The Ex Who Hired Her (Harlequin Presents Extra Series #195)

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Overview

Memo to self: when you work with your ex, keep all thoughts strictly business!

No matter how wickedly kissable those luscious lips, or how sinfully seductive those endless legs, tycoon Jordan Smith wants nothing to do with his ex-lover Alexandra Bennett.

Only Alex is his new hotshot employee! Their sizzling chemistry can't be denied, and working late nights soon drives them both crazy with need….

It's becoming...

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The Ex Who Hired Her (Harlequin Presents Extra Series #195)

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Overview

Memo to self: when you work with your ex, keep all thoughts strictly business!

No matter how wickedly kissable those luscious lips, or how sinfully seductive those endless legs, tycoon Jordan Smith wants nothing to do with his ex-lover Alexandra Bennett.

Only Alex is his new hotshot employee! Their sizzling chemistry can't be denied, and working late nights soon drives them both crazy with need….

It's becoming impossible to resist—but with so much painful history between them, can breaking up ever lead to making up…for good?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373528639
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 4/3/2012
  • Series: Harlequin Presents Extra Series , #195
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 184
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.60 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Kate Hardy always loved books and could read before she went to school. She always knew that she wanted to be a writer, and her parents bought her a proper typewriter for her sixth birthday. She discovered Mills & Boon when she was twelve and decided this was what she wanted to do. When she isn't writing Kate enjoys going to the beach, playing games, cooking, reading and watching films. You can contact her via her website: www.katehardy.co

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Read an Excerpt

Xandra Bennett.

Jordan would just bet she'd changed the spelling of her name, on the grounds that it made her sound more like a marketing hotshot than plain 'Sandra'. He just hoped there was enough substance to back up the style. Maybe there would be; the recruitment agency had obviously thought enough of her to ask Field's for a last-minute interview. Though, after an entire day listening to the bright and not-so-bright ideas of the people who were desperate to become the next marketing manager of Field's department store, Jordan wasn't really in the mood for someone who was all style and glitz.

Last one, he told himself. Last one, and then I can get on with my work.

His PA opened the door. 'Ms Bennett.'

And, as Xandra Bennett walked into his office, Jordan forgot how to breathe.

It was her.

Of all the department stores in all the towns in all the world, she walked into his.

Different name, different hair, and she'd clearly swapped her glasses for contact lenses, but it was definitely her. Alexandra Porter. His whole body tingled. Last time he'd seen her, she'd been eighteen, with mousy-brown hair that fell almost to her waist when he'd loosened it from its customary plait. And she'd worn clothing typical of a shy eighteen-year-old girl: scruffy trainers, nondescript jeans and baggy T-shirts that hid her curves.

Now, she looked every inch the marketing professional. A sharp, well-cut business suit that flattered her curves without making them look ostentatious; a sleek jaw-length bob with highlights so skilfully done that the copper and gold strands looked as though they'd been brought out naturally by the sun; and highend designer heels that made her legs look as if they went on for ever.

And she still had a mouth that sent shivers through him.

He pushed the thought away. He didn't want to think about Alexandra Porter and her lush, generous mouth. The mouth he'd once taught how to kiss.

She masked it quickly, but he'd been watching her closely enough to see the shock on her face. She recognised him, too, and hadn't expected to see him here, either. .or had she? He didn't trust her as far as he could drop his pen onto the desk. Back then she'd turned out to be a manipulative liar, and that wasn't the kind of personality trait that changed with age. Was Bennett the man she'd dumped him for? Or had she then dumped him as soon as she'd found someone else who could offer her more?

Maybe he should tell her that the position was already filled and he wasn't going to do any more interviews. except that would mean explaining his reasons to his co-interviewers—explanations he'd rather not have to give.

Jordan Smith.

Alexandra felt sick to her stomach. He was the last person she'd expected to see. Ten years ago, she'd vowed never to have anything to do with him again. She'd never forgiven him for not being there when she'd needed him most. For lying to her. For letting her down. It had taken her years to rebuild her life; and now, just when her dreams were in reach, he was right in her way all over again.

The tall, slightly gangly student she'd known had filled out; he was far from being fat, but his shoulders were broader and his build more muscular. His mouth still had that sensual curve, promising pleasure—not that she wanted to remember how much pleasure his mouth was capable of giving.

The scruffy jeans and T-shirt he'd usually worn back then had been replaced by a designer suit and what looked like a handmade shirt and a silk tie. There was the faintest touch of silver at his temples—well, of course hair that dark would show the grey quickly. And he definitely had an air of authority. He'd grown into his looks; more than that, he'd grown into the kind of man who just had to breathe to have women falling at his feet.

