Patrice McClendon wants to create a signature scent for her family's aromatherapy and day spa this Valentine's Day. The holiday is crucial for the family business, even if Patrice has never been a hearts and flowers kind of girl. But creating the fragrance isn’t easy, and Patrice needs help. She gets that and more when she meets successful perfumer Jacques Germain.
There are instant sparks when Jacques meets Patrice, but she’s asked him for professional help, and mixing business with pleasure is a no-no. But they soon realize that none of the rules apply when love is involved, and Jacques is determined to show Patrice that Valentine's Day can bring gifts more precious than anything money can buy.
Each book in the McClendon Holiday series is STANDALONE:
* A McClendon Thanksgiving
* The Christmas Promise
* A Husband by New Year's
* Be My Valentine
About the Author
Sean began writing romance at the encouragement of her dear friend Christian Fiction Author Jacquelin Thomas. After the release of her first two novels TOTAL BLISS and WITH THIS RING in 2005&2006, Sean continued to work diligently at her craft and her next novel.
FROM THIS MOMENT, the second installment in the Hearts and Flowers Series, was released in January 2011. At an early age, Sean found that she loved words and tried to read everything she could get her hands on. She joined her first book club “Sweet Pickles” at the age of 7. Writing would come later, when she wrote short stories for her own enjoyment, then she wrote the Easter play for the youth at her church at the age of 12.
Sean, a graphic/web designer loves building websites and graphics almost as much as she loves writing her stories. She loves working in her church and lives in Northwest Indiana with her family.
Read an Excerpt
"What are you trying to say to me, Mr. Fields?" Jacques Germain asked.
"Well, Mr. Germain, I just can't believe that someone broke into your laboratory right before the launch of a major fragrance," Roger Fields said, sitting with his hands threaded, resting on the polished surface on the conference room table.
Jacques gave a slight nod. "Yes, that's exactly what I'm telling you, sir."
"There was no sign of a break-in, no footprints, no broken glass, but everything pertaining to the formula for this particular scent has just vanished into thin air," he spat. "Someone gained access to the lab and we need to find out who and how."
Jacques sat up straight in his chair, all the while keeping his eyes on Roger Fields. He'd worked with the senior management executive since starting his career. In the six years he'd been at Fairchild, they'd always had a pleasant enough relationship. But, today was different; he could hear it in Roger's voice and see it in his mannerism.
Planting his feet firmly on the ground in an effort to keep his cool, Jacques adjusted his body in the black leather chair. He could feel his anger rising and he could see himself punching the bald-headed man with the wildly bushy eyebrows in his wrinkly face but that wouldn't be good. It would only escalate the issue and potentially get him arrested. Going to jail wasn't on his agenda for the day, but to be accused of stealing something that he'd created was just utterly ridiculous.
Leaning forward, Jacques clasped his hands together and said, "I don't have any reason to lie to you. Do you know how many man hours it took my team to come up with that formula?"
"That cologne could have potentially taken us to the number one spot in the men's category," Roger said.
Jacques's eyes swept the room, seeking to read the stoic expressions on the other three men's faces who were sitting at the table. He guessed that they were all of the same mind and Roger was acting as their mouthpiece. He didn't need anyone to remind him of the possibilities the musky scent could have afforded for the company as well as created for him as a perfumer.
"Because you have no samples and all the notes you took are gone, we can't even recreate it. We were planning to launch a new campaign in time for Valentine's Day," Roger said. "It was going to cost us a pretty penny."
And that's my problem because? Jacques knew full well they couldn't recreate the smell even if they had the ingredients. If the proportions aren't on point, the exact scent could never be replicated.
"Mr. Fields, the notes as well as the formula were in the safe under lock and key."
"That's precisely my point. And you have the key."
Silence swept across the room for several minutes. Jacques sat quietly, stared Roger in his eye, while thinking about his next move. "There are two other people who have a key to that lab as well. Let's not forget that," Jacques said.
Straightening in his chair, Roger cleared his throat. "Jacques, as the head perfumer, you are the one responsible."
"I'm not dodging my responsibility, but everyone who has a key has a part to play in this as well."
Roger leaned farther in his chair, his head touching the high back. "I can't believe you were this careless," he said, moving forward. "We're going to have to investigate thoroughly."
Jacques continued to stare at Roger without saying a word, anger rolling inside of him. He opened his mouth, but immediately closed it because he didn't want his words to come back to haunt him if he said the wrong thing. Roger was trying to provoke him and Jacques was determined not to let him win.
Nodding with understanding, he said, "Roger, do whatever you need to do to get to the bottom of this," Jacques said, calmly.
Roger cleared his throat again, and Jacques knew straightway what his next words would be. "Well, Jacques, until the investigation is over, we're going to have to ask you to take a leave of absence without pay."
This is the last time I work for anyone else. Jacques didn't need a mirror to know that his eyes were dancing in his head. He could feel his heartbeat accelerating, so he took a deep breath. He didn't care about not being paid, it was the mere fact that they were asking him to take off that was the problem. There was no way he was going to continue to subject himself to their underhanded finger pointing.
