Valentine’s Day special – Romance author interviews enigmatic CEO

photo-51

USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Sara Fawkes recently sat down with the enigmatic Jeremiah Hamilton, CEO of Hamilton Industries and heir to one of the most powerful New England families. Before all the recent hints of scandal and wrongdoing, Ms. Fawkes was granted the rare opportunity of an interview with the billionaire at his family estate in the Hamptons.

How does a romance writer manage to get an interview with THE most eligible bachelor in New York City? Well, your guess is as good as mine, because when I was told by my publisher that I’d been assigned to speak with Jeremiah Hamilton, CEO of Hamilton Industries, I fell out of my chair.

Literally.

To not know the Hamilton name and be a NYC resident is akin to not recognizing Donald Trump or Paris Hilton. The billionaire family has made a name for itself in the recent decades, ever since patriarch Rufus Hamilton ruthlessly climb his way to the top of the financial and business ladder, paving away for his continuing legacy today. Readers from elsewhere, however, have a good reason to be unfamiliar with the name: the current Hamilton leader, estimated by Forbes magazine last year to be worth in the low double-digit billions, is notoriously private about his life. Interviews are as rare as a true tabloid scoop, which is why when this author was told to be in the Hamptons at a certain date and time, I had to make triple sure the assignment wasn’t a practical joke.

The limousine that showed up outside my house that morning certainly seemed real, however.

The first time you see Jeremiah Hamilton in person, the man can seem intimidating. A former Army Ranger, the man still exudes the control and stoicism you’d expect from a military man. Impeccably dressed in a business suit and tie that probably cost more than my monthly salary, he was still a gracious host. I was treated to a tour of his Hamptons estate, one of the oldest in the area, and was suitably impressed by everything I saw.

Including Jeremiah himself.

Ladies, for those of us who have swooned over the beautiful man in magazines and Internet pictures, I am here to tell you a secret: he’s even more stunning in person. Pictures do not do him justice; when he walks into a room, he commands attention. Realizing that this man remains single and unattached sounds like a fairy tale, especially once I began speaking with him. Rumors circulate about his private life, as they do for any celebrity or bachelor of his status, but those rumors are kept low and, except by the truly stupid, unpublished. He will ruthlessly tackle any publications that threaten to expose, hint or in any way reveal details of his private life. The practice has earned him a fair share of enemies, but also serves to add to the mystique.

We sat down inside his living room overlooking the water and boathouse behind the house. Three panels of glass were missing, a remnant of the home invasion events that had been lightly reported in the news only one day prior. Jeremiah declined to comment on the matter, but it was obvious that the household was still reeling. On several occasions he was forced to step away to take a call, for which his personal assistant apologized to me. But fortunately, I was able to ask the enigmatic CEO a few questions, and managed to get some real answers (although not nearly as many as I would have liked).

2726a945a0d8b5f15f0ca8eaeb2b7b6d_zps11cd4a92Sara Fawkes: Thank you for agreeing to meet with me. The limo to my front door was a nice touch!

Jeremiah Hamilton: You’re welcome. I prefer punctuality, but also wish for my visitors to be comfortable.

SF: I was shocked when my editor told me you had agreed to this interview. Why me?

JH: My assistant is a fan of your work, and my publicist insisted I make an effort to be in the public eye. I decided to kill two birds with one stone and had my men approach your editor.

SF: Oh, the blonde woman I spoke with earlier? Lucy? I’ll have to send her a signed copy of my novel.

JH: She would appreciate that, thank you.

SF: Now on to business. You’re a tough nut to crack, an enigma to much of my reading audience. I’m certain that my readers would appreciate a little information about your private life?

JH: Next question.

SF: Tough crowd! Very well then, perhaps you can tell us anything new about when you transitioned into Hamilton Industries after the Army?

Ladies, getting this man to talk about ANYTHING was like trying to pull a tooth. I went through several questions, ranging on topics from personal to business, with nary a response besides “Next question, please.” Well, at least he said please right?

That is, of course, until his assistant came back into the room. I may be a purveyor of fiction perhaps, but I know how to read people. His eyes were riveted on the woman anytime she was in the room, obviously aware of her presence. His tongue also miraculously loosened when he was distracted by the young woman, so I backtracked a bit to my original question.

