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Promises, Promises

Promises, Promises by Irene Estep
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A pretty face and a well shaped behind are often distractions for Micah Johnson. But, nothing short of a nuclear blast will sidetrack him from his current objective: To find out who is leaking bid information to his most bitter competitor.

His new secretary, Emma Bowers, seems the most obvious suspect. She has access to the bid information, and she began working at Benjamin-Micah Construction right about the time his bitter enemy began to outbid them by a very narrow margin.

Micah decides to use his charms on Emma to find out what he wants to know. In his experience women talk their heads off once you get them into the sack. The two problems he faces, however, is the dislike she seems to hold for him, and that she apparently already has a boyfriend, Micah’s own construction foreman.

Emma left her previous employment under difficult circumstances. Her fiancé/employer accused her of mishandling important documents. Her co-worker set her up so she could take Emma’s job and her boyfriend. She’s lost faith in lasting relationships. Even her father was caught with another woman just two weeks after Emma’s mother passed away. She left her hometown and came to Orlando to make a new start.

The job foreman at Benjamin-Micah construction befriends her and makes things go smoothly at her new job. But it isn’t long before he’s baring his soul about his past. He swears her to secrecy, then professes his feelings for her. She agrees only to be his friend. She likes him a lot, though, and wants to help him resolve his differences with the family he believes abandoned him at birth. However, she’s given her promise and cannot go back on it.

She’s anxious to prove to her new employers she’s competent at what she does, and desperate to keep her own past a secret. Things get off to a bad start, though, when she mistakes one of her new bosses for a burglar and conks him in the head with a rock paperweight.

Micah, away when his partner hired Emma, returns to Orlando unexpectedly one night when Emma’s working late and in the office alone. He forgot to get a key to the construction compound and climbs the ten-foot chain link fence. Thinking everyone had gone home for the day, he breaks a window to get into the office trailer.

How could Emma know he’s not the burglar who’s been breaking into area businesses of late? Thankfully, because he’s exhausted and slightly inebriated the minor blow puts him out cold. His partner returns to escort Emma home and puts Micah to bed in the camper trailer inside the compound. She’s grateful he doesn’t’ remember what happened the next morning. Too honest for her own good, Emma only keeps from blurting out her faux pas by remaining aloof and professional around Micah.

However, he soon charms the pants off her, literally. And by the time she realizes he suspects her of bid rigging and collusion, she’s deeply in love.

Awe-Struck Publishing; March 2005
237 pages; ISBN 9781587494949
Read online, or download in secure PDF format
Title: Promises, Promises
Author: Irene Estep
Micah raked aside loose glass, creating more breakage as a few bigger pieces landed on the floor. He twisted the lock free, and pushed up the frame. Shoving his suitcase in before him, he crawled though. After turning to analyze the damage, he released an out-of-character snicker. He'd have that new efficient secretary he'd heard so much about take care of getting it fixed tomorrow. Tomorrow. He dropped into the chair behind the desk for a moment, thinking about his reason for taking an earlier flight. Tomorrow he and Ben would have to decide what to do about the bid disclosure problems. Ben had an important bid opening to attend in the morning and Micah wanted to be there. Something rotten was going on in the company and he was determined to find out what. The thought was sobering, but not sobering enough, he thought, as he stood and swayed on his feet. What he needed was a hot shower and a good night's sleep. In the bathroom down the hallway, Emma was cursing because she'd forgotten to get the lock repaired. Heavy footsteps shuffled along the hallway, and then they stopped. A deadly silence followed. She pressed her ear to the door, but could only hear the echo of her heartbeat going, tah-thump, tah-thump, tah-thump. Long minutes seemed to tick by before she picked up the sound of footsteps again. They came closer and closer. Tah-thump, tah-thump, tah-thump. Her heart kept rhythm with her silent chant. Don't panic! Don't panic! Don't panic! The steps halted just outside the bathroom door. She quietly shifted so she could raise her arms to get a good swing with the rock paperweight in case he entered. Slowly the door opened. Her worst fears were about to be realized and her heartbeat magnified to a blood rushing thump, thump, thump. A hand came around the doorway, fumbled its way up the wall, and flipped the light switch. The brightness temporarily blinded her, but she made out the shape of the masculine form that tripped over her foot when she stuck it out in front of him. Emma delivered a glancing blow to the head of the tall, dark headed intruder as he fell forward. "Christ!" the man sputtered, wobbled, then closed his eyes and slid to the floor like a noodle doused with hot water. Emma feared she'd killed him. At first she thought the burglar was pretending to be unconscious. The blow couldn't have been forceful enough to hurt him badly. She marveled that she'd even knocked him out since she'd hesitated just after her weapon began its decent. For a second, in the shadowed darkness, she mistook the man for Jordan. Her hesitation was just enough to lessen the blow so it glanced off the side of the intruder's forehead instead of catching him with a good solid hit. She stood staring down at him. It wasn't the crew foreman, but there was a slight resemblance in the long aquiline nose, thickly arched brows, and deeply tanned skin. Of course it could be the mud stuck to his face that caused him to appear darker than he was. It was hard to tell, the way he lay curled up on the vinyl tile floor, but she judged this man to be every bit as tall as Jordan's six foot plus. Her gaze slid down his body, noticing along the way a pair of well-developed biceps strained against the seams of his soiled white dress shirt. A gold medallion-like buckle adorned a belt that hugged his trim hips, and muscular thighs pushed against a pair of snug fitting dark trousers. Whoever he was, he kept himself in good shape. She quickly looked back to the intruder's face and frowned. He still hadn't moved. Had she hit him harder than she thought? She had to make sure he was alive. Closing her eyes, she slowly knelt beside the prostrate man and lifted his wrist to feel for a pulse. She felt strangely moved by the strong, steady beat beneath her fingers as she touched his warm skin. She leaned closer, sniffed and caught the unmistakable scent of bar smoke. Another sniff and she caught another unmistakable scent. Beer. He moaned and curled his fingers around hers, then mumbled, "Later, darling."