READ CHAPTER ONE
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"Breathe, damn it." Sylvia Donovan forced air into her lungs and continued the running argument she’d had with herself since she’d agreed to come here. "All those yoga classes should have taught me something."
Fire burned in her chest with each inhalation. Crying didn't allow for the luxury of deep breathing. She coughed, trying unsuccessfully to stop the sobbing that persisted in blocking her air passageway.
Tears blurred her vision and she blotted her eyes carefully with a crumbled tissue, not wanting her makeup to run. Misery surrounded her like an old friend. Why had she ever agreed to help Knox?
She blinked back her tears and stared through the windshield of her car. In front of her stood the building she'd promised never to enter again. Yet...
The bright light from a sunny autumn day reflecting off the glass windows appeared almost cheerful. She forced a weak smile and worked to picture the adventure ahead as a trip along a yellow brick road where all her dreams would come true.
"Yes, and look at the trouble Dorothy got into," Sylvia grumbled. The tirade that had been brewing since she'd woken this morning played again through her head. She opened her mouth. Her thoughts turning to the hours she’d lain awake last night worrying.
Her cell phone rang. The ugly names she'd compiled to lambast herself with slipped away.
Instead, she grabbed the small devise and glanced at the display screen hoping against hope to see her daughter's number. The reality of where her daughter now lived hit Sylvia in the chest. She figured Cassey hadn’t even rolled out of bed yet. She didn't have a class before ten and probably hadn't even gotten to bed until after midnight.
Irritated at the man calling, Sylvia punched the connect button and barked, "What?"
"Well, good morning Miss Sunshine. Are you planning to sit in your car all day or are you coming into the office?" Knox's cheerful voice hit a nerve.
She scanned the windows facing this side of the building and noticed the figure standing in the corner office.
"You know I should tell you to go to hell." She fought the desire to reach for the ignition switch.
A laugh sounded in her ear. "Go right ahead, but you know the alternative to coming inside is to go back home. Nothing is waiting on you there except an empty house."
Why was the man torturing her?
"Knox, we've talk about this. I have other things I could do." Sylvia figured another trip to the mall or a visit to the gym could kill a few hours. She also had a mystery to read by M. Catherine Berg that looked interesting.
"Nevertheless, you promised to help me out. Are you trying to renege?" Knox walked away from the window and his voice drop to a seductive purr. "It's only for a few days. Then if you want, you can go back to being the workout queen."
Sylvia battled the urge to scream. Between Knox and the other executive wives, she'd been bullied and coerced into doing more things than she wanted. Why couldn't they just leave her in peace?
"Does Marianne fall under the bus every time you use that particular tone?" Sylvia wiped a finger under her nose and searched the interior of her car to make sure she had everything she needed.
He laughed again. "I could only wish. The woman seems determined to evade my charm. However, you are different. You have no illusions about me and know how much I love you, even if I have to drag you kicking and screaming into a new job."
“You know this is only for a few days. I’m not here on a permanent basis.” She shook her head, recognizing how far his caring attitude would go. Right to a place where she could help him the most by filling in for a sick employee. "In fact, maybe, you should call a temporary..."
A knock sounded on the window beside her and she jumped. Her head swiveled around and she stared at the man looking at her through the window.
Vince Wilshire's handsome face could make any woman melt with desire. With it so close to hers—the glass being the only thing separating them—a rush of adrenaline swept into her system. She leaned sideways in her seat and knocked her hand against the steering wheel. The horn beeped and she muttered, "Damn it, Knox, why did you..."
The sound of his laughter sent anger flooding through her, the muscles in her arms tightening with the need to strike out. She lowered the phone and clicked the disconnect button in retaliation to his attempt to manipulate her.
Vince opened the driver's side door and cold air rushed into the car. "Hey, beautiful, are you heading inside?"
