Excerpt: Want Me
Book 3: Coopers Creek Series
Pulling into a visitor’s parking spot in front of the office building, Anna Spencer wondered if she’d gotten the wrong place until she saw the huge Horizon Enterprises sign on the side of the small skyscraper. Unlike other office buildings in the area, the windows were tinted different colors. The sun glinted off the glass surfaces, creating a rainbow effect.
Anna looked at the windows and then at the Horizon logo. It depicted a low mountain range with the sun rising over one of the peaks. She had to smile at the way the colorful rainbow accentuated it. Leave it to Chase McIntyre to create a marketing advertisement from an actual building. She got out of her Honda Accord, grabbed her briefcase from the backseat, and headed for the door.
Anna was surprised at the tight security. She submitted to a metal detector test with a smile. The guard pointed her to the elevators and she thanked him. Stepping into one, she straightened her light gray power suit and hoped that she wasn’t sweating. She was nervous enough about meeting Chase without the added stress of worrying about sweat stains.
She got off on the eleventh floor and checked in with Chase’s secretary, a middle-aged woman with dishwater blonde hair.
“Hello. I’m Anna Spencer from Innovative Graphics. I have an eight o’clock appointment with Mr. McIntyre,” she said, smiling.
“Oh, yes. He said to bring you upstairs. My name’s Ginger.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Ginger,” Anna said.
Ginger led her back to the elevator and punched the button that said “Roof.”
“Why are we going to the roof?” Anna asked, tucking a few strands of wavy auburn hair behind her left ear.
“Because that’s where Chase is,” Ginger said simply.
Anna didn’t question the woman any further, but she wondered why the meeting would take place atop a skyscraper.
Ginger said, “Now, I should warn you about Chase. He’s not like other executives. He’s a little unusual.”
“So I’ve heard.” Anna smiled. “I’ve done my homework on him.”
Ginger nodded. “Good. Then I don’t need to tell you any more.”
They arrived at the top and the elevator doors opened. Anna blinked and thought she’d entered an alternate universe. What looked like a tropical island lay outside the elevator.
Ginger laughed. “I’m sorry, but I just love seeing people’s reaction when they see it for the first time. This is what Chase calls the Roof Top, his boardroom slash…well, you’ll see.”
They stepped out onto what looked like short grass and walked along a meandering path through tall plants and a few small tropical trees. Anna looked back and saw that the elevator doors had been painted to resemble a bamboo gate.
Ginger led her out of the foliage to where a long wooden table sat, shaded by a large green-and-white canopy. Wicker chairs with thick green cushions were situated around it, and a laptop and cellphone lay at the head of the table. The outdoor setting was as nice as anything she’d ever seen at a resort.
“Chase!” Ginger called out. “Your guest is here!”
Anna wasn’t sure what to make of being called a guest, but she refrained from commenting.
“All right! Be right there!” a man shouted back.
“Don’t keep the lady waiting. People don’t have all day!” Ginger groused.
Ginger shook her head. “I swear being his secretary is more like being his mother. He won’t be long. Good luck.”
“Thank you,” Anna said with a tight smile.
Ginger got back on the elevator, leaving Anna standing next to the table alone. She’d seen pictures of Chase and his work for Horizon, so she knew that he was gorgeous. Looking down at herself, she grimaced at her rather plain attire and wished she would’ve worn something a little sexier. Knock it off. You’re here for a business meeting, not a date.
“Hi. Sorry to keep you waiting, Miss Spencer.”
Anna jerked her gaze from her shoes up to meet the most gorgeous eyes she’d ever seen. They brought to mind dark chocolate, and the rest of the man was just as delicious. A slightly aquiline nose led down to utterly beautiful male lips that were made for kissing. His strong, angular jaw was clean-shaven, and as he walked closer, she caught a whiff of rain and tropical fruit.
