1 wrong text message + 1 impending hurricane = 1 sexy surprise for 3 couples!
Text and the Single Girl
Sophie Callahan is angling to move up the corporate ladder...and attending a client party is her ticket. But she doesn't count on being trapped by the hurricane with sexy entrepreneur Adrian Dean. Suddenly, "riding out the storm" sounds like a very good idea...
When Mia Weiss skids off the road en route to the party, hottie Kevin Powell comes to her rescue. Only he's not her ideal savior. He's abrupt, a little grouchy...and, oh yeah, the best lover Mia's ever had!
Being the assistant to a demanding boss is running Cammy Phillips ragged. But Gil Shaughnessy, Cammy's former partner, has the perfect cure in mind...and it involves getting Cammy more deliciously worked up than the hurricane raging outside!
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March 01, 2010
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Excerpt from His Little Black Book by Heather MacAllister
Sophie Callahan squealed and clamped her hand over her mouth. Her cell had just buzzed with an incoming text: Up for a hurricane party? Scored company beach house for weekend! Might run late. Will meet you there. Pick up steaks and breakfast? Key code #3214.
It was from Jonathan Black, Peck and Davilla's handsome, charismatic, talented, dynamic, sexy and irresistible Creative Director. Sigh and double sigh.
Sophie read the message three times, just to make sure she hadn't hallucinated it. Then she glanced around the room of copywriters, production artists, junior designers and image developers. In other words, newbies, all hoping to climb out of the pit. And it looked as though, she, Sophie Callahan, had just hauled herself over the edge.
No one else held a phone. Sophie waited, listening for buzzes and chirps. Had anyone else from the pit been invited to the party?
No? Then she'd really and truly caught the eye of Jonathan Black. And in a good way. Clutching her phone, she closed her eyes and exhaled, feeling relief more than anything. Relief that she'd accomplished a goal for which she'd sacrificed her entire social life.
For a year, she'd targeted Jonathan Black as the Creative Director she wanted to work with. For a year, she'd studied his past ad campaigns, analyzed his style, figured out which Peck and Davilla creatives he favored and studied their styles, and then put herself around them whenever she could. For a year, she'd volunteered for scut work and had done favors--many favors. She'd learned as much as she could and she'd given away ideas.
And the senior creatives had taken those ideas and used them as their own, especially Ross, one of the art directors.
That was okay. That was how the game was played. But Sophie knew when they used her ideas and they knew when they used her ideas. And after she disingenuously and publicly gushed her delight that they'd found her idea worthy, others knew it, too.
But it was her audacity during last Monday's meeting that must have finally pinged Jonathan's radar.
Ross's team had been pitching the second time to a retirement developer who'd hated their first ideas. All of them. Jonathan was sitting in as they'd scrambled not to lose the account. Knowing this, Sophie had intercepted an intern from Production and offered to deliver last-minute mock-ups to the meeting.
And then she'd stayed, ignoring pointed glances and a long look from Jonathan.
Sophie had studied this campaign as she'd studied the others and she didn't like it. It wasn't all that much different from the first one. Ross and his team weren't getting it, and Sophie could tell the clients didn't think so, either.
The P&D team was treating the retirement community as though it housed relics from an ancient civilization. The people in the illustrations didn't look like her grandparents. Her grandparents traveled, they volunteered--they went to the gym, for Pete's sake. They didn't spend their days sitting on a bench surrounded by azaleas and grinning goofily at each other like the couple in the picture Ross held.
And that's when Sophie had laughed. The room had grown tense and silent and the small sound drew everyone's attention. Not what she'd planned, but she brazened it out.
She gestured to the picture. "They're so not my grandparents. My grandparents are all about use it or lose it."
"And these two look like they've lost it," one of the client reps said, which was exactly what Sophie had been going to say.
Aware of Jonathan's sharp, unsmiling gaze upon her, she was glad she hadn't.
"This is--" one of the Worthington (Because You're Worth It) reps waved at the display and slumped in his seat "--depressing."
"The presentation reflects the tone you told us you were going for," Jonathan reminded them. "We stayed on message."
"We said 'upscale serenity,' not 'sit around and wait for the white light.'"
Jonathan interrupted the nervous chuckles. "So we don't want to emphasize calm and peaceful." He gestured for Ross to remove the storyboard. "Now we know. Don't feel you have to stick with your original idea. Let us kick this around and come at it from another direction."
The Worthington people exchanged looks and the rep spoke. "Jonathan, I don't think we're on the same wavelength."
Wave. Sophie's cue. "What about Ross's cruise idea?" Which was actually Sophie's idea. Which she'd just thought of.
