Passionate Game (Kimani Hotties)

BOOK: Passionate Game (Kimani Hotties)
13.17Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Two Can Play This Game…

In the boardroom and the bedroom, Grant Benson has all the right moves. The sexy tech bachelor with the mocha-latte eyes has a million-dollar smile and a fortune to match. Grant didn’t gain his riches by being trusting, however—and he’s learned that beautiful and ambitious women usually want only one thing from him.

Committed teen mentor Tamara Wendell knows an adversary when she sees one. If it weren’t for all the students depending on her, she would walk away from the brash millionaire and his defensive attitude. But Grant’s company has a career-making internship program, and she will do whatever it takes to win him over.

Yet neither expects that their rivalry will transform into a deep, heated passion. Now Grant must confront his past hurts or risk losing the one woman who has ever been able to play on his level. Will their games of seduction end in heartbreak? Or will Grant finally win over Tamara and make her his for a lifetime?

She looked in the direction
where he pointed.

Her face stared back at her from the giant stadium screens, mocking her as various emotions slid on and off her face. She issued a curse. Although no one could hear what she said, they could read her lips and surmise what she really wasn’t saying—what the truck!

She turned toward Grant and pulled on his arm for him to do something. It seemed that anything she did caused an eruption of cheers.

“It’ll be okay.” He placed his finger against her mouth. “Shh. We can give them what they want and be done with it.” He grinned as if he’d just won a prize.

Tamara blamed it on shock, otherwise she would have seen the kiss coming. But nope, her brain shifted gears, sending her body out of whack.

She had been leaning for her escape to the bathroom, so Grant only had to lean in slightly. His lips connected to her mouth with a gentle touch. She felt his partly opened mouth tentatively make its acquaintance with hers. Her desire unwound as if from a slumber, slowly swirling upward toward the surface with lyrical ease, issuing its own demands. She moved in closer. However, Grant released her lips and pulled away. The warmth that had suddenly departed was replaced with the cool air of the stadium. The crowd’s roar blasted into her consciousness. She swore again. The heat of desire was long gone. Now her ears burned with embarrassment.

“We’ll continue this later,” Grant whispered. His gaze locked onto her eyes and then her lips.

Books by Michelle Monkou

Harlequin Kimani Romance

Sweet Surrender
Here and
Straight to the Heart
No One But You
Gamble on
Only in Paradise
Trail of Kisses
The Millionaire’s
Ultimate Catch
If I Had You
Racing Hearts
Passionate Game


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. Visit her website for further information at
or contact her at
[email protected]

Dear Reader,

As always, I’m thankful for your support. Whether this is your first book written by me or if you’ve been with me for most or my entire journey, I’m grateful. I can’t believe that it has been over ten years since I received the call to purchase my first story, and now I’ve a total of sixteen titles. Your messages of encouragement inspire and continue to motivate me to keep those stories coming. Over that time, I have met some of you at various conferences and you are now part of my Yahoo Groups reader loop, Facebook or Twitter social networks. Again, I’m honored that you graciously spend your time and give support to my endeavors.

I’m also happy to share that I am working on a new series. A new family with a strong-willed matriarch, lots of drama and heartwarming romances set to arrive in 2014 and 2015. Stay tuned for the rollout.

While I thank my blessings, I’m mindful of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy and Tropical Storm Athena in late 2013. Please continue to keep the affected communities in prayer and I urge you to support the various charities that assist with the devastation.



Chapter 1

s the sun rose, warm spring sunshine lit a widening path to the bed. Morning had arrived, bringing an end to another sleepless night for Tamara Wendell. She blinked repeatedly to lubricate her dry, stinging eyes. A wide yawn and a full-body stretch of her tight muscles did little to shake off the lethargy. But she knew that sliding farther under the covers to laze away the morning wasn’t an option. She carried a vow in her heart that kept her going.

Her work at the New Horizons Leadership Academy had grown out of a dream to reach out to young men on the edge of tumbling down a path of self-destruction. Those young men needed her, and so she couldn’t give up or slow down. Ever.

Emitting a loud groan, however, was still acceptable. Time to get up and back to work. She reached for the stack of ten manila folders that had camped overnight at the foot of her bed. Each folder contained personal information about a young man considered to be at risk. The sad and troubling details were seared into her memory and, in each case, had taken custody of her heart. Not only had she formed a bond with each teen, but she, by way of the academy, had also taken on the task to set them on the right path. She was proud of her partnership with the administration of the Miller-Brown Home for Boys and the grateful parents who supported their work.

Every six months, she selected a group of guys from the boys’ home for the cooperative internship program. Companies in the area opened their doors to provide jobs and mentoring for the young men. If she couldn’t find them a job, the guys spent their time at her academy honing their computer skills, learning job interview techniques and participating in service projects to develop a healthier self-image and confidence. All the energy placed in rehabilitating them was to avoid the alternative of becoming a part of Maryland’s overburdened juvenile services.

As owner of New Horizons Leadership Academy, her mission had a twofold purpose: not only to turn around the destructive behavior and thought process of these young men, but also to usher them into the working world with a sense of independence and self-reliance. Tamara jotted down a few notes on the writing pad near her lap. She always entertained creative ideas that would benefit her clients. Most came to the table with a “what is in it for me” mentality.

