The Sweetheart Deal by Allison Morse
Some people in her small rural community think Ellen Hamilton, the business savvy daughter of the town’s largest employer, is too big for her britches. After all it’s the 1950s and women have no place in running corporations. But when the company is threatened with takeover by John Adair, the man who broke her heart and "betrayed" her family business years ago, she’s determined to stop at nothing to win. Yet, when the cool Ellen turns molten in John’s arms, will she discover the truth about the past in time to seal The Sweetheart Deal?
Ellen slammed the book on her desk and stood. “I knew you were up to something!”
He stalked toward her. “Then why don’t you run and tell Daddy? Let him take care of the big bad wolf.”
Ellen crossed her arms. “I would, except for my brother.”
“Really?” John moved around the desk and hovered over her. “Is that the only reason?”
Meeting the challenge, she stepped forward, lifting her chin, which reached no higher than his chest. “Absolutely.”
He shifted his gaze.
Good! He retreated first.
He picked up her copy of A Room with a View left open on her desk and whispered in her ear. “Why?”
Not so good.
His hand skimmed down her shoulder blade. She jumped at his touch, but that landed her even closer to him.
Why. Her question for him. Why?
No. Even though she spent those first few months after he left crying herself to sleep with that question. She wouldn’t ask it.
John hovered inches from hers. “That’s what the boy says in the novel, right? The great universal why.” His breath slid down along her neck like warm olive oil. “And, of course, the personal why, right Ellie, the very personal, why?” He pulled her to him and kissed her.
Initially, his mouth was surprisingly tentative. Almost awkward, like the first peck he’d given her after years of them being just friends. And, like then, the kiss had not stayed restrained, but grew hot and delicious in its intensity.
Her mind knew to stop this. But her body roared to life and pressed closer for more.
With a rip, reason prevailed, and she broke away, praying her effort to appear composed was working.
“Well, that was novel,” she said, smoothing down her dress. She gave a short cough of a laugh. “Bad joke, I know. So then, let’s move to business. What do you and Tim, and that Cindy person need from me? Is it my money, my votes, or me out of the way?”
John squelched a laugh like he actually felt embarrassed. “No dice, huh?” He shrugged. “You can’t blame a guy for trying, can you?”
She looked him straight in the eye. “Yes, I can.”
“Hey, what about you? Batting your eyes. You didn’t really think I wouldn’t see through that. Come on, I know you, Ellie.”
“And you? Quoting E.M. Forster, now that was brilliant.” Ellen’s intent was to be angry, but she couldn’t stop a smile playing upon her lips. “I mean, that you even knew the details from the book. Very impressive.”
“Hey, I was in this library as much as you if remember, with more need of escape.”
“And I wonder what would you’ve done if I was reading Jane Austen? No kissing in her books.”
“Even easier.” He leaned in close. “All the lack of kissing makes for great tension.”
Her body flooded with heat, but she caught herself and gazed intently at the fan on the window sill.
“That’s that, huh?” he asked. “I guess I should go.”
Yes, go. Stay. She didn’t know what to say.
Allison Morse grew up in a family of actors in Los Angeles; before the age of five, she started acting classes, which she adored. She continued in the family business until her early twenties when her curious spirit led her to consider other interests.
After receiving a B.A. from U.C. Berkeley, she went on to earn a M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy, and a J.D. from U.C. Hastings College of the Law.
Although she loved learning from each of her varied careers she always knew that storytelling was as essential to her as breathing. So as she pursued her professional life, she kept to a strict writing schedule, and joined the Romance Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.
She lives with her wonderful husband in a house in the hills that’s filled with books.
Allison can be contacted at http://www.allisonmorseauthor.com.