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Authors: Linda Francis Lee

Tags: #Romance, #Sex in the workplace, #Fiction

Sinfully Sexy (6 page)

BOOK: Sinfully Sexy
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She actually scoffed, since she was so certain of his answer.
"I'm going to help."
Chloe blinked, then sat down with a thunk on the ridiculous leopard
sofa. "You're going to help?"
She felt many things. Surprise, sure. Then a second of relief, no
question. Followed closely by suspicion. "Why? How? What's in it for
Prescott?"
The man sat in a side chair, leaning back as he studied her. He looked
intense, totally hot, and completely unfazed by her pointed questions.
He tugged his cuffs, looked at his brother for one long second, then
returned his gaze to hers. "Sterling Prescott is really nicer than
anyone appears to believe."
Ben chuckled.
She couldn't help it when she snorted. "You've probably never even met
him."
"Chloe, please," Julia implored.
And rightfully so. Chloe had never acted so childishly in her life. But
the combination of the bathroom incident and this man who could ruin
them left her out of sorts and fighting mad. And she would fight if she
had to. Growing up with an unbending grandmother and no other family to
speak of forced a girl to give in or fight. Chloe had always fought.
Today was no different. They couldn't lose KTEX. Even if it meant
accepting this man's assistance.
"Sorry," she stated.
"Ah, another of your heartfelt apologies."
This time Chloe raised a brow. Mr. Tanner had a snippy streak in him,
too.
"So what's the deal?" she persisted.
He glanced one last time at his brother, sighed, then said, "The deal
is I spend a month of my time, graciously donated by none other than
Sterling Prescott, and turn this station around."
"And again, what's in it for Mr. Gracious?"
The man muttered something she knew wasn't nice, then he considered
her. "I'll work on a contingency basis. Prescott Media earns a percent
of the increased ad revenue that I bring in."
"That's it?" Julia breathed.
Chloe glared at her for caving so easily.
The Tanner guy looked amused. "Yes, that's it."
But Chloe knew they weren't out of the woods yet. This was sounding too
good to be true. "What kind
of a percentage are you looking for?"
She watched him shift into a purely business mode with ease. She hated
that she was impressed—and
not just a little turned on.
He glanced at Julia. "A sixty-forty split."
"Sixty for us?" Julia asked hopefully.
"Julia! No way," Chloe stated. "Ninety-ten in our favor."
"That's absurd," he barked, then visibly reined his temper back in.
"The best I can do is seventy-thirty
in your favor."
"In your dreams. Eighty-twenty."
"Chloe," Julia implored.
The man studied Chloe over steepled fingers, then said, "
Seventy-five-twenty-five."
Chloe opened her mouth to counter.
He cut her off. "And that's final."
This time Chloe studied him. She knew she had reached his limit.
Besides, it was a fair deal. "Seventy-five-twenty-five sounds all
right. Julia?"
"Agreed," the owner stated in a rush of relief.
It was done. It was happening, and suddenly every ounce of bravado
faded away and Chloe was left
with the horror that now she was going to have to see this man again.
And again. For a month.
"I suggest we waste no time and get started," Julia said.
"Mr. Tanner"—Chloe would have sworn he grimaced— "why don't you give us
your initial assessment
of KTEX?"
"There's no secret here. You need more revenue to offset your mounting
debt and accruing interest.
And to do that, you need to bring in more advertising."
"As I mentioned earlier," Chloe said, "we are planning more programs
like the golf episode of
Getting
Real."
"That will help, but that's too little, too late." He looked at Julia.
"Isn't that correct, Ms. Boudreaux?"
Chloe felt a chill run down her spine, and she glanced over at Julia to
see if this was true. The woman's blood-drained face spoke louder than
words.
But Chloe's concern was tempered by the sheer concentration that came
over Trey Tanner's face. She could practically see the wheels in his
head spinning as he assimilated this situation.
"As a result," he said, "what you need is something that can be easily
and quickly produced, for little money."
His dark eyes flared with an intense excitement that made her think of
a warrior who was ready to do battle and was certain that he would win.
"A reality show," he stated. "You need a locally produced reality show."
"A reality show?" Chloe asked.
