Just One Touchby Celeste O. Norfleet
Her bottom line:
Journalist Tatiana Coles is famous for doing anything for a storyincluding putting herself in harm's way. Now, on vacation in Martha's Vineyard, she faces her greatest challenge: getting an exclusive on reclusive media mogul Spencer Cage. Putting his words to her paper will fast-track her career. But it also/strong>… See more details below
Her bottom line:
Journalist Tatiana Coles is famous for doing anything for a storyincluding putting herself in harm's way. Now, on vacation in Martha's Vineyard, she faces her greatest challenge: getting an exclusive on reclusive media mogul Spencer Cage. Putting his words to her paper will fast-track her career. But it also means facing the man she loved and lost.
Their work stays on the page
Spencer plays by nobody's rules but his own. Three years ago he and Tatiana were inseparable. Which made her betrayal all the more unforgivable. Now the self-made entrepreneur intends to have his sweet revenge: a summer the traitorous news correspondent will never forget.
Not in the bed
All it takes is one kiss to reignite desire. But how can he avoid putting his own heart on the line? Because now Spencer and Tatiana are playing for the highest stakes of alla second chance at love
Read an Excerpt
Tatiana Coles turned the doorknob and was surprised to find the front door unlocked. She figured it was okay, so she walked in. After all, the guesthouse cottage was all hers and her sisters' for the next thirty days. She'd gotten the key from the ownersthe Sullivanswho were friends of her parents. Her timing was perfect. They were leaving for their month-long cruise just as she was arriving. The Sullivans had been running late and apologized for being so abrupt, but that was just fine with Tatiana. The last thing she needed was questions about her job, and she knew Mr. Sullivana retired news reporterwas bound to be a little suspicious. Her boss was still trying to contact her. And she knew there'd be ramifications when she got back, but right now she didn't care. All she cared about was thirty days of drama-free relaxation, sun, sand and beach.
Still, every time she thought about the assignment they had wanted her to take in Paris she fumed. She was a journalist, not a babysitter. For the first two and a half years of her career, she'd traveled the world reporting on important issues. She'd interviewed heads of state, business and industry leaders, national politicians and celebrities, covering everything from the economy to the war to healthcare. Her byline and reputation were among the most highly regarded in the media.
Then six months ago everything changed. One stupid corporate executive propositioned her after an interview, and she'd turned him down. As a result, he filed a libel suit against the media company she worked for, mostly because her article had made him look foolish although that's not what the lawsuit alleged. Either way, she was relegated to writing puff pieces and filler until the whole thing blew over or the CEO dropped his suit.
The reason her boss gave her for being demoted was even more insulting. He'd said she wasn't up to the challenge of interviewing anymore. But the last straw had been the Paris assignment: she was being sent to watch over one of the news magazine's worst reporters. He was slated to interview the alleged head of a terrorist group tied to a recent string of violent attacks.
It was insane. She knew he had no idea how to conduct the interview or what to ask. Still he'd gotten the assignment. In protest, she'd decided to abruptly take a leave of absence. It was hasty, childish, impulsive and unprofessional, but she didn't care. Lately, she didn't care much about a lot of things in her life. She was aggravated and stressed and in need of some serious down time. And the temporary leave was perfect.
"Hey! Surprise! Guess who's here," she called out, holding the door open with her hip as she noisily stumbled inside. Loaded down with two large suitcases, she rolled them in front of the door to keep it propped open and then placed her laptop and handbag on the floor beside her luggage.
"Nikita? Natalia? Anybody! How about a little help?" she yelled louder this time, somehow managing to maneuver the suitcases inside the door and close it behind her. She paused, catching her breath, and took a quick look around. The SullivansJeff and Theresawere her parents' friends. They owned the summer house and the small cottage next to it on a private beach in Martha's Vineyard. For years, the Coles would visit them in the Vineyard during the summertime, and the Sullivans would visit the Coles in Key West in the winter. After college, Tatiana's brothers used to rent the Sullivan's beach cottage for a month. But in the last five years, she and her sisters had taken over the summer rental. Now, every year for the month of August, it was all theirs.
"Niki, Nat, you guys around?" she called out as she grabbed her purse and laptop and put them on the table behind the sofa. There was no reply. "Niki, Nat," she called out again, expecting one or both of her sisters to answer. She rolled her suitcases to the bottom of the stairs. She drew in a deep breath and then exhaled slowly as a contented, easy smile spread across her lips. Thank God she was finally here. After hours of traveling, all she could think about was relaxing on the beach. Looking out at the ocean view, all the craziness she'd endured to get there was certainly worth it. Hanging out with her sisters always revived her spirit and she was definitely in need of that now.
"Nikita, Natalia." She went upstairs and peeked into each of the three bedrooms. The beds were perfectly made, as if they hadn't been slept in for days. She took the same bedroom she usually did, freshened up, changed into a purple bikini and slipped on a pair of baggy sweatpants. Afterward, she took off her ponytail clip and ran her fingers through her long curls as she walked over to the window. Pulling the sheers back, she looked out at the vast cerulean sky. Dusk was looming and the view from the window was spectacular and serene. She hadn't realize how much she missed being here. She went back downstairs, grabbed her cell and turned it on for the first time in hours to call her sister Nikita.
The call went directly to voice mail. "Hey, where are you? I hope you're out grabbing something to eat because I'm starved. I haven't eaten anything since I left London. That was nearly sixteen hours ago. I'm thinking seafood. Call me," she said, leaving a message.