Thankfully, success stories outpaced the occasional negative outcomes, solidifying her reputation in the community as a keen youth activist. Yet, the partnering of the guys to the right mentors didn’t come easily. One company that she had in mind didn’t seem to want to play ball. Benson Technologies had an internship program that was touted by colleges and universities, but when it came to opening up its doors to her academy, the welcome mat had been yanked in.

While a snooty human resources manager had the ability to block Tamara’s initial approach, the executive didn’t know the intense level of her tenacity. Some people had to learn the hard way. She was happy to declare that class was now in session. Ten young men depended on her.

Soft knocking at her bedroom door interrupted her musing. “Come in.”

Her roommate Becky entered, a bit hesitant. “Hey, I brought you a cup of coffee.”

“Becky, you don’t have to keep doing this. But, thank you.” Tamara took the steaming mug, savoring the robust scent. “Stop waiting on me hand and foot.” They had been best friends for years and were now roommates.

“Can’t help it. I made a large batch of coffee...and I mean large. That fancy brewing machine required a PhD.” Becky offered up a rueful grin. “Plus it’s lonely out there in that cafeteria-size kitchen. And can I say again that I’m really glad that you took me in?”

“Girl, please. I’ve crashed at your parents’ so many times. Besides, it’s not like you could stay in that apartment after your crazy roommate moved out. I told you not to sign a lease with her. Three jobs in six months, and that last one was a bit suspect, if you ask me.”

“I’m not asking.” Becky stuck out her tongue and made a face.

“Wouldn’t you agree, though, that I’ve got more than enough room?”

“Of course! I’m in a penthouse.” Becky’s grin lit up her face, showing off her bright hazel-green eyes. Her honey-blond hair lay damp on her head and hung down to her shoulders in loose curls. She was still wearing her thick pink robe, and her feet sported matching pink bedroom slippers.

“Well, we have my dad to thank for that,” Tamara said.

Before her father had passed from cancer, his sole goal had been to ensure that her mother and she were taken care of in every way. He had been an Ivy League professor, and his significant role in civil rights and his many academic accomplishments had made him a sought-after speaker and consultant on various commissions. His simple life soon exploded into a hectic, publicized—but very profitable—celebrity lifestyle. Tamara believed that fighting for human rights shouldn’t be tied to gaining wealth, and that had always been a point of contention between her father and her. But he insisted that he had done the marches and protests out of his passion and his spiritual beliefs. So, she’d left him to do what he felt he had to do.

“Your dad died knowing that he’d provided for you,” Becky continued. “Don’t let that be tainted by your own crazy worldview that activism means you can’t earn a living at the same time.”

Tamara shrugged. Her guilt came from a deeper place beyond her father. But she hadn’t ever shared the details, not even with her best friend.

“And can I say thank you again for letting me stay here for only four hundred dollars a month?”

“It would’ve been zero dollars a month if you hadn’t pitched such a fit. I want you to save for a house. Stop paying rent—you get nothing at the end.”

“There’s no way that I wouldn’t pay something. The place is the size of two apartments. I’ve never been a charity case, and I’m not going to use you like that. Although, if you loan me three quarters right now, I could buy lollipops from the vending machine later.”

“You’re such a candy fiend. Quarters are over there.” Tamara motioned toward the top of the chest of drawers. “You know my mom picked this place. I was fine with a regular apartment.”

“At least she talked some sense into you. People know your net worth anyway. Even if you choose to be dismissive, you are a millionaire.”

She cringed over the word
The label felt like a heavy burden, given her desire to be a human rights activist as her parents had been.

Tamara sipped her coffee, enjoying the rush of the caffeine and its warmth through her body. With coffee mug in hand, she walked to the other end of her bedroom to pull out her clothes for the day.

“With that ratty nightshirt and funky-colored, mismatching socks, you certainly don’t dress the part of a millionaire.” Becky had carried her preppy look through college and now to the grown-up world. She embraced the Hollywood A-list, such as Reese Witherspoon and Anne Hathaway, as her fashion icons.

Tamara’s own style was more chic casual, with T-shirts emblazoned with social messages, brightly colored jeans and athletic wear. She didn’t have much of an interest in fashion icons.

Tamara looked down at her bare brown legs: not particularly long, but muscled from jogging and kickboxing.

But she cleaned up well, according to the pesky fashion police on their gossip sites. Frankly, being termed a fashionista wasn’t one of her priorities.

Today she had to fix that reputation...temporarily.

An idea that had percolated overnight had now taken hold in the brightness of the day. If she couldn’t get what she wanted one way, then she’d try another method. She ran her hand over the clothes hanging in her closet. Picking the right outfit carried a lot of weight for where she planned to go and for what she intended to do.

“What’s the deal with these?” Becky got comfortable in her bed. Sitting cross-legged in front of the files, she began flipping through them, occasionally sipping from her mug.

“It’s still the latest group that I’m trying to get connected with companies. Well, one company in particular. But I’ve been kind of keeping it to myself because I didn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up.”

