A satisfying category romance from Entangled's brand new Lovestruck imprint…
This CEO has finally met his match...
When New York matchmaker Addison St. Claire is tasked with matching her best friend's new brother-in-law, she almost refuses. But the sexy southern CEO turns out to be a challenge she can't resist, because if anyone needs to meet his soul mate, it's this man. And if matching him with someone else removes the temptation of being near him? Even better.
The last thing Caine McNeill needs is a matchmaker—especially a gorgeous redhead who spouts nonsense about soul mates, critiques what he drives and how he dresses, buys him a dog, and pesters him about a million little things he couldn't care less about. It's a crying shame he has to keep his hands off because chemistry like what's flaring between them ought to be explored. Thoroughly.
And so the battle begins. Addison is determined to stick to her plan of setting him up on dates with other women, and Caine is equally determined to ignore these women and seduce her.
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Meeting His Match
A Match Me Story
By Katee Robert, Heather Howland, Kari Olson
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2014 Katee Robert
All rights reserved.
Addison St. Claire hurried through the restaurant, hating that she was late. Punctuality wasn't usually a problem for her, but she'd been so busy arguing with one of her high-maintenance clients that she'd completely lost track of time.
If she could just convince Sarah Roberts to lower her standards a little, Addison was sure the woman would find happiness. But for Sarah, the perfect man seemed to equal dollar signs, so they'd been butting heads constantly over the choices in dates she'd made.
But that was neither here nor there. For the first time in what felt like months, she had a lunch appointment that was strictly pleasure and had nothing to do with interviewing potential clients of Connected at the Lips.
She nodded at the maître d' and moved deeper into the restaurant. The large windows overlooking the street let in plenty of sunlight, and the white and beige coloring only opened the small space up further. Even in a place filled with beautiful women and prominent New Yorkers, there was no mistaking Regan Wakefield. She was in a league all her own.
Regan smiled as she took the seat across the table. She looked as put-together as usual, her dark hair done up in an effortless professional style and her makeup without a single smudge. Happiness looked good on her. "Busy putting out fires?"
"As usual." Addison let out a pent-up breath she hadn't been aware she was holding. Of course Regan would understand her being late. The woman defined workaholic — or at least she had until she met her husband and had her twin girls. Speaking of ... "How are things in paradise?"
"Oh, you know, the usual — the man is constantly rearranging our place just to screw with me, and he's nearly as busy as I am these days. And the girls are mobile. Every time I turn my back, Lizzie is climbing something and Jackie is finger-painting with her lunch." A dreamy look came into her dark eyes, one Addison recognized all too well. "But it's more than worth it, especially when Brock goes and does something sweet that sweeps me off my feet all over again. I never knew dads could be so damn sexy."
"Please. I'm three months younger than you." Regan leaned forward and studied her. "You've got circles the size of Utah under your eyes. What's up with that?"
Addison shifted and immediately held herself still. She'd known Regan would pick up on everything she didn't want to say. The woman was her very own Sherlock Holmes when it came to reading people. "Just working a lot."
"And not taking care of yourself." She smiled at the waitress as she took their drink order, and then turned that laser look back on Addison the moment the woman was gone. "You need a vacation."
"Probably." But who would she go with? Even if she were willing to leave her clients in the care of her team, the thought of traveling alone didn't do a single thing for her. If anything, it only compounded the loneliness that had seemed to get worse over time.
It used to be that helping other people find love was enough to fulfill her. Watching those first feelings evolve, listening to her clients tell her how excited they were about their dates with each other, helping them get to a point where they moved on without her assistance ... It was enough to keep her warm at night.
Now it only seemed to remind her of what she'd lost.
Regan sipped her water. "I have the perfect solution."
She'd been pleasantly surprised when her friend called her up out of the blue. Now she wasn't so sure. "This isn't an intervention, is it?"
"Hardly." She laughed. "I happen to know a man in desperate need of a matchmaker, and you're the best there is."
Pleasure at the compliment wasn't nearly enough to banish her suspicion. "Why can't he call me himself?"
"Probably because he has no idea how in need he is."
She saw where this was going and shook her head. "I'm not going to ambush some poor guy because you've taken it into your head that he needs a wife."
"One, this so-called poor guy is my brother-in-law, so I'm entitled to meddle. Two, he's been dating — or failing to date — on his own for years now." She gave a wicked grin. "And, three, when have you ever known me to be wrong?"
That was the problem. Regan never was. Not when it came to people. As a headhunter, she could get a good read on someone within two minutes of meeting them — usually less. That didn't mean Addison had to take the job, though. She nibbled on a breadstick, considering. What could a lunch hurt? She'd get a read on the man and decide if she wanted to take him on. After all Regan had done to help her out over the years, it was the least she could do. "I have a few free days next week. I could set up a consult."
