Authors: Lisa Watson
There are no deals when it comes to love…
The charismatic force behind one of Chicago’s leading real-estate companies, Adrian Anderson leads a charmed life. With his pick of the town’s most eligible women, the last thing the sought-after bachelor needs is another set-up. Until Milán Dixon walks into his office. Sent by his persistent mother, the fiery, outspoken beauty is tempting Adrian to give matchmaking one last chance.
Milán came to Anderson Realty for a business opportunity, not to meet the most arrogant, egotistical…irresistible man ever. Giving in to her desire for Adrian could be the biggest mistake she’s ever made. But if it’s so wrong for them to be together why does their passion feel so right?
Adrian is determined to prove to Milán that he’s her perfect match…until a shocking discovery threatens his business and their future together. Will love seal the deal or break both their hearts?
He leaned back against his desk and crossed his arms in front of his chest. The smile he wore conveyed his admiration.
“Interesting. Smart, fiery, yet still able to retain your composure in tense situations. I’m truly impressed. I must say, my mother really outdid herself. Do me a favor…the next time you see Norma Jean, and she asks how her ingenious plan went, tell her this for me.” His arms snaked out and yanked Milán to him. He held her in an unyielding embrace as his lips clamped down on hers.
He felt Milán try to wrench herself free, but she was no match against his strength, or his irritation. He would teach his mother a lesson once and for all, and if he had to use her latest protégé to ram that point home so be it. With adept movements, Adrian slid one of his hands up and into her hair at the base of her neck to hold her steady. His other arm moved to encircle her back. He leaned over her, tilting her body backward in order to deepen the kiss. Time slowed and then screeched to a halt as he continued the onslaught on Milán’s mouth with deft precision.
The kiss ended unhurriedly. He took his time unlocking his lips from hers. Unable to help himself, he gave one final nibble to her bottom lip before moving his hand to her face. She tasted like nectarines. His thumb that caressed the swollen flesh was slightly unsteady. “Tell my mother I said ‘nice try,’” he spoke in a voice thick with emotion, “and Lord knows I do mean
Books by Lisa Watson
Harlequin Kimani Romance
is a native of Washington, D.C. Her romantic imagination is fed by the city’s historic and political backdrop. Her hobbies are as eclectic as her music collection, but what Lisa loves the most is writing strong, positive characters that are memorable to the reader and fun. Lisa is enamored with scenic beauty, and the picturesque locales she visits always seem to find a way into her latest novels. An asset-management analyst, Lisa is a subcontractor to ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives), and the copublicist for the
RT Book Reviews
annual RT Booklovers Conventions. She helps promote the bestselling national and international authors that attend the conference via local media outlets. Lisa has been married for sixteen years and lives in the Raleigh, North Carolina area, with her husband, two teenagers and Maltipoo, Brinkley.
What fun I had creating the characters in this novel! Beforehand, I imagined the confusion and humor that could arise from a mother’s matchmaking plans gone awry. Norma Jean Anderson’s son, Adrian, is livid at her scheme to set him up on yet another blind date. But, when he first lays eyes on the smart and fiery Milán Dixon, their chemistry is explosive. I wanted them each to leave an indelible impression on the other, but for totally different reasons. Milán sees a missed job opportunity. Adrian sees red! His ex-fiancée’s infidelity makes him resist giving his heart away again, much to his mother’s dismay.
I hope you enjoy reading my debut Harlequin Kimani Romance. I’ll be working on the next story in The Match Broker series soon, so stay tuned to see who Norma Jean will match up next!
For Leslie Esdaile Banks, my literary friend,
and sister “Glamazon.” Thanks for the laughs, sage advice
and friendship. Rest in peace.
Thanks to Kimberly Weeter of Kimberlys-Kreations.com. One of my best friends, and real-life staging and
interior design expert.
To LBJM—Thanks for always making me laugh.
To Halden Lopez-Llizo for making sure I got my thoughts right—in Spanish!
drian Anderson surveyed the array of suits in his walk-in closet. With a critical eye, he chose a dark gray Armani with a double-breasted jacket. His selection included a crisp white shirt and patterned silk tie. He was picking out shoes when his telephone rang. He padded across the floor of his master suite and checked his phone.
