He shoved a magazine in her face, pointing to an ad for Merry Matchmakers that featured a picture of him. “You used my photo without my consent.”
“I did no such thing.” The glossy picture showed him wearing pretty much the same thing as he had on right now, except the body hugging shirt was clean. He was grinning at something or someone, and he looked so at ease in his own skin, and so natural, that she wouldn’t have thought it was a commercial photograph. “But it is a nice picture.”
Christine smiled and decided to tease him a little, just for the hell of it. “You look so manly.” Her mother’s friends must have been responsible. Maybe this was their idea of helping her out after selling her a nearly bankrupt business, but boy, did they have it wrong. This man was not at all what she had in mind for an ad campaign for Champagne for Two.
“If you’re the owner, you must have known about the ad.” He was standing close enough that she could smell his body odor, and it should have been appalling but for some reason wasn’t.
“Do you need some help, Christine?” Jamie asked, stepping toward the two of them.
“No, but thanks.”
Jamie shrugged and grabbed a chair to watch the little drama going on. The other three women were all guzzling their champagne and ogling the guy.
“So, who are you exactly?” Christine inquired. “And how did they get your picture to use for advertisements without your approval?”
“Dammed if I know.” He rubbed a hand over his unshaven face. “Look, maybe we got off to a bad start here. I’m Derek Connors, Mary’s nephew. I guess it wasn’t too hard for her to get a picture of me.” He grimaced. “But why the hell did she use it for some damn fool ad?”
Now that Derek wasn’t shouting, Christine studied his face. He was very handsome, if you liked the scruffy, haven’t shaved today, dirty Harry type of guy. She didn’t, of course. At the sensible age of forty-five, she preferred gentlemen with collared shirts on their chests.
But still, her heart raced as she studied him.
She walked behind the reception desk to put a little space between the two of them. She didn’t want a racing heart to get in the way of her good judgment. She picked up a pen, tapping it against the palm of her hand. “I’m very sorry your aunt and my mother did this without your permission. I’ll speak to them about it the moment I get the chance. You see, they left today for Europe.”
He followed her around the desk and stood so close, his nose was only inches from hers. “Pull all future ads.”
“I can’t. I don’t know where they’ve been circulated, but I will be sure to find out all that I can. As a matter of fact, I’ll put that down as my number one concern. If you would like to leave me your name and number, I’ll call you once I have more information. That’s the best I can do.”
He took a step back, and she relaxed.
“I’m sorry for losing my temper, but this ad has made me a damn laughing stock. Everybody on the construction site thinks I had to resort to a dating service to get a date.” He puffed out his sizeable chest. “I’m not that hard up. I could find a woman if I wanted one. I don’t.” His flush deepened. “And I don’t want my face plastered all over town, like some prissy poster boy.”
“Why not? Most men would love it. Think of all the dates you’ll get.” She smiled, thinking fast. Perhaps he was exactly what she needed to generate business. She needed young flesh and here he was. Late thirties, possibly forty. Put him in a business suit and he would look very presentable. Sexy, even.
“You think this is funny?” He leaned in close again, and the smile slid off her face. “I don’t want to sue Aunt Mary, but I will if I have to. Let’s end this right now. Get on the phone and pull the ads.”
He shifted his feet, moving a fraction in her direction, crowding her space. Still, she didn’t budge. “Could you take care of this while I wait?” he said. “Like now?”
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