Friday January 12 9:00 PM / 8:00c
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Hello, It's Me Book Excerpt

That must have cost a fortune, she thinks, even as she reminds herself that he has one.

“Thank you,” she says aloud. “You didn’t have to—”

“I know. I wanted to, Annie. I don’t do anything unless I want to.”

Judging by the look in his eye, he’s talking about more than arranging grocery delivery.
But something inside of her refuses to accept anything he’s offering.

“Let me repay you,” she says, going for the Prada bag—courtesy of Merlin—that she keeps on a hook by the door. Ironically, all that’s in it is her old nylon wallet, and all that’s in that is the cash she earned waiting on James and his fancy friends last night.

Of course, the money is already earmarked for other expenses. But she’ll come up with more somehow. She’ll borrow it from Merlin, or she’ll work that luncheon he mentioned later this week.

Suddenly, it seems very important that she not allow James Brannock to do her any favors.
“Stop,” he says, crossing the kitchen and putting his hand on her purse before she can open it. “I don’t want your money. The only way you can repay me is to let me stay for dinner.”

“But—”

“Come on,” he cajoles, a twinkle lighting his blue gaze. “After all this hard work, the least you can do is let me sample my own cooking.”

“All right,” she agrees helplessly, and glances at her beaming children.

“Can you come for dinner again tomorrow night, too?” Milo asks James, who shrugs and looks uncomfortable.

He begins, “I don’t think—”

Annie cuts him off with a brisk, “No, Milo, he can’t.”

To James, she says in a low voice, “Never say ‘I don’t think’ to a kid. All kids know that where there’s an ‘I don’t think,’ there’s a way.”

“Gotcha,” he says with a wink—a disappointed wink, she can’t help thinking. Almost as if he was hoping to be invited back for dinner again tomorrow night. Which, of course, is utterly ridiculous… no matter what just happened between them in the living room.

“Guess what, Mommy? I made place cards,” Ella announces. “And I used a purple crayon because James’s favorite color is purple. And we made Pasta à la Ella!”

“And Chicken Milo,” her son puts in. “James knew the recipes. He didn’t even need a cookbook. And I never even heard of Chicken Milo until now.”

“Neither did I.” Annie laughs.

“I’m not sure it’s any good,” James tells her in a whisper as the kids finish setting the table. “I’ve never cooked before.”

“You haven’t?”

“No, but I used to watch our housekeeper do it when I was a kid. I always wanted to try it. How hard can it be?”

Annie shakes her head, speechless.

It’s all so surreal. Why is this man living out his domestic fantasies in her kitchen?

Never mind that. Why is he kissing her in her living room?

The next thing you know, he’ll be moving up the stairs to the—

No.

Her bedroom is off-limits.

And so, for that matter, is her consideration of the skills James might be tempted to put to use there.

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