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Authors: Brenda Jackson

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BOOK: Forged of Steele Bundle
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“I need you to buy it, Don.”

“Aw, hell, Morgan, why me?”

“Because Chance, Bas and Vanessa already have homes, and Taylor and Cheyenne never stay in one place long enough to own anything but the clothes on their backs. You’re my only hope.”

“But I don’t understand. If you like your house, why are you selling it in the first place? You never did answer that question, although I have an idea.”

For a moment Morgan didn’t say anything. Then he said, “And your idea is probably right. Selling my house is part of my current plan and that’s all you need to know. I’m really hoping things don’t get that far, that Lena will realize my present home is the perfect one for us. But just in case things don’t go the way I want, I need to have a backup and I want you to be it.”

Donovan leaned back in his seat and released a long sigh, the second one in a matter of less than thirty minutes. He studied his brother, the one known to want the perfect everything. Three years ago he had built what he’d touted as the perfect house, and now he was willing to risk losing it for what Morgan saw as the perfect woman. Go figure.

“Is she worth all this, Morgan?” Donovan asked, truly needing to know.

Morgan didn’t say anything for a moment. It wasn’t that Donovan’s question had him thinking, it was just that he didn’t know what he could say to make his brother understand. But he believed that although Donovan didn’t have a clue how it felt to be undeniably drawn to one woman, one day he would. But for now the only thing he could do was answer the question as truthfully as he could.

“Yes, Donovan, Lena Spears is definitely worth it.”

Chapter 2
 

A
fter glancing around the room for the second time, Lena finally looked over at Morgan. “How can you even think of selling this place? Your home is simply beautiful.”

Morgan smiled, pleased with her compliment. Her question was similar to the one Donovan had asked him last week, but of course he couldn’t provide her with the same answer. However, it sent a jolt through his stomach that she liked his home. He’d been hoping she would. “I’ve outgrown the place and would like something bigger, more
elegant. Your job is to find me something more perfect than what I already have.”

He watched as she scanned the room again. It was just the living room. She hadn’t seen the rest of the house, and he couldn’t wait until she did. More than one person had offered to buy his home on the spot after seeing it, yet he had never once considered selling…until now, and only as a last resort. A part of him was still holding out that Lena would love it and want to live in it with him. But if she preferred living some place else, then he would gladly move.

“I’d like to know how you can outgrow something like this,” she said, reclaiming his thought. “In my line of business I’ve been through plenty of homes, but none ever took my breath away from the moment I walked through the front door like this one did. There’s no way this place won’t sell quickly.”

Her last statement was something he didn’t want to hear, which was the main reason he’d gotten Donovan involved. “Come on and let me show you the rest of it.”

An hour later he and Lena were sitting in his kitchen sipping glasses of iced tea. He tried not to make a big deal that technically this was the first drink they’d shared together alone. They had
shared a drink that night at the charity ball, a glass of punch, while standing near the buffet table. And then at Chance and Kylie’s wedding they had stood next to each other drinking champagne. The same thing had occurred at Bas and Jocelyn’s wedding. But now he had her alone on his turf, and as he sat across from her watching her take slow sips of her tea, he couldn’t help noticing how her eyes seemed to take on a darker shade in the March sunlight. Seeing her eye color change did things to his insides. And then there was her scent, a luscious fragrance that nearly had him groaning.

“I know you get tired of hearing me say this, Morgan, but your home is gorgeous,” she said, breaking into his thoughts. “I’ll be able to find a buyer with no problem, but to be honest with you I’m not sure I’ll find a place better for you to live. It’s just something about your home, the way you have it decorated, the layout. Even the yard is huge and just take a look at this kitchen.” She glanced around. “It’s a cook’s dream. Any woman would love to lose herself in here. How long have you lived here?”

He pulled his gaze away from her mouth. He’d been watching every word flow from it while thinking of a million things he’d love to do with
it, and every one of them was increasing the rate of his pulse. “For about three years now. I bought the land six years ago but didn’t get around to building the house until then.”

He decided not to go into details that it had taken him three years from the time he had purchased the land to finally approve a design from the architect he’d hired. In his book everything had to be perfect. His brothers would often tease him about always wanting things just right, to the point that it would drive them crazy at times, but he always ignored their taunts. He couldn’t help that he was a stickler for how he wanted certain things he deemed important.

“I might as well tell you that Donovan might be interested in buying this place,” he said, deciding now was as good a time as any to make that part known. He watched her arched brow rise in surprise.