He wasn’t overly tall, maybe somewhere around six-foot, but he seemed larger than life to Anna. His broad, brawny shoulders and wide chest tapered down to trim hips. Although his cargo shorts hid his thighs, they must have been powerful, judging by his muscular calves. His light caramel skin tone perfectly complemented his eye color and long, dark brown hair.
He held a large pitcher of some sort of fruit juice and a tray of glasses. “Just let me put these down.”
Anna took the opportunity to compose herself when he turned and placed the tray and juice on the table. Facing her again, he smiled and Anna felt on the verge of swooning. What’s the matter with you? Get a grip!
He held out a hand. “Chase McIntyre at your service, Miss Spencer.”
His hands were the most beautiful male hands Anna had ever seen. They looked strong and masculine, yet they were nicely shaped. Anna could imagine what they’d feel like on her skin.
Anna put her hand in his and was surprised at the warm, almost intimate way he shook it. He closed his fingers around hers and met her gaze with those incredible eyes that held equal amounts of kindness, humor, and confidence.
“It’s wonderful to meet you, Mr. McIntyre.” Anna hoped that he didn’t notice that her voice was a little breathy.
“Likewise.” He released her hand and motioned towards the table. “Have a seat. Make yourself comfortable. The rest of the gang will be along in a bit, but I thought it would be good to talk privately first.”
Anna tried to get her pulse under control as she walked over to a chair next to the head of the table where his things sat. She was surprised when he helped seat her. It had been a long time since a man had done that for her.
“No sweat.” Chase sat down and proceeded to pour two glasses of juice, sliding one over to her. “Mango, avocado, and pineapple, fresh from the juicer. Great for vitamin C and antioxidants.”
Chase took a healthy swig and sat his glass down. “So, do anything exciting this morning?”
“No. Just the usual.”
He tilted his head a little. “Which is?”
Anna felt a little defensive because she knew her routine was boring. “Wake up, shower, breakfast—the usual. What did you do?”
“Well, I had a great surf earlier, and my pooch, Lola, had a great swim. That’s the usual for us,” Chase replied.
The image of Chase rising from the sea in only skin-tight swim trunks made Anna choke a little on her juice. He wasn’t the type of man she’d normally lust after. Rich and powerful men—well, she’d been there and done that and barely lived to tell the tale. She mentally pushed the images of her abusive ex—Greg—out of her head.
Chase reached over and patted her on the back. “You okay?”
“Yes. Sorry.” What on earth was wrong with her today? Horizon, or Chase McIntyre, was an important client. Her boss and the other three members of the firm’s staff were counting on her getting this job. Tom’s last words to her were “do whatever it takes to impress McIntyre and get that contract.”
The firm needed the money this contract would bring, and she needed her salary to stay one step ahead of Greg. The restraining order only afforded her so much protection, and the police had informed her that they’d done everything that they could.
Chase grinned. “So, I’ll bet that you have some stuff for me to look at.”
Anna picked up her briefcase and pulled out the mock-ups she’d brought for business cards, brochures, and other promotional material. Horizon had decided to outsource those products, and Anna was confident that Chase would be impressed by her designs.
She slid them over to him. “As you can see, I—”
Smiling, Chase interjected, “Not to be rude, but just let me get a first impression of them. Sort of like looking at art. No explanation, just let me feel the emotion.”
His southern accent slid like silk across her nerves. “Okay.”
While Chase perused the materials, Anna looked around to keep from staring at him. She wondered what was beyond the outdoor boardroom. It was hard to tell with all the tall foliage blocking her view.
“Um, I’m sorry, darlin’, but none of these are gonna work,” Chase said.
She tried not to let the word “darlin’” annoy her. Anna’s mouth dropped open as she turned her attention back to Chase. “Excuse me?”
“I don’t think Tom understood what I told him on the phone last week,” Chase said. “Did you do these?”
Heat suffused Anna’s cheeks. “Yes. I spent a lot of time on them.”
