A Mistletoe Kiss with the Boss

BOOK: A Mistletoe Kiss with the Boss
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Was he Prince Charming...or Scrooge?

When sweet, kind Kristen Anderson asks self-made billionaire Dean Suminski to invest in her charity, he agrees, but with one condition: Kristen must be his Christmas-party date!

It might be glamorous being on handsome Dean's arm, but Kristen soon discovers the bruised soul behind Dean's brusque exterior. He has built his barriers against Christmas—and for a very good reason. Kristen's hoping she can start to melt his defenses...with one magical mistletoe kiss!

Dean watched her face change. When she'd turned from looking at the Christmas decorations, her eyes were bright. But when their gazes met, her face seemed to freeze.

“You're not afraid of me, are you?”

“Of course I am.”

He expected her to lie and laughed when she didn't. “Because you don't lie, you and I are going to get along spectacularly.”

She glanced down at her pretty satin dress. She looked as much like a princess in the dress as her boss, Princess Eva. But to Dean she was even prettier. She had soft-looking Scandinavian skin, so pale it picked up the moonlight when they'd walked from the hotel to his limo, and green eyes that were a striking contrast. Her thick yellow hair had been pulled up into some creation of curls on top of her head, exposing her long, cultured neck.

And his first thought when he'd seen her was how easy it would be to kiss that neck.

Dear Reader,

Have you ever had what looked to be a good idea that turned out to be a horrible mistake?

That's what happens to Kristen Anderson. The executive assistant to Princess Eva from
Wedded for His Royal Duty
(July 2016), Kristen, flies to Paris to get ten minutes with Dean Suminski, CEO of Suminski Stuff. She wants to persuade him to consider moving his company to Grennady, her home country.

She ends up flying to New York City, attending a ball with Dean and falling in love with the guy with the haunted eyes who kisses like a man with the soul of a poet.

But Dean has a secret that doesn't just cause him to disappear...it keeps him from going after the prize he longs for: Kristen's heart.

I've written a lot of books about the healing power of love, but nothing touched my soul the way Dean and Kristen's story did.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Happy reading...

Susan Meier

A MISTLETOE KISS WITH THE BOSS

Susan Meier

Susan Meier
is the author of over fifty books for Harlequin.
The Tycoon's Secret Daughter
was a Romance Writers of America RITA® Award finalist, and
Nanny for the Millionaire's Twins
won the Book Buyers Best Award and was a finalist in the National Readers' Choice Awards. She is married and has three children. One of eleven children, she loves to write about the complexity of families and totally believes in the power of love.

Books by Susan Meier

Harlequin Romance

The Princes of Xaviera

Wedded for His Royal Duty
Pregnant with a Royal Baby!

The Vineyards of Calanetti

A Bride for the Italian Boss

Mothers in a Million

A Father for Her Triplets

The Larkville Legacy

The Billionaire's Baby SOS

Kisses on Her Christmas List
The Tycoon's Secret Daughter
Nanny for the Millionaire's Twins
Single Dad's Christmas Miracle
Daring to Trust the Boss
The Twelve Dates of Christmas
Her Brooding Italian Boss

Visit the Author Profile page at
Harlequin.com
for more titles.

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CHAPTER ONE

W
HEN
THE
ELEVATOR
bell rang in the lobby of the upscale Paris hotel, Kristen Anderson's heart thumped. She spun to face the ornate wrought iron doors, her whole body shivering in anticipation—

Two middle-aged American women got out.

She didn't have time to sag with disappointment, because someone tapped her on the shoulder and asked her a quiet question.

In French.

Which she didn't speak.

She turned around to see a man dressed in a suit, undoubtedly the desk clerk.

Speaking English, because her native Grennadian was nearly unheard of, she said, “I'm sorry. I don't speak French.”

The elevator bell dinged again. Her head snapped toward the sound.

In perfect English, the desk clerk said, “May I ask, mademoiselle, your business in our hotel?”

She pointed at the tall, broad man exiting the elevator. “I want to see him.”

She took two steps toward Dean Suminski, chairman of the board and CEO of Suminski Stuff, but the clerk caught her arm.

“No, mademoiselle.” He shook his finger like a metronome. “You will not disturb a guest.”

Walking toward her, Dean Suminski shrugged into a gorgeous charcoal-gray overcoat. His eyes were down. She guessed that was his way of ignoring anyone who might be around him. But she didn't care. Getting him to visit Grennady and consider it as the place to relocate his company was her mission for her country. Approaching him was also practice for when she had to deal with men like him on a daily basis after she started her charitable foundation. One desk clerk wouldn't stop her.

“Sorry, Pierre.” She pulled her arm out of his short, stubby fingers. “Someday I'm going to build schools in third world countries. I have to learn to be brash.”

She spun away from the clerk and shouted, “Mr. Suminski!”

He totally ignored her.

“Mr. Suminski! I know that's you. I've seen your face on the internet.”

