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"Sherri, I would be honored if you joined me for dinner at my club tonight."
Sherri Griffin never, ever got headaches, not in all her twenty-seven years. At least not until recently, when she'd taken the job of producer and program director of WLCK, a Key West radio station. That was when she had encountered Terrence Jefferies, a former NFL player for the Miami Dolphins and one of the station's sports commentators.
He was also the owner of Club Hurricane, a popular nightclub in the Keys frequented by celebrities. From what she'd heard, when Terrence began playing pro football he had been nicknamed the Holy Terror by sportscasters because of his oftentimes surly attitude on the field. Besides Mean Joe Greene, there had not been another defensive tackle that had been so respected and feared. But when it came to pursuing women, he used an entirely different strategy. He was all smooth and debonair and never came across as intimidating or bad. Just relentlessly determined.
The man was also handsome as sin.
Drawing in a deep breath, she pulled herself together before looking up from the document she was reading to acknowledge Terrence's entry into her office. Her answer today would be the same one she'd given him yesterday, the day before and for the past few weeks. Little did he know, it would take more than a gorgeous face, broad shoulders and tight buns to make her change her mind. She had to admit, though, there was definitely something about muscle shirts and jeans that clearly defined a well-built male body.
"Thanks for the invitation, but I'll be busy," she responded.
He simply smiled, and that softening around his lips actually sharpened her senses as if they weren't keen enough already where he was concerned. "One of these days I'm going to follow you home to find out just how you're spending your evenings," he said in a deep and throaty voice.
Definitely without you in them, she thought, wondering if perhaps she was making a mistake by avoiding him, as her best friend, Kimani Cannon, claimed. According to Kim, whenever the Holy Terror made a pass, any normal woman would run with it and rush for the goal line, not turn away like she constantly did. Kim thought the man was as gorgeous as any man had a right to be, and wildly sexy. Grudgingly, Sherri could only admit Kim was right.
But Terrence also had a reputation a mile long, one she would never be able to tolerate. She hadn't been at the station a week when his breakup with some wealthy socialite had been plastered all over the front page of the Key West Citizen.
She returned her attention to him, wishing he wouldn't say her name like that. Doing so always caused her to remember him in her dreams. And yes, she would admit she'd dreamed about the infuriating man a few times, but as far as she was concerned that meant nothing other than the fact that she was a woman who could appreciate a stunning male with definite sex appeal.
She placed the documents in her hand down on her desk as she met his gaze. "How I spend my evenings shouldn't concern you, Terrence."
He smiled again and she tried like heck to ignore the little shivers that ran down her spine. The man had a dimple in his right cheek, for heaven's sake! She let out a sigh. He was getting to her, and dimple or no dimple, she was determined not to let him. She knew getting her into his bed was all a game to hima game of conquest that she had no intention of playing.
"And what if I said I wanted to make it my concern?" he asked, sitting on the edge of her desk and leaning in close.
She tried to ignore the clean and manly aroma of his aftershave. "In that case I would say you have more time and energy than you really need. You might want to channel them elsewhere."
She watched as his mouthmore specifically, his sinfully sculpted lips bordered by a neatly trimmed mustache and beardeased into a grin. The grin showed his dimple again. She let out a slow breath. If she thought his smile was sexy, then his grin was guaranteed to take a woman's breath away.
"I've been trying to channel them elsewhere for about a month now," he said in a way that told her he still wasn't getting her message. "From the moment I first laid eyes on you I decided to channel all my thoughts, my time and my energy solely on you."
Sherri could only stare at him and wonder if he ever ran out of pick-up lines. Reluctantly, she would even admit he was good at delivering them. It was a good thing that, thanks to Ben Greenfield, she was immune. "Don't waste your time, Terrence."
He shook his head and chuckled, and just like the smile and grin before them the chuckle was explosive. She could feel goose bumps forming on her arm. "It will be time worth wasting," he said, leaning in closer.
She wished she could tell him that she was technically the boss of the radio station and that he was an employee. But she knew that wouldn't work. Terrence and the station's owner, Warrick Fields, were good friends and Terrence's contract stipulated he reported only to Warrick. Everyone's job was to keep the Holy Terror happy, especially since his show received high ratings each week and pulled in huge sponsorships. There was even talk of the show going into syndication next year.
It didn't help matters that Warrick Fields was her mother's twin brother. He had taken her complaints about Terrence with a grain of salt, which proved in this case blood wasn't thicker than water. Uncle Warrick actually thought Terrence's "innocent" flirtation was amusing.