"Exactly. We need to produce a reality show like MTV's
The Real World
. Or Fox's
Joe Millionaire
.
You have one basic setup that runs for as long as you want. Recurring
show, recurring audience. Recurring revenue. We can do it, and we can
do it in a month."
We.
Chloe leaped up and started pacing back and forth across Julia's
office. Not that she had far to pace,
since the room wasn't that big, and every time she got close to Trey
Tanner's chair, her mind flared
an imaginary, flashing red warning sign, causing her to jerk around and
head in the opposite direction.
"What kind of a crazy idea is that?" Chloe demanded. "Reality shows are
a dime a dozen."
"But not locally based reality shows," Trey interjected. "We're talking
about pioneering into new territory."
"That's crazy."
"You run it in place of your local evening news."
"You want to produce trash in place of news?"
"As I said, I'm talking about producing something that will earn a
recurring stream of revenue—unlike your news."
Insulted, Chloe defended their evening newscast, going on about how
twenty-four-hour cable news had saturated the airwaves. Which only
served to make Trey's point. They weren't making money in news. But a
reality TV show could.
"If you air the show while everyone else is airing news, you'll provide
an advertising outlet advertisers can't get anywhere else. You'll have
businesses flocking to pay you whatever you want to secure thirty- and
even sixty-second spots. Plus, you don't have to forget the news
forever. Just for a while. Just until you get the balance sheet
balanced."
She hated that she saw the logic. She felt oddly disconcerted and
angry, though she knew deep down
this was about more than his suggestion. She didn't know how to manage
this situation. How would she be able to concentrate, much less get
anything done, if the man was working in the building? What would
she say if she ran into him at the watercooler? How could she ignore
him in the staff meetings Julia had recently started having?
Chloe had given him the upper hand the minute she let him pull her into
the bathroom.
She mentally rolled her eyes. She had given him the upper hand the
minute she
launched
herself
at him like a grenade.
Geez, Chloe.
And she wasn't sure how effectively her
pretend-she-had-never-seen-him-before plan would work. Though
thankfully she'd had the inspiration to shove the purse back in his
hands and tell him he was mistaken.
Maybe it would succeed if she just kept up with the theme.
With that thought in mind, she looked him straight in the eye. "I
realize I don't know you at all, and
have never seen you before in my life—"
His lips crooked at one corner. Not a good sign.
"—but I think I can safely say that you aren't as familiar with the El
Paso television market as I am."
He responded by reeling off a whole slew of facts about her hometown
and its television viewing habits. He knew the market, which didn't
bother her because her only real goal had been to continue to hammer
home the I've-never-seen-you-in-my-life theme.
Julia leaned forward. "How exactly would this work?"
Trey reached into his briefcase and pulled out a pen and a pad of
paper. He made a few notes. When
he finished, he set the pad down. "The station could put on a bachelor
type show—"
"A bachelor show?!" Chloe barked.
Ben sat back and got comfortable. "This should be good."
"Watch and learn, little brother." Trey was obviously warming up to his
subject. "On our bachelor
show we—"
There was that we word again.
"—will have a fresh twist. To start out, we'll tape each segment like
any other reality show. We'll have
six episodes total, each edited down to forty-four minutes, leaving
sixteen minutes for advertising. What will make us stand apart is that
instead of waiting until we have an entire season in the can, we'll air
each show the same night we tape it. It's how they do the
Late Show with David Lettertnan
,
and it's the next best thing to live television."
Trey started to pace, excitement and plans rushing through him in a way
that was almost palpable.
"As I mentioned before, we can do the whole thing in a month."
"You want to air the entire program in a single month?" Chloe asked.
"No." He smiled. "A single month to plan, produce, and run the
program." He glanced around the room. "Then at the end, KTEX will be in
a position to pay off the debt." He glanced at Ben. "Saving the
station." He looked at Chloe. "I'm sure that should please you."
Was this guy for real?
"Two weeks to plan, then we'll air six episodes over two weeks," he
added. "Let's say we air each Monday, Friday, and Saturday night."
Chloe was stunned by the sheer amount of work that would have to be
done. She couldn't think of anything to say. But the truth was, it
wasn't such a horrible idea.
"We'd have a show that was part
The
Bachelor
," he explained, "part
The
Real World
. We could call it
The
Catch
."
