Read Loving Mr. July Online

Authors: Margaret Antone

Tags: #contemporary romance, #sequel, #humorous, #humorous romance

Loving Mr. July

 

Loving Mr. July

 

By Margaret Antone

 

Copyright 2011 De Vries Creative LLC

Cover copyright 2011 by De Vries Creative LLC

 

Smashwords Edition

 

 

 

 

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.

Loving Mr. July is a work of fiction. Names,
characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s
imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual
events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely
coincidental.

 

For my first readers, Kiki and Renee.
Thanks!

Chapter 1

 

 

“No. No. No! You’re supposed to be my Mr.
July!” Cynthia Rowe yelled the words as she squashed the newspaper
in disgust.

“What’s going on?” Sharon Newberry, her
business partner at Grandma’s Antiques, came running into the loft
office.

“Mr. July has up and gotten engaged. How
could he do this to me?”

Sharon sat down in a chair and blew out a
breath. “What the heck are you talking about? I practically had a
heart attack running up those stairs. I thought it was something
serious.”

“It
is
serious. It’s a disaster!”
Cynthia wailed. “I’ve got three weeks to get all the photographs
for the Business Hunks of San Diego calendar done, and now my Mr.
July is engaged. How am I supposed to replace him in three weeks?
It took me months to find these guys. Let alone convince them to do
it.”

“I don’t understand. So he’s engaged, so
what? Does that mean suddenly he can’t take his shirt off and flex
a few muscles for charity?” Sharon picked up the paper. “Who is he
marrying anyway?”

“The point is they are supposed to be
bachelors. It plays into the whole fantasy thing and drives up
sales. And he’s not a fantasy if he’s already taken.” Cynthia’s
voice rose with each sentence. “Couldn’t he have waited just a
little bit longer?”

“So ask one of the guys at the fire station.”
Sharon replied, her nose deep in the paper. “They are always good
eggs about doing stuff like that for charity. Remember the hottie
who came in last month when that old lady fainted in the store?
He’d be great for it.”

Cynthia whipped the newspaper out of Sharon’s
hands. “What part of
business
hunks don’t you get? As hot as
Sam is, he doesn’t fit the bill.”

Sharon stared at her. “You’re on first name
basis with the firemen now too?”

“We did firemen two years ago.” Cynthia tried
to act nonchalant but couldn’t help the smug tone from creeping
into her voice, just a little. “Sam was Mr. October.”

“What was I thinking?” Sharon let out a
little half-laugh while she shook her head. “He is male, why
wouldn’t you know him?”

“Not nice.” Cynthia tried to glare at her,
failing when the giggle came out. “Can I help it that I’m a
connoisseur of the male form?”

“Aren’t connoisseurs supposed to be
discriminating?”

“It means an expert judge,” Cynthia replied,
tilting her head down so she could look at Sharon over her cat-eye,
rhinestone-studded peeper glasses. “Which I consider myself to be.
And which is why it took so long to get these guys together for the
current calendar.”

“C’mon. There’s got to be one more guy
willing to take his shirt off for charity that could qualify as a
businessman.”

“But it’s more than that, Sharon.” Cynthia
couldn’t keep the slight note of panic from entering her voice.
“There’s a whole fundraising event wrapped around this thing. The
calendar was just the start. They’re supposed to put together a
fantasy weekend, at their own expense, to be auctioned off at the
Bocher Foundation Ball. They take the women who make the winning
bid at the auction on the weekend with them. That’s why the men had
to be
single
, good looking, wealthy, and pass a background
check.”

“Yikes. I see why you’re having the panic
attack. But surely we can come up with one more name.”

“It’s going to take a miracle at this point.”
Cynthia laid her head down on the desk. “I should have stayed in
bed this morning.”

Sharon laid a hand on Cynthia’s arm. “I’ll
try to help. I know how much that charity means to you.”

“Uh, bad time?” Sharon’s husband, Blake,
stood in the doorway holding two steaming cups of coffee. He looked
hesitant about coming in any further.

“Cynthia lost Mr. July,” Sharon told him.
“And she needs a new one, fast.”

She signaled for him to come inside the
office and accepted the coffee with one hand. The other hand she
slipped around his neck, pulling him in for a nuzzle.

“Come again?” Blake wrapped an arm around
Sharon, giving her a quick squeeze and held the second cup out to
Cynthia.

“You’re a god among men.” Cynthia glanced up
at Blake through her fringe of bangs. She took an appreciative sip
and looked over at Sharon. “If you ever get tired of him, can I
have him?”

Blake turned a little red and tried to get
back to the subject. “So what was this about Mr. July?”

“The Bocher Foundation’s charity.” Sharon
said. “Cyn’s on the board and in charge of the Hunk of the Month
calendar. Only Mr. July had the audacity to get engaged.”

“Ah.” Blake’s face still registered
confusion, but had the look of a man who knew when to keep his
mouth shut.

“So now she needs a new one.” Sharon
continued, playing with Blake’s wedding ring. “Know anyone who’s
single, rich, gorgeous, in great shape, and willing to shed his
shirt to pose for a good cause?”

“You forgot to mention willing to supply a
fantasy weekend at their expense and pass a background check all
within the next few weeks.” Cynthia added glumly, frowning down at
her coffee.

“The Bocher Foundation, as in the children’s
abuse charity?” Blake reached into his pocket to silence his
ringing cellphone. “Isn’t that the one Kurt just got RentBro
involved with? Did you hit him up to be in the calendar?”

