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It was from Jonathan Black, Peck and Davilla's handsome, charismatic, talented, dynamic, sexy and irresistible Creative Director. Sigh and double sigh.
Sophie read the message three times, just to make sure she hadn't hallucinated it. Then she glanced around the room of copywriters, production artists, junior designers and image developers. In other words, newbies, all hoping to climb out of the pit. And it looked as though, she, Sophie Callahan, had just hauled herself over the edge.
No one else held a phone. Sophie waited, listening for buzzes and chirps. Had anyone else from the pit been invited to the party?
No? Then she'd really and truly caught the eye of Jonathan Black. And in a good way. Clutching her phone, she closed her eyes and exhaled, feeling relief more than anything. Relief that she'd accomplished a goal for which she'd sacrificed her entire social life.
For a year, she'd targeted Jonathan Black as the Creative Director she wanted to work with. For a year, she'd studied his past ad campaigns, analyzed his style, figured out which Peck and Davilla creatives he favored and studied their styles, and then put herself around them whenever she could. For a year, she'd volunteered for scut work and had done favors—many favors. She'd learned as much as she could and she'd given away ideas.
And the senior creatives had taken those ideas and used them as their own, especially Ross, one of the art directors.
That was okay. That was how the game was played. But Sophie knew when they used her ideas and they knew when they used her ideas. And after she disingenuously and publicly gushed her delight that they'd found her idea worthy, others knew it, too.
But it was her audacity during last Monday's meeting that must have finally pinged Jonathan's radar.
Ross's team had been pitching the second time to a retirement developer who'd hated their first ideas. All of them. Jonathan was sitting in as they'd scrambled not to lose the account. Knowing this, Sophie had intercepted an intern from Production and offered to deliver last-minute mock-ups to the meeting.
And then she'd stayed, ignoring pointed glances and a long look from Jonathan.
Sophie had studied this campaign as she'd studied the others and she didn't like it. It wasn't all that much different from the first one. Ross and his team weren't getting it, and Sophie could tell the clients didn't think so, either.
The P&D team was treating the retirement community as though it housed relics from an ancient civilization. The people in the illustrations didn't look like her grandparents. Her grandparents traveled, they volunteered—they went to the gym, for Pete's sake. They didn't spend their days sitting on a bench surrounded by azaleas and grinning goofily at each other like the couple in the picture Ross held.
And that's when Sophie had laughed. The room had grown tense and silent and the small sound drew everyone's attention. Not what she'd planned, but she brazened it out.
She gestured to the picture. "They're so not my grandparents. My grandparents are all about use it or lose it."
"And these two look like they've lost it," one of the client reps said, which was exactly what Sophie had been going to say.
Aware of Jonathan's sharp, unsmiling gaze upon her, she was glad she hadn't.
"This is—" one of the Worthington (Because You're Worth It) reps waved at the display and slumped in his seat "—depressing."
"The presentation reflects the tone you told us you were going for," Jonathan reminded them. "We stayed on message."
"We said 'upscale serenity,' not 'sit around and wait for the white light.'"
Jonathan interrupted the nervous chuckles. "So we don't want to emphasize calm and peaceful." He gestured for Ross to remove the storyboard. "Now we know. Don't feel you have to stick with your original idea. Let us kick this around and come at it from another direction."
The Worthington people exchanged looks and the rep spoke. "Jonathan, I don't think we're on the same wavelength."
Wave. Sophie's cue. "What about Ross's cruise idea?" Which was actually Sophie's idea. Which she'd just thought of.
"Cruise?" one of the clients asked.
Ross sent her a murderous glance and shook his head. "It was just a thought. It didn't fit the Worthington image."
But Jonathan had picked up on the client's interest. "They want to go in a different direction. Maybe it fits now. Outline the idea for us."
Heart pounding, Sophie was afraid she'd gone too far. "My grandparents are always saying they could live on a cruise ship, so Ross was thinking about cruising through retirement and making the ads all bright and peppy like a cruise line's instead of lifeless and boring." Oops. She hadn't meant to say "lifeless and boring." Never criticize the client's idea. To his face. And never never never say anything negative about a pitch.
The Worthington people perked up. Ross, pro that he was, was already sketching out a few ideas. "When I saw the plans for your complex, I remember thinking that living there would be like being on a permanent vacation." And he was off.
Sophie stayed quiet, aware that Jonathan was studying her. She met his eyes once and smiled before turning her attention to Ross's extemporaneous presentation. Well, not all her attention. Jonathan wasn't the type of man a woman could ignore.
