As we settle in, the busboy brings the waters, and I cut to the chase. “So, I hate to crash the Sunday Funday vibe, but I invited you to brunch with an ulterior motive. I need a favor.”
She spreads her napkin on her lap with a raised brow. “What kind of favor?”
“I need you at next Monday’s board meeting. As you know, we lost an important account last month when Beaux Rêves in Paris went with a cheaper option. Obviously, they aren’t our only account, not by a long shot. But given how volatile the industry has been lately, I need to make it crystal clear to the shareholders that selling isn’t the right path. With the number of mergers and acquisitions going on, they’re seeing dollar signs, but quick money isn’t the answer. That’s where you come in.”
“You want them to hear from me because of my shares?” she asks, her brow furrowing. “We don’t have anything close to a majority.”
Though CJ inherited Sean’s share of the business when he passed away, that’s not why I need her at the meeting. CJ has a way of putting people at ease, of winning their trust and confidence. She’s a successful business owner in her own right—her accessories company Love Cycle Creations is growing by leaps and bounds every year. Plus, she was courted early on by an accessories conglomerate and she declined—totally the right call, as her company is now a rising star in her field.
I nod. “Of course, but that’s not the only reason. I need to convince them that now is not the time to explore getting into bed with a huge multinational retailer. And to do that, it’ll help to hear from someone with an insider’s stock holdings and an outsider’s perspective. I want them to hear from you in particular since you went through something so similar with Love Cycle.”
“On a much smaller scale, though. My company is tiny compared to Adored.”
“Size doesn’t matter.” I pause to wiggle an eyebrow for effect. “Well, in this case.”
A faint blush spreads on her cheeks. “You and the innuendo.”
“I do love innuendo. I also love Adored. That’s why I want to keep it the way it is—growing, profitable, and independent. I don’t want it swallowed by some faceless corporate giant.” A smile teases her lips for a moment and then disappears. I can’t read her at all, so I’m on the edge of my seat, waiting for an answer. “Please, CJ,” I add when she stays silent for a long beat. “I need you.”
“You need me,” she echoes, her brow smoothing as she sighs. She takes a drink of water, sets down her glass, and runs the tip of her tongue across her lips.
I watch her tongue move, wondering why I’ve never noticed how amazing her mouth is. She has the bee-stung lips of a cover girl, in a shade of pink so deep it brings to mind flushed, hot, intimate things.
Things I should be thinking of in her presence.
In anyone’s presence.
Resist, Campbell, resist…
Finally, just as I’m gearing up to beg, she looks up, a mysterious smile curving her lips. “I know exactly what you need, Graham.”
Damn, that sounded…naughty.
I reach for my water glass, needing something to cool me down since innocent words from a woman I’ve known forever are sending my thoughts straight into the gutter.
“But before I agree to your request,” she adds, her fingers drumming lightly on the white tablecloth, “I need something from you, too. Something I’ve been thinking long and hard about. Very long. And very hard.” Her eyes meet mine, trouble flickering in her gaze.
Glass halfway to my lips, I freeze.
Christ. Who the hell is this sexy-as-sin woman, and what has she done with CJ?
About the Author
Lauren Blakely writes sexy contemporary romance novels with heat, heart, and humor, and she has had eight books on the New York Times Bestseller list and fifteen on the USA Today Bestseller list. Like the heroine in her novel, FAR TOO TEMPTING, she thinks life should be filled with family, laughter, and the kind of love that love songs promise. Lauren lives in California with her husband, children, and dogs. She loves hearing from readers! Her bestselling series include Sinful Nights, Seductive Nights, No Regrets, Caught Up in Love, and Fighting Fire. She recently released SWEET SINFUL NIGHTS, the first novel in her new sexy romance series Sinful Nights that became an instant New York Times Bestseller. Her new adult forbidden romance, 21 Stolen Kisses, hit e-readers in May and landed on the USA Today Bestseller list. In January, she’ll release BIG ROCK, a standalone contemporary romance sure to make you swoon. She also writes for young adults under the name Daisy Whitney.
USA Today bestselling author Lili Valente writes both naughty things and funny things (that are also naughty). She has slept under the stars in Greece, eaten dinner at midnight with French men who couldn’t be trusted to keep their mouths on their food, and walked alone through Munich’s red light district after dark and lived to tell the tale.
These days you can find her writing in a tent beside the sea, drinking coconut water and thinking delightfully dirty thoughts.
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