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End of Summer Beginnings: An Executive Decision Chapter 1

Welcome to the beginning of my End of Summer Beginnings Posts! As everyone is frantically trying to fit in one last dose of the summer sun and a smidge more holiday before autumn is upon us, I thought it was time for a bit of temptation. One of the best parts of summer holidays is a good read to match the summer sizzle, so with that in mind, for the next two weeks, I’m sharing First Chapters of all my novels. I’m beginning with a bit of hot romance, Grace Marshall style and chapter 1 from An Executive Decision, book one of the Executive Decisions Trilogy. Enjoy!  (Follow hyper-links to learn more and to find buy-links)

 

AED new coverBlurb An Executive Decision:

Book One of the Executive Decision Trilogy (Click here for Book Two | Book Three )

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.

 

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 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.

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. 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.’newgmbutton

‘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 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.’

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.’

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.

Xcite FB campagne for Exec Dec trilogy‘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?’

 

 

Identity Crisis Blog Tour: Join the Fun

IDENTITYThis week, I’m taking off K D Grace’s Kinky Boots, putting on Grace Marshall’s slinky evening gown and settling in, barefoot, behind the wheel of Kendra Davis’s red hot Shelby Mustang for the Identity Crisis blog tour. Identity Crisis is book two in the Executive Decisions Trilogy, following hot on the tail of book one, An Executive Decision. Beginning on Monday, the 25th of March, Kendra Davis and Garrett Thorne will be sharing secrets on some of the sexiest blogs around. I’ll do my best to make them behave themselves, but I really can’t make any promises. I hope you’ll join us for the fun.

You’ll find the red mustang parked outside these fabulous blogs and these dates.

Where to Find Grace and IDENTITY CRISIS

25th March              http://wowfromthescarfprincess.blogspot.com/

26th March              http://beasbooknook.blogspot.com/

27th March              http://www.dirtybirdiesauthors.com

28th March              http://www.bookreviewsandmorebykathy.com/

29th March              http://www.bookinitreviews.com/

29th March              http://blissekiss.co.uk/  For a Snogalicious Finale!

 

Identity Crisis Blurb:Shelby mustang for Kendra images

PR 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?

IDENTITYExcerpt:

‘So tell me about Tess Delaney.’      

Garrett jumped. He hadn’t even seen Kendra until she was right on him.

‘Jesus,’ he said. ‘Do you always sneak up on people like that? Were you listening to my conversation?’ The minute he said it he realized his mistake and the phantom burn from her hand to his left cheek flared with a vengeance.

She thrust her hands on her hips and glared at him. ‘I wasn’t sneaking, and why the hell would I be listening to your conversation?’

He thought she was going to turn around and leave, but instead she took a step closer. ‘Ellis just told me that you know Tess Delaney. Is that true?’

‘Why?’ He stepped back dangerously close to the edge of the dock.

‘Well Stacie said she needed some kind of PR help and PR’s my specialty.’

‘She doesn’t need your kind of PR help,’ he said.

‘What the hell’s that supposed to mean? And how would you know anything about PR needs. I’m damn good at what I do, and if anybody could solve her PR problem, I could.’

‘Oh I doubt that,’ he said. Another big mistake.

She took another step closer, folding her arms across her chest, and if looks could kill, he’d have been well dead and buried. ‘Why don’t you let her be the judge of that,’ she said.

‘Trust me on this, you’re not right for the job,’ he said. ‘I know Tess Delaney, and she’s looking for someone way more cooperative than you are.’ Jesus, why the hell couldn’t he keep his mouth shut?

The smile she offered him had no humor in it at all. In fact the curl at the edge of her luscious lips was down-right dangerous. ‘Oh I’m very cooperative with my clients. I promise you Tess Delaney will be very happy my work, and you know why that is, Thorne? It’s because I keep my nose out of other people’s business and do my job, something you wouldn’t know anything about, would you?’

He felt her words like a slap, and yet, even as he was regretting it, he still couldn’t keep his fucking mouth shut. ‘So what are you going to do for Tess Delaney, Huh? Slap her around? Throw your drink at her?’

The words were barely out of his mouth before she gave him a hard shove. He waved his arms wildly, teetering on the edge of the dock, then just before he went over, he grabbed her around the waist, and they both went off the end hitting the mirror bright water of the lake with a huge splash while Ellis and Dee and all the rest of the guests looked on.

