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A Powerful Attraction (Quicksand Book 1)
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They were only supposed to have dinner…
On a Friday night, dressed to impress, Sherry Westbrook gets stood up. She could go home, but why waste a new outfit and well-done hair? She decides to dine alone, but then her boss shows up, and now she doesn’t have to.
Alex Barraza takes the place of Sherry’s date, and at the end of dinner, they spend the night together—bringing to life a fantasy that has played out in his mind over the past two years. One night together isn’t enough, and before long they embark on a secret affair that takes them both by surprise. But Alex hasn’t been completely honest with Sherry, and when she finds out the truth, he knows he’ll lose her. So instead of the truth, he stays silent. Because now he’s in too deep, and he can’t let her go.
(Quicksand is a series of stand alone stories based on love, sex, and romance. Why Quicksand? Because love pulls you in. The more you fight, the deeper you fall. You can’t fight your way out of quicksand, and you can’t fight your way out of love.)
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Alex Barraza, one of the owners at Newmark Advisors, looked around the conference room at the staff gathered for the usual end-of-week meeting. He stood with his legs shoulder-width apart, his broad-shouldered height dominating the room, and surveyed the group through a pair of silver-framed glasses. Several people shook their heads, but everyone remained silent.
“Okay, if there are no questions, let’s get back to work.”
Sherry Westbrook stood, grabbing her pen and notepad at the same time.
“Sherry, could you stay behind for a bit? I need to talk to you.” Alex smiled briefly and then started erasing the charts and figures from the dry-erase board at the front of the room.
Sherry eased back into the chair as the rest of the staff filed out. Her gaze lingered on him, and she slowly took air into her lungs and shifted. She loved the way he said her name. He made it sound exotic with his rolled Rs and accented pronunciation, which never failed to make the hairs on the back of her neck stand at attention.
She really shouldn’t have the hots for her boss, but Alex was the kind of man fantasies were made of. His wavy black hair glistened under the lights and curled against the collar of his dark jacket, while his solid-looking jaw, covered in a scruff of hair, screamed for a modeling contract. She’d been drooling over him since the first day she set foot through the door and he interviewed her.
Alex turned away from the board. “This won’t take long.” His voice was low, faintly accented because of his Colombian nationality, and smooth as silk. He resumed his position at the head of the conference table. “I know you’re wondering why I asked you to remain behind, and it’s for a very good reason. As I mentioned in the meeting, we signed a new client to the firm, Ovation Printing Company. The good news is, we have the business. The bad news is, they want us to conduct in-person meetings with their staff to assess their portfolios and offer advice.”
“All thirty-five employees?” Sherry asked.
“But why in-person meetings? We can do the assessments virtually.”
“True, but the last investment firm they worked with didn’t give the level of customer service they wanted, and that’s why they decided to move their business.”
He removed his glasses, setting them carefully on the table, and her stomach tangled into tighter knots at the better view of his face. His looks were why their female clients practically swooned at the sound of his voice and heaped hair-twirling, eyelash-batting adoration on him. Sherry had come close to doing the same on many occasions. She wished he didn’t have such a nice mouth, with lips that were not too full or too thin, and hazel eyes whose light color was an attractive contrast to his dark hair and swarthy features.
Alex continued. “We want to show them why we’re one of the fastest-growing investment firms in the country and make sure they understand we’ll take good care of their personnel.”
“That’s a lot of meetings, which will take a lot of time,” Sherry said.
Alex nodded. “That’s why I’ve decided to have you work with me on this project. I want to make sure they’re happy. Normally we’d do a simple rollover, but this time we’re giving them the full treatment—analyzing each employee’s current portfolio, conducting risk sensitivity, and recommending investment products.”
“Why am I included on this project?” Sherry asked.
That was not a self-deprecating question. Alex was not only an owner, he managed some of the highest-performing portfolios in the company. He didn’t need her. He could just as easily ask one of the admins to assist him.
“Because ever since you joined the staff two years ago, you’ve received the top customer service scores in the company,” he replied. “With the two of us working together, I expect the transition to be a breeze.”
Now she understood. Sherry considered customer service to be her strength. In an industry where seventy-five percent of the financial advisors were men, she differentiated herself by taking extra time to listen to her clients and establishing a rapport with them that put them at ease. She did her best work with the older crowd—seniors, widows—who could get confused by the unfamiliar terminology and overwhelmed by the figures and calculations. They were cautious and trusted her to take care of them, and she took great pride in doing so.
That Alex trusted her enough to pull her into the Ovation Printing Company project was huge. Unfortunately, that meant she’d be stuck working closely with him. A man whose very presence spiked her blood pressure and made her heart race out of control. This should be interesting.
“When do we start?” she asked.
“Monday. We’ll meet in the small conference room at nine o’clock to review the transfer of information. We’ll decide then how to divvy up the work, that kind of thing. Gina will be helping us with some of the paperwork. Any questions?”