Samantha Kielty only thought she knew who she was and what she was made of. Until she was offered a position that would take her from her small office in San Antonio, Texas to that of her company’s larger, more upscale headquarters in Dallas, Texas, Sam hadn't seen anything. Her new boss is not only intensely sexy, he is also about to show her things she's only read in books.
Logan McCoy’s life was steady going until he set his sights on his new Vice President of Project Operations. The woman makes his blood boil and makes him want things he didn't realize he was in search of. Logan only hopes Samantha is capable of handling his dominating, controlling ways… especially between the sheets... or in the shower.
When Logan and Sam get together, sparks fly and they bring out each other’s deepest, darkest desires. He will push Sam past her sexual boundaries, and she will bring out his need to possess her in every way. But, can they find love within the inferno that burns between them?
WOW!! Hot hot hot! Where can I meet a Logan and Luke McCoy?! Loved this story!
Conviction (Club Destiny, 1) - Chapter One
Samantha Kielty only thought the typically short commute into work couldn’t get any longer. Coming to an abrupt halt at another red light, she realized she’d been wrong. Again. Obviously, venting her frustration in the middle of rush-hour traffic wasn’t going to get her anywhere, so she gripped the steering wheel until her knuckles turned white and focused on breathing in and out.
Weren’t Fridays supposed to be a day when things slowed down, time to wrap things up from the hectic week and prepare for a relaxing weekend?
With the incessant rumble of James’s voice reverberating through her head and her truck — thanks to the Bluetooth connection that offered him in stereo — it didn’t appear there would be a moment’s peace today. Not even on the drive in to work. Hell, he hadn’t even given her a chance to get there before he’d called.
Tapping her fingers on the steering wheel, her eyes alert to the light in front of her, Sam waited for James to take a breath so she could interrupt.
He wasn’t offering her many opportunities.
Just as the traffic light changed to green, Samantha pressed her foot on the gas and headed through the intersection. Although the morning traffic was heavy, it wasn’t any worse than usual. Apparently the drive only felt longer than normal, but it must’ve been her boss’s constant rambling that had obscured her judgment of time.
“James, I hear what you’re saying loud and—”
Well, hell. He wasn’t going to let her get a word in edgewise, thanks to his need to fill the silence with words, which he was famous for.
It probably wouldn’t do any good, but when the opportunity presented itself a few seconds later, she decided to try again.
“James, I understand that you think—” Cut off again.
In the five years Sam had worked for James Banten, she had never heard him speak quite so much, and that was saying something, because when the man started talking, he never seemed to shut up. Like now.
“James, I get it, but I don’t think…” it’s a good idea; she finished the sentence in her head since the stubborn old man wasn’t going to listen to her.
The conversation was going nowhere fast, and Sam was rapidly losing her patience. Not that her patience hadn’t been stretched a little thin lately anyway.
“James! I understand that, but I don’t think it is a—” She plowed on through his attempted interruption. “Good grief, James! Will you listen to me for a minute?”
This time she was the one who paused. She thought for a second that he might have hung up, but ultimately she knew she wouldn’t get that lucky. His signature sigh echoed through the truck, her indication that he would attempt to be silent for at least sixty seconds. That mysterious stopwatch in his brain was probably halfway around the dial by now.
With a deep breath, she continued, “James, I understand you think this is a good opportunity for me, I really do, but I’m not sure now is the right time. We have so many things going on here, with the SJ2 project in the stabilization phase and LX1 about to launch. Who will keep an eye on those if I leave?”
Now she had no choice to but to let him speak. The best she could hope for would be a debate-worthy response to her valid questions. The silence filled the car as he fumbled around with his answers, but just as she’d expected, he came up with something immediately.
A man known for his quick wit and intelligence, James Banten never seemed to disappoint. He was skilled at thinking on the fly — something she had been working on for years — and even though he often spoke over people, he usually did have fresh ideas. Those ideas had landed him the position he was in, and Sam respected him for it. But they still weren’t the answers she wanted to hear.
When he paused, probably to take a sip from his morning coffee, which was always the same — large skinny Vanilla latte — Sam took the opportunity to plead her case again.
“Okay, I get what you’re saying, James, I honestly do. What I don’t get is how this opportunity will be different from what I currently do here.”
Sam was all for climbing the corporate ladder; hell, she’d been busting her ass for years trying to get ahead. But did James seriously think sending her to Dallas was going to be in her best interest? The idea seemed so far out of left field Sam felt a little off-balance.
However, if she was perfectly honest with herself, which she tried to be on a regular basis, she knew the timing couldn’t have been worse.
The idea of being some two hundred miles from her regular routine was somewhat daunting, although a little intriguing at the same time. Okay, so maybe more intriguing than anything else, but still.
