Where and when you least expect it. . .love is there. Revising these two stories was a pleasure--I hope you'll enjoy reading them.
Enemy In Camp
Dirk Ramsey's newspaper column is syndicated nationwide, but that doesn't impress Victoria Beaumont. Just because Dirk's tall, dark, totally cute, and way too smart for his own good doesn't mean he knows everything. If he did, he'd know that she fell in love with him at the start of their summer together on Mackinac Island. She couldn't help it. Going down leafy lanes on a bicycle built for two, having tea at the Grand Hotel--it doesn't get more romantic than that. Until Dirk kisses her...
Deborah Holland is ready to climb the corporate ladder, and the first step is an interview at LaCosta, one of the biggest companies around. The last thing she expected was to meet CEO Zane Wilding in person. He's masterful, sexy, and. . .well, everything she ever wanted in a man. In your dreams, Deborah. Not going to happen. Wonder of wonders. Zane calls to offer her a plum job as his assistant and Deborah can't refuse. From meetings in the walnut-paneled company boardroom to social events at his Connecticut mansion, she'll be at his side day and night. Anything could happen. . .
Remember when you first fell in love? It's time to get that feeling again. . .
|Product dimensions:||4.20(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.50(d)|
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Yes, I Do
By JANET DAILEY
ZEBRA BOOKS Copyright © 2008 Kensington Publishing Corp.
All right reserved.
Chapter One The taxi went as fast as the traffic on the boulevard of Jefferson Avenue would allow. Ahead rose the gleaming structure of the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit. The seventy-story cylindrical tower of the Plaza Hotel dominated the four sister towers that surrounded it like ladies-in-waiting. The monolith of modern architecture overlooked the Detroit River, the Canadian province of Ontario on its opposite shore, and to the northeast, Lake St. Clair.
The driver slowed the cab at a red light near the entrance driveway to the Renaissance Center and glanced in the rearview mirror at his female passenger. "We're almost there, miss," he announced and noticed her glance at the delicate gold watch on her wrist. "I told you we'd make it in no time flat."
"Yes, you did." The smile Victoria Beaumont gave him was polite, and nothing of her inner impatience showed in her expression.
The cabbie liked the sound of her voice. Calm and well educated. Not that she had talked to him much. Other than confiding that she was late for a lunch date at the Renaissance Center and asking him to please hurry, she'd been pretty quiet and he'd done nearly all the talking.
"I wouldn't worry about him bein' upset. As soon as he sees you he'll forget that you're late." There was no doubt in the cab driver's mind that she was meeting a man for lunch.
He silently wished he was ten years younger, forty pounds lighter, and had all his hair. The heap of upscale shopping bags and dress boxes on the seat beside her indicated his pretty passenger was kind of high-maintenance, but the cabbie would be willing to overlook that.
"I'm not so sure," Victoria replied, choosing not to ask why he assumed she was meeting a man.
"If he don't, then he don't know a good thing when he sees it," the cab driver insisted and unabashedly studied her profile in his mirror.
Her skin looked smooth and soft to him, with a light tan even though it was only May. She had nice cheekbones, and a perfect nose, not straight and not too short. Her mouth was sensational, soft and shiny with lipgloss. It was obvious to him that she was something special.
"Are you a model?" he asked.
"No." Victoria didn't volunteer the information that she was a member of the idle rich-okay, her family had money but they were never idle. Her mother, for one, had an appointment calendar filled with charity meetings, country club functions, tennis dates, and a variety of parties. Victoria hadn't strayed too far from her mom's example.
"You sure got the looks for it," the cabbie replied. "I oughta know. I get all kinds of passengers in my cab from hookers-pardon my French-to housewives. But you're different. You got class, you know? Hope I'm not talking too much."
"No, it's okay." Victoria thought there might be a compliment in there somewhere, but it was a struggle not to laugh. Her eyes were dancing with it, though, and she looked out the window so he wouldn't think she was laughing at him.
