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Unexpected Love

How To Wreck a Career

There’s probably fifty ways to achieve this one. Cursing out your boss would be one. However, ignoring Home Security advice and taking a bunch of students into the Middle East into a war zone would no doubt be one.

And It’s a guaranteed firing if some of the students get killed.

By Liza O’Connor

Contemporary Suspense/Sweet Romance

Tess Campbell is a mafia princess who wants nothing to do with her dangerous family. She’d rather spend her life making Grams's forest the best state park in Iowa.

Alistair Castile, aka Steel, is a British prince, his archeological career in ruins due to his promiscuous nature. He’s hired on as forest manager of Tess’s woods and quickly falls in love with the charming young woman, so different from the socialites of his world.

Only there are several serious barriers between them: Steel’s career cannot withstand another scandal and Tess’s father will kill anyone who gets in the way of his daughter marrying a Chicago mobster.


(Here’s one of Steel’s version of how some of his students got killed:)

“To get my field work funded from a legitimate source, I had to become a college professor. That resulted in a great deal of young women enrolling in my classes.”

“I can imagine,” she chuckled, but sobered at his pained eyes.

“Because I didn’t believe in love, I didn’t value their affections. I was going through my female students about one a month.”

Her heart tightened. “What do mean ‘going through’?”

“I’d let a young woman pursue me for a while, then drop whoever I was shagging—and to me that’s all it was—to start up with a new student. But at the first fight or argument, I’d drop her for the next in line.”

“That sounds horrible…for everyone.”

“Well, it almost cost me my career, and it did cost me my first job.” His eyes darkened with pain. “It probably caused two young women to lose their lives. So from my view, I had become a man who shamed and disgusted me.”

She wanted to comfort him, but she couldn’t until she knew more about the two women who died. “The two women…” She didn’t even know how to finish the question.

“They were grad students, probably in the picture you found on the Internet. Diane Compton and Ashley Stanton. I’d had affairs with both of them while they were undergrads. When they applied to go on my archeological dig, I turned them down. Only they took it to the dean, declaring I was discriminating against females. So the dean insisted I take them.”

He sighed as he covered his face with his hands and remained quiet for a long moment. Finally, he spoke. “I treated them with utmost professionalism, but they constantly challenged my orders and questioned my competency. The male grad students were convinced I was sleeping with them because why else would I put up with all their shit?”

“Why did you?”

“Because I felt responsible for the anger that fueled their bad attitudes.” He sighed heavily and stared at the ceiling a long time before continuing.

“When the helicopter arrived and started shooting at us, I ordered everyone to the hills. So naturally, they refused to leave the car. I can’t help but think if I had never mixed work with pleasure, they would still be alive. Their parents certainly thought so. They blamed me for luring their daughters into harm’s way.”

“But you tried to stop them from going.”

“The dean seemed to have forgotten that. I was charged with behavior unbecoming and for endangering the lives of my students. Never mind they had approved and paid for the dig, never mind that I had never had sex with these women since they became grad students. They declared the whole disaster entirely my fault.”

She gripped his hands in hers. “It wasn’t. First of all, they pursued you as undergrads.”

He nodded.

“Then they forced you to take them on this dig. And finally, they ignored your orders, which ultimately got them killed. Your only mistake was not to build a wall between personal and professional.” Pain forced her to close her eyes as she realized something. “And Dr. Castile, you’re doing it again.”

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About the Author:

Liza O’Connor lives in Denville, NJ with her dog Jess. They hike in fabulous woods every day, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Having an adventurous nature, she learned to fly small Cessnas in NJ, hang-glide in New Zealand, kayak in Pennsylvania, ski in New York, scuba dive with great white sharks in Australia, dig up dinosaur bones in Montana, sky dive in Indiana, and raft a class four river in Tasmania. She’s an avid gardener, amateur photographer, and dabbler in watercolors and graphic arts. Yet through her entire life, her first love has and always will be writing novels.


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