The Deal Breaker

The Deal BreakerThe Deal Breaker | January 2010 | Genre: Erotic Contemporary | ISBN: 978-1-4523-7402-4

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Eccentric recluse Athena Thanos owns Archimedes Island, a tropical paradise she can never leave. Cursed by the Goddess Hera, the moon and tides control her prison. Corporate player, Ryan Palmer is sent to negotiate a huge deal. But Ryan doesn’t know the hand he’s been dealt by fate or that he is the key to breaking Athena’s curse. Will he agree to her demands once he understands the risks?

Excerpt

He should have known the company wouldn’t drop this juicy morsel in his lap unless there was a complication. He hadn’t been the first person from their company to approach the reticent Lady Athena Simone Thanos. Ryan wondered what she looked like and pictured an elderly woman, gray hair pulled back in a bun, dressed in tweed and pearls, holding a cat. Of course, this being the tropics, the image in his mind changed and the elusive Lady Athena grew wide, her bulk covered by a brightly flowered muumuu styled caftan. He smiled at the thought and wondered why he felt his stomach knot. He’d use his natural charm and charisma to woo and win her over. After all, he had a history of charming women no matter their age or size; so one eccentric old biddy shouldn’t be a problem.

*  *  *

Athena sat at her dressing table, staring in the mirror while brushing her long, dark hair. She sectioned off three areas and wove a casual looking boho braid across her forehead with shaky fingers. She wore a minimum of make-up on her face, her lashes naturally thick and dark, accentuating eyes that were the color of the Aegean. The mysterious deep blue-green enhanced her expressive features—or so she’d been told.

She watched Eric’s reflection appear behind her in the mirror and motioned for his help completing the intricate braid. Her personal assistant’s duties didn’t usually include doing her hair, but she’d been jittery all morning. He waved her hands away and tucked the tail of the braid under another section of her hair, hiding the end, and secured it with a couple of small black bobby pins. How could he be so calm when all their futures depended on what happened in the next forty-eight hours?

“I’ve told you before; there is nothing to be nervous about.” He stood back and eyed her from head to toe.

She slipped golden leather sandals on her feet and glanced at herself in the full length, pedestal mirror across from her dressing table. She knew the hair style complimented the gown she wore. To a stranger she’d appear cool, polished, and serene. Inside, though, she was anything but. “Well, how do I look?”

“Delicious but unattainable. Pedestal-worthy, even.”

Athena made a moue with her lips, affecting a pose that caused Eric to laugh.

“Tell me inviting him here wasn’t a mistake.” Their eyes met in the mirror.

“It wasn’t a mistake, Thena. You’ll have him falling at your feet.”

“You’re good for my ego, Eric. I only wish it wasn’t necessary to use deception. It doesn’t feel right.” She tied a gold sash around her waist. Perhaps wearing the long white toga was a bit much, but she knew the elegant, yet simple attire reinforced her regal stature.

“We’ve gone over this before. You and I both know there is no other way, not if you intend to win our freedom.” Eric folded his arms around her waist and kissed her temple.

“I don’t want to hurt him.” From the first moment she’d seen the photo of Ryan Palmer on his company’s website, she’d sensed he should be the one they focused their attention on. An insane urge to play with their impeding guest, to run her fingers through his short cropped dark brown hair, overcame her good sense. She’d love to mess up the perfect image he projected in his navy blue business suit. The face in that photo had shown incredible strength, the jaw almost square, but his deep caramel brown eyes held more than a glint of devilish mischief.

Ryan was like the frog in the fairy tale, although she knew it would take more than a mere kiss to break the curse. She suspected Ryan played just as hard as he worked. Athena had heard about his type before. Driven by ambition and goal oriented. She itched to see him come undone, yet despised herself for it. Eric encouraged her, showing no signs of jealousy, so why did it feel like cheating?

No way to hide it, Ryan Palmer intrigued her. She wondered just how far he would go to seal his precious deal.

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