-RT Book Reviews on DECEPTION
Deceptionby Donna Hill
Is love worth the risk
An unhappy marriage taught Terri Powers never to trust again. Instead, she put all her energy into developing her inner strength and independencecreating the successful New York advertising agency she'd always dreamed of. Then she meets handsome, strongwilled businessman Clinton Steele. Try as she/em>… See more details below
Is love worth the risk
An unhappy marriage taught Terri Powers never to trust again. Instead, she put all her energy into developing her inner strength and independencecreating the successful New York advertising agency she'd always dreamed of. Then she meets handsome, strongwilled businessman Clinton Steele. Try as she might, Terri can't fight the sensual attraction between themor the desperate hunger that fires her deepest passions
when everything is at stake?
Neither Terri nor Clinton can ever imagine just how much is at risk. But when a stranger appears from Terri's forgotten past who calls himself a friendhis deception could destroy everything Terri has fought so hard to build. Now two wary hearts have to persevere, as longburied secrets put Terri and Clinton's love to the most perilous test of all
-RT Book Reviews on DECEPTION
- Kimani Press
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"Good afternoon, gentlemen."
Sultry was the only word that stroked all of Clint's senses when the distinctly feminine voice, coated with just a hint of a Caribbean accent, pervaded the low rumble of male conversation.
"Terri." Her vice president, Mark Andrews, looked up and rose in greeting, as did his client Clinton Steele. "We were just going over Mr. Steele's proposal," Mark added, slipping back into his discarded charcoal-gray suit jacket, in an effort to camouflage his surprise at her unannounced return.
Terri stood in the doorway, taking the moment to assess the man who towered head and shoulders above the six-foot-tall Mark, and was in sharp contrast to Mark's light cocoa complexion.
Clinton Steele's reputation preceded him, and from all appearances he confirmed Terri's imagefrom the expensive tailor-made suit to the formidable persona. But maybe it was those eyes. They seemed to have a way of mesmerizing you, she thought, feeling herself pulled into the bottomless inky pools that seemed to dance with dangerous lights. But then a flicker of something deeper flashed through those coal-black orbs. An involuntary shudder ran up her spine. Then just as quickly the look was gone and replaced with what Terri believed to be condescension.
She'd seen that look before. Most men were either intimidated or mystified by her ethnic appearance, as though she either withheld or could unlock some great ancestral secret. Her shoulders straightened as she walked into the room.
Clint was immediately taken aback by the quiet power Terri exuded. Her shoulder-length, glistening ebony dreadlocks were not what he perceived to be the coiffure of the cosmopolitan woman. Rather hers was the image of a woman awakened to their nubian ancestry and determined to flaunt it in the most exotic of displays. Her obvious sense of cultural pride intrigued, yet put him off, his own sense of roots having been buried beneath years of equal-opportunity rhetoric, stirring only periodically into the light.
The instant observation, combined with her cool appraisal of him, rubbed him the wrong way and nudged him off balance. His thick lashes lowered to shield his eyes, and his jaw involuntarily tightened.
Mark moved from around the table and stood between Terri and Clint, breaking through the tension-filled silence.
"Terri Powers, this is Clinton Steele, CEO of Hightower Enterprises."
Clint stretched out his large hand and enveloped Terri's petite one.
"Mr. Steele," Terri responded with a slight incline of her head, observing his perfectly clipped nails.
For one crazy moment Clint wanted to say, "Your Majesty," and he knew that if he opened his mouth, he'd say something equally ridiculous.
As a result he held her hand a moment longer than necessary, and Terri felt the tingling warmth spread through her fingers and glide up her arm. The sensation nearly caused her to snatch her hand away, but her inherent good manners interceded. Slowly she removed her hand, letting it fall casually to her side.
Terri raised her eyes to meet Clint's, and he quickly discovered that they were a fascinating shade of brown that seemed to darken or brighten with the play of light from the window.
"I'll leave the two of you to get acquainted," Mark interjected into the torrid air. "I'll be back shortly, and we can go over the details." He quickly exited the office, leaving Terri and Clint to face each other.
