Finance genius Meredith Klaus prefers numbers to people, especially around the holidays. At least the large sum of money that’s mysteriously vanished from the company accounts will distract her from the ghosts of Christmases past. Until her sexy boss asks her to be his last-minute date to a fundraiser gala, that is, and the promise of a special evening calls to something long-buried in her.
Andrew Stanton, Manhattan’s best-known philanthropist, has worked hard building his reputation in the industry. He offers to work closely with Meredith to fix his company’s financial crisis, but the more time they spend together, the harder it becomes to look at her as just a colleague.
A beautiful dress. A handsome man on her arm. A challenge she can’t refuse. Can they find the missing money and fulfill their holiday wishes, or will Meredith be unable to overcome the demons of her past and lose her chance at happiness?
GUEST POST BY AUDRA NORTH
Christmas is a well-loved holiday, so it’s probably no surprise when I say that it’s one of my favorite times of the year. Everything is so shining and festive—it’s hard to resist the allure of such a joyful season! In fact, for me, resistance is completely futile. Starting in December, my house transforms into a veritable shopping mall of Christmas-themed decorations. White lights twinkling on the porch, a Nativity scene arranged on the sideboard, chubby snowmen hanging out along the top of the piano, stockings hung from the mantle, a tree—well, you get the picture. It’s a Crazy Christmastown!
In fact, I’m getting excited just talking about it.
My love of Christmas is exactly what inspired me to write Falling for the CEO. In this story, Meredith Klaus is a smart, successful New Yorker who happens to hate Christmas because in her childhood, she experienced terrible tragedy one Christmas Eve. I wanted that to change for Meredith, so that she would not only find a love of Christmas but also a love for the hero, Andrew Stanton, that would sustain her through the holidays for years to come.
And in those coming years, I’d like to think that they believe Christmas is such a special time that their house might end up looking a little like mine around the holidays!
Excerpt from Falling for the CEO by Audra North
Andrew watched Meredith’s chin jerk up at that. Clearly, she didn’t like the idea of conditions. But he wasn’t going to back down. Tomorrow night, at the gala, he needed to be able to point to the success of the Christmas Bonus Fund as evidence for why other companies should support his new initiative. Besides, if Meredith could pull this off, he may well have found the perfect person to run it, too.
He raised his left hand and began ticking off on his fingers as he named his conditions. Thumb first. “I won’t accept any solution that involves lowering the amount that every employee gets, or excluding anyone from the bonus.” Index finger. “No loans,” he repeated. Middle finger. “If you make up the difference in these six days, I will double your signing bonus.” He paused, studying her face for a reaction to the proposal that he had just laid out. She had been promised a signing bonus of thirty thousand dollars after completing her third month of employment and it was essentially a done deal, in his mind. He had meant it before, when he’d said that she was the best.
She let out a little yelp at that, and he had to suppress a smile. For some reason, he was starting to find her awkwardness endearing. Or maybe he always had. It certainly hadn’t bothered him before.
He pushed past the thought and touched his ring finger. “But if you do not manage to make up the difference, I’ll add that extra thirty thousand dollars to the fund, instead, as part of the missing two hundred thousand.”
“I can’t allow—” she began, but he cut her off.
“My conditions, remember?” He said it with a wink and a smile, making her blush. It shouldn’t have thrilled him to see it, but he couldn’t stop an image from forming, of Meredith lying on his bed, naked, looking as pink and flushed all over her body as she did on just her cheeks right now.
He barely managed to suppress a groan. Focus, man. She was looking away from him again, probably beating herself up over this. She was the kind of person who’d be convinced that it was her personal responsibility to fix, even though the missing money wasn’t her fault.
Andrew didn’t like what that implied about the former CFO, both professionally and personally. Over the years they’d worked together, Bob had become more of a father figure to Andrew than a colleague. That Bob might have done something shady with the money wasn’t something he could think about right now. He’d deal with that later.
“Final condition. You’ll work alongside me, in my office, for the next six days. Any possibility you come up with, any number that can be tweaked even a little bit, I want you to share it right away. It’s not because I don’t think you can handle it. But this is just too big for me to take it less than one hundred percent seriously.”
Her throat worked in a delicate ripple. He’d never noticed before just how fine her skin was, pale and smooth and probably soft to the touch.
Get a grip. He stepped back toward her, offering his right hand. “What do you say? Do we have a deal?”
Those green eyes darkened, the pupils growing large in the irises. An irrepressible thrill shot through him, something primal that made him feel like a predator in the midst of hunting a particularly juicy prey.
Her gaze flickered from his outstretched hand to his face before her warm fingers slid into his grip.
Audra North fell in love with romance at age thirteen and spent the next twenty years reading as many romance novels as she could. Even now, after having read over one thousand of them, Audra still can’t resist the lure of a happily ever after, and her collection continues to grow. She lives near Boston with her husband, three young children, and a lot of books. Visit her website at audranorth.com or find her (way too frequently) on Twitter @AudraNorth.
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