Sometimes 'I do' is just the beginning...It was her best friend's dying wish that Ellie adopt her baby and raise tiny Jiao as her own...But the adoption process hits a husband-sized hump! To adopt Jiao, Ellie has to be married! All seems lost - where can a commitment-phobic female find a husband in a day? Then cut-throat billionaire Finn 'The Hawk' McKenna comes to Ellie with a proposition, and Ellie's ready with some truly ruthless terms...Ellie's rival firm is Finn's only hope, but he isn't prepared for Ellie's merger-with-a-twist...marriage! Finn has no plans to let anyone close, even someone as feisty, vulnerable and downright intriguing as Ellie. But saying 'I do', even when you don't really, has a way of making even the most stubborn people wake up and realise what they've been missing...
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New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shirley Jump spends her days writing romance and women’s fiction to feed her shoe addiction and avoid cleaning the toilets. She cleverly finds writing time by feeding her kids junk food, allowing them to dress in the clothes they find on the floor and encouraging the dogs to double as vacuum cleaners. Visit her website at www.shirleyjump.com or read recipes and life adventures at www.shirleyjump.blogspot.com.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Finn McKenna wanted one thing.
And she was standing fifteen feet away, completely unaware of what he was about to do and definitely not expecting the question he wanted to ask her. He watched the woman—tall, blonde, leggy, the kind any man in his right mind could imagine taking to dinner, twirling around a dance floor, holding close at the end of the night—and hoped like hell his plan worked.
If he was his grandfather, he'd have been toting the McKenna four-leaf clover in his pocket, knocking three times on the banister and whispering a prayer to the Lord above. Finn McKenna's ancestors were nothing if not superstitious. Finn, on the other hand, believed in the kind of luck fostered by good research and hard work. Not the kind brought about by leprechauns and rainbows.
He'd put enough time into this project, that was for sure. Turned the idea left, right and upside down in his head. Done his research, twice over. In short, reassured himself as much as one man could that the lady he was going to talk to would say..
Finn turned and shrugged at his little brother. Riley McKenna had the same dark brown hair and sky-blue eyes as the rest of the McKenna boys, but something about Riley, maybe his grin or his devil-may-care attitude, gave those same features a little spin of dashing. Finn had inherited the serious, hard lines of his workaholic father, where Riley had more of their free-spirited mother's twinkle. "I'm not crazy, Riley. It's business. Risks are part of the job."
"Here." Riley handed him a glass. "I talked the bartender into pouring you and me some good quality Irish ale."
"Thanks." Finn sipped at the dark brew. It slid down his throat with smooth, almost spicy notes. The beer was dry, yet robust, the kind that promised a memorable drink in a single pint. A thick head of foam on top indicated the quality of the ale. Good choice on Riley's part, but Finn wasn't surprised. His little brother knew his brews.
All around him, people mingled and networked over several-hundred-dollar-a-bottle wines and martinis with names so fancy they needed their own dictionary. In this crowd, a beer stuck out like a dandelion in a field of manicured roses, but Finn McKenna had never been one to worry much about breaking the rules or caring what other people thought about him. It was what had fueled his success.
And had also been a part of his recent failure.
A temporary state, he reminded himself. Tonight, he was going to change all of that. He was going to rebuild his business and he was going to use Ellie Winston, interim CEO of WW Architectural Design, to help him do it.
She just didn't know it yet.
Eleanor Winston, known by those close to her as "Ellie," the new boss of WW, her father's company.
Henry Winston Sr., one of the two Ws in the company name, had retired suddenly a couple weeks ago. Rumor was he'd had a major heart attack and would probably not return to the chair. The other W, his brother, had walked out in a family dispute eleven years prior, but his name remained on the masthead.
Finn ticked off what he knew about Eleanor Winston in his head. Twenty-nine, with a master's in design from a reputable college, three years working at a firm in Atlanta before moving to Boston shortly after her father's illness. Her design work was primarily in residential housing—the McMansions much maligned by the architectural world—and Finn had heard she was none too pleased to be spending her days designing hospitals and office supertowers. All the more reason for her to accept his offer with gratitude. He'd scoped out his competition for several weeks before deciding WW Architects was the best choice. A fledgling president, overseeing a sprawling company with multiple projects going at any given time—surely she wanted a...helping hand. Yes, that's what he'd call it. A helping hand. A win-win for her and him.
"So this is your grand plan? Talking to Ellie Winston? Here? Now?" Riley asked. "With you dressed like that?"
Finn glanced down at his dark gray pinstripe suit, crisp white shirt and navy blue tie. "What's wrong with the way I'm dressed?"
"Hey, nothing, if you're heading to a funeral." Riley patted his own shirt, as usual unbuttoned at the neck and devoid of a tie. "Make a statement, Finn. Get your sexy on."
