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“You know some people would accuse me of spoiling you by picking up your dry cleaning.” Marianne Clark halted after crossing the threshold into Knox Turner’s office. Her gaze quickly scanned the space to his desk, his two guest chairs empty. She smiled and narrowed her focus to his handsome face. Her palms itched with the desire to run her fingers through his rich, dark-brown hair. The silver strands at his temples tempted, triggering a hunger to be close enough to touch. Her feet automatically stepped forward. Excitement raced through her, and she forced herself to a stop.
A teasing grin widened over his face. Sparks lit his pale blue eyes. He pushed back his chair and walked around his desk. His gaze landed on the bob cut of her hair and shifted down her body.
She fumbled with the floral scarf at her neck and flattened the ruffle collar of her blue business suit. With his broad shoulders encased in a white dress-shirt, his tone form reflected a much younger physique than his actual age.
His peruse continued down the length of her straight skirt, along her legs and ended on her black patent leather heels. He tilted his head. His wicked smile turned her inside to mush. “Now, sweetheart, you’re the only one I’ve allowed such pleasures, besides you volunteered.”
He relieved her of the plastic-wrapped bundle and drew her farther into the room before he closed the door and hung the hangers on the hook on the backside. Then in his normal assertive manner, he caught her waist and drew her flush against his body.
Incapable of opposing his advances, Marianne set a hand on his chest and absorbed the pleasure of being in this man’s arms again. Too bad the bliss couldn’t last longer. He needed to get back to work. She had errands to run. “Knox, you’re making it harder and harder to resist you.”
“Then don’t. We’ve both had more than enough time to know what we want. Jack and Betty both died almost two years ago. We need to move on.” He caressed a hand along her back, easing her body even closer to the hard line of his.
Marianne smiled. She’d known him for years as her husband’s boss and respected him for all he’d accomplished in the business world. Her hang-up over their age difference grew less and less important as time passed. “Shouldn’t we at least date a few other people first? Test the waters. Make sure we’re not making a mistake by latching onto the first person we’re attracted to.”
“Good, so you admit you find me attractive?” He lowered his head and nuzzled the side of her neck, playfully nipping at her ear.
She sighed. His tantalizing touch and the deep rumble of his voice tempted her into sliding her hand along the back of his neck. Her fingers slid through his silky hair, and she marveled at the sensual thrill of being so close to him. For months now, she’d convinced herself her life was full enough with just her kids and grandkids.
If her other friends hadn’t remarried, she might have been able to maintain the lie to herself. Now, though, when she attended events with her friends, their husbands were included, leaving her odd man out, unless Knox agreed to come along to round out the numbers.
Everyone expected them to get together. She cared a great deal about him and longed to give in to their mutual attraction, but she required him to be certain he needed only her. She wiggled, uncertain what she should do. “Yes, well, Ursula Brooks seemed very taken with you the other night when we bumped into her at dinner. She even told me later, when I saw her at the gym to give you her number.”
“Not happening, I have the woman I want, right here in my arms.” He nailed her with his gaze. A serious light glinted in the depths. “I want only you.”
Without warning, her resistant melted under the passion reflected in his eyes. Why was she refusing such a wonderful man?
Was she crazy?
Tunneling her fingers deeper through his hair, she held his face inches from hers. “Until the day one of us dies?”
“Yes, though we have years until anything like that will happen to either of us.” His sweet, peppermint breath brushed her lips, igniting a longing for his kiss.
Not willing to argue, she covered his mouth with hers. Oh, wow, even at almost sixty, she felt her body ignite with longing. A deep hunger spread through her core as he held her tight against his body. The difference in their height, his topping six-feet, had her rocking onto her toes, stretching up off her four-inch heels.
Was it right for a woman her age to experience the same unquenchable yearning she had in her youth?
To daze by her reaction to hold back, she wrapped her arms around his neck and sank further into his embrace.
He deepened the kiss. His tongue darted quickly between the seam of her lips and stole the air from her lungs.
She quivered in his arms while her hands shifted to his shoulders. Her fingers dug into the crisp fabric of his shirt, creasing it. Nails bit into his flesh breaking skin if not for the thin barrier.