"What is this? Are you guys ganging up on me?" Sylvia ignored the man beside her and glanced in the rear view mirror, checking to make sure her tears hadn't caused any lasting effect.
A warm hand landed on her shoulder and Vince toyed with her hair. "Not at all, I like the idea of entering the building with a gorgeous woman on my arm."
"Right," she protested and stuffed her phone into her purse before turning to stare into his bedroom-brown eyes. The spark in their depths had her reevaluating her impression of the man. Yes, he had the face and body to rival every other Casanova in the world, but he also had a sense of humor. That alone sent a shiver of awareness through her.
She fought the desire gathering in her stomach and waved her hand at him so he'd move out of the way, letting her exit the car. "Did Knox make you wait out here in the parking lot to make sure I would come inside?"
Vince grinned and held her door open while she stepped onto the asphalt. His gaze fell to her legs.
She stared at her new, high-heel, red pumps and silently prayed she wouldn't land face first in the dirt when she tried to walk across the pitted parking lot in them.
A low whistled sounded beside her. "Man, are you ever hot.”
She ignored the comment and didn't turn until she heard the car door slamming closed. "And there's not a woman you've ever met you haven't wanted."
He slapped a hand over his chest. "Oh, you injure me. If I had a beautiful woman like you on my arm, I'd be content for eternity."
"Or until the next pretty face walked by." Sylvia tossed her dark auburn hair off her shoulder and walked toward the front entrance without glancing back.
The man is entirely too cocky.
He hurried to her side and slipped his arm through hers. "Not a chance, no woman can compete with you."
She shook her head, unable to believe a word he said. They had met at a party several months ago when Knox had bought back his company. Vince had danced with her several times, giving her hot looks and tender caresses. By the time the evening ended, she had expected him to ask for her number. He hadn’t, meaning he must have no intentions about getting serious about anyone.
The man simply enjoys flirting with every woman on the planet.
She understood. She had no desire to get involve with anyone either. Allowing him to lead her to the front door, she remained quiet. Her mind replayed all the reasons she had for never setting foot inside this building again.
Robert Donovan, her husband for over twenty-plus years had given his life for this company, along with the other executive team. Yes, they called it an accident. In truth, she had to admit he'd deserted her to do the company's bidding years before the fatal car wreck. Now for some reason she couldn’t fathom, she agreed to join the ranks for a few days.
Did she really expect to learn anything new about the things Robert did here at work after all this time? He could have met his secret lover and had his sordid affair somewhere else.
She’s not trying to be difficult, Vince told himself as he considered the beautiful woman at his side. Almost as tall as him in her heels, she moved like an actress on the red carpet, her curves shifting provocatively in an erotic dance. He wanted to capture and hold her tight against his body until their rhythm matched and they obtained mutual pleasure.
He increased his pace and wove around to reach the outside door before her. She paused and her luscious body rocked, her full breasts playing with the revealing slit of her blouse.
Diverting his gaze away from the appealing sight, he held the door and waved her through. "After you, beautiful."
"You know being a gentleman is gaining you no brownie points." She offered him a ghost of a smile and preceded him inside.
His heart rate kicked in to high gear again as she sashayed around him. The light bump of her shoulder into his arm sent a shockwave of longing through him and he reminded himself why he needed to avoid her at all cost.
Yes, she was sexy as hell and wealthy to boot. Two attributes he found very appealing. Yet, she had one major flaw. She also happened to be a very good friend of the owner of the company where he worked.
He learned not to mix business and pleasure a long time ago. Plus, Sylvia came with a mind field of other issues, one of which was adjusting to her daughter going off to college and suddenly being alone.
She slowed, her feet dragging to a stop as she glanced around the lobby. "You'd think after all these years Knox would have changed up this place. It's as uninviting as ever."
Vince examined the bland lobby. A touch of green from a few large plants hid the view of the parking lot. Two dark blue vinyl benches met at the far corner where a table sat with several logistic magazines on top. "Most people aren't in here long enough to care what it looks like."
