Carly Phillips

Simply Sexy

The fifth book in the Simply series, 2002

A book in the Heat series


EMMA MONTGOMERY STOOD by the window in the newspaper offices and tapped her manicured nails impatiently. Snowflakes told her Christmas was around the corner and she adored the holiday, the cheer, the parties. She had no patience for imbeciles, a thought which reminded her to look back at the road. Still no sign of her driver. The man came and went on his own schedule. She wished she still had her license but those days were gone. Thank goodness she had other skills that hadn't dwindled with age. Matchmaking was her specialty and obviously Corinne, the present publisher of the Ashford Times, had recognized her talent.

Emma was now the columnist for the Ashford Times's 'Meet and Greet' column. And she couldn't forget that this job had also saved her elegant behind from a nursing home. Her son, the Judge, had had it with her parties and antics, and if she didn't get busy with something, he'd threatened to put her in an old- age home.

She shivered, blaming the cold seeping in from the window. But the Judge's bellowing had done her a favor. She loved this job and the people here appreciated her talent and humor.

'Oh, Rina!' Emma called out to the only employee left in the office, the new girl named Rina Lowell.

Pretty name. Pretty woman. No makeup, but if Emma had that gorgeous skin, she wouldn't bother with blush, either.

Rina glanced up from her desk where she was typing away. 'Yes, Emma?'

'You know that expression, all work and no play makes Rina an old fuddy-duddy?'

'I don't think you quite nailed it.' Rina laughed, a light sound that would be musical to a man's ears. 'Are you saying it's time I went home for the night?'

'Goodness, no!' Emma waved her hand in the air. 'I'm saying we should hit the town and celebrate the new lives this paper has given us.' Emma had been working for a few months and Rina had just recently started.

The young woman obviously wanted to make a good impression, arriving early and leaving late. But even the most dedicated worker had to have some fun.

'What did you have in mind?' Rina asked.

From the corner of her eye, Emma saw her car approach with her good-for-nothing driver, hired by her son, at the wheel. She might as well make use of his time and let him earn his money. 'I thought we could go to O'Dooley's and have a beer.'

Rina burst out laughing. 'I'm sorry. I just can't picture you, an eighty-year-old woman, drinking beer.'

'Phooey. You shouldn't make fun of an old lady. Would you prefer I have a shot of tequila?'

'I'll do one with you,' Rina offered, her eyes twinkling with the challenge.

'You're on.' Emma stuck out her hand for a shake. 'At least I don't have to worry about drinking and driving. And if you come with me, neither do you. Leave your car here. I'll drop you off at your home tonight and pick you up on the way to work tomorrow.'

Rina pretended to give the idea some thought, but Emma caught the smile on her lips and knew the young woman had already decided.

Finally she nodded. 'Okay. I'm up for partying.' She slid her chair back so she had room, and pushed herself in a circle, hanging her head back and spinning the chair around before letting loose a loud whoop.

'What was that for?' Emma asked.

'I just wanted to act as free as I feel.' Rina giggled girlishly. 'I'm just so happy to have this job and so excited to start life over in Ashford.'

Emma took in the young woman's pink flushed cheeks and wide smile. With her carefree attitude, she was the perfect candidate for Emma's matchmaking skills. She rubbed her palms, warming them together. 'So we're off to O'Dooley's.'

'Do you think we'll meet any men at this joint?' Rina asked as she pulled her purse out of the drawer in her desk. 'Because with my new 'Hot Stuff' column, I could use some good interaction.'

Rina might claim her interest was in work, but Emma didn't miss the sparkle in Rina's gaze at the mention of meeting a member of the opposite sex. Oh, this was going to be fun, Emma thought. 'With your cheekbones, you'd meet men anywhere.'

'Why, thank you, Emma.' Rina fluttered her mascara-free lashes with obvious exaggeration, then grabbed her winter coat from the back of her chair.

Emma wrapped her heavy shawl more securely around her shoulders. Together, they started for the door, but as they walked by the empty desk beside Rina's, Emma paused. 'Did you hear the news?' she asked.

Rina shook her head. 'I came in late today and worked all afternoon.' She pointed to the Walkman she often wore when deep in thought. 'What news?'

'That desk will have an occupant soon. The prodigal son has returned.' Emma ran her hand over the old, empty desk. One no one was allowed to take in case Colin Lyons should return.

'I don't understand,' Rina said.

'You already know that Corinne took over the paper from her sick husband, Joe.'

The young woman nodded. 'He's in the hospital and Corinne's worried.'

'Right. And so is Joe's son. The man's a wanderer. He never stays in one place, to his poor father's chagrin.' Emma placed a hand over her heart, knowing how she loved having her children and grandchildren around her. Even New York, where her granddaughter, Grace, lived, was too far away from Emma's home in Massachusetts. She couldn't imagine having a world traveler in the family. 'But he's home now. And Corinne said he'll be working here.' Emma pointed to the empty chair…a chair a few feet from Rina's desk.

The possibilities flitted through Emma's mind, giving her an adrenaline rush. Colin was a gorgeous man with sparkling blue eyes and the most amazing smile. But he'd never stick around for longer than he had to. Emma knew this because he'd been her grandson Logan's college roommate. She loved Colin like he was her own grandchild, but felt he was missing out on so much that life had to offer. A warm bed to come home to, a good woman…

A woman like Rina. Emma pursed her lips in thought. This was definitely something to consider. 'Let's get going and I'll tell you all about Colin,' Emma suggested.

'Sounds like a good plan.' Rina headed out first, holding the door open for Emma. 'Is he cute?' Rina asked.


She raised an interested eyebrow. 'Attached?'

Emma shook her head. 'Completely free,' she said and hoped she wasn't lying. She hadn't heard much about Colin's personal life lately. She'd have to ask Logan.


'What does hmm mean?' Emma asked as she pressed the elevator button. She needed to know that Rina was open to a short-term relationship before she hooked her up with Colin. She'd never intentionally set anyone up for heartache, and though Emma would work toward something more permanent with these two, she couldn't be certain Colin would ever settle down.

Rina shrugged. 'Just hmm.' She tipped her head to the side. 'You know, with this new job and new life, I can't help but think a little fun and excitement with a man ought to follow.' She wriggled her eyebrows playfully. 'You know what I mean.'

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