Finn shook off that advice. Riley was the more colorful McKenna brother, the one who always stood out in a crowd. Finn preferred his appearance neat, trim and professional—the same way he conducted business. Nothing too flashy, nothing too exciting.
"This is the perfect environment," Finn said, nodding toward the woman. "She's relaxed, maybe had a couple glasses of wine, and best of all—" he turned to his brother "—not expecting the offer I'm about to make."
Riley chuckled. "Oh, I think that's guaranteed."
Finn's gaze centered on Ellie Winston again. She laughed at something the guy beside her said. A full-throated laugh, her head thrown back, her deep green eyes dancing with merriment. Every time he'd seen her, she'd been like that—so open, so exuberant. Something dark and deep stirred in Finn's gut, and for a split second he envied the man at her side. Wondered what it would be like to be caught in that spell. To be the one making her laugh and smile like that.
Damn, she was beautiful. Intriguing.
And a distraction, he told himself. One he couldn't afford. Hadn't he already learned that lesson from one painful mistake after another?
"A woman like that.." Riley shook his head. "I don't think hardball is the right way to play it, Hawk."
"I hate when you call me that."
"Hey, if the nickname fits." Riley grinned. "You, big brother, spy the weak, pluck them up and use them to feather your nest." He put a hand on Finn's shoulder. "But in the nicest way possible. Of course."
"Oh, yeah, of course." A magazine had dubbed Finn "the Hawk" a few years ago when he'd done a surprise buyout of his closest competitor. Then six months later, his next closest competitor. He'd absorbed the other businesses into his own, becoming one of the largest architectural firms in New England. At least for a while. Until his ex-girlfriend's betrayal had reduced his company to half its size, taking his reputation down at the same time.
Now he'd slipped in the rankings, not even powerful enough to make any lists anymore. Or to merit any other nickname other than "Failure."
But not for long.
A waitress came by with a tray of crudites and offered some to Finn and Riley. Finn waved off the food, but Riley picked up a smoked salmon-topped cucumber slice and shot the waitress a grin. "Are these as delicious as you are beautiful?"
A flush filled her face and she smiled. "You'll have to try one to see."
He popped it in his mouth, chewed and swallowed. Then shot her an even bigger grin. "The appetizer is definitely a winner."
The waitress cocked her hip and gave him another, sassier smile. "Perhaps you should try the other, too." Then she turned on her heel and headed for the next group.
"Perhaps I will," Riley said, watching her sashay through the crowd.
Finn rolled his eyes. Keeping Riley focused on the subject at hand sometimes required superhuman abilities. "Do you ever think about anything other than women?"
"Do you ever think about anything other than business?" Riley countered.
"I'm the owner, Riley. I don't have a choice but to keep my eye on the ball and my focus on the company." He'd had a time where he'd focused on a relationship—and that had cost him dearly. Never again.
"There's always a choice, Finn." Riley grinned. "I prefer the ones that end with a woman like that in my bed, and a smile on my face." He arched a brow in the direction of the waitress, who shot him a flirtatious smile back. "A woman like that one."
"You're a dog."
Riley shrugged off the teasing. His playboy tendencies had been well documented by the Boston media. As the youngest McKenna, getting away with murder had been his middle name almost since birth. Funny how stereotypical the three boys had turned out. Finn, the eldest, the responsible one, working since he was thirteen. Brody, the middle brother, the peacemaker, who worked a respectable, steady job as a family physician. And then Riley, the youngest, and thus overindulged by their mother, and later, by their grandmother, who still doted on the "baby" of the family. Riley had turned being a wild child into a sport...and managed to live a life almost entirely devoid of responsibility.
Finn sometimes felt like he'd been responsible from the day he took his first steps. He'd started out as a one-man shop right out of college, and built McKenna Designs into a multioffice corporation designing projects all over the world. His rapid growth, coupled with a recession that fell like an axe on the building industry, and one mistake he wished he could go back in time and undo, had damaged his bottom line. Nearly taken him to bankruptcy.
"Carpe diem, Finn," Riley said. "You should try it sometime. Get out of the office and live a little."
Riley laughed. Out loud. "Right."
"Running a company is a demanding job," Finn said. Across the room, the woman he wanted to talk to was still making small talk with the other partygoers. To Finn, the room seemed like an endless sea of blue and black, neckties and polished loafers. Only two people stood out in the dark ocean before him—
Riley, who had bucked the trend by wearing a collarless white shirt under a sportscoat trimmed to fit his physique.
And Eleanor Winston, who'd opted for a deep cranberry dress that wrapped around her ...
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Descripción Harlequin, 2012. Mass Market Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. book. Nº de ref. de la librería M0373178212
Descripción Harlequin, 2012. Mass Market Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Never used!. Nº de ref. de la librería P110373178212