Some people in her small rural community think Ellen Hamilton, the business savvy daughter of the town’s largest employer, is too big for her britches. After all it’s the 1950s and women have no place in running corporations. But when the company is threatened with takeover by John Adair, the man who broke her heart and “betrayed” her family business years ago, she’s determined to stop at nothing to win. Yet, when the cool Ellen turns molten in John’s arms, will she discover the truth about the past in time to seal The Sweetheart Deal.
Ellen could simply say he didn’t do it, but she couldn’t form the words.
“Yes or no?” Lila pressed.
Ellen tried to focus on the evidence, which was difficult since the gin made her mind feel as if it was operating in peanut butter.
There was so much evidence against him. Was John guilty? Yes. No.
She thought about how he looked this morning, asleep in her bed and the smell of him, the spicy tang of his aftershave, like cloves drying in the sun. And she knew the answer to the question as sure as she had ever known anything—and it scared the hell out of her.
Ellen took a deep breath. Odd, she thought she could smell that rich clove fragrance now.
“It’s a simple question the lady asked you,” John said from the doorway.
Ellen jumped, banging the coffee table. “Doesn’t anyone knock? What is this place? Grand Central Station?
“It’s my office,” John said, his voice controlled, but she could hear the anger rumbling below his words. “Answer the question, Ellen. I need to hear it.” He walked up to within inches of her. “What do you think of me? Of us?”
“Us?” She shoved him away. “Don’t you dare?
“Damn it! I’m not talking about the company.”
“Don’t you do this to me again.” Her voice broke.
“I’m talking about you and me.”
“Go home.” Ellen stumbled out of the office and into the hallway. Before she could reach the stairs, John grabbed her arm.
“Answer the question.”
“You’re hurting me.”
He released her arm but stepped in front of her.
That was unwise. Blocking her way was just what she needed to turn her pain to anger.
“Enough. It’s been fun, but it’s time to stop.” Her chin lifted high and imperious, for as long as she stayed in control, she could hide how vulnerable she was to him hurting her again.
“Right, I forgot. I’m just the brute help.”
She turned away so she didn’t have to see his face.
“Sure, good for fun but never trust them.”
Ellen thought she could almost hear wolf-like wail behind his words.
His fingertips rested on her chin and he gently turned her head to face him. “Is it so hard to believe I’m capable of real feelings? That I could care about you? That I want us together?”
Closing her eyes, she staved off her desire to surrender to him, to that foolish teenage dream––the consequences of which she knew from bitter experience.
He released her face, and her cheeks stung for lack of him.
“Fine. Leave.” His words chopped the air.
Nothing was stopping her from going, but if she took those steps away from him, something inside her would cut so deep she might never stop bleeding.
John tilted his head back. “Don’t go.”
The words were so soft she wasn’t sure she had heard them or just hoped for them.
The reporter scuffled up close behind them.
Ellen fled down the stairs.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Allison Morse grew up in a family of actors in Los Angeles; before the age of five, she started acting classes, which she adored. She continued in the family business until her early twenties when her curious spirit led her to consider other interests.
After receiving a B.A. from U.C. Berkeley, she went on to earn a M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy, and a J.D. from U.C. Hastings College of the Law.
Although she loved learning from each of her varied careers she always knew that storytelling was as essential to her as breathing. So as she pursued her professional life, she kept to a strict writing schedule, and joined the Romance Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.
She lives with her wonderful husband in a house in the hills that’s filled with books.
Allison can be contacted at http://www.allisonmorseauthor.com.
And follow the rest of Allison’s book tour at