Sunday, August 28, 2011

Blindfold Me excerpt

It's storming here in NYC..Irene and all, so I'll just leave you guys with an excerpt from Blindfold Me.

 “Uh, Mr. St.Clair? We have a situation.”
    He turned around. “What is it, Ms. Benson?”
    She glanced at the floor then squared her shoulders and stared him in the eye. “Our client list has been compromised.”
    Silence filled the room.
    “I’m sorry, repeat that?”
    “Our system was hacked a few weeks ago. Someone has been soliciting our clients, trying to get them to switch suppliers.”
    “How long ago did you say this happened?” he asked.
    “About two weeks ago. Why?”
    Grayson took a deep breath and prayed for patience. “Why wasn’t I informed the minute this happened?”
    “In case you forgot, we learned your identity like a minute ago.” She folded her arms across her chest and narrowed her eyes.
    “Yes, but I seem to recall you being in contact with Richard this whole time. Why didn’t you tell him?” he demanded.
    “I wanted to make sure there was something to tell,” she said. “We knew we were hacked, but we had no idea why, or what the damage was, until three customers contacted us.”
    “That’s unacceptable. It was your job to make sure the company ran smoothly during the transition.”
    “I know that, but I had no control over the situation.”
    “Not good enough!”
    Hayden laid a hand on his shoulder. “Gray, come on. Take it easy. Let her explain.”
    “Explain? Explain what? That I’m now the proud owner of a company whose clients could jump ship at any time?” Grayson shrugged his hand away.
    “Our clients wouldn’t do that. They’re loyal to us,” Lyric said softly.
    Grayson swung around to face her. “And what the hell would you know about loyalty, huh? The minute they’re quoted a cheaper price, they’ll be gone!”
    She bit her bottom lip, but kept silent.
    Everyone in the room stared at them. Grayson turned to Evelyn. The secretary watched him with her mouth open.
    “Get them out of here.” He gestured to the workers at the table. “Lyric stays.”
    Hayden and Richard sent him questioning frowns, but didn’t say a word as they followed everyone else out the door.
    Evelyn stopped at the door. “Will you be okay?” she asked Lyric.
    “Don’t worry, I’ll be fine.” Lyric smiled.
    At that, Evelyn slipped out the door and closed it behind her.
    They faced each other as if on a battlefield, even though they weren’t more than a couple feet apart.
    “Explain yourself.” Grayson raked his gaze over her.
    “I already have.” She scowled.
    “No, you haven’t. You haven’t explained why you allowed me to walk into this situation completely blindfolded.”
    “Aren’t you being a bit overdramatic?” she asked.
     Is she for real? He stared at her. “Someone hacked the company’s system, accessed our exclusive client list, and is using said list to seduce our clients over to their side.” He breathed. “And the person who should’ve been protecting my company thinks I’m being overdramatic. Am I right?”
    “Look, Gray, I’m really sorry.” She touched his arm. Grayson flinched away and she dropped her hand. “I’m sorry, but we can fix it.”
    He brushed a hand over his face and paced. “Yeah? How do you propose we do this?”
    She took a seat on the conference table and tucked a strand of hair behind her right ear. A move so familiar, memories threatened to overwhelm him. Another time, another place. He shook his head in an attempt to clear it and focused on what she had to say.
    “The culprit has to be one of Ilsha’s competitors. There are only three in the New York area who specialize in the same type of products we do. I say we investigate to see which one is the guilty party.”
    He stared at her, at the familiar curve of her neck and inviting glow of her skin.
    “Did you hear what I said?” she asked.
    He blinked. “Yeah, something about looking at the competitors.”
    She nodded.
    “All right, I’ll have Richard look into it.”
    “Why him?” She wrinkled her brow. “I was hoping we could do it.”
    “We who?”
    “Me and you–us,” she said. “I’m the manager and this happened on my watch.”
    “You’re right, of course.” He shifted to the front of her, a move calculated to force her to look up at him. “I can’t fire you because of the sales agreement, so you’ll have to fix this mess,” he said coolly.
    “What?” Surprise pitched her voice higher. “What does the sales agreement say?”
    “Do you want to leave? Because you can, nothing’s stopping you.” He granted her a mocking smile.
    “Like I’d give you the satisfaction. I’m staying put, so answer the question. What did you mean?”
    Grayson sighed. “There’s a clause in the sales agreement by the previous owner. He wants me to keep on the current staff for at least six months. Anyone can leave if they want, but I can’t fire anybody.”
    Lyric pursed her lips. “If you had your way, I’d be long gone. Wouldn’t I?” She spoke the words quietly, head tilted to look up at him.
    “Well, yes. Especially since you practically gave our clients away.”
    “Bastard,” she spat. “This has nothing to do with Ilsha.” Her fists clenched in her lap.
    Grayson kept his face blank and met her gaze head-on.
    “You still hate me.” Her chest heaved. “You still hate me after all these years.”
    “What do you expect, Lyric?” Thirteen years of pain and anguish clung to every word he spoke. “You slept with my brother!”

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