Almost Forever (Spencer-Nyle Company Series #2)

Almost Forever (Spencer-Nyle Company Series #2)

by Linda Howard

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Original)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781551669342
Publisher: MIRA Books
Publication date: 07/31/2002
Series: Spencer-Nyle Company Series , #2
Edition description: Original
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 4.19(w) x 6.63(h) x 0.69(d)

About the Author

Linda Howard is an award-winning author whose New York Times bestsellers include Open Season, All the Queenâ's Men, Mr. Perfect, Kill and Tell, and Son of the Morning. She lives in Alabama with her husband and two golden retrievers.

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Almost Forever

By Linda Howard

Harlequin Enterprises

Copyright © 2002 Harlequin Enterprises
All right reserved.

ISBN: 155166934X

Chapter One

Anson Edwards sat alone in his big plush office, his fingers steepled as he weighed the strengths of his two lieutenants, wondering which of the two would be best to send to Houston. His own strength was his ability to analyze quickly and accurately, yet in this instance he didn't want to make a snap decision. Sam Bronson was an enigma, a man who played his cards close to his chest; it wouldn't do to underestimate him. Instinct told Anson that an overt takeover attempt on Bronson's metal alloy company would fail, that Bronson was wily enough to have hidden assets. Anson had to discover what those assets were, and their value, before he could realistically expect victory in his attempt to take Bronson Alloys under Spencer-Nyle's corporate umbrella. He knew that he could take control simply by offering much more than the company could possibly be worth, but that wasn't Anson's way. He had a responsibility to the stockholders of Spencer-Nyle, and he wasn't reckless. He would do what was necessary to take Bronson, but no more.

He could set a team of investigators on the job, but that would alert Bronson, and if Bronson were given any sort of warning he might be able to take evasive action that could drag into months. Anson didn't want this; he wanted things to be over quickly. The best betwould be one man, a man whom he could trust in any situation. He trusted both Rome Matthews and Max Conroy completely, but which man would be the best one for the job?

Rome Matthews was his handpicked, personally trained successor; Rome was tough, smart, fair, and he set out to win at everything he did. But Rome had a formidable reputation. He was far too well-known in business circles, and Houston was too close to Dallas for Anson to hope that no one would know him. Rome's very presence would trigger alarm in the business community.

Max Conroy, on the other hand, wasn't that well-known. People tended not to take him as seriously as they did Rome; it was those male-model looks of his, as well as the lazy, good-humored image he projected. People just didn't expect Max to work as hard at something as Rome would. But there was steel in Max Conroy, a ruthlessness that he kept skillfully disguised. That famous affability of his was only a pose; he kept the almost fearsome intensity of his character under strict control. Those who didn't know him were always completely fooled, expecting him to be more playboy than executive.

So it would have to be Max, who would have a better chance of quietly gathering information.

Anson picked up a file again, leafing through the pages of information about key personnel with Bronson Alloys. Nothing could be learned from Bronson himself; the man was wary, and a genius. But a chain was only as strong as its weakest link, and Anson was determined to find Bronson's weak link.

He came to the photograph of Bronson's secretary and paused. Bronson appeared to trust his secretary completely, though there was no hint of romance between them. Anson frowned as he studied the photograph; the woman was a pretty, dark-eyed blonde, but no great beauty. There was a reserved expression in her dark eyes. She had been married to Jeff Halsey, the heir of a wealthy Houston family, but they had divorced five years ago. She was thirty-one now and hadn't remarried. Anson checked her name: Claire Westbrook.

Thoughtfully he leaned back in his chair. Would she be vulnerable to Max's seductive charm? It remained to be seen. Then he tapped the photograph in sudden decision. Claire Westbrook just might be the weak link in Bronson's chain.

* * *

Claire slipped through the double doors onto the terrace and walked to the waist-high fieldstone wall that separated the terrace from the flower garden. Resting her hands on the cool stone, she stared blindly at the garden, not seeing the masses of blooms that were highlighted by strategically placed lights. How could Virginia invite Jeff and Helene, knowing that Claire had accepted an invitation? She'd done it deliberately, of course; she'd been gloating at the shock that Claire hadn't been able to hide when her ex-husband arrived at the party with his beautiful, pregnant wife.