ExecDecisions Banner1

               

 

Identity Crisis Now Available in eBook!

ExecDecisions Banner1

Identity Crisis, the second novel of the The Executive Decisions Trilogy is out, and Grace Marshall and I couldn’t be more excited! In so many ways The Executive Decisions Trilogy feels like my coming of age story as a writer. It started out five years ago as a novel called The Executive Sex Clause. Back then it got rejected multiple times for being too risque. But that was pre Fifty Shades of Grey. With romance that has a little more heat and a little more raunch dazzling the reading public, the time was right. It was as I revisited Dee and Ellis and their story that I realised there was way too much going on in The Executive Sex Clause for it to be only one novel. Once I realised that the story was really a trilogy, it was full steam ahead!

When An Executive Decision, volume 1 of the trilogy, came out in September, it was so well received that I was asked to hurry along the rest of the trilogy, which was already in my head, so it was just a matter of getting it down. As is always the case, the characters surprise me in so many ways when I actually engage with them on the written page. I had spent nearly five years with Dee and Ellis. We were already old friends when I wrote the final version of An Executive Decision, and even then, their story had twists and turns and insites into their personalities I hadn’t expected.

If Ellis and Dee surprised me, Kendra and Garrett had me gobsmacked at every turn. Once I allowed them to take centre stage for Identity Crisis, they took me on a roller coaster ride of love, sex, fun and flat out fear that I never would have expected. Their journey is a detour into dark places where different kinds of executive decisions have to be made, some of them involving survival itself. I hope that you enjoy Kendra and Garrett’s story as much as I enjoyed writing it, and here is a little teaser to get you in the mood for The Golden Kiss!

Print release will be soon!

Blurb:

PR 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?

IDENTITYExcerpt (At the Golden Kiss Awards):

Garrett was never a hundred percent sure about what happened next, though he did play the events over and over in his head many times afterward.

He read Kendra’s body language before he was able to see, from his poor vantage point, what was actually happening. Kendra’s spine stiffened and tension tightened her shoulders, which until now had been completely relaxed.

‘As you know I’ve reviewed all of your novels very well, very well indeed.’

Bullshit, Garrett thought. He had always approached Tess Delaney’s books, as he did all romance novels, as though they were the bastard step children of proper literature, and the best he’d ever said about Tess’s work was that it was not bad for what it was, and that it was a pity such talent was wasted on such low-brow literature. As Blessing’s hand moved up high on Kendra’s right thigh, Garrett had visions of strangling the man with his bow tie

‘I’m sure that my reviews were taken into consideration in these awards, Tess, I can call you Tess, can’t I?’ He addressed Kendra’s cleavage, ‘So in a small way, I guess you could say I’m responsible for you carrying away that lovely piece of metal. And I’m willing and able to help advance your career in ways you haven’t even thought of.’ His thumb slid beneath the soft green fabric of her dress and his fingers followed suit finding their way to Kendra’s bare thigh.

What happened next seemed to unfold in slow motion. Garrett rose from his chair and grabbed the bastard by the back of the collar just as Kendra looked up and caught his eye, then she shook her head and mouthed the words, ‘sit down.’

He didn’t. He just couldn’t let the bastard touch her like that. But before he could bodily heave Blessing out of his chair, before he could even do more than lay a hand on the man’s jacket, Kendra, without so much as batting an eye, daintily and very deliberately dumped her entire chocolate mousse upside down onto the lap of the man’s white suit, making sure to give it a good hard shove, adding a slide from side to side so there would be no easy clean-up. The whole incident might have been subtly covered up if, at that moment, one of the cameramen hadn’t chosen to zoom in for a close-up of the beaming winner and catch the whole magical moment and multiply it and enlarge it on the big screens that surrounded the room resulting in a raucous round of applause.

And that was when Garrett decided it was time they made their exit before he did the man serious bodily harm. He cupped her elbow in his hand, helping her from her chair. The applause was thunderous.

‘Garrett,’ she spoke between clenched teeth, ‘What the hell are you doing? We can’t leave before the press conference? Garrett!’

‘Fuck the press conference,’ he growled. ‘We’re leaving now before I kill the bastard.’

