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The Money Man's Seduction by Leslie LaFoy released on Oct 01, 2008 is available now for purchase.
About the Author
As a new mom, Leslie, at her wit's end, called her mother for advice. "He never sleeps!" she wailed into the phone. From the end of the line came a cackle--yes, a cackle!--and the words, "I have waited thirty-six years for this moment!"
Yes, the apple didn't fall far from the maternal tree. Leslie doesn't sleep much. Never has and apparently never will. Why? Well, Leslie says there are just too many interesting things to do with a day. Sleep is at the very bottom of her To Do List.
There's the writing, of course. And the reading, the interior decorating, the stained glass work, the sewing, the gardening, the now teenage son's ice hockey and lacrosse schedule (Leslie's the Executive Secretary for the Wichita Lacrosse Association), all the household and financial management stuff, playing the secretary-slash-receptionist for her husband's business one day a week, and being a decent wife, mom, daughter, friend.
Leslie used to juggle being a high-school history teacher--and department chair--along with everything else. But her husband, David, begged her to have some mercy on the family and so she gave up the world of academia to be a full-time writer and lady of leisure. Once the son heads off to college, though.... Leslie's toying with the idea of going there herself. She misses that teaching thing--and it would only be a couple of classes, a couple times a week, a semester at a time.
Yeah, she thinks the schedule could handle that.
Read an Excerpt
There were no half-naked nymphets scattering flower petals and the red Porsche wasn't exactly a classic chariot, but the man getting out of it was a certified Greek god. Emily Raines rested her forearms on the handle of the still-unplugged industrial floor sander and watched the stranger through the front window. Tall, broad shoulders, narrow hips and dark hair just long enough to blow in the light breeze. The easy way he moved as he reached back inside the car for his suit jacket .
Emily smiled appreciatively and wondered if he had his pants tailored so that they pulled extra nicely over his gym-honed muscles when he bent over. Lord Almighty, if he was here in Augsburg, Kansas, taking nymphet applications, she just might be tempted to fill one out.
Half her brain recognized her friend's arrival from somewhere in the old building. The other half went on with a fantasy of see-through togas, reclining sofas and grapes.
"I'm telling you," Beth declared, "this whole deal is a bona fide case of no good deed going unpunished."
Ah, he was looking up and down the street. Maybe he was lost. "You are such a pessimist. Such a CPA." Maybe she should be a nice person and wander out to see if he needed directions.
"Realist," Beth countered, waving a handful of papers. "Estimates tend to do that for most people. Fifteen thousand or fifteen-five for a new roof. Your choice."
"Which roofer looked more interested in doing it?" she asked as Mr. Adonis's attention came to her building and stayed. Her heart added a happy little beat in anticipation.
"Quite frankly, they both looked like they'd rather take a beating."
Okay, he was crossing the street. She had just enough time to do a setup. "Speaking of contractor beatings," she said, quickly turning to Beth. "Would you go back and talk to the electrician until I can get there?" She nodded toward the street. "It looks like we're going to have a visitor."
Beth glanced toward the glass front doors, arched an auburn brow, tucked a fiery red curl behind her ear and grinned. "Scream if you need help," she offered, laughing and heading for the door at the back of the office. "Loud if you're serious about it. It's a big building."
Need help? Ha! Emily glanced back toward the front just long enough to gauge her timing, and then began to ever-so-casually unwind the cord of the sander. The bell over the door jangled. Emily put what she hoped looked like a serene-but-pleasantly-semi-surprised smile on her face and looked up.
"Hello," Adonis said.
Oh, be still her heart. A voice that rumbled, deep and slow and low. "Hi," she vaguely heard herself reply as she watched his gaze slide slowly down to openly marvel over the fact that she'd bought her T-shirt in Jackson Hole. It moved lower still to the frayed edges of her cutoff jeans and right on down, smooth as silk, to the tops of her leather work boots. It returned upwardevery bit as appreciativelyto finally meet her own.
He smiled, lopsidedly, the light in his eyes a delicious combination of guilt and pleasure.
Emily reined in her own smile and managed to tamp the more obvious notes of hope out of her voice as she asked, "What can I do for you?"
The guilt part evaporated out of his smile and his eyes sparkled with clear understanding. "I'm Cole Preston and I'm wondering if you've seen my grandmother this morning. She said she was coming here. Ida Bentley?"
