"This is what a love story should be." - RT Book Reviews

‘After school I studied science and eventually joined the company. I’ve been there since.’

He angled his head to one side. ‘But you don’t spend all your time here. You’re at every important gala event across Europe and beyond, the perfect picture of Fontaine sophistication.’

Gisèle tried and failed to read his tone. His words had a hard edge but didn’t sound disapproving.

Instead of trying to puzzle it out she took his words at face value. ‘That’s kind of you. Julien and I have tried hard to present the right image for the company.’

Despite the personal cost. Even after all this time the sight of paparazzi crowding close, the sound of her name called stridently by a stranger wanting her to turn for the camera, chilled her blood. She’d just become adept at hiding it.

‘I’m surprised you find time to work, given your high-profile social life.’

That was definitely a dig. It seemed he believed she spent her time drinking champagne at A-list parties rather than working for a living.

Gisèle’s blood surged with a rush of anger, but she kept her expression placid. It would take more than a jibe from a man she’d never see again to discomfort her. She’d faced worse than him from a tender age and had learned not to react.

‘You’d be surprised…Adam, at what I fit in.’

She almost added that she could even walk and chew gum at the same time, but offending him would be disastrous.

‘Perhaps I would,’ he murmured.

Gisèle smiled at the waiter who’d brought her chicken dish. It smelled delicious yet she wondered how she’d eat when the thought of food turned her stomach.

No. Not the thought of food. Adam Wilde. She’d hoped they’d leave the company in good hands. According to Julien they would, but she hadn’t seen anything to reassure her. She feared he was a self-satisfied corporate plunderer, one who’d never fully appreciate the House of Fontaine.

The unsettling frisson that zipped through her whenever their eyes met had to be distaste. It couldn’t, absolutely couldn’t, be attraction.

Gisèle blinked and took a bite of her main course.

‘You were eager to discuss the deal,’ he said. Surprised, she looked up to see him apparently intent on his fish. ‘I have an additional stipulation. One that wasn’t in the draft contract.’

She swallowed, thinking rapidly. Any change needed to be examined by Julien and the legal team. But this made her position easier. ‘I have an extra condition too.’

Another interrogative lift of that eyebrow. It made him look sardonic, as if ready to find fault with her proposal.

‘Go on. What’s your condition, Gisèle?’

She put down her cutlery, pressing her fingertips into the tablecloth as if to absorb the solidity of the table beneath it. Her throat was parched but she resisted the urge to sip her water.

‘That the current staff are retained.’

‘You want a guarantee of employment?’

‘You said you want the company to continue—’

‘You expect me to give a blanket safety net to everyone, even if they have underperformed? I think not.’

‘I’m not so naïve, Adam.’ She paused, momentarily distracted by the sound of his name on her tongue. ‘I can’t vouch for every employee but many I’ve known all my life. We had some under-performers but they’ve left.’ The managers who’d brought them to this situation. ‘Our workforce is dedicated and skilled. You won’t find better. But,’ she continued when he looked ready to interrupt, ‘I’m not asking you to accept that at face value.’

‘I’m listening.’

‘The company has an effective performance appraisal system. Underperformance is monitored and can result in counselling, training and, in rare cases, termination of employment.’ She slid her hands from the table, clasping them together under the tablecloth. ‘All I’m asking for is an assurance of job security and the continuation of a system that already works.’

‘You care about them.’

It wasn’t a question but there was something in his tone that sounded like surprise.

And a flicker of calculation in his eyes that made her wonder if he’d somehow use that revelation against her.

How could he? He already held all the power. They both knew it. This meeting was a formality because he’d insisted on meeting a member of the Fontaine family before the deal progressed and Julien wasn’t well enough to attend. But that hadn’t stopped Gisèle and her brother attempting this one last addition.

‘Of course I care about them. And the company.’ Her throat tightened as she swallowed emotion.

‘You want what’s best for them.’


‘Excellent. That dovetails with my own extra needs. We both know that me taking control is all that’s standing between your company and disaster.’

Unfortunately it was true. Yet the knowledge made her sick to the stomach. Julien had said they could probably get other buyers, but not quickly enough, and not with a commitment to keep the company going.

‘Go on. What is it you want?’

A smile unfurled across Adam Wilde’s face, transforming its hard edges into an attractiveness that clotted her breath in her throat.

‘You, Gisèle. I want you.’

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To be Released : June 2024



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