Title Return to Wylder
Author Maria Imbalzano
Genre Contemporary Romance
Publisher The Wild Rose Press
The untimely death of EJ Hampton’s father kills her dream of practicing law with him in her hometown of Wylder. Heartbroken, she now has two weeks to organize the practice for sale. When she meets her father’s millionaire client Dylan Addison, he is demanding and entitled—yet his charisma captivates her.
Dylan is under pressure to renovate the Wylder Hotel before his father pulls the plug on his project. He needs EJ’s expertise, but she is bent on returning to her life in San Francisco despite the fireworks between them.
EJ walks a tightrope trying to balance Dylan’s needs against her own, but doing so is far more complicated when emotions get in the way.
At a little after noon, I stepped out of Bryce’s office with a to-do list that would have been daunting to the winner of the Type-A workaholic personality contest. “Hi, EJ.” Dylan’s voice echoed down the hall. I turned, and he was heading toward me. Didn’t Carol have control over clients who simply showed up without an appointment? But of course he probably assumed his “big” retainer and prominent position in his father’s company meant he could interrupt my day at a moment’s notice.
“I was in the area and stopped by to see if you were able to fast-track my permits yesterday.” Hope in the form of a smile beamed across his face.
Although he had a somewhat nicer way about him than Ron Briar and was an eleven on a ten-point gorgeousness scale, he was mistaken if he thought his dazzling white grin and flashing blue eyes would seduce me like the women beside him in that business magazine.
While I didn’t mind gazing at that incredibly handsome countenance, I’d have to dash his optimism. “No. Not yet. I spoke to Adam Colton, the permit officer, and he said he’d let me know on Friday whether he’ll issue the permits or make us apply for a variance. I’ll advise you as soon as I hear.” I tried to inject a bit of cheeriness into my voice, but I was drained from the morning’s marathon meeting, not to mention the load of work hovering over me that I’d agreed to take on.
“I was hoping now that you’re here, things would run more smoothly.”
His initial pleasantness morphed into what I heard as criticism, and my blood boiled. I was seconds away from screeching that I’d only arrived yesterday and had a mountain of problems other than just his to deal with. So back off. Instead, I bit my lip, balled my fists, and said through gritted teeth, “Could you give me a moment, please?” Then I turned, went into my office, and closed the door. I gave myself props for not slamming it.
Inhaling deeply, I counted to ten. Then I did it again while walking in a circle. Two more times were necessary to diminish the angst in my gut. After taking a sip of water from a bottle on my desk, I opened the door and was about to go to the reception area to talk to Dylan. But he was still standing in the hall where I’d left him. Mr. Business USA was just as demanding as my San Francisco clients, despite his presence in Wylder. Why had I thought the cases here would be simple and direct—almost a vacation from my normal workload?
Calling forth every bit of tact and pleasantness I had within, I spoke. “While I’m waiting to hear back, I plan to review your entire file and evaluate the unsigned contracts by the end of the day.” My tone wasn’t exactly cordial, but it was the best I could do under the circumstances. “As I said yesterday, I’ll call you if I have any questions. But thank you for stopping by in case I needed anything.”
I shouldn’t really be angry with him. He was a typical prosperous business client who required my services and wanted everything done last week. My frustration came from the pressure he was putting on me along with the backlog of work that had piled up in the two short months since my father died. Fourteen days off to deal with it all was like getting twenty minutes to research an issue for the debate team competition. Insufficient, risky, and courting disaster. Adding to it all my mother’s precarious position with regard to finances and a municipal official who held a grudge, I was close to the edge of the cliff.
He studied my face, perhaps searching for some clue as to what I was really thinking, but I hid my exasperation beneath a passive expression.
“Okay, then. Let me know when you hear.”
“Of course.” I watched him as he strode down the hallway, all long, lean male brimming with the self-assuredness that came from being the heir apparent to a multimillion-dollar redevelopment company. One who could have been on a catwalk in Paris or New York modeling those dark jeans and black pullover that fit him to perfection. An unexpected sigh escaped.
I’d better get my eyes off Mr. Addison’s butt and put it on his unsigned contracts.
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Maria Imbalzano is an award-winning contemporary romance/women’s fiction author who writes about strong, independent women and the men who fall in love with them. She recently retired from the practice of law, but legal issues have a way of showing up in many of her novels. When not writing, she loves to travel both abroad and in the states. Maria lives in central New Jersey with her husband--not far from her two daughters who love to weigh in on what her characters their age would never do or say. For more information about her books, please visit her website at http://mariaimbalzano.com where you can also sign up for her newsletter.
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