He stepped around her and guided his security card through the scanner. With her so close, he drew in the sweet scent of her perfume. Thoughts of drawing her into his arms played through his head. Why did he find her so irresistible?
The door clicked open.
Wrapping his hand around the handle to keep from reaching for her, he shoved the door open. "Are you ready for this?"
Her face mere inches from his, he noticed a brief flash of panic in her eyes before she lifted her chin and stepped through the entrance. "Nothing I haven't seen before. Or probably won't see again."
He understood she meant the task of doing a job, but for some reason his brain registered the sexual implications of the comment. "Oh, man, you're brutal. Some things you know get better with age.”
Matching his steps to hers, he wrapped an arm around her shoulder and leaned in close. He whispered beside her ear, "It's all a matter of knowing how to use what you've got."
She shrugged and shifted away from him, eyeing him with a raised brow. "Yes and some people are amateurs, Mr. Wilshire. You, I take it, are an old pro who knows how to wield your sword with the best of them."
Laughter bubbled up into his throat. He marveled at her sassy tone and didn't relinquish his grip. "I must admit I’m very good at a few chosen tasks."
Whether from Vince’s sexual innuendoes or the fear of facing old hurts, Sylvia couldn’t breathe. Her heart raced and she stopped to gain some distance from Vince’s sexy male cologne. Shifting away, she stumbled and her hips hit the wall, pinning her in place and blocking any direct means of escape.
She forced air into her lungs and fired back. “I'm sure you are. However, I’m not here to help you with those assignments.”
The hallway in front of them led to the executive offices. Told to report to HR, she tried without success to recall the layout of the building and the location for each department. “Aren't we headed in the wrong direction? I'm supposed to check in with human resources."
"No," Knox's voice echoed down the hallway. "I told Vince to bring you to my office first."
Sylvia turned, expecting to see Knox. Though, like he did whenever she saw him, the man’s good looks captured her undivided attention.
Tall, dark, and handsome, he had the most amazing blue eyes and his smile could convince a nun to shed her clothes. The slight touch of gray at his temples didn't distract from the picture, instead the color added a regal charm to the hard cut of his jaw.
"Knox, you can tell your jailer here I'm inside and he's free to get to work." Sylvia’s gaze bounced between the two men and she wondered how the women in the company ever got anything done with these two gorgeous hunks parading the halls.
"Now, Sylvia, Vince here was just being friendly." Knox waved her forward and wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "You should feel sorry for him. The man is completely smitten with you.”
Rolling her eyes at the absurdity of the comment, Sylvia allowed Knox to lead her down the hall to his office. She glanced into the other executive offices along the way. Most appeared exactly the same as they had two years ago when Robert and the other executive team had worked there. "Did the other company that bought you out not change anything?"
"No, and I'm happy they didn't. Now everything is back to the way it was before I ever sold the company.”
The statement cut through her and grief opened an old wound. Not everything. Four of his executives were dead, their wives now widows. She paused outside the office next to Knox's. Jack Clark's office appeared different, a new oak desk sat in the room with a matching hutch positioned behind it.
Vince edged by her and entered the office. "So what do you think?"
Surprised by the man's sense of style, she grinned. "How did you ever get Knox to agree to new furniture?"
"He made it part of the hiring agreement so he could decorate his office to his own personal taste," Knox answered from his place in the hallway.
"Right, and what did you do with Jack's furniture?" Sylvia had to ask because her best friend and Jack's widow, Marianne would be upset to learn no one was making use of the rich maple desk she'd chosen for his office.
Sylvia studied Knox, judging his calm reaction to the question.
He rubbed his neck and then directed her into his office. "I gave it to Marianne. Though, I don't know what she did with it."
"What, trouble in paradise?" Sylvia strolled to one of the guest chairs in Knox's office and sank into the soft cushion. Positioning her purse on her lap, she wrestled with the feeling of stepping back in time. "I thought with Nolan finding a new girlfriend. You would have sailed in and captured Marianne's heart."
