Seduced by Mr. Right

By: Pamela Yaye

“Sharleen graduated from Duke University with honors,” he boasted, checking himself out in the mirrored wall behind the bar. “She’s one of the most passionate, energetic people I’ve ever met, and gorgeous, too. You’re going to get along great. I can feel it.”

“Don’t count on it,” Emilio mumbled.

Chapter 2

Peace and tranquillity showered over Sharleen Nichols as she drove through the private gates of the lakefront estate on the edge of Greensboro, Georgia. A light breeze whistled through the magnolia trees dotting the manicured grounds, and sunflowers perfumed the morning air. The stone-and-brick mansion was nothing short of perfection, and the property screamed of opulence and wealth. This isn’t a house; it’s a compound, Sharleen thought, driving up the long, winding driveway. No wonder Emilio Morretti rarely goes out. This place is a dream. If I lived here I’d never leave!

Sharleen parked behind Antwan’s SUV and turned off the engine. Last night she’d reviewed her notes about Emilio Morretti—the troubled race-car driver with the jaw-dropping good looks—and although she was prepared for their consultation, butterflies danced in the pit of her stomach. I can’t blow this. My boss is depending on me. And if I want to be considered for the vice-president position, I have to prove that I’m a go-getter, a closer.

To calm her nerves, Sharleen closed her eyes and breathed deeply through her nose. News articles and magazine covers scrolled through her mind. Emilio Morretti was a third-generation race-car driver, and one of the most electrifying World Series Racing competitors of all time. Championships and fame had come fast and furious, and during his fifteen-year career he’d shattered one world record after another. According to the press, he was a quick-tempered man with expensive tastes who fancied models as much as exotic sports cars. At thirty-five, he was one of the most eligible bachelors in the country and also a bona fide star in his native Italy. Or at least he used to be. Two years ago, he’d walked away from the sport that brought him fame, fortune and international prestige, and he’d turned his back on his fans.

Sharleen grabbed her leather Birkin bag and got out of the car. She knew better than to believe everything she read online, especially on celebrity gossip sites. But there was no disputing the facts. Emilio Morretti was on a self-destructive path, and if he didn’t change his ways, things would only get worse. In recent months, he’d had several run-ins with the paparazzi and had allegedly slugged a photographer for trespassing on his property. True or not, the gossip painted him in a bad light, and Antwan was deeply worried about his superstar client. He’d told her that Emilio was still struggling to cope with the loss of his nephew, and since Sharleen specialized in grief and trauma, she’d agreed to work with him.

That wasn’t the only reason, her conscience pointed out. Mrs. Fontaine didn’t give you much of a choice, and if you blow this assignment you could lose your job!

Last month, during her annual performance review, her boss had implored her to drum up more business, or else. Sharleen tried not to dwell on her problems—it wouldn’t be fair to Emilio. And besides, things were looking up. She was speaking at a women’s business luncheon tomorrow and manning the Pathways Center booth at the Mind, Body & Soul Conference on Saturday, so that would definitely bring in more clients.

Perspiration dotted her forehead, and her legs were shaking, but she strode confidently up the walkway, as if she were on top of the world. She’d learned a long time ago not to wear her heart on her sleeve.

Sharleen pushed her eyeglasses up the bridge of her nose and straightened her black power suit. Ignoring her erratic heartbeat, she climbed the steps and rang the doorbell. When no one answered, she began to fear that Antwan had forgotten about their ten o’clock meeting. She took her cell phone out of her purse and accessed her contacts list.

The door swung open, and Antwan stood in the grand foyer, dressed in one of his trademark suits, grinning from ear to ear. “Good morning, beautiful.”

Sharleen held up her cell phone. “I was just about to call you. I thought maybe you forgot about our appointment.”

“I could never forget you. You’re my future baby-mama, remember?”

“Yeah, right! Life coaching is my first and only love, so you’re fresh out of luck, my friend.”

“Just wait. One day you’ll be singing another tune!”

No, I won’t. Men and careers just don’t mix.

“I’m glad you’re here.” Antwan gave her a hug, one that lasted longer than necessary, and kissed her cheek. “Have any trouble finding the place?”

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