If i had you, p.1

If I Had You, page 1

 

If I Had You
 


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If I Had You


  There’s nothing like mixing business with pleasure…

  Entertainment mogul Brent Thatcher is a star-maker who knows talent when he sees it. And one thing he knows is that dedicated PR agent Charisse Sanford is the real thing. The workaholic millionaire wants the sultry beauty sharing his glamorous life…even if an intimate relationship is strictly taboo.

  Charisse is stunned when her start-up publicity firm wins the coveted bid for one of Brent’s overnight music sensations. She knows that Brent is the best in the business, and she’s not about to jeopardize her rising star. Until she gives in to her desire for the charismatic entrepreneur.... Will their forbidden passion launch their love to the top of the charts?

  “Looking forward to

  doing business with you.”

  Charisse offered her hand.

  Brent took her hand and nodded. “See you in two weeks.”

  He wanted to turn her hand over and softly place a kiss on her pulse. Would her heartbeat spike the way his did right now at the mere thought of the temptation?

  Thankfully, he didn’t have to think about the option. Charisse led the way out of the room. She chatted about always being there when the cleaning crew came through. He offered the expected nods and interested tilt of the head as he listened to the harmless topics.

  But darn it, her new haircut allowed the tip of a rose tattoo to peep above the collar of her blouse.

  “You were saying?” Charisse stopped and turned.

  Brent almost bumped into her back. “Oh, I was...complimenting your new hairdo. Suits you.” His hand rose to touch her hair.

  Her face turned into his hand, perfectly molding into his palm. Before he could pull away his hand, she covered it with hers. Her gaze rested on his face, almost at his chin, before she scanned his face slowly until her eyes met his.

  He only hesitated for a second before lowering his mouth to seal the kiss.

  Books by Michelle Monkou

  Kimani Romance

  Sweet Surrender

  Here and Now

  Straight to the Heart

  No One But You

  Gamble on Love

  Only in Paradise

  Trail of Kisses

  The Millionaire’s Ultimate Catch

  If I Had You

  MICHELLE MONKOU

  became a world traveler at the age of three, when she left her birthplace of London, England, and moved to Guyana, South America. She then moved to the United States as a young teen.

  Michelle was nominated for the 2003 Emma Award for Favorite New Author, and continues to write romances with complex characters and intricate plots. For more information, visit her website, www.michellemonkou.com, or contact her at michellemonkou@comcast.net.

  MICHELLE

  MONKOU

  If I Had You

  Dear Reader,

  If I Had You is a reminder that we shouldn’t discard those dreams that took hold of our imaginations. Dreams take us to a place of possibility and even probability. Any time or any place can serve as the launchpad for those dreams. More importantly, there is no age limit for nurturing those vivid dreams.

  Brent Thatcher and Charisse Sanford are two rising stars with big dreams. You can’t help but root for them as they work against the obstacles that threaten their accomplishments. Having strong belief and faith certainly provided the fuel for their journey.

  So from this day onward, write down your dreams. Think about the action plan. Push aside any fears. Take that first step. And, simply, go for it!

  Later this year, another sexy millionaire will stop at nothing to get his soul mate. Each new character is introduced in the previous book—in other words, an enticing cameo appearance. Check me out on Facebook at http://facebook.com/michellemonkou or my blog, michellemonkou.blogspot.com.

  Good luck,

  Michelle Monkou

  Contents

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Epilogue

  Chapter 1

  Charisse Sanford, with her head pressed between her hands, stared at the phone on her desk, willing it to ring with new business. At the beginning of the day, her assistant had handed the current list of clients to her. The fact that the list hadn’t changed in three months wasn’t lost on her.

  On the bright side, the names in front of her meant that no one had left New Vision. Given the economy and budget tightening in companies, she half expected her New York public relations consulting service to be bombarded with contract terminations, even at the loss of their deposits.

  However, on a bleak note, no new clients had signed on for her services. The scant number of projects in the pipeline made her want to cry. After she’d taken note of the client list and the month’s financial statements, she’d transferred funds from her personal money market account to her commercial account, to provide a cushion for the company’s expenses.

  She had to focus on the pipeline. Going back to work in corporate America wasn’t an option. At twenty-seven years old, she’d paid her dues with diminishing returns. Her last company’s grudging offer of a promotion when she announced her resignation came a little too late.

  Her assistant knocked on the door and popped in her head. “Heading out, boss lady.”

  “Have a good night.” Charisse stretched her arms, trying to ease the stiff muscles leading up to the back of her neck. A wide yawn overcame her. “I have a few more proposals to complete. I’ll have them on your desk to proof, and then we can send them out right away.” She tried to blink away the exhaustion.

  Tracy nodded. She turned away but paused before retreating from the doorway. Her crystal-blue eyes looked troubled.

  Charisse waited.

  Tracy’s mouth tightened.