Sighing, he tried his best to channel what little patience he had left as he picked up his cell phone. “Good morning, Mother,” he said as upbeat as he could manage.
“I said I was sorry,” she began without preamble. “How long do you plan on staying annoyed with me?”
“That would depend. How long do you plan on fixing me up with mental patients?”
“Sweetheart, I know you’re upset, but there’s no way I could’ve known she was in therapy.”
“Mom, please. Therapy I can handle, but this chick called her doctor all through dinner. Do you know how weird that was?”
“Adrian, don’t dramatize it,” his mother admonished.
“You weren’t there.” Adrian sighed. “Let’s not go over this again, okay? You pleaded your case last night—several times I might add. When are you going to get the point and stop matchmaking?”
“When you find the right woman and settle down,” his mother huffed. “Which would be sooner than later if you wouldn’t fight me at every turn.”
Adrian pinched the bridge of his nose. His mother was driving him as crazy as his date, Cynthia. He’d dubbed her the Cyber Stalker. She’d called his cell phone and left numerous texts since their disastrous date.
It was always the same. Any date orchestrated by Norma Jean Anderson—also known as the
by all his close friends—ended in disaster.
Each time he got wrangled into one of his mother’s hookups, he would add the woman to his contact list. If the date ended badly, the woman in question would get a nickname that easily stood out on his phone. This trick ensured he didn’t answer a call by mistake. So far, this system worked like a charm. Now, if he could get his mother to find another hobby.
“Mom, you’ve been at this longer than I’ve been in business.”
“And look how successful that’s been. You’re doing well for yourself, honey. Business is thriving, you’re a pillar to the community, handsome and smart. All you need is a wife to share your life with.”
He ran a hand over his stubbled jaw. “The last trip I almost made down the aisle didn’t turn out too well, remember?”
There was a short pause before his mother said, “I know, honey, but you can’t let the indiscretions of one woman ruin your chance for a happy life.”
“Indiscretions? You’re being much nicer than that gold digger deserved. She slept her way through half of my friends, and almost had me saddled to her unfaithful butt for the rest of my life. Luckily for me, I interrupted that last romp before she became a married woman. So now I’ve got an ex-fiancée and ex-friends. Trust me, I’m better off not giving another woman a chance to break my heart and wreck my bank account.”
“Adrian, I know she hurt you. Believe me, I get it. But that was over a year ago. If you let that woman scar you for life, she wins. It’s time you got back in the saddle again. Stop going through women like you do dress shirts and let me find you one that will love you unconditionally.”
“Tell me again what’s natural about this? I’m a grown man whose mother is trying to control his love life.”
“Adrian, if I wait for you, I’ll drop dead before I get to see you become a father.”
He sighed into the phone. “You’ll be a grandmother—one day. Until then, my life is fine the way it is so please humor me and butt out,” he said with a chuckle.
“I’ll butt out when you say, ‘I do,’” his mother replied with humor. “We’ll discuss this later. Your dad’s taking me to breakfast so I’ve got to run.”
“Have a great day, honey,” Norma Jean said quickly and hung up.
Adrian set the phone down. When his day started with a disagreement with his mother, it only got progressively worse; and recalling how the love of his life had duped him days before they were to marry hadn’t helped his mood.
“Great,” he muttered. Ripping the damp towel from his middle, he tossed it in the general direction of his clothes basket.
With angry strides, he headed toward the bathroom as if he were on his way into battle instead of work.
* * *
Turning in front of the mirror, Milán Dixon decided she liked the finished product. The navy blue suit was one of her favorites and it never failed to boost her confidence. A neutral blouse, classic diamond earrings and navy pumps completed the ensemble.
“You’ll knock him dead,” she said to her reflection before winking at herself. After eight weeks and so many job interviews she had lost count, Milán was more than ready for the tide to turn. Her decision to start fresh in a new city had come as a shock to her close-knit family, but she was adamant on leaving Miami. Thanks to her now ex-boyfriend, Eduardo Vega, Milán was left with a lot of bad memories and the debt to go with it.