JH: When I joined the Army, I expected to make a career out of it. Military life suited me; I found the strict regime comforting. Unfortunately, my father had separate plans, and even from beyond the grave knew how to ruin my life.

Ooh, juicy! I wish I could play back my recording, ladies, you should have heard the bitterness in this statement! Unfortunately, right after that he seemed to come to his senses, and skipped the next three of my questions. Meanwhile, he kept his attention on the little assistant, who always came into the room, so I redirected my questions to her. After she gushed a bit about my book and proved excited by the prospect of a signed copy, I asked her what kind of boss Jeremiah was.

The blonde woman gave me a bright smile, then told me that the man with us had pulled her from a difficult life, and she couldn’t believe her luck that such a man had noticed her. She then went on to say talk about his charities and how he recently agreed to fund a medical center down in Borneo, and I quickly realized that the young woman wasn’t only a fan of myself! Jeremiah seemed content to let her speak, but I did notice the silent communication between them. I knew that unseen bond was real when she declined to answer one of my questions, and Jeremiah brushed his hand along her arm.

photoMy goodness, you should have seen the poor girl blush! Her infatuation with the man before me was plain to see for all the world, and totally understandable. Jeremiah had been known, on several occasions in prior years, to use his assistants as pseudo “dates” to private functions, although he staunchly denied any personal connection to these ladies. But, my goodness, the look he gave her. Subtle though it was, I was melting into a puddle.

Once the young woman had left the room again, the stone wall was back up.

SF: You don’t seem interested in answering any of my questions, Mr. Hamilton. Let me make a wild guess: your public relations person threatened you on pain of death to do this interview “or else.”

JH: (this question managed to spark some humor, although I wouldn’t quite call the look he gave me a smile) Nobody threatens me, Ms. Fawkes. However, both he and my assistant made compelling arguments for your selection. I thank you for your time, the car outside will take you anywhere you need to go.

And just like that, the interview was over! Jeremiah, still the gracious host, accompanied me to the limousine. Whew ladies, you don’t quite understand the power of this man until you’re standing next to him. Not only is he tall, but he seems to radiate power. Shaking his hand was even interesting; these were no businessman’s hands, but the calloused hands of a working man. The kind you dream about touching, caressing your skin…

Oh ladies, I’m fanning myself here at the memory alone!

I turned and give the mansion a quick look back as the car drove us down the driveway. Watching the house disappear was like watching a cloud cover the sun. For a brief moment, I’d been in the presence of a great man, and while it ached to leave I knew the memory would stay with me. How I envied his little assistant her position in that household – perhaps it was time for me to look for some temp work!

*

imageSince this interview, so many things have happened, it’s scarcely possible to keep track of everything!

Amidst rumors of the billionaire CEO skipping the country, officials have revealed that Mr. Hamilton is under investigation, although few details are known at this point. Sources indicate that it has something to do with the alleged home invasion, which may have been something much more sinister. Also circulating is the news of a corporate shake-up at Hamilton Industries, where Celeste Taylor announced her resignation as COO of the corporation. Stock in the business, which you my lovely readers may not care to read about, has also plummeted after the vague investigation announcement.

Media outlets too, emboldened by his sudden disappearance, have begun releasing very interesting tidbits about his life that had previously been kept hidden. Family ties to an arms dealer, hints of a broken home, and a tie to two recent murders! Goodness, you would think this was pulled straight from one of my own novels!

… Come to think of it, Jeremiah WOULD make a lovely hero. If you go for the tall, dark and broody type. ~waves hand furiously~

So what do you think? How “personal” do you think that assistant was? Fill me in on all the juicy gossip you may have heard, or sound off in the comments section on the hotness of the man! Meanwhile, I’m going to go Google some more pictures and drool for a while. Toodles ladies!

Valentine's Day special – Romance author interviews enigmatic CEO

photo-51

USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Sara Fawkes recently sat down with the enigmatic Jeremiah Hamilton, CEO of Hamilton Industries and heir to one of the most powerful New England families. Before all the recent hints of scandal and wrongdoing, Ms. Fawkes was granted the rare opportunity of an interview with the billionaire at his family estate in the Hamptons.

