They had shared the most amazing night of passion. And billionaire tycoon Lewis Goode could not erase Madeline Holland from his mind. Lucky for him, a corporate acquisition had just made him her new boss. But Lewis knew Madeline would quit rather than have people think she slept her way to the top. So he'd have to use every negotiating trick he knew to keep her in his boardroom...and in his bedroom.
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July 07, 2008
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Excerpt from Billionaire's Favorite Fantasy by Jan Colley
"It is with great pleasure that I introduce Madeline Holland, our new chief operating officer, based in Sydney."
As the smattering of polite applause died away, the acting chair peered over his specs down the table at her. "Please tell us a little about yourself, my dear. I know you spent many years with Global Hospitality..."
Madeline returned his smile, smoothed the skirt of her smart burgundy skirt and started to rise.
Suddenly the door flew open and banged against its stop with a crack. All eyes swiveled to assess the intrusion. Beside her, Madeline felt her best friend, Kay, tense and prepare to rise. Kay was regional manager of the three Premier Hotels here in Queenstown, New Zealand, so security came under her domain.
A tall, lean, impeccably dressed man stood framed by the doorway, holding a stack of glossy files. Half standing, half crouching, Madeline glanced at his face and her throat snapped shut. Dear God, it was him! Her fantasy lover of the night before.
The punch of adrenaline rocked her all the way to her heels. Her smile froze as she stared at his longish dark-blond hair, the model stubble along his jaw, his aquiline nose and sharply cut upper lip. She closed her eyes, remembering mesmerizing sea-green eyes, hazed over with passion but now thankfully hidden by sunglasses.
No, no, no...
Her breath came back in a strangled gasp and she eased herself back down in her seat, praying the floor would open up and swallow her. Had he known who she was? As she'd writhed in his strong arms during the night, had he, even then, been thinking about crashing this closed meeting today?
She shrank in her seat.
The man gave a cursory all-inclusive glance around the boardroom table and moved forward into the room. "Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Lewis Goode." He commenced handing out files while Madeline kept her eyes resolutely lowered. Would he acknowledge her? Would he smile, smug in the knowledge that he'd seen her sans clothing, inhibitions, coherence? Her heart pounded against her rib cage.
His hands now empty, he strode to the front and offered his hand to the acting chair, who smiled broadly, and took a seat at the side of the table.
Lewis Goode took off his sunglasses, slipping them into his inside pocket, raised his head and surveyed the table. "Some of you here will know me."
He gave a brief smile at the six places on both sides closest to him, made up mostly of the directors of the board. Then he lifted his head to take in the rest of the Executive Committee.
Madeline hunched even lower, her fingers gripping the table edge lest she lose her nerve and bolt. She shouldn't even be here since she was not a member of the Executive Committee. Neither was Kay, but as she'd organized the annual conference here in Queenstown, she had asked for permission to attend and bring Madeline along to be introduced as the newest member of the team.
"For those who don't know me," the man said, "I am now the majority shareholder and new chief executive of Premier Hotel Group."
A collective gasp rose up from Madeline's half of the table, but most of the directors up front did not look surprised. Madeline, however, fought against covering her mouth lest she groan out loud.
She had slept with her new boss.
"Yesterday morning," Lewis continued, "the Australian Securities and Investments Commission approved the corporate takeover I initiated a year ago. For those of you on the board who supported me, I thank you. For those who didn't--" he paused ominously as the assembled guests cast surreptitious glances toward the top of the table "--there is nothing I admire more than loyalty--to me. If you cannot commit to that, then you only have to make your position known and I will see that you get a fair termination package."
All eyes scrutinized the implacable faces of the directors of the board.
"As with any corporate takeover, we are embarking on a settling-in period," Lewis Goode continued. "There will be reviews, and all executives will be required to reapply for their jobs."
Her friend Kay turned to her, a look of dismay and apology on her face. Kay didn't realize it but she had more to apologize for than persuading Madeline to give up a perfectly good job to apply for the Premier Hotels position. She had also unwittingly provided the magical setting for Madeline's indiscretion last night.
But at the time, it had felt so uncannily right...
"Except," Lewis went on, "for the man I've replaced, Jacques de Vries, whose contract is terminated immediately." Again a gasp went around most of the table. Jacques de Vries was iconic, the founder of this massive global hotel company. "And--" Lewis paused and looked straight at Madeline, sending her nerves jangling in panic "--Madeline Holland, who will take up her position as COO, Australia and New Zealand division, as planned."