The rational side of her agreed with James. The opportunity could be a well-timed boost to her career and give her some of the exposure her superiors were constantly telling her she needed. Not to mention, it would be a pleasant change in her rather mundane — as of late — life.
Listening with half an ear as he gave his best sales pitch, Sam continued driving, doing her best to focus on the road and not on the man ranting in her ear — elaborating on all of the reasons she should consider this opportunity. Based on the way he was ticking off one reason after another, she knew there was a list sitting in front of him. James was the type of man — sort of like Santa Claus — to make a list, and he probably checked it twice, if not more.
“Yes, it makes sense.” Samantha finally caved. “Can we sit down and talk about this for a little while? I’m on my way to the office now. About five minutes away.”
The trip would be more like ten minutes, because now she had to stop off to get her morning coffee. There was no way she could go up against him without a serious dose of caffeine.
“I’ll see you in a few,” she told him when he finally conceded.
As she pulled into the parking lot of her favorite coffee shop, Sam replayed the conversation over and over in her head. The proposal was unexpected, yet with little ego involved, Sam realized she was likely the best candidate for the job. At least at the moment.
The project they wanted her to lead wasn’t just any run-of-the-mill project; this was one that had been in the works for a while, and it would give her the opportunity to show her superiors what she was made of. Although it had been on the radar for six months, few preparations had been made for it, which would leave Sam with plenty of working room. It truly was a project manager’s dream job.
Wow, and okay, that sounded downright cheesy, even to her. It was a testament to how utterly boring her life had become.
With some serious consideration, Sam knew she could take this assignment to the next level. After all, she had a lot of ideas. Although it seemed a little arrogant, Sam knew that if she were placed in charge of something, it would be done on time, and it would be done right. That was something she prided herself on.
As Sam waited — again not so patiently — in the drive-thru line, she continued with her mental pep talk. She knew she had to put up a reasonable amount of resistance, because they expected that from her, but it didn’t mean she couldn’t be excited about it.
By the time Sam pulled into the parking lot of XTX’s remote branch, she had begun making a mental list of what she needed to address even before she left town. Huh. To have already made a decision, despite her lack of information, Sam was somewhat surprised with herself.
There were questions that needed to be answered long before she gave a definitive answer, but at this point, it was clear which way she was leaning. How long would something like this take? Did they plan to relocate her permanently or just for the time they allotted? Those were two of the most pressing questions, and she realized they actually didn’t have much to do with the project itself.
Using her mental calculator, Sam estimated it would take at least six months to get the requirements gathered and documented as well as getting the team in place. All of that would happen before the actual project work began.
No wonder her social life had become so stale — she spent way too much time thinking about work.
Sam grabbed her coffee, her purse, and her laptop bag before she shut the truck door behind her. As she stood in the parking lot, both bags now hoisted over her shoulder, she stared at her SUV, realizing exactly how dull her life had become. The fact that her most prized possession was the vehicle she drove said way too much about her mental state. At thirty, that almost felt like a midlife crisis waiting to happen.
Acknowledging the time, Sam turned toward the building and stepped up the pace. By now, James would be staring out of his office window waiting for her arrival.
As she surveyed the small two-story building, a smile crept in. The familiarity of her surroundings gave her pause. Could she even think of leaving this place?
She’d been working here, day in and day out, sometimes seven days a week, for what? Almost ten years? She couldn’t picture herself anywhere else.
When she had interviewed with XTX, one of a handful of companies she’d received any communication back from, she’d known she wasn’t the most qualified for a project management position; after all, her degree was in marketing. She hadn’t let that stop her, though.
With determination on her side, she’d put her heart into it and landed a job within days of applying. To this point, XTX hadn’t let her down, and she felt good in knowing she hadn’t let them down, either.
Her current role as senior director of projects had offered a fair amount of traveling in and out of the great state of Texas, but Dallas? Nope, she’d never imagined relocating there — not even for a weekend.
Dallas was home to the bigwigs of XTX, being that it was the company’s headquarters, and she wasn’t sure she would fit in there. The Dallas office was much larger than the small branch she worked at in San Antonio.
Maybe she was thinking about this all wrong. She would simply be a face in the crowd at a location that size. On the other hand, the endless opportunities for growth she’d find would far outweigh anything she could get in their small field office.
Born and raised in San Antonio, Sam had never dreamed of leaving. Yet this new opportunity was all but screaming for her to up and run to a new set of challenges, not to mention a new life. And the nicest thing was … she wouldn’t be forgoing a big-city lifestyle if she took it.
At thirty — which she kept telling herself was the new twenty — Sam knew she had accomplished a lot in her career. She had an extremely supportive family and a unique circle of friends, but this was a chance for a new adventure. The opportunity to step outside the box and do something more. A big stretch for her, since the routine of her life had been comfortable thus far, making it all the more frightening to think of doing something else.
“Stay calm. It’s all in the details,” she warned herself as she ventured up the flight of stairs to her second-floor office.