How does a romance writer manage to get an interview with THE most eligible bachelor in New York City? Well, your guess is as good as mine, because when I was told by my publisher that I’d been assigned to speak with Jeremiah Hamilton, CEO of Hamilton Industries, I fell out of my chair.

Literally.

To not know the Hamilton name and be a NYC resident is akin to not recognizing Donald Trump or Paris Hilton. The billionaire family has made a name for itself in the recent decades, ever since patriarch Rufus Hamilton ruthlessly climb his way to the top of the financial and business ladder, paving away for his continuing legacy today. Readers from elsewhere, however, have a good reason to be unfamiliar with the name: the current Hamilton leader, estimated by Forbes magazine last year to be worth in the low double-digit billions, is notoriously private about his life. Interviews are as rare as a true tabloid scoop, which is why when this author was told to be in the Hamptons at a certain date and time, I had to make triple sure the assignment wasn’t a practical joke.

The limousine that showed up outside my house that morning certainly seemed real, however.

The first time you see Jeremiah Hamilton in person, the man can seem intimidating. A former Army Ranger, the man still exudes the control and stoicism you’d expect from a military man. Impeccably dressed in a business suit and tie that probably cost more than my monthly salary, he was still a gracious host. I was treated to a tour of his Hamptons estate, one of the oldest in the area, and was suitably impressed by everything I saw.

Including Jeremiah himself.

Ladies, for those of us who have swooned over the beautiful man in magazines and Internet pictures, I am here to tell you a secret: he’s even more stunning in person. Pictures do not do him justice; when he walks into a room, he commands attention. Realizing that this man remains single and unattached sounds like a fairy tale, especially once I began speaking with him. Rumors circulate about his private life, as they do for any celebrity or bachelor of his status, but those rumors are kept low and, except by the truly stupid, unpublished. He will ruthlessly tackle any publications that threaten to expose, hint or in any way reveal details of his private life. The practice has earned him a fair share of enemies, but also serves to add to the mystique.

We sat down inside his living room overlooking the water and boathouse behind the house. Three panels of glass were missing, a remnant of the home invasion events that had been lightly reported in the news only one day prior. Jeremiah declined to comment on the matter, but it was obvious that the household was still reeling. On several occasions he was forced to step away to take a call, for which his personal assistant apologized to me. But fortunately, I was able to ask the enigmatic CEO a few questions, and managed to get some real answers (although not nearly as many as I would have liked).

2726a945a0d8b5f15f0ca8eaeb2b7b6d_zps11cd4a92Sara Fawkes: Thank you for agreeing to meet with me. The limo to my front door was a nice touch!

Jeremiah Hamilton: You’re welcome. I prefer punctuality, but also wish for my visitors to be comfortable.

SF: I was shocked when my editor told me you had agreed to this interview. Why me?

JH: My assistant is a fan of your work, and my publicist insisted I make an effort to be in the public eye. I decided to kill two birds with one stone and had my men approach your editor.

SF: Oh, the blonde woman I spoke with earlier? Lucy? I’ll have to send her a signed copy of my novel.

JH: She would appreciate that, thank you.

SF: Now on to business. You’re a tough nut to crack, an enigma to much of my reading audience. I’m certain that my readers would appreciate a little information about your private life?

JH: Next question.

SF: Tough crowd! Very well then, perhaps you can tell us anything new about when you transitioned into Hamilton Industries after the Army?

Ladies, getting this man to talk about ANYTHING was like trying to pull a tooth. I went through several questions, ranging on topics from personal to business, with nary a response besides “Next question, please.” Well, at least he said please right?

That is, of course, until his assistant came back into the room. I may be a purveyor of fiction perhaps, but I know how to read people. His eyes were riveted on the woman anytime she was in the room, obviously aware of her presence. His tongue also miraculously loosened when he was distracted by the young woman, so I backtracked a bit to my original question.

JH: When I joined the Army, I expected to make a career out of it. Military life suited me; I found the strict regime comforting. Unfortunately, my father had separate plans, and even from beyond the grave knew how to ruin my life.

