Texas billionaire Joc Arnaud had triumphed over his illegitimate roots to become a business legend. And no baby of his would grow up penniless and ridiculed like he had. So whether Rosalyn Oakley liked it or not, their child would bear his name. As would she. He knew Rosalyn wanted nothing more than to run back to her little ranch and never lay eyes on him again. Too bad. Because she wasn't going anywhere with his baby.
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August 31, 2007
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Excerpt from The Billionaire's Baby Negotiation by Leanne Banks
He shook his head, before addressing the caller. "Hello, MacKenzie. What can I do for my least favorite sister?"
Rosalyn could hear the furious blast from clear across the room and winced. Someone wasn't happy.
"Sorry. Half sister. Is that better?"Apparently it wasn't, because the angry diatribe continued until he cut it off.
"Unless I'm mistaken, you've called to ask me a favor. Instead of bringing up old history, I suggest you get to it."
He listened at length and Rosalyn shivered at the cold bitterness of his expression. Is that how he really felt toward his sister? She didn't understand it. So what if they were half siblings? Family was family was family. Something hideous must have happened between them to cause this serious a rift.
"I'm not selling it, MacKenzie, and that's final. Your mother sold the property to me, and if you're not happy with Meredith's decision, I suggest you take it up with her." A wintry smile swept across his face. "At least you and my brothers--excuse me, half brothers--can comfort yourselves knowing it's still in the family, even if it's the illegitimate branch."
With that he hung up. Though he appeared calm and collected on the surface, she observed a raw quality gnawing at the edges of his restraint, a ferocity struggling for expression. He focused his inky gaze on her and she met it head-on. Slowly the anger eased and when he spoke it was with impressive composure. "Why don't we start over and do this the right way?" He held out his hand. "Joc Arnaud."
She hesitated a brief second. Unable to help herself, she offered her hand in return. "Rosalyn Oakley."
He captured her in his grasp and suddenly the spacious conference room became a suffocating box. Everything about him overwhelmed her. His grip. The dichotomy of callused fingers and palm attached to the hand of a white-collar exec. His size. His innate power. Even the crisp, masculine scent that clung to him invaded her senses and threatened to rob her of her will.
It became hard to breathe, let alone think, especially when he stood so close. She shouldn't have this sort of physical reaction to a complete stranger, especially when that stranger was her worst nightmare. Unfortunately he'd just proven beyond all doubt that she had no control whatsoever over her visceral response to him. Maybe it would have been easier if he weren't so drop-dead gorgeous. And even though she'd handled gorgeous on occasion in the past, one small problem tripped her up when it came to this man.
This particular face was organized into a masculine toughness, the sort that had most men maintaining a wary distance while women stumbled over themselves to get closer. It also happened to be the most attractive-- not to mention dangerous--of all the faces she'd ever encountered. Worse, underpinning his toughness was a blatant appraisal, almost sexual in nature, that challenged her on some instinctive level.
What had she been told about this man? Black eyes, black hair, black heart. Why, oh why, hadn't anyone warned her about the equally black desire he could arouse with one simple touch?
He continued to hold her hand in his. "Let's start from the top," he suggested. "I want to buy Longhorn Ranch. What will it take to make that to happen?"
That one question freed her from his spell and had her tugging her hand from his grasp. She managed to resist the urge to wipe her palm against her jeans--just--and took a swift step backward to give herself some breathing room. She didn't care if her retreat gave him a slight edge in whatever game he'd set in motion. Distance was more important right now than gaining a negotiating advantage.
"I'll make this easy for you, Arnaud. I won't sell." He swept her claim aside as though it were inconsequential. Maybe in his book it was. "I don't think you understand. I win. Always. No matter what it takes."
A chill shot up her spine and she fought to keep the apprehension from showing in her expression. "Not this time."
"Every time." He folded his arms across his chest.
"Now explain it to me. Why are you being so stubborn? I've offered you a generous price, haven't I?"
She stared at him in disbelief. Whipping off her hat in a "getting down to business" gesture, she tossed it toward the empty conference table where it landed with a soft thud. "This isn't about money! That land has been in my family since before Texas became a state. The only way I leave it is in a box." She tilted her head to one side. "Is that how you plan to steal it away from me, Arnaud? Do your goons take matters that far, or are they limited to simple threats and warnings?"