He walked to the door.

She scurried after him. “I just need two minutes.”

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the clerk point at a man behind another discreet desk. He nodded and bounded toward her. But Suminski walked out the door and she stayed on his heels, catching him when he stopped in front of a limo.

“Seriously. Two minutes. That's all I need.”

In the silence of the crisp early December morning, at a hotel set back, away from the congestion of Paris's main thoroughfare, she heard his annoyed sigh and was surprised when he faced her.

“Who are you?”

With his dark eyes locked on her face, Kristen froze. His black hair was perfect, not a strand out of place. His high forehead, straight nose and high cheekbones could have made him a king.

When she didn't answer, he said, “Fine,” and began to turn away.

“I'm Kristen Anderson,” she said, her voice coming out louder than it should. She sucked in a quick gulp of air and calmed herself. When she spoke again, it was quieter, smoother, and with authority. “Gennady would like you to consider moving your company to our country.”

He faced her again. “Prince Alex would know I wasn't interested.”

Prince Alex was the husband of Kristen's boss, Princess Eva. As executive assistant to Grennady's future queen, Kristen knew Alex had immediately said no to considering Suminski Stuff as one of the tech companies being recruited to boost their flagging economy. But their options had run out. Dean's was the only company left.

“So that's why you weren't put on the list?”

He smiled. But the movement wasn't warm or friendly. More sarcastic. Almost frightening. “There's a list?”

“There was. It's dwindled.”

“To no one, I'm guessing, if they sent you to barge in on my day.”

She swallowed. Those black eyes were just too intense—like they saw every damned thing going on in her head. She'd read that he was shrewd, uncanny in his ability to judge his opponents. Orphaned at four, raised by a cold grandmother who hadn't wanted him, he'd played video games to amuse himself. At fourteen, he'd gone to business school because he'd taught himself to code and didn't need any more instructions in computers. He was brilliant. He was arrogant. He was also their last chance.

She opened her hands in supplication. “If you could give me two minutes of your time, I could persuade you to visit and make an assessment about whether or not you might consider, perhaps, moving your company to Grennady.”

“That's a lotta maybes and mights and perhapses.”

“It's possible you're not looking to move.”

“I'm not.”

“You should be. Grennady is a beautiful country with a diverse labor pool.”

He scowled, and really just scared the hell out of her. Tall, broad-shouldered, and blunt, he made her blood tingle with fear. And she had the feeling he did it deliberately. Maybe this was why Prince Alex didn't want him in their country? And maybe she had overstepped in contacting him. Grennady might be desperate to find an employer who could keep their younger, educated residents at home, but Suminski Stuff wasn't the answer.

She stepped back. “You know what? I'm sorry I bothered you. Have a nice day.”

He shook his head. “You're gonna give up that easily? I had higher hopes for you.”

Her face scrunched in confusion. “What?”

“You obviously flew from your frozen country to Paris where you don't even speak the language.” His head tilted. “I heard you tell the clerk. You also didn't mind running after me, shouting in a quiet lobby. That takes some guts. But when you finally had my attention, you backed off.” He almost smiled. “Too bad.”

He turned to leave, but she caught his arm. “What would you have done, if you were me?”

He laughed. “So now you want me to teach you how to dicker?”

His dark eyes held her gaze. She swallowed down her fear because, damn it, why should she be afraid of this guy just because he had money? And was big. And handsome. And had a terrifying way of looking at her.

“I don't want you to teach me to dicker. I want you to listen to my pitch for about fifteen minutes.”

“Before you said two minutes.”

“That was if I didn't show you some pictures.”

He looked at the blue sky, then back at her. “All right. Get in the car. I'm on my way to the airport. You've got the entire drive. Give it your best shot.”

Hope burst inside her. Maybe he wasn't so bad, after all? “Really?”

He motioned to the black limo awaiting him. “Here's lesson one. Don't question good luck.”

The driver opened the car door and Kristen slid inside. Warm leather seats arranged in a semicircle greeted her.

Dean Suminski eased in beside her. A few seconds passed in silence as the driver got behind the wheel. Dean spent the time texting.

As the car pulled away from the hotel, Kristen said, “So I'm assuming you already know a little bit about Grennady?”

“I own controlling interest in a big company. I know who's managing the world's oil. I met Xaviera's Prince Alex a few years back. When he married, I did my research.”

“Why would you care who he married?”

He sniffed a laugh. “Would you put your money in oil stocks if the region was unstable?”

“That has nothing to do with Alex getting married. Besides, that region's always unstable.”

“Let's call it controlled instability because of people like Prince Alex's dad, King Ronaldo. As long as Ronaldo is happy, he's strong. I needed to make sure Alex's marriage didn't rock the boat.”

She supposed that was true. “So you know that our country's every bit as well ruled as Xaviera.”

“Your country nearly had a coup at the beginning of the year.”