Ooh, juicy! I wish I could play back my recording, ladies, you should have heard the bitterness in this statement! Unfortunately, right after that he seemed to come to his senses, and skipped the next three of my questions. Meanwhile, he kept his attention on the little assistant, who always came into the room, so I redirected my questions to her. After she gushed a bit about my book and proved excited by the prospect of a signed copy, I asked her what kind of boss Jeremiah was.

The blonde woman gave me a bright smile, then told me that the man with us had pulled her from a difficult life, and she couldn’t believe her luck that such a man had noticed her. She then went on to say talk about his charities and how he recently agreed to fund a medical center down in Borneo, and I quickly realized that the young woman wasn’t only a fan of myself! Jeremiah seemed content to let her speak, but I did notice the silent communication between them. I knew that unseen bond was real when she declined to answer one of my questions, and Jeremiah brushed his hand along her arm.

photoMy goodness, you should have seen the poor girl blush! Her infatuation with the man before me was plain to see for all the world, and totally understandable. Jeremiah had been known, on several occasions in prior years, to use his assistants as pseudo “dates” to private functions, although he staunchly denied any personal connection to these ladies. But, my goodness, the look he gave her. Subtle though it was, I was melting into a puddle.

Once the young woman had left the room again, the stone wall was back up.

SF: You don’t seem interested in answering any of my questions, Mr. Hamilton. Let me make a wild guess: your public relations person threatened you on pain of death to do this interview “or else.”

JH: (this question managed to spark some humor, although I wouldn’t quite call the look he gave me a smile) Nobody threatens me, Ms. Fawkes. However, both he and my assistant made compelling arguments for your selection. I thank you for your time, the car outside will take you anywhere you need to go.

And just like that, the interview was over! Jeremiah, still the gracious host, accompanied me to the limousine. Whew ladies, you don’t quite understand the power of this man until you’re standing next to him. Not only is he tall, but he seems to radiate power. Shaking his hand was even interesting; these were no businessman’s hands, but the calloused hands of a working man. The kind you dream about touching, caressing your skin…

Oh ladies, I’m fanning myself here at the memory alone!

I turned and give the mansion a quick look back as the car drove us down the driveway. Watching the house disappear was like watching a cloud cover the sun. For a brief moment, I’d been in the presence of a great man, and while it ached to leave I knew the memory would stay with me. How I envied his little assistant her position in that household – perhaps it was time for me to look for some temp work!

*

imageSince this interview, so many things have happened, it’s scarcely possible to keep track of everything!

Amidst rumors of the billionaire CEO skipping the country, officials have revealed that Mr. Hamilton is under investigation, although few details are known at this point. Sources indicate that it has something to do with the alleged home invasion, which may have been something much more sinister. Also circulating is the news of a corporate shake-up at Hamilton Industries, where Celeste Taylor announced her resignation as COO of the corporation. Stock in the business, which you my lovely readers may not care to read about, has also plummeted after the vague investigation announcement.

Media outlets too, emboldened by his sudden disappearance, have begun releasing very interesting tidbits about his life that had previously been kept hidden. Family ties to an arms dealer, hints of a broken home, and a tie to two recent murders! Goodness, you would think this was pulled straight from one of my own novels!

… Come to think of it, Jeremiah WOULD make a lovely hero. If you go for the tall, dark and broody type. ~waves hand furiously~

So what do you think? How “personal” do you think that assistant was? Fill me in on all the juicy gossip you may have heard, or sound off in the comments section on the hotness of the man! Meanwhile, I’m going to go Google some more pictures and drool for a while. Toodles ladies!

RWA (or, how Sara is a fangirl)

Sorry about the relative radio silence over the last several days. For those who didn’t know, I made the journey (through the grace of several friends, and Amazon paying out foreign royalties early) to the RWA conference down in Anaheim, CA. For a girl who can navigate the rough waters of self-publishing well enough, I was a real fish-out-of-water at the much more professional, traditional world of the conference. For example, I didn’t (don’t) have any business cards, never knew I was supposed to bring formal wear – I literally was meeting editors in jeans (and a nice top, yes, but JEANS people) and FLIPFLOPS (!!!). These ladies were dressed usually to the nines in power suits and matching pumps – but oh, they were wonderful. Everyone had such a passion for writing, for getting stories out to readers, and they were excited to talk to me. Little, introverted, bubbly-when-she’s-nervous me.

