Authors: Anne Ashby
The CEO Gets Her Man
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.
The CEO Gets Her Man
COPYRIGHT © 2013 by Anne Hine
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or The Wild Rose Press, Inc. except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Contact Information: [email protected]
Cover Art by
Tina Lynn Stout
The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
PO Box 708
Adams Basin, NY 14410-0708
Visit us at www.thewildrosepress.com
Last Rose of Summer
Print ISBN 978-1-61217-756-4
Digital ISBN 978-1-61217-757-1
Published in the United States of America
Praise for Anne Ashby
“If you are looking to leave your world behind and enter a great romance novel, then Anne Ashby’s books are always a great choice! You can cut the sensual tension in
with a knife, so watch out, there is a whole lot of sizzle in this one!”
~ Crystal Job, booksaresanity.blogspot.com
is a story that will stay with you long after you have turned the last page, because of its depth and realism, and two unforgettable characters. The author's description of how they both struggle, first to ignore and then to fight their growing attraction to each other, is superbly written, as is their eventual surrender to that attraction when they're forced to spend time together in the wilderness.”
~ Paula Martin,
: The humming attraction and sensual tension between Shal and Jodie is particularly well-written, as is the descriptions of the New Zealand bush and wilderness.
~ Lindsay Townsend, www.lindsaytownsend.net/
“First of all I have to say this [
] is a really powerful read. It takes you across New Zealand - deep into bushland and then into the heart of buzzing town life - and if, like me, you live on the opposite side of the world, this makes for a truly fascinating and realistic journey. It most certainly puts NZ on my wish list of places to visit before I die!”
~ Lynette Sofras, manicscribbler.blogspot.co.uk
With thanks to Jenna & Marty and Michele,
for sharing some of their hotel experiences
Debra’s gaze jerked from her computer screen as her office door burst open. About to snap at the invader, instead she groaned. Of all the luck. Her eyes rolled skyward. Why today when her work was already stacked up? The diminutive woman sailing in had Debra’s assistant pinned to her arm.
“I’m sorry, Ms. Laurie. I tried—”
Debra grimaced at her personal assistant’s whimper and clicked off the screen with an audible sigh. She doubted if God himself could stop her mother in full flight. A dismissive wave sent the younger woman scurrying away. The echo of the door’s click brought a condescending smirk to the face of the woman settling into a chair opposite.
“You love that they’re all scared of you, don’t you?”
Debra hated how the jibe hurt. She’d learnt years ago that ignoring her mother’s little taunts allowed her to hang on to her sanity. She’d perfected an impassive response to hide how the mockery slashed at her heart. Now she injected disinterest into her voice. “I thought you were in Melbourne.”
“I was.” Karin Laurie plucked off the ridiculous green hat adorning her head and flicked fingers through her natural-looking blonde hair.
Envy shot through Debra. Why couldn’t she have inherited at least some of her mother’s beauty? While never appearing concerned about grooming, Karin was always perfectly groomed. Debra imagined mimicking her mother’s finger combing actions. She’d resemble a scarecrow after an out-of-body-encounter with a gorse bush. She bounced an impatient foot under her desk killing time she couldn’t spare. Her mother was the one person who never responded to her goading.
“I admit I was getting a little bored,” her mother said. “But then I got an email from Joyce and I knew I was needed back in New Zealand.” She gave a dramatic little wave reminiscent of an early Broadway show. “So here I am, darling.”
Though Debra might have inherited her father’s sharp brain, his business acumen, stature, and dark colouring, unlike him she couldn’t keep a handle on Karin’s erratic thought patterns. While Debra co-ran an international corporation with ease, her mother remained a complete mystery.
She massaged the bridge of her nose in time with her bouncing toes, waiting for the tension to grow into an inevitable full-blown headache.
“What are you talking about, Mother?”
“Riversleigh, of course.”
Exasperation threatened to burst through Debra’s rigid control. Her teeth clenched so tight she could taste enamel. Riversleigh! The bane of her whole existence.
“Something’s wrong at Riversleigh. I told you before I left for Australia.” Karin’s disappointment stabbed. “You said you’d deal with it.”
“I did deal with it,” Debra’s stomach churned this morning’s breakfast into an unpalatable lump of concrete. “I had a snap inspection done. The report came directly to me. Everything was running perfectly.”
“Not according to Joyce.”
“What the hell does your school friend know about running a hotel?”
“Not much at all, I agree.” Karin rapped Debra’s desk with her sculptured nails. “But she knows when people aren’t happy, when the locals are—”
“I don’t give a damn what the locals are thinking.” Debra slapped both palms onto her desktop and almost rose, but not quite. Karin was her mother, after all. “A first class manager is running Riversleigh. The only thing ‘wrong’ is the whole bloody place was built in some Godforsaken town no-one in their right mind would ever want to visit.” Her eyes narrowed. “How you ever convinced Dad to sanction such a ridiculous venture is beyond me.”
