For the Marcelli sisters of California wine country, the season is ripe for romance!
THE SPARKLING ONE
A party planner extraordinaire, Katie Marcelli loves her big, boisterous family -- even when their chronic matchmaking drives her crazy! In the Marcelli household, fine wine and good food are as celebrated as true love, so when her eighteen-year-old sister announces her engagement, Katie promises her the perfect wedding. There's only one hitch: the father of the groom, Zach Stryker, who is adamantly opposed to his son marrying so young. Now, despite her instant attraction to the handsome, arrogant attorney, Katie must approach with caution: Zach, who hired Katie for a major fundraiser, holds the fate of her business in his hands -- and how can she trust a man who is willing to break her sister's heart? It will take a passionate battle of wills to determine if wedding bells will ring for a Marcelli bride, and to unlock the deepest desires -- for family, love, and home -- inside a strong-willed man's heart.
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September 01, 2003
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Excerpt from The Sparkling One by Susan Mallery
Katie Marcelli knew that with the right staff, she could organize the world. But as good help was hard to find, she contented herself with smaller projects, such as organizing closets, parties, and seminars. She owned her own business, made a decent living, and had a five-year business plan that would make a Fortune 500 CEO weep with envy. She was tough, confident, in charge.
On the outside.
On the inside her nerves were currently playing baseball in her stomach, and someone had just hit a foul ball down the third base line. She pressed a hand to her midsection and knew that fourth cup of coffee she'd gulped in her car was about to turn to acid. She was tense, wired, and pacing in high heels that might make her ankles look as slender as a gazelle's but also threatened her future ability to walk without a limp.
Oh, please, oh, please let me say just the right thing, she thought as she paused in front of a large window overlooking Century City and Beverly Hills. Opportunities like this didn't come along every day. She'd wanted to take her company to the next level, and this job was going to make it happen. All she had to do was be...sparkling.
The word made her smile. Ah, yes. She was "the Sparkling One." Bright, bubbly, like fine champagne that had --
"Ms. Marcelli? Mr. Stryker will see you now."
Katie turned toward a well-dressed fifty-something woman who held open a thick door and motioned for her to enter.
Katie stepped from the nicely carpeted hallway into sink-to-your-ankles plushness in an office the size of Rhode Island. A corner office, with floor-to-ceiling windows, sleek yet traditional furniture, a massive pair of leather sofas on the walls opposite the windows, and an elegantly dressed man good-looking enough to grace one of the billboards that lined Sunset Boulevard.
Zach Stryker, one of only three senior partners in the largest family law firm in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, and the youngest partner. He had a reputation for being tough, unflinching, and a hell of a negotiator. Oh, and he wasn't just a winner in the courtroom. Rumor had it he broke at least two female hearts a week.
The nerves in her stomach instantly abandoned their baseball game and began flying in a "man-alert" formation which warned her that caffeine overload was not all that far away. Perfect, she thought, because staying calm in a meeting was so overrated.