About the Author
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
The second born of the highly accomplished Blake triplets, she held the position of corporate attorney and partner in her family's multibillion dollar international firm, which specialized in both corporate and personal security. "Excuse me," Farrah cried, stumbling back a couple of feet.
"No problem," a familiar baritone voice replied.
"Robert. " she said breathlessly. Farrah looked up to find the most beautiful set of blue eyes staring down at her just as he gifted her with a sexy smile. Farrah's body instantly responded to the sound, and her heart skipped several beats. Her nipples hardened and she throbbed at her core, a familiar occurrence that happened only with one man in particular.
Robert Gold, head of field security for Blake & Montgomery, could be summed up in three words: handsome, wealthy and extremely sexy. The fair-skinned, six-foot, athletically built computer genius had a well-earned reputation for being a playboy with a severe phobia of commitment and no desire to change his status, and now he was her husband because she'd lost a card game and had to perform a bet.
Farrah stood with her arms folded across her chest. "What are you doing here?"
"You know why I'm here," he said, giving her a megawatt smile that made most women melt on the spot. Farrah was definitely included in that number. She'd been fighting her growing desire for Robert since an out-of-town assignment had changed everything between them. Folks might claim that what happened in Vegas stayed in Vegas, but the memories were enough to have her waking up, breathing hard, wrapped in moist sheets.
"We talked about this already. You know that I'm more than capable of handling this on my own," Farrah declared as they made their way down the hall toward the most exclusive obstetrician and gynecologist's office in Houston.
She smiled and nodded as they passed two very expectant mothers who were having trouble keeping their balance, much like a couple of toddlers who were first learning to walk. "Wow," Farrah heard one of the women say; obviously she was admiring the view of Robert's backside, too. Farrah always thought pregnant women were beautiful, but seeing their struggle to stay upright, she was very grateful for her flat tummy and the ability to wear lime-green Betsey Johnson stilettos that set off her black-and-white formfitting Chanel dress perfectly. Determined to get her career back on track and her "lapse in judgment" in Vegas behind her, she had every intention of keeping it that way.
Robert's forehead creased, something that only happened when he was either deep in thought or really confused. "Is it me or are there far too many Halloween decorations up? Halloween's still three weeks away."
"Don't try to change the subject," Farrah scolded, stopping in the middle of the hallway, placing her right hand on her hip. "And no, there aren't. Look, we agreed that spending time alone together while we're still technically married wasn't a good idea, so we'd do our best to stay away from each other unless it's something business-related."
"No, you made that suggestion, and I've been ignoring it ever since," he said, falling in step beside her as they made it closer to the glass doors.
Farrah reached out and stopped his progress. "Look, I don't need you here with me. I'll let you know what happens." She glared up at him, trying to ignore her traitorous body and the feelings evoked by a simple touch. Farrah quickly dropped her hand.
"I'm not leaving. End of discussion," Robert stated, returning her angry look measure for measure.
Robert's handsome face and take-charge attitude were wreaking havoc on Farrah's senses. At the moment, she felt as though she would part her lips to speak, and all manner of nonsense would come tumbling out. What was it about this particular man that made her light-headed and giddy? She had to get away from him. Fast. Her sister needed her. "Like hell," she shot back, breaking eye contact. "Why are you being so unreasonable about this?"
Robert pushed out a deep breath. "Look, Meeks is my best friend and he may be neurotic as hell, but he's running late and he asked me to fill in until he arrives."
"I can take care of my sister very well, thank you very much," Farrah said, trying to keep her temper and her body's responses under control.
"You sure we're in the right place?" Robert asked as they entered an opulent office setting filled with waiting mothers in various stages of developing motherhood.