Knox walked behind his desk and settled into a high-back, black, leather chair. "She keeps giving the excuse I'm too young for her. Not that I care, but it seems to bother her."
"Or maybe, she's enjoying her new grandchildren too much to want to settle down and be a proper executive wife." Sylvia pictured Brie and Jason, Marianne's daughter-in-law and son. After their marriage, Marianne had found a new purpose in live. She spent a part of almost every day with Brie's new baby and her children.
"Could be, though neither of us is really in any hurry. We're both still recovering from the death of our spouses." He worried a hand over the collar of his shirt and his gaze met hers. Concern lay in the depth of his. "How about you? Are you ready to start dating again?"
"Hell, no. I gave Bob the best years of my life. Now, I plan to have a little fun." The words fell flat between them.
With Cassey gone, Sylvia didn't have anyone to take care of except herself. She filled her days with meaningless tasks and fought the depression that threatened to consume her at times.
Her habit for the last few weeks was to force her weary bones out of bed and repeat an inspiring pep talk. Not that either did much to shorten the endless days. She'd gotten by and had managed to keep her personal struggles to herself.
"Right and yoga..." He paused as if reconsidering his words. His raised brow and the tight strain of his lips over his teeth revealed he hadn’t bought her clever lie and had considered arguing the point. "I'm, uh, just glad you agreed to help me here for a few days. Our receptionist, Deb, is having some health problems. She's working to overcome them, but she never knows from day to day if she'll feel like coming in."
"I heard about her car accident. Did you tell her to go visit Hagan?" Sylvia pictured Jen, another one of the widows of the old executive team. She'd been the first to remarry. Her new husband, Hagan Cheney, a chiropractor, had seen everyone in the group for a variety of reasons from a headache to severe back pains.
"Yes. He's helping her and she’s making progress. However, she is still struggling to feel better. That's why it so nice of you to come in on such short notice.”
"It also helps when you give her the day off." Sylvia watched his expression carefully, noticing the quick blink of surprise, confirming her suspicion he'd set her up to come in today.
"Don't sweat it. I knew you come up with one way or another to get me in here." Sylvia shifted her purse and rose. "Now, I better head to HR before they decide I'm a no show."
"Oh, no, Mrs. Donovan, we saw you walk in with Mr. Wilshire." A girl around twenty stood at the open doorway of Knox's office. Cute with Shirley Temple curls, the woman smiled and stepped forward.
"Good morning." Knox stood and made the introductions. "Nancy here will show you around, Sylvia, and then show you the ins and outs of being our receptionist."
Sylvia nodded and followed the girl out of his office. Once out of earshot of the men, she had to ask, "So does the job come with handcuffs so I can't leave until five?"
Nancy stuttered, "What?"
Sylvia held back a groan and patted the girl's arm. "Never mind, I was just teasing."
Very few changes had occurred since the last time Sylvia had visited Momma Turner's Transportation and Logistics Company or better known as Momma Turner's TLC. Many of the faces had changed. A number had remained the same. Everyone she met welcomed her, except one.
Wyoming Tetterman, Robert's old administrative assistant, appeared to know where Sylvia would be and had avoided her during her initial walk through the company.
Sylvia had paused at the woman's desk and recalled Wyoming’s small office outside of Robert’s. Not holding the same position now, she occupied a cubical in customer service. The area no more than a large closet. Her desk wrapped around the walls of the unit, leaving her only the space in the middle to sit.
Her desk held all the normal items; computer, papers, printouts, and files. She also had a number of personal items, plant, what nots and pictures. The ones of her baby sparked a tidal wave of information from Nancy.
"Isn't he cute? Wyoming is so proud of him. That's all she ever talks about." Nancy continued along the aisle and directed Sylvia back toward the HR area. "He turned one about a month or so back and is getting into all sorts of trouble."
