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Excerpt from Can’t Buy Me Love (Eligible Billionaires Book One)
“Is it always this hard?”
For Cole Jackson only one response answered Meg’s question: Yes. Every conquest was the outcome of a hard-fought battle, every win the results of a decimated other side, every challenge more difficult than the last. Otherwise, what was the point? With ease came softness and with softness a swift defeat.
Cole yanked at the knot of his cobalt blue tie, tired of the daylong stranglehold. On the far side of his office window, night sucked away the last light of day as the sweltering orange sun surrendered to the Pacific. The streaks of pink, orange, and fuchsia that decorated the sky failed to captivate Cole. He could witness such displays of color on any horizon, in any city, on any night—so why waste time with this sunset?
Cole reached for the crystal decanter stationed on the bar in his office. His pour was generous and neat. Amber liquid shimmered in the final rays of the sun. He sipped the bourbon. Heat slid down his throat, but the liquor didn’t scorch him nearly as much as the woman who, after a six-month absence, now stood in his office.
“There are cell phone towers up and down the entire California coastline and the one spot in Los Angeles where I can’t get a signal is your office?”
Meg Parson’s voice was brighter and lighter than the curves of her body would suggest. She shifted her weight and her hip teased forward against her suit skirt. The outline of bone against taut fabric taunted Cole with hints of lace panties. In a careless moment his gaze roamed over her legs, caressed her skirt, and brushed over the outline of her breasts.
Hunger for Meg clutched his belly and twisted hard. Cole turned toward the ocean and the unwatched sunset—away from Meg. Better to feign interest in the blossom of color on the horizon than to indulge his desires to stare at his colleague and former assistant.
“Hello? Hello?” Meg said into the phone.
In the window, Cole caught Meg’s reflection as she flipped her long sable-colored hair over her right shoulder. She tightened her jaw and closed her eyes.
His stomach clenched as Meg’s tongue caressed her pout of a mouth. Cole took another slug of his drink, hopeful that the liquid heat burning down his throat would distract him from his desires.
He set his jaw in opposition to his craving and pulled his gaze away from Meg’s indelible imprint on the glass. He didn’t need the reflection; her every sinew was seared into his mind but Meg was off-limits.
In the three years she’d worked for him, Meg made herself indispensable, and he had been fool enough to let her become a necessity. She knew everything about him—from the way he took his coffee down to his shoe size. She ran his business affairs seamlessly. He leaned on her. Depended on her. Cole even began to need her and needing anyone was intolerable. To need a person was to appear weak. Need allowed vulnerability to take root. Need was the end of strength. No, to need Meg was completely unacceptable.
“Yes, hi. This is Meg Parson. I have Cole Jackson for Stan Morton,” Meg said.
With the sound of his name on her lips he faced her. This was a business deal, nothing more.
“Of course I’ll hold.” Meg covered the mouthpiece and her blue eyes sparkled with the thrill of the deal. “Why didn’t we use your landline?”
Cole’s heart quickened as Meg’s excitement spilled over to him. Cole sipped his drink and watched Meg over the top of his glass. This time, her proximity, and not the bourbon, seared through him.
“They’re getting Stan,” Meg whispered, still covering the mouthpiece.
Stan Morton owned one of the two things Cole wanted most in the world: TBC Studios.
And the other thing?
Cole’s eyes traced the porcelain curve of Meg’s neck as she twirled a piece of hair between her thumb and pointer finger. Well, the other thing wasn’t for sale, nor was it negotiable. Office dalliances weren’t Cole’s style and neither was a long-term commitment. Meg was the type of woman who required he break both rules, and Cole preferred his relationships exactly as they’d been for the past decade: hot, fast, and disposable.
This deal was Meg’s baby, and once it was consummated Cole would have to promote Meg. If he waited any longer another company would swoop in and grab her. One of his competitors might already be trying.
“How will you celebrate?” Cole rarely asked Meg anything so personal. A dusty pink flush crept over Meg’s ivory-colored cheeks.
Protectiveness surged through Cole.
“I’m thinking Bali.” A smile started in Meg’s eyes and quickly encompassed her whole face as she thought about a luxurious and well-deserved beach vacation.
Maggie Marr is the author of contemporary romance and women’s fiction. She writes smart, sexy, women and the men they love. She got her start in Hollywood pushing the mail cart at ICM, but quickly rose through the ranks to become a motion picture literary agent. As well as writing, she maintains a boutique legal practice dedicated to the needs of creatives & entrepreneurs. She is the current President of Los Angeles Romance Authors (LARA) and legal adviser to the Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA). Maggie loves all things pop culture and when she isn’t taking care of her clients or writing she can be found reading, chasing kids, or exercising her rescue pup
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