After the clients had left, just when Ross had been about to lay into her, Jonathan approached. "Great save, Ross." They exchanged a look. The other man gave a tight nod and retreated, but Sophie knew she'd hear about it later.
"What's your name?" Jonathan asked her.
He pulled out his phone. "You've got balls, Sophie Callahan."
"Don't ever do that again."
She clamped her mouth shut.
His gaze flicked over her. "I need your contact info."
Her voice sounding eager in spite of her best efforts, Sophie supplied it.
Jonathan entered her number and pocketed his phone. "You're lucky the cruise angle worked."
And did she say "thanks" and leave it at that? No. "It wasn't luck. I studied the account and I researched the demographics."
"Your grandparents," he said dryly.
"And their friends." She met his gaze. No use backing down now, even though her heart drummed so hard she could hear her pulse.
Something shifted in his eyes. He liked beautiful women, Sophie knew. Everyone knew. And he liked them with a certain sensual seasoning. Sophie was not beautifully seasoned. She was cute. And energetic. Not perky—energetic. There was a difference.
She wasn't Jonathan's type romantically, but a dinner out wouldn't be such a bad thing, since she could impress him during some one-on-one time. Sophie had no illusions about Jonathan. He was not a long-term guy, but he was enormously talented and she wanted the experience of working with him. If it took a couple of dates to get that chance, fine.
"We work in teams," he told her.
"So I've heard."
"You're not a team player."
"Maybe I need a better team."
Suddenly, he grinned. "Maybe you do."
A beat passed and Sophie stopped breathing. Please, please, please put me on your team.
His expression turned speculative. "You and Ross bounce off each other pretty good."
"Ross?" No. No-no-no-no-no. "He likes to work alone."
"I know. But creatively, he might need some shaking up. You strike me as the sort of person who shakes things up."
The man was toying with her. She could see it in his eyes. Talk about a disastrous pairing—for Sophie, anyway. Ross had used her ideas before and if she were officially assigned to his team, she knew she'd never get credit for anything. Never build her portfolio.
"Once concrete sets, it doesn't shake," she said. "It cracks and breaks."
"Careful, Sophie." Jonathan gave her a hard stare. "Ross has been around a long time. He's made a lot of contacts. And you need more than one good idea to build a career."
I've had lots of ideas. Several are in current ads. But she hadn't said anything. By that time, she'd said enough.
After he'd left, Sophie had dropped into a chair in the empty conference room and put her head between her knees. Ross? She was going to end up with Ross? It could have been worse. Jonathan could have fired her.
But now, just four days later, here was an invitation to one of his legendary beach parties! Maybe he wasn't going to assign her to Ross after all.
"You must have a hot date tonight."
Sophie opened her eyes to find Aire-An, her partner with the stupidly weird name, looking at her from across their desk. As though the affected spelling would make her stand out.
"It's got possibilities." Sophie didn't have a boyfriend. Not that she didn't want a boyfriend, but right now she didn't have time.
"New opportunity." She set her phone down and closed her laptop. "I've got tons to do, so I'm taking off."
"Early?" Aire-An goggled at her. "You never leave early. I'm not sure you leave at all."
"That's what it takes to get ahead." She tried not to sound self-righteous, but honestly, as a partner, Aire-An had been an anchor. And not in a steadying way, but a holding back way.
"Yeah, well, I want to have a life, too."
Sophie cleared off her desk. "The way I see it is that we're always going to be working crazy hours, so I might as well be working crazy hours on a big project for more money."
"And more stress." Aire-An waggled her fingers at Sophie. "Go. Take off. Have a normal Friday night for once."
It had better not be normal, Sophie thought as she took the stairs to the lobby so she wouldn't attract notice by waiting for the elevator. See, it was the attention to little details that would get her ahead.
As she crossed the glass-enclosed walkway over the street to the parking garage, she noticed another detail, one maybe not so little. Clouds. And not fluffy, white, friendly clouds, but angry, gray clouds brushing past the downtown skyscrapers.
What had happened to the sun? How sad that she hadn't known the weather had changed. When Sophie got out of the pit and into a room with a window, she'd know what the weather was doing.
Did Jonathan know? Of course he knew. He'd said "hurricane party" as a heads-up for stormy weather, not an actual hurricane. Jonathan had his own office with a lovely window and, currently, Jonathan was in a conference room with an even lovelier window. He'd seen the clouds. Daily afternoon showers were common in the late summer.
The concrete and metal stairs echoed as Sophie descended to the Peck and Davilla employee parking level in the garage.