"It ain't just the way you smell," he assured her, having been enveloped in the sensual cloud of her expensive perfume since she had entered his cab. "It's the color of your hair. On any other woman it'd probably be light brown, but on you it looks blond. What color do you call it?"
"I don't know." Victoria had never had to label it before. It couldn't really be considered brown but it lacked the golden quality of true blond. "Honey-colored, I guess."
"Yeah," the driver agreed after a moment's hesitation. "And there's the way you got it fixed, too. When my wife goes to a beauty shop, she either comes out lookin' like a poodle or else like she's had her hair starched. Even though your hair ain't long it looks, uh, sorta windswept. Is that the right word?"
"It'll do," Victoria murmured. The cabbie was so engrossed in her reflection she had to call his attention to the traffic. "Um, the light's about to turn green."
"Right," he answered quickly, like he'd been paying attention all along.
When the traffic ahead of him moved out of the way, he turned the cab into the drive and stopped at one of the entrances of the center. He got out of the cab and walked around to the rear passenger door to help Victoria, assisting her with a gallantry that was more touching than amusing.
"Thank you." Victoria added a generous tip to the fare.
"You're welcome." He began hauling out her shopping bags and dress boxes from the rear seat. "You want some help with this?"
"I think I can manage." It took some maneuvering to slip her fingers through all the plastic handles, but she succeeded with help from the cab driver. "What time is it?"
"Half past one. And you tell that guy if he's upset with you for bein' late, there's plenty of other fellas that'd be happy to be in his shoes."
"Right." This time there was nothing distracted about the smile lighting her face.
The driver started toward the entrance door to open it for her-the doorman was nowhere in sight-and stopped. "What color are your eyes?"
Hmm. His interest in her was getting to be a little too much. Victoria kept her reply to one word. "Gray."
An audible breath of amazement came from his throat. "I never knew anybody with gray eyes before." It was said to himself as he moved to hold the hotel door for her. "If you ever need a cab again, miss, you just call up my company and ask for Joe Kopacek. That's a Czech name."
"I'll remember, Mr. Kopacek," Victoria promised with a faint nod. Enough was enough. She wasn't going to do anything of the kind.
Inside the entrance, Victoria was confronted by a labyrinth of corridors connecting a multistoried shopping center. No matter how many times she came here, she still had trouble finding her way around. Fortunately a security guard was standing by a wall.
"Excuse me, which way is the restaurant?" she asked.
"Which restaurant?" He grinned at her question. "I think there are fourteen in this complex."
"Aarghh." She couldn't help the muffled exclamation of irritation. Victoria just didn't remember the specific one, so she opted for the place they usually ended up at when they were downtown. "The hotel has a terrace-type café, doesn't it? Near the elevators?"
"Yup." The guard pointed to the corridor on Victoria's right. "Go that way and keep to your left. You can't miss it."
Victoria followed his directions and arrived at the open center of the complex. It was an ultramodern area of curving, rising buttresses of concrete, its blockiness softened by big potted plants and trees. Crisscrossing walkways and escalators connected one side to the other and one level to the next. At a bottom level was the restaurant Victoria wanted. It looked like a sidewalk café, except that it was in the center of the complex and cordoned off from the rest of the lobby.
Making her way to the restaurant entrance of bamboo screens, Victoria glanced at the tables as the hostess approached. "How many, please?"
"I'm meeting someone here," Victoria explained. She caught sight of a familiar brown-haired woman seated alone at one of the tables with her back to the entrance. "There she is."
With a brief smile at the hostess, she made her way through the tables, the bags and boxes in her hands slowing her down. She didn't want to bump into anyone, seated or not. When she reached the table where the woman was sitting, Victoria stopped and began piling her stuff in an empty chair.
"Hi, Mom. Did you give up on me?" Victoria greeted her with a cheerful but slightly guilty smile. "Sorry. I lost track of the time."
"As long as that was all you lost," Lena Beaumont announced with a dryly indulgent look at the overflowing chair. "Shop until you drop, hmm?"
Victoria simply laughed at that and sat next to her mother. "Looks like I missed Dad." She glanced at the empty coffee cup and crumpled napkin at the place setting opposite her.