“He is?”

“Yes, but I don’t want you to concentrate on him as a potential buyer just yet. Show it to others, see what they think and how much they’re willing to pay before I seriously consider Donovan’s offer. I promised him first dibs, but I want to be sure if I do I’m offering him a fair price.”

She nodded. “That sounds reasonable,” she said, glancing down at her watch.

Morgan noticed the gesture. “Do you have another appointment this afternoon?” he asked, knowing she didn’t. She had told him earlier that he was the last person she was scheduled to see that day, other than the lunch she had planned with Kylie around one.

She glanced up and met his eyes. “No, sorry if I appeared distracted for a moment but I was thinking of my mother. She went on a field trip with her adult day care today and usually I would have heard from them by now letting me know that she didn’t fare well. With no phone call I’m hoping that means she had a good time.”

He nodded. “Where did they go?”

“The zoo. How was your trip out of town?”

Sensing her need to change the subject he said, “It was great. I had a business meeting with a friend named Cameron Cody. I believe you met him at both Chance’s and Bas’s weddings.”

She nodded as she took another sip of tea. “That’s the guy who tried to take over your company at one time, right?”

Morgan chuckled, which he did every time he was reminded of that. “Yes, he’s the one. In the
end Cameron wasn’t successful in doing that, but he was in forging a friendship with all of us…at least everyone except Vanessa. She never got over it.”

“But you and your brothers did?”

“Yes. We couldn’t help but respect a man like Cameron, a self-made millionaire. Although he was determined to add the Steele Corporation to his list of acquisitions, he wasn’t ruthless about it. He’s a sharp businessman, and the four of us couldn’t help but admire him for it. After it was all over we all became good friends.”

“I get the feeling Vanessa doesn’t care for him much.”

Morgan smiled. “No, she doesn’t.” He decided not to mention that after spending time with Cameron in Atlanta this weekend it seemed they had the same intentions regarding finally taking matters into their own hands to start relentlessly pursuing the women they wanted.

“I’d better be going. I don’t want to take up too much more of your time,” Lena said, coming to her feet.

It was on the tip of his tongue to try his luck and ask her out again, but he knew like all the other times chances were she would turn him down. Besides, the
key to his plan being a success was getting her to assume he was no longer interested in her.

“You’re not taking up any of my time unnecessarily. I like this place and want to make sure whoever buys it is worthy.”

He stood and then asked, “So what’s the next procedure?” He watched as she opened her folder.

“As far as this house goes, it’s as good as sold. It has too many strong points for it not to be a quick buy. All the expensive moldings, the marble in the bathrooms and the bathrooms period. They’re beautiful and spacious and you’re using all the cabinet space to the best advantage. This house is rather large for one person. You’re evidently someone who likes his space.”

He shrugged. “Not really. I don’t mind sharing my space with the right person.”

“Well, to answer your question,” Lena replied, “what’s next is the installation of a lockbox. You don’t have a problem with me showing your home when you’re not here, do you?”

He wasn’t crazy about the idea but knew he couldn’t tell her that. “No, I don’t have a problem with it.”

“Good. I’ll try to call before I drop by with anyone.”

“That’s fine. Do whatever you need to do.” He came around the table to stand in front of her. “I’ll walk you out since I need to leave myself. I have to drop back by the office to finish up some paperwork and then I’m expected to show up for dinner later at Bas and Jocelyn’s place.”

Lena smiled as she stood. “I can’t help but smile every time I think of how Bas talked Jocelyn in changing their wedding date from June to February.”

Morgan grinned. “Chase did the same thing with Kylie. Both Jocelyn and Kylie got cheated out of June weddings because of my eager brothers. I’m glad Jocelyn was able to finalize everything she had to do so she could move from Newton Grove to here permanently. Otherwise, we would have been tempted to ask Bas to take another leave of absence or he would have driven us all nuts.”

“They seem so happy.”

“They are, and so are Chance and Kylie. Marriage seems to agree with some people.”

“Well, yes, I’m sure it does.”

He watched how she quickly gathered up her belongings. He got the distinct impression that his closeness was bothering her. “I better get going,” she said.

“Okay, I’ll see you out.”

As he walked her to the door he said, “I’d like weekly updates. Will that be a problem?”

She glanced over at him. “No, that won’t be a problem. I’m checking on an area of homes a few miles from here. It’s a new subdivision but I don’t think the property is more than what you have now. You like a lot of land, don’t you?”

