So, I had three pieces of news to share, and I can finally share the last! We sold French rights for Takeover!
And there’s a listing on Amazon already for the print edition. Yes, there will be a print edition of the French version!
In addition, preorders for the audio book versions of Takeover and Just Business are up on the Tantor Audio site. The books are being narrated by Iggy Toma! I’m over the moon, and can’t wait to hear these!
And I’m hard at work on Due Diligence. What’s Due Diligence about? Well, you know, I think I’ll just include the beginning of the book. ’cause that sets it alllllll up rather nicely.
[Caveat that this is a WIP, therefore not edited professionally and may change before the final version etc. etc. I suck at spelling. FYI.]
Fazil Kurt craned his neck to look out the window as the taxi drove along I-5 from their hotel to the company they were trying to save. There was an actual mountain out there. Snowcapped and everything.
“That’s Mount Rainier.”
The peak sat out in the middle of nothing, imposing. Huge. Fazil rubbed his neck and turned to Eli Ovadia. “It’s huge—is it a volcano?”
“Yup.” Eli shifted on the seat, toying with the handle of his cane. “They say it could go off any second.”
Fazil snorted. Typical Eli, sounding a bit too pleased at the thought of sudden catastrophe.
But the mountain was beautiful. Hell the whole place was gorgeous. Hills and water and green and freaking mountains everywhere. God, wait until he told Kris. She would love this.
Reality hit him like a wash of ice water. She wouldn’t care. He wasn’t dating Kris. Hadn’t been for a month.
That was part of the reason he was here Seattle on business with Eli—to get away from that mess. Sure, the split had been mutual, but he hadn’t expected her to dive right into another relationship, least of all with his friend, Lance. Had it been someone else, someone he hadn’t known, that would have been easier. Watching them drape themselves all over each other at pinball league had been a bit much.
Hell, watching them drape all over each other at every single event their social circle held had been way the hell too much, too soon. Sure, they’d been going down the tubes for a while, but she and Lance must have started their thing before the breakup. When his boss had asked for volunteers to travel to Seattle with Eli to do some due diligence at Singularity Storage, Fazil had jumped at the chance to get the hell out of Pittsburgh and away from old history, especially if S. R. Anderson Consulting was footing the bill to fly him across the country.
He’d never been to the Pacific North West. Visiting a new place seemed like the best way to mark a change in his life to never-dating-another-soul-again.
He sighed and leaned back into the seat.
He caught Eli lifting an inquisitive brow, but he shook his head. Even if he liked Eli better than he did, he wasn’t going to talk about his personal life with a co-worker. Especially not a recently happily married one. Time to change the subject.
“Are you ready for this?”
Eli’s smile was bright and devilish. “More than. But are they ready for us?”
“Are they ever?” He’d yet to see a company truly understand what they were getting themselves into when they hired Sam Anderson’s team. That Eli, their CFO, was here spoke volumes. That Eli was downright gleeful meant that Singularity was very screwed in the finance department, indeed.
Eli chuckled and the taxi pulled up to a typical boxy office building, one of the types that held several small companies. After getting their laptops and paying the cab, they were escorted into the office by Dr. Sandra Jackson.
Sandra was one sharp woman, from her suit—which almost outdid Eli’s for style—to her wit and technical knowledge. Hired on recently to set the company back on track, she was the reason they were here. “The agenda is fairly open today. Sam said you both like to hit the ground running. We’ll settle you in an office, introduce you to the senior staff, and then to engineering, and after lunch, you can dig in.”
“Perfect,” Eli said.
After a whirlwind tour of the office, they settled into large conference room that overlooked a parking lot. Not a spectacular view, but off in the distance were yet more mountains that put the ones near Pittsburgh to shame. Though he’d been introduced to them, Fazil forgot half the names of the upper management by the time they’d all entered the conference room.