“Nearly. King Mason was on top of things.”

He made a noncommittal sound.

“But, just for the sake of argument, let's pretend he wasn't. He is now.”

“True.”

“We're going through something that could be described as a renaissance, and you could be part of that.”

“I'm rich. I don't need to be part of anything.”

His phone rang. He slid it from his breast pocket. “Very few people have this number. So if someone's calling it's important.” He clicked the button to answer. “Hello?”

A pause.

“Maurice! Je m'excuse. Mon voyage a été coupé court...”

French again. Damn it. She knew two languages. The language of her country and English. It was becoming clear that she would have to fix that, if she wanted to run an international charity.

As he went on, holding a conversation in a language she didn't speak, she looked at the luxurious interior of the car. She'd ridden in limos with the princess, of course, but this felt different. She wasn't the scampering, scrambling employee of an important person, doing her job to make Eva's life easier. She was the one talking to the important person.

She was more than getting her feet wet with this guy. He took her seriously.

She felt herself making her first shaky step into the life and work she really wanted. Though she loved being Princess Eva's assistant, she had a degree in economics and a plan to change the world. When she was in high school, her pen pal Aasera had been one of six kids, living in Iraq. Her brothers had been educated, but she and her sisters were not. So she'd sneaked her brothers' books. When they discovered, she'd begged them to teach her to read and write, and they did.

She had been brave, determined. She'd often said her country would be a different place if women were educated, and she'd intended to make that happen. But she'd been killed by a suicide bomber, and in her grief Kristen had vowed to make Aasera's wish a reality.

Today, she was finally beginning to feel she could make that happen.

Dean hung up the phone. “Sorry about that.”

“It's fine.”

The words were barely out of her mouth before his phone rang again.

He waved it at her. “Sorry. I have to answer.”

This time he spoke fluent Spanish. Not wanting to appear to be listening in, though she couldn't since she also didn't speak Spanish, she looked at the beauty of Paris outside the car windows. The curved arches. The ornate buildings. Happy people bundled in scarves and warm coats, sitting on the chairs of sidewalk cafes, in spite of the December cold.

She almost couldn't believe she'd been courageous enough to take her own money and track down Dean Suminski, but here she was, in Paris, trying to influence him as an equal—or at least as someone who deserved his support. It filled her chest with pride and her stomach with butterflies, but after three years as Eva's assistant, she was ready to move on.

Dean talked so long that the city gave way to a quieter area, and then the buildings became fewer and farther apart. Suddenly a private airstrip appeared. Eight or ten bright blue, gray and tan metal hangars gleamed in the morning sun. Around them were five jets that ranged from a sleek, slim, small one to a plane big enough to hold the entirety of Grennady's parliament.

Dean Suminski continued talking as the limo stopped in front of one of the smaller, sleeker jets. He talked as the driver opened his door. He talked as he motioned for her to get out of the limo and as he followed her out and onto the tarmac.

Finally, he clicked off the call. “This wasn't my fault. As I said, any call that comes in on this phone is important. Normally, I don't feel the need to make amends, but if you want, you can fly to New York with me. That gives you almost nine hours to make your pitch.”

Her eyes bulged. It was one thing to take a few steps toward her dreams, quite another to cross an ocean. “Fly to New York?”

“You don't have time?”

“I...” She didn't want to tell him she'd used her own money to travel to Paris and couldn't miss her flight home the following morning. She didn't want to tell him that her boss and her husband were at Prince Alex's island home of Xaviera with his family, at the end of their vacation celebrating American Thanksgiving with Princess Ginny and Queen Rose. She didn't want to admit that Princess Eva didn't know where Kristen was, and hadn't authorized her talking to him. She wanted to surprise them with a visit from Dean Suminski in January, as a way to thank them for being so good to her, but also to show them she could get a job done. So that when she left their employ to begin her charity, they'd be her first backers.

But she was also proving to herself she had what it took to be more than an executive assistant. If she couldn't persuade Dean Suminski to visit Grennady with an eye toward relocating, would she be able to persuade benefactors to put up the millions of dollars she would need for her schools?

“Once we get to New York, the plane will turn around and bring you back home.”

Probably in time for her flight. Or she could simply tell Dean Suminski to instruct the pilot to take her back to Grennady. “That's generous.”

His eyes turned down at the corners as he frowned. “Generous?”

“Well, you could leave me at the airport.”

“I could.” He glanced away, then looked back. “I know I have a reputation for being...well, not a nice guy. But you don't need me to be a nice guy. You want time to make a pitch. I'm offering it. Consider this an early Christmas present.”

It suddenly struck her that he must be interested. He hadn't told her to get lost at the hotel. He'd offered her time in his limo, though that hadn't worked out. But here he was again, giving her a chance to sell him on her country.

“Thought you said you weren't thinking of relocating?”

“Thought you said I should be.”

BOOK: A Mistletoe Kiss with the Boss
2.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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