Chase nodded. “I thought so, and they’re fantastic, but not for Horizon. I know several firms that these would work for, and I’ll be happy to recommend you to them. I told Tom that we’re rebranding and that we’re after something different, something friendlier. We don’t want to be one of those boring old, stuck-up investment companies anymore. We want people to feel like we’re their friends, not just their brokers and bankers.”
Anna couldn’t believe that all her hard work on the project had fallen short. She’d thought Chase would be like any other rich, handsome playboy. The glitzier, and the more glamorous the style, the better. Where had she gone wrong? Had she let her experience with her ex blind her?
Mortified, Anna started packing up her samples as she inwardly fumed. She was going to kill Tom for not giving her more details. “I’m so sorry for wasting your time, Mr. McIntyre. I had no idea that was the direction you were going in.”
He gently took hold of her wrist to stop her. “What are you going to do with those? Will you use them again?” He pointed to the mock-ups.
“No. I…well, I’ll probably throw them away.” Her heart skipped a few beats at his touch. She was about to pull her hand away, but his light hold disappeared as he picked up her work.
“Would you mind if took them?”
Anna was getting confused. “I thought they were not the right image for your company?”
“They aren’t, but would you mind if I put them in our mixed-paper recycling?” Chase said. “I make our employees recycle everything. Bottles, plastic, cans, and paper all get recycled. This is what I mean about our company image and the positioning I’m looking for. I try to get Horizon to do its part in saving the planet.”
He had to be one of the strangest millionaire playboys Anna had ever encountered, and he put her on edge. She’d done her homework. He played hard with numerous glamorous women hanging off him in the tabloid papers. She hated a client that was so unpredictable.
“Okay. You can have them.” Most rich men only thought about themselves. That made them easy to handle because she knew what to expect. Reading Chase was like being blind and trying to read a normal printed book.
Chase piled them in a neat stack to the left of his laptop. “Thanks.” He got up and held out a hand to her. “Now, would you please take a walk with me?”
“A walk with you? Why?”
She was like a skittish foal—interesting. Chase gave her a disarming smile and watched Anna’s shoulders relax a little. He felt bad for her and wanted to put her at ease. “So you can get a sense of who we are. So you can start over. You still want the job, don’t you?”
Anna nodded curtly. “Absolutely.”
“Awesome.” He stood up and let out a whistle. “Lola! C’mon!”
A huge Bernese Mountain dog came trotting out of the shaded tropic garden and looked at Chase expectantly.
“Lola, say hello to Anna,” he said.
Lola barked as she looked up at Anna.
“Hi, Lola. Gosh, she’s big,” Anna said, bending down to pet her head a shade tentatively.
“She’s big but as gentle as a lamb,” Chase said. “Aren’t you, girl?”
Lola’s tail wagged harder in response to Chase’s question.
“I love dogs.” Anna laughed as she gave Lola a final pat. “I’m a country girl at heart, and she’s bigger than any sheep I’ve ever seen. I grew up on a farm in Iowa, and then we moved to a little town outside of Denver. We always had pets.”
Chase said, “Really? Where about in Denver?”
His eyes widened. “You’re kidding.”
Anna shook her head. “No. I graduated high school there.”
“So did I.”
Her smile was full of disbelief. “Yeah, right.”
“No, I really did. I don’t remember you. You must be a few years younger than me. I graduated in 2005. Ate at the Diner all the time, and you gotta know Tucker,” Chase said.
Anna’s stunning green eyes lit up. “Tucker McGee? He fixed all of our cars.” She shook her head a little. “I can’t believe this. I have to confess that I investigated you a little, but there was no mention of where you grew up.”
Chase’s smile faded a little. “Well, I don’t put it out there for the public. I lived in Texas until I was about fourteen, and then I moved to Cooper’s Creek.”
Anna gasped and grabbed his arm. “You’re that Chase McIntyre?”