“Any luck?”

“No. But when has that ever stopped me? I’ve got my eye on a computer game design and development company in Maryland—Benson Technologies.”

Becky whistled. “The one in Rockville? Going for the big dogs.”

Tamara nodded. “I want all ten guys placed there. They’re a small company, but they’re proving to be a powerhouse in the computer gaming industry. These kids would love that.” She blew out an exasperated sigh. “But I’m getting the runaround.”

“You know, if you mentioned your parents’ bio with your introduction, you’d get past all the B.S.”

Tamara didn’t respond. Her thoughts raged over her need for independence and making her own path versus living off her parents’ celebrity.

“You are hardheaded,” Becky accused.

“Don’t you have a job to go to?”

“Yeah, but the boss is out of the office. As a matter of fact, she’s been standing in her walk-in closet for over five minutes now.” Becky pushed back against the headboard and continued drinking from the mug.

“I’m trying to find the right outfit to go after Grant Benson.”

“Is this his picture? He is a cutie.” Becky pulled out a magazine nestled between the files.

“Probably used Photoshop. That was the bio picture on his website.” Tamara was glad that she was partially hidden in the closet and away from Becky’s eagle-eyed scrutiny.

The target, as she had dubbed Grant Benson, surpassed cute. The full-length photo had captured the computer gamer in a custom-fitted designer suit. The man had given computer nerds a boost in the hot-and-sexy department.

It also helped that he had the body of a model, with broad shoulders, smooth dark skin and a slim athletic frame as well as the style of a classic Hollywood star. She’d already learned from various news sources that he was six feet five inches, didn’t care a lick about basketball and was blessed with good genes that had earned him a comparison to a young version of the actor and activist Sidney Poitier. Although she admired the publicity photo, she’d withhold confirmation that he was gorgeous. She wanted to see him without the tricks of photo editing.

Was his skin really that smooth and was it the rich color of chocolate brown? Did those dark, piercing, almost black eyes have the same power to hold her attention if she was face-to-face with their owner? And what would his voice sound like? With a body and face that had the potential to weaken a woman’s knees, namely hers, he deserved to have a deep bass voice with the smoothness of honey.

“Go with that burnt-orange dress. Shows off all your assets that you diligently work so hard to hide,” Becky prompted.

“I’m not trying to sleep with the man. And my assets are nobody’s business.”

“Okay, let’s see what
come up with.” Becky turned on her side, propping her head up. “I was the one voted Best Dressed in high school.”

“And that’s because you baked cupcakes on the day of voting.” Tamara walked through her closet, selecting each article of clothing, holding it up against her body, stepping in front of the mirror and switching items out to get the right ensemble. Once she had the right clothes, she flipped them over her forearm, grabbed her golf shoes and walked out of the closet.

“What is that outfit you’re putting together? That won’t help you to get young men to look at you.”

“That’s not the point. I’m heading to the country club to play a round of golf with Benson and negotiate a good deal for the guys.” Tamara actually thought that she did look like a sports fashionista with her EP Pro Women’s Monarchy ensemble.

“Love you for being so doggone crazy. But you need to bring it over to the slow lane and explain this strategy for me. What on earth are you doing?”

“Benson is a member of Parkside Country Club. That’s no big secret. He’s an avid golfer. I called yesterday to find out his schedule, and he’s due to play this morning.” Tamara dropped the clothes on the bed then air-swung an imaginary golf club.

“Don’t you have to make reservations?” Becky asked.

“Well, told me to use my parents’ clout. And just this once, I did. Now, I’m in.” She shooed Becky out of her bed. “Now go away, let me dress. You’d better head to work because you’ll be busy after we book Benson Technologies.”

“You’re pretty confident.” Becky paused in the doorway with both emptied mugs in her hands.

“No. More like determined. This is going to happen, even if I have to beat him at golf to get what I want.” Tamara knew the nervous tremors in her stomach would radiate throughout her body when she actually had to go through with her crazy idea.

“Good luck, crazy lady. Don’t get arrested.” Becky left the room.

“I’ll need a bit more than luck,” Tamara said softly.

She headed for the shower with her mind already wandering to the possible outcomes. Under the cascading warm water, she practiced the speech that she hoped would get support for her guys’ internships.

And, yes. They were
guys, as if she was their foster mother. She cared deeply for each teen. All the young men in her academy formed a natural, close bond with her and the staff. They were almost like the younger siblings she’d never had as an only child.

The connection with each teen who came into the academy bridged what she missed by not having a big family, but more important, it helped refocus her goal to be an advocate. More than anything, she wanted to work with young adults and to be an activist with the same spirit and determination as her parents.

Her strong desire to see the guys stay on the right path also made her protective of them and pushy about them seizing opportunities. Her loyal staff worked hard to keep their reputation growing and significant in the community. In this case, she wasn’t going to pause in her efforts until all ten students had been placed with the right company.

Especially since the teens in this set were the diehard gamers of the academy. What a coup if she could get them into Benson Technologies. The hands-on experience in a top company would be invaluable. Plus they would have access to their dream jobs.

BOOK: Passionate Game (Kimani Hotties)
13.17Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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