This is from an unreleased and unfinished story – Lisa’s Sway. It’s my attempt at the Harlequin BLAZE market.
BLURB: Real Estate mogul Sam Gallo is caught up in a scandal that could ruin his business and needs help. He hires a PR firm to help him only to discover the person they send out is none other than Lisa Delbeck, his old high school sweetheart.
Lisa Delbeck couldn’t be more lucky to get hired by Professional Image Inc, the PR firm that specializes in disaster recovery. Her first assignment and the one that will make her career is with Gallo Investments. Her surprise comes when she comes face to face with her old boyfriend, Sam Gallo.
He’s rich and she’s struggling but can she help his company in the face of adversity even as her heart screams to stay away from him?
Sam Gallo scanned the room on his way in. He spotted several other investors he’d dealt with and groaned. The pain of being at one of these boring charity fundraisers, he could handle. But the showiness of it all, that was another matter altogether.
His suit made him stand out from the others. Instead of wearing typical black, which Sam would have preferred, his secretary and best friend had chosen a deep blue suit that complimented his eyes. His dark hair had been pulled back into a braid, rather than a ponytail and hung just over his shoulders.
What he wouldn’t kill for a cigar or his pipe right now.
“Do I have to go to this fundraiser, Kristie?”
She nodded and blonde curls bobbed over her green eyes. “Yes, my dear. You do. It’s important that we don’t look like assholes with money.”
He groaned. Yet he understood where she came from and had to agree. Too many times Sam had experienced sneers from some of the clients who bought houses from him.
“You’re making a lot of money off me,” they’d say.
“I’m providing a new home for you,” was his only response. Then he’d turn on his heels and walk away, annoyed at their scornful looks burning into his back.
But this party was supposed to be a way to deflect some of the negative attention he’d been receiving since the economic crash. His company had survived and gave him permission to stand here with the others.
Sharks, that’s what many of them were. They couldn’t care less about the people they placed in homes. Many of them had contacts at the SEC and Federal Reserve that helped bail them out or rewrite the rules slightly to avoid bankruptcy since some of the country’s top hard money lenders were at this fundraiser for…
What was it again?
Sam scratched his head and sighed. Then he made his way through the thick crowd and towards the open bar.
His eyes roamed over the bartender’s body. She was lithe, redheaded and had ample bosoms but wasn’t really his type. “Double scotch please, on the rocks.”
“Yes sir,” her smile seemed to light up when he spoke. Eyes twinkled and gave off her age. Yet she filled the glass with ice and poured Jonny Walker into his glass.
It was his least favorite by far, but it’d help pass the time and keep him from opening his mouth too much. If he appeared to always be taking a drink, then he’d look like everyone else.
A quick glance around the room revealed that plenty of funds had been spent to throw this shindig. Colorful streamers hung from the ceiling. A few lights hung in the back corner to his left while a DJ spun records from some obscure genre of house and techno Sam wasn’t familiar with.
Behind him, the open bar. In front of him, a sea of people he had no desire to be surrounded by swayed and danced to the beats.
He swirled his drink impatiently and took sips periodically. The boredom was enough to drive him up the wall, but his presence here was the only thing required.
Later on, photographers would come in during the party’s highlights and take photographs for the local newspaper and he had to be seen among them.
A large banner hung across the back wall between the light and the DJ booth that read “Foundation for Saving Galveston Bay.” The large letters seemed to mock Sam.
He took another swallow of scotch and set his empty glass on the bar.
“Care for another?” The bartender fluttered long eyelashes at him.
“Sure.” He pulled out his wallet, dropped a $10 in the tip jar and met her gaze. “No ice. If there’s better scotch, I’d prefer that.”
The edge in his voice hinted at naughty things and made the bartender blush. “Sure thing,” she stammered and stepped back from the bar. Bending over gave Sam a glorious view of an ample ass meant for holding onto while some man, preferably Sam, drove himself into her sweet core.
He shook off the thought. It wasn’t like he was looking to scratch an itch, though it had been some time since he’d blown off some steam. Too much work, not enough play. Tonight he thought just briefly that he might find some attractive woman he could take for a spin, serve breakfast to and spend the day in bed with.
Just one day. More than that gave the appearance of desire for commitment, and Sam couldn’t do that. His dedication to Gallo Investments was the one thing that drove him and taking more time off than was necessary caused problems, even with his personal assistant handling the workload. Contractors were in constant need of babysitting, accounting had to be dealt with, and partners on projects had to be pacified.
It was always something. What he wouldn’t give for a week off from his job.
The bartender tilted her head and handed him a larger glass with something that smelled much better than the standard scotch. “This is an Islay we keep for our more…discerning guests.”