"That's the thing. He's in Tennessee."
"What?" It was official. Her friend had gone round the bend. It was the only explanation for thinking Addison would do this.
"Look at it this way — you need a vacation. The South is nice this time of year and a hell of a lot warmer than New York. Just meet Caine. If it's a no-go, then you still have a few days to hang out and take in the scenery." The way she said the last word left nothing to the imagination. Regan seemed to take it almost personally that Addison hadn't been with anyone in years. She didn't understand that after having such a deep and amazing connection with Aiden, sex with anyone else was lukewarm at best.
And Addison had tried. It just wasn't in the cards for her.
But she knew a losing battle when she saw one. Plus, Regan was right — as usual. She couldn't remember the last time she'd slept through the night, and work just didn't hold the attraction it used to.
Maybe some time off would be exactly what she needed ...
She took a drink of her water. "One meeting. If I don't like what I see or he's too difficult, then I'm off the hook."
Regan's smile sent a trickle of unease through her. "Oh, sweetie, I can almost guarantee you'll be taking this one on."CHAPTER 2
Caine McNeill stared at the stack of paperwork on his desk and fought the urge to dump it in the trash. Or set it on fire. Nearly the entirety of McNeill Enterprises was digital these days, but his father refused to step into the twenty-first century. No, the old man still insisted on sending him the contracts for new clients on paper.
For the twentieth time this week, he wondered what the fuck he was doing with his life. Yes, he'd nearly doubled the company's reach in the ten years he'd been CEO. He was one of the wealthiest men of his generation, and it couldn't all be laid at the feet of his trust fund.
But what had been challenging in his midtwenties was now old hat. McNeill Enterprises was in a totally stable place and, goddamn it, he was bored. Rationally, he knew it was time to move on to the next stage of his life. Get married, start a family, keep the business going for the next generation of McNeills.
Too bad dating took time — time he couldn't afford. His father had tried to balance family and work and had failed. Miserably. Caine wasn't too keen on bringing more people into his life just to neglect them.
But this was his life. Nothing was going change that, no matter how much he occasionally wanted it to. What would he do if he wasn't the CEO? He'd been groomed for this position since he was a kid. Even if he wanted to do something different, he didn't have a necessary skill set, and the opportunity to get one had passed.
As CEO, every problem landed on his shoulders, and it was a requirement of the job to hold up under the strain. It was how his old man did business, and the personal touch had made McNeill Enterprises the success it now was. The problem was this job didn't fulfill him the same way it seemed to fulfill his father.
He sighed. There was no help for it. Either he took care of the contracts now, or they'd be here waiting for him when he got in tomorrow morning. His phone rang, and pathetically glad for the distraction, he scrambled to answer. "McNeill."
"Mr. McNeill, there's a Addison St. Claire here to see you." Agnes, his secretary, sniffed. "She doesn't have an appointment and I already informed her that you are a very busy man." She lowered her voice. "She's been here nearly a half an hour and shows no signs of leaving."
He searched his memory, but the name rang no bells. It was tempting to tell Agnes to get rid of the woman, but the only thing he had on his plate in the immediate future was the damned paperwork. Recognizing that he was procrastinating, he said, "I can clear fifteen minutes."
Another sniff. "I'll send her in."
It was another fifteen minutes before the door opened, and Caine couldn't help his smile. Whatever this woman had said to his secretary, she must have really pissed her off. Agnes was usually the nicest lady in the world, but she could be a fire-breathing dragon when she felt her territory was being encroached on.
Then Addison St. Claire walked through his door and he forgot how to breathe.
It was her. The woman from his little brother Brock's wedding — the one he hadn't been able to take his eyes off through the entire reception. She wasn't flawless — not with her too-big brown eyes and pointed chin — but there had been a gracefulness to her movements that drew his attention six months ago. She'd been the one in charge of the twins — his new nieces — and she'd completely ignored him when he'd tried to catch her eye.
Granted, he hadn't tried that hard. It was his brother's wedding, after all, and he'd amused himself with watching Regan and his father circle each other. But throughout the entire thing, his gaze would inevitably find its way back to the redhead with the infectious smile that she seemed to aim only at the infants.
He sat behind his desk, staring like an idiot. Her clothing today wasn't outrageous, exactly, but it wasn't something he'd see walking down the streets of Manchester. The black dress hit all the right places, drawing attention to her body without flaunting it, but what got him were the black stockings. They hit about mid-thigh and, with the tall equally black heels, made her legs looks a mile long. They should have looked trashy, but the overall image she presented was professionally chic.
The sheer lust heating his body at the sight of her hit him like a ninety-mile-an-hour fastball to the head. He shot to his feet and then mentally cursed himself for looking so overeager. Why was she here?
She gave a perfectly polished smile. "Mr. McNeill? My name is Addison."
