Samantha Kane is about to solidify her father’s legacy by developing sleepy Gold Mountain into the most profitable ski resort in the country. There’s one man standing in her way though. One very sexy, rugged man. When she shows up to convince Austin Reede to sell, she has no intention of hiding her identity. But with a body like his, she’ll take a few risks to get closer.
Austin was the fastest skier on the U.S. Olympic team, until he shattered his knee. Gold Mountain became his refuge—and now Kane Enterprises is threatening that home. When he meets Sam, he has no idea she’s the one to blame, he just knows the attraction between them is one he hasn’t felt in years. A scorching hot one-night stand is just what he needs. Little does he guess that it will change everything…
Excerpt from MAKE ME STAY by Rebecca Brooks
Sam zipped her jacket tight around her neck and lifted her goggles. The world shocked to brightness, blue sky, and the bone white of snow. She’d expected to change her mind at the last minute and head to the office instead. But here she was, cold on her cheeks like a kiss and a slap all at once.
She’d almost been afraid her car would drive to the skyscraper no matter what, as though the wheels couldn’t turn anywhere else. But somewhere between her second and third caffeine injection of the day she’d put the mug down, met her reflection in the wall of windows looking out at Puget Sound, and said—literally, out loud, like her mother who’d started muttering to herself now that she was alone—“Get it together, Kane.”
She’d been in her pajamas and holding a throw pillow, so not exactly in what her colleagues called wolf mode when they thought she couldn’t hear. But the words came out low, edged with a growl, the signature tone she used when it was time to stop shilly-shallying—her father’s phrase—and get shit done. That was her preferred way of saying it, even if she could still hear him admonishing her not to curse.
It was three years to the day since they’d buried her father, and although Sam continued to hear his voice in her head, she was tired. Tired of all the hours in the office, tired of working nonstop to take over his role, tired of the weight of her grief.
But all she had left was one task. Once she convinced the last owner to sell, the land purchase would finally be ready to go. Bill Kane’s legacy was going to happen. Gold Mountain was going to be the destination for Seattleites year-round.
Gold Mountain was going to prove Samantha Kane could do it—and then some.
As long as she could get that holdout, a man named Austin Reede, to stop ruining her plans.
Sam wasn’t even asking for all his land. It was only half his acreage. He wouldn’t have to move, and they’d keep a line of trees in place so he’d barely see the new condos from his yard. Shouldn’t he have been thrilled to keep all that and get a handsome check in the process?
But according to her assistant, Mr. Reede had stopped taking their calls. When Sam tried him herself, she reached only voicemail. Adjusting the expansion to work around his property wasn’t an option. Sam couldn’t appear weak to her board.
Which was why she’d decided not to go to her office today. It was time to stop sending letters and lawyers and start handling Mr. Reede herself. She’d offer more money, a ski run named after him, a condo for himself…whatever he wanted, as long as he signed.
She stopped by his house, but there was no car out front. He was probably at work. She knew from his file that he was on Ski Patrol and a racing coach—neither of which could pay very well. Another reason he should be jumping on this deal.
Fortunately, Sam was prepared to wait. In fact, she’d been counting on it.
She didn’t bother wasting time checking into the hotel. She parked at the mountain and locked her laptop, blueprints, and files in the trunk. Soon she was riding the chairlift, breathing the clean mountain air. Knowing she couldn’t access everything immediately even if she wanted to gave her a lightness she didn’t know she possessed, despite the skis, boots, and heavy jacket weighing her down.
Not that she was entirely free. A vibration buzzed in her pocket—no doubt someone from the office who didn’t know what “unavailable” meant. She used her teeth to yank off her mitten and pulled out the phone.
The name on the caller ID made her groan. She knew she shouldn’t answer even as she did.
“I can’t talk,” she said with her mouth full of mitten.
“Samantha? Is that you?” She could picture Jim eyeing the phone to check that it was really her name lit up on the screen, his nose wrinkling in that face he made whenever something didn’t go according to plan.
Which of course happened all the time. He walked around the boardroom as though the chairs permanently smelled.
Sam pulled the mitten out of her mouth and gripped it tightly. “I can’t talk,” she repeated.
“What the hell is going on?”
“Is this about work?”
“No, Samantha. This is about the voicemail you left me at six o’clock this morning.”
“If it’s not about work then I can’t talk.” She paused. “And even if it is about work, I still can’t talk.”
“What are you doing? What’s that noise? Samantha, where are you?”
She wedged the phone up under her helmet so it was secure against her ear and tugged the mitten back on her hand before it froze.