As the CEO of Field's, Jordan Smith would have the final say over who got the job.

Which left her. .where? On the reject pile, because she'd be a permanent reminder of his guilt—of the fact that he'd abandoned her when she was eighteen and pregnant with his baby? Or would he give her the job, even if she wasn't the best candidate, because he felt he owed it to her for wrecking her life all those years ago? And, if he did offer her the job, would she take it, knowing that she'd have to work with him?

The questions whizzed round her head. Then she realised that one of the panel had said something to her and was waiting for a reply. Oh, great. Now they'd think she had the attention span of a gnat and would be a complete liability rather than an asset to the firm. Bye, bye, new job. Well, she had nothing to lose now. She might as well treat this as a practice interview. Afterwards, instead of licking her wounds, she could analyse her performance and see where she needed to sharpen up, ready for the next interview.

'I'm so sorry. I'm afraid I didn't catch that,' she said, giving the older man an apologetic smile.

'I'm Harry Blake, the personnel manager,' he said, smiling back. 'This is Gina Davidson, the deputy store manager.' He paused for long enough to let Alexandra exchange a greeting and shake the deputy manager's hand. 'And this is Jordan Smith, the CEO.'

Jordan had to be a good twenty years younger than his colleagues. He was only thirty now. How had he made CEO of such a traditional company that fast?

Stupid question. Of course Jordan would be on the fast track, wherever he worked. He'd always been bright; his mind had attracted her teenage self just as much as his face. A man who could speak three other languages as fluently as his own; who knew all the European myths, not just the Greek and Roman ones; who knew Shakespeare even better than she did, back in the days when she still wanted to lecture on Renaissance drama. Dreams that had shattered and died, along with—

Alexandra pushed the thought away.

There was no way round it; she was going to have to be polite and shake his hand. She forced herself to keep her handshake brief, firm and businesslike and to ignore the tingles running along every nerve end as his skin touched hers. But then she made the mistake of looking into his eyes.

Midnight blue. Arresting. His eyes had caught her attention, the very first time she'd met him. Sweet seventeen and never been kissed. Until that night, when he'd seen beyond her image of the geeky girl with the mousy hair and glasses who didn't really fit in with everyone else at the party and had come over to talk to her. He'd danced with her. Kissed her.

She swallowed hard, and looked away, willing the memories to stay back.

She couldn't meet his eyes, Jordan noticed. Guilt? Not that it mattered, because as far as he was concerned she wasn't getting this job. No way was she going to be back into his life, not even in a work capacity. He'd get through this interview, and then he'd never have to set eyes on her again.

As the personnel manager, Harry was officially the one conducting the interview, so Jordan sat back and listened to him take Alexandra through the same questions he'd asked the others. Her answers were pretty much as he expected, so he glanced through her CV again. And then something stood out at him. The date she'd given for her A levels was three years after the date he remembered her being due to take them. Why? She'd been a straight-A student, the last person he'd expect to fail her exams.

Had the guilt of what she'd done finally hit her in the middle of her exams, so she'd messed them up? But, in that case, why had it taken her three years to retake them? And she didn't have the English degree he'd expected, either. She'd planned to become a lecturer, so why was she working in business instead of in an academic role?

He shook himself. It was none of his business, and he didn't want to know the answers.

He really didn't.

'Any questions?' Harry asked his colleagues.

Gina smiled. 'Not at this stage.'

And here was Jordan's opportunity to show everyone that Xandra Bennett was completely unsuitable. 'We did ask all the other candidates to prepare a presentation on how to take Field's forward,' he pointed out.

'But the agency added Xandra to the list at the very last minute,' Harry said, with a slight frown at Jordan. 'So it wouldn't be fair to expect her to give a presentation.'

'Not a formal presentation, of course,' Jordan agreed. 'But I do expect my senior staff to be able to think on their feet. So we'd like to hear your ideas, Ms Bennett. How would you see us taking Field's forward?'

Her eyes widened for a moment; she clearly knew that he was challenging her. And it was obvious that she also knew he was expecting her to fail.

Then she lifted her chin and gave him an absolutely glittering smile. The professional equivalent of making an extremely rude hand gesture. 'Of course, Mr Smith. Obviously, if this were a real situation, the first thing I'd ask is what the budget and the timescales are.'

She was the first person that day to mention budgets and timescales; the other candidates had just assumed. And some of them had assumed much more money than was available, talking about putting on TV spots in prime-time viewing. Completely unrealistic.