“Yes, more yard for my children to play.”

He could feel her gaze on him. “You want children?”

“Sure, one day. Don’t you?”

“Yes, but…”

He turned to her when they reached the door. “But what?”

“Umm, but nothing. I’ll see you later, Morgan,” she said, offering him her hand for a business handshake. “And I appreciate you allowing me to handle things for you.”

He glanced at her hand before taking it. “Like I said, you come highly recommended. One thing you’ll discover about me, Lena, is that I choose my business associates carefully.”
As carefully as I choose my lovers,
he decided not to add.

He saw the expression on her face the moment their hands touched. He also felt her response. Although she might wish otherwise, the chemis
try between them was still there. He was tempted to lean in and kiss her. Take her mouth the way he’d thought of doing so many times. Once he slipped his tongue between her parted lips, there would be no stopping him. A kiss could be defined as friendly or intimate. Any kiss they shared would definitely be intimate.

The moment he released her hand she turned and he watched as she quickly began strolling down the brick walkway to her car, liking the sway of her hips as she did so. Today she was wearing another powerhouse business suit. This one was a mint green and brought out the rich brown coloring of her skin tone. Something else it brought out was the primal male inside him when he’d gotten close enough to notice she was also wearing a mint-green bra, which made him wonder what else under her clothes was the same color.

He sighed deeply as she pulled back out of his driveway. Part of his plan was to take things slow so she could get to know him, but all he could think about while sitting across from her at that table was speeding things up a bit, saying the hell with slow and taking her into his bedroom and making love to her like there was no tomorrow.

But he knew doing such a thing would only
result in a satisfaction of overstimulated hormones and he wanted something a lot more out of a relationship with Lena. So for now the between-the-sheets fantasies had to take a backseat to what was really important, even if the waiting killed him, because everything he was doing now would be all worth it in the end.

 

Lena let out a deep breath as soon as Morgan’s home was no longer in sight. Talk about temptation, she thought, coming to a stop at a traffic light and pursing her lips. Each time her gaze had met his she had been tempted to reach across the table and trace her fingers across those delectable lips of his. That would have given her only a little contentment. What would really have satisfied the woman in her was to have plastered her mouth to his and kissed him the way she often thought of doing.

But that wasn’t all. She could vividly recall when he had shown her his bedroom. The moment she had seen the king-size bed with royal-blue satin sheets, an all-consuming need had spread all through her body. And when he had left her side to show how the remote to his window blinds worked, her gaze had devoured him, appreciating how his lean and firm thighs fit his designer
trousers and how his broad, muscled shoulders fit the white shirt he wore. And just for a moment, when he had leaned across the bed to brush a piece of lint off the bedspread, she had imagined herself in that bed, tangled in those sheets with him. By the time she had taken a gulp of that ice-cold tea he’d prepared, she had needed it to cool off.

Inwardly she groaned when the traffic light turned green. She had to let go of this obsession since it would lead nowhere. She glanced at her watch again. She and Kylie had their regular lunch date, and today they would plan for Kylie’s baby shower.

She smiled thinking that her friend was having another baby after almost fifteen years. But this time the pregnancy would be totally different. Kylie was not that sixteen-year-old who had found herself facing a teenage pregnancy alone after her parents had turned their backs on her. Now she was a woman married to a wonderful man who loved her and who would make her baby a wonderful father.

Lena couldn’t help but be happy for her best friend, and inwardly she could admit she was a little envious although such happiness could not have happened to a more deserving person than Kylie. But still, that didn’t stop Lena’s heart from
aching from what she didn’t have. Here she was, at thirty-one still the bridesmaid but never the bride, still the godmother but never the mother. And what was so sad was knowing she would never be a bride or a mother.

She inhaled deeply, refusing to give the state of her future any more thought that day.

 

“What’s this I hear about you selling your home, Morgan?”

Morgan lifted a brow. He highly suspected that Bas had heard the news from Donovan, not that it was a secret.

“Yes, you heard right,” he said, accepting the glass of wine his brother was offering him.

“How come?”

Morgan gave a sigh of relief. At least Donovan hadn’t told Bas everything. “What do you mean how come?”

“Just what I ask,” Bas said, dropping into the lounge chair across from where Morgan sat. “How come? You love that house. As you’ve told us so many times, it’s perfect for you.”

Jocelyn was in the kitchen and Morgan could only hope she wasn’t privy to their conversation. “Things change.”

BOOK: Forged of Steele Bundle
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