Not wanting to be labeled a gossip, Sylvia tried to curb her natural curiosity. She had liked the girl and had shared many conversations with Robert about what Wyoming could do to make a better life for herself. "Please tell me she didn't marry her old boyfriend."
"No, they didn't get married. He has his own place near her and drops in on her every now and then." Nancy increased her pace. At five foot nothing, she had trouble keeping up in her four inch heels.
Pausing briefly, Sylvia struggled to remember all the facts about Wyoming's relationship with her bum of a boyfriend. "What was his name again, Xero, Zerky, something strange like that?"
"Xeno Rasmindel. He's one heck of a screwed up individual. Luckily, I've never had the pleasure of meeting the man." Nancy placed her hand on a thick door and turned the handle that led into the receptionist area. "Now, let me show you where you will be sitting.”
Sylvia glanced through the glass window into the empty lobby. A few feet beyond against the same wall sat a gray workstation common to almost every office across the world. Why business people like the dull furniture, she couldn't fathom.
"All you need to do is sit here and answer the phone and sign people into the building." Nancy pointed to the phone and then lifted the receiver, giving instructions on how the device worked.
Sylvia listened and wished for the hundredth time today for another cup of coffee. She hadn't slept well after she received Knox's call and his request for help. "Doesn't seem too hard."
"It's not. Just tell one of us if you need to step away from your desk and we'll cover for you." Nancy walked to another doorway and indicated a row of desks where most of the other people in human resources sat.
"Great, then I guess I better get to work." Sylvia hoped to settle into her seat and catch her breath before she needed to answer a call.
With Nancy talking through the whole tour of the building, Sylvia wanted five seconds of peace and quiet.
"No, wait. I need to tell you about visitors. You should call whoever they are here to see before you allow them into the main part of the building." Nancy grabbed a sheet of paper off the desk and held it out to Sylvia. "This is a list of all the employees and their telephone extensions. If you can't get a hold of them, you'll need to page them."
Great, I love hearing my voice ring through the building. Sylvia bit her tongue to keep the comment from spilling through her lips.
Nancy explained the procedure and added, "Then just speak into the phone normally."
Sylvia nodded and set her purse on the desk. "I believe I’ve got it. Answer the phone and ring in guests."
The phone rang and she reached for the receiver. "Guess it's time I earn my pay."
She lifted the phone to her ear. "Good morning, Mama Turner's, how can I help you?"
Nancy smiled and walked away.
"Well, I can't believe it." Marianne's voice echoed with amusement in Sylvia's head. "He finally finagled you into the building. What did he do, promise you lunch?"
"Hell, no, he pulled out the I-don't-know-what-I'll-do card like he couldn't call a temporary service," Sylvia complained and surveyed the dull walls.
"I warned you, didn't I, that the man was sneaky." Marianne laughed. "He has me running errands for him all the time. Makes me wonder sometimes if the man can do anything on his own."
Sylvia sank into the hard office chair. "It’s different with you. He's in love with you and hoping to get you used to the idea of being his wife."
"Oh, yeah, like I want to marry another executive."
"Don't give me that. You loved planning the company Christmas party and as the owner's wife you'll have even more clout." Sylvia pictured her friend's face when she talked about Knox. Marianne glowed. Granted it might not be the same as when she spoke of Jack, her first husband, but she cared about Knox.
"Still I don't have time to deal with him today. Ms. Isabella and I are meeting a friend for lunch.”
Sylvia smiled. Marianne loved Brie's baby almost as if it where her own. "And who's the lucky friend?"
"You. I'll pick you up at one seeing as it's already after ten." Marianne continued without pausing, "And if your boss gives you any flack, tell him he's not invited."
"Wow, Mrs. Clark, if I didn't know better I'd accuse you of trying to get me fired," Sylvia teased, pleased by her friend's support.