'And secondly I'd ask what you meant by taking Field's forward. Are you looking to attract a different customer base without losing the loyalty of your existing customers? Or do you want to offer your existing customers more services so they buy everything from Field's, rather than buy certain products and services from another supplier?'

Both Harry and Gina were sitting up a little straighter, clearly interested. She'd gone straight to the heart of their dilemma.

'What do you think?' Jordan asked.

'I'd start by doing an audit of your customers. Who they are, what they want, and what Field's isn't offering them now. And I'd talk to your staff. Do you have a staff suggestion scheme?'

'We used to,' Gina said.

'I'd reinstate it,' Alexandra said. 'Your staff know their products and their customers. They know what sells, what the seasonal trends are, and what their customers are looking for. They're the ones who are going to come up with the best suggestions for taking Field's forward—and I'd say that your marketing manager's job is to evaluate those suggestions, cost them, and work out which ones are going to have the most impact on sales.'

'Do you buy from us, Ms P—' Jordan had to correct himself swiftly '—Bennett?'

'No, I don't.'

That surprised him. He'd been so sure she'd claim to shop here all the time. She wasn't planning to curry favour that way, then. 'Why not?'

'Because as far as I can tell your range of clothes isn't targeted at my age group, the pharmacy chains have much better deals than you do on the perfume and make-up I buy, and I'm not in the market for fine crystal, silverware and porcelain dinner services,' she said.

Wow. She was the first of their candidates to criticise the store. And he could see that she'd taken Harry and Gina's breath away, too. 'So Field's is too traditional for you?' He couldn't resist needling her.

'Field's has one hundred and five years of tradition to look back on,' she said. 'Which should be a strength; being around for a long time shows your customers that they can rely on you. But it's also a weakness, because younger customers are going to see Field's as old-fashioned. As far as they're concerned, you sell nothing they'd be interested in. This is where their parents shop. Or even their grandparents. And you need to counteract that opinion.'

'So how would you raise their interest?' And, heaven help him, she'd already raised his own interest. Her comments were the best thing he'd heard all day. Her criticisms were completely constructive and she'd given solid reasons for her views. Reasons that he'd been thinking of, himself.

'Taking myself as a prospective customer—if you tempted me into the store by, say, a pop-up shop showcasing a hot new make-up brand I'm interested in, and you set it up next to my favourite designer's ready-to-wear range, then I'd realise that maybe I'd got the wrong idea about Field's. I'd be tempted to look around the store. If you sell what I want, at the right price, and your store loyalty scheme's good enough to tempt me away from my current supplier, then you'll get my business.'

He really couldn't fault that.

'And I'd also take a look at your online presence. Your website needs to be dynamic and involved with social media. Do you have an online community?'

'Not at the moment,' Gina said. 'How would you see one working?'

That was the moment that Alexandra really lit up. Suddenly she was shining, full of enthusiasm and bringing everyone along with her. 'Forums, hosted maybe by selected members of staff. Not all the time, just five minutes now and then. You could invite customers to be an expert in their field and share their tips. And you definitely need a plan for taking advantage of new media, if you're looking to attract a younger audience. Look at how they use social media and mobile media, and how you could make that work for Field's.' She rattled off a few examples—all practical ones.

Jordan glanced at her CV again. In her last job, she'd been responsible for online marketing, so she knew exactly what she was talking about. He made a mental note to look up her old company's website to see what she'd done there.

'Thank you, Ms Bennett. No further questions from me,' he said.

'Are there any questions you'd like to ask us?' Harry asked.

'Not at this stage,' Alexandra said with a smile. A polite smile, Jordan noticed, rather than a triumphant one; she clearly wasn't taking it for granted that her interview had gained her a ticket to the next round.

'Then thank you, Ms Bennett,' Gina said. 'If you'd like to wait outside for a couple of minutes?'

Jordan was aware of every single step Alexandra took as she crossed to the door. And, although he tried hard not to look, he couldn't help himself. Ten years ago, she'd been sweet and shy, her beauty hidden away; now, she was polished and confident, and any man with red blood in his veins would stand up a little straighter and try to catch her eye. He hated the fact that she could still make him react physically; so it was just as well he wouldn't have to see her again. Working with her would drive him crazy.

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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2012

    This is one of the better written Harlequin's I've read and I wo

    This is one of the better written Harlequin's I've read and I would recommend this author. I will archive this book to read again in the future, which has to mean it was very good.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2012

    Okay

    Story of misunderstandings messages not given or received love wins in the end. Harlequin Presents outline for most of there stories.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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