Read Maggie Undercover Online

Authors: Elysa Hendricks

Tags: #romance, #teacher, #small town, #high school, #sweet, #thanksgiving, #contemporary romance, #sweet romance, #puppy, #traditional, #sledding, #small town romance, #computer hacking, #trick or treating

Maggie Undercover

BOOK: Maggie Undercover
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MAGGIE UNDERCOVER
(Previously Titled Counterfeit Love)

By Elysa Hendricks
The last thing high school teacher Jared Blake needs or wants is
his attraction to his student - high school senior, Maggie McCade.
The last thing computer security consultant and pretend high school
student Maggie McCade needs or wants is to fall in love with her
prime suspect – her teacher, Jared Blake.

 

Smashwords Edition
Other Full Length Smashwords titles by Elysa Hendricks

THE BABY RACE

THIS HEART FOR HIRE

HER WILD TEXAS HEART

TANGO IN PARADISE

 

Copyright 2011

Elysa Hendricks

Cover images courtesy of Dreamstime.com

Cover by Liz Krejcik

 

SMASHWORDS EDITION LICENSE NOTES

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.

 

 

~~~~~

CHAPTER ONE

 

In the normal order of things Maggie McCade
would be hot on the scent of the hunk standing at the front her
high school math class. But in this incarnation he was off limits.
Not only was Jared Blake a high school teacher - he was her teacher
and her prime suspect.

As if her first time through high school
hadn't been bad enough, at twenty-nine being undercover as a high
school student was pure hell for more reasons than one.

She peered into the classroom. Good, his back
was turned. She tried to ease into the room without being
noticed.

"I'm glad you could join us Miss McCade." He
never even turned around. Under that thick blanket of shiny black
hair the man had eyes in the back of his head.

She groaned in defeat and dropped into her
chair. Her bag slipped off her arm and crashed to the floor. The
class tittered in amusement.

Then Jared Blake did turn around. Again she
considered how unfair life was. High school math teachers should be
fussy middle-aged men, with thinning hair, myopic eyes, and pocket
protectors. This man was gorgeous, tall and well built, with
movie-star good looks.

Somehow she made it through class without
drawing further attention.

"Homework is on the board. Page 29, problems
25 through 50. Class dismissed."

She grabbed her bag and started to leave.

"Ms. McCade could you stay a few
minutes?"

The bag slid with a thump back to the floor.
What now? Was he getting suspicious? After four weeks, she thought
she had this high school senior role nailed. "Yeah, what you
need?"

Jared – she had a hard time thinking of this
hunk as Mr. Blake – leaned back against his desk at the front of
the room, crossed his arms and gazed at her. His white shirt pulled
taut over his broad chest revealing hard muscles he hadn't gotten
by pushing chalk across a blackboard.

Maggie felt her insides going liquid. Looks
like his should be declared illegal. Nonsense. After over two years
of celibacy, any man would look good. Then why wasn't she drooling
over Mr. Hoffman, her squirrelly English teacher?

She could count on one hand without using up
all the fingers the number of men she'd been with, none of them
memorable. So why did this man turn on the libido she thought dead
and buried?

She couldn't help track Jared as he walked
over to her desk. The man moved like an athlete, his body sleek and
toned. She could picture him dressed in an Armani suit controlling
a corporate boardroom or better yet, dressed in a leather loincloth
holding an equally scantily clad woman, preferably her. Why would a
man with his looks, intelligence and innate charisma choose to
teach a bunch of disinterested teenagers a plus b equals c?

Leaning toward her, he laid a sheaf of papers
on her desk. The subtle piney scent of his cologne wafted over her.
His face was so close to hers she could make out each whisker on
his cheek. Her mouth dried up. Why did the sight of this man's five
o'clock shadow stir her?

"You seem to be having some trouble with your
assignments. You know I'm available for extra help before and after
school as well as during some study periods."

Available. God, the images his words conjured
up in her mind drove out the rest of his speech. How she wished he
were available to her. Then the teacher would become the
student.

"Ms. McCade? Maggie?"

Her name on his well-shaped lips snapped her
out of her daydream. "Sorry, Mr. Blake. Algebra is hard for
me."

"You're a bright young woman. You're doing
well in your other classes, but you need this math credit to
graduate. And right now you're on your way to failing."

If only he knew.

"Are you free after school on Tuesdays and
Thursdays? I hold a tutoring session from three to four."

"No, that's cheerleading practice." Who'd
have ever pictured her as a cheerleader?

"Before school?"

She shook her head, but didn't give a reason.
Some things were better off kept secret – like why she'd agreed to
this ridiculous charade.

"Well," he seemed hesitant. "Check your
schedule. I'll see if I can arrange something to help you out."

Yes! She had the man just about where she
wanted him. She restrained her excitement and mumbled an
affirmative before bolting out of the room. Once in the hall, she
let her grin emerge. With what she knew about men in general and
Jared Blake's background in specific, getting him to spill the
beans should be a piece of cake. She'd seen the way he tried to
keep his eyes off her, to play the part of Mr. Respectable School
Teacher. She just hadn't thought it would take four weeks and
failing grades to get him to move.

Fudging her math assignments was hard.
Numbers had always fascinated and amazed her. Though she loved the
written word, give her the clean logic of math and computers any
day. Maybe that's why Daniel Sterling, her boss, mentor, and
friend, had pressed her into taking this crazy job.

A local company, Reed Software had hired
Daniel's firm, Sterling Securities to find out who'd hacked into
their computers. Because an employee or family member of an
employee were the prime suspects, the owner of the company wanted
to keep the investigation quiet, they wanted to handle it
themselves without police intervention.

Someone had to get close to the teenage
suspects. Daniel had asked or rather demanded Maggie play the part