Oh my…

Folks, you’re going to have to forgive me for not taking pictures. What was one of the coolest experiences of my life also made me braindead and unable to remember, “Hey, I might need proof I went!” I was also surrounded by writers whose work I’d read all my life so, without further ado, I present my list of fangirl moments. Cuz I totally made a silly of myself on a number of occasions:

– Bella Andre. Guys, she’s even more full of awesome in person. We’re on Kindleboards together and when she saw me, she gave me a big hug. 😀 😀 😀

– Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I’ve loved her stories since I was a kid, and when I heard she was at the conference I got bouncy. THEN, when I was at the Avon party (in jeans, surrounded by cocktail dresses – oh my, I was out of my element!), she sits down in the seat across from me and my new bestie Lauren Hawkeye (who I’m doing an anthology with later this year) told me who it was. I was literally bouncing in the seat for almost ten minutes, trying to get up the nerve to say SOMETHING that wasn’t a gushing omgIloveyourstoriesYOU’REMYHERO! Managed not to make a fool of myself, somehow – sounded fairly knowledgeable when I said even self-published writers don’t understand all things about the practice – but couldn’t help but gush a teensy bit. She was super gracious.

– In one of the most awesome, definitely-going-to-be-a-forever-memory kind of moment, I was recognized by one of my readers in the Starbucks line. SHE then proceeded to fangirl ME, and we talked about everything from Nathan Fillion to ComicCon to the dastardly nature of cliffhangers. Tameri Etherton, if you’re reading this, you’re awesome. We DEFINITELY need to hang out next RWA (or at ComicCon, so awesome to meet another Browncoat!!!).

– Another wonderful writer I met was Lauren Hawkeye, a future anthology buddy. OMG, she understood what it meant to be a newbie and helped me navigate the deep waters of RWA. She’s awesome, and also writes REALLY COOL BOOKS!!!! …just sayin’. 😉

– Finally, I had my very own Close Encounter With Nora Roberts at the RITA awards ceremony. There was this familiar lady sitting at my table but I couldn’t place her face but had a sneaking suspicion. Google images never look like real life however, so I couldn’t be sure it was her until she stood up to accept the RITA for Best Romantic Suspense as JD Robb. Guys, I will admit this once to FINALLY remembering to take evidence photos, but unfortunately it was too dark for my surrepticious photog skills and, yeah, you gotta take my word for it. 😦 Woe and betide…

*

It was like all the stars aligned this weekend to make it PERFECT!! I released AHW4 on Wednesday, Tweeting the links as they went live (technically it was for a Thursday release but some came through early) and you guys flocked to the sale price! I couldn’t believe it: I was #1 on Amazon’s Movers and Shakers list, plus AHW4 rose to the Amazon top 100 within the first 24 hours!!! I was also informed by eagle-eyed readers (YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME!) that I’d landed at #85 on the USA Today Bestseller List (and haven’t moved off it yet). AND, I’m a Featured Book on AllRomanceeBook.

*pinches myself* Did I just die and go to heaven?

I have some writerly business to take care of for my agent (does saying that ever get old?) then I need to get to writing tonight. I have a deadline in my head of when I want to release AHW5 – don’t want to commit yet because I’d hate to disappoint you guys by missing my release, or worse yet release something that isn’t ready – but it means I’ll be working overtime on getting everything in my head committed to paper. Er, electronic paper at least. I’m playing around with Dragon Naturally Speaking, learning how to use dictation software – haven’t told myself stories since I was a kid!!

Oh yeah, and today I handed in my notice of resignation to commit fully to writing. *blink-blink* By the end of the month, I’ll be a full-time writer, and it’s all your guys’ doing. I’d blame you, but really all I want to do is hug and THANK YOU PROFUSELY for this opportunity!! 😀

AHW4: Chapter 1

My editor is going to kill me. 🙂 I think you guys deserve this though.