Listening, she didn't hear other cars starting up and hadn't encountered anyone else who might be leaving for a weekend at the beach.
Good. That probably meant a team retreat instead of a big bash. Sophie had heard rumors of a client who might spring for a Super Bowl ad, the Holy Grail of TV advertising. Oh, to be assigned to that creative team. What a career booster, not to mention a jewel in her portfolio. The trick was to stand out and still be considered a team player.
Yeah, yeah. Jonathan said he wanted team players, but he'd invited Sophie to the beach house and Aire-An, the ultimate team player, was stuck drawing toothpaste tubes for mock-ups.
Fifteen minutes later, Sophie parked her car on the street in front of the midtown-area townhouse she shared with a couple of roommates. It was in an excellent location with a short commute, but only two bathrooms and a two-car garage. And not so much communal living space.
Her roommates weren't home. Inhaling, Sophie paused to enjoy a rare moment of solitude. And then she started packing.
As soon as Sophie had learned of Jonathan's beach-house parties, she'd shopped for the perfect swimsuit for swimming and the perfect swimsuit for not swimming, as well as appropriate cover-ups. Business beach party—talk about a wardrobe challenge. Now her preparations were going to pay off big-time.
Sophie's goal was to arrive first, or at least early enough to stake out her territory and establish herself as a hostess. As someone in charge. Someone who had her act together. And looked attractive doing it. Sure, it was a throwback to the fifties, but in a way, so was Jonathan. If Sophie had to be the girl who went for coffee, so to speak, then she'd do it.
Speaking of…he'd assigned her steaks and breakfast. Kind of a lot for one person, but she was the newbie, so she'd have to suck it up this time.
But steaks and breakfast for how many people? Was Jonathan planning to grill outside if the weather cleared, or in the kitchen broiler? Did he need propane or charcoal?
Breakfast—did that mean coffee, too? Was there a grinder at the beach house, or should she buy the coffee already ground? Jonathan loved a good cup of coffee, so maybe Sophie should bring her own grinder. And what kind of breakfast? Doughnuts? Or the full bacon-and-eggs weekend feast?
It was four o'clock. Commuter traffic would already be clogging the streets. Sophie still had to shave her legs—clearly no time to book a wax—and apply self-tanner, something she knew from personal experience should not be rushed.
Taking a deep, centering breath, she opened her laptop and started a new project list, the first ever to include groceries.
By the time Sophie had touched up her pedicure and packed the car, gusts were jostling every annoying set of wind chimes on the block.
Rain started spitting as she drove to the grocery store. According to the gleeful weathercasters, always happy to have something exciting to report, the storm had jogged north and bands of tropical-storm-force wind and rain would lash the upper Texas coast this weekend.
Wel l, that didn't sound like any fun. From the parking lot of the grocery store, Sophie checked for a follow-up text from Jonathan. Nothing. In fact, nothing from anyone. The party was still on. Okay, then. She pushed open the car door and the wind caught it. Sophie barely stopped it from slamming into the minivan parked alongside. These were some serious gusts. She pushed down her skirt even though she wore her swimsuit beneath it, and hurried into the crowded grocery store to buy steaks and breakfast.
Adrian Dean scowled down at the sand beneath the wooden steps leading from the front door of the elevated beach house to a walkway that stopped right at the beach.
He'd come to stand outside on the porch and enjoy the churning ocean and the roiling black clouds and the gusty wind and then, when a crack of lightning had split the horizon, he'd jumped like a girl and dropped the metal pole he'd been disassembling.
Posted July 18, 2011
Posted March 24, 2010
One wrong flip of a finger on his iPhone, and Jonathan Black sent out an invitation to a party to his entire contact list, instead of just the one lucky lady he wanted to join him at the company beach house. Now three of his lovely lady employees are in a panic to make it to the party that none of them were suppose to attend. With a hurricane on the way, none of them get what they are expecting.
Sophie, who sees the invite as recognition of a job well done, finds potential client Adrian at the beach house. A sexy exercise guru potential client. Who wouldn't want to be trapped in a beach house with a man starving for food and attention? Candlelight only adds to the fire between these two.
Mia, who is Jonathan's current hook up, never makes it to the beach house and finds herself stuck by the side of the road when the hurricane strikes. She gets rescued by hunky local cafe owner Kevin, who puts her to work in the kitchen, after letting her get out of her wet, white clothes. What will become of them after a wet and wild weekend in paradise?