All the reason for not becoming involved with him flew out of her head. She realized at that moment the true futility of her attempts. He not only knew her weakness when it came to family and friends, but he had incredible perseverance. Each time she built a wall between them, he shifted tactics. Like now, she’d expected one of their normal light kisses. Instead, he’d unleashed a passion, she found impossible to defy.
The slow glide of his hands across her hips sent her heart beating into overdrive. He drew her closer and angled her body for maximum impact with his. Need sliced through her, glorying in the hard length of him against her neglected sex.
Shocked by his desire and her body’s response to it, she broke her mouth away and gasped for air. Her heels hit the ground. She lowered her head to his chest, fighting to recover some semblance of composure.
A knock sounded on the door.
Knox’s arms tightened around her. “I’m busy.”
“Sorry, Knox but you told me to remind you of your conference call with Mr. Foster at ten.” The muffled voice informed him through the partition.
“Thanks.” His gruff tone revealed his unhappiness with the interruption.
Marianne silently thanked his secretary for the reprieve. This was not the time or the place for her to let things get out of hand.
“Sorry, sweetheart, but I can’t reschedule this meeting. We’re in the middle of negotiations for the sale of Foster’s company.” Knox drew back, tilting his head slightly and stared into her face.
A chuckle of delight rang from him. “Wow, I never thought I’d see the unshakeable matriarch of the executive wives’ club blush.”
She stiffened and pressed her hands against his chest, not necessarily taking offense at the comment but not completely at ease with it either. “I better leave. You have work to do. I also have an appointment here in a little bit, too.”
He released his grip, yet didn’t step away, effectively pinning her between him and the door. “Why don’t we have dinner tonight?”
Hoping for more time to come to terms with where their relationship was heading, she shook her head. Her hand found and closed over the smooth metal of the doorknob at her back. “Sorry, I can’t. Remember, I’m meeting with the other executive wives’ this evening.”
“Can’t you cancel? It’s not like you haven’t seen them in forever. You guys meet every week,” he grumbled and stepped to one side to allow room for her to open the door.
Marianne balked at not going. These women were her friends. The lifeline that had preserved her sanity after Jack died. They’d all lost their husbands in the same car wreck and had relied on one another through the difficult period. “Tonight’s different. It’s the first time in perhaps months where the kids won’t be there. Jason and Hagan have agreed to watch them at Brie’s house while we meet at Jen’s.”
Pleased her son, Jason had offered to do this for his wife, Brie, and the rest of the club, Marianne didn’t want to change her plans. “We can get together tomorrow night.”
He captured her hand and kept her from stepping through the doorway. “No, I’m supposed to have dinner with our kids Thursday evening. Your son has decided we should work through the problem of him dating my daughter.” Knox frowned and ran his other hand down the front of his tie. “Not that it’ll decrease the age difference between them, but I said I’d do it to make Lyndsey happy.”
“Travis might be ten years older than her, but you’re seven years younger than me. How is one different than the other?” Marianne tugged free and turned, uninterested in rehashing the old argument between them. He always claimed it created more problems when couples were younger than it did at their age. She didn’t agree.
“Marianne, what are you doing here?” Sylvia Wilshire stood in the middle of the hallway. Tall and slender, she offered a radiant smile and brushed a wayward hand through her dark auburn hair. As beautiful as ever, Marianne couldn’t help but marvel at how her friend had changed in the last two years. She’d lost more than a hundred pounds and had married Vince Wilshire. He also happened to be an executive for Knox, the same type of position both of their deceased husbands had held.
Sylvia strolled forward with the grace of a model, her green-eyed gaze full of curiosity. “I just drop by to talk to Vince for a minute.”
The man in question walked through the doorway of another office. He winked at Marianne and slid an arm around Sylvia’s shoulder. “It appears these two beauties are keeping us from our conference call.”
“Damn,” Knox groaned and checked his watch. “We better get in there before Foster has a cow because we’re late.”
Marianne stepped aside to give him room to walk around her.
He paused next to her and glared. “I’ll call you later, and we’ll work out a time for us to get together.”
Tempted to disagree with his plan, she proposed instead, “As long as it doesn’t interfere with my other social plans.”
He groaned and dropped a kiss on her cheek. “Someday I’m going to be the first and last thing you see every day. Then your activity calendar won’t matter.”