Well, this was even better. Hardly a stranger at all. Emily grinned. "Ida's an absolute sweetheart. A truly incredible woman."
Sadness replaced the easy pleasure in his smile as he nodded. "She's also got a few screws that aren't quite as tight as they used to be. And I have the checkbook to prove it."
"Well, yes," Emily allowed diplomatically as her stomach fluttered and went a little cold. "I have noticed that Ida's mind tends to drift a bit every now and then."
"More than a bit," he countered. "And every now and then is more like often."
"I think she maintains very well for an eighty-something-year-old woman," Emily offered brightly in her elderly friend's defense. "Ida is always dressed not only impeccably, but also perfectly appropriately for the weather and the occasion. And she's gracious, delightful company. She's been coming in every day since we started working on the building and she has some wonderful ideas for classes once we're up and running."
"That would be the classes on modern interpretive dance." Cool, distant, definitely disapproving.
"Well, of course," Emily answered. "Your grandmother was a professional dancer. Judging by the scrapbooks she's shown us, she was very highly regarded in her time."
"That was then. This is now. Her time is over."
Over? "I beg your pardon?" she asked as in her mind's eye she saw Ida huddled on an iceberg being shoved out to sea.
"People need to stop filling my grandmother's head with the idea that she can still dance."
So much for the hope of Mr. Wonderful wandering in off the street. The man certainly looked like the stuff of feminine dreams, but the nice suit and the well-toned body only disguised the fact that he had all the emotional sensitivity of of well, she'd think of something really cold and heartless later.
At the moment, all she could really think about was how pathetically desperate she was. To think she'd been willing to drop her toga and share her grapes with him. Shaking her head and silently mourning the untimely and not to mention brutally quickdeath of the most inspiring fantasy she'd had in years, Emily plugged the cord of the sander into the wall socket.
"We obviously disagree on your grandmother's capabilities," she countered with a shrug. "It's clear, though, that she's a considerably kinder and less judgmental person than her grandson."
He blinked and opened his mouth to speak, but she didn't give him a chance to actually spit any words out. "I haven't seen Ida this morning, Mr. Preston. She could be over at the café or the gift shop. You might check there."
"Well, maybe it's a good thing she isn't here yet," he said, either missing the fact that he'd been dismissed, or choosing to ignore it. Neither possibility counted in his favor. "It'll give me a chance to take care of business."
Business? She wasn't a business. She was a nonprofit community organization for the elderly. The rural elderly. Or would be once she got the place fixed up. Not that she needed to tell him any of that. Holding the handles of the floor sander in the classic I'm-busy-let's-get-this-over-with pose, she met his gaze again. Or tried to, anyway. His gaze was taking another Fantastic Voyage to her boot laces and back. Since his attention was otherwise engaged
Emily considered the long length of his lean legs, the broad width of his chest, the way the dark hair at his nape brushed against the crisp white of his shirt collar. She arched a brow.
Maybe she'd been too quick to give up the torrid affair thing. It wasn't as though she was looking for Prince Charming and the whole forever-in-a-happy-castle deal. Cole Preston was sculpted, hot, and no doubt about it, interested. It would be a real shame to waste such an incredible opportunity.
And not just a shame, either. It could very well be a crime. Like leaving a perfectly fitting pair of jeans in the store dressing room was a crime against the shopping gods. Wonderful things were put in your path for a reason and you took a big chance if you didn't properly appreciate them. And gosh, she certainly didn't want to risk offending the gods of a breathless good time.
She softly cleared her throat. "What kind of business do you need to conduct, Mr. Preston?"
"Do you know if an Emily Raines person is here?"
An Emily Raines person. Well, as Ida would say, how perfectly ill-mannered. The man just couldn't seem to stop digging a hole for himself.
"I'm Emily Raines," she said crisply.
He not only blinked, but actually rocked back a little on the heels of his finely made Italian leather shoes. Emily didn't give him a chance to regain his balance. "You said that you had something you wanted to talk with me about, Mr. Preston. What is it? I have a electrician waiting out back to tell me how much of the Earth it's going to cost to bring this building into the twentieth century."
"In case you haven't noticed," he replied, offering her a smile that looked decidedly strained, "it's the twenty-first century."
Emily sweetly replied, "Actually, I have noticed that, Mr. Preston. But I can't afford to wire this place for the latest bells and whistles. The tail end of the last century will have to be good enough for now."
He looked up at the rusty spots in the tin ceiling tiles. "And where are you planning to get the money for electricians?"