Blame @andriiisantiii, she convinced me to do this. It’s still fairly rough draft but… Ah heck, you guys just want to read the story don’t you? 😉

***

AHW4

Chapter 1

I was eight years old the first time I got the flu. It was bad, enough so that I had to be rushed to the hospital. While I couldn’t remember much, I did remember vividly the aches and pains as my body struggled to rid itself of every last vestige of the foul disease.

Waking up in that hospital room felt similar, like waking from a painful dream. Eyes still closed, I turned my head to the side, the simple movement making me dizzy and nauseous. At my moan there was a commotion next to me then a strangely familiar man’s voice said, “Get the doctor.”

Why was that voice familiar? Who… Thinking made my head hurt so I gave up for a while, trying to keep as still as possible. After a moment the nausea subsided and I cracked open one eye, then the other.

I was in a well-lit room, the bright fluorescent lights above like knives in my skull. Figuring for the time being it would be better to keep my eyes closed, I listened as several people filed into the room.

“Ms. Delacourt, my name is Doctor Montague. I’m going to need you to open your eyes.”

“Hurts,” I mumbled, my tongue stinking to the roof of a dry mouth. I tried opening my eyes again and it was a little better this time. The room and its occupants were fuzzy; the tall figure beside my bed leaned in close and shined a light in my eyes. I flinched but the pain from before was already subsiding and he only did a few sweeps before pulling the pin light away.

“How do you feel?”

“Like I’ve been hit by a bus.” The doctor spoke very good English but I could hear the slight French accent in his words. “Am I still in Paris?”

Oui, you were brought here soon after your little incident.”

“Where’s Jeremiah?” I struggled to pull myself upright, ignoring the explosion in my head and the doctor’s restraining hand. “Is he okay?”

“He’s been coordinating with French officials on investigating what happened. Discreetly.”

It took me a moment to recognize the familiar from beside the bed. I barely made out Ethan’s bald head through bleary vision. “So he wasn’t…?”

“No, he wasn’t poisoned,” he replied, correctly guessing my unspoken question, and I let out the breath I was holding. “He’s been going through various channels to try and find the culprit. I sent word that your awake, he should be here any moment.”

Hearing that Jeremiah was on his way eased a burden inside my chest. The doctor handed me a glass of water as I glanced toward the clock, then the dark window. “How long was I out?”

“Three days,” Ethan replied and I coughed on the water I’d just swallowed. The big man shifted. “We didn’t know how it would end up. Lucky for you, Jeremiah has some medic training.”

“I almost died?” My words were a whisper and I found it difficult to come to grips with the idea.

“Officially, you did. Twice.” The doctor took my cup and set it on the table beside me I finally saw clearly. “If not for the, hm, insistence of Mr. Hamilton we may not be having this conversation.”

I stared at my hands for a long moment, emotions all jumbled together in my head. “I’m tired,” I murmured, sliding back down the bed.

“Before you sleep,” Ethan said, stepping toward me, “I’d really like to ask you a few questions about the man who brought the bottle to your room.”

Everything in me went cold. “You think he was the one who…?”

“That’s what we’re trying to find out.”

The familiar deep voice made my heart leap. Jeremiah walked into the room and stood at the foot of the bed before looking at the doctor. “How is she?”

“Awake, and that is a good sign. I’d like to keep her at least another day for observation.”

Jeremiah nodded at the doctor, who stood and silently left the room. I blindly reached for Jeremiah’s hand when he took the empty spot beside me, not caring who saw or thought what. Fear settled over me like an oppressive blanket. Someone tried to kill me.

“What do you remember about the man who delivered the champagne?” Ethan asked as I clung to Jeremiah’s hand.

“He was ordinary,” I said, then winced at the phrase. Way to be unhelpful. “He was dressed like a hotel employee, white with medium brown hair and brown eyes I think.”

“Hair and eye color can be changed,” Jeremiah interjected. “What about facial features? Any scars or moles?”

Thinking made my head ache and I closed my eyes, trying to picture the brief glimpse I’d had of his face. “He had kind of deep set eyes, thin lips and was a couple inches taller than me. Um, I think he had a mole on his left temple and a scar on his chin, but I don’t know how much of that was makeup.”

Jeremiah and Ethan’s gazes met briefly and my heart sank. I probably just described half the country.