"I can see your mind is busy at work," Terrence said, interrupting her thoughts. "I appreciate a woman who enjoys mulling over things, but now it's you who's wasting time. You can't deny this chemistry between us."
No, she couldn't deny it. Nor would she act on it. "I hate to rush you off, Terrence, but as you can see I have plenty to do."
He glanced at her desk. "I'm going to have to talk to Warrick about that. He shouldn't work you so hard. You should have playtime."
She rolled her eyes and imagined just what kind of playtime he was talking about. "I don't need you to run interference for me. I can hold my own. Thank you."
"If you're sure," he said, smiling and getting to his feet.
"Then I'll let you get back to work."
Sherri let out a relieved breath when he turned and headed toward the door. Just her luck, he stopped before walking over the threshold and turned back around. When he caught her gaze, she felt the thud deep in her chest at the same time a heated sensation traveled down her spine. He stood there in her doorway, all six foot three of him, and she could only stare at the well-built body. And his dark eyes were focused right on her.
"I won't give up, Sherri. I think you know that," he said in a determined tone. Not intimidating, not threatening. Just promising and unwavering.
Yes, she did know that, and the thought that one day he just might succeed made her pulse pound. But she would continue to resist him since getting involved in a relationship was the last thing on her mind. Building a career at the station was her top priority.
She made no response to what he'd said. He really didn't give her a chance since he then turned and walked out the door, closing it behind him. Only then did she lean back in her chair and breathe. His masculine scent lingered in her office and she reached out and touched the spot on her desk where he'd sat. It was hot. The man was so hot-blooded he was capable of leaving heat behind.
He was determined to make trouble and she was just as determined not to let him. She had a job to do. Uncle Warrick was thinking about retiring in another year and he wanted her to be ready to take over as station manager when he did so. She would prove to her uncle that his faith in her was not a mistake, and that she would be more than capable of managing the day-to-day operations of WLCK. Although it seemed the Holy Terror was not going to make her job easy, there was no way she would let him get in the way of her achieving her goal.
She stood and walked to the window and looked out. Key West was a beautiful seaport city and WLCK served the people by being one of the most popular stations in the area. She loved working here.
She had arrived almost a month ago and discovered the radio station that her uncle owned was a nice size compared to others she'd seen. Although the pay scale wasn't any higher, not too many other stations could boast of having an ocean within walking distance.
The first change she had implemented upon taking the job was reinstating the dress code. According to Uncle Warrick, there had always been a dress code, but somewhere down the line the employees had ignored it, reasoning that it didn't matter how they looked since the audience couldn't see them.
Sherri believed in dressing professionally, and in the end she and the staff had compromised. The too-laid-back attire of shorts and flip-flops had gotten ruled out and replaced by business casual, with the majority of the employees wearing jeans and tops.
Personally, she'd never been a jeans-wearing woman. While working around a more aristocratic crowd at her uncle's station in D.C., she had gotten used to business suits. Going from professional to casual wasn't as easy as she'd thought, but she was working on it.
She glanced at her watch and walked back over to her desk. Terrence's sports talk show would be airing in a few minutes and she wanted to tune in. Each office was equipped with an intercom that broadcasted all the shows so you could listen at will. Not that she was all into sports, but she made a habit of tuning in to his show, which filled an hour time slot twice a week.
Flipping on the dial of the radio unit beside her desk, she leaned back in her chair and slipped off her shoes with a long sigh. She'd spend the next hour with Terrence Jefferies. The man who was trying to get next to herand the man she was determined to ignore.
Terrence couldn't help but smile after hanging up the phone from talking to his sister. Olivia was happy and he was happy for her. It seemed the ugly hands of disaster hadn't caught her in their clutches the way they had his father.
His mother had walked out on his old man, leaving him with the task of becoming a single father with three kids to raise. Terrence had been ten at the time, Duan twelve and Olivia only three. Things might not have been so bad if the man his mother had run off with hadn't had a wife and kid of his own.
He was glad Olivia hadn't listened to their father a few months back when he found out she'd gotten serious about a guya guy who just happened to be running against their father for a senate seat in the Georgia General Assembly. She had married Reggie Westmoreland and now she had a man who loved her and a huge family who had embraced her with a warm and sincere welcome.
Terrence glanced at his watch. He had already touched base with Cullen Carlisle, better known as CC, whom he'd hired to manage Club Hurricane a few years ago. According to CC, things were pretty busy for a Tuesday night, which wasn't surprising considering this was the first week in June. Every year at this time college students headed south before making the trip home, wherever home was for them.
So far there had been only one situation where CC, who stood two inches taller than Terrence and weighed close to two-fifty, had had to intervene to bring order.