Leaning back in his chair, Jacques placed his forefinger to his mouth, pondering what he should say. Clearing his throat, he leaned forward slightly and looked at each of the men in the eye before speaking. "You know what, as of right now, I'm giving you my notice."
One of the other men who had been silent up until this point held up his hand. "Now, Jacques, let's not make this personal."
Jacques turned his attention in the man's direction, glaring at him as if the man had lost his mind. Jacques then turned back to Roger and noticed beads of sweat popping up on the crown of his head. "If you are trying to accuse me of Corporate espionage along with being a thief, then how could I not take it personal?"
"Come on, Jacques, let's all be reasonable about this. If you want us to pay you while you're out, then we can discuss it. But again, we've got a company to run here," Roger said.
"I understand that, Roger, and I have my dignity and a reputation to uphold," Jacques said, waiting for the man to respond.
Jacques had been a mentor to every chemist who stepped foot into his lab at Fairchild Ltd. The thirty-six-year-old chemist loved working with young people, sharing his knowledge with them. He reminded them that on-the-job experience could offer them a wealth of knowledge that would stay with them forever. He tried to impress upon them to do their jobs with integrity, respect and never ever look for a short cut because they didn't exist.
After a few minutes, Roger still hadn't responded and Jacques had had enough. There really wasn't anything left to discuss. It was time to cut the ties that bound them together.
Jacques pushed his chair back. "You know what, Roger," he said. "I've created many excellent scents for this company over the years, so I know how good I am. You have the number one, bestselling women's perfume in the country because of me," Jacques said, pointing to himself. "When you needed to come up with a scent for the hottest Hollywood actress in the world, I'm the one that created that delicate perfume which bears her name. All of which added up to a lot of profit for Fairchild."
Roger made a motion with his hands so that Jacques would remain seated. "Jacques, nobody is negating your talent, but we've got to get to the bottom of this."
Jacques stood anyway. "So, you've said. And I'm your number one suspect? You're going to have to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that I did it," he said, adjusting his suit jacket.
"We're only asking you to give us about a month to complete the investigation and then you can come back to work," Roger said.
"No," Jacques said adamantly. "You honestly think that I'm going through all of this, be laid off, without pay, no less, and then continue to work for you knowing that you don't trust me. I don't think so."
Jacques pushed the chair under the table. "You gentlemen have a good day."
Turning on his heel, he headed for the door, ignoring the whispers from the men. He needed to get back to his office to complete some necessary paperwork so that he could leave with things in order.
Jacques quickened his steps, moving down the hall, past his assistant's working station to get to his office. Rounding the desk, he flopped down in his leather chair, stretching his legs out in front of him.
Replaying the conversation in his mind, Jacques was confident that he'd made the right decision to tenure his resignation. In his opinion, he'd done everything right from the beginning by alerting them when he discovered the theft. He'd been with Fairchild for over six years, had never had a cross word with Roger or a bad employee appraisal in all that time.
Jacques had never dreamed that Roger and his cronies would accuse him of being responsible, but that's exactly what happened today. As the lead chemist, the lab was his responsibility, Jacques understood that, but he thought they would work together to find out what happened. In retrospect, being absent while the investigation commenced would help him clear his name of any wrong doing faster. Jacques hoped it would reveal the real culprit.
He'd come up with other scents in the past, but this one was going to change everything. The success of Fever could have recognized him as one of the best perfumers in the industry. That honor could have moved him to another level, but after the meeting this morning, it was clear that he'd have to do it for himself.
Jacques opened his desk drawer and started removing his personal items from it. Suddenly, it hit him that he needed to have Violet, his assistant, type his formal resignation letter.
Jacques rounded his desk, headed for the door. He hoped she had returned, so that he could talk to her. "Violet, I wanted to let you know that I resigned this morning."
"Okay," she whispered, her eyes widened.
He could see by the shocked expression on her face and the unshed tears sparkling in her eyes, that she was surprised by his announcement.
"Can you please type a letter for me that simply says, 'I, Jacques Germain hereby tender my resignation as lead perfumer for Fairchild Ltd. effective immediately'? And I will sign it."
"Thank you," Jacques said as he turned to go back to his office.
A few seconds later, Violet stuck her head in the door. "Jacques, do you need any boxes to put your things in?" Jacques smiled at her. "Yes, that would be great. I would like to get this done within the hour so that I can get out of here." He was surprised that security hadn't come to escort him out already.
"I have a shipping box you can use," she said. "Let me type your letter and then I'll bring the box in for you."
Jacques looked down on the desk at the things he'd already removed from the drawer. "I don't think I'll have a lot, so one box should do it." He didn't want to put anything that was Fairchild property in the box just in case they were trying to gather evidence against him.
"I'll be right back then," Violet said, before closing the door.
After emptying the desk of his personal things, he went to the bookcase on the other side of the room. As he scanned the vast number of titles he had on the shelf, he changed his mind about the number of boxes that he would need. There was no way he would be able to carry all of those books home. He heard a slight knock on the door.