She slipped her phone into the pocket of her sweatpants and looked around, this time more attentively. It had been years since she'd been here last and it seemed that everything about the place in the Vineyard had changed. The only thing she remembered being the same was the large stone fireplace in the living room. It was made of old mason stones left in their rugged, natural state. It was the cornerstone of the room. She walked over and rubbed her hand along the rough edges.
Tatiana fondly remembered the summers spent at the cottage when she was young. She and her siblings would hide notes in a loose stone just below the mantel. It was their little secret. Looking at the fireplace, she wondered if their cubbyhole was still there. She struggled with the large stone, trying to pry it a loose. It usually came out easily, but this time it didn't. So much for childhood memories.
She turned to look at the open floor plan of the family room. At one time the cottage had a distinctly rustic style. But a few years ago the Sullivans renovated the house so that it had a more contemporary design, much like a casually elegant resort. The furniture was comfortable with an eclectic mix of modern and organic pieces. The two small windows she'd remembered from years past were now a wall of French doors with panes of glass above the doorframe angled under the eaves of the house, which allowed more sunlight to stream into the great room. Overhead, large ceiling fans hung from the massive beams in the vaulted ceiling that was punctuated with recessed lights.
Tatiana opened the French doors to let the fresh air clear the stuffiness out of the cottage. The day was nearly over and the heat had not let up. She took a deep breath filling her lungs with the salty air of the Vineyard, and thought how good it was to be back. It was good to be anywhere, she thought, as she stepped out onto the back porch.
A sultry breeze enveloped her as the sweet smell of fresh flowers brought back so many memories. In a flash, the sky had suddenly changed. The horizon was a stunning vibrant mix of bright reds, purples and blues. From the porch, she could see a large expanse of white-sand beach that receded with the tide. Just as she stepped down from the porch, her cell phone rang. She checked the caller ID, sat down on one of the outdoor chairs, put her cell on the table and put the call on speakerphone. "Hey, girl," she said smiling.
"Hey, Tia, I was gonna call you later this evening. How are you?" her sister, Nikita asked.
It was always good to hear Nikita's voice. "I'm tired, stressed-out and jetlagged. Unfortunately I didn't sleep on the way here. I guess I'm too wired."
"Sounds about right for you. So, what's up?"
"What's up is that I'm here. Where are you?" Tia said, picking up on the distraction in her sister's voice. There were loud voices and the clatter of dishes in the background. Wherever her sister was, it was really noisy.
"What do you mean you're here? You're where?" Nikita asked, in a louder voice.
"I'm in Martha's Vineyard at the Sullivan's cottage. They left on a month-long cruise. We're supposed to be hanging out here for the next thirty days, remember."
"Yeah, of course I remember. I'm just surprised you're there. You said you weren't going to the Vineyard this year."
"I know. I changed my mind. Didn't you get my email?"
"Girl, I haven't read my emails in more than a week and a half. I barely have time to answer the phone anymore."
"It's so loud there. I can barely hear you. Where are you?" she asked picking up the cell phone and walking down the steps of the porch toward the water. She looked around admiring the view.
"I'm at work. I'm catering a party."
"At work, you mean in Key West?" she asked.
"Of course in Key West, where else?" Niki said.
"So, I guess you're gonna be a little late getting here," Tia said sarcastically as she followed the same path she had remembered taking over the years. She stopped and looked down at the private beach that lay ahead.
Nikita hesitated a moment. "Actually, I'm not coming."
"What do you mean, you're not coming?" Tia asked,her stomach twisting into a knot. She had been looking forward to this break. Without realizing it, she started walking toward the beach. It wasn't until she was midway between the cottage and the shoreline that she realized what she was doing. She kept going.
"Tia, it's crazy here. I have so much work to do. I can't up and leave right now, just like that."
"Hold up, I came all the way here from London to hang out with my sisters. I understand why Nat's not coming. She just married the perfect man. But you, too? I can't believe this. You're gonna just up and leave me stranded?"
"Oh, no, you don't," Niki quickly responded. "Don't even try it. Don't you dare put this off on me or Nat. You're the one who said you couldn't get away this year just like last year and the year before that and the year before that. You're the one who's always too busy working, remember? Nat and I were in the Vineyard three summers straight without you."
Tia knew her sister was right. She was the one who'd always begged off. She'd done it before, but her unexpected problems at work made her change her plans. "Okay, okay, I know. But I'm here now. So, can you come?" She looked around at the secluded area. She kicked off her sandals, picked them up from the sand and started walking toward the water.
"I can't," Niki said woefully, "At least not for a few days, maybe a week or so. Since Nat's wedding, the catering requests have been nonstop. I'm so busy I've had to put everything else in my life on hold, including my expansion plans. I had to hire two new people in the café and get an assistant to help with scheduling."
"Niki, that's fantastic. I'm really happy for you, but you know you can't work all the time. Everybody needs to take a break every now and then. All work and no play "
Nikita started laughing. Tia didn't have to ask why. She knew she sounded like a hypocrite. Aside from their two brothers, Mikhail and Dominik, Tia was even more of a workaholic than her two sisters. "Okay, okay, it wasn't that funny," Tia said, looking around as Niki continued laughing. A seagull flying overhead caught her attention. She looked up, watching its flight path. It swooped down low across the water then soared higher into the sky across the beach. "I guess I'll just have to do some sightseeing or find a distraction until you get here." As soon as the words left her mouth her gaze shifted as somethingor rather someonenear the water's edge caught her attention. "Hello, distraction," she muttered admiringly.
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