"Yes, and I'll be ready at one. Just come into the office and we'll leave from here."
The phone rang cutting off Marianne's reply and Sylvia ended the call with "see you later."
She pressed the button for a different extension, determined to sound as if she loved her job. "Mama Turner's, how can I help you?"
Ready for a break, Vince glanced out the window and noticed a car pulling into the parking lot. Familiar with his lunch appointment's vehicle, he shut down his computer and exited his office.
"Knox, are you in?" He strolled the few steps to his boss's door.
"What's up?" Knox lifted his gaze from the work on his desk.
"I'm sorry again for not being able to go to lunch with you and Sylvia today." Vince leaned back against the doorframe and crossed his arms over his chest.
"I've been informed the lady has other plans. The other executive wives are picking her up and taking her out. I'm not invited." Knox frowned and flicked his pen across his desk. "Those ladies circle around each other whenever they consider one in the group is in trouble."
Confused by how women act sometimes, Vince recalled the last time he’d met each of them. Attending Knox’s party, each had been dressed in formal attire and had appeared almost like sorority sisters. They had talked to other people, milling around in small groups. However, throughout the evening they had stayed with-in talking distance of each other. "Have they always been that way?"
"No, they knew each other of course. However, it wasn't until after the accident they forged such a strong bond." Knox stretched his shoulders, shifting restlessly like he didn’t particularly like their current topic of conversation. "They went through hell together."
"Yes, and they all seem to have adjusted to their new life except Sylvia. She still appears lost, even though she hides it well."
"You're very astute. She doesn't want anyone to think she needs anything. Though her daughter heading off to college probably has her crying in her oatmeal, she'll never admit the fact. That's why I've been trying so hard to get her to come to work here to give her another outlet, break up her routine."
Vince caught a movement at the other end of the hallway.
Sylvia rushed out her office and through the door to the reception area.
"Looks like my appointment is here." Vince turned with a brief wave.
"Have fun. It looks like I'll probably order in lunch." Knox's comment followed him down the hall.
After hurrying to the exit, Vince flung open the door to enter the reception area and blinked in surprise.
Sylvia stood with her arms around Harold Shipley. The man, a few inches short than her, had his head on her shoulder. Their passionate embrace sent a bolt of anger surging through Vince before he noticed the low sound of sobbing.
"It's incredibly hard with her so far away." Sylvia's heartache rang through her words.
Harold lifted his bald head. Tears twinkled in his eyes as he stared into her face. "I know. Betty and I are still struggling with letting Ginger go to Iowa State.”
Vince read their shared misery and realized they were only friends, not lovers. Still he had to fight the desire to pull Sylvia from the other man’s arm and land a solid punch in Harold’s gut.
"Oh, my, that's even farther than Lincoln." Sylvia backed up several steps and waved her hands at her face. "Oh, man, it's good to see you. Without attending the parent meetings for the band, I hardly see anyone anymore."
Calming his jealous urges, Vince eased closer and laid a light hand on her back. She turned suddenly and he stared into her still moist eyes. The deep shadow of emerald had him wanting to draw her even closer. Would they look the same when she made love or would they turn even darker?
"Vince, I was just about to call you. Harold is here for your lunch meeting." Sylvia edged away from his touch and shifted back a few more steps to the door of the reception area.
He studied her, enjoying her nervous reaction to his touch. Or did she not want Harold to see them together? Why?
Turning, Vince judged his friend’s reaction to Sylvia. "I saw you pull into the parking lot. I didn't know you and Sylvia knew each other."
Harold shifted on his feet and his face turned a light shade of pink. "Our daughters were in band together."
A ring sounded.
"Oh my, that’s the phone. I better get back to work." Sylvia waved and darted through the door. "Tell Betty. I'll give her a call."
The door close with a click and Harold turned to the main exit. "Well, I guess we best get going if we plan on beating the crowd."