“What did he sound like?” Ethan asked finally after scribbling notes on a small notepad.

“He spoke English really well, I thought he sounded American.” I thumped my hand on the bed in frustration. “I don’t know. He seemed like a normal hotel employee and I didn’t think to look that hard.” A thought occurred to me. “What about the security cameras? There has to be something on them.”

Both men shook their heads. “We already checked. Whoever it was knew exactly where even hidden cameras pointed; we never got a face shot.”

I slumped in the bed. “Is there anything I can do to help?”

Jeremiah’s phone went off, and he pulled it out to check the screen. “I need to take this,” he said, pulling his hand free from my grasp. “Ethan, see if you can find an artist to draw what she remembers. I’ll be back.”

Tears pricked my eyes as I watched him leave the room. Silly girl, I chided myself, blinking hard, he still has to do his job. It still hurt to have him gone however, there was security in his presence that I didn’t feel with a simple bodyguard.

“You know, this whole deal hit him pretty hard.”

I looked over at Ethan, wiping at my leaking eyes. The bald man wasn’t looking at me, too busy typing into his phone, but I could still sense his attention. “What do you mean?”

He didn’t answer for a moment, intent on his phone, then clipped it to his belt and looked at me. “How long have you two known one another again?”

The question felt like an interrogation and I frowned. “A few days, why?”

Ethan grunted. “He’s pulled out all the stops trying to find out who did this. I haven’t seen him this driven in a long time; even the last time someone tried to kill him he wasn’t this motivated.”

My mouth dropped open. “What?” I said, voice barely a whisper.

Ethan shrugged one shoulder like it was nothing. “A man like Jeremiah, given the cutthroat business he does, gets threatened a lot. It was not long after he agreed to sponsor my company that someone tried to shoot him outside his building.” Ethan snorted. “Jeremiah had already broken the man’s wrist and taken the gun by the time I got close. Turns out the gunman wasn’t even the person with a beef, he’d been hired to do the dirty work.”

“What happened next?” I asked when Ethan lapsed off, looking at his phone again.

“Nothing. The boss told me to find out who was behind it and let him know, then got on a plane for Dubai. Didn’t seem worried in the slightest.” Ethan peered at me. “Maybe it’s because you got hurt on his behalf. Either way, Celeste has taken over business operations while he focuses on this manhunt and tries to keep the press from getting wind.”

“So, the person on the phone…?”

“Was probably one of his contacts. If he didn’t want us to listen in, it was probably one that I don’t approve of. Either way, he’s gone to extremes on this one.”

Jeremiah chose then to come back inside, stowing his phone in his pocket. I got my first glimpse outside the door and saw two men dressed in black standing on either side of the entryway before the door closed again. “I have the boys looking for an artist now,” Ethan said. “Hopefully we can get someone up here within the next few hours.”

“Good.” Jeremiah moved to my bed then frowned down at me. “You should be resting.”

“Who was that on the phone?” I asked bluntly. When his eyes narrowed, clearly annoyed with the question, I persisted. “If it has something to do with me then I should know. Who tried to kill us?”

Jeremiah glared at Ethan but the big security expert had his eyes back on his phone, deliberately ignoring our conversation. “I’m not sure yet,” Jeremiah finally said. “I gave them the description you provided and they’re hopeful. Now, rest.”

My body demanded I follow the order – I’d been fighting against sleep anyway, but I still struggled to keep awake for one last question. “You won’t leave?” I asked, pushing myself deeper under the sheets.

His eyes softened a bit. “I’ll be nearby,” he promised, and at his words I finally closed my eyes, letting my exhaustion overwhelm me.

*

I stayed in the hospital for three more days under observation. The doctor seemed optimistic about my recovery, but I felt weaker than a baby. Needing help to do simple things like walk proved frustrating and I was determined to do it on my own. After I slipped and nearly fell trying to get myself to the attached bathroom however, Jeremiah ordered that I have constant help available, whether by nurses or bodyguards.

Most of my days were spent sleeping, but it quickly grew boring staying in the hospital bed. When I mentioned this to Ethan, an ever-present fixture in my room, a brand new tablet, still in the box, appeared beside my bed soon afterward. The device gave me something to do with my spare time, and I spent most of it researching my new boss.

