FALLING FOR THE ENEMY Silhouette Desire by Shawna Delacorte reissued by Harlequin in ebook
G-EXCERPT #1: (Paige wants/Bryce wants)
‘‘Paige Bradford? I’m Bryce Lexington.’’ Bryce rose from his chair and held out his hand as she entered his office.
Even though he had seen her photograph in her personnel file, this incredibly beautiful woman was not what he had anticipated. Her firm handshake showed confidence. She appeared composed and at ease. Everything about her was a surprise and he instantly liked everything he saw. An unexpected tightness constricted his chest when their hands touched. He took a deep breath in an attempt to break the sensation. This unmistakable physical attraction toward her was both ill-timed and unacceptable considering the circumstances.
According to Joe Thompkins, his corporate head of security, Paige had been surreptitiously prying into Bryce’s personal life for the past six months and two weeks ago had procured a job at his corporate headquarters in Santa Monica, California. Now she stood in his office on the other side of his desk looking as desirable as any woman he had ever met. What was her game? What was she after? Again, a quick rush of excitement darted through his body. He shoved it away and focused on the business at hand. He indicated a chair for her, then sat down behind his desk.
Paige settled into the chair he had indicated. ‘‘It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Lexington.’’
She had seen hundreds of pictures of him and read every word she could find that had been written about him—magazines, newspapers and even the Internet. None of it had prepared her for a face-to-face meeting with this dynamic man. Paige had accepted his handshake, then quickly withdrawn her hand from his grasp. An intimate warmth had traveled up her arm and spread through her body, leaving her momentarily unsure about her chosen course of action.
She clenched her jaw and rallied her determination. She would not allow his good looks and some errant twinge of unwanted desire to divert her from the all-important task she had set for herself. She would see to it that Bryce Lexington was held accountable for his actions. That the world would know he was nothing more than an unprincipled shark who was responsible for her father’s suicide.
‘‘Your personnel file shows that you possess the educational background, skill level and computer experience necessary for the position as my administrative assistant. Our corporate policy is to promote from within whenever possible. Since you agreed to come in for the interview, I’ll take that to mean you’re interested in the position.’’
‘‘Yes, Mr. Lexington. I feel that—’’
‘‘Call me Bryce.’’
‘‘All right…Bryce. I’m extremely interested in the position and would consider it an honor to work as your administrative assistant. I have long admired your dedication to charity and your hard work in that regard.’’ She smiled, doing her best to project as much sincerity as she could muster and thankful that she hadn’t choked on the audacious lies.
‘‘Do you have a current passport?’’
Without warning, he rose from his chair and moved to the office door. ‘‘That’s it, Bradford.’’
His abrupt action startled her. ‘‘That’s what?’’
‘‘End of the interview. The job is yours effective immediately.’’ He glanced at his watch. ‘‘You have three hours to pack. We’re going to London and we’ll be gone for five days. Meet me at the company hangar at the airport. Get the directions from Eileen.’’ He opened the door and stepped aside, indicating that she was dismissed.
‘‘I…uh, I appreciate this opportunity—’’
‘‘I have another meeting, Bradford. Eileen will provide you with what you need.’’
‘‘Yes…thank you.’’ She hurried out of the office, a little uncertain about exactly what had just happened. The office door closed behind her. She was momentarily irritated with his brusque manner, which had almost bordered on rude.
Bryce watched from his office window as Paige walked down the sidewalk. As soon as she was out of sight he picked up the phone and called Joe Thompkins. A minute later his security chief arrived in his office. Bryce settled into his chair, leaned back and propped his feet up on his desk. He listened intently as the forty-two-year-old ruggedly handsome man opened a file folder and gave him a quick rundown.
‘‘Paige Bradford, maiden name Franklin. Thirty-two years old. Daughter of Stanley Franklin, founder of Franklin Industries. Mother deceased. Following a divorce one year ago from Jerry Bradford, Paige moved from St. Louis back to her father’s house in Los Angeles. She’s the one who discovered his body after he shot himself. That was six months ago. It was shortly after that when she began tracking down information about you.’’
