Ready for opposites to attract in the fifth billionaire romance in Jean Oram’s highly rated Summer Sisters series?
Read a sneak peek from the first chapter of Love and Mistletoe as Simone Pascal–honorary Summer Sister–struggles to leave it all in order to follow her dreams. Watch for sparks to fly with Josh Carson the firefighter in future scenes!
Simone Pascal fidgeted with her purse, her agitation growing as the meeting went on. She sat back, not joining in as the women built off each other’s ideas, ping-ponging them through the group, morphing each one from a kernel into something new and groundbreaking that would give them a competitive edge that always led their businesses to the top.
The Meeting of the Minds women came together every three months to discuss their world domination plans, and had a track record that just about guaranteed someone in their group snagged a million-dollar deal in the fashion industry each quarter.
Simone, despite being at least a decade or two younger than the majority of the members, had already landed at the top of her game, thanks to the group, and she knew who to turn to if she ever needed anything in her designing business or boutique. But what she needed now was something they couldn’t provide, and there was only one uncharted frontier left if she was going to have it all. She required help, but not from the MOMs.
She checked the antique watch she’d received from her good friend Melanie Summer.
Five minutes. She couldn’t wait any longer.
The watch reminded her of all that was important. Her friends the Summers had found exactly what she wanted for herself: Love. Family. Support. Someone to hold her during the long Canadian winter nights, especially when her world got shaky. She’d incorrectly assumed all those good things would just happen for her, even though her past kept showing her she wasn’t good girlfriend material. She was missing whatever it was that made men stay, whatever it was that showed them that what she was doing was love.
Simone packed up her ever-present design sketchbook and meeting notes, taking a moment to watch the women who had helped her so much over the years. While she’d never once believed she’d ever hold anything back from this group, she knew they wouldn’t understand where she was at and what she needed to do to achieve her next goal. Nobody would—from her father to her friends. But these women surrounding the boardroom table were dynamos that balanced and juggled everything with ease. They just did it, and Simone wasn’t as lucky. She needed help.
She stood, excusing herself.
“Where are you going?” asked Wanda, a bridal boutique owner from the small town of Blueberry Springs. Her eyes were wide with surprise, and she kept one hand on Simone’s chair as though she planned on keeping her in the room no matter what.
“I have a flight.”
“You’ve missed flights before because we’ve run long,” she said, suspicion lacing her words.
Simone felt the prickle of sweat tear up her spine. “I have to do something.”
Around the table, eyebrows lifted, waiting for the reveal.
“What could be more important than this?” one of the women asked. Everyone made this group’s meetings a priority—that’s why it worked. That and the way they checked their egos at the door, held nothing back and ensured things didn’t become personal. Even here on Christmas Eve the women were hashing it out in person on the West Coast at 8:00 a.m., not a single member absent.
Simone’s mind stuttered to a stop.
It was 8:00 a.m. Pacific time. That meant it was 11:00 a.m. eastern.
She shoved her chair back, clutching her belongings to her chest. “I’m sorry.” Simone knew she was jumpy, sweat clinging to her brow. She was acting like the poster girl for I Have Something to Hide, but she had to go, couldn’t explain.
The women watched, mouths hanging open, as Simone exited the room. She rifled through her purse until her hand closed around salvation. Just a few more moments.
She rushed into the bathroom down the hall, her fingers trembling as she latched the stall’s lock. She flipped down the toilet seat and plunked herself on top of it, her sketchpad and notes tumbling to the floor in her haste. She adjusted the syringe’s plunger over the flesh near her hip, her heart racing with anticipation. She closed her eyes and bit her lip. This was always the worst part.
She sucked in a slow breath. Don’t think. Just do it.
The needle hovered above her skin and the tiny walls swam, pressing closer.
Do it, Simone.
After inhaling a quick, sharp breath, she jabbed the needle into her flesh, letting out a cry as she shoved the plunger down, then ripped the syringe out as quickly as possible. Relief flowed through her and she let out a shuddery breath. She was good for another twenty-four hours.
She hung her head, collecting herself, before realizing she’d dropped the syringe in her haste. It had rolled under the door and was nestled, spent, between a pair of cherry-red Louboutins.
“Simone?” It was Wanda, her voice demanding, unyielding.
Simone scrambled to collect the syringe, banging her head on the closed stall door, her neck contorting as she fell short of her goal, forced to watch, powerless, as a hand with heavily lacquered nails closed around her secret.
“Open up!” Wanda demanded from the other side of the door. “We need to talk. Now.”
* End of Sneak Peek *
Keep reading Love and Mistletoe and see how firefighter Josh Carson completely changes Simone’s plans…or does he?
Copyright Jean Oram 2015. Not to be copied or distributed in any form without explicit permission from the author–Jean Oram. Thanks.
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