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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 nighta little more than a year agowhen 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 herthe perfect woman he had been holding out for all these years.
The only thing that hadn't happened as he'd assumed it would 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 lookalike.
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 oneVanessaworked 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-se-duce-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 Joc-elyn. According to her, you found her and Bas the perfect house."
Lena chuckled. "Finding the right home for Joc-elyn was easy. She knew exactly what she wanted."
"Then I should be easy as well since I know exactly what I want, Lena."
There was something about the way Morgan had said the words that had heat flowing hot and heavy through her bloodstream. Was she imagining things or had his voice dropped just a little when he'd made the statement? Deciding she was imagining things she took a deep breath and said, "I need to know your likes and dislikes, and to find those things out there're a series of questions I need to go through to make sure we're on the same page as to what you're looking for in a home." She reached for the briefcase she had placed by her chair, opened it and pulled out a tablet.
"Ready?" she asked, glancing back up at him.
"Yes, ask away," he said, moving around his desk to take the chair behind it.
"Okay. Are you interested in a single-story or a two-story structure?"
She nodded as she jotted the information down. "Do you anticipate doing a lot of entertaining?"
She glanced up. "Because if you are, you might want to consider a home with a courtyard, a swimming pool or a larger-than-normal living room area."
"Umm, I have a swimming pool at my present home so I'd want to purchase a house with another one. Do you swim, Lena?"
She looked surprised by his question. "Yes."
He nodded. "I'd like another pool and a nice yard. It really doesn't matter how big the living room is as long as the house has a nice-size bedroom. That's where I plan to spend most of my time."
Figures, she thought, jotting the information down. She couldn't help the visual that suddenly flashed through her mind of a sleeping Morgan tangled in silken sheets. "What about the size of the kitchen?"
"What about it?"
She tried not to roll her eyes to the ceiling. "Do you cook a lot? If so, then you might want a home with a large kitchen."
He shrugged. "No, I don't plan on spending a lot of time in the kitchen but my wife might."
She lifted her head from the paper and met his gaze. "Wife?"
"Yes, or perhaps I should say future wife."
"Are congratulations in order?"
"No. But I'm making sure I cover all bases since I don't intend to move again. Whoever becomes the future Mrs. Morgan Steele will be moving into that house with me."
"What if she doesn't like the decor?"
"Then she's free to change it."
Lena nodded. "What about your present home?"
"I want you to sell it."
"All right. Anything other than the swimming pool and large bedroom that you're looking for in the new house? Do you have a preference for carpet or wood floors?"
Again he shrugged. "Doesn't matter to me. Which do you suggest?"
She shrugged her own shoulders. "Either is fine, it's a matter of taste."
"All right, I guess you can show me both."
"That won't be a problem. Now, for your present home, I would need to see it and I prefer that you're there with me when I do."
"So you can point out some things about it that I might overlook, key selling points. We can do a tour and you can tell me things you like most about your house that might hook an interested buyer."
"Okay, you can arrange a date and time with my secretary," he said, trying not to sound too anxious.
"I'm flying out tomorrow on a business trip and won't be back until the end of the week."
"That's fine and I'll get on this right away."
"Thanks, I'd appreciate it."
She stood and glanced over at him. "Any particular time frame you're aiming for to be in your new home?"
"Not particularly. How long do you think it will take?" he asked, coming to his feet as well.
"I don't anticipate it taking long. There are several new subdivisions going up around Charlotte. Is there a certain price range I need to stay in?"
"No. If it's something I want, then I intend to get it."
Another heated sliver passed down her spine with his comment. It seemed he had been looking directly in her eyes when he'd made the statement, but of course she knew she was again imagining things after studying his impassive expression. "All right, then. I'll be in touch when you return. I hope you have a nice trip."
She gathered her briefcase and headed for the door.
She glanced back over her shoulder. "Yes?"
"How's your mother?"
Lena couldn't help but smile. No matter when she saw Morgan, he was always kind enough to inquire about her mother. "Mom is fine. Thanks for asking."
Lena quickly made it to the door. Without looking back she opened it and stepped out, grateful for her escape. She could handle only so much heat shivering down her spine.
When Lena made it to her car she leaned back against the seat, letting her neck relax against the headrest before snapping her seat belt in place. She had been in Morgan's presence less than thirty minutes, but from the way her heart was beating it seemed longer.
There were times when a part of her longed not to be the responsible and sensible person she was. Every once in a while she was tempted to become her Gemini twin, the one who wasn't the good girl; the one who wouldn't hesitate to let her hair down, throw caution to the wind and walk boldly on the wild side. And the first thing she would do is take on a man like Morgan Steele and see if she could hold her own with him. Just the thought of having a one-night stand to feed the sudden, intense hunger she would get whenever she watched a romantic movie, or indulged in those romance novels her secretary would pass on to her, made her breasts tingle.
If she ever became her wannabe mischievous twin, that meant having the courage to trade her sensible four-door sedan in for that two-seater convertible she always wantedand turning her nighttime fantasies into reality by behaving in such a way that would blow a fuse just thinking about. She didn't want to dwell on all the naughty pleasures she would have.
Lena immediately dismissed the thoughts of her less than sensible twin, knowing she could never do anything like that. Her life was what it was and she couldn't change it. She wasn't the mischievous twin, she was the good one who had responsibilities that took precedence over anything else, including her desire to have Morgan Steele in her bed. Her mother came first.