Tears burned at the back of Claire's eyes, and she blinked to control them. She thought she could have handled an accidental meeting with aplomb, but she was stunned by Virginia's deliberate cruelty. She and Virginia had never been close friends, but still, she'd never expected this. How ironic that Claire had accepted the invitation only at the urging of her sister, Martine, who thought it would do her good to get out of the apartment and socialize! So much for good intentions, Claire thought wryly, controlling the urge to cry. The episode wasn't worth crying over, and it had taught her a lesson: never trust any of your ex-husband's old girlfriends. Evidently Virginia had never forgiven Claire for being Mrs. Jeff Halsey.

"Did the smoke and noise become too much for you, too?"

Claire whirled around, startled by the words spoken so close to her ear. She'd been certain no one else was on the terrace. Determined not to let anyone know she'd been upset, she lifted one eyebrow in casual inquiry.

The man was silhouetted by the light coming through the double glass doors behind him, making it impossible to see his features, but she was certain she didn't know him. He was tall and lean, his shoulders broad beneath the impeccable cut of his white dinner jacket, and he was so close to her that she could smell the faint clean scent of his cologne.

"I apologize; I didn't intend to startle you," he said, moving to stand beside her. "I saw you come out here and thought I'd enjoy some fresh air, too. We haven't been introduced, have we? Maxwell Benedict."

"Claire Westbrook," she murmured in return. She recognized him now; they hadn't been introduced before, true, but she'd seen him when he had arrived at the party. It was impossible not to notice him. He looked like a model, with thick blond hair and vivid eyes; Claire remembered thinking that a man with a face like his should be short, just to keep the scales balanced. Instead he was tall and moved with a casual masculine grace that drew every feminine eye to him. Despite the chiseled perfection of his face, there was nothing effeminate about him; his looks were wholly masculine, and whenever he looked at a woman, his gaze was full of male appreciation. Pretty women weren't the only ones singled out for the megaton force of his charm; every woman, young or old, plain or pretty, was treated with a mixture of courtesy and appreciation that melted them, one and all, like a snowball in hot summer sunshine.

If he expected her to melt right along with the rest, she thought wryly, he was in for a disappointment. Jeff had taught her some hard lessons about handsome charming men, and she remembered every one of them. She was safe even from this man, whose charm was so potent that it was almost a visible force. He didn't even have to flirt! His spectacular looks and flashing smile stunned, his crisp-edged British accent intrigued, and the quiet baritone of his voice soothed. Claire wondered if his feelings would be hurt when she failed to be impressed.

"I thought you seemed upset when you came out here," he said suddenly, leaning against the wall with total disregard for the condition of his crisp white evening jacket. "Is anything wrong?"

My goodness, all that and he was perceptive, too! Claire shrugged, putting lightness in her tone when she answered, "Not really. I'm just not certain how to handle an awkward situation."

"If that's the case, may I be of any assistance?" His offer was calm, polite, and coolly controlled. Claire paused, vaguely intrigued despite herself. She had expected him to be smooth and sophisticated, but that element of control she sensed in him was out of the ordinary.