“Your illustrious brother turned me down in
no uncertain terms. Twice,” Cynthia said. “He was the first person
I thought of when our committee came up with the idea last fall.
‘Not a chance in hell’ were his exact words, I believe. I tried
again after I found out that he’d picked us as your company’s
charity to foster for this year. No dice.”

“Seems to me that he’s not leading by example
the way a true RentBro executive should,” Blake drawled, a hint of
a smile on his face. “The guidelines at our company for the yearly
charity foster pick call for more than just monetary donations.
Employees are supposed to get involved as much as possible.”

“Kurt told me it wasn’t a dignified way to
represent RentBro,” Cynthia said.

“Dignified, my ass.” Blake snorted. “More
likely he’s embarrassed by the little donut he’s developed in the
last few months wining and dining clients.”

“Donut? Give me a break. He works out at my
gym. Women can’t take their eyes off him,” Cynthia said.

Herself included, but she wasn’t about to
admit that out loud. And it wasn’t just his face, unbelievably
handsome with strong chin and dimples, despite a nose that had
obviously been broken at some point. And it wasn’t his gorgeous
surfer-dude, blond curls, or even his killer six-foot plus and
muscular hard body. No, he oozed charisma with no apparent effort,
collecting admirers wherever he went. So much so that she’d always
been contrary around him. Which totally wasn’t her style. But she
wasn’t going to examine that too closely.

“And if he’s got a donut anywhere on him, I
must be carting around the entire donut store,” she added
aloud.

“Even if he did, couldn’t you just stick a
prop in front of that region? Or Photoshop him?” Sharon leafed
through the previous year’s calendar. “Like take this guy. He’s
standing behind the car door. How do we know if he’s got abs or
not?”

Blake peered over Sharon’s shoulder. “That’s
Ralston Hardy. I play golf with him. Nice guy, but don’t think he’s
all that athletic otherwise. Probably why they stuck him behind the
door. Maybe he can give Kurt some pointers.”

“Why are we even talking about this? He’s not
going to do it,” Cynthia said. “He’s made that exceedingly
clear.”

“Sure he is.” Blake gave Cynthia a
mischievous smile. “And I’m going to guarantee it right now.” He
pulled the cell phone out of his pocket and punched a speed
dial.

Cynthia looked over at Sharon and raised one
eyebrow.

Sharon shrugged and mouthed, “Don’t have a
clue.”

“Hey Ethel?” He got only the two words out
before he had to pause. “Yeah, I heard the phone ringing. I just
stopped by Grandma’s Antiques for a minute. You’re right, I should
have called to let you know I’d be late. I’ll be into the office in
fifteen.” He winked at Sharon. “I know, I know. I’ve become a
slacker since I got married… Yes, you deserve a raise... No, I
don’t know what I’d do without you.”

Cynthia made a gagging sound.

He grinned unabashed at her, motioning for a
pen and paper, while continuing to listen to his longtime and
rather ancient assistant. “Okay, got it. I’ll head straight over to
building three for the staff meeting as soon as possible. But in
the mean time, have you sent the company newsletter out yet?”

Blake scribbled a few notes on the paper and
shoved them into his pocket as he waited for Ethel’s answer. “Good,
because I need you to pull the employee interest story for this
week and replace it with another.”

 

~ ~ ~

 

Kurt toweled the sweat from his eyes and
headed for the company locker room. In his view, there was nothing
like a game of volleyball at lunch to clear the mind. And he was
going to need a clear mind for the meeting he had scheduled for
this afternoon—presenting the monthly report to the board of
directors. God how he hated that part of his job—the endless
questions, the squeezing for their pound of flesh to protect their
interest. Given, without the venture capital most of them
represented, there would be no RentBro, Inc. But that didn’t mean
he had to like it.

“Good game.” Mario, his communications
director slapped him on the back as they entered the locker room.
“Haven’t seen you out there for a while. Guess you have to get in
shape for the new gig, huh?”

“New gig?” Kurt only half registered the
teasing tone to Mario’s voice, his mind preoccupied with the
presentation he needed to give to the board.

“Got courage, that’s all I can say.” Mario
grabbed at a roll of his own stomach. “Given my wife, Stella’s,
cooking, there’s no way I’d offer to do that calendar. But you do
what you do for a good cause, right?”

Kurt had his shirt half way over his head
before Mario’s words sunk in. He whipped the shirt off the rest of
the way to stare at Mario. “What are you talking about?”

“It’s not like it’s a secret anymore.” Mario
looked up from the bench where he’d been untying his shoes. “Ethel
put it out in the company newsletter today. Way to set an example
to the team. I’ll bet employees are going to come out of the
woodwork to support the Bocher Foundation now.” He gave Kurt a fist
bump to the arm before he headed off to the showers, calling over
his shoulder with a chuckle. “Better start doing some crunches
though. Women go for that six pack thing.”

Kurt watched him walk away with a sinking
feeling in his stomach. His preoccupation dissipated in a hurry
while he hunted for his smart phone. A quick search of his email
brought up the company’s internal newsletter. Kurt scanned all the
stories. All the same content that he’d approved yesterday.

Except.

 

‘Our Own CFO, Kurt Renton, Doing His Part for
This Year’s Foster Charity.’

 

The headline, in larger font than usual,
crossed the entire top section of the newsletter employee interest
page. Phone in hand, Kurt sank onto the bench beside the locker to
read the rest.

 

Our own CFO, Kurt Renton, is to take one for
the team by posing for San Diego’s Business Hunks of the Year
calendar. Go Kurt! The yearly calendar and the associated ball
produced by the Bocher Foundation raised almost a million dollars
last year for child abuse services in San Diego County. Let’s all
get involved and see if we can’t help the foundation raise more
money than ever this year.

 

He was going to kill Blake.

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