“Morning, Sam,” Liza called out as Samantha stepped out of the stairwell and faced the small, immaculately dressed, fresh-faced woman sitting closest to the door.
“Morning, Liza. How are you?” Sam greeted in turn, making her way around the low walls of the cubicle.
Samantha had been greeting Liza for months now, and it seemed that no matter what was going on in the other woman’s life, she always had a smile on her face.
“I’m doing wonderful, thank you. Mr. Banten is waiting for you in his office. He said you would be right in, and his instructions were to send you straight there. No passing Go. No collecting two hundred dollars.” Liza laughed at her own little joke, causing Sam to smile even more.
Thank goodness she was armed with coffee, Sam thought to herself.
“Thanks, Liza.” Sam started toward the closed door behind Liza’s immaculately kept desk — happy, attractive, and organized. The woman should be locked up.
Pausing momentarily, she looked back at the administrative assistant, who still beamed brightly in her direction. Despite the fact that it would likely kill James to wait five more minutes, Sam couldn’t help but inquire as to why.
“What has you so happy this morning, if you don’t mind me asking?” Samantha asked as she took the few short steps back toward Liza.
Liza glanced at the closed door behind her and then leaned forward, lowering her voice as though she were telling a highly guarded secret.
“Remember that guy I told you about? Mark? Well, he and I have been talking more, and he finally asked me out last night. He wants to take me out on Saturday. Said it is time we finally meet in person.”
Sam remembered the brief conversations they’d shared the previous week about a new friend she’d met on the Internet about a month ago. The brief flicker of jealousy when she’d found out Liza had met someone had surprised her with its intensity.
Not that Sam was actively looking for a man to fill her spare time, which was scarce to none. Just the stories of newfound romance left her wondering what it must feel like. But that feeling would be short-lived, since her career being in full swing left her without any time to spend nursing a relationship.
“Okay, share the details,” Sam stated. “When and where?” She was genuinely interested in her friend’s happiness, despite the slight twinge of jealousy brewing just beneath the surface.
So what if it had been a long time since Sam had even been on a date? Hell, it had been so long she wasn’t sure what to do on one. Sure, there had been a few compelling men who’d crossed her path in recent years, but no one who would make her swoon the way Liza was.
“We’re going to meet at a restaurant downtown on Saturday night. He didn’t give me a whole lot of details, but I can’t wait,” the other woman said, squealing only slightly, with that dreamy expression that women in love often had.
“Good for you, girl. You’ll have to fill me in on all the details Monday,” Sam replied, glancing once more at the closed door to James’s office. “Okay, I better not make him wait too long; he might have a coronary.” Turning on her heel, Sam headed toward her boss’s office.
James, or Mr. Banten as Liza liked to refer to him, was sitting behind the large, masculine, mahogany desk, his fingers grazing the keyboard in front of him when Samantha tapped on the heavy wood door.
“Sam. Glad you could make it in.” It was easy to make out the faint irritation in James’s voice. He obviously didn’t like to be kept waiting.
Sam slid her purse and bag down her arm and let them rest on one of the vacant chairs that sat facing James’s desk. She nodded and grinned but didn’t give in to his attempt to intimidate her. When she didn’t say anything more, James continued.
“I was just putting together the information I received from the president of the project team in Dallas. I think this is a substantial opportunity for you and hope you have given it some thought.”
How much thought did he think she could have given it in the last twenty minutes? With a disbelieving look on her face, she spared him a quick glance, waiting for him to continue, but he sat perfectly still, hands clasped together on his desk, staring at her with a blank expression.
When he didn’t speak, she opted to fill the strained silence. “Well, I can tell you I didn’t do a whole lot of thinking in the last few minutes, but I’ll be glad to sit here and try to pull the information out of you if you’d like. Or you can give me some more details on exactly what I’ll be doing and make it easier on both of us.”
A smile tipped the corners of James’s lips as he stared back at her. Although he appeared to be trying to dominate the situation, Sam could see his eagerness to share his good news.
He leaned forward slightly, resting his elbows on his desk, steepling his fingers as he watched her. “First, let me say they have asked specifically for you to manage this project. Aside from this being the opportunity you’ve been waiting for, it also comes with a promotion.”
She sensed he was proud of himself in being able to give her that news, but she could also see the apprehension that furrowed his brow.
“When you say ‘they,’ exactly who would that be?” Sam lowered herself into the chair across from James, setting her coffee cup on the edge of his desk.
It was difficult to act nonchalant when she truly wanted to fast-forward this conversation to the good part. She was curious, plain and simple.
Knowing James, he’d prepared for the hard sell. Sam wasn’t known as the type of woman to let anyone try to get something past her. Her attention to detail was often a discussion point with her project teams, and oftentimes there were some choice words said when they talked about her. Having prided herself on her ability to get the job done, Sam didn’t let those things bother her.