Excerpted from Almost Forever by Linda Howard Copyright © 2002 by Harlequin Enterprises
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Almost Forever (Spencer-Nyle Company Series #2) 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i like LH's suspense-thriller-romance much better than just romance. Max is so full of himself and Claire is just a niny, she is strong in some part but not too fun to read. and there are no interesting supporting casts. if you want to kill time, then it's ok, if you want a good chick flick, i think LH's earlier works (come lie with me) is a much better read which was somewhat underrated by other readers/reviewers.
wyvernfriend on LibraryThing 10 months ago
While interesting, this one is pretty dated. I'm sorry, lying is not a good start to a relationship and I would make him grovel a lot more before accepting him. She gives in to him too easily and is too willing to abandon her life and hopes to marry a man who resembles the man she previously divorced, a man who left her as soon as she was "over" her miscarriage. Honestly, a real woman would be a little more cautious, a little more assertive about keeping her job so that if she was left in the lurch again she would have something to fall back on, then again maybe that's me.Claire Westerbrook works for a man who is researching applied metalurgical handwavium, she's his secretary and tries to keep the interference with his research to a minimum. Max Conroy works for a company who is interested in buying out this company and sees Claire as a way in.This story left me with a bad feeling afterwards, I was very disappointed that the characters seemed to just fall into cliche very quickly and she forgives him way to readily for being a louse.
EmScape on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Max Conroy is sent by his boss to gather information about Bronson Alloys in order to facilitate a takeover. He identifies Claire Westbrook as the 'weak link' in the company, the secretary to Bronson himself. Max intends to seduce Claire and get the information out of her, or at least gain access to the office files. What he doesn't count on is finding her 'challenging' and 'attractive' and, of course, 'falling for her.'Initially as Max gets to know Claire he is charming and kind, coaxing her out of the shell she's built around herself to protect herself from guys like him. Claire tells him what he needs to know, and then sleeps with him. Then, of course she finds out who he really is and what he really wanted. Of course, she feels hurt and betrayed and resolves to avoid him. Good choice. Unfortunately, Max is very used to getting what he wants, and he's decided that he wants Claire. He engages in increasingly more high-handed and arrogant behavior. Claire is understandably angry at him, but stupidly decides that she must be so angry because she loves him so much. He forces her to move away from her family to take a job at his office at headquarters, offering her a lot more money. He tells her she'd be a fool to turn it down, effectively giving her the choice of doing what he wants or being 'a fool.' Then, when she accepts the offer, he shows up unexpectedly at her new home in his town on the very day she moves in, offers to help move the furniture, and surreptitiously makes note of her unlisted phone number by reading it off the phone (stalker, much?). He also takes it upon himself to explain his betrayal of Claire to her mother, who is also there, casting himself in a much better light, of course. When Claire asks him what her mother said to that, he tells her 'She understands," when in fact, her mother had threatened him with bodily harm if he ever hurt Claire again. This serves to make Claire feel as though her mother has abandoned her to him and would not be able to turn to her for help. Claire's sister would also offer no quarter: "...he always watched if he were so hungry for you, as if he wanted to absorb you. It gave me the shivers" she goes on to add, showing her poor grasp of the situation, "the good shivers, if you know what I mean." (p. 184) At this point, I threw the book at the wall, having decided that if I had to read about Claire overlooking all of this and marrying Max and pretending that they lived happily ever after, when everything I've just related leads me to believe that within 3 years Claire will be the recipient of regular beatings to everywhere but her face, I would probably throw up.It's possible that I am overreacting to a book written in 1986, when things were slightly different. However, I felt you all ought to know, because if you have the same sort of values and beliefs as I do, you probably shouldn't read this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read a lot of Linda Howard's novels, both straight romance and romantic suspense. This one features two characters who are not terribly likable, and thus, you can't really 'root' for them to get together. He's something of a bully, who can't deal with the fact that she allegedly wants nothing to do with him after she discovers his betrayal of her trust. She, on the other hand, can't stand the fact that he betrayed her trust, but at the same time, she can't live without him. It's very reminiscent of the simpering female characters of old-style romances. Thankfully, Ms. Howard has improved (this novel was written in 1986) in her character development, and I guess everyone is entitled to one 'lemon'!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have always been a lover of Linda's books and she didn't disappoint with this one.I did hope however that the heroine in the book had more backbone and wasn't so quickly forgiving.There were some unexpected twists and dialogue that made this story fun to read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
You won't want to put the book down! If you're into the whole 'old-fashioned' guys with so much spaz and romance then go get this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Excellent Plot and characters!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read and really enjoyed her other books but this one is predictable and boring. Just a few hot scenes and trite plot.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is absolutely fabulous. I read it 2 times and I'm still loving it very such. This book just keeps you going from the beginning to the end. This is one of her best books ever!! I can't wait for more book from Linda Howard.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am an avid Linda Howard reader, but this was not one of my favoties. I enjoyed reading certain parts of this book, but I just could not get into it. I felt like there was nothing there that really grabbed my attention.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Like all her books Howard gives her best romantic side of story that make us wish and have things that only in novels happen. Read it, you will definely enjoy it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was my very first Linda Howard book and ever since then I've read practically all her books!! It was also my first romance book so now I'm hooked on her...she has an incredible talent. its just too bad she doesn't publish her books fast enough
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was the first book I had read by Linda Howard. Since then I have read ten others. She's an amazing author, with the ability to captivate and entice your mind. A must read!