Ready for business...When Tom Holloway was chosen to run the Taka-Hanson hospitality division, the new CFO had no idea single mother Shelly Winston was part of the package. But from the moment she accepted his offer, Tom knew he was going to have trouble resisting his alluring assistant and her charming little boy.Not to mention, pleasure?Shelly knew that falling for her boss was a business don't. Especially when Tom found out about the secret she'd been forced to keep. Someone was out to sabotage the burgeoning Taka-Hanson hotel empire. And it could have disastrous consequences for the future of two powerful dynasties--and her own future with the man she loved....
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June 30, 2008
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Excerpt from In Bed with the Boss by Christine Rimmer
In the humid darkness of a warm June night, a long, black limousine eased up to the curb of a modest brick bungalow in the Chicago suburb of Forest Park.
Inside the luxurious car, Shelly Winston turned to the uncle she'd met for the first time that evening. "Would you like to come in? I could--"
"Sorry." Drake Thatcher, handsome as an old-time movie star, with coal-black hair and eyes to match, waved away her offer before she'd finished making it. "Thanks, Shelly. I really can't. I've got a flight to catch. I want to be touching down at Teterboro two hours from now."
Teterboro. Even Shelly, who didn't travel in exclusive circles, had heard of the New Jersey airport where all the rich people kept their private jets. The Kennedys flew in and out of Teterboro. And of course her long-lost uncle did, too. Drake was rich, after all. At dinner, he'd told her about his bicoastal lifestyle. He owned a penthouse on the Upper East Side, a beachfront estate in Miami and a Century City condo in Southern California.
The dinner Shelly had just enjoyed had been the finest she'd ever tasted. The lobster had been flavored with hyacinth vapor, whatever that was. And the licorice cake she'd devoured for dessert had been topped with a special muscovado sugar. The menu had no prices on it, but she had a feeling the tab and tip together would have taken care of her mortgage payment for the month--her mortgage which wasn't overdue yet. But would be. Soon.
"Thank you, then," she said sincerely. "For the wonderful dinner. And even more, for the lead on that job at TAKA-Hanson. It sounds like just the kind of thing I'm looking for." Not to mention what I need. Bad.
Drake pushed a button and the privacy window behind the driver slid up the rest of the way. Then he leaned across the plush seat toward her, bringing with him the smell of expensive aftershave. It was a fine scent, but he'd laid it on a little too heavily.
He pitched his voice to a confidential level. "I mean it, Shelly. You need to get on that tomorrow. Make a move and make it fast. It just so happens you're in luck with this. I got word that the job would be opening up ahead of their HR department. But it'll be snapped up before noon, take my word on it."
"Don't worry. I'll be there waiting when they open the doors."
"Excellent." He patted her shoulder and sat back in his own seat again, taking the heavy cloud of pricey cologne with him.
"Well, I'll let you get going then. I mean it. Thanks so much."
"One more thing...."
He glanced away, then back to her. "It's not a big deal, just...you might be wiser not to mention my name at TAKA-Hanson."
Shelly frowned. "But I don't see--"
Another wave of his well-manicured hand. "Shelly. I'm sure you know that the business world is a cutthroat one. Unfortunately, in the past, I've found myself going head-to-head with more than one top TAKA executive. No, it probably won't make any difference if you mention that I suggested you apply there. But then again, why take a chance of starting out on the wrong foot with them?" His smile was wide and oh-so-charming.
And Shelly had a powerful suspicion that she was being played.
But for what? Her long-lost uncle had asked nothing of her. All he'd done was to take her out for an expensive dinner and give her a terrific lead when she happened to mention she was looking for a job.
She kept it light. "Honestly, Uncle Drake. What could the TAKA-Hanson people possibly have against a wonderful guy like you?"
Drake shrugged. And backed off the point. "Listen. If you feel more comfortable telling the clerks in HR that your uncle suggested you should apply there, go for it." He glanced at his Rolex. "And I've got to get rolling."
"Don't mention it. I'm glad we got together. Call me. Soon. I want to hear all about how much you love your new job."
Inside the house, Shelly turned on the air-condition-ing. The day had been hotter than usual for early June and the house was stuffy. She'd been doing without air-conditioning over the last couple of unseasonably warm days. It cost money to keep the place cool--even a small house like hers.
But she could afford to splurge on a little cool air tonight. Because tomorrow she was getting that job. It was exactly the kind of top executive assistant position she'd been looking for.
She flopped to the sofa and grabbed a throw pillow to hug. "TAKA-Hanson, here I come!" The cheer in her voice sounded more than a little forced.
But why wouldn't it? All she had was a tip, after all. There were no guarantees. Maybe someone else had an inside track on the position, too. Maybe her uncle had been wrong and there was no position, after all.
The house seemed so empty. She missed Max. A lot.
Shelly tossed the pillow aside and reached for the phone, auto-dialing her mom's number.
"Hello. Winston residence. This is Norma." Norma Winston had been a librarian for over thirty years.