Thank goodness for nameplates on cubes and offices. That and the list Sandra presented would save his ass, though he would likely only interact with the head of Engineering—Stephen Davidson. It was the technical staff he’d need to work with and convince he wasn’t here to do them in, but to work to improve what they were doing.
Fazil made his way to a side table that held bagels, pastries, and enough different forms of caffeine to power an entire IT department. He grabbed a cup of coffee for himself and one for Eli, who was in an intense but quiet discussion with Singularity’s CFO.
Neither looked to be enjoying the talk. Fazil sat the coffee down near Eli, breaking up the awkward conversation.
“Thanks, Fazil.” Eli took the cup, sipped and turned back to the other man. “You might not like it, but that’s the law.”
Singularity’s CFO rose and towered over the sitting Eli. “You keep saying that, but I have yet to see proof.” He glanced at his watch. “I have another meeting to attend to. We can discuss this more after lunch.”
Eli smiled. “It will be my pleasure.” Soft words, but the held the sharpness of a knife. The other CFO faltered for a moment, then walked away and the expression on Eli’s face shifted—not to a frown, but something more intense and calculated. He sipped his coffee and said nothing at all.
Well, that was why Eli had flown out here, to bring the financials into proper alignment- but the beginning strains of an awkward silence descended around the table and that was not good. Fazil cleared his throat. “The technical teams are first up, yes?”
Sandra glanced at the clock. “They’ll be here in a few minutes.” She rose and stepped over to the table of coffee and bagels. That’s all it took to break the tension.
Stephen slid a piece of paper across the table to him. “Here’s a list of the engineers you’ll be working with.”
He picked it up and scanned the sheet until his brain rammed up against a single, far too familiar name: Todd Douglas.
Todd. Broad, tall, blue-eyed. Memories of his old leather jacket and cologne and that beat-up junker he’d driven to high school all those years ago, the one they’d made out in a million times. He’d given his first blowjob in Todd’s car…and received his first, too.
He set the page down on the table because it was shaking a little too much in his hand. “Thanks.” No way that it could be the same guy. Todd said he wasn’t going to college; he’d planned to take over his old man’s garage in Warminster, PA. Seattle and computer engineer didn’t jive with the Todd Douglas he had known all those years ago. A common enough name. But the memories set his skin on fire and for a moment he hoped it was his Todd.
“And here’s the team now,” Stephen said.
Men and women filed into the conference room, watching both him and Eli warily, except for the last man. He locked gazes with Fazil and stopped.
Holy shit. Same blue eyes, same dark hair, but the roundness of seventeen had given way to angles, lines, and hardness of a man in his prime. Todd still looked like he belonged in a mechanic’s shop, except for the decidedly geeky T-shirt that read There’s no place like 127.0.0.1 and clung to Todd’s chest in sinful ways. God, to run his hands down the length of that body.
Eli’s chair squeaked as it rotated and Fazil looked down at his laptop. The presentation he had to give in a few seconds might have well been in another language. Fuck. Get it together.
Thankfully, Todd took the hint and sat about as far from Fazil as he could in a suddenly way too small conference room. Todd was an engineer? No fucking way. He’d barely passed his math classes until Fazil had tutored him. But then again, after that, he’d gotten straight As. He met Todd’s stare a second time and he couldn’t tell if Todd wanted to fuck him or kill him.
Guess some things never changed. He shivered.
“You’re up.” Eli spoke quietly and with a hint of concern.
Fazil stood and nodded. “I’m fine.” He was. He had to be, despite Todd glaring at him from the back of the room. No other option, really.
Not like they could step outside and undo the past fifteen years.
“Good morning.” He clicked the laptop into presentation mode and picked up the remote. “I’m Fazil Kurt. I know you think we’re here to take your jobs. But we’re not. We’re here to save them.”
And he was off and running as if his first lover hadn’t just walked back into his life.
And yes…Eli was wrong about Fazil. And yes, he does have to eat his words a bit…