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Sleazy Bars — A Touch of Grace … Grace Marshall that is

(From the Archives)

I have a soft spot in my heart for bars, and western bars in particular. No doubt it’s out of that soft spot and the exec-box-setfantasies it spawned that The Boiling Point, the bar in the Executive Decisions Trilogy, grew (Available in a Box Set Now!). The coolest bar I’ve ever been in is Moose’s in Kalispell, Montana, with its swinging wooden doors and peanut shells and sawdust on the floor. The rough wooden booths are carved with the graffiti of who knows how many pocket knives, and there’s always Canadians, Cribbage, and red beer in abundance. For the uninitiated, red beer is beer and tomato juice.

In my childhood, bars always intrigued me because they were forbidden. The bars of my youth, which I was only ever allowed to peek into before my mother would grab me by the arm and drag me away, had wooden dance floors, high stools at the bar and lamps that were adverts for the local beers. There was always a pool table and often several monuments to bad taxidermy. In their early years of marriage my brother and his wife rented an apartment that was attached to a derelict bar in the middle of nowhere on the Colorado and Wyoming boarder. I loved going there because my sister-in-law would let me into the bar to have a spin round and round on the bar stools and do cartwheels and slide in my stocking feet across the hard wood floor. Oh, in case you’re wondering, there’s a fourteen year age difference between my brother and me. I was just a little girl then. Though it still sounds like something I’d enjoy. Looking back, that might actually be the most fun I ever really had in a bar. I suppose Harris Walker is my alter-ego in that.

In Kirksville Missouri, where I went to university there was the Zodiac, which was not much more than a glorified warehouse with concrete floors and a raised concrete platform for dancing. The music was loud, and the crowd mixed, with a good few under-ager sneak-ins with fake IDs.

The Blue Moon, on the other side of the tracks, had pool tables, an abundance of ripped naugahide booths and the best hamburgers in town.

Ask any of the good Christian folks in Mooringsport, Louisiana, where my husband grew up, and they’ll tell you that the Highway 1 Bar is the brimstone belching den of Satan. When my husband was a child, his family drove by it several times a week on their way to and from church, looking upon it with disdain. After we were married, in an act of breath-taking rebellion, Raymond took me there for a drink. We weren’t taken to the back room and sacrificed to Satan, nor were we corrupted into a life of debauched drunkenness and godless filth. (though we might have already been a bit debauched) We were, however, served cold beer at a quiet table in the corner while country music whined on the jukebox.

As you can probably tell from my sordid and sleazy account … em … my experiences never quite lived up to the ones in my imagination. Maybe that’s why The Boiling Point appears larger than life in all three of Grace Marshall’s Executive
Decisions novels. The Exhibition is no exception. The Boiling Point is an amalgamation of the bars I’ve been in and the experiences I’ve fantasised in those bars. I reckon Harris Walker’s experiences of bars is rather similar to mine. They never quite live up to his expectations, and yet he wants them to.

After a less than satisfying experience in An Executive Decision, the first novel of the trilogy, the Boiling Point is not on Harris Walker’s list of favourite hang-outs. The Boiling Point is a squat cinderblock den of iniquity that has been through multiple incarnations since it was a speak-easy during prohibition. It’s the hang-out for all sorts – bikers, goths, red necks and even slumming banker boys. It has a reputation for watered down drinks, surly waitresses, loud music and being periodically raided – which is exactly what happens the night Stacie Emerson convinces Harris to meet her there in an effort to get him to exhibit his photography in her gallery.

The Exhibition Blurb:

Successful NYC gallery owner, Stacie Emerson, is ex-fiancée to one Thorne brother and ex-wife to the other. Though the three have made peace, Ellison Thorne’s friend, wildlife photographer, Harris Walker, still doesn’t like her. When Stacie convinces Harris to exhibit his work for the opening of her new gallery she never intended to include him in her other more hazardous plans. But when those plans draw the attention of dangerous business tycoon, Terrance Jamison, Harris comes to her aid. In the shadow of a threat only Stacie understands, can she dare let Harris into her life and make room for love?

As successful gallery owner, Stacie Emerson, finds herself in the clutches of a powerful enemy from her dark past, her growing feelings for her latest exhibitor, wildlife photographer, Harris Walker, could get them both killed. Sharing her secret could destroy their relationship, but keeping it could be fatal.

The Exhibition Excerpt:

The fact that cops were pouring through the door only half registered in Harris’s Stacie-addled brain. Then some te-new-coverwoman screamed raid, and people were running and shoving in all directions. Someone was shouting something in an authoritative voice into a blow horn. It all felt like a scene right out of a gangster movie.

Stacie grabbed him by the hand and dragged him back toward their table. She shoved her iPad in her bag, and shouted at Waters, who had rushed back to the booth with his dance partner hanging on for dear life and was now shooting pictures like crazy.

Every time the man had a camera in his hand, he looked like he was about to get well laid. Did his work really do that for him? The adrenaline rush that came from fear of losing life and limb was the best Harris ever managed.

‘You alright,’ Stacie yelled to Waters.

He nodded breathlessly and handed Stacie something that Harris couldn’t see. ‘Need you to do me a favour.’ His words were clipped, excited. ‘Can you take care of this for me?’ He nodded toward the ladies room.

‘Seriously? You brought that here?’ For a second, Harris thought Stacie was going to belt the man.

But Waters only shrugged, gave her a sheepish grin, and kept shooting. ‘I didn’t think.’

She said something that Harris couldn’t hear over the chaos, something he figured wasn’t very nice.

She grabbed Harris by the hand and headed toward the bathrooms, dragging him right on into the women’s room. ‘What the –’

She shoved her way into the first stall, dropped a tiny plastic bag with what looked like a couple of roll-your-owns into the commode and flushed with her booted foot.

‘Jesus! Are you kidding me?’ Harris felt the tension ratchet up a notch in his shoulders as she watched the swirl of water in the toilet to make sure her efforts were effective. ‘He brought pot here? Idiot.’

She placed a finger to her lips, then slammed the cubicle door shut once she was satisfied with the results. ‘I’m sure that’s not what they’re looking for, but it’s enough to land him at the police station.’

Outside someone shouted, ‘Hastings, check the crappers.’

Before Harris knew what hit him, she pulled him into the cubicle at the other end of the row and locked the door behind him talking in a fast whisper. ‘Sorry about this. Not very professional, I know, but I promised to do my best to keep us out of jail, and I’m thinking groping in the ladies’ room’s not what this raid’s all about.’ The words were barely out of her mouth before she launched herself at him lips first. Damn it; he wanted to be mad at her. They were about to go to jail, for fuck sake! But instead of giving her a piece of his mind, he kissed her right back, hard, and felt her yield and open, and his tongue was in heaven sparing with hers, tasting, testing, thrusting. He found himself hoping that the inevitable arrest would wait until after he got his fill of Stacie Emerson, and that could take a while. She felt way better than she had even in his fantasies, and when his badly-behaving hands moved down to cup her magnificent bottom and pull her closer, she returned the favour and gave his ass a good grope. As though that gave him permission to explore, he slid anxious fingers inside her trousers wriggling down past a miniscule thong to cup an impossibly soft, impossibly firm buttock that gave a muscular clench in his hand, forcing her hips forward until she couldn’t possibly miss the press of his appreciative hard-on straining his jeans to get closer to her.

In the hall the noise got louder and the door burst open.

She had just managed a good firm stroke to the front of his trousers that had his full attention and then some, when a heavy-handed knock on the door caused her to yelp, and he nearly fell back onto the commode.

‘All right, you two, tuck it in, and come on out.’

 

It’s Launch Day for THE TUTOR!

The Tutor is now available for your reading pleasure!

 

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Who knew a can of pears in heavy syrup could inspire an entire novel about an outrageously sexy haphephobic sculptor and the woman he longs to touch but can’t? I know it seems like quite a stretch, but inspiration is like that, isn’t it?

 

We have five senses. We use them all without thinking, but as a writer, I’ve always been intrigued by what it would be like to live without one of those senses– one that we use most often. In The Tutor, I take away the one sense that we never lose, the one we most rely on in our everyday life. I take away the sense of touch. Sculptor, Lex Valentine, is severely haphephobic — he us unable to touch anyone else or to allow himself to be touched. Within that context, I wanted to explore intimacy and how it would develop without the aid of human contact.

 

What exactly is intimacy, anyway, and is it really dependent on being able to touch each other? How much of what binds us to someone and what makes us close depends on being able to physically touch? Lex Valentine and Kelly Blake must find their way to each other without touch. Can they do it? And just how the hell will a can of pears help?

 

The whole story, pears and all, available for your reading pleasure:

 

eBook:
Totally Bound Publishing
Amazon UK
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Amazon AU
Amazon CA
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Barnes & Noble
iBooks UK
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Print:
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The Tutor Excerpt – What Does it Feel Like?

“Look I don’t expect you to deal with what a fucked up mess I am. I realized that what I really want to know is what it feels like, what you feel like, what any woman feels like when she’s with a man, or even when she touches herself, and I have no one I would feel comfortable asking without wondering the whole time if they thought that by my asking I had given them permission to try and fix me. Does that make any sense?”

She had little time to do more than nod before he continued. “Oh I’ve watched enough porn that I get that it feels really good. I’ve read enough erotica to get some picture of how it’s supposed to be, but my take on it’s always one-sided,” he raised his hand and wiggled his fingers as though to demonstrate. “I can’t know anything but my own touch, certainly I can’t feel anything else, so I want you to tell me. I want you to answer my questions. I want you to tell me what I would feel if I touched you, what you would feel if I touched you. As for what I would feel if you touched me, well,” he shrugged and offered her a smile that seemed slightly forced, “for that I’ll just have to use my imagination.”

She took a deep breath, as though she were about to dive under water. “Okay, well, I’ll start with my lips because lovers often start there. I would have made sure they were moist for you before you kissed them, but not so wet as to be off-putting, and you would have done the same. And your first kisses would be tentative, if you’re really good, almost like a feather lighting against my mouth softly and repeatedly until I’m breathless for the want of more; and then I would part my lips to give you more surface area so that we could feel each other better.” She chuckled softly as she realized they’d both raised their fingers to their mouths. “And then we would both press harder and rub harder. The more surface area we touched the more we’d want and, I think lips swell, not just from the pressure, but in an effort to create that surface area, and when they can swell no more, when I feel like I want to completely take my lover into my mouth, then I would open to him and there would be a whole new surface area, wet and slick and warm, there would be a whole new motion when our tongues discover each other. I think a kiss reflects what happens in penetrative sex. It’s sort of an intimation, if you will,” her gaze locked on him, and for the first time she noticed just how blue his eyes were, “a promise of things to come.”

“Yes,” he whispered. “I’ve thought of that in my art. I’ve thought of the interchange we make with mouths and cocks
and vaginas.” He struggles with the last word

“It’s okay to call it a pussy or a cunt or whatever works for you.” She said.

He laughed softly. “How the hell would I know?”

“Well,” she stretched out on the countertop and rolled onto her side, resting her head on her hand. “you just have to try them out and see how they fit your mouth.”

This time they both laughed. “If they fit my mouth, I wouldn’t have to worry about what words I used, would I?”

“Good point,” she said.

“Not quite, but getting there fast, thank you.” Again, they both laughed, a strangely relaxed laugh under the bizarre circumstances.

“The thing is,” she said, rolling onto her back and staring up at the long rack of copper bottom pans above her head, “words are often as important in sex, and as erotic, as touch. I write in my other life, and I find that while some of my characters get turned on by waxing poetic between the sheets, others get hot by talking dirty.”

“How does your cunt feel when some fucker talks dirty to you,” he said, though not without a hearty blush.

“That would depend on the fucker and the circumstances and how badly I wanted to ride his cock.”

“And if it was a fucker whose cock you really wanted to ride, a fucker who was hard and heavy for you? What words would he use, and what response would he elicit?

“It wouldn’t hurt for him to observe out loud what he sees about my body’s state of arousal, and how he admires it.”

“You mean like how lovely your breasts are when your nipples are so taut that even your areola are visible through that shirt, which I imagine feels like a caress every time you inhale. You mean like the way your lips are parted and moist. You’ve not completely shut your mouth for the past five minutes, the way you rock your hips, almost but not quite secretly, and grind you bottom against the countertop. Is that what you mean?”

“Jesus! We shouldn’t be doing this.” She sat bolt upright on the surface and then froze as though someone had hit the pause button. “Alex?”

The man perched on the edge of the counter, just far enough away that she couldn’t easily touch him. He had kicked his shoes off and his own nipples peaked to bullet points through his white polo shirt. That would have been enough to hold her attention indefinitely had it not been for the heel of his hand stroking the very obvious, very anxious erection
through his jeans.

It was all right. It was fine, she told herself. She’d had more than a few occasions where her job involved watching and coaching someone while they masturbated. This was just her job. That’s all.

“It’s more obvious with me what I feel,” he said, raking her body with a hooded gaze. “And your nipples, well you could just be cold. Please tell me what you feel when you see me like this, when we talk like this.”

She moved to the edge of the counter giving him space, then motioned him onto it and she opened her leg. “If I weren’t
wearing trousers, if you could see my panties, you’d know that I’m wet.” She nodded to his erection. “You’d know that the thought of what you’re doing, the sight of how your body is responding to mine, is making me wetter.” She cupped her breasts in turn, through the white blouse. “Every part of me feels heavy, Alex. My breasts feel like my bra can no longer contain them. My nipples ache. And my lips,” she touched her mouth, and then, holding his gaze, moved her hand down to rest on the crotch of her trousers. “My lips are swollen, so swollen and slippery and ready to be penetrated.” She nodded first to his mouth and then to his erection. “Do I want the fucker to give it to me hard and deep in my cunt? What do you think?”

“Oh God,” he managed. Then he stopped talking altogether. His breath came in tight little grunts and gasps as he moved against his hand, holding her in his gaze as surely as if he held her in his embrace; and it was in that instant, the instant she slid her hand down the front of her trousers and into her panties an action he mirrored, that she knew neither of them would make it out of here intact. She wanted to run, but she didn’t. She wanted to take off her clothes and feel his gaze all over her body, but she didn’t. She wanted to demand that he strip for her, that he come just for her thetutor_800eyes, but she didn’t. She couldn’t. She could only cup and grope her breasts until they hurt. She could only stroke herself while she watched him do the same.

The space around them crackled with their energy, and their desperate efforts to breathe were the only sounds beyond the stroke of skin against fabric. In a hungry attempt at relief, they both rocked and bucked, mirror images of each other with one hand down the front of their trousers while the other groped and cupped and tweaked and pinched whatever part of their anatomy it came in contact with. Then breathing stopped, time stopped. Everything around them disappeared until they saw nothing but each other, locked in each other’s gaze, more physical than any embrace Kelly had ever felt, and it was enough. Heaven help them, it was enough. He came first by a split second, roaring like a wounded lion, arching back until she feared he’d either break his neck or fall off the counter. But the sight of him so vulnerable in his passion, the fact that even in his release, he kept his eyes on her was all she could handle, and she convulsed against her own hand, convulsed as though she would break apart, never taking her eyes off him, never breaking that connection.

 

 

 

It’s Early Download Day! The Tutor Now Available EARLY Exclusively at Totally Bound!

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If you’ve been waiting for the 11th of October so you can download your copy of The Tutor and find out all about how canned pears can be an aid to romance, wait no longer! As of today you can download The Tutor exclusively from the Totally Bound website and get to reading before the official release date of 11th October.

Remember, if you’re into delayed gratification, you can still preorder The Tutor from the links below and practice patience and anticipation. And here’s a little snippet to make practicing patience a little harder. Enjoy!

 

The Tutor Blurb:

When physical touch is impossible, intimacy may become a powerful work of art or a devastating nightmare—but, above all, it’s an act of trust.

 

Struggling writer, Kelly Blake has a secret life as a sex tutor. Celebrated sculptor and recluse, Alexander ‘Lex’ Valentine, can’t stand to be touched. When he seeks out Kelly’s advice incognito, the results are too hot to handle. When Kelly terminates their sessions due to what she considers her unprofessional behavior, Lex takes a huge risk, revealing his identity to her at a gala exhibition, his first ever public appearance. When Kelly helps the severely haphephobic Lex escape the grope of reporters and paparazzi, rumors fly that the two are engaged, rumors encouraged by well-meaning friends and colleagues.

The press feeding frenzy forces Kelly into hiding at Lex’s mansion where he convinces her to be his private tutor just until the press loses interest, and she can go back home. They discover quickly that touch is not essential for sizzling, pulse-pounding intimacy. But intimacy must survive the secrets uncovered as their sessions become more and more personal.

 

Download your copy of The Tutor Here:

Totally Bound

 

The Tutor: First Contact:

For a long moment they sat in silence again, both wrapped in matching terry robes, both looking slightly worse for thethetutor_800
wear. He was okay with that. He could have sat there with her all night, but she broke the spell. “Lex, you’re exhausted. Do you think you could try to get some more sleep?”

“Stay with me.” The words were out before he could stop them. “If you stay with me, I can sleep.”

She stood and looked back at his bed and, for a dreadful moment, he though she was going to say no. “All right then, but your bed’s a train wreck. Why don’t you come to mine? It’s virtually undreamed in tonight. Besides I only allow good dreams in my bed.” She nodded to the open French doors and gave him an encouraging smile.

Back in the Meadowlark Suite she went to work on their sleeping arrangements, putting a barrier of pillows down the middle between them. It was a huge bed, just like his, so there was still lots of room. “There are enough cushions and pillows and throws for a herd of elephants to have a slumber party,” she said. “I don’t move much when I sleep, but this will make sure that I don’t accidentally touch you or you me.” She pulled back the covers and nodded to the space. “Get comfy and I’ll tuck you in.” He did as she asked, wishing desperately that they could lose the pillow barrier and he could take her in his arms and hold her all night and wake up with her still pressed against him. The thought made his chest ache with longing, but that she was here, that she was next to him, sleeping close, that would do. That was so much better than anything he’s ever been able to imagine for himself.

When she was settled in on the other side of the pillow barrier, he couldn’t keep from smiling. She was in his bed, well technically it was his bed, wasn’t it? She wore his engagement ring, and she did! She still wore it. She hadn’t taken it off. At least for the moment he could almost imagine the two of them as a normal couple climbing into their bed together after a hard day, lying close to each other before they both drifted off to sleep. What must that feel like? Would he ever know? If he ever did, at this moment he couldn’t imagine anyone he’d rather share his bed with than Kelly Blake. And just before he drifted off to sleep, he remembered that she had found him, she had followed him and come searching for him, both the other night in the sculpture garden and tonight. She had rescued him from the dream world and she hadn’t been repulsed by his neediness. She had stayed with him.

* * *

Kelly woke with a pillow tossed carelessly over her face and a heavy warm weight on her body. It was only when she moved slightly in an effort to dislodge whatever it was that she realized the heavy weight was Lex Valentine. She froze, heart summersaulting in her chest, right exactly where his head rested, dark hair tickling her chin. All around them she could see nothing but mounds of pillows, but there were none between them. There was nothing between them. His head lay between her breasts with one hand cupping her. One well-muscled leg was thrown over her body just above her hip, which his morning erection prodded enthusiastically. What the hell should she do? If he woke up like this, he would pass out or throw up or both, at the very least he would have a panic attack, but she hadn’t moved. He had found his way to her in his sleep, and he clung to her like he would a lover. Like he would a lover! That thought focused her enough that she made an effort to relax. It was human contact. The cost, from what she had seen yesterday — at least between the two of them — the cost was worth paying. His unconscious had known exactly what he needed, what he desired. So why not let his unconscious take care of the need he couldn’t yet take care of consciously. Did she believe that he would be able to at some point? She desperately wanted to believe that, and she wanted to be there when it happened. She wanted to be the one he took consciously into his arms.

His thumb brushed her nipple and she battled to hold still in the bed as it stiffened and rose against his stroking. The satin hardness of his erection surged where it pressed trapped between her hip and his body, and he began to shift and slide against her. She swallowed back a moan, feeling the rush of heat down low where her legs were spread. Had she slept that way, or was it an unconscious response to the nearness of him and his obvious need of her. She couldn’t help it, she wriggled slightly beneath him until she was a little more open and the rhythmic clench and release, clench and release, of her pelvic muscles mirrored his slid and shift, slide and shift. He squirmed and moaned and she froze, for a moment fearing he was waking up and once again at a loss as to what she should do to make it easier for him. But instead of waking up, he shifted more fully onto her until he was almost, but on quite on top of her. His cock pressed up against the inside of her thigh, and still he shifted and slid and moaned softly and, God help her, she found herself wriggling and grinding in an effort to get more fully beneath his body, in an effort the get him inside her. Jesus, she wanted him inside her! She wanted him inside her like she’d never wanted anything as his fingers curled around her breast kneading in rhythm to his shifting, in rhythm to the undulation of her hips. Then he took his hand away and she all but cried out in her frustration, catching herself just before there was any sound other than a heavy intake of breath. But there was very little time to dwell on the absence of his hand as he moved splayed fingers down the flat of her belly and wriggled his way into the top of her panties, there he rested his hand only for a moment on her pubic curls and she arched against it, effectively willing him to seek out the place where she needed to be touched. And thank fuck, he did! He found that place, and memories of the slippery pear half flashed through her head as he carefully, but urgently fingered her open and began to stroke and probe.

This was insane. He was asleep. She absolutely had to wake him before it was too late. If he woke up like this he’d be embarrassed as well as panicked. If he woke up like this he would think she was taking advantage, which she was. And then he found her clitoris, and she held her breath and dug her heels into the mattress to keep from moving as he circled her — first with his thumb and then with two fingers slick with her own lust. Then he found her rhythm and he thrust and scissored, circled and probed, exactly as she had told him she liked it, as she had demonstrated on the pear.

There was nothing she could do but let him touch her, let the feel of him wash over her in waves, the incredible sensation of being caressed so intimately by Lex Valentine. Her haze of arousal was sharply punctuated by his moans and grunts, not the sounds of distress, but the sounds of a man about to ejaculate. Though her own shifting and rocking had become almost entirely internal, she was there with him, right on the edge as he stroked and touched and tweaked. Christ, how could anything feel better than this? He stopped breathing. His whole body was one tightly clenched muscle, the shifting and sliding had become outright thrusting, and the moans and grunts had escalated to guttural growls. At some point, she didn’t know when it had happened, she grabbed onto the headboard to keep back the overpowering urge to touch him, to take him by the wrist and hold his hand down where she needed it, to grab him by the cock and stroke him until he came, or even better to guide his erection down between her legs where she wanted him most of all. But before there was time to think about it, he grunted, then grunted again, and she felt the warm wet of his release against her thigh. That was enough to send her over the edge. Try though she might, she couldn’t lie still, and Lex woke up.

“Kelly? Fuck!” His words were followed by a hard thud and a barely swallowed string of curses as he rolled off onto the floor.

“Christ, Lex, are you all right? Are you okay? I’m sorry, I didn’t know what to do. I should have woke you up.”

“You did wake me up,” he managed between gasps for breath. “Christ, woman, no one has ever woken me up like that before.” He groaned and rolled onto his side.

“Are you okay?”

“Never better.” He said with a soft laugh that sounded somewhat painful. “I’ll be even better still if I can get the room to stop spinning. For a long moment there was no sound but the sound of his breathing. She wasn’t breathing at all, though she desperately needed to. She was too busy trying to listen to him, to make sure he was okay.

At last he spoke. “Did I just … Did we just.”

She couldn’t help the giddy little laugh. “Your fingers aren’t sticky from fondling canned pears, big boy, and I’m gonna need clean sheets.”

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Preorder The Tutor Here:

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Amazon AU
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Print:
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THE EXECUTIVE DECISION Box Set an Amazon Countdown Deal!

Exec Decision Countdown 23 thru 30 Oct Bundle Countdown deal ad_edited-1

 

Exciting News! Starting today, The Executive Decision Box Set is an Amazon Countdown deal for a whole week. If you’ve not read it, here’s your chance to catch a deal and enjoy three complete, fast-paced novels full of hot romance and intrigue. So grab yours, then curl up for sizzling autumn binge read.

 

Enjoy a tempting taster below!

 

The Executive Decision Box Set is a binge reading must for those who like an intense, fast-paced story with hot romance between characters who are more than up for the task.

 

An Executive Decision Blurb:

AED new coverOverworked CEO Ellison Thorne has no time for sex, let alone romance. The only answer, at least where his retiring business partner Beverly is concerned, is a no-strings sex clause in her replacement’s contract, designed to make Ellis’ busy life easier – and hotter. But she’s joking, right?

When Dee Henning takes over Beverly’s job, sparks fly between her and Ellis, but work takes priority in driven Dee’s life too. Can one night of passion in a Paris hotel room prove Beverly’s Sex Clause is their secret to success in the boardroom and the bedroom, and what will happen if that private clause becomes public knowledge?

 

Identity Crisis Blurb:

IC new coverPR rep extraordinaire, Kendra Davis, is elated when she gets the chance to work for her hero, reclusive, romance novelist, Tess Delaney. Her elation is short-lived when she discovers that Tess is none other than Garrett Thorne, the bad-boy brother of business tycoon and eco-warrior, Ellison Thorne, who is engaged to her best friend, Dee Henning. Kendra blames Garrett for the comedy of errors that nearly destroyed their relationship. Garrett doesn’t like Kendra either, but he’s desperate. His alter-ego, Tess has been nominated for the prestigious Golden Kiss Award. No one knows who Tess really is, and he needs Kendra to play Tess for the awards.

When Tess is stalked by a rabid fan, the two unite to protect her identity. With Kendra, the body and Garrett the soul of Tess Delaney, is there room in this strange ménage for romance? Can a woman who doesn’t exist understand their hearts even better than they do?

 

The Exhibition Blurb:

TE new coverSuccessful NYC gallery owner, Stacie Emerson, is ex-fiancée to one Thorne brother and ex-wife to the other. Though the three have made peace, Ellison Thorne’s friend, wildlife photographer, Harris Walker, still doesn’t like her. When Stacie convinces Harris to exhibit his work for the opening of her new gallery she never intended to include him in her other more hazardous plans. But when those plans draw the attention of dangerous business tycoon, Terrance Jamison, Harris comes to her aid. In the shadow of a threat only Stacie understands, can she dare let Harris into her life and make room for love?

 

An Executive Decision Excerpt:

At last Ellis pushed his chair back and looked up at her. ‘Marston refused the proposal.’

‘I’m sorry,’ Dee said again.

‘Not that it was a huge surprise, but I could have done nicely without him berating me for hiring someone incompetent and irresponsible to take Beverly’s place. That didn’t exactly make my day. What the hell happened?’

She felt the heat rising up her spine and onto her ears. ‘I overslept.’ She forced the words out into the chilled room.

‘You overslept?’

‘Yes.’ She nodded imperceptibly, feeling the scrutiny of his glare.

For a long moment he just stared at her. She forced herself to meet his gaze and held her tongue, afraid if she tried to say anything she’d burst into tears, and she despised women who cried.

‘That’s it, then? You overslept.’

She nodded again, swallowing hard.

‘Well that’s a relief.’ He leaned forward in his chair and rose almost as though he were going to leap over the desk and pounce. The tension in his body was palpable. ‘I was afraid you were lying on the freeway somewhere in a pool of blood. I’m so relieved that it was nothing so dire, and that you simply overslept.’ With each word, his voice grew louder until he wasn’t exactly yelling, but neither was there any way she could miss his message as each word drove her deeper into her chair until she felt as trapped as if she had been tied there.

‘I’m sorry,’ she forced a whisper through the roadblock in her throat, but the stinging behind her eyes warned that a swift exit would be necessary if she were to avoid the flood.

‘Sorry? You’re sorry? Tally had to pick up the slack. Do you have any idea how that looked? Just when I was starting to make progress with Marston, just when the man was beginning to listen to reason, you oversleep. You made Jamison’s deal seem all the sweeter, that’s what you did. Now, tell me what the hell’s going on.’

‘Pardon?’

He moved from behind his desk and paced the carpet in front of her like a bull ready to charge. ‘You’re supposed to be working to shore up the situation with Scribal. I told you up front that’s your major concern at the moment, then not only do you oversleep and miss an important meeting, but I find out you’ve been working on something else behind my back.’ Before she could respond, he turned on her. ‘Is Trouvères what you’ve been staying up half the night and missing meetings for? When I hired you, I never thought you, of all people, would neglect your responsibilities.’

‘I’m not neglecting anything. If you would just –’

He interrupted her. ‘Don’t think just because I gave you this job, you suddenly know it all. I took a big risk hiring you.’ He stopped pacing and rooted himself in front of her, close enough that she had to strain her neck to look up at him. ‘You want to do something; you bring it to me first. You’re not ready to make that kind of decision on your own. You don’t have the experience it takes to…to… You’re not Beverly.’

His words were a hard slap, felt more than heard above the roar in her ears. She wasn’t sure the ragged breathing her brain finally registered in the chasm of silence that followed his tirade was his or her own.

The phone rang into the charged atmosphere and Ellis jerked it from its cradle in a strangle hold. ‘This had better be good, Lynn. Wade? What the hell does he want? Can’t it wait? We’re not finished yet. I can what?’ He heaved a sigh of resignation and slammed the receiver back down. ‘Wade wants to see you right now. He says I can get back to you on this, and believe me, I intend to.’ He nodded toward the door. ‘Well, go on, at least don’t keep him waiting. Pick up the notes on the meeting from Sandra.’

She stood on trembling legs and turned to go. As she reached for the door, he called to her. ‘Dee, I strongly suggest you make no more attempts to prove Marston right about you.’

Sandra joined her in the hall. ‘I have the meeting notes for you.’

‘Just put them on my desk. Wade wants to see me.’

Sandra nodded. ‘Yes, I know. I told him he did. And I told him to give you a few minutes in the ladies to freshen up first.’ She offered a reassuring smile and turned on her heels.

*****

Still breathing like a freight train, Ellis watched Dee disappear shutting the door behind her. He grabbed up the phone and called his secretary. ‘Lynn, hold all my calls. I don’t want to be disturbed. How long? Until I say otherwise, that’s how long.’ He slammed the receiver down, snapped his laptop shut and stormed down the hall to the lounge.

He shoved his way out of his jacket and tossed it across the wingback chair, then practically strangled himself in his efforts to loosen his tie. From the coffee table he grabbed up the remote and plunged the room into the wild raucous ride of the third movement of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. Then he dropped onto the sofa struggling to breath, struggling to regain control, struggling to figure out what the hell had just happened. All through the meeting, when Dee didn’t show up, he was terrified that something horrible had happened, terrified that he would lose Dee the same way he had lost Beverly. And the relief he felt at seeing her. Jesus, the relief was like nothing he’s ever felt before.

Interviewing Wade_edited-1If Lynn hadn’t called, if Wade hadn’t demanded Dee’s presence … If Ellis had had one more second with her, he would have yanked her up from the chair and fucked her senseless right there in the middle of the day with all of Pneuma Inc just outside his door, fucked her as though he might never get another chance, fucked her as though his life depended on it, and that’s exactly how it felt. He wiped cold sweat from his forehead and struggled to breathe. If he’d lost her, Jesus! He couldn’t even bear the thought.

Christ, he couldn’t go on like this. It felt like he was always either avoiding her or jerking off thinking about her. And damn if he wasn’t thinking about her all the time; the shape of her, the feel of her, the sass of her. He’d never wanted anything so badly. And then … and then she screws up so royally that all he wanted to do was punish her, to turn her over his knee for giving him such a scare, to … to … to fuck her until she couldn’t walk.

 

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Reading in the Sunshine! The Executive Decision Box Set: A Solstice Bargain!

086Here comes the sun! Happy Solstice everyone! And here’s a little something to fill those long extra hours of sunshine. Sunshine and long days and heat … oh so much heat! The good news keeps getting better! Not only is the Executive Decision Box Set still a bargain for a scorching summer reading binge, but it’s climbing the Amazon erotic romance chart as well!
If you like romance with a twist of suspense and a whole lot of sizzle, then you’ll want to grab up The Executive Decision Box Set now!

The Executive Decision Box Set includes the first three novels of the series. That’s three full-length novels to heat up your UK summer at 99 pence, or to make you US summer sizzle at $1.54.  Go ahead and treat yourself to a steamy Solstice read-a-thin!

 

 

And today, to celebrate Summer Solstice with all those extra hours of reading time, I’m going to tempt and tease you Exec Box setever further by offering up the first chapter of the first novel as a tasty appetiser.

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Happy Solstice! Enjoy!

The Executive Decision Box Set is a binge reading must for those who like an intense, fast-paced story with hot romance between characters who are more than up for the task.

 

 

An Executive Decision – Book One in The Executive Decision Series

AED new coverOverworked CEO Ellison Thorne has no time for sex, let alone romance. The only answer, at least where his retiring business partner Beverly is concerned, is a no-strings sex clause in her replacement’s contract, designed to make Ellis’ busy life easier – and hotter. But she’s joking, right?

When Dee Henning takes over Beverly’s job, sparks fly between her and Ellis, but work takes priority in driven Dee’s life too. Can one night of passion in a Paris hotel room prove Beverly’s Sex Clause is their secret to success in the boardroom and the bedroom, and what will happen if that private clause becomes public knowledge?

 

Identity Crisis – Book Two in The Executive Decision Series

This romantic suspense novel is recommended to hopeless romantics who know love triumphs over all.

IC new coverTess Delaney is the hottest property in romantic fiction, but the reclusive Tess has a secret – she’s really the alter ego of Garrett Thorne, bad boy brother of business tycoon Ellison Thorne. When Tess is nominated for the Golden Kiss Award, Garrett recruits PR specialist, Kendra Davis, to keep his secret and be Tess for the awards despite their mutual animosity.

Hatred turns to scorching passion, but when Tess is stalked by a rabid fan, an identity crisis is eclipsed by a battle for survival. It seems Tess, the woman who doesn’t exist, just might understand Kendra and Garrett’s hearts better than they do.

 

The Exhibition – Book Three in The Executive Decision Series

TE new coverSuccessful NYC gallery owner, Stacie Emerson, is ex-fiancée to one Thorne brother and ex-wife to the other. Though the three have made peace, Ellison Thorne’s friend, wildlife photographer, Harris Walker, still doesn’t like her. When Stacie convinces Harris to exhibit his work for the opening of her new gallery she never intended to include him in her other more hazardous plans. But when those plans draw the attention of dangerous business tycoon, Terrance Jamison, Harris comes to her aid. In the shadow of a threat only Stacie understands, can she dare let Harris into her life and make room for love?

 An Executive Decision Chapter 1

Dee gave herself one last inspection in the mirrored walls of the elevator. No tell-tale trembling or sweating; the stage was fright all hidden beneath a well-polished exterior. How could she be this tense? She’d been in business with the big boys long enough to have nerves of steel. But this was Ellison Thorne she was meeting. The man was in a league of his own. She’d waited three years for this opportunity, and she was determined he wouldn’t see the mass of quavering jelly beneath the calm.

When she reached the executive suites, Beverly Neumann beckoned Dee into her office. ‘Ellis is stuck in traffic. He figures it’ll be at least another half hour.’

‘That’s too bad.’ Dee tried to mask her disappointment. She had a meeting with a potential head of marketing for Sportwide Extreme Adventure immediately after this, so there’d be no lingering if Ellis didn’t arrive before her hour was up.

‘I know he’ll do his best to get here,’ Beverly said. ‘He’s dying to meet the woman who threw a drink in Terrance Jamison’s face at Jasper and McDowell’s big New Year bash last year.’

Dee blushed. ‘Not funny, Beverly. I nearly lost my job over that.’ She still couldn’t figure why the man hadn’t sued her ass off or ruined her career or had henchmen break the legs of her family and close friends. Even now it made her nervous that he’d taken it so graciously.

‘And if you had, there’d have been ten companies in line to hire you, including Pneuma Inc,’ Beverly said. ‘It was so worth it. If only I’d had the presence of mind to record it all on my iPhone, you’d have been the queen of YouTube. You seldom get that caliber of entertainment at a corporate New Years party.’

Dee glanced at the front page of The Oregonian lying on Beverly’s desk. There was a photo of Ellis shaking hands with the governor. The caption read, Ellison Thorne, a force of nature working for nature. She studied the image, one of many she’d seen of him. Though there was a warmth about him in the photos, it was never blatant, always slightly distant. She was familiar with that distance. She’d been accused of it herself by colleagues who just didn’t understand her sense of focus.

She lingered over the photo admiring again the short brown hair with its patina of bronze, which laid bare the strong geography of his face. The well-defined jaw and firm brow created a fortress, of sorts, keeping his emotions and thoughts from the prying hordes. From it, he looked out on the world through dark amber eyes that never missed anything and never gave anything away. Heroes were like that, she thought, and she had idolized him and his company for a long time.

It was through Beverly that Dee occasionally caught more intimate glimpses of Ellison Thorne. No doubt he’d be appalled if he knew. But that was a part of her meetings with the woman that Dee always looked forward to.

Beverly nodded to the seat in front of her desk. ‘Might as well relax. He’ll get here when he gets here.’ She turned her attention to the forest of plants behind her desk and began misting the broad leaves of something that must have come straight from The Little Shop of Horrors. Thanks to Beverly’s insistence that a green work place actually be green, the whole ten-story cantilevered edifice that was the Pneuma building was one colossal hanging garden. It was healthier that way, she’d said.

Dee sat down a safe distance from the sinister-looking foliage. ‘You don’t need to go to the rainforest. You’ve got a AED_teaserjungle right here in your office.’

‘You sound like Ellis,’ Beverly said.

‘Is he still giving you a hard time about your trip to Brazil?’

‘One minute he’s treating me like an old lady, saying it’s too dangerous for someone my age to go trekking through the jungle, and the next he’s telling me I’m too young to retire and he absolutely can’t run the place without me for at least five more years.’ She brushed pollen from the jacket of her power suit. ‘Five more years! Do you have any idea how much life a person can miss out on in five years?’

‘So what will you do?’ Dee asked.

‘Well,’ Beverly rearranged the leaves of a large fern as though it were her favorite child, ‘first I’m going to Brazil. I haven’t had a real vacation in longer than I care to remember. And when I get back, if he doesn’t find someone to replace me while I’m still here to help train them, that’s just too damned bad, because in exactly one year, I’m out of here.’

‘Good for you. Life’s too short not to go for it when you get the chance.’

‘Yes it is, isn’t it? And speaking of going for it,’ Beverly sat down in her chair and leaned conspiratorially across her desk, ‘I hear the accountant over at Ab Con – what’s his name, the one with the dark hair that always looks like someone’s been running their fingers through it, I hear he sent you flowers.’

‘I recruited the best finance manager in the history of finance managers for Ab Con, Beverly. I earned every one of those flowers.’

‘Earned the flowers?’ Beverly frowned at her and clucked her tongue. ‘What part about the man being hot for you did you not get, sweetie?’ Before Dee could cut her off at the pass, Beverly was on a roll. ‘Honestly you’re hopeless, Dee Henning. I understand your focus, your drive to succeed, really I do, but I gotta wonder how you even call it success when you’re so wrapped up in your work that the only way you’ll ever get laid is if they put it in the job description. And frankly, if I had my way and I were running the business world, sex would be a contract requirement.’

Dee rolled her eyes, but Beverly clasped her hands on top of her desk, doing a fair imitation of a psychoanalyst. ‘I worry about you, Dee. I really do. Not having time for sex just isn’t healthy.’

‘You’re probably right, it probably isn’t –’ Dee change the subject by shoving a half a dozen files across the desk at Beverly. ‘– but it’s also not healthy for Ellis not to have a replacement for his retiring executive assistant.’ The title, executive assistant, was entirely misleading. Dee knew that Beverly, not Ellis, had chosen it. And though technically she was his equal in the business the two of them, along with Wade Crittenden, had begun thirteen years ago, Beverly preferred to work quietly with no pompous moniker to live up to. She wore the title proudly and carried the incredible burden it entailed with panache and enthusiasm. Dee was certain that whoever took up Beverly’s weighty mantle would inherit the humble title as well as its prodigious responsibilities.

Just then Beverly’s Blackberry buzzed. ‘Damn!’ She punched in a quick reply. ‘Ellis says the traffic’s at a standstill. I was really hoping the two of you would finally meet before I head off to Brazil.’

Dee buried her disappointment. Meeting Ellison Thorne was not the real reason she was here, she reminded herself. IC_teaser2She still had work to do. She nodded down at the files of resumes of Beverly’s perspective replacements. ‘Best get to it then, hadn’t we?’

But Beverly pushed the files to one side and picked up right where she’d left of. God, the woman was tenacious! ‘Seems to me the obvious solution is to include sex in certain job descriptions, like for an executive assistant, or a secretary, or any position where two people work closely. That’d be a good start, don’t you think?’

‘Great idea. Maybe I’ll find myself a nice male secretary.’ Dee gave the door a quick glance, certain she’d heard someone approaching. There was no one, but in any case, she was sure that wouldn’t have stopped Beverly.

‘I think that would be a wise decision for a busy executive. And I doubt you’d have any shortage of applicants. Ellis wouldn’t either, and the benefits to both of you – well, I think you’d be amazed. I’ve given it a lot of thought and I personally can’t see a down side.’ Beverly continued her speculations. ‘Just think of how much more relaxed the two of you would be if you and Ellis had a reliable source of stress-free sex available when you needed it. Imagine how much more focused you’d both be if your junk wasn’t interfering with your brain.’

Dee straightened in her chair. ‘My … junk does not interfere with my brain.’

Beverly leaned over the desk like an accusing lawyer. ‘Ah, but how do you really know that, since you’re not getting any?’

‘Beverly –’

‘The Executive Sex Clause could reduce sick days.

‘I’m never sick.’

Beverly came around the desk and laid an unsolicited hand on her forehead. ‘I’ve been thinking you look a little pale, and you feel a bit warm to me.’

Dee brushed her hand aside. ‘I’m fine. I don’t need the sick days I’ve got, and I bet Ellis doesn’t either.’

‘A good thing, since you wouldn’t have time to take them if you did. Forget sick days, think of the increase in productivity, the boost to creativity. Think of the serenity in the work place. That’s gotta be worth something. The possibilities are endless.’

‘My productivity’s fine and I’m very creative. And I work at Jasper and McDowell. Serenity isn’t part of the package.’ This conversation had gone far enough, farther than Dee wanted, and she really didn’t have time to wait any longer for Ellis. It looked like the long awaited meeting with the force of nature would have to wait for yet another time. Dee nodded to the folders on Beverly’s desk. ‘As interesting as the idea of a Sex Clause might be, if you insist on deserting Ellis, I need to do my job and find someone who can take your place, which won’t be an easy task.’

When the meeting finished, Beverly walked her to the door, glancing down at her watch. ‘Sorry you missed Ellis. But you know how it is with busy executives, it’s catch as catch can, isn’t it?’

Dee had the distinct feeling the woman wasn’t talking about work. She said her good-byes and promised they’d get together when Beverly returned from Brazil.

‘I missed her again didn’t I? She’s going to think I’m avoiding her.’ Ellis dropped into the chair in front of Beverly’s desk and flipped absently through the files Dee Henning had just left. ‘It’s not her that I’m avoiding; I’m avoiding your silly retirement plans.’

‘You won’t be laughing when you come in here some morning and find my desk empty. You’ll be SOL big time, boy.’

Ellis pulled one of the files from the stack and handed it to her. ‘Here. Here’s my choice. Why not Tally Barnes? She’s about as qualified as anyone, I guess.’

She shoved the folder back at him. ‘You know why not Tally Barnes, now stop being a smart ass.’

He offered her an amused chuckle. ‘Who are you kidding, Beverly? You love this place and you know it. You’re not going to retire. How many false alarms have there been now, three? Four? I’ve lost count. Face it; you’ll work here until you drop dead.’

‘Believe what you want, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.’ She pulled a manila envelope from the top drawer of her desk and handed it to him.

‘What’s this?’

‘My replacement. Since you won’t help, I’ve taken matters into my own hands. She’s been right under our noses all along.’ She rubbed her hands together with a shiver of anticipation. ‘Come on, humor me.’

Still holding her in a disapproving gaze, he took the envelope as though he half expected it to be booby trapped. He opened the clasp then slid the contents from inside and gave it a glance. ‘Wait a minute. This is a file on Dee Henning. You can’t be serious. You want a head hunter to take over running half of Pneuma Inc?’

‘Don’t be such a snob, Ellis. It’s not like she’ll be taking over tomorrow. I’ll be here to train her up to suit your persnickety standards.’

‘Then why not promote Tally Barnes? I don’t see what you have against her. She always seems fine to me.’ He nodded to the top file in the stack Dee had brought in. ‘She already works for Pneuma Inc, and she’s a lot more qualified. You could train her up.’

‘Oh she’s already convinced she’s a shoo-in. Hell she’s already planning to redecorate my office. Wouldn’t be too TE_teasersurprised if she has plans for you too. Don’t give me that snooty smirk. She’s a trouble-maker, Ellis. Oh she’s great at ass-kissing, and that’s why Tally Barnes always seems fine to you. I don’t like her and I don’t trust her. You know I’m a good judge of character. Trust me on this; she’s not right for my job no matter what her resume says.’

‘Suit yourself.’ He returned his attention to Dee Henning’s details. ‘How did you get this information anyway?’ The file was too thick for a simple resume, and some of the pages looked like hand-written notes photocopied. Others were odd sizes, some were written on post-it notes, and the whole packaged smacked of Beverly’s scheming.

‘Portland’s a small city.’ Suddenly she seemed particularly interested in the leaves of a thriving Christmas cactus sitting on the edge of her desk.

‘Beverly?’

‘I’m friends with Irv McDowell, okay? At least I think we’re still friends.’ The look of driven-snow innocence gave way to something just slightly this side of devious.

‘You’ve been head-hunting from the head head hunter? Dee Henning’s Jasper and McDowell’s star recruiter. Surely Irv didn’t give you this willingly.’

Beverly ignored the question and nodded at the photo he now held in his hand.

‘She’s exactly what you need on all counts. Though it’s true she’s only a few years out of grad school, what impresses me is her accomplishments during that time. She reminds me of you back in the early days – young, hungry, dedicated… And pretty. Don’t give me that look, Ellis, you’d blush if you heard some of the juicy conversations about you I overhear in the ladies’ room.’

He pretended to ignore the photo. ‘Your delusions aside, it doesn’t matter — that she’s good looking, I mean.’

‘And that’s why you’re drooling over the photo? I may be old, Ellis, but there’s nothing wrong with my eyesight.’

He put the picture of Dee aside and flipped through the file. ‘What all do you have in here anyway?’ He read out loud from the photocopied pages. ‘Classically trained, voice and piano? Oh, that’ll come in really handy here at Pneuma Inc. In fact, I was just thinking of requiring it for all new employees.’

‘Stop being an asshole. It’s just background information, just stuff that’s good to know.’

A hand-written note stated that both of Dee’s parents were musicians. Her father had sung in the chorus for the Paris Opera. Her mother was a soprano, who went to Paris on some summer program, and nine months later Dee came along. Ellis suddenly felt like a voyeur. ‘This is none of our business.’ He tried to shove the file back at Beverly, but she refused it.

‘Oh for chrissake, Ellis, there’s nothing in there I haven’t already wheedled out of the girl over coffee or drinks. Don’t be such a wuss.’

‘I’m sure she didn’t give you the copy of her finances over coffee and drinks.’

‘Oh that. Just tells us that we can’t appeal to her with money alone.’

‘Clearly she doesn’t need it,’ he said. He was surprised to find someone so young had such a good portfolio. She obviously knew how to make money work for her. She wasn’t exactly rich, but give her a few more years, and she would be.

‘My point exactly. Musicians tend to be poor, and I think our Dee has taken it upon herself not to follow in her parents’ footsteps.’

‘If the need ever actually arises for me to interview her, what makes you think she’s even interested in working for me? She’s got a growing career with Jasper and McDowell, and as you said, she’s making very good money.’

Beverly frowned. ‘Jasper and McDowell is a means to an end. Surely you don’t expect someone with her talent to settle in there permanently, do you? It’s the experience of working here with you that’ll appeal to her. She’s a perfectionist, never does anything half-assed. She’s always striving to be the best. She’s driven, just like you are. Remember that when you interview her.’

He shuffled pages. ‘What did you have to do to get this stuff, tie Irv to a chair and beat him with a tire iron?’

‘It’s amazing what a man will tell you over a couple of drinks.’

‘You got him drunk.’

‘It wasn’t that hard. He never could hold his booze. I can’t believe I didn’t figure it out sooner. She’s perfect for my job.’

Ellis looked down at the resume. ‘She’s not perfect for your job, Beverly. She’s too young, too inexperienced, and this is not even her area of expertise.’

‘The woman’s a head hunter, Ellis. She has to be competent in lots of areas. Besides, we’ve always been risk-takers at Pneuma Inc, and those risks have always paid off. I’ll train her myself, and you’ll see, within a few months she’ll be able to run this place on her own.’

‘An opportunity she’ll never get because you’ll never retire.’

‘Forget about my retirement, Ellis. It’s time. You know it is. We need someone in training for when the inevitable happens.’172

He gave up pretending to ignore the photo, which was definitely the nicest thing he’d looked at all day. Short, dark hair framed blue eyes, a straight Roman nose, and a full-lipped smile that suggested competence, with a touch of mischief. So this was what Dee Henning looked like. He’d often wondered.

‘Hire her, Ellis. It’s not just that I’m retiring, but I’m old. Hell I could drop dead anytime, then what?’

‘Oh for chrissakes, Beverly, we both know you’re too damned ornery to die. You’ll outlive me. But I tell you what, if and when you do drop dead, I’ll hire her. Hell, when you drop dead, I’ll give her your job on a silver platter and train her myself, I promise. Now can we get back to running the business here?’
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