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Masquerade [MultiFormat]
eBook by Denise P. Jeffries

eBook Category: Romance/Mystery/Crime
eBook Description: As stocks plummet and emotions soar, Samantha Skylar, the owner and CEO of Sky Pharmaceuticals is plagued by deceit and conspiracy. She's tough, hardcore, powerful and alone. Just the way she likes it. The last thing she needs right now is a mysterious, devastatingly delicious man intruding in on her personal and business life. Elijah McCray is also tough and powerful. Immediately he is intrigued and captivated with Samantha. His plans to save her from herself are rudely interrupted and captivated with Samantha. However, his plans are interrupted by the appearance of a long ago mysterious virus only known as Taz-D. With secrets of his own, he knows he will have to slowly chip away at the frozen persona of a woman who has spent her entire life running, what she thinks, is a man's world. But can he? And? at what cost?

eBook Publisher: Parker Publishing, Inc./Noire Passion, Published: 2009
Fictionwise Release Date: December 2009

1 Reader Ratings:
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* * * *

Across town. Midnight.

The darkened streetlights would tell no secrets tonight.

"Did you buy the stocks?" The man asked. His eyes, dark and ominous, scanned the seedy bar. Music from scratched CD's and the stench of stale beer and corn chips filtered through the air.

"I got the certificates right here. I still can't figure out why you would drop so much dough into a stock that has been falling like this one." His fingers picked at the dried catsup on the table. He didn't look at his associate. He couldn't. Nervous? Afraid?

"Don't you worry. That's my business. I got a feeling this stock is about to go sky high."

"Well, whatever you're up to I don't want anything to do with it. What did Sky ever do to you, anyway? Some grudge you got going here."

He didn't answer. A low guttural laugh rumbled out his mouth. Maybe if she had done something to me ...

With that brief conversation he was out the door. The night had grown cool and damp. The clouded sky blocked any light from the moon.

Footsteps clicked on the pavement in rapid succession as he walked to his vehicle. Suspicious eyes scanned the dark surroundings making sure no one saw him. He got in the car and sped off.

* * * *

"Mr. McCray, I presume." Samantha Skylar sat in the black leather, wing back chair the next morning, leaned back and rested her head in the headrest.

Her gaze slid slowly up and down the frame of the man sitting across from her. Serious. Powerful. Maybe as much as her. Impeccably dressed and just under the surface there was something else. Something she couldn't quite put her finger on. She would, given time.

"You have impressed my board of directors. However, I'm not as easy as they are." She flicked through the papers on her desk trying to not pay attention to him.

Samantha prided herself for her toughness, her kick ass business sense and her take no prisoners attitude. It took her years to acquire and perfect it and now it was as much a part of her as her tailored suits. People feared her, some hated her, but she didn't care. This is who she was and how she made her money. Otherwise, she'd still be working behind a local pharmacy counter dishing out pills. This was the world she built and if people got in her way, she stepped on them and scraped the remains into the trash. She told herself everyday how much she loved it.

"And, why is that?" Elijah's voice was strong, yet elegant and at the same time commanding. His eyes never left hers but instead stared at her with such intensity she almost wanted to look away. Almost.

"Never have been, never will. Most people come in here thinking I'm a man and then sit in that same chair as you, taking up my time, tongue tied and dumbfounded. So let us cut to the chase." Samantha turned to the day planner that lit up the computer screen to her right. She paused and leaned forward. "I have more important things to do today than interviews and I don't like my time wasted. You have three minutes to bore me, eight minutes to entice me and twenty minutes to convince me why I should give you a job with my company."

She opened the top drawer of the desk, pulled out a small egg timer and sat it on the corner.

Shaking his head, Elijah cleared his throat and shifted his weight.

"You are wasting my time, Mr. McCray. You have only two," she glanced at the timer, "and a half minutes left. So far, I'm not in the least bit impressed. I would suggest you get busy."

"You do that very well," Elijah said with a voice warm enough to melt ice.

Tilting her head she asked, "And what is that?"

"Try to intimidate people."

"Doesn't seem to be working today."

"Not in the least." Elijah's lips curved into a soft smile that told her nothing as to what was going through his head.

His voice strong and husky, wrapped around Samantha like hot chocolate on a cold winter night. She took a quick deep breath and blew it out, not liking the way it felt.

Looking toward the egg timer she drew her hand up and tapped the top of it. "Your time is running out, Mr. McCray."

A soft laugh escaped his throat. "If my memory serves me right, I did not look for you or your company. You came looking for me, besides it won't take me three minutes to convince you."

"Oh really," Samantha leaned forward in her chair and crossed her arms on top of the desk. "I guess they forgot to tell you I am not interested in resumes, previous employment or letters behind your name."

Turning to the right, she dropped his portfolio into the waste paper basket. "Now, your time is steadily ticking away. You did, however amuse me enough to surpass your three minute limit, but only because I like your ability to hold my attention. You haven't told me yet why I should give you a job with my company."

"Hum." He nodded, a slow movement of the head. "I've never been called amusing. I grossed 1.25 mil last quarter in product development and sales." Pulling a business card from his breast pocket, leaning forward, Elijah placed it on the desk in front of Samantha. "When you are ready to talk business have your people call me." He pushed up from the chair extended his hand and waited for her to shake it. When she didn't, he turned and walked toward the door.

Samantha relaxed back in her chair, took a deep breath. "I like you, Mr. McCray. Not too many people have the balls to do what you just did."

"I'm not most people."

"Oh, really? Have you ever worked for a woman?" Samantha knew this was a no-no question for interviews but what she gathered from him, his answer would play a deciding factor in her resolve and whether she wanted him on her team. If he couldn't handle himself she'd have no place for him. Weak men were not her forte'. In and out of the workplace.

A harmless smile curved his lips before he answered. "You would be the first, but why would it matter? If you had taken a longer look at those papers you threw away so easily, you would have noticed I'm a pretty boy from Penn State." He knew how to defend himself. Good.


Nodding his head, Elijah continued, "I go after everything I want and I get everything I go after."

Samantha fisted her hand under her chin and continued to listen to him, liking what she heard. She loved the idea of a money making man. Earning potential always caught her attention.

"Does that matter?" Elijah asked. "If I've never had a woman, over me?"

"Of course it matters," she said. "It's all relevant. Positioning in this world can make or break a person."

Samantha picked up the phone and dialed a few numbers. After a brief pause she said, "Jacob, I've got McCray here. Find him something to do." She hung up. No goodbyes, no talk to you later, no nothing. "Go see my assistant. She'll tell you where to go."

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