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Sandra Moyer’s preschool is struggling, so when her sister suggests allowing a super-famous actor to research his latest role there, she reluctantly agrees. Except the actor turns out to be Ben Capshaw—a playboy who’s never serious, always joking around, and who knows zero about kids or being a parent. Case in point: his involvement in the untimely death of the preschool’s class pet…
Ben is enjoying teaching more than he thought he would, but that doesn’t mean he’s looking for a permanent position. Sure, he’s ready for more serious movie roles and less goofing off, but the buttoned-up, beautiful Sandra and her young daughter are more than he bargained for. Plus, Sandra still won’t trust him—what if it’s all an act, research for the role? As the lines between make-believe and reality blur, Ben will have to decide if love is worth casting aside the role of his life for a new role…that could last a lifetime.
“I’d love to come,” he answered.
“Hip, hip, hooray!” Hannah shouted as she galloped around the office.
Sandra gritted her teeth. Ben wasn’t helping the situation, standing there, laughing as her daughter jumped her little heart out. Frustration constricted in her chest, since she was left with no choice but to be the bad guy. No matter. She was used to it. The way she always made up excuses for her ex-husband, she had the bad guy routine down to an art form by now.
“Sweetie,” she said, taking her daughter by the shoulders, “Big Bens is a very busy”
“Sandra, I said I’d love to come.”
She looked up and saw he was serious. He really didn’t want her getting him out of lunch on the boardwalk. Huh. That was a new one to her. But out of habit, she tried one more time. “Aren’t you worried about being recognized?”
He flashed her a confident grin, reaching deep into his pocket, whipping out what looked like a black necklace and twirling it around his index finger.
“What’s that?” she asked.
Hannah’s little hands went for the object, but Ben yanked it out of her reach just in time. “Nice try.” He looked at Sandra, his grin widening. “It’s my eye patch.”
“Your eye patch,” she repeated dully. “Has this role you’re after changed to a pirates-of-the-Jersey-shore movie?”
“No,” he said with a chuckle. “Since you had me shave, it’s my new disguise. I stopped at a convenience store the other day and got accosted by two teenage girls who recognized me as soon as I reached for a gallon of milk. One of them even pinched my—”
“I get it,” Sandra said, holding up a hand.
“I’m just saying. Fame isn’t easy.”
Poor baby. “So now you honestly walk around wearing that thing?”
He answered her question by putting it on.
Oh, dear. She hated to admit it, but the eye patch looked good on him. Why was she even surprised? Of course it did. He was a handsome man, and now he made one heck of a handsome pirate. To her disgust, her heart even did a somersault.
That settled it. Ben coming with them to lunch had bad idea written all over it. She looked to Hannah, hoping for an ally, or at the very least, some kind of sign. “What do you think, sweetie? Do you want to go to lunch with a scary pirate?”
“Pi-rate, pi-rate, pi-rate,” her little traitor began to chant, giggling and dancing around some more.
Not the sign she’d hoped for.
Sandra shrugged at Ben. “I guess you can come with us.”
“Arr, shiver me timbers,” he said in an exaggerated pirate twang. He winked his uncovered eye at Hannah and hooked his thumbs in his pants. “This is the nicest your mom’s been to a poor old bloke like meself in days.”
Sandra poked a finger in his chest but grinned. “Don’t make me regret this, or you’ll walk the plank.”
He grinned back and, with that eye patch, turned kneemeltingly rakish in under ten seconds flat. “Aye, I won’t be asking you to make me Roger jolly, if that’s what has you worrying.”
She laughed. Then he surprised her by taking her hand in his and raising it up to his lips. “I’ve already given you me word,” he said huskily, still in his pirate character.
“Friendship and perhaps a kind word here and there ’tis all I’m after.”
Jennifer Shirk has a bachelor degree in pharmacy-which has in NO WAY at all helped her with her writing career. But she likes to point it out, since it shows romantic-at-hearts come in all shapes, sizes, and mind-numbing educations.
She writes sweet (and sometimes even funny) romances for Samhain Publishing, Avalon Books/Montlake Romance and now Entangled Publishing. She won third place in the RWA 2006 NYC’s Kathryn Hayes Love and Laughter Contest with her first book, THE ROLE OF A LIFETIME. Recently, her novel SUNNY DAYS FOR SAM won the 2013 Golden Quill Published Authors Contest for Best Traditional Romance.
Lately she’s been on a serious exercise kick. But don’t hold that against her.