing trenches for more than thirty
years, Patricia’s company churned out quality non-fiction that
often made university professors’ reading lists but always made the
New York Times bestselling list. Her diamond-hard veneer and keen
business sense aside, she was the patron saint of artists,
musicians, and historians who needed help writing books.

Patricia had tapped Erin after the young woman
interned at McDowell Publishing while earning a master’s degree. As
an editorial assistant, Erin helped senior staff move manuscripts
through the system, from the authors to the production
department.

She became efficient, but it was her combination of
charm and persistence that Patricia valued most. She discovered
that Erin could succeed, often through guile and wile, when
experienced editors failed.

Her easy-going personality put many shy and
introverted scholars at ease as she helped them complete their
books on time.

Patricia couldn’t care less if the girl recognized a
split infinitive or a dangling participle. She had plenty of
grammarians on staff. She wanted results and Erin delivered.

“Nice-looking man, isn’t he?” Patricia nodded towards
the tabloid Erin had tossed on the stack.

“George Clooney? He’s still yummy.”

“No. The man on the cover.”

“I didn’t really notice,” Erin said. She picked up
the magazine, thumbing through the pages until she found the photo
spread.

“He’s okay, I guess. Who wouldn’t be with that kind
of money? How much do you think that speedboat cost?”

“I’m not sure, but the sailboat cost at least
$500,000. I know. I bought it for him.”

“What? You’re kidding me! You know this guy?”

“That, my dear, is your next assignment. The boat was
an advance on his forthcoming book.”

She smiled at Erin’s disbelief.

“Yes; it’s that important. That’s why I need you.
He’s already missed three deadlines. I’m afraid he’s a bit
lackadaisical. His first chapter was due last month.” Patricia
leaned back into her leather chair and arched a silver eyebrow. “I
cannot tolerate that.”

“Is he local?” Erin flipped through the magazine to
the feature article and this time looked closer at the
photographs.

“No. I hope you don’t mind, you’ll have to travel for
this one. He lives in North Carolina, just a few hours away,”
Patricia added, noting Erin’s frown.

Erin chewed her lip. She preferred to work with D.C.
writers, primarily retired professors. She kept an apartment in
Dupont Circle, near the fashionable northwest but not as expensive.
Still, living in the capital was expensive and she could not afford
to turn down a job.

“Can you leave right away?”

Erin fumbled through her jacket pocket and pulled out
her mobile phone. Flipping through its digital calendar, she
scanned the months of April and May. Nothing she couldn’t
reschedule.

“Yes. Do you have a bio on this guy? What does he
do?”

Patricia paused. “I’m sorry, no bio unless you count
the ‘Sexiest Man in America’ feature in ‘Them.’ He’s an artist and
for some reason he’s popular in L.A. You won’t believe what they’re
paying for his paintings. Anyway, your job is to make sure he
finishes this book. Hell, I need you to make sure he begins it. I
envision a book that can be used in a university setting by art
students, and still entertain the layperson. It’s important we
publish his book right away while he’s on top. He’s an exciting
talent, and a richly illustrated, very personal book about Stephen
Spence would be extremely marketable.”

“What’s his name? Stephen Spence?” Erin echoed
distractedly.

“Have you heard of him?”

“I’m not sure. I’ll have to some research. I guess
these kinds of magazines would be the best place to begin,” Erin
said, dropping the tabloid on the table. “The paparazzi apparently
like to follow him. Who are the women?”

“Who knows? You seldom see him with the same one
twice. He doesn’t appear to be lonely, does he?”

Erin heaved a sigh. “Men like him seldom are.”

 

* * *

 

She wasn’t sure how long the project would last, so
Erin over packed. She decided to keep her appearance professional
and maintain a dressy-casual style for work. To her traditional
“librarian garb,” she added a new cocktail dress. She also packed a
few cotton tops and shorts since spring came earlier in the
Carolinas. Stephen Spence lived by the Atlantic, so she could
beachcomb, maybe swim during her free time. She tossed an
assortment of undergarments, stockings and her bathing suit into
the mix.

She didn’t keep a toiletry bag packed so she went
through the medicine cabinet and the shower and dumped products
into a water-proof tote.