For a split second he was sure she was going slap him. Her eyes blazed blue fire and her lips were parted, to make room for each accelerating breath.

‘Now,’ he said, tightening his grip on her arm.

She blushed ever so slightly, made a little curtsey to the applauding crowd, then yielded to Garrett’s none-too gentle tugging. As the room fell silent, all except for the sputtering and cursing of Barker Blessing, who was now being ministered to by a couple of the male wait staff wiping at his bemoussed crotch with white linen napkins, the two walked out of the room with all the dignity of royalty. Without a word, they quick marched down the stairs into the foyer and out into the warm summer evening where Garrett practically shoved her into the waiting limo, the Golden Kiss Award still suicide gripped in her hand.

Kendra's Shelby Mustang

Kendra’s Shelby Mustang

*****

Once the limo pulled away from the curb, Garrett pried the award gently from her fingers, then hefted its weight. ‘I’d say the bastard was damn lucky he got the mousse in the crotch instead of the Rodin up side of the head.’

Kendra forced a pained laugh, in spite of herself, and he could tell her control was near the breaking point, but he didn’t care. He didn’t!

As the anger dissipated slightly from her face, she took a careful breath and said. ‘Garrett, you should have let me handle it. I’ve had to deal with gropers and droolers and all sorts, and I know what an asshole Blessing is. I was ready for him. Really I was. But you forced my hand. Damn it, you forced my hand.’ Her grip on the leather arm rest was white-knuckled, and Garrett was pretty sure it was in attempt to keep from punching him good. ‘You should have let me handle it. That’s my job, Garrett, that’s what you’re paying me for, and frankly I –’

‘Shut up, Kendra.’ He risked life and limb by stopping her words with a hard kiss, followed in quick succession by several more. The wild and furious battle between her tongue and his came as a total surprise. When they both pulled away in a breathless gasp, he said, ‘I’m sorry. I fucked up. I couldn’t stand him touching you. If you hadn’t moussed him I might have done something that would have required my brother to bale me out of jail, and that would have completely ruined Tess’s evening.’

‘That wasn’t my plan, Garrett. The mousse wasn’t my plan, and now we can’t foresee the consequences of what I did.’

‘Kendra, you only did what every writer in that room and all the writers watching from home wanted to do. I can’t imagine the consequences of your actions being anything but good. You were stunning and amazing. And right now I want you so badly I can hardly stand it.’

For a second Kendra froze, her whole body tensing, her eyes locked on his. The only sound was their heavy breathing above the soft purr of the limo engine. Garrett was sure this was the point at which he got slapped again. He held his breath.

At last she found her voice. ‘That makes two of us,’ she whispered.

Available from:

eBook:

Xcite Books
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Print:

Amazon UK
Amazon US
The Book Depository

 

 

Grace Marshall Takes a Tour with An Executive Decision

My counterpart, Grace Marshall, is on a week-long blog tour with An Executive Decision, the first novel of her Executive Decisions Trilogy of hot romance. Starting Monday, 19th November, you’ll find Grace at these wonderful sites talking about Dee and Ellis and their oh so hot Executive Sex Clause.

Find Grace at:

19th November: http://authorrainedelight.wordpress.com/

20th November: http://www.bookreviewsandmorebykathy.com/

21st November: http://mylife-in-stories.blogspot.com/

22nd November: http://daydrmzzz.blogspot.com/

23rd November: http://smutters.co.uk/

 

 

Blurb:

Overworked 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?

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.

If 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.

Available from:

eBook
Amazon UK
Amazon US 
Xcite Books

Print
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Barnes & Noble
The Book Depository
Xcite Books

 

 

A Win-Win Deal — An Executive Decision Free!

Ellison Thorne knows a good deal when he sees it and, no doubt, both he and Dee Henning would agree that a FREE download of the Kindle Version of An Executive Decision is a very good deal, indeed. Like most good deals, this one is time sensitive. Beginning October 10th through the 14th, you can download your copy and learn about Ellis and Dee’s secret weapon, which makes them the hottest business team around … in more ways than one.

Now’s the time to take advantage of this win-win deal and get a head start celebrating the anticipated November 1st print release with K D Grace and Grace Marshall. The deal’s on the table. Don’t miss the opportunity.

Blurb:

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.

