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By Brenda Jackson
KimaniCopyright © 2007 Brenda Jackson
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"Mr. Steele, your two o'clock appointment has arrived."
Morgan Steele's pulse immediately kicked up a notch with his secretary's announcement. He inhaled deeply and deliberately cleared his mind of everything except the woman who was about to walk into his office. Helena Spears.
"Give me a few minutes, Linda, before sending her in."
After clicking off the line he stood and threw the papers he'd been reading into his briefcase before snapping it shut and inwardly telling himself to relax. Getting Helena to his office had been the first hurdle, and he was determined to make it over the rest. He was smart enough to know that if at first you don't succeed you try again, and today he was a man with a more defined plan.
Putting his briefcase aside he found himself glancing toward the door, his pulse kicking up another notch as he remembered the night--a little more than a year ago--when he had first seen her as she walked into that charity ball wearing a very sexy fuchsia-colored dress. There had been something about her entrance that had momentarily taken his breath away, left him awestruck, mesmerized. And moments later when he had gazed into the warmth of her cinnamon-brown eyes, he had felt it. It had happened just the way he'd known it would once he found her--the perfect woman he had been holding out for all these years.
The only thing that hadn't happened as he'd assumed itwould was her acceptance. Lena, as she was known to her family and friends, wasn't seeing things quite his way. She'd tried to explain to him, in a nice way and more than once, that she wasn't interested in a man-woman relationship of any kind.
She liked her life just the way it was and had no intentions of wasting her time indulging in a meaningless affair. Nor, she'd gone further on to add, was she interested in a meaningful one, either. She had been there, done that, and she'd learned a valuable lesson and had no intentions of doing a repeat.
All that was well and good but she wasn't dealing with any regular man. At thirty-three he could admit to being arrogant, methodical and unwilling to bend in his pursuit of anything. Once he saw something he wanted and made a decision to have it, he refused to give up until he got it.
And the bottom line was that he wanted Lena. He had wasted enough time and starting today he intended to use a different approach. He glanced toward the door again when he heard the sound of the knob turning. The moment it opened and his "perfect" woman walked in he couldn't help but release a breath. He felt the sizzle as heat shimmered all through him. She was wearing a periwinkle-color business suit and she looked good in it.
"Lena, please come in," he said cordially as his gaze floated over the rest of her with an analytical eye. She had just the right amount of makeup on her strikingly attractive medium brown face, which placed emphasis on the honey brown curls that flowed around her shoulders, giving her the appearance of a Queen Latifah look-alike.
She was five feet ten, just the right height for his six-three stature. Her body was stacked, well endowed in all the right places, full breasts, wide child-bearing hips, voluptuous thighs and the most gorgeous pair of shapely legs he'd ever seen on a woman. He'd once overheard a conversation she'd had with his sister-in-law Kylie, who happened to be her best friend, about what she thought was a weight problem. As far as he was concerned, she didn't have one. When he looked at her, what he saw was a full-figured, thirty-one-year-old attractive and desirable woman who could start anything and everything inside him to stirring. The woman was temptation at its finest; however, when it came to her he was prodded to look beyond temptation and see something a lot more lucrative and worthwhile. Little did she know but he intended to open up a whole new world for the both of them.
"Thank you, Morgan," she said, closing the door behind her, and breaking into his thoughts.
"I'm here for our two o'clock appointment."
From the sound of things she intended to be all business, and that was okay for now. He would give her this time because in the coming weeks he intended to get his. She would find out soon enough that she had just walked into a "Steele cage" and there was no way out. He had failed at plan A, but he had just put plan B into full motion.
Lena pressed her lips firmly together as she looked across the room at the man leaning against his desk. Morgan Steele.
She thought the same thing now that she did that night she'd first met him. He had to be the most gorgeous human male to grace this planet, which prompted her to put her guard up even more. The last thing she needed in her life was a man, especially one like Morgan. She'd learned her lesson a few years ago that when it came to "pretty boys" and "fine as a dime" men, she had to watch her step.
But still...although she tried not to stare but couldn't help herself. She'd been attracted to him from the first. Maybe it was the beautiful coloring of his skin, which reminded her of deep rich chocolate. Or it could have been the long lashes and dark eyes. And heaven forbid if she left out the chiseled jaw, high cheekbones, low-cut black hair and a pair of lips that were too provocative to be attached to any mouth.
The first night they'd met he'd surprised her by coming on to her and asking her out. She had turned him down flat. To this day she really didn't know why he'd bothered since men who looked like him didn't go for Amazons. They were usually seen with the slim, willowy, model types. Evidently, once she'd turned him down he'd seen her as a challenge and had asked her out several times after that. But each time she would decline. Finally, she had felt the need to put an end to whatever game he was playing by explaining her position on dating to him. She was too caught up in other things she considered more important than to be added to another man's list as his flavor for the month.
As with any potential client she had done her research, which really hadn't been necessary since Morgan's oldest brother, Chance, had married her best friend, Kylie, over a year ago. Besides, most people who'd lived in these parts for a relatively long period of time knew about those four Steele brothers who ran their family business, the Steele Corporation.
Chance at thirty-seven was CEO. Sebastian Steele, nicknamed Bas, who had gotten married just a few weeks ago, was thirty-five and the corporation's problem solver and troubleshooter. Morgan was thirty-three and headed the research and development department of the company; and Donovan, at thirty-one, headed the product development division.
Then there were the three female cousins of whom only one--Vanessa--worked in the company as head of PR. The other two, Taylor and Cheyenne, had established careers outside of the family business but maintained positions on the board of directors.
"May I offer you something to drink, Lena? Springwater, juice, coffee?"
Morgan's question pulled her thoughts back in and she licked her suddenly dry lips and tightened her hand on her briefcase as if it were her block of strength. "No, thanks," she said, moving closer into the room. "And since you're a busy man I'm sure you want us to get right down to business."
"Yes, I prefer that we do since I have another meeting in about an hour."
She nodded, glad they were on one accord. She hadn't known what to expect when he'd set up the appointment. From past encounters she assumed he was a laid-back sort of guy. It was refreshing to know he could be strictly business when the situation called for it.
"Would you like to have a seat so we can get started?" he asked, pushing away from the desk and pulling her thoughts back on track.
"Yes, thanks," she said, forcing the words out from a constricted throat. He was dressed in a business suit that made him look like he belonged on the cover of an issue of Sexy Man magazine. She took the seat in front of his desk, and as soon as she sat down she noted once she tilted her head up she had a direct aim to his face, specifically his let-me-seduce-you dark eyes.
A sensuous shiver glided down her spine when their eyes met. She cleared her throat, determined to stay on track. "I understand you're interested in purchasing another home," she said to get the conversation going.
"Yes, I am and you come highly recommended." She couldn't help the smile that curved her lips.
He chuckled. "Yes, her too, but I would expect that since she's your best friend. Actually the person who's been singing your praises has been Jocelyn. According to her, you found her and Bas the perfect house."
Excerpted from Beyond Temptation by Brenda Jackson Copyright © 2007 by Brenda Jackson. Excerpted by permission.
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