FATED ENCOUNTER, an adult romance by Samantha Gentry from The Wild Rose Press. This book is available in ebook from Amazon and other online vendors.
Seattle restaurant owner and entrepreneur Brody Danvers met the woman of his dreams a year ago at a party in Phoenix... her and her fiancé. When a chance encounter brings her -- minus a ring on her finger -- back into his life, he'll do whatever it takes to keep her there.
Graphic artist Shaina Thomas has moved from Phoenix to Seattle to get away from a controlling ex-fiancĂ© who refuses to accept the end of their relationship. Seeing the man she'd nicknamed Mr. Incredibly Sexy and Desirable and not forgotten is an unexpected but complicated surprise. She's seriously attracted to him, but he seems to possess the same controlling traits as her ex. And then there's the beautiful restaurant hostess who has her sights set on him...
PG Excerpt #3
"You don't need to cover for me, Jeannie. Totally my fault." A spontaneous laugh accompanied the man's words. "Time got away from me. I came sneaking in the back door hoping for an unobtrusive arrival."
The smooth masculine voice sent a rush of excitement darting through Shaina's body. Something familiar about it, something stuck in the back of her mind... something from the past. She turned to see who possessed the mesmerizing sound.
First surprise, then confusion hit Shaina's senses. Just like the sound of his voice, he looked very familiar, but from where? How could she not remember the identity of Mr. Incredibly Sexy and Desirable, all six feet one inch of him with his thick light brown hair and piercing blue eyes? A dynamic man who appeared to be maybe four or five years older than her thirty-two years? She had just moved to Seattle and didn't know anyone. Where would she have encountered this very handsome and enticing man?
As soon as he looked in her direction, his face lit up. "Shaina Thomas? Is that you?"
"Yes..." She searched her mind for any hint to his identity. He obviously remembered her, which confirmed they had met, but it only increased her bewilderment. Where and when?
He flashed a devastatingly sexy smile as he held out his hand toward her. "What an unexpected pleasure running into you. It's been... what--" He wrinkled his brow in a moment of concentration--"a little over a year ago that we met? The party at Kent and Patti Blanchard's house." He gave her a teasing grin. "You were with a date and left before I had a chance to get you alone and ask you to have dinner with me, followed by a totally indecent proposition."
"Yes..." The memory suddenly popped into her mind. "I remember now." She accepted his offered handshake and extended a friendly smile. His touch sent an instant arc of desire coursing through her veins. No man had ever sparked such an immediate and intense response in her. Not until now.
A sparkle darted through his eyes. Had he experienced the same jolt of excitement as a result of the physical contact? "You're Brody..." She visualized the party scene where they had met but couldn't recall his last name.
"Danvers... Brody Danvers." He continued to clasp her hand, his touch playing havoc with her senses as he steered her away from the front door and out of the main flow of customers coming and going. "Would it be presumptuous of me to hope that you're presence here means you moved to Seattle?" As he released her hand, he took a blatantly obvious close look at her ring finger. "And you're unattached?"
A bit of a smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. Very straight forward, not even a pretense at trying to be subtle. I'm not sure if he's arrogant or a breath of fresh air. "Guilty. I just moved to Seattle a week ago and will be starting my new job in another week. I'm still unpacking and getting settled into the apartment I rented. I saw the information for the radio station's game weekend and immediately signed up. I love games. I thought this might be a good way to meet people. I understand the pre-game social get together always takes place at this restaurant."
"Yes, upstairs in the banquet room. I coordinate the activities -- decide what the game will be, see that newcomers are made welcome and introduced to the other participants, keep everything on track, organized, and under control...things like that."
"Are you okay, Shaina?" Brody's voice, accompanied by his hand on her shoulder, startled her out of her thoughts.
"Uh, yes, of course. Why do you ask?"
"Are you sure? You looked like you were a million miles away."
"Not a million miles, only about fifteen hundred give or take a few miles." She forced a smile followed by a laugh she didn't really feel. "I was just pondering the strange twists and turns of life. I move fifteen hundred miles away from where I've lived all my life and run into someone I met one time at a party a little over a year ago. Someone I now discover was only in Phoenix on business and actually lives in the city where I chose to move. How often does something like that happen?"
"You may call it the twists and turns of life, but I prefer to think of it as fate. It gives me another chance to ask you to dinner" -- he winked -- "and make another try at that totally indecent proposition I've been saving in case I ever ran into you again."
She laughed, this time a genuine and spontaneous response to his comments. "That sounds interesting." Much more than merely interesting.
"Come on, let's go upstairs. I need to make sure everything has been set up for tonight's get acquainted gathering." He brushed his fingertips against her cheek, the briefest of physical contact but enough to send another wave of desire coursing through her veins. Yes, indeed, a very sexy and desirable man. Attributes that outweighed his possibly controlling nature? The last thing she wanted or needed was a repeat situation like that with her former fiancé.