  Charisse’s exhaustion rapidly disappeared. Now unease squirmed in her stomach. She already knew what her assistant would ask.

  “Any word from Shelby?” Tracy asked, with disdain dripping from every word.

  Charisse shook her head. “She said that she needed another month. The company just landed another contract. She’ll get a healthy bonus if she stays through the length of the project. Then she’ll make the switch and head over to start with us.”

  “She said that a month ago,” Tracy accused. She now stood in the office with her arms locked in place across her chest. “Sorry, I know that she’s your friend.”

  “It’s okay.” Charisse had made excuses and issued promises to her small staff that all would be well as soon as Shelby joined the company. Plan B had better come fast.

  Shelby, her colleague from a different PR company, had become a friend over the years. They’d decided to join forces and start their own firm. Yet, when the time came, Shelby wasn’t ready. Charisse didn’t let the delay stop her and opened the doors to New Vision, with the expectation that Shelby would follow within the month. One month turned into two, and now six months later, she still flew solo.

  “Why is she dragging her feet?” Tracy tossed up her hands in frustration. At twenty-one years old, Tracy was still at the crossr
oads of youthful brashness and adult work ethic.

  “I’ll be chatting with Shelby tomorrow. She wanted to get together over dinner.”

  Tracy ran a hand through her thick curly black hair. She bit her bottom lip, a sure sign that she had more to say.

  “I’m as frustrated as you.” Charisse aimed to calm down her assistant. Through it all, they had managed to have a friendship that came from working long hours together and commiserating over the brutal nature of the business.

  “I’ll let you continue to be the optimistic one. Any word about the few proposals floating out there? I haven’t had any calls come my way.”

  Charisse shook her head. “I still think the glass is half full.” Her statement hung in the air like brittle glass ready to shatter into a million pieces.

  It wasn’t on impulse that she had stepped out to fulfill a longtime dream to be her own boss. For Charisse, being happy meant earning money and success without anyone else’s help. In college, she was the president of the entrepreneur club. She had pursued many ideas, and when they failed, she grew discouraged. But she always bounced back with a keener edge and stronger appetite to try again.

  Her ambitious drive scared off friends—especially boyfriends—and earned her many counseling sessions from her mother. The people around her seemed to want to push her onto their paths—walk their walk. No way. When the opportunity for this company came, she didn’t resist. Instead, she’d leaped into the boat that would take her to the prize.

  She had a lot to prove now, despite the delay with the full rollout of her plans.

  Tracy wrinkled her nose with a small shake of her head.

  What else was there to say? Tracy was witnessing the ugly side of small business. The young woman was her first employee when she opened the door to New Vision. They had furnished and decorated the space, then taken photos of each other standing near the silver-plated office sign.

  Despite their efforts, clients didn’t immediately flood the reception area. She and Tracy, as a result, had spent long days reviewing the business strategy. Each client had to be coaxed to take the risk of signing with a start-up company. In some cases, her former employers had stepped in to provide recommendations to the potential clients with smaller budgets.

  Tracy may not have made a financial investment in the company, but she certainly had invested her time and dedication. Her hard work and the constant discipline had turned her into more than a trusted and loyal employee.

  “Don’t know how to say this, but I have a job interview at the end of the week.” Tracy glanced up and then returned her gaze to the floor. “I love it here. You’re a great boss, but…” When she raised her gaze, tears shimmered in her eyes.

  “You don’t have to explain. I understand.” Charisse pushed her chair away from the desk and stood. She approached Tracy with outstretched arms and tightly hugged the young woman. “You know that you’ll get a fantastic recommendation from me. I’m sure that you’ll impress them the same way that you’ve impressed me.”

  “I wish that I didn’t have to do this. But, Jonas…”

  “I know.”

  “And day care is going to be more expensive because of Jonas’s allergies. He can’t be around a lot of children until he’s much older.” Tracy flicked an escaped tear from her cheek.

  Charisse nodded. She didn’t have a boyfriend, much less a husband and children. She might not have the responsibility of someone being dependent on her, but she did understand living on a tight budget, especially when much of her savings had been used to support her business.

  “You have to do what’s important for your family. I won’t stand in your way.” Charisse wrapped her arm around Tracy’s shoulders and led her out of her office.

  “Thanks, Charisse.”

  They hugged.

  Charisse, with a heavy heart, locked the door after Tracy departed. The cleaning staff usually came around six o’clock, which was in an hour. Many nights she greeted them, even exchanging pleasantries as they moved through the office. The supervisor, when she was on-site, always felt it necessary to counsel about her lack of a boyfriend or date nights.

  She resumed her seat in her office and flicked on the small TV on a nearby bookshelf. Her nights were spent heading off to networking events, preparing for the few meetings that she’d managed to wrangle, or following up with busy execs for their decisions on various phases of their projects. Tonight was more of the same.