Her shock lasted only a nanosecond. Anger took over after that. Propping her hip against the built-in antique desk and crossing her arms over her midriff, she coolly replied, "The etiquette lessons are being held over at the high school."
His brows knitted for a moment before he quietly cleared his throat and asked, "Excuse me?"
"I said that the etiquette lessons are being held over at the high school. The class is designed for the teenage girls in town," she went on, embellishing the bold-faced lie. "But I'm sure that given your very obvious need for them, they'll let you participate."
His dark eyes sparked and the muscles in his jaw pulsed.
"The class started just a few minutes ago," she added.
"If you hurry, you won't have missed much. I'm sure there will be a section on how it's considered grossly impolite to ask total strangers about the details of their personal finances."
"Will there be a section," he asked smoothly, "on how it's illegal to bilk senile little old ladies out of their social security checks?"
As accusations went, that one hadn't even been thinly veiled, but she wasn't about to launch into a spirited self-defense. That would imply a guilty conscience. And since she didn't have a damn thing to feel even the least bit guilty about, she wasn't going to give him the satisfaction of so easily putting her on the defensive. No, she was going to make him say it straight out.
"Who do you think is bilking whom, Mr. Preston?"
"I suspect that you are bilkingor at least attempting tomy grandmother."
Emily silently counted to five before she allowed herself to ask, "And what, exactly, leads you to think this?"
"My grandmother thinks supporting this this " He glanced around the old office, cocking one eyebrow and looking decidedly less than visionary.
"The building itself used to be a produce warehouse," Emily explained. "I'm in the process of turning it into a fine arts center for senior citizens. And you should know that I haven't taken so much as a single solitary cent from"
"And if I have my say in it, you're not going to, either."
She had to count to six this time. "Look," Emily said tightly, her pulse pounding furiously, "let's get something straight, Mr. Preston. Your grandmother hasn't said a word to me about donating anything other than her time and considerable artistic talents once we're up and running. If she were to offer me money, I'd turn her down. This"
He made a sound that was part sigh, part snort.
If the sander hadn't weighed a ton and a half, she'd have snatched it up and beaten him with it. "Do you make it a habit to go around insulting the ethics and integrity of everyone you meet?"
"Just those I think are attempting to take advantage of my grandmother's failing mind."
Clearly there was no reasoning with the man. He was going to believe what he wanted to believe and neither the facts nor any assertions from her were going to make the least bit of difference to his thinking. And given that unfortunate reality, there wasn't any point in pulling her punches. "You have to be the most insuf"
The door bell jangled and Emily instantly snapped her mouth closed. She was just giving him a try-to-be-civil-for-two-seconds look when a familiar voice said brightly and cheerfully, "Oh, I was hoping you two would get to meet today."
"Yes, we've just met, Ida," Emily replied as Cole Preston smiled and planted a kiss on the cheek of his elegantly slim, silver-haired grandmother. Emily added, "Although, I really gotta say that I can't imagine why you'd want us to."
Ida chuckled softly and patted his arm. "Cole's all bark and no bite, dear. If I don't want to go to one of those retirement villages, I'm not going. He can stamp his feet and gnash his teeth all he wants. It's not going to make any difference."
Retirement home? Again Emily's mind put the all the pieces together in a single second. Inching her way into whatby her quick countwas the third round of her and Cole Preston's "How Many Ways Can I Dislike You?" game, she asked, "Are we talking about an assisted living facility?"
"Yes," he answered with a crisp, brief nod. "She would be better off there."
"Really?" Emily answered, accepting his challenge. "Says who? You?"
Ida chuckled again. "Give him hell, Emily. Is Beth around somewhere?" She patted her Gucci handbag. "I brought her some of that jojoba oil I got out in Santa Fe last year."
How such a sweet and generous person could be related to such a pompous "She's back in the rear section talking with the electrician," Emily supplied, squarely meeting Cole Preston's self-assured gaze.
Ida nodded and walked off toward the rear office door, saying as she went, "Cole, help Emily, please. That machine, whatever it's for, is much too big for her to handle all by herself."
He didn't move. And despite the fact that he didn't look as though he had any intention of doing so, Emily wanted to be sure. "Touch it and die."
"I wouldn't lift a finger to help you," he replied. "I don't want to be considered even a minor accessory when you're hauled off on fraud charges."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Nicely written. Sweet story.