Silent Wishes by Fiona Hood-Stewart released on Aug 25, 2003 is available now for purchase.
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Read an Excerpt
By Fiona Hood-Stewart
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
Copyright © 2003
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
In the climate-controlled chill of the spacious conference room, the air hung thick with tension as each person gazed
in somber amazement at the pictures spread haphazardly on the huge stretch of highly polished mahogany. They stood
stiffly, staring, unable to register the enormity of it all. Ira Romano, Harcourts's vice-president of marketing
- tall and suave, immaculately dressed, as always, in a beige linen Italian suit - was the first to react. He cleared
his throat and muttered an expletive. Hamilton Burke who, in his scruffy jeans and T-shirt, looked more like a graduate
student than chief of design for Harcourts USA - one of the largest fine-home and decorating companies in the nation
- lowered his face to his hands and let out a sound between a sigh and a groan.
Sylvia Hansen, whose ultimate responsibility this situation was, showed no emotion. It was all happening inside.
When Hamilton had hastily requested a full meeting of the company's top management this afternoon, she knew
instinctively that a major disaster had hit.
Now, as he sat up and explained in a raspy monotone that someone, somehow, somewhere, had leaked the plans for the
entire spring collection to their major competitor, the full scope of the catastrophe loomed, like a storm on a lake:
one minute the sky was blue and clear; the next, dark swirling clouds threatened to mar what up until now had been
fairly plain sailing. Straightening the jacket of her black designer suit, Sylvia swallowed imperceptibly, let the
information seep in and gave herself exactly one minute to recover as the initial shock of seeing Harcourts's
innovative spring collection copied almost piece for piece in the Marchand catalog coalesced into a fermenting and
She reached out a fine, manicured hand, randomly picked up one of the photographs, and studied it carefully. Except for
a slight modification in the curve of the arm, the black and brushed metal lamp was an exact replica of what had been
forecast as one of Harcourts's bestselling items this season.
Her lips tightened. With an effort, she stopped herself from shredding the damn picture and giving way to rising
frustration. Instead, she laid it carefully back on the gleaming surface with a shrug of her slim shoulders that barely
hinted at her inner anger, and addressed her staff.
"Well, it's obvious Aimon Thackeray's behind this. With his reputation for destroying the competition, this kind of
sleazy tactic has Thackeray's name on it. Any idea who might be responsible for the leak?" She raised a brow and
glanced at Ira.
"None," he replied flatly, shaking his dark, silver-streaked head somberly. "Ham and I have been going over and over
the design team in London and there's just nobody that comes to mind. First," he enumerated, lifting his tanned hand,
"they've all been with us for several years now, and second, it doesn't make sense that any of them would leak info to
Marchand, since suspicion would fall right at their door."
"That's right," Hamilton agreed, suddenly coming to life and cocking his head toward the scattered pictures. "If it
were one or two items - but shit, man, that's the whole fucking collection they've gotten hold of. It's fucking
"Ira, have you asked Aaron if there's anything we can do about the situation legally?" Sylvia said, leaning back,
tapping her knee with her pen and ignoring Hamilton's language. Then, unable to sit still, she rose and moved to the
other end of the long, windowed conference room, which hovered fifty-two stories above Park Avenue.
"He's looking into things as we speak. But frankly, I don't think so. The differences are just subtle enough to justify
the similarities. This job was done by an expert. And even if we did fly in with an injunction, what good would it do?
They're already out there in the goddamn market, Syl. We'd merely look more foolish than we already do." Ira clenched
his fist and pounded the back of one of the sleek chairs that formed a perfect row of chrome and leather along each
side of the table. "Whoever did this knew every damn thing there was to know - our trims and options, our timing, our
pricing for each item. It's unbelievable." He threw his hands up in a gesture of incomprehension and moved around the
table, shaking his head once more. Then he reached for his briefcase on the floor. There were two dull clicks as he
Sylvia returned thoughtfully to her place at the table and sat down once more. There had to be a solution, a way to
thwart Thackeray's unexpected attempt to sabotage her schemes. She barely heard Ira as he sank despondently onto the
chair next to her and pulled out a thick sheaf of papers. What she needed now were solutions, not more lamentations
over what had taken place. But she was wise enough to know that her loyal, creative co-workers needed to let off steam.
"It's all here." Ira slid the documents toward her.
"Their price projections undercut ours, the articles are virtually identical.... Do you realize what this means?" he
asked at last, handing her the list.
"That Thackeray may very well have won this round," she answered dryly, flipping through the list, her razor-sharp
brain registering each detail while her inner calculator did the math. The enormity of what this could mean to the
company battled with her determination to defeat Thackeray, trounce him, show him he'd made a mistake. But how?
In a way, she was to blame. She should have known Aimon Thackeray was up to something, guessed that the huge cash
investment he'd made in Marchand was only the beginning. He didn't just want to be in the market - he wanted to
dominate it. And knowing Thackeray, he'd try to succeed with his usual slimy methods - by either buying out or
destroying the competition.
But Harcourts wasn't for sale. And she sure as hell wasn't going to let it be swallowed up - not on her watch. Not
only did she love the company - practically considered herself married to it - she'd fought tooth and nail to get
where she was. She'd earned her place, every step of the way, to reach the spot she held today. Her eyes drifted from
the papers to the portraits of former CEOs gracing the wall. One day, her picture would hang there, too - the first
woman among a line of powerful men. Finally she was where she belonged - at the head of a major multinational
corporation - and she wasn't about to let a Neanderthal like Thackeray unseat her.
Excerpted from Silent Wishes
by Fiona Hood-Stewart
Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd..
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Harcourts International CEO Sylvia Hansen is stunned when her company¿s upcoming new product line is stolen and issued at a great discount by rival Marchands. She knows immediately that the dastardly deed is the work of Aimon Thackeray. To save her firm and her reputation, Sylvia races to London where she meets with her bitterest opponent inside the company, Lord Jeremy Warmouth. After a week of struggling without finding the leak, Sylvia leads a worldwide campaign selling products at a major loss, but recouping the lead global position, saving their market share. As Sylvia and Jeremy work closely together, they begin to develop respect for another and fall in love. However, Sylvia has many secrets that she prefers to stay buried and when someone tries to blackmail her she finds herself in a dilemma. Will she stand firm in her ethics and love and take the chance her ¿sordid¿ past will come to light or will she pay the price to hide her Louisiana background from the man she loves and the board of directors? Readers who enjoy a strong lead female overcoming a horrendous heritage will want to read SILENT WISHES. The tale provides a deep look at the cutthroat international business world where government regulations are ignored. Though Jeremy acts at first too much as an aristocratic snob and Aimon behaves more like the nasty is more important than the bottom line, Sylvia makes the tale into a winner with her caring personality. Harriet Klausner