I’d joked before that I knew the Wikipedia version of his life, and as it turned out so did the rest of the world. There were articles on him that mentioned he was an Army Ranger, talked about his charity work, and went into detail on his business ventures, but I knew all this already. The media threw out words like “mysterious” and “enigmatic” when they described him, and the words seemed appropriate given the lack of any in-depth information through nearly all channels. Articles on the corporate changeover after his father’s death were similarly shallow, mainly analyst predictions where the company would go under new management, if a man who had minimal business education could really take over for the tycoon Rufus Hamilton, and so on.

By day four of my stay I was walking on my own again, just in time to leave the hospital. Our exit felt like an espionage movie: I was shuffled to the basement garage by the bodyguards and carefully packed into a waiting limo that I assumed would take us to the airport. Jeremiah watched over everything, never leaving my side, even maintaining a possessive grip around my shoulders as we drove out of the parking garage.

I dozed through most of the trip, using Jeremiah’s shoulder as a pillow. I awoke once an indeterminate amount of time later to see we were no longer in the city but didn’t think anything of it, nodding back to sleep until the car finally stopped. Jeremiah shifted under me and I lifted my head, gazing blearily out the window. This definitely isn’t the airport, I thought, rubbing my eyes. “Where are we?”

Jeremiah didn’t answer the question, merely edged toward the door as it was opened from the outside. “Come find out,” he said, taking my arm to help me out of the car. I didn’t immediately recognize the structure. Nearby was the faint sound of water and a monument that looked vaguely familiar.

Several men in dark suits were scattered around the area and one black man came jogging up to us. “The place is secure, sir,” he said, and as Jeremiah nodded I finally realized where I was.

“You brought me to Utah Beach,” I whispered in stunned surprise. I’d only mentioned the location once to Jeremiah, so this was proof he was really listening to me. The wind off the water was chilly, cooling the already cold winter air; the sky was overcast and looked like it might spit snow at any moment. Looking around at a place I’d only seen in pictures online, I found myself inexplicably tearing up.

Jeremiah took off his jacket and slipped it around my shoulders when I shivered. “You mentioned this was someplace you wanted to visit.” He looked uncomfortable and edgy, and I wondered if it was my tears. “They have a Visitor’s Center with artifacts from the beach itself, but we can go down to the water if you’re up for it.”

His voice was gruff and his demeanor short, but I didn’t care. Happiness suffused me at the sight of a place I’d always dreamed of visiting, and I slipped my hand through his. Jeremiah stiffened and I saw him swallow, then his fingers relaxed into mine. “Help me inside?” I asked, burrowing myself deep inside his coat.

His gaze softened as he peered down at me, then he lifted my hand to his lips. “I’d be honored.”

Apologies and announcements

Well. *scratches head in wonder* The last few days have been one heck of a roller coaster. Those on Twitter and, to a much smaller extent, Facebook saw the progression of “Anything He Wants” through the 100s and up into the double digit Amazon ranks. Which is to say, absolutely incredible.

No, I mean it. You guys are incredible. Incredible, awesome and fantabulous.

So the mirror is a go. AHW1 retold through Jeremiah’s stony gaze, to be made available free here on the website and on All Romance Ebooks, and hopefully Amazon (that may take a little while however).

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Before I get to the announcements portion of this, I want to apologize for not getting the next part of my series out faster. The last month has been one heck of a rush – never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined my story would get this kind of response. I’m humbled, overjoyed, and for a long while petrified I’d do or say something to destroy it. (yes, silly artistic insecurities rear their ugly heads *rolls eyes*) Writing, therefore, suffered a bit but I’m fortunately back on the wagon and will try to keep up the pace from here on out.

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Which leads me to my next Big Thing: “Anything He Wants 3: Love And War” is finally drafted!! AAAAND, I have a release date: Thursday, June 21 – aka, next week. It should give me enough time to do my own edits, send it to my lovely editor Delta, a couple beta readers for proofing, and have it out in time for the weekend. 😀 I’m really excited about this part but am staying mum on why for a few more days until I release the blurb. Yes, I am evil. Bwahahaha!!!!