Billionaire banker Ronan Lee Chadwick is used to getting whatever and whoever he wants. When he glimpses Tara Harden in his company’s park, he’s forced to stop and take notice of her irresistible beauty. Unable to prevent his growing fascination, Ronan soon realizes that she is the embodiment of the woman he wants to solidify his legacy. With the added incentive to never make the same mistakes as his father, Ronan is determined to take what he wants and ensure his emotions remain safely contained. No woman will ever wield the kind of power over him that his mother used to destroy his father. Tara will fill the role in his life he deems necessary and give him the family he craves. How could he have anticipated that she would reject his generous proposal?
Tara has a simple rule for her life that she strictly follows: never make the mistakes with men that her mother made time and time again. No way will she ever become just another notch on any man’s belt. She has a clear plan: concentrate on her career, stay away from “players,” and don’t engage in casual sex. No one warned her about men like Ronan Lee Chadwick, who is panty-dropping sexy and would make most women willing to break every rule. Fortunately for her, she is made of sterner stuff, or did she anticipate success too soon?
Tara Harden had been working at First Jamaica National Bank, FJNB, for six months before she finally saw the bank’s elusive leader, Ronan Lee Chadwick, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors. Even that encounter was an accident and not by design. Of course she had seen pictures of him in local newspapers; however, there was nothing that could have prepared her for the larger-than-life presence of Ronan Lee.
He had just exited the boardroom flanked by the CFO, Manuel Nuri, and Tara’s boss, the Head of Legal, Amanda Knots. As usual, Amanda, a tall leggy brunette, was talking a mile a minute, animated and overly anxious to show her knowledge. Amanda’s ivory porcelain-like skin was bright red and her green eyes glistened with excitement. Tara would’ve normally smiled at her boss’ usual dramatic hand gestures.
The big man kept his gaze glued to a report he had in his hand. His expression was impossible to read. He didn’t turn his head left or right, or even look up, self-assured that anything or anyone in his path would be removed.
Tara, like every other woman watching the small parade, was mesmerized by the beauty and jaw-dropping physique of their six-foot-five boss. With an Asian-American mother and a black Jamaican father, Ronan was generously blessed in his gene pool. He walked with a graceful long-legged swagger that was both confident and a disciplined economy of movement. His midnight-black hair was a bit disheveled and over long, hanging just over his left eyebrow and to the collar of his white dress shirt. Even as they looked on, he ran his fingers through the silky strands, pushing them back in impatience at its intrusion on his face. His olive skin tone and smooth hair were clearly from his mother, but his height and lean muscular physique obviously came from his athletic father. Wearing a suit that seemed custom-made for his tall frame, discreet diamond cufflinks on his crisp white dress shirt, a silver Rolex watch, and a platinum onyx-stoned signet ring, Ronan oozed masculine elegance.
Everyone stopped what they were doing and stared silently at the group as they walked past. Tara knew that some of the women watching had been there for years and must have known and seen Ronan on numerous occasions. Yet they still reacted as though this was the first time seeing him. He was just that kind of man, one who could demand helpless awe and attention from women and men alike.
Once the group passed them, everyone breathed out a collective sigh and slowly returned to their work. Tara was not so fortunate. She was stunned. Everything about him called out to her at the most basic level. Her body pulsed and throbbed in places it never had before. She felt awakened and shell-shocked at the same time. It was as though her senses where short-circuiting, but her body remained languid at the same time. Her world had forever and irrevocably shifted.
Looking around at her colleagues, who had now resumed their tasks as if nothing extraordinary had just happened, Tara knew deep in her soul that he was it for her. Damn, I had no idea I would have a thing for older men.
Tara was not a small girl. She was what the islanders would call “solid.” With a voluptuous figure, large breasts, and wide hips, she didn’t hold out much hope that a guy like Ronan would ever date a woman like her. Every woman she had ever seen linked to him had been a freakishly fit being. Tara was not that kind of girl. She loved her pizza, French fries, and fried chicken too much to maintain such a svelte figure despite her regular visits to the gym. The two times a week workout in the gym and her weekly racquetball game with her sisters helped her at least keep a flat stomach and a tiny waist. She smiled because her mother always lamented that her waistline only made her ass and breasts look bigger.