The office of Dr. Erica Gunn, obstetrician and gynecologist to the rich and famous, was located in one of the most prestigious high-rise buildings in downtown Houston. Slate floors were covered in oriental rugs; soft leather seating was surrounded by wall-to-wall cathedral windows with breathtaking views of the city. The reception desk was fashioned from mahogany wood with intricate designs on its front. Farrah knew the desk was something her sister Francine, whose hobby was woodworking, must absolutely love. She smiled as she spied two of her company's agents diligently guarding the doors and eyeing their environment, while ignoring the admiring eyes of the female patients and staff. Somehow pregnant women had become dangerous? Sometimes her brother-in-law was too protective of Francine.
"Yep, right place." Robert gave a short nod to the two members from their team standing on high alert. "I should have expected Meeks to have backup."
Farrah made her way over to the receptionist's desk.
"Pardon me. I'm looking for my sister Francine Blake I mean Montgomery, Francine Montgomery," Farrah corrected, inwardly chiding herself to get it right. The couple had been married for nearly a year, but Francine had been the fiercely overprotective eldest triplet that relished being the leader of their little pack for so long, it was still hard to concede that she now belonged to someone else.
"Still not quite used to your sister's new name, I see. At least my last name wasn't the only one you couldn't get used to," Robert said in a tone so harsh it sent a shiver of unease down Farrah's spine.
"Seriously? What are you doing?" Farrah asked, scanning the seated patrons to make sure no one had overheard his comments.
"What am I ?" Robert pushed out another deep breath as though he was in need of a woosah moment to keep his emotions under control. "I'm not the one freaking out about the possibility of someone finding out we're married."
"We won't be married much longer. Besides, our mistake is no one's business," she whispered. "Evidently, we had both taken leave of our senses."
Robert held her gaze for several moments before his piercing blue eyes swept over her body, making her breasts heavy and all her blood rush south to the one place it didn't need to settle. "No, our mistake is no one's business," he conceded, and the deflated sound of his voice caused a dull pain in Farrah's chest.
"Sorry about that. How can I " the receptionist said after she disconnected the call and looked up at Farrah. Her voice trailed off as her eyes grew wide, taking in the woman standing in front of the desk.
The response was one that was all too familiar to Farrah, as one-third of a set of triplets. Olive-skinned beauties with high cheekbones and expressive eyes inherited from their Italian mother and the luxuriously long jet-black hair, straight noses and heart-shaped faces bestowed on them from their African-American and Hispanic father, the three women were only set apart by distinctive eye colors.
"Oh, my goodness," she said in an anxious whisper. "You look just like Mrs. Montgomery. Except for the baby bump, of course."
"Thank goodness for that," Farrah murmured, instinctively placing her hand on the place where a child would grow one day in the very distant future. Right now she had a career to salvage and a "never should have been a husband" to extract from her life.
Robert cut his eyes to her, which she did her best to ignore, while her treacherous body continued to betray her with all manner of foolishness. "I'm here for my sister's ultrasound. She's expecting me."
"We're here for the ultrasound Karen," Robert corrected, smiling down at the young woman and reading her name tag.
Karen's smile grew wide and she flipped her brown wavy hair off her shoulder in a move Farrah clearly recognized. If she smiles any wider, I'll be able to count every tooth in her head. Farrah frowned at the other woman who had suddenly found a pointed interest in the male part of the equation.
"Yes, Mrs. Montgomery is expecting both of you," she said to Robert in a voice that had clearly taken on a more seductive tone. "She told us her sister and a family friend would be joining her and her husband whenever he arrives. That's when she also felt the need to explain about the armed security that actually searched the entire place before parking themselves here in the waiting area."
Farrah tried to hold in a frustrated sigh, but her efforts didn't escape Robert's notice.
"Oh, no worries," the receptionist said. "The majority of our clientele requires the same kind of security. It's nothing new to us. I assume you're that family friend and not the husband right?" she inquired, directing her question to Robert.
Robert gifted Karen with a wide smile of his own and that legendary charm automatically kicked into high gear. "Yes I'm definitely not her husband," he answered before giving Farrah a hard look. "Nor, for that matter, am I considered anyone else's."
