It’s been a while since I wrote a book for Harlequin Blaze. Too long. In fact, I’d wondered if I would remember how… But happily it was like getting on a bike. Fun, exhilarating and always exciting.
This story is part of the DO NOT DISTURB series, which takes place in the plush, exotic hotel Hush in New York City. The setting itself was a character, as the hotel caters to the…um, let’s call it the sensually adventurous. I singed my fingertips writing a couple of the scenes… I wonder if you’ll be able to tell which ones.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading DO NOT DISTURB. And don’t forget to check out eHarlequin.com for related online stories.
In the meantime, check in to Hush…and enjoy the fun.
EMMA HARRIS WAS PART Hollywood business shark, part Ohio farm girl, and though that might seem like an odd combination, it had always worked for her.
Now she was a twenty-seven-year-old TV producer facing her last chance in this business. If she blew it, then goodbye job, goodbye career, goodbye to it all because she’d be washed up. Done, finished, finito, before she’d even hit the big three-oh.
But she was too determined, too stubborn, to allow that to happen. Of course, it didn’t help that everyone at the production company she worked for thought her luck had run out, including her own assistant, who’d quit last week to go to work as a grip at an NBC sitcom. But Em would never give up.
Nope, she was made of sterner stuff than that. She’d grown up in Ohio, on a thriving family farm, which she’d left to go to college and then produce television shows. Her parents were still horrified, certain that a girl like her, with strong morals and ethics, couldn’t possibly make a go of it in Hollywood, but she was dead set on proving them wrong.
But she’d been summoned by the boss…reminding her that determination was not enough, not in Hollywood. Drawing a deep breath, she made the long walk from her office to his. Outside his closed door, she smoothed her skirt, decided there was no hope for her hair so she didn’t even try and, after pasting a smile over her worried frown, knocked with every ounce of confidence and authority she had.
Em opened the door. From the big leather chair behind his big, fancy network desk, Nathan Bennett scowled.
Em locked her smile in place. “You wanted to see me?”
“Emmaline Harris. Sit.”
Great, her full name. Never a good sign. She entered and sat where he indicated-a smaller, far less comfortable-looking chair, which was there, she knew, to make people feel inferior.
She wouldn’t let it work. After all, she’d been raised with her mother’s words ringing in her ears. “Em,” she’d say, hands on her hips, her jeans dirty from hard work. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
A quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, of course, and Em had always believed it. She
Nathan looked at her for a long moment, as if measuring his words carefully. “Do you know why you’re here today?”
To be fired. Unless she could fast-talk her way back. Which she could do, she told herself. She could fast-talk with the best of them. It was lying and manipulation she had trouble with. “I’m pretty certain.”
Nathan nodded, looking stern and unhappy, and Em felt as if she was sitting in front of the principal, only this was worse, far worse, because being ousted here meant so much more than a few days suspension without homework. It meant bye-bye paycheck.
But she would not be saying bye-bye to her self-respect. Nope, if she was going down, then she’d go down with pride intact.
Nathan steepled his fingers. “We hired you, Emmaline, in spite of your utter lack of experience in this business, because we thought you were a bright star on the horizon, just waiting to make her mark.”
“We thought you’d do great things for our production company.”
“And I hope I’m just getting started.” She tried the smile again.
It still wasn’t returned.
Instead, Nathan rearranged his already perfectly arranged pencil and pen set to the right of his spotless blotter. “Emmaline, can you explain the last three shows you produced here?”
“And why each failed?”
Her smile faltered. Yes, she could. But she wouldn’t. Because that would mean hurting others. When she’d first come to town, she hadn’t understood the rules-or, rather, that there were no rules. She got it now, the challenge being to make that work to her benefit without compromising herself. “I’m sure everyone here has had some trouble at one time or another,” she said. “Three failures in the whole, big scheme of things-”
“These were your
They both knew she was a hard worker, that wasn’t the problem. In fact, she’d been throwing herself headlong into every project from her first set of LEGO at age three, and had been told time and time again by her family and teachers that she was made of pure tenacity and grit.
Unfortunately she had a soft heart to go with that drive, which often threw a wrench into being the best of the best. Because she wouldn’t lie, nor would she hurt anyone or anything on her way to the top. She couldn’t live with herself if she did.
Which was why she couldn’t explain to Nathan about the failures of her three shows. “I know my record looks bad, but I can do this, Nathan. Please, just give me another shot. If I could just have the reins of a show from the very beginning-”
Already shaking his head, he leaned back in his chair. His hair was black, devoid of any gray, and with a similar comb-over style to Donald Trump’s. His face was tanned from his last vacation in the Bahamas with the third wife, and he wore diamond studs in his ears that could pay Em’s salary for at least five years. He’d probably never been fired in his life. “You’ve had your shot,” he said firmly. “
Sure. First up had been the exciting reality show involving two brothers, both sweet and adorable inventors, with IQs off the map. Em had thought Ty and Todd so wonderful, and because they’d been struggling to make ends meet, too, she’d made it her personal mission to get the word out on them. Only as it turned out, Ty and Todd had failed to mention the word had been out once before, and that they were in court for patent infringements. By the time the first episode aired, both the network and Nathan had been sued.