Afterglow (Best Of The Best) (Contemporary Romance)

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9780373482603: Afterglow (Best Of The Best) (Contemporary Romance)

Chalk-&-cheese lovers Chelsea Lattimer & Dav id Winter finally find happiness after a series of disastrou s relationships - thanks to their match-making friends. Afte rglow is a wonderful romantic comedy from bestselling author Catherine Coulter. '

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Catherine Coulter is the author of the New York Times-bestselling FBI thrillers The Cove, The Maze, The Target, The Edge, Riptide, Hemlock Bay, Eleventh House, Blindside, Blowout, Point Blank, Double Take and TailSpin. She lives in northern California.

READER BIO
Laural began working in regional theater as an actor at the age of 17. She has done over 20 years of stage work, and 16 years of audio book narration, having narrated over 100 titles in all genres. In addition, Laural has directed well over 100 audio titles, providing expertise on both sides of the microphone. In acknowledgement for years of excellence at her craft, Laural has received AudioFile's 'Earphones Award' many times over.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

"Look, George, I'm not all that bored. And what do you do with a man, anyway?" Chelsea broke off abruptly at George's literal belly laugh.

George was eight months' pregnant.

"All right, so Elliot did do something."

"At the very least, something," George agreed. "Stop a minute, Chelsea, I've got to move around a bit. The kiddo is growing restless."

Chelsea watched her beautiful friend ease her way to the edge of the chair, shove off using the arms and achieve a less than dignified upright stance. "There! Goodness, another month of this! I'll tell you, Chelsea, I think it would do men some good if they had to go through this." She patted her stomach and began her slow trek around the living room. "I swear the kid's going to be a drummer."

"Have you and Elliot decided what to name it?"

"It? No, whatever it's going to be, it still has no name. I told him if he didn't come up with something soon that I could agree with, I'd leave the state, have the kid and name it Lance or Brigitte."

Chelsea laughed. "Perfect hero and heroine names," she said. "Come now, Chels, you've never had a Lance in any of your novels, have you?"

"Well, no, not that outrageous. But my Alex and Delaney and Brent, not to mention my Anthony, are alive and well, at least in my imagination."

"Don't forget that medieval hunk Graelam of yours!"

"Wasn't he a marvelous MCP?"

"At least your heroine broke him in the end. And I'll just bet after you got him domesticated on page four hundred and fifty, he became a total bore."

"True enough," Chelsea said, and sighed. "There's not a man around today to compete with his sublime nastiness, but he did live in the thirteenth century, George. He could hardly have been into sensitivity training. Too bad, but we'll never know what happened to his eternal love for his wife after, say, ten years or so."

"They probably both croaked from not bathing," George said.

"Not true. I did have them bathe regularly, and I'll tell you, I felt guilty about it. No more medieval novels for me, except, you know, there was this secondary male character, and my fans seem to like him quite a bit--"

"All right, I've got the picture," George said, grinning down at her friend. "Another macho medieval hero in the works."

"And like Graelam, he'll be great in bed."

"All your heroes are, Chelsea. Now, my dear, let's get back to the present, where men shower and shave every morning. There are good men out there, Chels. I found Elliot, didn't I?"

"He's a throwback," Chelsea said, "to the best of my heroes."

"Oh, come on, Chelsea! Here you are finished with a book and at loose ends for how long--a week?--before you hit the computer grindstone again."

"Yeah," Chelsea agreed. "I sent off an outline for the next one yesterday, and I need to do some historical medical research before I start this one. Tell Elliot the hero is a doctor, and if he's real nice to me, I'll let him provide the raw material."

"He'll love it. Now let's find you a neat guy before you begin total immersion again."

"Where? You know I'm not into singles' bars, George." George smiled and said somewhat complacently, "Well, as a matter of fact, do you have anything against doctors?"

Chelsea groaned and clutched a sofa pillow over her face. "Oh, no, don't tell me that you've conscripted Elliot into this manhunt?"

"As a matter of fact, why don't you come over to dinner Friday night and just see? Consider it firsthand research. Maybe you won't end up using Elliot after all."

"Harrumph! If I used any man I'd ever met as a model for one of my heroes--other than Elliot, of course--my readers would have fits. They don't want beer-drinking, potbellied heroes, George. For heaven's sake, they live with reality! They want the closest thing to a perfect man I can come up with."

"I know. Masterful, gentle, tender, a great lover, arrogant, of course, to add flavor--"

"You got it. There ain't nothin' like that around nowadays, I promise you. Even Elliot snores, I'll bet, and gets nasty every now and again."

"Sometimes, and not yet. Chelsea, surely you--" George broke off abruptly at the pain in her lower back. "Drat. Not again. I swear this kiddo is going to do me in."

Chelsea bounded up from the sofa, all concern. "You want me to rub your back?"

"No, I'll be fine in a minute. That's one of Elliot's favorite chores, Ben-Gaying my back. Now will you be here for dinner on Friday?"

