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On her way to a trade fair in Paris, Abby Redman, is met at Orly airport by a man who claims to be a friend of her brother. When she discovers he is staying in the same hotel she is suspicious and immediately phones her sibling to find out whether the man is legitimate.
Temple Townsend is a professional bodyguard and when the next day he sees the place where she is to drop off a parcel for her brother he refuses to let her deliver it.
On their return to the hotel he insists, much to Abby’s horror, on opening the package and they discover it is a precious manuscript, which he suspects has been stolen. Later when she has an intimidating phone call from the man who had expected the delivery she is scared out of her mind. Temple declares it is not safe for her to stay in Paris and whisks her away to a place he owns in Nantes.
She is furious that she has to miss her trade fair, but when the bad guys trace her to Nantes she is glad of Temple’s protection.
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‘Abby Redman?’ enquired a deep, male voice.
Abby stopped walking and turned her head. She had just arrived at Orly airport from Heathrow and was heading towards the shuttle bus that would take her to her hotel. She had no idea who this man was. He was tall and broad shouldered with jet black hair and amazing grey eyes. But she didn’t know him from Adam and she certainly wasn’t expecting anyone to meet her.
‘And you are?’ she enquired, her fine brows dragging together, her voice sharp.
‘A friend of your brother.’
A smile accompanied his words revealing even white teeth. He was very good looking, well dressed in black linen trousers and a crisp white shirt, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t a con man.
‘By coincidence I phoned him only this morning,’ he added with another one of his dazzling smiles. ‘And when he said that his sister was spending a few days in Paris I immediately thought that you might like some company.’
‘Oh, you did, did you?’ Abby straightened her back and squared her shoulders, her eyes shooting sparks of anger and distrust. ‘And my brother would be?’ She still didn’t truly believe that this man was a friend of his.
‘Why Martin, of course. Martin Redman,’ he said with more than a hint of amusement in his voice.
‘And your name is?’
‘Temple Townsend – at your service.’
He held out his hand but Abby ignored it. ‘Martin didn’t say anything about someone meeting me.’ She paused and glared at him. ‘How did you know who I was?’
The smile widened. ‘He described you perfectly. Tall, slender, long dark hair. Outstandingly good-looking.’
‘There must be thousands of women who match that description,’ she challenged, convinced her brother had not said any of that. He had never paid her a compliment in his life.
‘So call him if you don’t believe me.’ His eyes continued to twinkle. ‘Don’t worry, I mean you no harm. But who in their right mind would want to wander around a magnificent city like Paris on their own?’
‘I don’t need an escort.’ Abby kept her chin high and her eyes icy. ‘I am here on business.’
‘But also a few days holiday – according to your brother.’
‘Martin has a lot to answer for,’ she hissed as she speed-dialed his number, and was not impressed when he told her that, yes, Temple was an old friend of his.
‘When he offered to meet up with you and show you the sights I thought it a good idea since you’ve never been to Paris before.’
‘I am not a child, Martin!’ She tried to keep her voice down but found it impossible. ‘I’m perfectly capable of looking after myself.’
‘Temple’s a good man,’ he said, ignoring her outburst. ‘You should get on well with him.’
‘Get on well?’ Her voice rose even higher. ‘How much time am I supposed to spend with him? He’s a total stranger. You’re unbelievable.’
Abby cut the call short and turned to face Temple who was once again grinning.
‘So now that you know I’m perfectly trustworthy,’ he said, ‘let’s go. I have a car waiting.’ And he picked up her suitcase.
Given no choice Abby had almost to run to keep up with his long strides and when he dropped her bag into the boot of his shiny black car and opened the door for her, she could do nothing but slide in.
‘So, Mr Temple Townsend, what are you doing here in Paris? Do you live here?’ she asked once they had moved away from the airport. It was more to break the silence than because she was really interested. She had been well and truly cornered and was not very happy, even though he was perfectly polite and charming, and good-looking to boot. He was actually the type of man she liked, but she was not going to let him see that.
‘Not in Paris, but, yes, I do live in France,’ he answered, braking suddenly when the car in front of him came to an abrupt halt. ‘I suppose you could call me an odd job man, always doing work for different people.’
‘An odd job man? Dressed the way you are?’ she asked scornfully. He looked as though he was a white collar worker at the very least. ‘Who are you trying to fool? And why haven’t I ever heard my brother mention your name?’
‘Because it’s been years since we last saw each other,’ he answered easily. ‘We were at university together but our lives have gone in different directions.’ And then with an abrupt change of subject, ‘He said you were delivering something for him.’
‘That’s right, but as I’ve already told you it’s actually business that brings me here, so really, Mr Townsend, you’re wasting your time.’
A smile creased his face. ‘Surely not? We could still get together after you’ve done whatever it is you have to do. I would enjoy showing you the sights.’
‘You’re unbelievable!’ Nevertheless his smile was infectious and she could not stop herself smiling also. He did seem a very nice guy. A bit pushy but nice. And it would be good to have company. Someone who knew the city well, who could take her to all the right places.
It was not until they reached the hotel that Abby realised she had not given him the name of it. In which case Martin must have! And when she discovered that Temple was booked in as well alarm bells really did begin to ring.
‘So my brother also told you where I was staying?’ She sent him a damning look, daring him to refute it.
‘And you decided to check in here too? I don’t need a watch-dog.’ Her voice was far sharper and louder than normal, but she didn’t care. She felt as though everything was being taken out of her hands. ‘I’m twenty six and more than capable of looking after myself no matter what Martin thinks.’
She couldn’t even begin to think what her brother was playing at. She felt like snatching up her case and walking out but that would make her look a fool, and that was the last thing she wanted. What she wanted was for this man to leave her alone. She was grateful for the lift but she needed nothing more from him.
‘Of course you are,’ came the smooth reply.
He was mocking her! Which made her even angrier. She lifted her chin and glared. ‘If this is some sort of game I am not amused.’
When her registration was complete she took her key card from the receptionist and marched across to the lift, disappointed when it took an age to arrive. Temple stood at her side saying nothing. But she could feel him! Feel the smile. Feel his satisfaction. In fact she could feel the heat of him, including his sexuality! She desperately wanted to kick his shins.
Fortunately the lift arrived before the urge took hold. Her room was on the sixth floor and as soon as the doors opened she marched out. ‘Allow me,’ he said, once again taking her bag. By now Abby was well and truly out of sorts and she cursed her brother under her breath, and she cursed this man even more.
‘Mr Townsend, I do not need your assistance. Thank you for the lift, I appreciate it, but I can manage now.’
‘If you’re sure?’ His brows rose with an almost disappointed look.
‘I don’t know what sort of women you associate with,’ she said, ‘but I am not a helpless female.’
‘But you are a female and I was brought up to be kind and courteous to them.’
‘To the point of being a nuisance?’ she demanded. Then wished she could take the words back when she saw the hurt on his face.
‘If that is your opinion, then I’m sorry.’
Abby winced. ‘I’m sorry too. I am grateful. You went out of your way and I’m repaying you abysmally.’
‘Yes, you are,’ he agreed with a wry smile. ‘Can we kiss and make up over dinner tonight?’