"I know." He winced at how abrupt that sounded and took her hand. "My secretary announced you." Her skin was soft against his palm, and he couldn't help but notice the bright teal tips of her fingernails.
"Of course." She frowned at their hands, and he realized that he'd held on entirely too long to be polite.
"Sorry." He jerked his hand back and tried to get his head on straight. This was ridiculous. He wasn't some bumbling teenager who'd seen a knockout for the first time in his life. He was the goddamn CEO of McNeill Enterprises.
It was time to act like it.
Caine sat back in his chair and watched her take a seat, trying not to notice the extra inch of skin revealed when she crossed her legs. She didn't seem flustered or nervous, so she'd obviously been in situations like this before. Whatever "this" was. He still had no idea why she was in his office. "What can I help you with, Ms. St. Claire?"
She sighed. "I take it you haven't talked to your sister-in-law lately?"
Alarm bells pealed through his head. He should have known. If she was at the wedding, it was because she was friends with the bride, and anything to do with the formidable Regan was enough to have him worried. She was a one-woman wrecking ball when it came to getting what she wanted. His father had sworn up and down and sideways that he'd never attend Brock's wedding to the New Yorker but, low and behold, he'd been there for the ceremony and entire reception. He still hadn't been able to figure out what she'd done to make that happen.
But he wasn't about to show his unease to this stranger, no matter how captivating he'd found her. "Should I have?"
Another sigh. "I told her part of my conditions for coming down here was that she call you first." Addison shook her long mane of red hair. "I should have known she wouldn't give you any time to prepare."
The alarm bells in his head got louder. "What, exactly, should I be preparing for?"
"I'm New York's premier matchmaker. And apparently your sister-in-law thinks you need one. Desperately." She looked around his office. "I wasn't so sure when she put me up to this, but now I see her point."
Caine bristled. "I don't need a damn matchmaker."
"Are you sure? Just look at this place."
He followed the motion of her hand and saw nothing to draw the conclusion she so obviously had. The walls were painted a tasteful off-white and all the furniture was dark wood and hunter green. The paintings on the walls were landscapes — something he never would have chosen himself, but it set the professional tone an office should have. "I don't follow."
She leaned forward, all hesitance gone. If anything, her drive made her even more striking. "I have one question, and I need you to answer it honestly."
It sounded deceptively simple. He'd been around the block enough times to know that meant it was anything but. "I'm listening."
"How many nights have you spent passed out there?" She pointed at the couch.
Shit. Guilt flared, even though he had nothing to feel guilty about. It shouldn't matter if he spent some nights — most nights — in his office. The couch was more than big enough to hold him, and he even had a personal shower and closet through the door Addison was now peering at.
Caine resisted the urge to cross his arms over his chest, but only barely. "Your point?"
"That you're CEO of one of the biggest companies south of the Mason-Dixon line and you still prefer to sleep in your office, rather than go home." She gave him a sympathetic look. "That obscenely large house gets awfully empty, doesn't it?"
So empty it echoed. It was yet another in a long line of battles he'd lost with his father. The McNeill family seat was meant to be filled to the brim with family, and it had been in generations past. Now, with Brock in New York and his parents in a flat in Nashville, it was only him to fill the massive space.
He hated it.
Addison didn't seem to need a response. She pursed her lips. "I really hadn't planned on doing more than meeting you, but Regan is right. If there ever was a man in need of a matchmaker, it's you."
"I do just fine for myself."
Again, a sympathetic look. As if she pitied him. "And how many woman in the last five years have you been interested enough in to get into a serious relationship with?"
None, which she seemed to damn well know. The Addison who had looked so soft and sweet at a distance was apparently a mirage. This woman was just as formidable as his sister-in-law. He mentally cursed Regan and her meddling. "I don't know what she said to get you down here, but you're not needed."
"On the contrary, I'm desperately needed." She stood and smoothed down her dress, drawing his attention to the way her hips flared from her waist. That curve was deadly, the kind that seemed designed to fit a man's hands.
It was a crying shame the woman attached to it was such a goddamn nuisance. "Ms. St. Claire —"
"Regan already had my things sent to your house." She cast another glance at the couch. "I expect you to make it home tonight so we can get the questionnaire out of the way. This is obviously going to need a hands- on treatment."
Sadly, Caine had the sneaking suspicion that the kind of hands-on treatment he'd prefer from her had nothing to do with her intentions.
* * *
Addison didn't draw a full breath until she hit the sidewalk outside Caine's office. She should have known, having met the stunner that was Brock McNeill, that his older brother would be cut from the same cloth. If anything, he was even more attractive, as if that were even possible. Hell, it shouldn't have mattered — she'd dealt with plenty of attractive men in the past.
Excerpted from Meeting His Match by Katee Robert, Heather Howland, Kari Olson. Copyright © 2014 Katee Robert. 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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