"Yes, he had an appointment and couldn't wait."
The waitress appeared to give Victoria a menu and offer her coffee. "No, thank you. Iced tea, please," she requested and began to study the lunch offerings. "What did you and Dad have?"
"I had a club sandwich and your father had soup and broiled fish."
"Healthy choices for him," Victoria said absentmindedly.
"We are at that age." There was a subdued gleam in her mother's gray eyes, which were very much the same color as Victoria's, although the passing years had given them a warm wisdom.
"Mmm." The reply was noncommittal. When the waitress returned Victoria closed the menu and ordered. "Spinach salad with very little dressing-low calorie if you have it."
"Yes, we do." The waitress collected the menu before moving away.
"You have more willpower than I do, Tory." Her mother sighed. "You should loan me some of yours so I can get rid of this extra fifteen pounds I'm carrying around."
"On you it looks good," Victoria insisted. They were the same height and the same approximate build. Despite the extra weight, her mother still had great, very feminine curves. No one would ever accuse her of being heavy.
"Spoken like a diplomatic daughter." Lena Beaumont laughed.
"On the subject of looking good, wait until you see the clothes I found." With a flick of her long fingers, Victoria gestured toward the bags and boxes piled in the chair near her.
"What did you do, buy a whole new summer wardrobe? I know you 'don't have a thing to wear,'" her mother teased.
"That's not so far from the truth." Victoria felt compelled to defend herself. "Yes, I have tons of clothes, but most of them are from my college days. Ta da! I am twenty-three! It's time I began dressing like it."
"Twenty-three? Oh, that's very old."
Victoria refused to rise to the bait. "You know exactly what I mean. Anyway, all of it's in really good condition but it's not 'me' anymore. Adrianne was mentioning the other day that the secondhand clothes shop needed donations, so I thought I'd clean out my closet on their behalf."
"That's an excellent idea," her mother said.
"I thought so." Victoria paused, seeing for the first time the drink glass with an olive on the bottom that sat where her father had been. "What's this? A martini lunch? That isn't like Dad."
"He was celebrating."
"What?" Victoria lifted a finely arched brow, not remembering anything significant about this particular day in May.
"He persuaded Dirk Ramsey to spend a couple of weeks with us at Mackinac Island this June," Lena Beaumont explained.
"He what?" Victoria's astonishment bordered on incredulity. "Why on earth is that something to celebrate? And why would he want to persuade that sniping, vicious ..." Victoria couldn't find adjectives vile enough to describe the political journalist whose syndicated column appeared in all the major US newspapers and online.
"Keep your voice down, Tory." Her mother's voice held a note of reproof.
"I don't care who knows what I think of Dirk Ramsey. He makes a living out of shredding reputations and careers." Victoria lowered her volume, but not the venom of her tone. "Look at the innuendos he put in his column about Dad! Or maybe lies is a better word."
"There was just enough truth in what Dirk wrote to make it not really worth denying," Lena reminded her.
"That's precisely my point. Dirk Ramsey spins things just to stir up controversy. He's never even really talked to Dad-I guess they were introduced at one point, though. For what it's worth!" Victoria flared up. "Which didn't keep Dirk from saying something about Dad being, quote-unquote, a puppeteer who pulls the strings in the governor's mansion. Or hinting that Dad's sense of civic responsibility is motivated by greed. And he's even insinuated that Dad's interest in national affairs is an attempt to get inside the Oval Office or get appointed to the Supreme Court! It's totally ridiculous, Mom!"
"And it's sickening, too. That man thinks he can get away with anything."
"Tory, you're old enough to be aware that your father is very influential," her mother began in a reasoning tone.
But Victoria didn't feel like being reasoned with. Her eyes were the turbulent gray of storm clouds rolling in from the Great Lakes. "Well, of course. His legal firm has a national reputation by now. When Dad was actively practicing law he was one of the best attorneys in Michigan. And I do understand since he's become politically involved that he's going to get a lot of public scrutiny. I don't object to that. I do object to some stranger acting like Dad has something to hide or there are skeletons in his closet or whatever."