"Cruise?" one of the clients asked.
Ross sent her a murderous glance and shook his head. "It was just a thought. It didn't fit the Worthington image."
But Jonathan had picked up on the client's interest. "They want to go in a different direction. Maybe it fits now. Outline the idea for us."
Heart pounding, Sophie was afraid she'd gone too far. "My grandparents are always saying they could live on a cruise ship, so Ross was thinking about cruising through retirement and making the ads all bright and peppy like a cruise line's instead of lifeless and boring." Oops. She hadn't meant to say "lifeless and boring." Never criticize the client's idea. To his face. And never never never say anything negative about a pitch.
The Worthington people perked up. Ross, pro that he was, was already sketching out a few ideas. "When I saw the plans for your complex, I remember thinking that living there would be like being on a permanent vacation." And he was off.
Sophie stayed quiet, aware that Jonathan was studying her. She met his eyes once and smiled before turning her attention to Ross's extemporaneous presentation. Well, not all her attention. Jonathan wasn't the type of man a woman could ignore.
After the clients had left, just when Ross had been about to lay into her, Jonathan approached. "Great save, Ross." They exchanged a look. The other man gave a tight nod and retreated, but Sophie knew she'd hear about it later.
"What's your name?" Jonathan asked her.
He pulled out his phone. "You've got balls, Sophie Callahan."
"Don't ever do that again."
She clamped her mouth shut.
His gaze flicked over her. "I need your contact info."
Her voice sounding eager in spite of her best efforts, Sophie supplied it.
Jonathan entered her number and pocketed his phone. "You're lucky the cruise angle worked."
And did she say "thanks" and leave it at that? No. "It wasn't luck. I studied the account and I researched the demographics."
"Your grandparents," he said dryly.
"And their friends." She met his gaze. No use backing down now, even though her heart drummed so hard she could hear her pulse.
Something shifted in his eyes. He liked beautiful women, Sophie knew. Everyone knew. And he liked them with a certain sensual seasoning. Sophie was not beautifully seasoned. She was cute. And energetic. Not perky--energetic. There was a difference.
She wasn't Jonathan's type romantically, but a dinner out wouldn't be such a bad thing, since she could impress him during some one-on-one time. Sophie had no illusions about Jonathan. He was not a long-term guy, but he was enormously talented and she wanted the experience of working with him. If it took a couple of dates to get that chance, fine.
"We work in teams," he told her.
"So I've heard."
"You're not a team player."
"Maybe I need a better team."
Suddenly, he grinned. "Maybe you do."
A beat passed and Sophie stopped breathing. Please, please, please put me on your team.
His expression turned speculative. "You and Ross bounce off each other pretty good."
"Ross?" No. No-no-no-no-no. "He likes to work alone."
"I know. But creatively, he might need some shaking up. You strike me as the sort of person who shakes things up."
The man was toying with her. She could see it in his eyes. Talk about a disastrous pairing--for Sophie, anyway. Ross had used her ideas before and if she were officially assigned to his team, she knew she'd never get credit for anything. Never build her portfolio.
"Once concrete sets, it doesn't shake," she said. "It cracks and breaks."
"Careful, Sophie." Jonathan gave her a hard stare. "Ross has been around a long time. He's made a lot of contacts. And you need more than one good idea to build a career."
I've had lots of ideas. Several are in current ads. But she hadn't said anything. By that time, she'd said enough.
After he'd left, Sophie had dropped into a chair in the empty conference room and put her head between her knees. Ross? She was going to end up with Ross? It could have been worse. Jonathan could have fired her.
But now, just four days later, here was an invitation to one of his legendary beach parties! Maybe he wasn't going to assign her to Ross after all.
"You must have a hot date tonight."
Sophie opened her eyes to find Aire-An, her partner with the stupidly weird name, looking at her from across their desk. As though the affected spelling would make her stand out.
"It's got possibilities." Sophie didn't have a boyfriend. Not that she didn't want a boyfriend, but right now she didn't have time.
"New opportunity." She set her phone down and closed her laptop. "I've got tons to do, so I'm taking off."
"Early?" Aire-An goggled at her. "You never leave early. I'm not sure you leave at all."
"That's what it takes to get ahead." She tried not to sound self-righteous, but honestly, as a partner, Aire-An had been an anchor. And not in a steadying way, but a holding back way.
"Yeah, well, I want to have a life, too."
Sophie cleared off her desk. "The way I see it is that we're always going to be working crazy hours, so I might as well be working crazy hours on a big project for more money."
"And more stress." Aire-An waggled her fingers at Sophie...