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Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Knave of Hearts by Adrianna Dane

Nathaniel Diamond, head of a corporate restructuring consultancy firm, is as hard as his last name suggests when it comes to sealing the deal. In his personal life, broken hearts are nothing more than collateral damage, and business is his sole priority. Until, that is, he meets his new client’s right-hand man, Elijah Gentry.

Elijah returned home to Seattle out of love and respect for his guardian, Charles Ballard, head of Ballard Holdings Worldwide, who is dying. Charles hired Nathaniel to help secure his financial legacy, and Elijah is expected to aid him. Although Elijah has a grasp of the business, his true passion lies in Los Angeles with his sound editing career, not with Ballard Holdings. Eventually, he plans to return to L.A., away from the world of high finance and dog-eat-dog corporate politics.

When Elijah and Nathaniel first meet, they are strangers. Well, almost. Nathaniel knows Elijah’s type, and he plans to use the man to get intimate and necessary information Elijah might not share otherwise in order to do his job. But Elijah is not quite the easy target Nathaniel expects, and soon the games begin.

Sex and power quickly tangle in this high-stakes game of corporate politics. Will either man emerge heart-whole from their encounter? Or does destiny have another set of plans for these two very different men? 

Genres: Gay/Contemporary
Heat Level: 3
Length: Novella (21k words) 

Read a short excerpt...

...“Something on your mind?” Nathaniel asked.

Elijah’s gaze raked over Nathaniel. Nathaniel found the look surprisingly arousing. There was business, and then there was…something else.

“Why didn’t you tell me who you were?”

“I thought you knew. And that you were just trying to play coy,” Nathaniel responded.

“I’ve been busy. I didn’t take time to look up your picture. I read your company prospectus and reviewed your CV. There are other people to check out the specifics.”

“I expect so,” Nathaniel said noncommittally. He sensed Elijah’s rising anger. The flush in his face could have been easily taken for some other emotion. And frankly, that excited him.

“You tried to play me that night and I don’t appreciate it.”

“Tell me, Mr. Gentry. Would you want someone less…vigilant to be working with your…guardian? I need to know everything about everybody attached to him and this company in order to do my job properly.”

“That doesn’t include coming on to me.”

“Doesn’t it?

The flare of color deepened to bright red in Elijah’s cheeks, his eyes licked fire. He was a passionate man, not quite like Charles at all. Charles was more like Nathaniel. He understood the need for level-headedness in business. One couldn’t get emotional. Elijah was different. Very different. And very attractive exuding all that passion.

“Don’t try to use me, Mr. Diamond. I don’t use well. Don’t underestimate me.”

“I never underestimate anyone. Now, how about dinner tonight?”

Tables turned. Always expect the unexpected in the business world. Elijah’s gaze widened.

“What?” The invitation seemed to have taken Elijah completely off-guard. And that’s the way Nathaniel liked things.

“If you don’t have other plans, of course,” he said mildly, keeping a reasonable, even tone. “There are questions I have and right now I want to get acclimated to your offices. I need to meet with members of my team who are flying in today. But later, I’d like to sit down with you and go over a few things, like your organizational chart and your opinion on several of the satellite companies. I’d like your take on those in line for the CEO position.”

Nathaniel saw a war of emotions cross Elijah’s expression. Keeping him off-center might take some work, but he already knew from Saturday night, the man was interested in him sexually.

“I don’t quite know what your game is,” Elijah said. He eyed Nathaniel silently for a moment. And then he folded. Nathaniel saw the acceptance in his eyes, the frustrated sight, the slight sag of his shoulders. “All right. I’m here to do what Charles needs done and to make it easier for him. If this is the way you want to play it, all right then, that’s how we’ll do it. Dinner tonight.”

Nathaniel nodded. “The Sorrento at eight, shall we say?”

“Fine. At eight. You have a phone directory accessible to you. If you need anything or anyone to help you get set up, you can call my assistant. She’ll handle it. I’ve got things to attend to.”

“I’ll call you if I need anything.” He didn’t remind Elijah that he was already in possession of his private cell number, from the napkin the other evening. No point in rubbing it in at this point.

Elijah stopped up short before getting on the elevator. He pivoted back to look at Nathaniel. It was an appraising look that Nathaniel couldn’t help but appreciate. He was certainly no pushover. Charles had taught him well. “You do that.”

He turned and stepped into the elevator and the doors slid closed. The confrontation had Nathaniel’s blood pumping in a very similar manner as to when he was about to attack a new, especially exhilarating project. But he’d never felt that way on acquiring a new lover. This was different. Stimulating in a way he wasn’t used to experiencing.

He certainly looked forward to his next encounter with Elijah Gentry, and couldn’t help wondering if negotiations would end up finding them in bed together before the night was over.

His body responded enthusiastically to that intriguing possibility. But he tamped that down, shut the emotional tap off and turned to the business at hand. And that was something he was very good at doing. Turning toward the office, he noticed Gloria was on the phone and waving to him frantically.

Elijah Gentry would be no match for him. Nathaniel was certain he’d soon have the man exactly where he wanted him... 

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