While people were open for a bit of gossip, Tara discreetly questioned a few of her colleagues and fell a little bit more in love with her boss based on what she’d heard.
Ronan had taken over the small local bank almost fifteen years before when his father, Richard Chadwick, had suddenly died. His father had ensured he’d gotten the best education from Wharton School of Business, although Ronan lived for years with his mother in New York City. Ronan had only returned to the island as an adult after his father’s death. No one knew what he’d done in the intervening years, but there were rumors that he had been in the U.S. military, at least he acted as though he was a military man.
The bank had been in the Chadwick family for over seventy years, and Ronan had taken over the bank when he was only twenty-eight years old. Since taking over the bank, he’d made tremendous improvements and had grown the bank by being a fierce competitor to the many larger foreign banks on the Island. He provided faster service, lower rates, and no penalties on late credit payments. The bank attracted customers away from the traditional international banks in droves once people realized the savings being offered. Every year his customer base grew and the products offered became more varied. Through a series of mergers and acquisitions, Ronan expanded the bank’s size considerably. Now, fifteen years later, he had eleven branches throughout the island with the main branch and head office located in Kingston.
Signing in dreamy wonder and crushing on Ronan in a big way, Tara returned to her desk to review the mountain of loan documents that she still had to get through before leaving for her racquetball game with her sisters, Angela and Kimberley.
Her bemused wistful state on seeing and learning about her sexy boss persisted for days after. She came to work every day hoping for another glimpse of him.
And then the second time she saw him, almost a week later, was no accident at all. He had called her boss, Amanda’s office looking for a client file. Amanda wasn’t in the office, and as Tara was the only other lawyer who worked on that client with Amanda, it was left to her to deal directly with the CEO. With her heart beating a mile a minute, she slowly made her way to his office another floor up from the legal department. Tara took the elevator to the executive suite, not wanting to be any more out of breath when she finally saw him than she already was going to be by just being in the same room as him.
“Mr. Chadwick wanted this file.” Tara cringed at how breathy her voice sounded as she explained her presence to Ms. Barbara Johnson, Ronan’s secretary.
“Mr. Chadwick is expecting you, Ms. Harden. Please go in.” Ms. Johnson smiled gently at her. She was an older lady with platinum silver hair, dark chocolate skin, and wouldn’t have looked a day over forty if not for the gray hair.
“Ah, I don’t need to go in. Perhaps you can take this to him?” Tara asked hesitantly, surprised that she had uncharacteristically lost her nerve on actually speaking directly to him.
“Ms. Harden, I’m waiting on that damn file!” A deep masculine voice suddenly cracked the air. “Get the hell in here.”
Tara jumped at the sound of the commanding voice coming from behind the partially opened hardwood door.
“Keen hearing, that one,” Ms. Johnson explained and smiled as though she were an indulgent parent. She flicked her wrist at Tara in the time-old signal to hurry along.
Tara took a deep breath and prepared herself to meet her nightly wet dream. Ever since she’d seen him the week before, she had been having the most erotic dreams where he was the main feature. The sound of his voice just now had immediately triggered the image of him walking into her virginal ivory bedroom and kissing her as if he were a conquering hero returning from battle. Tara walked into his office on unsteady legs and very unsubtle throbbing nipples.
His office was massive. Two leather sofas lined the perimeter, original paintings from local artists in Jamaica adorned the walls, a set of stylish storage cabinets sat in the corner of the room, and a huge mahogany desk dominated the room. Or was it the man who sat behind the desk who dominated the room? Tara was reluctant to admit her bias. However, the best feature of the room besides the occupant was the glass window that was almost the full length of one wall. What made it fascinating was that it overlooked the company’s park. Sitting on almost two acres of land, the park was more like a tropical garden with a wide variety of native fruit trees. Tara thought the park was an amazing perk of working for FJNB. With an outdoor cafeteria funded by the bank, many employees, including Tara, sat on the benches that littered the park to have their lunch every day.