Finding out that the beach house, antique cars and money he had flashed were just a facade was the worst day of her life. Eduardo’s latest real estate plan of buying homes with his investment partner and flipping them had tanked right along with the market. Then she had found out that his investment partner had been his overindulgent father. Thanks to a sobering conversation with Senor Vega, Milán had discovered that the man she had loved and trusted was a liar, and that his father was pulling the plug on financing his son’s ill-considered pursuits.
Two weeks later, Vega’s lawyer had phoned Milán to let her know that Eduardo was cut off and on his own. The only things his father’s money had not paid for were the furnishings she had purchased to decorate their new home and a few of their joint credit cards.
When Eduardo had come home that night, she was more than ready for him. Armed with the newly discovered facts, Milán had baited him into talking about the sweet deals he had in the pipeline, and how wonderful their life together was going to be. When she could stand it no more, she had blindsided him with his father’s confessions. At first he had attempted to deny and explain them away, but eventually he had become angry and accused her of breaking his trust.
Milán had shot back that he should be happy she wasn’t breaking his nose. As if on cue, her family had arrived. Her mother, Pia Aragon Dixon, had circled Eduardo like a lioness ready to defend her cub. Her father, Vincent, and sisters Nyah and Elena had been close behind. Seeing that he was outnumbered, Eduardo had told her she wasn’t worth this and walked out. That was the last time she’d seen him.
Humiliated and now homeless, Milán had decided to get as far away from her heartbreak as possible. She had packed up everything she owned, settled the joint accounts she had shared with Eduardo and found a rental home in Chicago. With a modest nest egg in her savings account, and the last two paychecks from her job, Milán had tearfully bid her family goodbye. With promises that she would check in regularly, Milán had gotten into her loaded-down car and hit the road.
It had been a whirlwind of activity ever since. Arriving at her new home, a vintage loft apartment in the heart of Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, Milán dove into decorating her new place and making it her own. The hard work soothed her frazzled nerves and broken heart. She could mourn her failed relationship with Eduardo later. Right now she wanted to concentrate on finding a job, learning her way around Chi-Town and paying off the rest of what she owed their creditors.
* * *
It took a few weeks, but Milán was finally acclimated to her environment. She still hadn’t received any job offers, but she remained hopeful. Though she had not met many people, the ones she had become acquainted with were great. While at a church function with a neighbor, she had met Norma Jean Anderson and immediately connected with the older woman. Meeting Norma Jean seemed like the answer to her prayers. Just listening to her gush about her real estate mogul of a son, Adrian, was a step in the right direction. With him looking for an interior designer and stager to compliment his agency, and Milán in need of a job, Norma Jean assured her that working there would be the perfect match.
It sounded exciting enough, and Milán was eager to start work. Some of the prospects had been hopeful and she’d received a few callbacks, but so far nothing had panned out.
Sweeping all the younger woman’s concerns aside, Norma Jean had promised to arrange a meeting for her with Adrian. Milán got caught up in her new friend’s excitement. She was confident all would work out.
This would be a job made in heaven,
she had thought the very day Norma Jean had called back and told her to be at his office the following Monday at nine-thirty.
Coming out of her reverie, Milán took a deep breath. “It’s all yours,” she told her mirrored reflection. She retrieved her purse and portfolio off the coffee table. “This is your time to shine,
. He’ll love your designs and ideas and will offer you a job,” she said confidently. Glancing at her watch, Milán frowned. Being late for her meeting with her soon-to-be boss would not look good. It had to be a fantastic interview. Juggling her purse, coffee and briefcase, she headed out.
After seeing all the traffic she had to contend with, Milán was glad she’d decided to leave early. It was definitely a wise move. Downtown Chicago during rush hour was bumper-to-bumper. By the time she had arrived and parked at the North Halstead address Norma Jean have given her, she had less than twenty minutes to spare. Her gaze traveled up the brick boutique-styled building. She definitely liked the large windows and glass door. A dark blue banner with white letters read Anderson Realty.
“This is the place,” she said aloud. Giving herself a mental shake, she squared her shoulders and went in.