Ignoring the elevator, he escorted her up the wide stairs to the second floor, a banquet room spacious enough to accommodate twenty round tables that comfortably seated eight people each -- one hundred sixty people at a sit down dinner. She watched as he checked the bar and looked through some papers in a file folder. Apparently satisfied with everything, he returned his attention to her.
Before he could say anything, a woman's cheerful voice came from the opened double door at the top of the stairs. "Good evening, Brody." She entered the banquet room along with three men and two other women. "It started to rain just as we pulled into the parking lot. The weather man has been talking about rain for the last two days, and it's finally here. They say it will continue through the weekend."
Brody glanced at the window where the raindrops gently spattered against the glass. "Yes, I've been giving that some thought." He acknowledged the new arrivals with a friendly smile. "That could put a real crimp into our scavenger hunt plans for tomorrow. I might need to change this month's game to an indoor activity."
The woman enthusiastically offered her suggestion. "How about a movie night? Maybe comedies... no" -- her expression brightened -- "let's do some of the old classic mysteries like The Maltese Falcon."
Brody nodded his head. "I'll put that on the list of possibilities. After everyone is here, we'll take a vote on what activity to substitute for the scavenger hunt."
PG Excerpt #3
"Do you need to rush away? I thought we could have a drink or get something to eat and catch up."
She glanced at her watch, then out the window at the rain. "Well..."
"Good." He immediately took control as he steered her toward the door. "We'll find a quiet corner downstairs and grab something to eat. This, however, does not count as that dinner we're going to share" -- he lowered his voice to a sexy whisper -- "although it could involve that totally indecent proposition I mentioned."
Shaina instantly bristled. She stopped walking and stood her ground. How dare he make her decisions for her, tell her where she's going and what she should be doing. He didn't even do her the courtesy of asking if she'd like to have something to eat.
"You, uh, seem a little pushy. Did it ever occur to you that I might not be hungry?" She tried to keep the level of irritation out of her voice but without much success. Her break-up with Jerry happened nine months ago, long enough that it shouldn't continue to be an issue with her, but that logical thought didn't stop the intrusion of the emotional baggage attached to her ill-fated engagement.
A hint of confusion darted across his face. "Excuse me?" He shot her a curious look. "It certainly wasn't my intention to offend you. Perhaps we could have dinner some other time."
An instant hint of guilt jolted her thoughts.
His brow lifted as he tilted his head to one side, a look bordering on something akin to a challenge. "When do you think you might be hungry?"
She stood in stunned silence for a moment, not sure what to say or do. She didn't detect malice or antagonism in his tone even though his specific choice of words alluded to something different. She mentally gave herself a swift kick. Her breakup with Jerry was history. Perhaps she was over analyzing the situation, something her friends had accused her of doing on more than one occasion.
She made eye contact with him for several seconds before dropping her gaze to the floor. The heat of embarrassment spread across her cheeks. "I'm sorry. My comment was totally out of line."
"No harm done. So, when do you think you'll be hungry?" Brody didn't understand her abrupt outburst or what he had said to cause it, but he had no intention of writing her off as not worth the effort. The beautiful and desirable Shaina Thomas had invaded his thoughts on numerous occasions since meeting her at that party in Phoenix. And not only his thoughts. A burning desire churned inside him, one that told him how much he wanted to spend an entire night making love to her.
Meeting her fiancé at that party had left him decidedly unimpressed. They seemed totally mismatched. Since then, he had often wondered if she ended up marrying the disagreeable man. It pleased him to discover that she hadn't. He allowed a bit of an inner chuckle. That decision showed good judgment on her part even if being engaged to him hadn't. And it also opened the door for another attempt to get to know her better.
He didn't view women as nothing more than sex objects. Nor did he consider a woman's looks as a measure of her worthiness. Far from it. He placed intelligence, humor, integrity, and compassion at the top of his list of desirable attributes. He had instantly noticed her at the party because of her looks, but his interest and attraction started with her intelligent conversation.
"Nick, I need a bottle of wine, a good chardonnay that's already chilled."
The Overlook Bistro's head bartender looked up from his work. "Sure thing, Brody. Do you want it opened?"
"Nope, I'm taking it with me."
Jeannie sidled up to Brody, her body brushing seductively against his. "I haven't seen you do that for a while, taking a bottle of wine with you. New girlfriend?" Her voice held a slight edge to it, a bit of a cross between jealousy and disapproval. "The woman from game night? The one you hadn't seen for a while? The one you had dinner with yesterday?"
He had been through this with Jeannie before. He almost fired her the last time she tried to interfere with his personal life. But she was good at her job and the customers liked her. So, at the last minute he changed his mind and settled for firmly reprimanding her, impressing on her that his private life was none of her business. A quick jab of irritation said his warning must have worn off.