Aidan leaned against the bathroom door, eating a
protein bar. “Hey, what’s going on?”

Aidan Carter was Erin’s ex-husband and a full-time
student, still working on his doctoral degree. Their marriage ended
a year ago after she discovered his affair with another student. It
was a bitter breakup. After their divorce, Erin discovered it hurt
more to lose her childhood friend so they remained close and,
temporarily, roommates.

Sometimes, though, Aidan forgot they were
“roommates.” Sometimes, she did too.

“I have an assignment. I’ll be gone for at least a
month, I imagine,” Erin said.

“What’s the assignment?”

“I’m going to North Carolina. Patricia has a client
who can’t meet his deadlines. I have to go down there and crack the
whip.”

Aidan nodded. “Who is this client and how old is
he?”

“Jealous?”

“Maybe.”

“Well, don’t be. It’s work,” Erin said, relieved she
hadn’t brought home the magazine with photos of Stephen Spence.
“Besides, you have your life and I have mine. Remember?”

It wasn’t exactly the truth, but Erin refused to
admit it. During the past four months that Aidan had been back,
they had ended up in bed together a few times. It wasn’t that odd,
really, she rationalized. He was gorgeous, with dark hair, steady
gray eyes, and chiseled features. He also was a brilliant
scientist, or would be when he finished his doctorate. Sex with
Aidan was safe, she told herself.

“I remember, but I worry about you. You know I care,”
he said, stepping into her bedroom. He cupped her chin and gently
kissed her lips. Then he glanced into her suitcase and noticed the
mass of frilly underwear and her bathing suit.

“Looks more like a vacation to me.”

Erin closed her suitcase and zipped the flap,
suppressing a grin at the thought that she would be spending the
next few weeks at the beach with a handsome and rich playboy.

“Well, it’s not.”

 

 

 

Chapter Two

 

Erin drove the twelve hours to Hatteras in a
short-lease SUV. Living in a major city with a subway meant she
rarely needed a car. Since Patricia was picking up the tab, she
opted for something large and luxurious. It was dark by the time
she rolled into the ferry parking lot at Swan Quarter and it was
empty.

“Great. That’s just great,” she muttered, climbing
out of the vehicle and walking to the pier. A weather beaten
“Closed” sign swung on a chain strung across the entrance. The last
ferry to the island faded to a speck in the distance.

Back at the SUV, Erin turned on the overhead light
and studied the GPS, flipping through the digital maps. There was
no other way to the island. She would have to stay on the mainland
and catch the morning ferry.

She backtracked a few miles to Route 264 and checked
into a small roadside motel. In the lobby, she found a shelf with
colorful brochures. She shuffled through them until she found one
with the ferry schedule, then tucked it into her purse while the
desk clerk ran her credit card.

“Is there a restaurant close by?”

The clerk, a dark-skinned quiet man, shook his head.
“There is a convenience store across the street,” he suggested.

Instead, Erin stopped at the vending machines near
the staircase and punched the buttons for a bottle of water and a
pack of peanut butter crackers. She fed more dollar bills into the
machine, and then selected a bag of chips and a chocolate bar.

An hour later, showered and wrapped in a fleece robe,
she sat cross-legged on the motel bed, the remote control in one
hand and the candy bar in the other. She flipped through the local
channels searching for a weather update, but the old television
only brought in local channels, and none of them included a
forecast. The bed was littered with junk food wrappers and cracker
crumbs. Her cell phone trilled, and she dove for her purse. She
scanned the caller ID before pushing the green answer button.

“Aidan?”

“Hi. How was the drive?”

Erin chewed her lower lip. “Okay.”

“Did you make good time?”

“Aidan. You don’t have to check up on me.”

“I’m not.”

“Yes, you are.”

After a few silent seconds, Erin continued, “We
talked about this, Aidan. We go our own ways.”

“I don’t know if I can.”

“You already have.”

“No, I haven’t. I’m right here.”

“I’m not going to talk about this again,” she said.
“You’ve got things to do; I’ve got things to do. I can’t have you
calling me up every night. You’ve got to stop pressuring me,
Aidan.”

BOOK: Distracted
11.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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