Thaks for stopping by to read the first chapter of my upcoming release. I hope you find it an enjoyable way to kill a few moments of time.

Chapter One

Annette Williams walked out of the third-floor auction room, up two flights of steps and down the private hallway leading to her office. She sank into her butter-soft sofa and kicked off her heels. Leaning against the leather cushions, she tipped her head back. One-point-eight million dollars would be deposited into her account by this time tomorrow. Life was good. Her dreams were so close to becoming a reality she could almost taste them. She sat forward and buzzed her assistant for a cup of tea. While she awaited Liz’s arrival, she did a little math in her head. She was worth just over six million dollars in cash. Four to go before work could become an unnecessary pastime for Lowell and her. A knock on the office door brought her back to reality. Expecting to find Liz carrying a cup of aromatic black tea that had been blended especially for her, Annette leaned back when her boss entered, holding the tray. “Hello, Lowell.” She tried to keep her tone businesslike, but her eyes couldn’t hide her pleasure, no matter how much she wanted to protect herself. “Annette, we need to talk.” He gently kicked the door closed, careful not to disrupt the cups and teapot on the tray. James Lowell Harrington stood just over six feet, and his hair greyed at his temples. Wearing a custom-made suit which accented his trim figure and a shirt that enhanced his coloring, Annette knew why he turned heads. Watching him now, she marveled at the manners, style, and courtliness he exhibited. These were the qualities that made people feel they should bow in his presence. Annette, however, felt no such intimidation. She believed him to be her equal. That’s what attracted her to him. “Really, Lowell, talk? What would you like to discuss? Business? Or something more personal?” She moved a pillow and looked up at him. Her open palm suggested he occupy the cushion next to her. He placed the tray on the glass coffee table, handed her a cup, and poured one for himself before taking a seat across from her in the suede, wingback chair. “Both.” He tipped his head at her. “Wonderful auction this afternoon. Congratulations on your finds. Do we know who the items’ owners were? Chelton said they weren’t here.” “The owner of both pieces wished to remain anonymous for now. You’ll know soon enough.” Annette watched him over her teacup. Stunning, brilliant, she knew she was everything he desired in a woman. So why did he look at her with mistrust? She wondered if he suspected she was the lucky recipient of today’s small fortune. She smiled at him. Lowell kept watching her. He knew, but how? Her personal collection had been sent under an assumed name. Had he been prying into her life? Her smile spread. She narrowed her eyes. He thinks I’m cheating the business, therefore cheating him. How very naive and narrow-visioned. Had it not occurred to him that she would have a personal collection? Did he think she would burn her bridges with this company over a piddly amount of money? He didn’t appear to notice her glare. “You’re leaving for an appraisal gala this weekend, right?” She sat upright, crossed her ankles, and took another sip of tea, sensing he had more to say. “Yes, I leave for Richmond Friday night. Would you like me back by Monday?” Lowell conducted the conversation like a chess match: polite but distant, informal. Each exchange held the consideration a chess player used to make a calculated move. “No, that’s not necessary. I think you should take some time off.” He took a sip of tea then added another lump of sugar. “Why do you think I need time off?” The smile stayed, but she put up the invisible shield that had always protected her heart in the past. The teacup shook slightly. She placed it on the table. After setting his cup on the tray, he reached across and laid his hand on her smooth leg. He traced his fingers up and down. “You just made a small amount of money, my dear. Why don’t you go enjoy it?” She took his hand in hers and brought it to her mouth. “Why don’t you come with me?” She applied kisses all over his palm then moved her lips up his fingers, tasting them, savoring them. She couldn’t help herself. Lowell was her one vice. Lowell pulled his hand away. Annette stiffened. She dropped her hand and looked at him. Her expression waffled between puzzlement and anger. “Cecilia suspects I am practicing infidelity again. It is best for me if you took a vacation, preferably a long one. You’re a tempting little piece, and I was never good at practicing willpower.” He sipped his tea again. Annette’s face became a blank slate. The air around her grew cold. She rose with grace, retrieved her Hermes Birkin bag from the shelf by her office door and left. “Pity she’s not worth more money. She’s the dalliance I would have discarded Cecilia for.”

If you would like to read more, the release date is currently set for August 31, 2017. Look for it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, at your local bookstores!