"Here you go, boss." Nick handed him the bottle of wine packaged in a chill wrapper. "Have a good evening."
Brody flashed a friendly smile. "Thanks." He shot a look of warning toward Jeannie, then turned to leave the bar. Nick's words and Jeannie's response reached his ears before he got out of hearing range.
"You'd better lay off the attitude, Jeannie. You keep that up and you might find yourself without a job this time."
"Don't be ridiculous. There's no way he'd ever fire me."
"You might think you have hold of his cock, but you don't. I've known Brody long enough to say with confidence that he doesn't fuck his employees. Not figuratively and certainly not literally. And you're not an exception to that ruleâ€”not now and not ever."
"Perhaps you don't know Brody as well as you think you do."
"I obviously know him better than you do." Nick's tone contained an unmistakable warning.
Jeannie's words continued to run through Brody's mind as he walked out the door and headed for his car. He needed to curtail Jeannie's renewed thoughts of enticing him into an affair. Even if she didn't work for him, she was not what he was looking for. In fact, they wouldn't even be friends.
"I'll open the wine." Brody was definitely hungry, but not for food. He didn't care if they had dinner or not. He was much more interested in dessert. But a night of hot sex wasn't the only thing on his mind. He found his thoughts turning to the possibility of an on-going affair with her, something more than just casual sex. Perhaps even a committed relationship? He quickly shoved the uncomfortable thought from his mind, not sure exactly where it came from -- or where it was headed. He would save that speculation for another time.
Dinner consisted of good food and interesting conversation, everything very comfortable as it would be between people who had known each other a long time and were close friends. After Shaina cleared the dining table, they went to the living room where she turned on some soft music. He quickly pulled her into his arms.
His words whispered softly across her ear. "I'm basically a straight forward guy who doesn't like to beat around the bush, so to speak. Coy games of convince me aren't my style. I very much want to make love to you. If you don't want it tonight, just say so, and I'll drop the subject."
It took a couple of seconds for her to take in the exact meaning of his words. So honest and without pretense. As he said, straight forward. She didn't need to think it over. Making love was exactly what she wanted, too.
"And I have a straight forward answer for you." She saw the quick flash of uncertainty dart through his eyes. "That answer is yes."
Nothing else needed to be said. A very pleased smile spread across his face. She led him into her bedroom. He reached for the buttons on her shirt, but she stopped him. A surprised look darted across his face. Going through the slow ritual of undressing each other as an enticement was not on the top of her list at the moment. She didn't need to be seduced. She was already fully aroused and very ready. What she wanted was his naked body in bed with her, and she wanted it now. "I can do that faster than you can."
The sound of the doorbell interrupted her thoughts. Total shock hit her when she opened the front door and saw Jeannie standing there. Her unexpected visitor wore a disagreeable look that sent a very uneasy feeling coursing through her veins, a feeling of uncomfortable foreboding. "Uh, Jeannie, this is a surprise."
Jeannie shoved her way into Shaina's living room without waiting to be invited. "You are laboring under a serious delusion, a misunderstanding that needs to be rectified."
"A delusion? A misunderstanding?" She wrinkled her brow into a confused frown. "I'm not following what you're talking about."
"I'm talking about your delusion that Brody is interested in you. Your obvious attempts to lure Brody into your trap, to force yourself between Brody and me. We have a long time understanding that's solidly grounded in mutual love. But, every now and then, someone like you comes along and tries to destroy what Brody and I have. That leaves me with the unpleasant task of needing to clean up the ensuing mess that Brody can't and won't deal with... as usual."
Jeannie leaned forward aggressively, anger and hostility emanating from her fixed glare. "I'm putting you on notice. I won't tolerate you trying to pull him into your web of deceit."
"My web of deceit?" Shaina's anger flared. "Are you nuts? Why don't we just ask Brody about this?"
Jeannie's attitude instantly turned arrogant, accompanied by a smug expression. "That will get you nowhere. Who do you think sent me here? As soon as Brody got to his office this morning, he called me. He said you were becoming clingy and possessive and told me to handle it. In case you haven't noticed, Brody's a player. I know he sleeps around, but we have an understanding. He always comes back to me. I'm just trying to save you the heartache of becoming too involved with him. He's a charming rogue, someone easy to fall for, but you'll only end up getting dumped, just like all the others."
Shaina stood in stunned silence. She felt as if she had been slapped hard across the face, then punched in the stomach with all the breath knocked out of her. Anger, shock, confusion, hurt, betrayal -- she didn't know what she felt or how to respond to what Jeannie had said.
Jeannie glanced at her watch. "I need to be on my way to work. I'll report to Brody that we had our talk, you understand the situation, and you won't be bothering him anymore, which includes calling him."
She shot one last warning look at Shaina, then walked out the door.