Mr. February: Gabe "the Pirate" Piretti, business mogulVital Statistics: Rich, ruthless--and relentless!Mission: Win back the one who got away.Though she'd escaped him once, Gabe Piretti hadn't forgotten Catherine Haile's sharp mind and curvaceous body. His plans to reel her back into his life--and bed--were already brewing when she asked him to help save her ailing business.He'd use her desperation to get what he wanted--Catherine. But what would happen when he had to make a choice between business and oh-so-seductive pleasure?
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February 09, 2009
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Excerpt from Mr. Strictly Business by Day Leclaire
I need your help."Gabe Piretti struggled to conceal the intense wave of satisfaction those four simple words gave him, spoken by the only woman he'd ever loved. After twenty-three months he thought he'd be able to see Catherine Haile without experiencing any lingering emotions. Foolish of him to think such a thing was even remotely possible. After all, they'd worked together. Lived together. Tangled hearts and minds and bodies into what he'd once believed an inseparable knot. The passion that erupted between them had been an inferno that even eighteen months together had done nothing to lessen. If anything, it had grown stronger with each day they'd shared.And then she'd left. He knew the excuses she'd offered, what she'd said oreven more damninghadn't said. For the first time in his life, Gabe "the Pirate" Piretti had been unable to solve the problem. Not by hook or crook. Not by demand, nor wit, nor full frontal attack, nor carefully crafted stealth. When Catherine had left him, he'd lost his anchor. And as much as he hated to admit it, he'd been adrift ever since.If she hadn't chosen to come to him today, he'd have seen to it that their worlds collided in the very near future. Over the endless months they'd been apart, he'd given her the space she'd requested. And he had watched from a distance while she set up her business and professional life on her terms. Keeping that distance had been the hardest thing Gabe had ever done, harder even than when he'd swooped in and taken the helm of Piretti's away from his mother in order to snatch the business from the teeth of bankruptcy.Well, now Catherine was back, and he'd find a way to keep her. She wanted his help? So be it. He'd give it to her. But the price would be high. The question was would she pay it, or would she run again?Aware that he'd kept her standing, Gabe waved her toward the sitting area that occupied a large corner of his office. Liquid sunlight, still damp from a recent shower, spilled in through tinted glass windows that overlooked a broad sweep of Seattle, as well as Puget Sound. The brilliant rays caught in Catherine's upswept hair, picking out the streaks of gold buried in the honey warmth."Coffee?" he offered.After taking a seat, Catherine set her briefcase at her feet and shook her head. "I'm fine, thanks."He took the chair across from her and tilted his head to one side as he studied her. She wore a chocolate-brown silk suit that shimmered richly over subtle curves, revealing that she'd recently lost weight, weight she could ill-afford to lose. The fitted jacket nipped in at a miniscule waist and ended just shy of a feminine pair of hips. She'd chosen sandals that were little more than a knot of sexy straps with the prerequisite three-inch heels, which she invariably wore to give the illusion of height. The heels also performed double duty by showcasing a stunning pair of legs. Clearly, she'd dressed to impress or distract."It's been a while," he commented. "You've changed.""Stop it."He lifted an eyebrow and offered a bland smile. "Stop what?""You're mentally undressing me."It was true, though not the way she thought. He couldn't help but wonder what had caused the recent weight loss, but was careful to hide his concern beneath gentle banter. "Only because I figured you'd object if I undressed you any other way."A reluctant smile came and went. "What happened to your motto of strictly business?""When it comes to work, I am all business." He paused deliberately. "But you don't work for me, do you?""And haven't for three and a half years."His humor faded. "Do you regret your choices, Catherine?"He caught a flicker of distress before she rearranged her expression into a mask of casual indifference. "Some of them. But that's not what you're asking, is it? You want to know if I had the opportunity to do it over again, would I choose differently?" She gave it serious co