Her soft palm on his arm and the excited look on her beautiful face kicked Chase’s libido into gear. “Depends on which Chase McIntyre you mean. If it’s the bad Chase, then, no, I’m not him,” he joked.
She laughed and the pretty sound made his groin tighten a little. “The football player. Best wide receiver Cooper’s Creek has ever had.”
Chase grinned. “That’s me all right.”
Anna looked at where she still held his arm and suddenly sobered and let go. “I’m so sorry. I just got excited to meet someone from my hometown.”
“That’s okay. I don’t mind being grabbed by pretty women.” The shocked look on her face made him quickly amend his statement. “I meant that I don’t mind being touched by—shit, that’s no better than the first thing I said. I meant nothing sexual by that.”
His discomfort must have pacified Anna because her stern look relaxed and those pretty lips of hers curved into a smile. “And I don’t go around grabbing clients.”
Chase could believe that. Anna seemed too reserved to do something like that. He was glad to see that she wasn’t too offended by his unfortunate choice of words. “That’s too bad. I’m sure they’d enjoy it.”
She didn’t laugh as he expected, instead she picked up her briefcase. “I think we should take this walk so I quit saying stupid stuff.”
“Aw, c’mon. Don’t stop on my account,” Chase said. “Usually I’m the one saying stupid stuff. It’s nice to hear someone else do it for a change.” He grabbed his cellphone and motioned towards the elevator. “After you, ma’am.”
She sent him a tight smile and walked ahead of him. Chase watched her ass move under her skirt and couldn’t deny that he wanted to get his hands on it. Anna was built the way women were meant to be, at least in Chase’s estimation. Her voluptuous figure, creamy skin, and vibrant emerald eyes drew him like a bee to honey.
Not to mention her lustrous auburn hair. He’d like to take some pictures of her lying naked on his bed with her hair spread out over the pillows. Hmm. I’m gonna make that happen. However, he hadn’t missed the wariness in her eyes, and his male intuition told him that it would take more effort than usual to make that thought become a reality.
Her indifference just made him want her even more. Anna was different. She hadn’t flirted with him, or come on to him, when he turned down her designs. In fact, his world-renown charm didn’t appear to be working.
However, there was business to conduct first, so he told his dick to behave and whistled to Lola to follow them. They boarded the elevator, and Chase hit the button for the twelfth floor.
“So, what was your favorite thing to eat at the Diner?”
A blush spread across Anna’s cheeks. “Oh, lots of different things.”
“Which tells me that you’re the kind of woman I like best.”
Her startled eyes met his. “And what kind is that?”
“The kind with an appetite. I hate women who sit and pick over a salad and pretend that they’re full after three bites. Irritates the shit out of me,” Chase said. “The Triple Decker cheeseburger, fries, coleslaw, and a large chocolate shake was my favorite meal, which I ate before every game.”
Bashfully, Anna said, “I tried to tackle a Triple Decker a couple of times, but I couldn’t finish it.”
Chase patted her shoulder consolingly. “You tried, and that’s all that counts. Right, Lola?”
Lola barked and blinked at Chase.
“Does she go everywhere with you?”
“Yeah, except for in the cafeteria. Health regulations. Other than that, she’s allowed everywhere. Lola is good for my soul,” Chase said softly.
Anna was beautiful. Her smile drew Chase’s attention back to her luscious mouth and he wanted to shove her up against the wall and kiss her until they were both breathless and—not a good idea to mix business and pleasure but then hell, he never played by the rules.
The elevator stopped, and they exited it.
“This floor is what I call the War Room,” Chase said. “Just a warning: it’s pretty messy.”
He opened the door directly across from the elevator and a cacophony of noise poured forth. The sound of people typing on keyboards and copiers running, mixed in with loud voices and blaring music.
“What’s going on in here?” Anna asked.
Chase grinned mysteriously. “You’ll see.”
As he escorted Anna into the War Room, Chase kept things fun and casual, but he was already thinking of how he was going to charm the gorgeous woman from his hometown into his bed.