"Oh, all right. I can't imagine what you're going to drag in here."

"Trust me," George said.

On Friday morning Elliot Mallory, chairman of radiology, made his way down to the emergency room, only to be told that Dr. David Winter was over at Mulberry Union, swimming.

It was a bit early for Elliot's daily laps, but he knew his duty and swiftly changed into his swim trunks and dove into the pool. He didn't stop David until after he'd completed ten laps.

"Elliot! I thought you were an afternooner."

"I am usually," Elliot said. "You got a minute, David?"

"Sure."

Both men swam to the side of the pool and hoisted themselves onto the tiled apron.

"What's up? You got a special case? A problem only I can handle?"

"Nope, and don't sound so hopeful." Damn, but this was embarrassing as hell. He still couldn't quite figure out how George had wrung the promise from him. Well, there was no hope for it. "You busy tonight, David?"

David grinned wryly. "I was going for drinks with a couple of colleagues. Bores, both of them. You have something better to offer?"

"As a matter of fact, I just might. You want to come over to dinner?"

David looked distinctly wary. "Do you mind me asking who's doing the cooking?"

Elliot laughed, remembering David's only venture into George's cooking. "Come on, so the chicken was a little dry and the peas a bit hard."

"Thank God you made the Irish coffee and the cheesecake."

"I guess I agree with you. Let me reassure you that tonight I'm going to be the chef. I promise you a feast to add two pounds."

"I don't mean to sound ungrateful, Elliot. Lord knows George is the most--hey, wait a minute." He studied Elliot's face for a long moment. "All right, who else is coming to dinner?"

"A friend of George's. A very nice woman. A very attractive woman."

David groaned. "All right, I'll bite. What's this attractive, very nice woman's name?"

"Chelsea Lattimer. She's around twenty-eight, never been married, tousled, curly black hair, blue eyes--maybe they're green--but in any case, she's okay, David, I swear." He didn't add that Chelsea Lattimer was occasionally quite outrageous and outspoken. He'd teased her once that he was going to send her to London so she could take the speaker's corner in Hyde Park. "Well, it's not as if I'm out on the town every night. Lord, this has been a long year!"

And lonely as hell, I'll just bet, Elliot thought silently. David Winter had been seduced by the University Medical Center to come from Boston to become chief of the trauma section. They hadn't become particularly close friends until after Elliot's marriage to George only two months before. The previous six months had seen Elliot sunk in oceans of self-pity, when he wasn't being a snarling dictator to his staff and an arrogant ass to his colleagues.

"Seven o'clock?" Elliot asked.

"You got it. Want to do some more laps?"

"Let's go." He grinned as he slid into the water. "At least you're more of a challenge than George ever was."

Chelsea looked at her image in the mirror. You look like a crow, she told herself. Stop it, Chels! If you compare yourself to your heroines or to gorgeous George, you'll crawl in the closet and never come out.

Well, maybe I'm not too bad. She ran her brush through her thick hair once more, only to see the irrepressible black curls bounce up in different directions. Tangled glory, that's what I've got. Now how about that for an absurd title? Sure beats Passion's Pulsing Pleasures, or Torpid Tender Trials.

She laughed, gave herself a thumbs-up sign in the mirror and was out of her Sausalito condo in five minutes. It was only a twenty minute ride over the Golden Gate into the city. George and Elliot had moved to his old restored Victorian upon their marriage--only because his was larger, George had assured her. And, of course, George had added, it was so much less plastic and modern than her condo.

As Chelsea wove her way onto Lombard Street she remembered George's words. Trust me. Well, since Elliot was such a beautiful man, George certainly wouldn't stick her with a gnome. Would she? Maybe George had lost her objectivity, being eight months' pregnant and all.

She turned right onto Divisidero and headed up into Pacific Heights. This is where I'd live, she thought, if I ever moved out of Sausalito. The view from the top of the hill was breathtaking--all beautiful Bay, Alcatraz, Angel Island and, of course, her beloved Sausalito. She pulled into the Mallorys' driveway ten minutes early. She recognized George's Porsche, Esmerelda, and Elliot's Jaguar, whose unlikely appellation was Cock and Bull. No other cars. So the newest Don Juan doctor of San Francisco hadn't arrived yet. Just as well.

The splendid Mallorys, as she had termed them in her mind, met her with great enthusiasm and plunked her down on the sofa with a white wine, all within five minutes.

"Elliot's making his famous fresh garden bisque soup, Caesar salad, apricot basted ham--"

"Peach, George."

"Yes, peach basted ham--"

"That's all I need," Chelsea interrupted, waving her hand.

"Can't you cut out the croutons from the salad, Elliot?"

"Croutons?" George asked. "What's that?"

Elliot laughed, tweaked his wife's perfect nose and said,

"That's those little fried pieces of day-old French bread, love.

Sorry, Chelsea, but you gotta eat it the way I serve it. What are you worried about? You're...

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