Every week on First Sight Saturday, I welcome an author to share a first meeting excerpt. This week I am happy to have Rue Allyn with her contemporary romance, Deal of a Lifetime. Take it away, Rue!
My thanks to Jill for inviting me to visit with you all today. Please leave a comment and let me know how you like the excerpt. Also, Deal of a Lifetime is available only at Amazon’s Kindle store. The world wide release date is September 4, 2013 (five short days from now).
SET UP: The only man Tamsin Donal could ever love is ambitious, determined Connor O’Neal. Nonetheless, she leaves him and their business when he proposes marriage for all the wrong reasons. Years later she meets Connor at a business conference where a hotel booking error forces them to share a suite. A skilled negotiator, Connor is very persuasive. Maybe he has finally learned the difference between business and love. However, Tamsin has a secret that could destroy any chance they have at enduring love.
BEGINNING OF EXCERPT
Tamsin sneezed and sat up, folding her legs beneath her on the bed. Groggy, she stared at the man’s belt buckle and expanse of pin-striped, oxford shirt less than two inches from her face. “If I have to dream about a man, couldn’t he at least be as undressed as I am?”
Flutters sprang up in her belly. She knew that gravel-strewn voice. She shook her head, looking up, a long way up. Gray-green eyes blinked back at her from under slashing black brows. Night-dark hair slipped onto a tanned forehead. Generous lips widened in a smile that made her heart thump and ache at the same time. I’m having a nightmare.
“Long time no see, Tamsin.” He brushed a fingertip down her cheek.
That slight touch was no dream. That was as real as the shivers she couldn’t suppress. Her breasts scraped against his slacks. She gasped and scrambled backward shielding herself with the coverlet.
“Lucifer’s chili peppers, Con, where did you come from?” Inside panic screeched, but her words emerged in a throaty whisper.
“I could ask you the same question. Of course, I’d ask where you’ve been.”
She growled and tossed a pillow at him. It fell to the floor near the door.
“Still can’t hit the broadside of a barn?”
“Get out.” She growled covering her fear.
“No.” His voice was flat, but danger glittered in his gaze.
“I don’t know how you got into my suite, but I want you gone in thirty seconds.” Con wouldn’t harm her physically, but he would do everything possible to uncover her secrets—secrets that would hurt them all.
“Sorry Sweetness, I’m staying, but feel free to leave whenever you like.”
“Try that malarkey on someone stupid enough to believe it. Now haul yourself out before I call security. I’m registered in this suite, and I can prove it.”
From the bedside table, she nabbed a folded paper, snapped it open and held it for him to read.
He came round the bed to sit on the edge near her, took a similar paper from inside his suit jacket and compared the two. “We seem to have a problem. Looks like the hotel put us in the same suite.”
“Impossible.” Tam’s jaw dropped. She snatched both documents and stared at the unbelievable contents. The unlikely but evidently not impossible truth dripped acid into her stomach. She swallowed against her dry throat. She couldn’t afford to leave the conference, and she refused to give up territory she already occupied. “There’s a simple solution. I’ll call the front desk and get you another room.” She lifted the handset and dialed.
Con cocked an eyebrow. “What makes you think I’ll move?”
Tam rolled her eyes. “You didn’t used to be a complete jerk. I’m betting you still aren’t.”
He gave a nod and eased back.
Her attention shifted to the phone. “Yes, this is Ms. Donal in Suite 7773. There’s a gentleman here claiming that he’s also registered in this suite. Yes, he’s Mr. Connor O’Neal of O’Neal Corp.”
“Thank you for confirming the error. However, Mr. O’Neal will require a different room.”
She frowned at the response.
“Are you certain there are no rooms available? Did you check with your manager?”
She ground her teeth as she listened to the list of alternatives. “Thank you. I’ll call you back when we’ve made a decision.”
Tam folded her arms across her chest. “You can stay at a campground six miles west of here or a motel in the nearest town, twenty miles east. Either way the resort will pick up your tab.”
“Unacceptable. I’m here at Mike Buddswell’s personal invitation and will be meeting with him too frequently to travel any distance without considerable inconvenience. However, I’ll be happy to help you make the move to whichever location you choose.”
Tam laughed rather than give in to outrage. “Those alternatives are even less acceptable to me. I reserved a suite so I could meet with colleagues in comfort and privacy. I can’t do that if I’m sharing space with a competitor or I’m offsite. If you’re such good friends with Buddswell, why don’t you stay with him?”
“We have a friendly business relationship, but we’re not close friends. Even if he invited me to stay with him, I’d decline a privilege that my competition didn’t have.”
That fit. Con had always been fair in his business dealings. He claimed it made beating out the competition sweeter. Tam narrowed her gaze and studied him as she considered her next move. “Well,” she hesitated. “This is a two bedroom suite. I might be willing to give you the other bedroom, if we can agree on terms for use of the only bathroom and get keys for the bedroom doors from management.”
He eyed her suspiciously. “Why? What do you get from having a competitor on your doorstep?”
She thought furiously. How to explain her concession without revealing too much? She really didn’t want him anywhere near her. However, if he were closer, she might be able to pick up his bidding strategy and modify her own accordingly. O’Neal Corp. was her biggest competitor after all. If she got lucky she’d be able to figure out a way to get him to pull out of the conference, which would be best. She couldn’t do either if he left for other quarters. The plan was risky. She didn’t want Con probing too deeply into her affairs. Until she decided what answers to give him, she’d have to be careful to avoid giving him any opportunity to ask questions about the past seven years. Surely she could keep him at arm’s length for a day or two. By then he’d be so frustrated, maybe he’d leave all on his own. All she had to do was stonewall him.
“We’re competing for Buddswell’s business. As you point out, we should have a level playing field. I’m completely confident that TLC Distribution will outshine O’Neal Corp. I don’t need an unfair advantage to do so.”
He snorted. “O’Neal Corp. is a well established multi-national company. TLC is a start up just beginning to spread its wings. You need every advantage you can get, and O’Neal Corp. will still outclass you.” His posture was relaxed, but the glint in his eyes and a small tightness around his smile warned Tam to maintain her guard.
END OF EXCERPT
You can find Deal of a Lifetime on Amazon
Author Rue Allyn can be found in lots of places!
I appreciate Rue visiting with us today, and I’m sure she’d love to respond to questions and comments. Come back every Saturday for another first meeting excerpt!