Billionaire Hunter Osland can't believe it. One of the employees in the company his family just bought happens to be his one-night stand, Sinclair Mahoney. With their passion-filled encounter still fresh in his memory, Hunter wants to rekindle their connection. But Sinclair's sudden wariness of tangling with her new boss sets the CEO on a different course of action. First he'll show Sinclair how desirable she is in the boardroom...then he'll prove it in the bedroom.
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February 11, 2008
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Excerpt from Beauty and the Billionaire by Barbara Dunlop
Hunter was here.
Six weeks later, Sinclair's stomach clenched around nothing as he strode into the Lush Beauty Products boardroom like he owned the place.
"--in a friendly takeover bid," Sinclair's boss, company president Roger Rawlings, was saying. "Osland International has purchased fifty-one percent of the Lush Beauty Products voting shares."
Sinclair reflexively straightened in her chair. Good grief, he did own the place.
Could this be a joke?
She glanced from side to side.
Would cameramen jump out any second and shove a microphone in her face? Were they filming even now to record her reaction?
She waited. But Hunter didn't even look her way, and nobody started laughing.
"As many of you are aware," said Roger, "among their other business interests, Osland International owns the Sierra Sanchez line of women's clothing stores across North America, with several outlets in Europe and Australia."
While Roger spoke, and the Lush Beauty managers absorbed the surprising news, Hunter's gaze moved methodically around the big, oval table. His gaze paused on Ethan from product development, then Colleen from marketing. He nodded at Sandra from accounting, and looked to Mary-Anne from distribution.
As her turn grew near, Sinclair composed her expression. In her role as public relations manager, she was used to behaving professionally under trying circumstances. And she'd do that now. If he could handle this, so could she. They were both adults, obviously. And she could behave as professionally as he could. Still, she had to wonder why he hadn't given her a heads-up.
The Hunter she'd met in Manchester had struck her as honorable. She would have thought he'd at least drop her an e-mail. Or had she totally misjudged him? Was he nothing more than a slick, polished player who forgot women the second they were out of his sight?
Maybe he didn't e-mail because he didn't care. Or, worse yet, maybe he didn't even remember.
In the wash of her uncertainty, Roger's voice droned on. "Sierra Sanchez will offer Lush Beauty Products a built-in, high-end retail outlet from which to launch the new Luscious Lavender line. We'll continue seeking other sales outlets, of course. But that is only one of the many ways this partnership will be productive for both parties."
Hunter's gaze hit Sinclair.
He froze for a split second. Then his nostrils flared, and his eyebrows shot up. She could swear a current cracked audibly between them. It blanketed her skin, shimmied down her nervous system, then pooled to a steady hum in the pit of her stomach.
Hunter's jaw tightened around his own obvious shock. Okay. So maybe there was a reason he hadn't given her a heads-up.
There were days when Hunter Osland hated his grandfather's warped sense of humor.And today ranked right up there.
In the instant he saw Sinclair, the last six weeks suddenly made sense--Cleveland's insistence they buy Lush Beauty Products, his demand that Hunter take over as CEO, and his rush to get Hunter in front of the company managers. Cleveland had known she worked here, and he'd somehow figured out Hunter had slept with her.
Hunter's grandfather was, quite literally, forcing him to face the consequences of his actions.
"So please join me in welcoming Mr. Osland to Lush Beauty Products," Roger finished to a polite round of applause. The managers seemed wary, as anyone would be when the corporate leadership suddenly shifted above them.
It was Hunter's job to reassure them. And he now had the additional duty of explaining himself to Sinclair. God only knew what she was thinking. But, talking to her would have to wait. He refocused his gaze on the room in general and moved to the head of the table.
"Thank you very much," he began, smoothly taking control of the meeting, like he'd done at a thousand meetings before.
"First, you should all feel free to call me Hunter. Second, I'd like to assure you up front that Osland International has no plans to make staffing changes, nor to change the current direction of Lush Beauty Products."
He'd mentally rehearsed this next part, although he now knew it was a lie. "My grandfather made the decision to invest in this company because he was excited about your product redevelopment--such as the Luscious Lavender line--and about your plans to expand the company's target demographic."
Hunter now doubted Cleveland had even heard of Lush Beauty Products before meeting Sinclair. And Cleveland would be a lot less excited about the product redevelopment than he was about yanking Hunter's chain.
"Osland International has analyzed your success within the North American midprice market," Hunter told the group.