His Instant Heir

By: Katherine Garbera
One


Cari Chandler paused in the doorway of the conference room. On the far wall was a portrait of her grandfather looking very young and very determined. Since he’d never been a “happy” man, she hardly noticed that he wasn’t smiling. He certainly wouldn’t be convivial at this moment when the grandson of his most-hated enemy was in his stronghold.

Since the late ’70s the Chandlers and the Montroses had been feuding and trying to cut each other out of the video-game market. Her grandfather had won that long-ago skirmish by making a deal with a Japanese company, cutting Thomas Montrose out, but none of that mattered today as the Montrose heirs and their Playtone Games had just delivered the feud-ending blow with their hostile takeover of Infinity Games. And leaving Cari and her sisters, Emma and Jessi, to pick up the wreckage and try to forge some sort of deal that would save their jobs and their legacy.

But Cari as COO was the one who’d been chosen to deal with Declan Montrose. It made sense, since operations were her area, but the secret she’d been harboring for too long suddenly felt like it had a choke hold on her, and she wished she’d confided in her sisters so that maybe she wouldn’t have to deal with Dec today.

The conference table was long and made of dark wood, and the chairs positioned around it were leather. She focused on the details of the room instead of the man she saw standing by the window. He hadn’t changed much in the eighteen months since she’d last seen him.

From the back she could see his reddish-brown hair was a little longer than it had been before, but was still thick and curly where it hit his collar. His shoulders were still as broad, tapering to a narrow waist and that whipcord-lean frame that she’d remembered pressed against her as he’d held her. A shiver of sensual awareness coursed through her.

Don’t. Don’t think of any of that, she warned herself. Focus on the takeover. One problem at a time.

“Dec.” She called his name. Her voice sounded strong, which pleased her since inside she was quaking. “I didn’t think I’d see you again.”

“I’m sure it’s a pleasant surprise,” he said with a sardonic grin as he left the window and walked over to stand not more than six inches from her.

The familiar smell of his spicy, outdoorsy aftershave surrounded her, and she closed her eyes as she remembered how strongly the scent had lingered on his skin right at the base of his neck. Then she forced herself to get it together, crossing her arms over her chest and remembering he was here for business. The knock at the door provided her with the distraction she needed.

“Come in,” she called.

Ally, her assistant, entered with two Infinity Games logo mugs, handing one to Dec and giving the other to Cari. Cari walked around to the head of the table, already feeling more in control now that Dec was on the other side of it from her. She was aware of Ally asking if Dec needed anything in his coffee and him answering he took it black, and then Ally was gone.

“Please sit down,” she invited, gesturing to the chair across from hers.

“I don’t remember you being so formal,” he said as he pulled out a chair and took his seat.

She ignored that remark. Really, what could she say? From the moment she’d first seen him she’d been attracted to him. Even after she’d learned he was a Montrose and technically her family’s enemy, she’d still wanted him.

“I assume you’re here to talk about moving assets around in my company,” she said.

He nodded. “I’ll be spending the next six weeks doing an assessment of the assets in the company and on this campus here. I understand you have three different gaming divisions?”

Wow. She should have been prepared for it, but he’d just completely shut off his emotions and switched to business. She wanted to be able to do the same, but she’d never been that good at hiding what she felt. Cyborg, she’d heard him called. He lived up to that moniker today.

He looked over at her and she realized she was just staring at him. This wasn’t going to work. She’d call Emma, her oldest sister and the chief executive officer of Infinity, as soon as he left and tell her that she or Jessi would have to work with Dec. Though to be fair, as chief marketing officer, Jessi wasn’t really the one who should be handling Dec.

“Cari?”

“Sorry. Yes, they all report to me—online, console and mobile.”

“I will need to set up meetings with everyone in the company. The way this will work is that each person will be assessed and rated, and then I will give a presentation to our combined board of directors with my recommendations.”

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