  After Tracy’s news, she wasn’t in the mood to do anything. The last thing she wanted to hear was the long litany of bad news that permeated the nightly news on TV.

  Charisse looked away from the TV screen with a heavy sigh.

  The phone on her desk rang.

  The shrill noise startled her. She looked at the number displayed in the small screen. Her hand hovered as she mentally ran through possible clients who would call after hours. Finally she answered with fake enthusiasm, “New Visions PR, Charisse Sanford speaking.”

  “Good evening. Brent Thatcher, here. Calling from Thatcher Entertainment Agency.”

  “How can I help you?” Charisse searched her memory for any business connection to the agency.

  “You submitted a proposal three months ago for the job of PR specialist. My apologies for the long response time, but I’m very impressed with what I’ve read.”

  “Thank you.” Charisse tried to discern any clues about her chances.

  “You’ve made the short list.”

  “Okay.” She wouldn’t get excited, yet.

  “I’m interviewing three candidates, including you.”

  Charisse recalled that this particular project had a lot of potential. The agency had a singing group that could be molded into tomorrow’s R & B notables.

  “I’m in Boston but will be in New York tomorrow for several days. Are you available for a meeting?”

  “One second. Let me check my schedule.” Charisse didn’t care what she had to reschedule. Thatcher Entertainment Agency had to be her new client. Her business needed Brent Thatcher.

  She clicked on her computer and checked her schedule. The blank white space of no appointments glared back at her.

  “We can schedule for another time. I understand that I’m contacting you with short notice.”

  Charisse shook her head. “I don’t have any conflicts for the next few days. We can meet.” ’Cause I’m desperate.

  “Then, let’s make this official. We can set the time, and then I’ll have my secretary follow up with an email confirmation.”

  Charisse agreed.

  Dare she hope that she was getting her wish? She had one in three chances to snag this potential client. Moreover, she didn’t mind spending a few hours with a man who had a voice like Bristol Cream—smooth, flavored with a Boston accent and rich with nuance.

  “How about you pick the day and time, and I’ll pick the place,” she tossed out. She could fake cockiness in a clutch.

  “Tomorrow evening at seven. Please don’t worry. I don’t want you to feel that this is a stiff interviewing process. So I hope you have a great place picked out, preferably one that can serve dinner. I’ll be coming off the plane and heading straight to you.”

  “Japanese or Cuban cuisine?” Charisse offered her personal choices. She tried to relax with the swift change to her life.

  “Cuban.” He paused. “This will be a first. No complaints from me, though. I’m looking forward to broadening my horizons. I’ll have you to thank for the experience.”

  “Now I feel the pressure,” she joked. “Although I’m sure you will like the food.”

  “I’m flying blind on this one. I’ll put myself in your hands.”

  “You won’t be disappointed.” She hoped.

  “With the cuisine? Or w
ith meeting you?” He laughed, low and deep.

  “Both.” Charisse warmed under the soft, husky laughter. As the words were uttered, she couldn’t believe that she was being so bold. Desperate times called for desperate action.

  Charisse allowed Brent to end the call. For a few seconds, she stared at the phone. In the snap of a finger, opportunity had arrived knocking at her door.

  She picked up the phone again and dialed the Cuban restaurant. Her desire to win drew a smile to her lips. When she finally got the restaurant owner, her dear friend, on the line, she presented her plan.

  “Luisa, I need a meal that can make a man want to hire me. Bring out the best. This may be the client that is the answer to prayers.”

  “Darling, for you, anything. I’ll have something special from the appetizer to the dessert.” Luisa chuckled. “And if he doesn’t hire you before the waiter presents the last dish, I’ll come over to your table and beat him silly.”

  “I appreciate your support, mi amiga. Can you also give me a quiet spot?”

  “Let’s see. That might be difficult. I have the deputy mayor using the VIP room.”

  “Oh, okay,” Charisse didn’t want to appear ungrateful. After all, she knew Luisa wouldn’t charge her the full price for the extravagant meal. But she wanted to pull out all the stops and show that she had some clout, even if it happened to be with her childhood friend.

  Now that she’d taken care of Phase One of her plan, she wished that Tracy was still around to celebrate. Then again, any celebration now would be jumping ahead of any good news. She still had nothing to help with Tracy’s needs.

  She sighed.

  No matter how much she tried to concentrate on the work in front of her, she couldn’t corral her thoughts. Resigned to being unproductive for the night, she closed the files and readied herself for the trip home. This meant that she needed to grab Thatcher’s file and reacquaint herself with the particulars of it during her commute.

  Brent Thatcher tapped his chin with his cell phone. The conversation had gone well. Charisse Sanford was still available. Although he only had the phone call to judge, he sure did enjoy her direct approach. And he’d get a Cuban dinner out of the meeting—definitely a point for Sanford.

 
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