Ronan sat behind his desk with his gaze on a report in front of him. He didn’t bother to look up and, instead, impatiently beckoned her forward.
Tara was a bit annoyed when he barely glanced at her as he grabbed the file she handed him and started going through it.
“The government has announced a lawsuit against this client,” he said impatiently. “Where is that information in this file?” He raised his head then, and his cold grey gaze drilled into her.
Tara fought hard to not blush or swoon at the sheer beauty of him. She was nervous as hell but so excited to be near him. It was impossible to eliminate the slight tremble in her knees. “The lawsuit is against Mr. Nunes, not for his company.” God, is that my voice sounding so strong and confident? Damn, I’m impressed.
“I don’t give a damn if it is in Alex’s name or his company. That’s the sort of shit that should be in this file.”
Well now, if he’s going to keep cursing at me, I’m going to have to remind him of the bank’s policy on that. Placing her hands at her waist, Tara stood to her full five-foot-seven height, made even taller in four-inch heels, and stared stonily at him. “I’m sorry, sir. You should care which file that information is in since Mr. Nunes also has a mortgage with us. This lawsuit affects him personally, and our focus should be the risk on that loan. The collateral on the credit for his corporation is solid, so the bank would have difficulty linking the two issues.”
“I didn’t ask your fucking opinion, Ms Harden. I asked for the damn file regarding Alexander Nunes,” he gritted out.
“Sir, you didn’t ask for my opinion, but you damn sure need it. And I don’t suggest you curse at me again.”
Tara was forced to look up to maintain eye contact. He was almost a foot taller than she was, despite the heels she so proudly strutted around in.
He glared down at her and bit out slowly, as though talking to someone with low intelligence, “I won’t curse at you if you bring me the right fucking file.”
All of her girlish wistfulness about him immediately evaporated, and she temporarily lost control of her emotions and her ability to think before she spoke.“You know, Mr. Chadwick, you may be a tall glass of sexy, but you’re an enormous dick! Maybe, if you get your head out of your own ass, you would listen to someone other than your own over-inflated ego! Get your own damn file.” She turned and marched out the office.
Tara ran past Ms. Johnson without giving the woman a glance, ignored the elevator, and flew down the flight of stairs to her department. Once she arrived at her desk, she immediately started packing her personal effects. Tears pooled in her eyes. She couldn’t believe that she’d let him provoke her into saying something so unforgiveable. Now she would lose a job that she’d loved.
“Are you okay, Tara?” her co-worker Anthony asked.
Fighting to stop the tears from falling, Tara shook her head indicating nothing was amiss instead of answering the question. Tara didn’t raise her head. She continued to urgently pack her gear. She was about to push the photo of her with her mother and sisters into her handbag when she felt the air around her shift. The sound of typing on the keyboards stopped, everyone in the department seemed to have stopped speaking, and it seemed even the air stilled.
It took Tara a moment to realize what was happening, but suddenly the tiny hairs on her arms stood in awareness. She raised her head in confusion, uncertain why she was felt compelled to do so. Her gaze collided with the troubled gaze of Ronan Lee Chadwick.
She felt lightheaded again and might have swayed, but she truly thought she was having an out-of-body experience. Even knowing what an asshole he was, her body still responded with eager lust to the sight of him.
“Ms. Harden, I have a meeting with Alexander in fifteen minutes. I need that file,” he said quietly.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have time for this right now. Come back to my office and bring what you think I will need to deal with this sh…” Ronan cleared his throat and smiled sheepishly. “Ah, mess.”
“Sir?” Tara stared at him in confusion, stunned that he hadn’t fired her on the spot.
“Tara, bring the file to my office,” he coaxed softly. He turned and left as quickly as he’d walked into the department.
Tara looked around, and everyone was, in turn, staring at her in awe. Shaking her head to clear the persistent cobwebs, she moved with impressive speed despite the heels she had to navigate in. She gathered the files and the notes she had prepared and sprinted up the stairs.
Ms. Johnson waved her along as soon as she appeared.