Karin arched like an indignant cat. “That’s my hometown you’re talking about,” she warned. “Your father could recognise potential when he saw it.”
Unlike you, Karin’s unvoiced criticism hung heavy in the air.
“Southland just needed some promotion. And we’re getting it now. With a five-star hotel along the Southern Scenic Route interest will grow. You’ll see.”
Karin’s smug smile grated worse than fingernails assaulting a blackboard.
“In the meantime we’re carrying that white elephant and losing thousands of dollars.”
“Only because it’s being inefficiently run.”
Steam inside Debra’s head had achieved boiling point and was probing for an escape fissure. Debra spun around and jabbed at her intercom. “Get me the file on Riversleigh,” she snapped, punching on her monitor.
Her mother’s infuriating little smile tightened the pressure cooker. Karin always wound her up, even when she wasn’t trying.
Why aren’t I more like Paul?
Unlike Debra, her twin had a close and relaxed relationship with their mother.
When the file popped up on her screen, she isolated the recent inspection report and swung her monitor around.
She was both surprised and annoyed when her mother actually studied the report. Debra’s bouncing foot accelerated. Her workload snowballed with each passing minute.
“It does seem quite concise. Almost too concise.” The repetitive tap of Karin’s nails against Debra’s desktop reverberated around the room. “Tell me. Might this Peter Robinson be swayed by a pretty face?”
“He’d better not have been,” Debra snapped back.
“You’d think he’d have found some negative point worth mentioning, wouldn’t you?”
Debra whirled the monitor back and sped read through the information. Karin was right. The report was glowing. Not one thing had been highlighted as being challenged or needing work. Debra’s fingers played across her lips. The hotel was losing money, yet the report rubber-stamped every facet of its operation.
Debra swore under her breath. She’d missed the obvious because of her exasperation about this facility.
“See?” Karin’s eyebrows rose. “There is something going on down there. Something that damned woman has covered up.” She gave an almost happy little sigh and nodded her head. “I knew Joyce could be depended on. She’s a very astute lady. She wouldn’t have mentioned anything unless she felt we needed to intercede.”
“She’s a gossip.”
“Who cares deeply about her community.”
Debra almost snorted but her mother’s glare turned the sound into a cough.
“She knows what’s happening around Riversleigh—”
“Around the town maybe,” Debra interrupted. “Not necessarily around the hotel.”
Karin’s nose inched up a little. “Anyway, you’ve all but admitted her concerns have grounds. You have to do something, Deb.”
“Oh, I’ll do something, all right.” Debra flicked her intercom again and demanded Peter Robinson’s presence.
The two women sat glaring at each other in silence. Air rushed from Debra’s mouth when the phone finally chirped.
“Peter’s on the support team in Singapore with your brother,” John Tait, one of her senior staff members advised. “Is there something I can do?”
“How long has Robinson been with us?”
“Almost five years, he—”
“I want his work reviewed. Every report, every claim, everything he’s worked on.”
Debra sucked in an angry breath. Had he turned into a parrot? “Yes, reviewed,” she snapped back. “If you find the slightest discrepancy, fire him.” She slammed down the phone to cut off the spluttering objections.
“Happy?” she shot across the desk.
Karin nodded and leaning forward, pitched an elbow on the shiny surface. “Thank you, darling. What do we do now?”
“We don’t do anything, Mother. I’ll—”
“But as you said, Riversleigh is my baby. I have to discover what’s wrong.”
A weary sigh escaped Debra. Her mother was a law unto herself. She would do whatever she wanted irrespective of her daughter’s advice. Debra made a suggestion in a saccharin sweet tone, “Why don’t you visit Joyce for a couple of weeks? Book into Riversleigh. Then you can see for yourself what’s going on.”
“You’re right.” Blue eyes twinkled and her mother clapped her hands like a little girl on Christmas morning. “That’s exactly what I’ll do.”
Used to Karin doing the exact opposite of what her daughter suggested Debra swallowed a frustrated scream.
“The staff will know who you are,” Debra pointed out. “You might not learn anything.”
“I’m sure I will. I’m not going to be taken in by a pretty face. Thank you, darling. I appreciate you letting me help.”
With an air kiss across the desk, Karin rose. As she neared the door, she suddenly swung around. “You should come, too.” The excited rise in her mother’s voice confirmed the spontaneity of the suggestion. “Take a break. You work too hard, Debra.” She rushed back. “It would be fun, just the two of us—”
Debra ignored the sparkle in her mother’s eyes by transferring her gaze to some papers on her desk. “No thank you, Mother. I have mountains of work to catch up on.”