Vince followed along and remained quiet until they had made it halfway across the parking lot. "So tell me, Harold, has Sylvia Donovan always been so hot?"
The man laughed. "No, most of the parents in the band group were afraid of her. They called her the terminator...big, mean and not someone you should cross."
Vince couldn't hold back a smile. "Wow, tell me more."
The outer door squeaked open.
Sylvia shook her head and jotted down her thoughts on a piece of paper. Oil the damn door.
Women voices filtered into the reception area and Sylvia glanced at her watch. Twelve fifty-five. Marianne would arrive any time now because the lady always liked to arrive early to any meeting.
Rising to meet the visitors, Sylvia glanced through the glass window and slid back the panel. "What are you guys doing here? Marianne said only she and Isabella were coming."
Brie smiled and shifted the baby on her shoulder.
"Hey, I'm always up for an excuse to go out to lunch." Jen waved for Sylvia to come out into the lobby.
"Okay, let me get my purse and I'll be right out." She darted back to her desk, retrieved her things and started for the exit. She paused by the doorway leading into the HR area and spoke to Nancy. "Can you cover for me while I go to lunch?"
Not waiting, Sylvia rushed to the lobby. "Where's Marianne?”
"She's outside on the phone with Knox. He seems to think he should get to go to lunch with us." Jen, a tall brunette, stepped closer and wrapped her arm around Sylvia's shoulder. "We're all so proud of you for doing this. It takes real courage to step back into the work-force after so many years."
Sylvia hugged her friend. "I'd didn't do it willingly. I had to be coerced."
Brie shifted the baby to her other side and stepped closer. "Hey, no matter how long it's for. You're still here."
Wrapping her arm around Brie's shoulder, Sylvia hugged the smaller woman and stared at the long, blonde braid, running down her friend's back.
Isabella, Brie's baby, grabbed for Sylvia and chirped, "Nana, nana, nana."
Brie pulled back while Isabella latched onto Sylvia's blouse. "She calls everybody the same thing now."
The tiny hands wouldn't release their grip so Sylvia cupped her hands under the baby's arms and lifted her from her friend's embrace. "Yes, well, I'm sure someone has been coaching her."
Both women laughed.
Jen added, "Marianne is...”
"Is the most stubborn woman on the planet," Knox grumbled and stepped into the reception area.
The outer door squeaked open and Marianne stepped through. "Hey, I resent that comment. Just because we want to take Sylvia to lunch isn't any reason for you to get into a huff. Hell, you got her to come to work for you."
Sylvia glanced at Knox, handsome, regal, and the perfect gentleman. His face appeared flushed and he glared off into space, his thoughts appearing to distract him from her tirade.
Unable to believe how the two were acting, Sylvia shifted her gaze to Marianne. As the matriarch of the group, she never ceased to show her position by wearing elegantly-tailored clothes. Today, dressed in a dark blue power suit, she didn’t back away and addressed him with a stern stare. She tilted her head slightly, her frosted hair catching the light from overhead. A glow appeared around her like she held the power of the universe in her hand.
Yet, in all the time Sylvia had been acquainted with the two she'd never seen them go at each other like this. "Whoa, wait a minute. If this is going to cause a problem, I'll grab some chips from the vending machine in the break room and eat at my desk."
Isabella leaned toward Knox almost jumping from Sylvia's arms. "Paw, Paw, Paw."
Knox grabbed for the baby and pulled her from Sylvia's grip. He held Isabella close and cooed, "Why hello, sweetheart, I'm glad someone here is glad to see me."
The baby patted his cheeks and rocked in his arms. A radiant smile on her sweet face, she studied him like he had completely captured her attention.
Sylvia turned back to her friends and lifted a brow. "You know, ladies, we could let him come along so he could entertain Isabella while we eat."
"No." Marianne strolled between the other two women and stopped a few inches in front of Knox. She held out her hands. "Come here, sweetie. Paw-paw is not playing nice so he has to stay here and work."
