Authors: Delansy Diamond Grace Octavia Donna Hill
Take a trip into the heart of passion as seductive samba
rhythms pulse in the warm evening breezes. Escape and savor these three
scintillating stories set against the beautiful backdrop of Brazil….
by Donna Hill
Two weeks in Rio—surely enough time for marketing VP Sydni
Lawson to forge a lucrative merger. But instead of sweet-talking real estate
mogul Gabriel St. James…she’s being swept away by their sizzling and unexpected
Beats of My Heart
by Grace Octavia
Sunshine Embry has been pushing her own dreams aside as the
assistant to a spoiled R & B diva. Then an invitation to record in Rio
brings her back in contact with music sensation Marlo Simmons, who is also her
boss’s sexy brother! Is this their chance to make sweet, sweet music
Heartbreak in Rio
by Delaney Diamond
Sidney Altman and Rodrigo Serrano once shared a scorching
affair, before he returned to Brazil to take over his family’s fashion empire.
Now she’s in Rio on business—and Rodrigo intends to win her back and prove that
his biggest regret was ever letting her go….
ESSENCE BESTSELLING AUTHOR
To my daddy, “Cal,” who was probably a singer in another life and made me sit front row
the couch to watch his many performances.
I am so excited to participate in this project, seeing my name
the cover of a book alongside authors Donna Hill and Delaney Diamond. Also, it's quite humbling to join the ranks of writers published
the Harlequin publishing list. As this is my first attempt at writing “romance,” I also want to acknowledge the honor of being amongst writers and readers who have upheld, developed and supported this often overlooked genre that has much creativity, power and influence.
There are many people who have made this project possible. These people were both directly involved in the writing of my novella and indirectly connected by assisting me in continuing my goal of offering readers compelling and edifying fiction aimed at women embarking upon private revolution. I thank all of you for years of support, guidance and love.
Most directly, I must thank the entire family at Harlequin, especially my kind, gracious and patient editor Glenda Howard. I would also like to thank those working behind the scenes at the publishing houseâthose in marketing, publicity, business, art, and management. Thank you for your hard work that I may not see, but I am quite clear about how this affects the positive experience I have had at Harlequin.
I would also like to thank my dear friend Tracy Sherrod and my agent Regina Brooks of the Serendipity Literary Agency.
As always, thank you to my readers. None of this could be possible without your support.
can’t wait to go on this trip. Even though it’s business, I plan to get my share of pleasure out of the deal,” Sydni said, as she reviewed the multiple pages outlining the details of the presentation.
“I know what you mean. You’ve earned it. When was the last time you were away and actually got some playtime in?” her assistant and best friend, Lynn Covington, asked. “And what better place than Brazil in February.”
Sydni relaxed against her high-back leather chair and crossed her long legs. At thirty-four, Sydni Lawson was one of the highest paid and most sought after brand marketers in the country. Her day consisted of shaping the images of mega pop stars and superstar athletes, to household products and worldwide corporations. She was the one who was called when brand redefining was needed. She resuscitated fallen careers by recreating her clients and molded the up-and-coming into works of art like a master sculptor. Sydni Lawson was executive vice president of Epic International, the multimillion-dollar corporation that specialized in global branding and was owned by her father, Paul Lawson. She took the executive title to appease her father, but she never allowed herself to be dragged into the machinations of corporate volleyball—until now.
Sydni twirled a Cross pen thoughtfully between her slender fingers. “I think the last time I had a semi-vacation was more than a year ago when Blake and I traveled to London on business. We got to squeeze in a day and a half as tourists.” She laughed without humor. The breakup still stung even after all this time. She pushed out a breath and memories of the past along with it. She turned to Lynn. “I’m going to want those meetings with Mr. St. James to take place as soon as possible when we hit Rio.”
Lynn nodded. “I’m coordinating with his assistant this week to make that happen. It seems nearly every waking hour of his day is occupied. I didn’t think it was possible for anyone to be busier than you,” she said with affection.
“Hmm. Well, hopefully, if he’s that busy we can work this deal quickly and then have some fun. We couldn’t have picked a better time, either.”
“Once I found out that he had a home in Rio, you know I worked my magic to pull this together during Carnival.” They both giggled at that bit of smoke and mirrors. “Of course, the fact that it was the only time in St. James’s schedule where he was in one place long enough for us to meet definitely worked into the plan.”
The two women had been friends for years, dating back to their years at Spellman and then as part of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority. Sydni had reached out to her friend when she’d stepped into the VP role, offering her very talented soror the coveted position of being her right hand. Lynn was not only incredibly smart, but she understood Sydni in a way that many of her other friends never had. They’d built a bond over the years that was now unbreakable.
Sydni studied the newspaper image of Gabriel St. James with a caption below that touted the confirmed bachelor was seen at the Cannes Film Festival with supermodel Naomi Dupont.
