Home > Romantic Acquisition (The Attracelli Family #6)

Romantic Acquisition (The Attracelli Family #6)
Author: Elizabeth Lennox

Elizabeth Lennox - The Attracelli Family #6 - Romantic Acquisition

Romantic Acquisition (The Attracelli Family #6)
Elizabeth Lennox



Chapter 1

“You must be the enemy everyone is talking about,” Katherine Avril smiled warmly as she approached the three men in business suits standing in the lobby area. She extended her hand in greeting to the tall, handsome man in the center who was waiting in the lobby. There were two other stern looking men behind the serious man but she assumed that this tall man was the one in charge. There was just an aura of authority surrounding him.

The center man took her hand in his warm one but stood there for a long time just staring at her. As soon as their hands touched, Kate was transfixed. The heat transferring from this man’s hand warmed her cold, nervous one. She had been trying to hide her trepidation ever since the announcement this morning but holding this man’s hand, looking into his eyes, the rest of the world disappeared. She couldn’t feel the silver bracelets clanging against each other whenever she moved, or the painful pinching of her toes in her high heeled shoes. Everything faded away as she looked into his dark, intense eyes.

“I’m Carlo Attracelli,” he finally said. “I represent ATI, Incorporated, if that’s what you mean.”

Katherine liked his deep voice. It seemed to ring with authority and confidence. “Pleased to me you,” she said with as much confidence as she could muster. She shook his hand, pretending she wasn’t intimidated or overwhelmed by his simple presence. She hoped he didn’t notice that her hand shook. “You’ll have to excuse our lack of planning. We just heard that ATI was going to acquire Jamison’s Department Stores this morning. We’re all in shock.”

He raised an eyebrow at her explanation, but didn’t respond. The man turned to his team members who were standing behind him. “This is Jeff McKenzie and Peter Ashton. They’re going to be helping with the due diligence process.”

“Pleased to meet both of you as well,” she said and smiled at the two shorter, but still impressive men to Carlo’s left and right.

The gorgeous, intimidating man continued to stare at her and she had the impression that he could see through her clothes and know what color and style of underwear she was wearing. It was very disconcerting, especially since she was interested in what he had underneath his perfectly tailored suit. She pictured him in silk boxers with muscular legs and stomach, not a lot of hair on his chest….Clearing her mind of those treasonous thoughts, she quickly thought of something to say. “As I said, I’m Katherine Avril, Director of Purchasing,” she explained. “You can call me Kate. If you’ll follow me, I’ll show you around the offices. Mr. Jamison asked me to help you in any way while you’re working here. I’ve reserved the conference room for the next two months for your exclusive use.” With that, she turned to usher them down the hallway.

Carlo Attracelli had been watching her face, and liked the twinkle in her eye which took the sting away from her words. He kept his face impassive as he took in the stunning, if slightly outrageous female now walking away from them. He heard one of his team members chuckle behind him but he didn’t take his eyes off the petite brunette with hair that curled softly all the way down to her tiny waist.

Carlo was amazed as much by her outfit as he was by the woman. She was dressed in a short, flounced, black skirt with a tight red shirt tucked into the waist. Her neck was draped in about ten different sets of necklaces and, Carlo wasn’t positive, but he suspected that he’d seen a white petticoat peak out from underneath her short skirt.

Even though he had kept his eyes on her face while she was introducing herself, he knew her long, sexy legs were encased in black stockings, ending in black patent-leather pumps with three inch heels. The phrase, “legs that never ended” applied to this tiny woman. Even so, her head was only about an inch above his shoulders with those shoes which meant she was about a foot shorter than he was without shoes.

Carlo watched her turn, giving her a few feet lead so he could see her legs again. Sure enough, as she turned, her skirt bounced up slightly and a white, lace petticoat peaked out from underneath her black skirt.

“You’re awfully handsome,” she said as she walked down the hallway. Again, Jeff chuckled behind them. Carlo wanted to glare at him, but he too was shocked at the comment. Had she really just said he was handsome? Not just handsome, but “awfully handsome”?

A moment later, the tiny woman stopped in the middle of the hallway, her whole body frozen. Carlo, Jeff and Peter stood there, wondering what was happening. Slowly, she turned back to face the three of them, a tentative smile and a curious expression on her face, “I didn’t really say that out loud, did I?” she asked. As soon as she finished her statement, her face flamed into embarrassed color.

Carlo raised one eyebrow and tried to keep from laughing. She was definitely a curious woman.

With a deep sigh, she nodded her head slightly. “By the amused expression on your face, I guess I did say it out loud.” The tiny woman grimaced and continued to make her way down the hallway toward the conference room, but her face was still flushed with color. Opening the double doors with a flourish, she ushered the three men inside, giving a wide berth to Carlo who had extremely broad shoulders and towered above the two other men.

Jeff settled his briefcase onto the polished wooden surface. “Ms. Avril, excuse me for asking, but why did Jamison’s Department Stores assign the director of purchasing to help us out during this process?”

“Please, call me Kate. No one ever calls me Ms. Avril unless they’re trying to sell me something on the phone. And even then, I can tell that it is a salesperson because they mispronounce it,” she chattered nervously. Her attention was on Jeff and Peter, avoiding Carlo’s eyes altogether. She took a deep breath before continuing. She told herself to pull it together before these men thought of her as a complete idiot. “As for why I’m assigned to help you out, well, that might not make sense on the surface, but I’m probably the best qualified. I’d wager that I know more about these stores than anyone, including the present owner, soon to be not-present-owner if you three have any say in it, David Jamison.”

“How is that?” Peter asked, smiling despite himself.

“My mother was the previous owner and president’s secretary. I used to do my homework beside her desk each afternoon so, even as a kid, I heard a lot about the goings on within the headquarters. Years later, when I turned sixteen, I started working for the store in the retail areas. I’ve worked in almost every department, except finance, over the past twelve years. There’s basically nothing I haven’t done, or don’t know someone who has done it or is currently doing it,” she explained. “So I’m really your best point of contact. I’m the lucky one that gets to help you three out for as long as I’m needed.” Kate peeked over at the tall one who called himself Carlo, then quickly away again when she realized that he was staring at her still with that same strange look on his face. He was a very serious fellow, she thought.

“Why isn’t David helping us with this process?” Jeff asked as he settled himself into a chair, pulling out pencils and a notepad.

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