"Come on in, Violet," he said, expecting to see his assistant walk into the room.
Violet held a manila folder in one hand and the empty box in the other. "Here you go, Jacques," she said, placing the box on the floor. "Would you like me to help you?" Jacques gave her a slight smile. "If you wouldn't mind, Violet. I would love your help." He turned to his left. "You can start by putting all of the things I have stacked on the desk in the box you brought in."
Violet looked at him and then the bookshelf. "We're going to need more boxes if you plan to take this stuff home."
"Yes, I was wondering if you would be able to ship my books to me. I know that I can't carry them."
"But of course. I'll call down to the mailroom since they have all kinds of boxes, we should be able to pick up something from them."
Jacques walked over to Violet and gave her a brief hug. "Thank you so much for being my eyes and ears around here the past six years. You have been invaluable to me and I'm going to miss seeing your smiling face."
"I'm going to miss you too, but let's get this together so you can get out of here," Violet said as she picked up the box and walked over to the desk. Picking up the phone she made the call for more containers to be brought up to Jacques's office.
Jacques lifted the folder from the desk and opened it. He took a black ink pen from the holder and scanned the letter before signing it. "Violet, I'm going to Roger's office so that I can give him this letter."
"Make sure you make a copy first, Jacques," Violet reminded him.
Walking to the door, he held up the paper. "I'll stop by the copy room on my way to his office. Thanks for the reminder."
As he approached Roger's office, Jacques was more confident than ever that what he was doing was best for him. He knocked on the closed office door and waited.
"Come in," he heard from the other side.
With determined steps, Jacques made sure that his face was void of any expression. He didn't want to give Roger some inkling of what he was feeling. He walked into the office and handed the letter to executive. "It has been wonderful, thanks for the experience," he said, extending his hand to the older man.
Roger stood and shook his hand. "Jacques, you don't have to do this," he said before releasing Jacques's hand.
"This is best," Jacques said, placing his hand to his side.
"Are you leaving New York?" Roger wanted to know.
"If you need to talk to me, you can contact my attorney, John Friedman," Jacques responded before turning to walk away.
After a few steps, he stopped and turned back to Roger. "As a matter of fact, I'll alert him now just to make sure he knows what's going on." With that, he turned and left Roger's office without another word.
Stopping back at his office, Jacques removed his nameplate and threw it in the box with his other things. He'd asked Violet to just ship everything to his apartment at one time because he didn't want to carry anything out of the building. He pulled his winter coat from the rack and slipped his arms through it while he walked to the elevator. What a way to start off the New Year. On the way down, he compared it to starting over. He was on the ground floor, so it was time for a new start.
* * *
Celebrating Valentine's Day for Patrice McClendon wasn't all hearts and flowers. No, the thirty-year-old aroma therapist despised the day that was supposedly set aside for couples. Every year the lover's holiday had become more and more commercialized. Storefront displays with cupid armed with a bow-and-arrow dangling from the ceiling surrounded by pink and red chocolate hearts and mannequins of all body types flanked store windows in sexy lingerie. Other paraphernalia that was splattered all over every outlet for print, television and the web promoting, love, sex, and perfume.
To Patrice all of it was meaningless hype. Specifically, when you take into consideration that most of the people who came into her boutique to purchase a gift, bought more than one gift. It would make her stomach turn when a guy would find the perfect scented gift, then say, "now let me find one for my wife" or if it was a woman doing the shopping vice versa. No, chocolate hearts and flowers, candlelight dinners and expensive gifts pretending to show love to their soul mate, Patrice didn't want any part of it. She always wondered what happened the morning after. As far as she was concerned, she could buy her own gifts and candy.
Everybody didn't share a love like her parents, Russell and Myra McClendon. And because her family was big on holidays, Patrice kept her disdain for this particular one to herself. Instead of thinking about the day personally, she focused on how Valentine's Day could help her aromatherapy and spa business. Hallmark cards, Victoria's Secret and Russell Stover's always made a killing, so she wanted to join the ranks.
Tapping into her mother's years of experience in creating soothing, sensual scents and products would only make sense. She just hoped that her mother would agree with her ideas, so she decided to invite her to come into the boutique.
A light knock at her door caught Patrice's attention. She looked up to see her mother standing in the threshold.
"Good morning, Treecie," Myra McClendon said to her daughter, as she entered the small office. "We could have talked about this at my house."
That thought had crossed Patrice's mind, but she wanted her mother's undivided attention. Leaving her chair, she walked over to Myra and kissed her on the cheek.
"Morning. I know, but I wanted the right atmosphere," Patrice replied, going back to her seat. She lifted the lid of her laptop and clicked the mouse to bring up her meeting notes.
Myra shrugged out of her coat and sat in one of the empty chairs at the small table in the corner of the room. "Okay, then I'm listening."
"I have some great ideas to move the business forward."
"Let me hear what you've come up with, sweetie."
The smile on her mother's face increased Patrice's excitement about her idea. "I think that we should create a signature fragrance."
Excerpted from "Be My Valentine"
Copyright © 2018 Sean D. Young.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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