Cammy, who is Jonathan's over worked personal assistant, gets stranded at the office and is rescued by former partner Gil. His way of helping her in the pouring rain is to do whatever to make her forget about work and their boss. But when the text message catching up with them, Cammy makes Gil take her to the beach house, and one heated argument turns into one heated encounter that neither will forget.
Heather's latest makes hurricane's sexy! The encounters in these three stories is her signature quirky style, each one as fun and sexy as the last. Bring a fan and a glass of cold lemonade. You are going to need it.
Posted March 1, 2010
Who's been the sender of a misdirected text? Lots of people, myself included, as well as Jonathan Black in Heather MacAllister's latest Harlequin Blaze adventure, "His Little Black Book".
The three women who acted on Jonathan's text message were very lucky indeed. For although their final destiny was not the egotistical corporate kingpin Jonathan, they each found the man of their dreams because they wanted to be the best in Jonathan's eyes.
Heather MacAllister employs her characteristic humor in this hot romance trilogy to make it the most entertaining romp I've read in ages! And hot hot hot!!! Or did I mention that before?
I completely recommend this read. It's entertaining and as a trilogy, is a read that can be consumed whole or in its smaller pieces. I thought I would only read one story at a sitting, but found myself so infatuated with the concept I couldn't put it down.
Read this book and laugh.and be tempted to rent your own condo on the beach complete with hot bachelor!
Posted February 28, 2010
Heather MacAllister has done it again. In her latest Harlequin Blaze Encounters, His Little Black Book, she delivers three delightfully funny, short, sexy romps.
Once Jonathan Black, Peck & Davilla Media Management's playboy boss, text messages a lady friend on his phone's contact list to invite her to an intimate beach party for two and hits "ALL" instead, the fun begins--for three couples anyway.
Looking to work her way into Jonathan's privileged circle, Sophie Callahan, an agency newbie, sticks her neck out to rescue a sinking ad campaign. Her fresh approach catches Jonathan's eye, and Sophie hopes she'll get to work on the firm's Superbowl ad campaign for fitness guru Adrian Dean.
When Jonathan's errant text hits Sophie's inbox, she thinks she's on her way. There are two things she doesn't count on: a tropical storm raging along the Texas coast where the company's beach house is located and the sexy, abs-of-steel Adrian himself being in residence when she arrives, waiting to hear her pitch.
When the lights go out, it's every man--and woman--for themselves, which makes things tough for Sophie who wants to win the ad campaign based on her ideas' merits. But if she doesn't win over the sexy Adrian, another agency will end up designing his Superbowl ad.
Meanwhile, down the beach, Mia Weiss, another agency employee with a thing for Jonathan Black, thinks he's finally ready to sweep her off her feet when she gets his text inviting her to the beach house. En route, Mia finds herself swept off her feet all right, but by a rising storm surge that pushes her car off what's left of the road. Who should come to her aid but a sexy, good-looking local she recognizes as the famous "Cowboy Surfer" from a recent ad campaign?
Kevin Powell, Surfside restaurant owner, doesn't appreciate being interrupted from his task of feeding the hungry at a local storm shelter to rescue some idiot who doesn't know enough not to drive in a hurricane. The episode that ensues will have you chuckling as, despite the driving rain and wind howling around them, Kevin must still convince a doubtful Mia to LET him rescue her.
In the third selection, you gotta feel poor Gil Shaughnessy's pain. For years, he's been in love with Cammy Phillips, Jonathan's beautiful assistant. Gil has tried everything in the hopes of attracting the elusive Cammy's attention. Unfortunately for Gil, Cammy has eyes only for her boss, whose roaming eye never quite seems to settle on her. Not that that hasn't stopped Cammy from going above and beyond in the hopes her boss will notice her. When Jonathan's text lands in her inbox, Cammy is convinced she's hit the mother lode. Just one teensy problem: her car won't start. Now, how will she get to the beach house and party with the man of her dreams? She needs a knight in shining armor, and Gil fills the bill nicely. Although he had fantasized about one day coming to Cammy's rescue, stewing in a mother of a traffic jam while chauffeuring a frantic Cammy to a beach house to "party" with Jonathan is not the kind of rescue Gil had in mind.
These reads are fast-paced. Heather's witty prose will have you grinning for sure. And the surprise twist that waits at the end for the guy who started it all with his errant text is just too good. For all who have appreciated Heather's brand of snappy humor in her previous Harlequin novels, His Little Black Book won't disappoint.
Posted March 17, 2010
No text was provided for this review.
Posted December 27, 2011
No text was provided for this review.
Posted July 16, 2011
No text was provided for this review.