"That's precisely your father's point." Lena Beaumont paused and held up a silencing forefinger as the waitress arrived with Victoria's salad and freshened her mother's cup of coffee. Victoria kept quiet while the waitress was there, but it was a simmering quiet.
"What's 'precisely' his point?" she demanded when the waitress had gone, attacking the salad with a vengeance.
"That Dirk Ramsey doesn't know him," her mother explained. "Your father has always made it a point to be open with the press. On several occasions he's gone out of his way to cultivate their respect. The last thing he wants or needs is to feud with a famous journalist like Dirk Ramsey."
"Journalist-he doesn't deserve the term. He's a muckraker," Victoria snapped. "I wouldn't call him famous. Notorious is more appropriate."
"It doesn't matter whether you consider him famous or notorious. Whatever Dirk Ramsey prints or says, people pay attention to it," Lena Beaumont continued.
"In my opinion Dad should sue him." Victoria stabbed at a dark green spinach leaf with her fork.
"Ever heard of the First Amendment?"
"Yes, Mom. Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of the press. But I'm entitled to my opinion too."
"Of course you are."
Victoria kept on fighting with her spinach and didn't reply.
"Keep in mind," her mother added, "that it isn't possible to attack one reporter without others leaping to his defense. Instead of having one person against him, your father would have them all," was the dry retort.
"So if you can't beat them, join them. Is that his plan?" Victoria knew she sounded sarcastic and didn't care.
Until Dirk Ramsey began making sly references to her father in his column, Victoria had never even read it. After reading two daily doses of his interpretations of half-truths, she refused to look at it again. Once she'd heard Dirk introduced on some national television show and immediately switched channels. One glimpse of his arrogant but handsome face was all the convincing she needed that he was only seeking his own glory.
"Essentially, it is," her mother agreed. "Dirk Ramsey doesn't know your father. He's barely exchanged ten words with him. So Dad contacted him and suggested they become better acquainted. He invited him to spend two weeks with us at Mackinac Island for that purpose and Mr. Ramsey accepted."
"What? That's just crazy!" Victoria set her fork down to confront her mother.
"It's perfectly reasonable. Once Dirk Ramsey gets to know your father, he'll see for himself that Charles is exactly who he says he is."
"And if he doesn't get that, what then?" Victoria challenged.
"Then it won't be because your father failed to try to change his mind." She sipped at her coffee with a calmness that Victoria had so often envied and tried to emulate.
"Dad can't be serious." Victoria shook her head, her wavy hair brushing her neck. "He could accomplish the same thing by having dinner with the guy or playing golf or tennis with him."
"No, he couldn't." Lena Beaumont dismissed that suggestion with a wave of her hand. "Dirk Ramsey would suspect that your father was putting up a facade. But nobody can maintain a facade for two weeks, day in and day out."
"Wait a minute." Victoria straightened, eyeing her mother with suspicion. "When you said Dad invited Ramsey to Mackinac Island, you didn't mean that he would be staying with us-at our summer home? He will be staying at a hotel, won't he?"
"Of course not," her mother laughed. "He will be our guest, and treated just like anyone else we invite."
"That's even worse!" she declared. "It's like inviting your enemy into camp to inspect your defenses!"
"You are exaggerating, Tory." Her mother sighed with some amusement.
"I'm not. If you don't see it, Dad should," she insisted. "No matter what happens, Ramsey will get it all twisted."
"It's up to all of us to persuade him that he formed a misconception," Lena reasoned.
"You can't be serious, Mom," Victoria replied with obvious disgust. "And hey, what about Penny? You know the stage she's in," she said, referring to her sixteen-year-old sister. "She knows everything. She's always talking back and sassing. Can you imagine the kind of impression she'll give Ramsey?"
Excerpted from Yes, I Do by JANET DAILEY Copyright © 2008 by Kensington Publishing Corp.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of ContentsContents ENEMY IN CAMP....................1
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