She lifted her hand ready to point out how he shouldn’t say things like that to her in front of their friends. “Knox—”
Vince tugged on Knox’s arm and interrupted, “Come on, buddy before you get yourself in more trouble than you can get out of.”
Knox’s gaze stayed glued to hers a moment longer, exposing his resolve to continue the conversation later. He turned, nodded at Sylvia, and hurried down the hall to the meeting room.
Marianne breathed a sigh of relief, knowing she’d hear from him as soon as he finished his conference call. The man didn’t own and run a successful business by letting grass grow under his feet.
“So I take it Knox has finally decided he’s tired of waiting and ready to tie the knot.” Sylvia’s grin revealed the humor she found in the situation.
“He can believe whatever he wants. Convincing me of that inevitability might take a little longer.” Marianne stalked past her friend and didn’t bother to glance at the closed conference room door as she shoved open the door to the lobby.
“Then if he asked, you wouldn’t agree to marry him?” Sylvia’s question nipped at Marianne’s heels, making her reanalyze the real reason behind her trying to keep Knox at bay. Did she really wish to put her heart on the line again? She almost died when Jack passed away so suddenly.
Could she risk loving someone else that much?
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Read the 1st Chapter of other books in the series:
My Future Step Brother - free short story
CEO's Widow - book 4
CFO's Affair - book 3
IT's Exec's Baby - book 2
Marketing Exec's Widow - book 1
The Story Behind the Executives Wives’ Club Series
When consider writing a new series, I first look at what will make the romance stories different. What’s kernel of an ideal sets it apart from other stories? I realized I wanted a romantic series about how important women are to women.
No matter, how much we might enjoy the men in our lives. Women connect to other women in a unique way. Maybe, because we think alike or can share emotions men can’t understand, but women need women.
So then I asked, what type of situation would force four women together emotional?
Okay, four women all lose their husband at one time in a car accident. These women are connected only by their husband’s jobs. They know each other, but are not what you call close until their husbands are killed. This forever alters their world. Each has their unique problem.
The first book in this women's fiction romantic series:
In The Marketing Exec’s Widow, Jen Larson is a realtor, who has for years lived as a married single. Her husband, Craig was her college sweetheart. She believes they have a good life but less than a year after losing him, she’s ready to start dating again. This throws her relationship with the other executives’ wives into a tailspin. They don’t understand how she can do this.
The truly fun part about a series like this is no one book is about only one woman. Each plays a part in the other book. They’re stories continue and you learn more about what each woman is facing in her life. The happy-ever-after continues, and the reader learns how these women have grown to depend on each other.
The second book in this women's fiction romantic series:
IT Exec’s Baby, the reader already knows from the first book that Brie Sullivan is pregnant. She has had the baby and is facing the challenges of dealing with a newborn as well as postpartum depression. She also has two other children, she’s trying to raise alone. Life for her is not going well, and she’s searching for answers. During one of her more trying moments, she believes she has the answer and asks Jason Clark to marry her. He’s the son of one of the other executives’ wives, Marianne Clark. This is the beginning of their journey to finding happiness.
The third book in this women's fiction romantic series:
CFO’s Affair is about Sylvia Donovan. The reader finds outs in book one that Sylvia’s husband, Bob asked her for a divorce on the morning he left on the business trip in which he died. Sylvia is going through a difficult time with her daughter having just left for college. She’s suffering from empty nest syndrome. She needs a diversion from her loneliness and decides to help at the company where her husband once worked. This sets her on the trail of finding answers as to why her husband asked for a divorce. She discovers her husband had an affair and his son is in an abusive situation. This rocks her world and forces her to make some very hard decision about not only her future, but also the future of her husband’s son.
The last book in the Executives Wives' Club series.
CFO’s Widow has not been released. Still working on this one, Marianne Clark is the oldest of the four women. She loved her husband and has done her best to deal with the massive hole his death has caused in her life. She is ready to give love a chance when she discovers a lump in breasts. Faced with her mortality, she has to make the hard decision of letting a man into her life or building a wall around herself. Shouldn’t she know the outcome before allowing a man she cares about into her life?
All of these books deal with major women issues. They show not only what women can endure during different phases of their lives, but how the relationship with not only men, but also women, help them deal with the problems they face.
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