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Made to Measure

Written by Joan Elliott Pickart

When jet-setting executive Connor O'Shea crashes at his aunt's house, all he wants is a bed for the night. Instead he finds petite attorney Mary-Clair Cavelli — and loses his heart.

As the only sister of five large brothers, Mary-Clair has had enough of being considered a child. Her entire life her small stature has drawn condescending treatment from boyfriends and family alike, resulting in her one steadfast rule: no tall men. It's a rule she takes seriously — but the 6'3" Connor plans to convince her that some rules were made to be broken...

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Chapter one

"No, Murphy," Mary-Clair Cavelli said. "Gazing at me with those big, brown eyes is not going to cause me to change my mind. I am not going to sleep with you." She paused. "Well, to be more precise, you are not going to sleep with me."

Murphy flopped down on a small, braided rug, lowered his chin to his paws and sighed. Mary-Clair patted the old dog on his furry head.

"You're a sweetheart, Murphy," she said, "but Esther said you're to sleep on your rug on the floor next to the bed. Nice try, though."

Murphy thumped his tail on the rug.

Laughing softly, Mary-Clair got into the double bed and pulled up the blankets. She snapped off the lamp on the nightstand, wiggled into a comfortable position, then closed her eyes.

She'd never dog-sat before, was not used to sleeping in a strange bed but, she thought, if she relaxed and ignored the creaking noises the house was making, she would be fine.

Mary-Clair yawned, then gave way to blissful slumber.

Several hours later, she jerked awake and sat bolt upward in the bed, her heart racing.

What had caused her to be snatched from the pleasant dream she had been having? She wondered. Murphy was snoring, the dear old thing. That rumbling noise must be what had wakened her. She'd just have to ignore it and...

"Ohmigod," Mary-Clair whispered, yanking the blankets up to beneath her chin as she sat ramrod stiff on the bed.

She'd heard a thud, then the muffled sound of a man swearing. Oh, dear heaven, she thought frantically, there was someone downstairs.

Was there a telephone in this guest room so she could call the police? She hadn't even looked. Was there an extension in Esther and Bill's room down the hall? She didn't know. There was a robber...or maybe a murderer...tromping around and...

Calm down, she ordered herself, taking a steadying breath. She might not be very big at five-foot-two, but was she a wimp? No, she was not. Was she just going to sit there and wait to be murdered in her bed? No, she was not. She was taking action. Right now. Well, just as soon as she could get her fingers to release their tight hold on the blanket.

A moment later, Mary-Clair slipped off the bed and prodded Murphy with her foot.

"Wake up," she whispered, "and look mean, really vicious." Murphy snored on. "Darn it."

A weapon, she thought, mentally cataloging what she had seen earlier in the now-dark room. Yes, there was a set of golf clubs over in the corner. Perfect.

Tiptoeing around Murphy, then across the room, her legs trembling with fear, Mary-Clair reached the golf bag, drew out one of the clubs, then made her way toward the bedroom door, her mighty weapon at the ready.

To be continued...

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