"Interesting," Julia mused, her voice rising with excitement. "If I
have this right, it would be a series of segments that will be cheap to
make and will bring in tons of ad revenue."
"Exactly," he confirmed.
Could these two be any more sickeningly cheerful about a prospect that
would send her over the edge? Chloe thought dismally.
Trey Tanner's dark eyes glittered with a predator's success. "We'll be
combining the strongest elements
of two already successful shows, giving us something new in a genre of
television that is exceedingly popular, but crowded."
"The more I hear about this, the more I like it," Julia enthused. "We
just need to find a bachelor and
some women. How many were you thinking?"
"Ten or so. We'll have to sit down and make a plan."
"How about
The Catch and His Dozen
Texas Roses
."
Chloe was as surprised by her interjection as everyone else. But she
couldn't seem to help herself. The producer in her was always at work.
"I like it," Trey stated with an approving nod.
His cell phone rang. After glancing at the readout, he said, "Excuse
me, I need to take this."
Ben stood, tipped his imaginary hat, then said he needed to stretch his
legs. Julia watched him go.
When Chloe would have followed, Julia stopped her. "Please go along
with this," she pleaded in a whisper. "We really need it."
Chloe's concern resurfaced. "What is going on?"
"Nothing I can talk about now. But I need you to help, not antagonize,
the man."
"Fine." She headed for the door just as Trey flipped his cell phone
closed.
"I'm going to need you to work with me on this, Ms. Sinclair."
"Me?" Chloe asked, looking around the room as if he were speaking to
someone else. "Me, as in me
work with you?" Being civil to him at the watercooler would have been a
stretch. Actually working together on a project would be impossible.
Julia implored her with her nearly violet eyes.
"Is that a problem, Chloe?" he asked.
"Yes!"
All eyes focused on her, and she realized she was acting like a
completely unprofessional lunatic—sort
of like last night. She nearly dropped her head into her hands. Not to
mention that Julia was speaking
with a seriousness that few people would have believed possible for the
woman who had always taken pride in never having a deeper concern than
if Raspberry Shocker nail enamel was passe.
"I mean, yes, there is a problem, Julia. Unfortunately my schedule is
full."
"Then clear it," Julia said. "
The
Catch and His Dozen Texas Roses
is what KTEX TV needs. We are
going to move into the new millennium." The station owner stood. "I'll
leave you two kids to talk. Get back to me when you have a solid plan."
"Julia—" But Chloe cut herself off. What was there to say?
"What?"
"Nothing."
Julia studied her for a second. "Is there anything wrong, Chloe?"
"With me?" She laughed, the sound jarring. "Absolutely not. I'm great.
Better than great."
Julia nodded, then left the room.
All too quickly, Trey and Chloe were left alone.
"You appear to be caught off guard about this," he said, not unkindly.
"It wouldn't be because of last night."
"There was no last night!"
"I beg to differ."
"Beg all you like—"
There went that brow again.
"—but how many times do I have to tell you that you've mistaken me for
someone else?"
"Fine, have it your way. For now."
"For now?"
He started putting his pen and paper back into his briefcase. "I won't
push. But I would like to know
why you're so upset about the show."
Chloe blinked and looked at him and said the only truly honest thing
she had said since she saw him in
the conference room. "I thought you were coming in to study the
station. I had no idea you knew so much already."
"Julia sent most of the information beforehand."
Chloe hated that Julia hadn't told her about it, and from the look on
Kate's face earlier, she had been
just as surprised.
"Oh," she managed.
"KTEX needs a hit, Chloe. Badly."
But what really bothered her was that any sort of smash hit involved
this man.
"Since the station needs a hit fast," he added, "I have to work quickly
to get this show on the air. As proficient as I am"—he actually smiled
at her in a way that made her knees go weak—"I can't do it by myself. I
need a co-producer."
"And that would be me."
"You got it," he confirmed.
"I'm really not so sure that I'll be able to do this."
"Why not?"
"My schedule really is full. Budgets to work on, shows to schedule,
payroll to meet."
Her mind spun with too many things. This man, last night, right now,
this new turn of events.
BOOK: Sinfully Sexy
3.63Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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