of his teenage daughter and high school student in their little
charade. Though she'd like to believe he chose her because she was
his best investigator, honesty forced her to admit her youthful
looks got her the job. She was the only one of his crew who could
pass as a teenager. Soon she'd get her chance to close this case
and get on with her life. Daddy, as she teasingly referred to
Daniel since the start of this job, would be so pleased.

She hummed and did a little dance step from
the latest cheerleading routine. She'd almost balked at joining the
squad, but since one of the student suspects was a cheerleader,
Maggie had caved in. It surprised her to discover she enjoyed the
physical activity as well as the camaraderie of the other
girls.

As she moved through the crowded halls she
answered greetings from other students. Since she'd started at
Council Falls High School, student body 675, she'd been easily
accepted. Her blonde, all-American good looks and friendly attitude
made her popular. Of course, she thought cynically, her classic red
Mustang convertible, her kick-ass wardrobe, and the generous
allowance she'd insisted on, as part of the job, didn't hurt.

Life was strange. She finally had the high
school experience she'd dreamed about before. And it had only taken
her twenty-nine years to get here.

***

"Damn," Jared muttered as the needle slipped
for the tenth time and jammed into his thumb again. He was
beginning to feel like a pincushion. Specks of red decorated the
costume he was trying to sew for his daughter for Halloween. Though
Alexandra claimed nine was too old to go out for Trick or Treat,
he'd seen how many times she watched Sleeping Beauty and had come
up with the idea of making her the costume.

Buying a costume would have been easier, but
he remembered fondly the ones his mother had made for him and his
siblings. He wanted those same memories for his daughter, even if
it cost him all his fingers.

He hoped once she had the costume he could
convince her to wear it. What had he been thinking?

"You owe the jar a quarter," Alexandra told
him.

He put down the ruined, filmy white material,
dug a quarter out of his pocket. It dropped with a noisy clink into
the quart jar kept on the kitchen counter. "There, little Miss
Language Police, are you satisfied? At this rate we'll be at Disney
World next week."

A rare giggle echoed through the house and
the sharp pricks of pain in his fingers faded away. It was good to
hear her laugh. He smiled back and her laugh faded. With a frown
she stalked upstairs to her room. His heart sank. Would she ever be
the cheerful child she should be?

Outside early October sunshine warmed crisp
air scented with the faint odor of burning leaves. Children yelled,
as they raked then jumped in colorful leaf piles. Jared stood in
the doorway to Alexandra's room and watched as she meticulously
arranged her dolls and stuffed animals for yet another tea party.
Alone again. "Get your coat. Time to rake."

"Do I have to? Leaves are dirty and smelly.
Raking is boy stuff." The polite, sullen child was back.

"Yes, you have to. And raking is no more boy
stuff than cooking, dishes or – sewing is girl stuff. Now get a
move on, sunshine is wasting."

She groaned but slid off her bed. He watched
as she placed each of her dolls back in their proper position on
the shelves until her room was spotless. His heart ached. At nine
years old she was the spitting image of Brittany, her fragile,
beautiful, compulsive mother.

After six months a laugh and a groan were
slow progress in bringing Alexandra out of the shell she'd wrapped
around herself since Brittany's death. But she was a far cry from
the pale, waif-like girl who'd clung to Brittany's mother when he'd
reached for her at the funeral. He should have expected it, but it
still hurt.

After his and Brittany's divorce when
Alexandra was a baby, Jared had done his best to retain a major
role in her life, but between Brittany and her parents they'd
managed to thwart almost every effort until Alexandra became little
more than a stranger to him. They'd wrapped her in a cotton wool of
protection until her natural childish exuberance was all but
extinguished. Unwinding the bindings was slow going.

Then poor, unhappy Brittany had died in a
horrible car crash while globetrotting with her latest boy toy.
Jared didn't like to think about the battle he'd had with his
in-laws when he'd come to take Alexandra home with him. They'd used
every weapon in their expensive arsenal to keep her, to mold her
into a carbon copy of the daughter they'd lost. In the end he'd won
custody, but the mud they'd dug up and flung at him left him
feeling soiled.

"I'm not going to rake that big yard all by
myself." Alexandra's complaint roused him from less than pleasant
memories. Hands propped on her still boyish hips, a sour grimace on
her face, she stood by the door.

"I'm sewing your costume all by myself," he
countered.

"I didn't ask you to sew that dumb old
costume. Besides, that's different."

"How?"

He relished the mindless adult/child
bantering as they headed outside. It reminded him of his happy
years growing up in this house with his parents and siblings. He
wanted to give Alexandra those same memories, but she fought him at
every turn.

Dozens of trees filled the acre property the
rambling old house sat on. Every breeze sent down a colorful
shower, re-covering the ground they'd just revealed. Alexandra
raked methodically. Warmed by the sun and exertion Jared shed his
jacket and sweatshirt, leaving him in his t-shirt and jeans.

Just as he was about to call a break a car
whipped into his drive.

"Wow!" Alexandra dropped her rake and
sprinted over to the car.

But it wasn't the cherry red convertible, so
like what Brittany had driven, that drew his eye. Caught up in a
high ponytail, the driver's honey blonde hair waved in the wind, a
proud banner. For a moment his vision retreated into the past to
when he'd met Brittany.

Young and carefree they'd met at college and
despite parental objections married in their senior year. The
marriage lasted less than a year. Brittany had never enjoyed being
a teacher's wife, as short a time as that was, and when his
teaching career crashed down around him, she didn't have the
strength or the trust in him to stick around.

BOOK: Maggie Undercover
2.8Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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