Since she’d been assigned the project by her father, Sydni had done her homework investigating their potential new client. Everything she’d read about him screamed “playboy, eternal bachelor, mogul, rogue.” Yet there was something missing in the articles and headlines, something that had not been captured about Gabriel St. James. She wasn’t sure what it was, but she knew that once she discovered it,
would be the key to his new image.
Lynn flipped a folder closed. “I still don’t understand why St. James is going through this process. He’s an international figure already.”
Sydni nodded her head slowly. “I thought the very same thing. Apparently, since he wants to take his privately owned company public, he wants to recast his image before launching his first public project—his chain of resorts.
“This should be one of our easiest assignments. He already has name recognition, albeit not always a great one.”
Sydni held up a news article in front of her. The headline read REAL ESTATE MOGUL GABRIEL ST. JAMES AT CENTER OF DIVORCE SCANDAL. She turned the paper around to show Lynn. “It’s this kind of stuff that makes him vulnerable. It was a movie director’s wife that he was allegedly involved with this time.”
“You’ll work your mojo as you always do, and all will be well.” She pushed back from her seat and stood. “You have a one o’clock with your father in his office.” She checked her watch. “Ten minutes.”
Sydni frowned slightly. “Yes, he’s been overly involved putting this whole thing together with St. James and his people. Very uncharacteristic of him.”
Lynn murmured her agreement. “Want me to order lunch or are you going out?”
“I’m pretty sure I’m going to need some air after this meeting. I’ll grab something when I go out.”
She grinned. “I think I’ll do some vacation shopping,” she teased in a very bad Portuguese accent. “Have fun at your meeting. See you when you get back.”
“You are so wrong for that,” Sydni called out.
Lynn gave her a quick finger wave and darted out the door.
* * *
Paul Lawson ended his call with his nephew Branford. He was always amazed at how far Branford had come from the pain-in-the-ass kid he’d been to one of the most powerful senators in the House. With Paul being the youngest of the four Lawson brothers, he and Branford were more like brothers and good friends than uncle and nephew. They shared confidences, successes and failures, had taken vacations together and even had similar tastes in women—which had caused an interesting share of friendly competition. He was looking forward to seeing him in the coming weeks. It was Branford who’d encouraged him to pursue the deal with Gabriel St. James, and after much consideration, he agreed that his nephew was right. And he would send his very capable daughter to make the deal happen.
As if on cue, Sydni gave a light knock on the partially opened door and poked her head in.
No matter how many times Paul looked at his daughter, it never ceased to amaze him how much she resembled her mother, Marie; from the slope of her amber eyes that gave her an almost exotic look, to the sculpted cheekbones, heart-shaped face and killer dimples. He only hoped that his beautiful and brilliant daughter would be able to find the happiness in her life that he and her mother had found together.
“Come in, come in.”
Sydni walked in, came around the desk and gave her father a big kiss on the cheek. As much as he protested that it was totally inappropriate in the workplace, he relished her bursts of affection that he had to admit she only demonstrated when they were out of eyesight of the staff.
“How are you today?” she asked, taking a seat next to his desk.
He rocked back in his chair just a bit and linked his fingers across his stomach. “So far, no complaints. The new contract with MTV is in the works and I heard from Jamal Hendricks’s agent from the NFL. He’s ready to come on board.”
Sydni grinned. “All in a day’s work.” She crossed her legs.
“We’ve taken care of everything for the Brazil trip. I don’t think there’s much of anything that I don’t know about Mr. St. James. I’m confident that we can map out a strategy that he will be comfortable with and move forward. I’ll have him signed on the dotted line by the time I get back.”
Paul nodded thoughtfully, then he leaned forward, locking eyes with his daughter. “There’s more.”
“Oh. What kind of more?” she asked, a bit taken aback.
“Why don’t we discuss it over lunch.” It wasn’t a question. “I’ve had Hannah order in.”
Sydni knew instantly that this trip was going to be a lot more labor-intensive than she’d planned for.
* * *
When Sydni left her father’s office more than an hour later, she didn’t know if she was furious or disappointed by her father’s very calculated moving of the chess pieces with her as the pawn. She didn’t like being set up—or worse, setting up a potential client. It wasn’t that what her father was asking her to pull off was illegal or unethical, but simply put, it didn’t feel right.
She returned to her corner office, shut the door, sat down behind her desk and began reviewing the prospectus that her father had given her.
As usual, her father and his team had done their homework. The deal was sweet, and if she could convince Gabriel St. James of its merits it would become one of the biggest corporate mergers ever, not to mention the enormous power that it would wield. What bothered her, however, was that it was in no way that cut-and-dried. If so, her father would not have been so cloak-and-dagger about it, springing it on her at the eleventh hour.
She had a lot to absorb over the next few days. She put down the thick sheaf of papers and picked up the
magazine with a silhouetted profile of Gabriel St. James on the cover: “The Man, The Mystique.” It would be up to her to peel back the layers, discover his vulnerabilities and then plant the seeds.
Sydni exhaled heavily. She was confident in her abilities. What she wasn’t certain of was Gabriel St. James’s reaction to them.