“Sam, I know it isn’t hard for you to believe that the big guys up in Dallas know exactly what you contribute to this company. Your reputation precedes you.
“During our last planning session, your name came up numerous times in regard to a certain responsibility within the company.”
The blush his statement invoked trailed up her neck and infused her cheeks. When it came right down to it, Sam knew she worked hard, and she was adept at what she did. It had never gone to her head, though. She was still humble, and that type of feedback was awkward at best.
Knowing the conversation needed to remain on the serious side, Sam pondered what James was telling her. “Okay. So by process of elimination, I end up being a candidate. I love my job. Why would I want to give that up? What does this position offer that I don’t already have?”
James had always been forthcoming with information when he had it, and she knew he relied on her heavily when it came to running the projects that came out of his office.
What was surprising was the fact that he was pushing her in this direction so quickly. What was the motivation behind that?
Her forehead wrinkled at the negative thought, and she consciously blanked her expression. She didn’t want to believe someone else was doing this for their own personal gain, least of all James, but through experience, it was something she had come to expect.
“How does this sound?” James paused as he pushed his chair back from his desk. “Samantha Kielty, Vice-President of Project Operations.”
It sounded like a load of crap, she thought to herself. Sam just stared at him for a moment.
Vice-president of project operations.
How in the world did people come up with titles that encompassed everything and nothing at the same time? She had learned that titles didn’t mean a whole lot, except for the amount of work the job would require.
Regardless, vice-president had definite appeal to it. But the bigger question was the part about the operations. That term encompassed a lot of things.
“Okay, I’ll bite. What project operations would I be vice-presidenting?” Sam asked with restrained sarcasm.
James laughed, and the sound reverberated through his spacious office. “Well, I have an offer letter directly from Logan McCoy. This is a relatively quick relocation offer. He wants you up there by the end of the month. At the very latest, three weeks from Monday.”
Damn, that certainly was quick. Three weeks didn’t sound like a sufficient amount of time to get anything transferred, but she was definitely interested in hearing more.
She leaned back farther in the comfortable guest chair, crossing her jean-clad legs at the knees. “Does this offer letter give me a job description? I would like to know what I’m considering. Vice-president sounds terrific, but along with the title comes a lot of responsibility, and I need to ensure this is the best fit for me and for the company.”
“Understood. And I’m not asking you to take this lightly. I have scheduled a videoconference for you and Logan this afternoon at his request. He would like to introduce himself and provide you with more details to consider,” James said coolly.
He stood, walked around to the front of the desk, and perched on the edge. Once situated, he simply stared back at her as though waiting for her rebuttal. “Sam, you’re a tremendous asset to this company, especially to this office, but this is an opportunity for you to take on more of the leadership aspect for one of the largest projects in this company’s history.”
Sam noted the fatherly tone in his voice. During the five years she had worked for him, they’d become close. He respected her and her work, and in turn, she had a tremendous amount of respect for him. Over the years, James had offered some thought-provoking advice, and to this day, his direction had never led her astray.
After all, she had been young and inexperienced when she’d joined the company, but through years of blood, sweat, and, yes, a few tears, she’d managed to make a name for herself.
Sam was confident of one thing — if James said this was an opportunity she shouldn’t pass up, well, then she had to pursue it further.
Sam’s stomach churned, with both excitement and nerves. She was extremely flattered she had been requested for the position, but her nature didn’t allow her to jump at opportunities just because she was offered them.
She was content in her current role. Both challenged and stimulated by her work, not to mention, she’d developed a strong rapport with the people who worked for her. However, this was a chance to oversee from a different perspective, and she felt her heart flutter from the curiosity.
“Okay, so say this position is perfectly suited for me, and I accept it. Where does that leave the current projects I have here? What about my team?”
“We have some potential candidates for your backfill directly from your team. Obviously we would want you involved in hiring your replacement. It may require some travel back and forth between here and Dallas for a couple of weeks, but I think that should be manageable.”
James continued to speak, but his expression softened somewhat. “I’m looking for your input on your team, and I’d like you to review a couple of external candidates that we have. Either way, we will need to hire from the outside, either to replace you or to replace the person who replaces you.”
Sam couldn’t help but smile at the fact that he was so sure she would take the position. She wished that she could be as sure as he was.
“So, what time is this vid-con, and can you send me the job description so I can review it?” It didn’t get past her that he still hadn’t given her the information she wanted most.
“Conference call is at one o’clock. Logan’s assistant will call you a few minutes before to set it up. And just to clarify, this isn’t an interview for the job. He wants you for the position. I discussed this with him several times over the last few weeks.”
“Well, then I guess I’ll just have to wait for his call.” Sam stood up, grabbing her backpack and coffee. “Oh, and I hope he’s a better salesman than you are,” she said with a smile.