He took the drink and brought it to his nose. The flavors swirled around with the liquid and assaulted his senses with a heady feeling that reminded him of peat and coal. “Slante,” he offered her his best come hither after your shift smile and turned around.
His eyes caught sight of a woman sitting at one of the tables that had been pushed to the side.
Dark hair hung down the sides of her face in curls that seemed to have plenty of bounce. A red dress hugged luscious curves. She sat bent over with delicate arms while she fumbled with her cell phone.
Probably texting a boyfriend or partner.
Oh well, it’s not like objections ever stopped him.
She looked up and their eyes met.
Instant recognition fought a fog in his mind as he struggled to remember who she was and why he should avoid her but the pull in his groin ultimately won out.
Drink in hand; he made his way to the table where she sat.
Instantly, she stiffened.
“Do I know you?” Her voice was soft yet audible against the thudding bass.
He shook his head. “I don’t believe so. But I’d like to get to know the woman every man here has been too stupid to approach.”
She smiled and it felt false. Sam was used to that. Some women could smell him a mile away, others fell for his lines instantly.
The least this one could do was give him the benefit of the doubt.
She spoke dryly, “Lisa. I’m here observing the jungle inhabitants.”
He nodded, “I see. May I have a seat?”
“Sure,” she shrugged. “I didn’t plan on being here too long but my boss said I’ll find clients this way.”
“Oh,” he groaned. He should have known someone had sent out their pretty face to gather money for their projects.
A perfectly manicured eyebrow rose. “Is that a problem?”
He shook his head and flashed a sincere smile.
She blinked. “I’m not here to gouge anyone, Mr…”
“Please,” he offered his hand, “Call me Sam.”
She set her phone down and took his hand. “Lisa. Nice to meet you.”
Careful not to intimidate her, he let his touch linger just a second longer than was polite before withdrawing his hand. She was soft, her grip firm and indicative of power she seemed unaware of. “It’s a pleasure, Lisa. So,” he looked over his shoulder and back at her, “What brings you here if not poaching.”
“Is that what they call it these days?”
Sam leaned back and took his drink in hand. “Well, my secretary uses that phrase to describe hopefuls who show up at these fundraisers looking for donations, handouts or funding for their latest charity or start up business. Nice to know you’re not here for that.”
“No,” she blinked again, “I have ulterior motives.”
The way the light hit her eyes made something low in Sam’s gut pull. Desire, that’s what it was.
Her face was soft, sensual. Perfectly red lips puckered and blew a kiss at him.
He couldn’t stop the wicked smile that formed at his mouth. “Did you now? Trying to bag a rich old man to wed?”
She snorted. “As if I’d want one of these old geezers. Imagine having to sleep with them.” She waved a hand around them.
Sam chuckled. He knew half these vultures here had a long list of indiscretions that would definitely impact their bottom line. None of them were as discerning as he was, nor were they as discreet. “I can’t blame you. Half of them are rats.”
“Then why are you here?”
He groaned, “Because I’m in real estate and I have a lot of money and my personal assistant said I needed to come here and be seen so I don’t look like just another rich asshole.”
Lisa leaned back but left her hand on the table just in front of Sam. “It sounds like your personal assistant is a smart man.”
“She,” he corrected, “is the reason I do a lot of things I’d rather not do.”
Lisa rolled her eyes. “Glad she cares for her job.”
He sighed, “No,” he leaned forward and set his hand on hers. “It’s not that. I’d never bother firing her, she’d probably kick my ass and I’d have to hear about it for days.”
Lisa frowned. “I see.”
His fingers spread over her hand, lightly massaging her soft skin and her wrist, “No, it’s not like that. She’s my best friend and about the best thing to happen to me since the sixth grade.”
She laughed. Desire twinkled in her eyes as her expression changed. She leaned forward, “That’s good to know. I’d hate to think you were a bad man.”
“Oh,” he grinned wickedly, “I am. Just,” his voice dropped a few notches, “in a different manner than these fools.”
She nodded. “I think I like where this is going, Mr, uh..”
The look on her face said lust in the most feminine of manners. He liked that. “Sam. Mr. Gallo is too formal.”
Her eyes widened. “Sam then. Fine, since you insist.”
“I do.” He leaned forward and brushed his lips over her knuckles in a slow, calculated movement before his tongue darted out to flick over her smooth skin.
She smelled of ripe cherry and perfume.
The scent reminded him of someone. But who?
Slowly, her hand retracted. “Better if you try that on my mouth, Sam.”
When she leaned forward, Sam saw the tops of glorious cream colored breasts. The low cut top of her dress revealed her cleavage and made his heart skip a beat.
She stood and set her hands on her hips.
It was now or never. His turn.
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