Farrah experienced such an intense and unexpected jab of jealousy and possessiveness watching the exchange, she found herself inching closer to Robert. Before she knew it, common sense took a road trip to never-never land as she parted her lips and said, "No, he's not my sister's husband. He's mine."
So much for not sharing our business," Robert murmured to Farrah, returning the smirk she'd given their shocked, starry-eyed receptionist.
Farrah ignored his comments, finding a more pointed interest in the concerned look of one of their staff members that was within earshot of their conversation. Karen's right hand flew to her heart. "Oh, your sister hadn't mentioned anything about a brother-in-law."
"I'm sure she didn't," Robert said sarcastically, adding, "She can't share what she doesn't know."
Farrah hadn't thought through her rash decision to share that bit of information with the receptionist. She offered Robert a defiant stare before turning back to the young woman. "We're very private people," Farrah explained, all signs of that smirk gone. "I'm sure you understand and will respect our privacy."
"Of course please excuse me just one moment and I'll take you both back," Karen replied as she turned to address a man that had been hovering nearby but was now approaching her, holding several files with a confused look on his face.
Robert turned and leaned against the desk. "So now you want to share the fact that we're married."
"Will you please lower your voice?" Farrah scolded, scanning the faces of the mothers-to-be who were sharing glances that she was certain had everything to do with them.
"You can't have it both ways, you know," he said, narrowing his gaze on her flushed face. "Just because you're jealous"
"I'm not jealous," she snapped through a forced smile. "And I'm certainly not the one who was sneaking around trying to find out what's going on between me and Trey Steel, who wouldn't even be here if it weren't for you."
Tremaine Steel, often called Trey by his family and friends, was a wealthy senior partner in his family's exceptionally successful law firm, and had become involved in defending Blake & Montgomery in a patent lawsuit. He had a reputation for being a talented attorney who loved the ladies. From what Robert had learned about the man, his looks, deep pockets and wicked charm could make a woman drop to her knees. The report on Robert's desk spoke to the fact that plenty of them had done just that, and a lot more, on more than one occasion.
Blake & Montgomery had been entangled in a lawsuit over the ownership of a security patent for a single-system digital device that would incorporate all of one's personal and business security needs for the past five years.
Ted Jefferson Jr., the son of a deceased former business partner of the firm's founders, Frank Blake and Milton Montgomery, was claiming that it was his father's original drawings and specs on which Robert had based his ideas for a revolutionary new security system that would allow users to secure their home, business and digital information using fingerprint and palm-recognition technology.
Farrah had played a vital role in developing their defense from the moment she joined the company, and within the last two years had become the lead attorney on the case. Although the lower courts had offered a judgment in their favor, Blake & Montgomery was being forced to defend itself in both the media and through the court's appeals process.
Robert had requested and gained the board's support to bring in an outside attorney to take over the case through the next phase of its defense, especially since it was his own program designs that were at the center of the dispute. Strangely enough, a furious Farrah had decided not to fight the board on the matter. Instead she insisted on being a part of the attorney selection process. That should have been his tip-off that she was up to something. Farrah's selection of Tremaine Steel was an exceptional choice happily accepted by all concernedalmost all.
Tremaine Steel had successfully argued cases before both the State and Federal Supreme Courts, which made him the perfect person to handle the Blake & Montgomery patent appeal. But as far as Robert was concerned, he had better steer clear of Farrah, or Robert might find himself in need of an attorney of his own for a far different reason.
"I wasn't sneaking around doing anything," Robert protested. "I may have inquired a few times as to what was going on with the case." He ran his right hand through his hair. "Look, we've talked about this already. You know that I think you're an amazing attorney. It's just, with all the different types of claims being leveled "
Farrah twisted her neck around and her eyebrows flew up.
"Wait," Robert raised his hands in surrender, trying to hold off the scolding he knew was coming. "Not that you don't know what you're doing."
"Whatever," she said, giving him a dismissive wave. "You got what you wanted. Just stay out of my business from now on. We certainly don't need a repeat of Vegas."
Vegas. Ah, Vegas. How could he forget?