“I have to go,” she said.
He switched tracks, his voice dripping into that I am not an asshole register he used with clients right after he’d just been an asshole. “Samantha,” he soothed. “I know we’ve had our ups and downs but we have to talk about this. You can’t leave me a message like that and then vanish.”
Sam’s eyes widened as the top of the mountain surged closer. She was running out of time.
“No, seriously, Jim, I have to get off the phone. I’m about to—”
The guy next to her nudged her shoulder. “Look, lady, are you planning to ride this thing back down or what?”
Sam swung her feet off the bar and lifted it overhead. Too soon the ground zoomed up and the chair banked down and then she was standing, the back of the chair hitting her calves and nudging her forward. Just like riding a bike, she reminded herself as she glided down the embankment, the phone still lodged by her ear.
Jim’s baritone droned on. “Samantha, what are you doing? Are you going to be at the office later? I’ll take you for lunch and we can talk this through like adults.”
“I’m not at the office. And no, you can’t take me to lunch, today or any other day.”
“What the hell has gotten into you?”
Not you, anymore, she thought wryly as she skated away from the top of the lift. But that definitely wasn’t on the script she’d practiced for herself in the car. “Listen, Jim. I know this may come as a surprise, but I trust we can both handle this as professionals. We have a long history of working together and I value your contributions.”
It came out less gracefully than it had in her head. Condescending. The word you’re looking for is condescending. But she plowed on. “I mean it this time. We really are done.”
“‘I value your contributions’?” Jim snorted over the phone. “Come to the office, Samantha. Let’s at least do lunch.”
But Sam wasn’t going to let him wear her down this time. “There’s nothing more to talk about. I’m hanging up now.”
“Stop!” he demanded. “You can’t just—”
“I’m your boss, Jim,” she interrupted.
She heard the air hissing out from between his teeth. “I see how it is. You tell me that won’t be a problem, until you conveniently decide to pull rank.”
Sam stood up straighter. “Let’s not make this personal. I’d like you to get Marie and Cody to run the numbers again before the two o’clock. Loop me in on the minutes, we have to be ready with our strategy the second the purchase goes through. And Jim?” She didn’t wait for him to answer. “I’ll arrange for someone to drop your clothes back at your place. Don’t worry about a thing.”
She hung up before he could get another word in.
The Wolf. That was what they called her, and she knew that was what he was thinking right now. Cold-ass bitch. They loved it when she brought in the clients and made the money flow. They hated her for it, too.
Except for Jim Rutherford. Because he always had the best. The best suits, the best wine, the best women. It made hot tears smart behind her eyes to think of how she’d let him parade her around, the head Kane of Kane Enterprises on his arm. Her past four attempts to break up with him hadn’t worked. He’d kept calling, sending flowers, showing up to take her out as though they hadn’t had the conversation at all.
But not this time. Sam called her assistant Steven about Jim’s clothes, knowing he’d be discreet, and reminded him to stay alert to anything he heard from the board about her performance. She hadn’t exactly cleared this little stunt she was pulling. If she showed up at the office tomorrow with Mr. Reede’s signature, they’d laud her. If they thought she’d run off for a vacation in the middle of their busiest time, the response wouldn’t quite be the same.
Well, what they didn’t know couldn’t hurt them. She turned her phone to silent and tucked it away. Other people got to take breaks. Even her father put everything on hold so he could take his daughter skiing as soon as the first snow fell. He was well established by then, but still. Why couldn’t she have a few hours, too?
Samantha Kane, CEO of Kane Enterprises, one of only a handful of women to be consistently ranked in the Fortune 500, let alone in the top ten. The leading real estate developer in the rapidly growing Pacific Northwest. Samantha Kane, the wolf, the bitch.
In such desperate need of a break.
Sam looked out at the view, snow peaked mountains dipping into valleys thick with trees. There was a cluster of buildings around the base of the mountain and then a whole lot of nothing as far as the eye could see.
Soon, she thought with a thrill as she made her first turns. Soon, that was all going to change.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Rebecca Brooks lives in New York City in an apartment filled with books. She received a PhD in English but decided it was more fun to write books than write about them.
She has backpacked alone through India and Brazil, traveled by cargo boat down the Amazon River, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, explored ice caves in Peru, trekked to the source of the Ganges, and sunbathed in Burma, but she always likes coming home to a cold beer and her hot husband in the Bronx.
She likes outdoorsy guys with both muscle and heart and independent women ready to try something new.
Learn more about Rebecca and her books at: