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I Make An Executive Decision

Knowing that everyone is gearing up for a long weekend, and for some people that will involve relaxing in the sunshine with a good read, I thought I’d continue on with the spirit of the Interviewing Wade Blog Tour and Giveaway by giving you something to read. It was the first three Executive Decisions novels that led fans to demand Wade’s story. And while Wade is a secondary character in each of those novels, his role is vital and vibrant. I’ve decided to celebrate the release of Interviewing Wade by sharing the first chapter of each of the first three Executive Decisions novels with you, so to begin with, here is chapter 1 from An Executive Decision.

Happy Reading!

Also be sure to check out all the Interviewing Wade Blog Tour and Giveaway by following the link.

Blurb An Executive Decision:Book One of the Executive Decision Trilogy

(Click here for Book Two | Book Three Interviewing Wade )

Sex in the contract – it’s the only way super-focused, over-worked CEO, Ellison Thorne, is ever going to get laid. That’s what his retiring business partner and secret match-maker, Beverly Neumann, thinks. She’s convinced no-strings, stress-free sex in certain employee contracts would raise productivity and minimize stress — perfect for a busy executive like Ellis. But she’s joking, right?

Enter her hand-picked replacement, Dee Henning. Young, hungry, gifted, Dee is the queen of no time for sex. When negotiations on a major project break down, and Dee and Ellis end up in each other’s arms, the Executive Sex Clause suddenly becomes more than a joke. In fact hot executive sex just might be the ultimate secret weapon for success. But secrets seldom remain secret, and Dee and Ellis soon learn there’s no such thing as no-strings where the heart is concerned.

AED new coverChapter 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 jungle 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.

AED_teaserJust 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. She 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?’

IC_teaser‘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 surprised 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.’

TE_teaserA 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.’

Wade_teaserHe 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?’

 

Touring Wade’s Dungeon — Going Down!

Interviewing WadeOnce lunch is over, I’m well fortified for the second half of my tour of Wade’s Dungeon. In fact, I’m so stuffed with burritos and nachos that I think Wade is being a proper sadist when he continues my tour of his Dungeon with a peek at his state of the art gym. ‘I hear you like to work out, K D,’ he says, and I can see his quirk of a smile threatening to break out as I scurry over to a space in front of a ceiling to floor mirror to fondle the most complete, most gorgeous set of kettle bells I’ve ever seen. I can tell they’re not just for looks. There are no pretty colors, just good, solid cast iron. ‘Thought you’d like those,’ he says.

I barely get a chance to run an appreciative hand over a proper stair machine, ogle a fantastic free-weights set up, a vicious-looking treadmill and ooh and awe over the Metrix machine before he’s herding me out the door.

From there he takes me into the Suite. I actually had breakfast in the kitchen area the other morning with Carla and Wade, but the Suite has been talked about in hushed tones for a while now. Carla calls it Wade’s fuck pad, but she knows, as do I that Wade keeps it for the rare guests he has. She has been one of the few people to take advantage of it. ‘It’s amazing!’ I say, trying to catch my breath as I stare at a marble bathtub and Jacuzzi the size of a small swimming pool, and an enormous wet room with more water sources that I can count before he’s herding me off again, blushing as we head past a bed big enough for half the employees of Pneuma Inc to have an orgy on. ‘Beverly Neumann did the decorating,’ he says still blushing. ‘She did this on purpose.’ He makes it sound like she put peanut butter in his boxers or something. ‘It’s lovely,’ I manage. ‘I’d say she did good.’

He mumbles something about overkill and herds me out of the room before I take up squatters rights as Interviewing Wade’s author and move in. I notice his pace slows considerably as we head back down the hall past several rooms that look like state of the art laboratories, spotlessly clean, well-equipped and seemingly deserted.

‘Does R&D use these?’ I ask.

He looks at me like I suddenly grew horns. ‘No. Why would they? They have their space.’

‘Then you work in them.’

He pauses mid-step to contemplate that idea. ‘I suppose I could if I wanted to, but they’re not as private as I’d like them to be. It’s too easy to be disturbed on this level. I do most of my work in the sub-basements.’

We move past a strange door that looks like the entrance to a train car.

‘What’s this,’ I ask.

‘Nothing yet,’ he answers. ‘Just an idea I have for a … space.’ He doesn’t clarify, and I’ve been around him enough to realize he won’t unless he wants to. His pace slows still further. At the end of the hall I can see a set of double doors that look like they could well belong in a hospital, but before I can ask, I realize he is standing in front of an open door, blocking my view.

‘You know what this is,’ he says, blushing furiously.

Book stacksI do, and I’m desperate to see it, but I know how sensitive Wade can be. ‘You’re room,’ I replay. ‘I don’t really like people in my bedroom either,’ I add, feeling his discomfort below my breastbone almost as though it is my own.

For a moment he has trouble meeting my gaze, then he looks up at me with dark green eyes. ‘It isn’t so much that it’s my sleeping room as it as that you know … you know what happened in there.’

I nod, not quite knowing how to reply, feeling a blush rise up my own cheeks as I think about what has happened between him and Carla in that space. But as I turn to walk away, he lays a strong hand on my arm to stop me, then steps aside and motions me in.

The room is small, much smaller than even I expected. Unlike the rest of the tiled floors of the Dungeon, Wade’s room is just concrete. The only piece of furniture is a fairly sturdy camp cot with an aging Star Trek duvet made up neatly over it. I notice immediately that the bedside table is really just stacks and stack of books. There’s a gooseneck lamp on top of them. A laptop, several tablets and more books, some open and marked with pens and pencils, some stuffed with paper scribbled full of notes. Next to the books I assume Wade’s reading is an empty Coke can. Around the rest of the room books are stacked three and four deep, in some places as high as my waist. The room smells of old paperbacks and I blush as I realize that the room smells of Wade Crittenden dreaming. He might sense my thought process because he’s blushing again, shuffling from foot to foot.

I quickly change the subject. ‘The books, have you read them all?’

‘All of them, yes. Some more than once,’ he replies.

‘Why do you keep them,’ I ask nodding to a pair of eReaders on the make-shift table.Aileanimages

‘Because they’re books. I like the feel of them, the smell – especially once they’ve been read a time or two.’

I run my fingers along a stack threatening to avalanche against my hip and am astonished to find there is no dust. ‘How do you find anything? Do you have a system?’

He looks around and shakes his head. ‘I thought about some kind of system for them, but then it seemed like a waste of my time when I know where they all are.’ He looks up at me and the blush is there again. ‘I don’t sleep much. Some nights not at all. I read a lot.’ He shrugs and this time the smile is one I can tell isn’t meant for me. ‘Well, I don’t have quite so much time to read now with Carla here. But I still don’t sleep much.’ Then he adds. ‘Besides, Carla loves to read too.’

Once again out in the hall, we push our way through the operating room doors and find ourselves standing in front of an elevator that looks like it might very well lead to an operating theater. The elevator opens and I nearly jump out of my skin, coming face to face with a life-size poster of the monster from Aliens. Wade smiles at my response and motions me in. With a series of taps against a blue buttoned console, the elevator begins a rapid descent. My heart is racing in my chest. I realize the sub-basements are off limits to everyone but Dee and Ellis, Carla, and possibly Martin Flannery. I know that the lowest level, level four is basically a no-go zone, with good reason, and my pulse goes into overdrive at the thought of going down there.

‘I do most of my work in the sub-basements,’ Wade speaks above the hushed whisper of the elevator. ‘I can work there undisturbed.’ We pass sub-level one and then two, and I wipe sweaty hands against my jeans. ‘I have a dozen or so projects going on at any given time, and I never know which one I’ll be inspired to work on,’ Wade says, ‘Best to have a space for each one and some extras too. I never know when the idea for something new will come. The lift stops on sub-level three and I find that I’ve been holding my breath as he motions me out.

This laboratory is nothing like the ones on the upper floors. It isn’t at all what I would expect a laboratory to be like. This one looks like a nerd’s dream basement. There’s a battered brown leather sofa against the wall. On the end table next to it is a lava lamp bubbling up hypnotic red blobs. There’s a kitchen unit that looks like it came out of the 1960s to one side. In the middle of the room on battered desks and metal tables there’s a hodgepodge of monitors and keyboards and on a free-standing metal framework above a section of work table is what looks like a very sophisticated robotic arm that could have come straight from a Terminator film. ‘You know about this,’ he says, nodding to it. He reaches out to touch it. ‘It’s not ready yet. The interface is still not sensitive enough.’ He smiles to himself, running a hand over lava lampthe slightly curved, nearly human looking fingers. ‘Shocked the hell out of myself the other day. Still can’t manage the electrical impulses so that they guide the operator but don’t knock him on his ass.’ He shrugs. I’ll figure it out.’

As we step back into the hall, he nods in both directions. ‘Three more laboratories on this floor,’ he says. ‘The projects in two of them are only in the conceptual stage and the other one is Nano-technology, not something I can easily show you.’ He herds me back into the elevator, and suddenly I’m having trouble breathing again as the door closes behind us and the blue buttons await Wade’s touch.

I can feel him studying me, and try though I might, I can’t meet his gaze. I can’t speak I feel frozen to the spot with the knowledge of what’s in the fourth sub-basement – no laboratories, no nerd’s hang-out. Nothing pretty, nothing sophisticated. I feel a sudden chill as he releases his breath and taps a code into the keypad. The elevator whirs to life and with the tiniest of judder … begins to ascend. I catch my breath in a little sigh.

At last he speaks. ‘I won’t take you down there,’ he says. His face is suddenly like a wall hiding so many things. His jaw is set and his eyes are nearly black in the subdued lighting. ‘You know … what it’s like down there. What I’m like when I go there.’ He swallows hard and closes his eyes, and I feel cold. When he looks back at me, I force myself to meet his gaze. ‘That you know is enough, K D.’ His voice is barely more than just a whisper. ‘Let it be enough.’

We ascend the rest of the way in silence. As we arrive in the main living area of the Dungeon, Carla meets us with two mugs of mocha – extra marshmallow cream. She kisses Wade gently on the mouth and guides him to the table, guidance which, at that moment, I can’t help but feel he needs.

‘All right?’ she speaks softly squeezing his arm after he’s had his first sip.

He nods and forces a smile. Then he reaches out and touches her cheek. ‘Fine. I’m fine.’

For a second I sip in silence, trying to figure out what I should say, under the circumstances. At last I look up at him. ‘Wade, I didn’t mean to –’

He stops me with a shake of his head. ‘If I hadn’t wanted you to see, I wouldn’t have shown you. But what’s on sub-level four, well, even though you know. I don’t like to go there. I … I only ever go there when I have no choice, when I need to. And right now, thankfully,’ he squeezes Carla’s hand, ‘I don’t need to.’

In the evening, Stacie Emerson and Carla’s father, Martin Flannery, take over the kitchen in the Suite. After toasts to the launch of Interviewing Wade, with Prosecco Stacie and Harris have brought back from a recent trip to Italy, there’s homemade spaghetti carbonara with the best tiramisu I’ve ever eaten for dessert. We end the tour and the day’s celebration in the Dungeon’s home cinema stuffing ourselves with buttered popcorn while we watch X-Men First Class.

It’s late when I get ready to leave. Carla and Wade give each other the eye and nod. Then Wade turns his attention to me. ‘It’s late, and you’ve had a busy few days, K D. Why don’t you stay in the Suite tonight.’

Carla nods her agreement, when she sees my uncertainty. ‘I’ve grown rather fond of Wade’s cot,’ she says with a wink. ‘Besides, we don’t need very much space, the two of us.’ As we say our good-nights at the door of the Suite, I watch them head down the hall arm and arm, and I figure Carla is probably right. They don’t need much space at all.

 

The Interviewing Wade Blog Tour and Giveaway continues throughout this week and the next. I’m over at the fabulous Lynelle Clark’s Do join us there!

 Wade_teaser2

For the next two weeks find Carla, Wade and me on these fabulous blogs!

 Mar 23   L. C. Wilkinson  http://lcwilkinson.com/

Mar 24   Jan Graham http://jangraham.blogspot.com/

Mar 25   Lynelle Clark http://lynelleclarkaspiredwriter.blogspot.com/

Mar 26   Nice Ladies, Naughty Books http://niceladiesnaughtybooks.com/

Mar 27   Love Bites & Silk Ties http://www.lovebitessilkties.co.uk/

Mar 30   Books and Banter   http://locglin.blogspot.com/

Mar 31   Case Sharidan   http://casesheridan.wordpress.com/

Apr 1   Lisabet Sarai http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com

Ap 2   Gale Stanley http://galestanley.blogspot.com/

Ap 3   Illustrious Illusions http://www.illustriousillusions.com/

 

INTERVIEWING WADE Is An Executive Decision novel (Click Here for Book One | Book Two | Book Three)

Blurb:

The Executive Decisions Trilogy may be over, but the story continues. Intrepid reporter, Carla Flannery, wants to interview Wade Crittenden, the secretive creative genius behind Pneuma Inc. But when, against all odds, Wade actually agrees to the interview, Carla suspects ulterior motives.

Carla has made a lot of enemies in her work and when Wade discovers she’s being stalked, he agrees to the interview to keep her close and safe. As the situation turns deadly, lives and hearts are on the line, and the interview reveals far more about both than either ever expected.

 

Interviewing Wad is available from:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Amazon AU

Amazon CA

 

I Survived a Tour of Wade’s Dungeon!

Interviewing WadeWith all the excitement of launch weekend and with the Interviewing Wade Blog Tour & Giveaway beginning today, I threw caution to the wind and asked Wade for a tour of the Dungeon, and I was totally surprised when he agreed. And it didn’t take me long to realize that this tour might not be for the faint of heart.

For those of you who don’t know, the Dungeon is the name Wade’s colleagues gave the basement and sub-basements of the Pneuma building, which became Wade’s domain. Though Pneuma Inc has a state of the art R&D wing, and employ some of the best minds in the world there, the real cutting edge stuff, the stuff that comes straight from Wade’s incredible mind, happens in the Dungeon. Over the years, what originally started out simply as a private place for Wade to work and do research evolved into so much more.

Wade meets me by the elevator in the Executive Suites of the Pneuma building where I’ve been chatting with Ellis Thorne and Dee Henning. He’s dressed in his usual hoodie and jeans and his hair is mussed. I smile to myself imagining how it got that way. He nods a greeting to Dee and Ellis then motions me to the elevator. ‘Come on,’ he says. ‘Let’s get this over with.’

I know that Wade is uncomfortable about having people in the Dungeon and, until Carla came along, only Dee and Ellis had ever been into some of the more restricted areas, but the little smile that Ellis offers him and the slight nod that passes between them tells me that I’ve not violated Wade’s privacy too badly, and I know that, for Wade, saying ‘no’ is not a problem.

It seems like the elevator descends forever. The last two days I’ve entered the Dungeon through the sub-basement parking garage. ‘There’s a code,’ Wade says, as though he’s read my mind, ‘When it’s entered, the elevator goes directly between the Executive Offices and the Dungeon, no stops in between. I hate a crowded elevator, and I hate extra stops.’ Before the elevator reaches its destination, my ears have popped twice. ‘We’re quite a ways down,’ he says. ‘And the four levels of sub basements quite a ways farther.’

My pulse jumps at the mention of the sub-levels. ‘Will I see them?’

‘Not all of them,’ he answers, his jaw suddenly tight and his lips pressed in a thin line. Then he adds, ‘Even if I wanted to show it all to you, which I don’t, there isn’t enough time.’ He shrugs. ‘You’d have to overnight in the Suite, and even then … Well, some places are just off limits.’

Though I relish the idea of a night in the Suite, I have to admit, there are parts of Wade’s Dungeon that I’m not all that sure I really want to see.

The doors open with a whisper and we walk through a deserted reception area that I know is just for looks. Wade has no receptionist and no PA. Pretty much it’s invitation only to the Dungeon. As we pass through the reception area, he punches in a door code and I find myself in what I know is the main living area, and the only real public area. And yes, Wade really does live here. Still, writing about it, and actually seeing it up close and personal are two different things. The best way I can describe it is a cross between my grandmother’s kitchen, a 1950s diner, and romp through a flea market.

Carla is ensconced at an ancient Formica table with her laptop open. She greets me with a smile. ‘Sorry I can’t join you on the tour. I’m on a tight deadline for a story about sustainability, but Wade’s a great tour guide.’

He growls at her, and she blows him a kiss, then goes back to work. Teen Angel is playing on a jukebox that adds to the hamburger joint feel with its pastel lighting and its glass bubble top that shows off the 45s. A quick peek, and I see that there are selections all the way back to the 40s along with lots of classic rock and a few pop pieces as well. Next to it is a red Naugahyde stool with a heavy-bodied black phone from the 1950s that reminds me a bit of a kettle bell. ‘The land line,’ Wade says. ‘Doesn’t get used much, but Ellis insists I have one.’

On the wall above the stool is a black and white plastic cat clock, with numbers and hands on the exposed white belly. As the seconds tick, the tail swishes and the eyes roll from side to side. ‘You a cat person?’ I ask.

He shrugs. ‘I just liked the clock.’

The ratty Naugahyde and chrome sofa along the back wall must have been the colour of gray marble at one time, but it’s surface is rubbed clean from lots of butts sitting on it. In front of it is a battered oak coffee table that must weigh as much as a small car, and I can’t keep from thinking of Wade feeding Carla Chinese food on that couch. Best not think of that! ‘Garage sale?’ I nod to the couch.

‘From Ellis’ parent’s basement, believe it or not,’ he says. ‘Though some of this stuff is from garage sales and flea markets.’

‘I never would have expected you to frequent such places,’ I say.

‘Who knows what you’ll find there. And next to bowling with Clyde, I find a good flea market the next best thing for thinking and inspiration.’ He grabs a plastic glass from a small Formica counter and I watch as he fills it with ice from the kind of ice machine one would find in a hotel lobby. Then from a refrigerator that looks like it came straight from grandma’s kitchen, he pulls out a pitcher of iced tea fills the glass, slaps a plastic lid on it and stuff in a straw. ‘Your drink of choice, just like Dee’s if I’m not mistaken.’ He hands it to me, and I’m moved that he knew.

Carla watches as I drink deeply and moan my approval. ‘You’ll need fortification for this tour,’ she says. ‘We’re ordering Mexican for lunch after. You up for it?’

How can I refuse such an offer! Wade bends and kisses Carla on the cheek, then leads me into a long hallway. And I become very aware of the quirk of a man who could buy half of Portland without even batting an eye, but chooses to furnish his most personal spaces with flea-market hodge-podge and yet I can just see inside the first room we pass, a home cinema that would put any mall cinema I’ve ever been to to shame.

‘We’re watching X-Men First Class tonight if you want to join us,’ Wade says, taking in my view. ‘Stacie and Harris Walker will be here. You know them.’

‘Why Wade, you’re practically turning into a social butterfly,’ I tease.

He growls and leads me down to the Incident Room, and I’m suddenly speechless as he brings everything on line with several clicks on a random keyboard. The room is wall-to-wall flat-screen monitors the size of … well the size of walls. There are keyboards and electronics and a device that looks like a cross between a gas pump and an iron maiden. In spite of all the amazing tech around me, though, my eyes stray to the metal support beam in the middle of the room, with its hook at arm’s reach.

Before I can look away, he follows my gaze, and this time he growls louder. ‘We’re not going there, so don’t ask.’ His face is suddenly bright red and I’m sure mine is too. I can’t keep the picture of him and Carla out of my head, her there bound with her hands up over her hand and him … I catch my breath. ‘I wasn’t pleased about you writing that,’ he says to me. ‘I wasn’t at my best just then.’

I thought he was pretty damned amazing, but I don’t say that. ‘I didn’t mean to intrude on a private moment,’ I manage, wondering if I made a mistake in asking him to take me on this tour. What happened in the Incident Room is only one of the events that make this tour way more personal and invasive for me than it would be for anyone else.

‘Yes you did,’ he says. ‘You meant to do exactly that, and you did it over and over again.’

‘And you let me.’

For a moment we stand there in silence, with only the soft whisper of the air conditioning in the background, surrounded by technology that I know he has used to help the police and secret service agencies all over the world solve crimes. His genius is so much more than technical, though, and yet I am most moved by the sight of that metal support post and what happened there.

At last, his shoulders relax and the sigh that passes his lips seems loud in the quiet. ‘I did. You’re right.’ He runs a hand through his already mussed hair and looks around the room. ‘I’m sorry. I’m just not used to … to people knowing … stuff about me.’

‘Hey guys, Mexican just arrived.’ We both jump and turn to find Carla standing barefoot at the door. ‘I’m starving. Either come join me or delay at your own risk.’

Wade, still holding my gaze, takes a deep breath and offers a genuine smile. ‘I think we could both use a break.’ He motions me out into the hall. ‘Sustenance first, and then we finish the tour,’ his voice turns dangerous, ‘if you think you’re up for it.’

I can’t help but wonder if I am. I can’t help but wonder if either of us is.

 

The Interviewing Wade Blog Tour and Giveaway Begins today and I’m over at the fabulous L.C.
Wilkinson’s blog Do join us there!

 

Wade_teaser

 

For the next two weeks find Carla, Wade and me on these fabulous blogs! 

Mar 23   L. C. Wilkinson   http://lcwilkinson.com/

Mar 24   Jan Graham http://jangraham.blogspot.com/

Mar 25   Lynelle Clark http://lynelleclarkaspiredwriter.blogspot.com/

Mar 26   Nice Ladies, Naughty Books http://niceladiesnaughtybooks.com/

Mar 27   Love Bites & Silk Ties http://www.lovebitessilkties.co.uk/

Mar 30   Books and Banter   http://locglin.blogspot.com

Mar 31   Case Sharidan   http://casesheridan.wordpress.com/

Apr 1   Lisabet Sarai http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com

Ap 2   Gale Stanley http://galestanley.blogspot.com/

Ap 3   Illustrious Illusions http://www.illustriousillusions.com/

 

INTERVIEWING WADE is an Executive Decision novel (Click Here for Book One | Book Two | Book Three)

The Executive Decisions Trilogy may be over, but the story continues. Intrepid reporter, Carla Flannery, wants to interview Wade Crittenden, the secretive creative genius behind Pneuma Inc. But when, against all odds, Wade actually agrees to the interview, Carla suspects ulterior motives.

Carla has made a lot of enemies in her work and when Wade discovers she’s being stalked, he agrees to the interview to keep her close and safe. As the situation turns deadly, lives and hearts are on the line, and the interview reveals far more about both than either ever expected.

 

Interviewing Wad is available from:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Amazon AU

Amazon CA

 

INTERVIEWING WADE Launch Celebration: Bowling with Wade & Carla

Interviewing WadeAfter a celebration launch breakfast with Wade and Carla in Wade’s Dungeon, involving a fabulous sampling of Pop Tarts a la Flannery and Marshmallow Cream chocolate coffee, a la Chrittenden, Wade and Carla invite me to join them for an early morning bowling session at Clyde’s bowling alley – the place that has inspired some of Wade’s most innovative inventions.

Right off the bat, I march up to the lane, take three steps, as everyone has instructed me, let the ball go and fall flat on my ass, while the ball with some serious momentum, gutters long before it gets to the pins.

Wade watches it nodding. ‘I’ve never seen quite that kind of back spin on a ball. I think it has something to do with the way you were off balance when you let it go.’ The earnestness of his observation makes me laugh as I wait for the ball return rubbing my bruised butt.

‘Is that engineer speak for what happens when you fall an your ass while swinging a bowling ball?’

‘Well I suppose there’s a bit of that,’ he says, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. ‘I can give you the mathematics of what just happened if you’d like.’ The man has shed his requisite black hoodie and I’m suddenly reminded just how well-built he is. He’s sporting a faded red t-shirt on which I can barely make out a diagram of a carbon molecule superimposed over the Coca Cola logo with the words Carbon Nation written in the Coke font. ‘But I don’t think it would help your game.’

This time I managed to stay on my feet and boldly take out one pin on the far left after the ball slo-mo’s its way down the lane. ‘I don’t think much of anything would help my game,’ I say.

‘Looks to me like your ball’s to heavy,’ Clyde says.

‘Heavy balls can be a real problem,’ Carla says around a mouthful of Doritos. Wade gives her a sideways glance. She shrugs and Clyde sniggers.

As Clyde offers me several lighter balls to try, I watch out of the corner of my eyes as Wade bowls a beautiful strike. Twice. ‘You’ve known him for a long time?’ I ask.

Clyde nods and the smile on his face reminds me of a proud father watching his well-accomplished son. ‘Couldn’t bowl a lick when he came in here the first time. Don’t know why he chose bowling over anything else. But I showed him the basics, and Crittenden being who he is, it didn’t take him long. Tried to get him to bowl with a league. Thought it would be good for him – you know some social interaction. He told me …’ Clyde chuckles, ‘Well what he told me wasn’t very nice, but made it very clear that he didn’t bowl to be social.’

We both watch as he leans close and whispers something to Carla, who laughs congenially and musses his hair before rising to bowl her own strike. Clyde nods and his smile broadens considerably. ‘That one, well, she’s way better for him than any bowling league. Take the fact that he invited you along to bowl, KD. That young woman can cajole him and pester him and tease him in ways I’ve never seen anyone do. I mean even Ellis Thorne knows not to cross the line with Crittenden, and they’re best friends. But it’s like, well it’s like with Carla, there is no line.’

‘You think he’s a better person for having her in his life?’ I ask, choosing a pretty blue ball with sparkles that may actually be too light, but the way I bowl, I doubt it’ll matter much.

‘Nah,’ he says, watching Carla deal surgically with a difficult split. ‘He’s always been a good person. Might have taken her to show him that. I’ve seen a lot of teamwork here on league nights. Some teams just click, and they win even when they lose. These two, well they’re like that together. They’re a team.’

‘It’s your turn, KD,’ Wade calls over his shoulder. I return to find him sharing a package of Ding Dongs with Carla.

‘You want one?’ Carla asks. ‘I have another package.’

I take the precious gift of junk food assuring myself that though I don’t usually eat such empty calories and I don’t have the metabolism these to do, it’s a special occasion and, let’s face it, sometimes the emptier the calories, the better they taste.

bowling 1This time my bright blue ball takes a swath right out of the middle of the pins and I take a bow to the cheers from my audience of three. However I may well have taken my kudos too soon as the second attempt hits the floor with a kathunk and then promptly gutters.

‘Never mind,’ Carla says. ‘Here, eat your Ding Dongs, and you’ll feel better.’ She’s right. I do.

‘So, back to work on the photovoltaic prototype after bowling?’ I ask Wade.

He’s just bowled another strike and we both watch Carla position herself. ‘Nope. We’re heading over to Stacie’s Clear-cut after this.’

‘Oh? How’s that going, the re-planting, I mean.’

We watch Carla bowl a split with a ball that curved just slightly too much to the right at the last minute. Clyde tells me that. I would have had no clue why. Carla calls the ball a few choice names and waits at the return.

‘In spite of the planting and the careful management,’ Wade says, returning to the topic of the clear-cut, there are still problems with erosion when we get heavy rains.’ He shrugs broad shoulders. ‘We always get heavy rains here, so I’ve designed a new type of ground cover that I hope will help.’

‘And I’m coming along to take a few photos and catch the story.’ Carla says, plopping down next to Wade. ‘Something that’ll fight erosion in a place with massive rainfall is big news.’

‘Almost as big as illegal cage fighting,’ Wade says with a twitch of a smile.

She shrugs. ‘Well if the inventor of the new ground cover will traipse around on the hillside in shiny shorts and no shirt, it would be a toss-up.’

Clyde and I snigger, and Wade waves me to take the floor with a quirk of a smile.

We bowl four games, and by the end, I’ve actually managed two Ding Dongs, a bag of Doritos and a Snickers Bar. Oh, and three strikes! Well a girl needs her strength to keep up with Wade and Carla in Clyde’s bowling alley.

Wade and Carla drop me in the parking garage at the Pneuma Building. I say my good-byes and wish the two well at the clear-cut. They both give me hugs and congratulations. Before they leave, Wade turns to me and offers me a rare full smile. ‘I’m looking forward to Carla reading the next chapter of your book to me. But that’ll have to wait till tonight,’ he glances over his shoulder at Carla who is now talking to one of her fathers security men, ‘Tonight after we’re home alone. It’s the Chinese food chapter, she tells me. Not for public consumption.’ Wade Crittenden actually winks at me … around a heroic blush, then he turns, pulls Carla in close to his side and I watch the two disappear into the Dungeon entrance from the parking garage.

 

The Interviewing Wade Blog Tour and Giveaway Begins Tomorrow, the 23rd. For the next two weeks find Carla, Wade and me on these fabulous blogs

Mar 23   L. C. Wilkinson   http://lcwilkinson.com/ Wade_teaser

Mar 24   Jan Graham http://jangraham.blogspot.com/

Mar 25   Lynelle Clark http://lynelleclarkaspiredwriter.blogspot.com/

Mar 26   Nice Ladies, Naughty Books http://niceladiesnaughtybooks.com/

Mar 27   Love Bites & Silk Ties http://www.lovebitessilkties.co.uk/

Mar 30   Books and Banter   http://locglin.blogspot.com/

Mar 31   Case Sharidan   http://casesheridan.wordpress.com/

Apr 1   Lisabet Sarai http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com

Ap 2   Gale Stanley http://galestanley.blogspot.com/

Ap 3   Illustrious Illusions http://www.illustriousillusions.com/

 

Interviewing Wade is An Executive Decision novel

(Click Here for Book One | Book Two | Book Three)

The Executive Decisions Trilogy may be over, but the story continues. Intrepid reporter, Carla Flannery, wants to interview Wade Crittenden, the secretive creative genius behind Pneuma Inc. But when, against all odds, Wade actually agrees to the interview, Carla suspects ulterior motives.

Carla has made a lot of enemies in her work and when Wade discovers she’s being stalked, he agrees to the interview to keep her close and safe. As the situation turns deadly, lives and hearts are on the line, and the interview reveals far more about both than either ever expected.

 

Excerpt:

‘What do you want, Carla?’ His abrupt change of subject derailed her before she could get started on her well-deserved rant. Who the hell did he think he was anyway? It was just an act of kindness, nothing more. Surely he wasn’t too stupid to see that. She watched, speechless as he hopped up and lobbed a killer ball that would have been devastating if it hadn’t guttered half way down the lane and rolled benignly the rest of the way to the soundtrack of half-hissed curses that would have hurt a sailor’s ears. She had no idea until last night that Wade Crittenden had such a colourful vocabulary. She watched his shoulders rise and fall in what she thought was the nerd’s last-ditch effort at some calming Zen. Then he took a deep breath and spoke without looking at her. ‘What do you want?’ He repeated.

Thanks to Devon’s poorly-timed call, it was far to late to sweeten him up, so she’d just have to go for it and hope for the best. She took a deep breath and said. ‘I want to interview you.’ She stuffed the notebook back into her shoulder bag, shoved it onto the seat and coming to stand by his side as he waited for the ball to return.

‘No,’ he replied, calmly taking up the ball and this time sending it waltzing right down the centre of the lane for a slo-mo strike.

‘Oh it’s not about last night. You’ve already said plenty about last night. It’s about Pneuma Inc. I’ve already interviewed Dee and Ellis.’

‘Then you don’t need to interview me. They know everything I know.’

‘Oh I got great stuff from them, but people want to know about the genius behind Pneuma Inc, the mystery man. Come on, Wade, I promise I’ll be gentle.’

She gave a little squeak of surprise as he grabbed her by the lapel of her shirt, led her unceremoniously back to the seat and pushed her gently down in it. ‘No,’ he said. Then he grabbed the ball and bowled yet another strike.

‘You’re pretty good,’ she said.

‘I’m better when no one is bothering me.’ He tapped his fingers on the ball return in a definite ‘get-lost-Carla’ rhythm.

‘Look,’ she shoved out of the seat and came to his side again. ‘You’ve been hounding me to be a good girl, to play it safe, to stay out of danger, well…’

He picked up the returned ball and took his stance, with her standing right beside him.

‘What could be safer than me interviewing the mysterious Wade Crittenden of Pneuma Inc?’ She followed on his heels bowling 3as he positioned himself, took three quick steps and let the ball go. She nearly rear-ended him at his quick stop.

He turned suddenly and she found herself cheek to chest with him. They were both breathing much harder than their little bowling waltz demanded. Then, fuck if he didn’t lift her bodily over his shoulders, carry her back to the chair and drop into it like an oversized sack of potatoes before the ball flattened all the pins. Again. With a hand on either side of the chair, trapping her there, he held her gaze, nearly nose to nose. ‘I may be a lot of things, Flannery, but I’m not safe.’ Before she could protest further, he turned and bellowed, ‘Clyde, Ms Flannery’s leaving. Show her out please. And then lock the damned door.’

 

Interviewing Wad is available from:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Amazon AU

Amazon CA

 

Interviewing Wade Launch Day Celebratory Breakfast with Wade & Carla

Interviewing WadeIt’s the first day of spring! Flowers are blooming, birds are singing and, at long last, it’s launch day for Wade and Carla! I’ve been waiting for it, readers have been waiting for it and though, at first, Wade wasn’t keen on letting his story be known, thanks to Carla’s cajoling and teasing, he finally agreed. It’s totally true! Still waters do run deep, and the currents you don’t see beneath the surface can be very wild and dangerous indeed.

To celebrate, Wade has invited me to the Dungeon for breakfast. Carla’s cooking. Just so you know; both Wade and Carla are sort of … well … food Philistines. Wade has downloaded all the apps for his favorite take-out and delivery places, and he knows all the really good ones in and around Portland. Carla knows all the local drive-throughs and can eat just about any meal that can be ordered from a ‘to-go’ menu while driving in Portland traffic and doing an interview on her cell phone, but don’t tell her father that. He’s in the security business and wishes his daughter would be a little more safety-conscious. Since both Carla and Wade have the metabolism of mountain goats, I’m not expecting health food.

I find Carla in the kitchen of the Suite, dressed in jeans and a blue Portland State t-shirt, her hair caught up in a sloppy ponytail. She’s manning the toaster. Surrounded by half a dozen open boxes of various flavors of Pop Tarts. She smiled up at me and nearly misses a pair of Pop Tarts as they catapult into the air.

‘Hi K D! Congratulations! Help yourselves to the Pop Tarts.’ She nods to a platter near the microwave. ‘Those are already buttered. There are four different kinds, but I forgot what’s where. It’ll be a surprise.’ Then she adds, ‘I was going to make scrambled eggs and bacon, but I had a phone interview run long with someone on the East Coast for an article I’m doing on illegal cage fighting on the East Coast.

‘Don’t worry about the eggs, Carla’s the Pop Tart Queen,’ Wade says, coming up behind her and kissing her ear just as the coffee maker on the counter stops gurgling. He’s wearing his usual baggy black hoodie and faded jeans. ‘She puts butter on ‘em and melts it in the microwave. Excuse me, K D. I’m making coffee.’ He shoves his way past us to the steaming carafe and pulls out three enormous mugs with the Pheuma Inc logo from the cupboard. I watch in fascination as he rips open three packets of cocoa mix and dumps them into the cups. He notices I’m looking and offers a twitch of a smile. ‘It’s Carla’s recipe. Coffee and Cocoa together.’ As he slops coffee into each of the cups with one hand, he reaches a long arm up to the top shelf and pulls down a huge jar of Marshmallow Cream.

‘The Marshmallow Cream’s Wade’s idea,’ Carla says, watching him stir each cup and plop a mound the size of a snowball on top of the mixture. That done he hands us each one and nods to the table. Carla grabs the big platter of Pop Tarts ala Microwave and follows.

Once I’ve selected a very well buttered blueberry Pop Tart, and I can’t keep from smiling.

‘What?’ Wade says. ‘You were expecting eggs Benedict? You know we’re all busy around here.’

‘No!’ I reply. ‘This is exactly what I was expecting, and I can’t think of anything more appropriate than Pop Tarts and Chocolate Coffee to launch your book, Wade.’

Pop Tarts 2‘I can,’ Carla says. She disappears into the kitchen and returns with a huge bakery box. ‘Dee’s secretary, Sandra, brought these down for us, in honor of the occasion.’ She opens box to display some of the most succulent pastries I’ve ever seen, and some of the biggest, fattest chocolate éclairs on the planet. I can’t help it. I moan, and Wade and Carla both nod knowingly. ‘The éclairs, they’re perfect with the coffee,’ Wade says.

‘What could be better with chocolate and coffee than more chocolate and some whipped cream,’ Carla says. She takes a huge bite of her éclair, managing the suggestive spurt of whipped cream with a quick flick of her tongue.

I’m halfway through my éclair before I get up the courage to ask. ‘So, have you read the book yet?’

‘I have,’ Carla says. ‘She gives Wade a chocolatey kiss on the cheek. ‘Wade never reads anything that’s been written about him, but you know that.’

Before I can respond, he adds. ‘Carla’s reading it to me, though. It’s amazing I ever get anything done around her,’ he grumps. ‘She’s always hounding me to read the next chapter.’

Carla elbows him in the ribs, but I see the twitch of a smile at the corner of his lips, and I can’t keep from smiling back. ‘Thank you, Wade, for letting me write it.’

He’s trying hard not to smile now. ‘I figured I’d better let you have your fun, or you’d never leave me alone and let me get back to work. I’d like to finish the photovoltaic cell prototype before Christmas, you know.’ He shoves half a Pop Tart in his mouth.

I turn my attention to Carla, who is grazing her way through a luscious looking pastry filled with lemon cream. ‘And thank you. I know your part in the story was no easier than Wade’s, and I don’t mind telling you, you scared the hell out of me a few times.’

‘She’s good at that,’ Wade interjects, sliding a proprietary arm around her shoulders.

The blush is so visible up over her porcelain Celtic cheeks and in between the smattering of freckles. ‘I’m used to hard stories,’ she says. ‘I’m a journalist, remember?’ Then she changes the topic. ‘I want some chocolate milk. Anyone else want some chocolate milk?’

eclairI decline, but Wade is happy to take her up on her offer, pulling her down on his lap when she returns from the refrigerator and hands him a carton. I can’t keep from thinking how nice it is to see him so relaxed. She musses his dark hair, which just touches the collar of his hoodie, and he gives her a squeeze, then they both turn to me. ‘Good luck with the book, KD,’ she says. He nods.

Wade glances down at his watch. ‘I’ve asked Clyde open the bowling alley this morning. Thought maybe you’d like to celebrate with us over a couple of frames. You do bowl, don’t you?’

‘Not well,’ I reply, ‘but I’d love to join you anyway.’

‘Good,’ he says. ‘Finish your breakfast and I’ll tell Clyde to expect us.’

  *****

The Interviewing Wade Blog Tour and Giveaway Begins Monday, the 23rd on these fabulous blogs

 Mar 23   L. C. Wilkinson   http://lcwilkinson.com/

Mar 24   Jan Graham http://jangraham.blogspot.com/

Mar 25   Lynelle Clark http://lynelleclarkaspiredwriter.blogspot.com/

Mar 26   Nice Ladies, Naughty Books http://niceladiesnaughtybooks.com/

Mar 27   Love Bites & Silk Ties http://www.lovebitessilkties.co.uk/

Mar 30   Books and Banter   http://locglin.blogspot.com/

Mar 31   Case Sharidan   http://casesheridan.wordpress.com/

Apr 1   Lisabet Sarai http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com

Ap 2   Gale Stanley http://galestanley.blogspot.com/

Ap 3   Illustrious Illusions http://www.illustriousillusions.com/

*****

INTERVIEWING WADE: An Executive Decision novel

(Click Here for Book One | Book Two | Book Three)

The Executive Decisions Trilogy may be over, but the story continues. Intrepid reporter, Carla Flannery, wants to interview Wade Crittenden, the secretive creative genius behind Pneuma Inc. But when, against all odds, Wade actually agrees to the interview, Carla suspects ulterior motives.

Carla has made a lot of enemies in her work and when Wade discovers she’s being stalked, he agrees to the interview to keep her close and safe. As the situation turns deadly, lives and hearts are on the line, and the interview reveals far more about both than either ever expected.

Excerpt:

Carla popped the last of her bacon into her mouth and spoke around it. ‘So tell me, is Fort Flannery as unassailable as my father assured me, or are we in need of an upgrade?’

He drained his glass of orange juice and pushed back from the table. ‘Your father did a good job. I didn’t have to do hardly anything.’

‘He’ll be glad to hear that,’ she said. ‘Sorry you had to waste your valuable time in the wee hours. I know how busy you are.’

‘Yes, well, it was on my mind. If you’ll let me see your Android, I’ll give it a little upgrade too.’

‘Will I be able to watch Russian porn on it?’ she asked.

‘Japanese and Chinese porn as well, if you like.’ There was that quirk of a smile that she really would love to eat right off his face.

‘And I’ll assume you’ve given it a test-drive.’

To her delight, the smile didn’t disappear, even though the blush was hot on those chiseled cheeks. ‘I’m my own best guinea pig.’

‘Wade Crittenden, that borders on too much information, but in the interest of consumer protection and all, I thank you.’ The blush grew, but the smile stayed put as she offered him a salute and went into her bedroom to get the device.

She returned to find that he’d shed his hoodie and was filling the sink with soapy water, his broad back mantling the counter like a giant bird of prey. For a second her stomach bottomed at the sight of Wade Crittenden doing dishes at her sink. She stood, Android crushed to her chest, feeling flushed and slightly off-balance. His t-shirt was a loose fit, misshapen and short in the back from too many washings for something that should have migrated to the rag drawer some time ago, and when he reached across the sink to add still more soap, the shirt rode up to reveal the slim line of his back and the muscles where his hips joined his torso just above the swell of his buttocks. The baggy jeans gave enough of an intimation of that swelling to leave Carla breathless and hot enough to want to throw off her own hoodie and splash herself with the soapy water in which he was nearly elbow-deep.

As though he sensed her watching, he turned, slopped water down the front of his shirt and onto his jeans and uttered a surprised curse.

Without thinking she rushed to his side, dropping the device on the table. ‘You don’t have to do that,’ she managed, in a breathless gasp. ‘Sometimes I go for weeks without ever washing so much as a coffee cup.’ She stretched around him, grabbed for a dish towel and offered it to him instead of patting him dry herself, which was what she really wanted to do.

He reached for the towel, holding her gaze. ‘You cook for me, I do the cleanup for you. Fair’s fair.’ His hand slid into the cloth and around her fingers as he drew it to his chest. His breath caught, his lips parted as though to speak, and God help her, she couldn’t resist, she leaned into him on tippy-toe and planted a kiss firmly on his mouth. She only meant for it to be a friendly peck, a way of saying thanks for checking up on her and for doing the dishes, but his other hand, covered with soapy water, swooped in and grabbed the front of her hoodie reeling her to him. Then he curled his fingers in the tangle of her wild hair and cradled the back of her head, pulling her still further up on her toes. ‘Oh God,’ he whispered, his tongue darting deep, his lips, soft and hard and bruising all at the same time, meeting hers in a clash of wills and a heroic effort to get closer and deeper. ‘Oh God, Carla, why did you do that,’ he gasped against her mouth.

‘Just being friendly,’ she managed, before the tongue sparring got serious. He gave the towel a toss and yanked down the zipper of her hoodie, shoving it off onto the floor, his hands skimming her breasts in his efforts, thumbs lingering to rake her nipples that were already painful in their peaking. His jeans might have been loose, but they were not loose enough to disguise his erection, and he didn’t seem to care. Both hands slid to cup her bottom and he lifted her, settling her onto the kitchen table, pushing her legs apart with his knees and moving in between her thighs as she went to work on his fly.

‘I have lots of friends,’ he breathed. ‘None of them do that to me.’

‘How about this,’ she said biting his lower lip and sliding her hand down inside his boxers. ‘Do they do this?’

‘No,’ he returned the nip. ‘Never, none of them.’ For a second he faltered. ‘Carla, I –’

‘Shut up, Wade. I don’t wanna hear it.’ This time she bit his tongue before she took his hand and guided it down into her baggy sweat bottoms and into her own boxers.

Interviewing Wad is available from:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Amazon AU

Amazon CA

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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