Excerpt:

Ellis,

Just an addendum to the conversation we had earlier about Dee Henning. Before I lose contact with all things Pneuma Inc to bask in blissful solitude of the rainforest, I want to make it clear how I feel. I’ve already told you she’s perfect for the position. And if you were ever going to implement the ESC, she’d be the one to do it with – that is if you’ve got the balls.

 Dee’s exactly what you need on all counts. I know you think she lacks experience, but trust me, with the right training, given half a chance, she’ll be brilliant. Hire her, Ellis. Implement the ESC. Trust me, it’s the perfect strategy, a secret weapon that could make Pneuma Inc even more successful than it already is.  And if anyone could do it, you could. Do this for me and I can retire and enjoy my dotage.

 And in case you’re planning to write this message off as a sign of dementia due to my advanced years, I plan to invite her for drinks after I get back from Brazil and feel her out about the position. Just so you know I’m serious.

                                                                        -Beverly      

Ellis shut the email, took off his glasses and stared for a long moment at the blurred screen. Beverly was always right, he reminded himself. Then he shoved his glasses back on, opened the manila envelope and took out the information Beverly had left him. It was true, the list of work experiences and skills were impressive, and in a couple of years, at the rate she was going, Dee would be his choice for the position, hands down. But it was too soon. She was so unprepared for what she’d be facing. How could she be otherwise under the circumstances? And she was untried. He’d be throwing her to the lions. But Beverly believed in her. He prayed she was right.

He found himself reading over the personal information again, the intimate details about her that he shouldn’t know, but did. He found her intriguing in quirky ways. A love child, parents never married, spending summers in Paris, defying her mother to study business at Harvard instead of pursuing a career in music. The notes were all in Beverly’s hand. He wondered why she thought he should know all these things. Personal lives should be kept personal. There was no room for them in the workplace. But then again, there was no room in the work place for what he had done with Dee eight weeks ago, in spite of Beverly’s Executive Sex Clause.

Maybe Dee would turn him down. There was a good possibility. And then what?  He hadn’t even looked at the other resumes. The only one he knew who was at least halfway qualified, certainly more technically qualified than Dee, was Tally Barnes, but that was a moot point now.  Ellis jumped as a crisp rap on the door broke into his silent reverie. He shoved Dee’s resume back in the envelope, straightened his tie and stood to greet her.

‘Lynn? Are you in here?’ Dee entered the conference room dripping wet, turning to shut the door behind her without looking up. ‘Sorry I’m so wet. It’s pouring out there. The garage was full so I had to park in the drowned-dog section, or be late, and I make it a point to never be …’ She stopped in mid-sentence, frozen to the wet spot she was now making on the carpet. ‘Ellis!  I’m so sorry. I just assumed I’d be meeting with your secretary again.’

The classic lines of her dark blue power suit caressed her curves a little less discretely than they might have otherwise done had it not been wet. The rain had rendered her blouse partially transparent – just enough to reveal the contours of lace beneath, and he knew from personal experience just how nice those contours were.

‘Lynn told me you’d be gone,’ she was saying. But he was having a hard time paying attention to her words. Rhinestone droplets of water clung to her lashes and tendrils of damp hair curled around her ears. For a second, he stood motionless, unable to take his eyes off the woman glistening in front of him. She held his gaze with a half-smile, her cheeks tinged with the slightest hint of discomfort, discomfort he was sure he could match and raise. It took another second before he realized she was waiting for him to respond. He caught his breath and spoke in a mad rush. ‘I felt it was time we met in person about the executive assistant position. Can I get you a towel? I have an extra jacket if you’re chilled.’

‘Thanks, but I won’t melt, and I’m not cold. And if you don’t mind me dripping on the carpet, I have several more prospects for you to look at.’

He motioned her to follow him down the hall to his office. ‘After all you’ve done for Pneuma Inc in the past few years I think you’ve earned dripping privileges.’ He felt stupid the minute he’d said it, but it was out, and it got him the smile he’d hoped for. If she were angry at him for what had happened, if she felt in any way hurt or slighted, she hid it well. In fact she hid it a little better than he’d hoped. He’d hoped to get some idea of how she felt about him after … everything. If they were going to be working together, he needed to know if she harbored enough of a grudge to put cyanide in his coffee or set explosives off under his desk.

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© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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