Ruby Maxwell Chen, the lovely and ruthless CEO of a sprawling British business empire, has no qualms about playing dirty – very dirty. She’s happy to use sex to help her close a deal, especially when she’s the one on top. Ruby loves the game, and she expects to win. When she encounters the inexplicably charismatic American entrepreneur Rick Martell, though, she wonders if she hasn't finally met her match.
From the trendy clubs of London to the Hollywood Hills, Ruby and Rick compete for ownership of a strategic factory in Malaysia. As their struggle for dominance escalates and their mutual lust flares, they draw their employees and associates into their outrageous power games. The stakes could scarcely be higher, as Ruby and Rick play for the ultimate prize: a night of total physical surrender.
Note: This book was previously published under the titles Ruby’s Rules and Nasty Business. It has been re-edited, revised and updated for this release.
"I hear the door open, but for half a minute, I do not look up from the tablet on my desk. Let him understand that he is not my most important business.
When I finally do raise my head, it takes every shred of my self-control not to betray my shock. Before me stands my arrogant seducer from last night. His hair is neatly combed, true. He is wearing an Armani suit and there is a flash of gold at his cuffs. But there is no mistaking that pirate mustache or those intelligent, audacious eyes.
Once again, I sense the sexual force that emanates from him. I will not succumb this time. I will not even acknowledge our previous meeting.
I summon every ounce of power and pride. Rising from my chair, I offer him my hand. “Mr. Martell? I am Ruby Maxwell Chen.”
My skin must be cold, for his feels burning hot. I release him as quickly as politeness allows. “Please sit down.” My voice is cool, measured, completely neutral. Even I am amazed, and I see grudging admiration in Martell’s eyes.
“Thank you for making time to see me, Ms. Chen.” He has decided to participate in the charade. Good, that should make things easier.
“If you had not contacted me, I would have sought a meeting with you. I understand that we have some common interests.”
Am I deliberately baiting him? He wonders, and so do I.
“Quite so,” he says seriously, “and I believe that we can resolve the situation to our mutual benefit.”
I make my face a mask. “Please proceed.”
“I need that fabrication plant in Malaysia. Etymologics needs it.” His eyes never leave my face. “We have several designs nearing completion, and we cannot risk manufacturing them in the States.”
“Risk?” I ask, caught up in his intensity.
“Industrial espionage,” he says. “In the U.S. we could not afford our own fab plant—we would have to contract as a third party. It would be all too easy for our competitors to steal our designs. We have applied for several patents, but as you know, that takes a long time, and provides only the smallest measure of security.
“Malaysia, Baktar’s plant, is perfect for our needs. A foundry that we can own and control. And I know the country, know the people and how things work.”
“So I gather. You grew up there, did you not? In fact, your mother is Malay, I believe.”
Martell grins. “You’ve done your research. Yes, Malaysia is my second home.”
He does not say any more, but somehow I know that he is aware of my background as well, my part-British, part-Asian heritage. What a strange coincidence, that we should have such a similar history.
“I gather that you have persuaded Mr. Baktar that your company would serve his interests better than the Maxwell Companies as proprietors of his chip foundry. Presumably by offering him a higher price.”
Martell does not speak, but I read assent on his face.
“And if the Maxwell Companies should meet or exceed your offer, what then?” I lean forward to make my point. “We are a far larger enterprise than your Etymologics, Mr. Martell. We have deep pockets.”
Martell grins, most incongruous given the tension in the air. “I am very much aware of the size and power of your company, Ms. Chen. However, you may not know that Ahmed Nasruddin Baktar is a distant cousin on my mother’s side. There are ties of blood to consider.”
And favors, and counter-favors, I think bitterly. Martell is animated and relaxed. He seems not the least cowed by me, though he continues his respectful form of address. From half a room away, I feel the force of his presence, willing me to melt, to accede to his desires."
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