Bryce took the folder from Joe and looked over the contents as he slowly shook his head. ‘‘If she hadn’t tried to pass herself off as a writer doing an in-depth biography of me, then called one of my business associates, Herb Fenwick, to set up an interview with him we probably wouldn’t have known about her activities. Fortunately, Herb called me after she’d contacted him.’’
Bryce scanned the folder again. ‘‘I’m not sure what type of person I was expecting, but she certainly wasn’t it. I wonder what she wants with me. It can’t have anything to do with my purchase of Franklin Industries. Surely she knows about her father, what he did and why the deal went down that way.’’
‘‘The real kicker was her procuring a job right here in corporate headquarters with access to your entire computer network. You have a copy of her personnel record, don’t you?’’
‘‘Yes.’’ Bryce reached in a desk drawer and withdrew another file folder. He looked through the pages, his gaze lingering for a moment longer than necessary on the photograph that did not do her justice. It did not show her beautiful smile or her sparkling hazel eyes. He let out a sigh of exasperation. ‘‘I suppose the sensible thing to do would have been to just ask her what she was up to. There could be a perfectly logical reason for her running around prying into my life and business.’’
‘‘Oh, really?’’ Joe’s expression and tone of voice said he found Bryce’s suggestion totally ludicrous. ‘‘And just what do you suppose that perfectly logical reason might be?’’
Bryce shot him an exasperated look. ‘‘All right, let’s say she does have some sort of ulterior motive for her actions. We don’t want to make any accusations without some type of proof.’’ Bryce suddenly sat up straighter, his tone of voice taking on a sense of urgency. ‘‘She hasn’t done anything detrimental to the company, like compromising sensitive corporate information, has she?’’
‘‘Not that I’m aware of. Her investigations seem to have been limited to publicly available information…so far.’’
Bryce studied her file a moment longer, then closed it with a finality that said the discussion was finished. ‘‘I’ve transferred her to my personal staff as my administrative assistant effective today. According to her file she’s fully qualified for the job. That way I can keep my eye on her until we figure out what she’s up to—if she’s up to anything at all—and she won’t know we’re suspicious of her. I don’t want to tip our hand and frighten her off before we find out what this is about.’’
‘‘I don’t like it, Bryce. She seems to have some sort of personal agenda she’s pursuing and you can bet it’s not to your benefit.’’
Bryce opened the file and stared at her photograph again. ‘‘You know—’’ he flashed a grin ‘‘—it’s worth a little bit of inconvenience to have someone around who looks like this. Eileen Draper is a dear and I couldn’t get along without her management skills, but she is old enough to be my mother.’’ He stole a guilty look toward the office door, then turned a sheepish expression to Joe. ‘‘And don’t you dare tell Eileen I said that.’’
Bryce closed the folder and tossed it onto the corner of his desk, his manner once again turning to serious business. ‘‘I’ll play it by ear, take it one day at a time. We’ll see where things progress from here.’’
‘‘You want her working directly with you where she would be free to pursue whatever she has on her agenda up to and including doing you physical harm?’’
‘‘In all fairness, Joe, we don’t know that she has anything in mind that’s damaging to me or to the corporation.’’
‘‘That’s your final decision in the matter?’’
‘‘Yep. That’s the way I intend to play it.’’
‘‘I want to go on record as being dead set against this, Bryce.’’
‘‘Your objection is duly noted.’’
FALLING FOR THE ENEMY, a Silhouette Desire by Shawna Delacorte, has been reissued in ebook, available at http://ebooks.eharlequin.com (do search for author name Shawna Delacorte). Also available at Barnes and Noble in NookBooks www.bn.com and Amazon for Kindle www.amazon.com Information available on my website www.shawnadelacorte.com
Paige Bradford intended to expose Bryce Lexington for the ruthless shark he was. But when they started working together, the sparks they gave off jettisoned her best intentions…. Paige knew this corporate hunk wasn’t what he seemed—but was she losing her heart…to the enemy?
Hiring oh-so-sexy Paige might have been the biggest mistake Bryce had ever made, but he had to learn what she was after. Especially since she had Bryce—the man with everything—wanting something far more precious: Paige’s love.