"I understand that we have business to discuss," Terri said, her low melodic voice again caressing him.
He watched her graceful movements as she moved to a leather chair at the head of the long oak conference table. Her sheath of golden linen barely shadowed the curves beneath, Clint realized with a twinge in his loins. He took a seat to Terri's right.
"Mark has informed me that you're interested in using our advertising services to promote your new cable stations, Mr. Steele." She folded her hands in front of her.
Did he detect a note of sarcasm in her voice or was it just his imagination?"That's right." He rubbed a hand across his bearded chin. "Your agency comes highly recommended from everyone here in New York. And from all that Mark has told me so far, I believe Powers Incorporated will do an excellent job."
Clint leaned back in his seat and boldly surveyed her sculpted mahogany features, letting his eyes drift down her long neck to the tempting V in the front of her dress.
Terri felt a hot flush spread throughout her body from the intensity of Clint's appraisal. But she would not let his daring looks distract her.
"I'm sure that Mark also told you that I've been out" she swallowed back the memories "away for the past three months?" She raised a naturally arched eyebrow in question.
Yes, and what happened to cause that haunted look in your eyes? "He mentioned it."
Why did his voice seem to pump through her like an overactive pulse?"I'm sure what he didn't tell you, Mr. Steele, is that I have very firm beliefs about who I do business with."
The hairs on the back of Clint's neck began to tingle. "Don't we all?"
"In other words, Mr. Steele, I would appreciate it if you took your business elsewhere."
Clint's eyes creased into two dark slits. He leaned dangerously forward and the scent of his cologne raced to Terri's brain, quickening her heartbeat.
His voice lowered to a deep rumble. "Let me get this straight. I've been working my butt off in negotiations with your partner" he pointed an accusing finger at Terri "and now you're gonna tell me you don't want my business?"
Pure unadulterated anger flared in his black eyes and hardened the velvet voice. "What in the hell is going on around here? Is this some kind of game?"
"Had I been here, Mr. Steele," Terri answered calmly, not intimidated by the vehemence in his voice, "these talks would not have gone beyond the first phone call. Mr. Andrews is well aware of my policies. I'm sure that his oversight was not intentional. However, my decision stands."
Terri rose regally from her seat, and Clint had the overwhelming sensation of being dismissed like a common errand boy by this very self-centered, arrogant
"I'm sorry," Terri said gently, the soft sincerity of those two simple words mysteriously calming his fury. "I'm sure that this inexcusable situation has cost you a great deal of time and energy. I only wish that I could offer more than an apology."
Why did even her refusal sound so pleasant to his ear? "Have you at least looked over the proposal?" Clint found himself inexplicably yearning for her approval. The revelation pissed him off, but he couldn't seem to stop himself. "I'm certain that it will be a great campaign."
"I have looked it over. However, there's"
"Is it money? You don't think it's adequate?"
Now she was annoyed. Why did they all think that money was the answer to everything? What about integrity?
"This has nothing to do with money," Terri answered, forcing a steady calm into her voice. "It wouldn't matter if your offer were ten times the amount. It's you, Mr. Steele, that I have the problem with. You and your business practices. I cannot in good conscience allow this company to be associated with Hightower Enterprises."
Clint felt as if all the wind had been kicked out of him. All of his work, his sacrifices, his dreams and accomplishments, came to a grinding halt with just those few callous words. Did she have any idea what he'd been through did she ? Slowly he shook his head. Of course she didn't. No one did. That was the way he'd wanted things. Now, for the first time, he was paying for that choice.
Clint rose from his seat, looking at her with a mixture of regretthat she'd fallen prey to the things that had been said about himand disappointment. He'd begun to look forward to working with this tempting woman against all of his reservations.
Terri held her breath as Clint's powerful body rose and spread before her. His dark blue suit fit the massive shoulders and long, muscular legs to exquisite perfection. She dared to steal a glance at the short wavy black hair that capped his proud head. For one dizzying moment she wondered what it would feel like to run her hands across it.
Had this been any other time other circumstances maybe But she still had wounds to heal, emotions to mend, and unfortunately the darkly handsome Clinton Steele represented everything that she had grown to resent.