Sylvia blinked in surprise at the heated glare in Marianne's eyes.
The baby turned and willingly fell into her grandmother's arms. "Nana, Nana, Nana."
Marianne turned on her heels and marched away while Knox waved at the baby.
Not understanding the tension in the room, Isabella giggled and offered him a toothy grin.
"See you later, Knox." Jen turned and followed Marianne out the door.
Brie stepped closer and lightly patted Knox's arm. "Don't worry, she won't stay mad long."
Sylvia couldn’t help marveling at the stupidity of men and rushed to catch up with Brie. "So tell me, whose side is Jason on?"
Her friend laughed and slid her arm around Sylvia's waist. "Knox's, of course, men believe even when they're wrong, they have to stick together."
"So where did they error in their judgment this time?"
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Read the 1st Chapter of other books in the series:
My Future Step Brother - free short story
CEO's Widow - book 4
CFO's Affair - book 3
IT's Exec's Baby - book 2
Marketing Exec's Widow - book 1
The Story Behind the Executives Wives’ Club Series
When consider writing a new series, I first look at what will make the romance stories different. What’s kernel of an ideal sets it apart from other stories? I realized I wanted a romantic series about how important women are to women.
No matter, how much we might enjoy the men in our lives. Women connect to other women in a unique way. Maybe, because we think alike or can share emotions men can’t understand, but women need women.
So then I asked, what type of situation would force four women together emotional?
Okay, four women all lose their husband at one time in a car accident. These women are connected only by their husband’s jobs. They know each other, but are not what you call close until their husbands are killed. This forever alters their world. Each has their unique problem.
The first book in this women's fiction romantic series:
In The Marketing Exec’s Widow, Jen Larson is a realtor, who has for years lived as a married single. Her husband, Craig was her college sweetheart. She believes they have a good life but less than a year after losing him, she’s ready to start dating again. This throws her relationship with the other executives’ wives into a tailspin. They don’t understand how she can do this.
The truly fun part about a series like this is no one book is about only one woman. Each plays a part in the other book. They’re stories continue and you learn more about what each woman is facing in her life. The happy-ever-after continues, and the reader learns how these women have grown to depend on each other.
The second book in this women's fiction romantic series:
IT Exec’s Baby, the reader already knows from the first book that Brie Sullivan is pregnant. She has had the baby and is facing the challenges of dealing with a newborn as well as postpartum depression. She also has two other children, she’s trying to raise alone. Life for her is not going well, and she’s searching for answers. During one of her more trying moments, she believes she has the answer and asks Jason Clark to marry her. He’s the son of one of the other executives’ wives, Marianne Clark. This is the beginning of their journey to finding happiness.
The third book in this women's fiction romantic series:
CFO’s Affair is about Sylvia Donovan. The reader finds outs in book one that Sylvia’s husband, Bob asked her for a divorce on the morning he left on the business trip in which he died. Sylvia is going through a difficult time with her daughter having just left for college. She’s suffering from empty nest syndrome. She needs a diversion from her loneliness and decides to help at the company where her husband once worked. This sets her on the trail of finding answers as to why her husband asked for a divorce. She discovers her husband had an affair and his son is in an abusive situation. This rocks her world and forces her to make some very hard decision about not only her future, but also the future of her husband’s son.
The last book in the Executives Wives' Club series.
CFO’s Widow has not been released. Still working on this one, Marianne Clark is the oldest of the four women. She loved her husband and has done her best to deal with the massive hole his death has caused in her life. She is ready to give love a chance when she discovers a lump in breasts. Faced with her mortality, she has to make the hard decision of letting a man into her life or building a wall around herself. Shouldn’t she know the outcome before allowing a man she cares about into her life?
All of these books deal with major women issues. They show not only what women can endure during different phases of their lives, but how the relationship with not only men, but also women, help them deal with the problems they face.
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