Terri extended her hand and the warmth of his grip shot through her again. Steadily her eyes held his.
"Perhaps my director of promotions, Stacy Williams, can give you some referrals, Mr. Steele. I could"
"Believe me, you've done enough already." He shook his head, looked at her from beneath silken lashes, a sheepish grin tipping his lips. "I mean, I'm sure that I can find another agency."
Terri nodded her head and made a move to turn away. Clint's intentionally intimate tone stopped her.
"Regardless of what you may think of me, Ms. Powers, I still feel that you're the that your agency is the best one for the job. If we can't be business associates, at least let's be friends. You can call me Clint."
The radiance of his smile washed over her like morning sunshine. Her heart thumped.
"Thank you for the compliment. However, in reference to your last statement, I must apologize again. Our association ends here, Mr. Steele. Good day."
She turned and walked from the office, leaving a fuming Clint and the heady scent of her kush body oil lingering behind.
Stepping out into the corridor, she forced her breathing to slow down to normal. What had happened to her in there? Taking a deep breath, she continued down the hallway, just as Mark left his office, to the conference room. Terri stopped short.
A feeling of disaster spread through Mark. "How did it go? I think this is one great deal, Terri," he said a bit too enthusiastically.
Terri glared at him. "We'll talk later. Right now I think you'd better soothe Mr. Steele's ruffled feathers. There's no deal, Mark. Understood? When you're through, I'll see you in my office."
She turned on her heel, leaving Mark to throw daggers at her back. She'd screwed him. Dammit!
Quickly Mark made his way down the hallway and rushed into the room just as Clint was putting the last of his notes in his briefcase.
"Clint," Mark began apologetically, spreading his hands in a plea. "I had no idea that she was going to react this way. I can assure you that everything was set," he lied. Actually, he had no idea that she would return to work three weeks early. He'd planned to have this deal signed and sealed before she returned.
Clint threw him a glowering look over his shoulder.
"I just need some time to talk with her," Mark added. "I'm sure I can get her to"
Clint turned to Mark. "I don't beg for anything, Andrews. Boss lady has her reasonsfine. The hell with her. You should have known better than to waste my time."
"Listen, Clint," Mark implored, grasping at straws, "Terri's just being difficult. She's probably on a hate-all-men campaign. She's recently divorced, and she lost her baby. Today's her first day "
Mark's voice droned on as Clint absorbed the implications of what was being said. My God, what she'd been through was enough to floor anyone. Yet she'd stood there resolute and determined, only once letting emotion seep through that picture-perfect demeanor. His defenses weakened. How could you not admire a woman like that? He felt that he understood her. He knew all too well about pain and loss. That part of him wanted to soothe away the hurt that still lingered behind those mysterious brown eyes.
The snap of Clint's voice cut off Mark's litany.
"Try to see if you can get Ms. Powers to change her mind, and keep me posted."
Mark hid his surprise behind a wall of conversation. "I won't disappoint you, Clint. This deal is important to me, too." You just don't know how much.
Mark's calculating mind went into overdrive. He'd have to pull this off and soon, or No. He refused to think about the possibilities.
"Will you be attending the reception tonight at Tavern on the Green for the producers?" Mark asked.
Clint picked up his briefcase. "I hadn't planned to. Why?"
"Well, I'll talk to Terri again. I'll be escorting her tonight. Maybe she'll be in a more receptive frame of mind," he concluded, giving Clint a sly grin.
Clint pursed his lips, considering what Mark had said. He generally shied away from formal affairs, believing them to be frivolous. But if it gave him the chance to see Terri again, he'd make an exception.
"I never confirmed my invitation," Clint said slowly, "but I don't think it should be a problem."
"Great. So I'll see you tonight."
Clint reluctantly shook Mark's hand and strode purposefully from the conference room.
There was one thing that bugged Clint more than anything elsea brownnose. And Mark Andrews fit the bill, he thought, as he waited for the elevator. But there was something else about Mark that disturbed him. He just couldn't put his finger on it. At least not yet. But he would. Maybe he'd just let Steve check him out.
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