Hi friends! I’m very excited that Reese Ryan agreed to share an exclusive excerpt of Engaging the Enemy with us at ALBTALBS!! It’s new as of this month, and is the third book in The Bourbon Brothers series. 😀 I’ve got this series in my TBR and am very excited to dive in. And isn’t that cover gorgeous?! 😍
“That’s the deal, Abbott. Take it…or leave it.”
How far will an ambitious heir go to secure his future?
Parker Abbott will do whatever it takes to be the next CEO of King’s Finest Distillery, even play fake fiancé to his childhood nemesis, Kayleigh Jemison. Yet as he and the fiery redhead get reacquainted, sparks fly and real passion emerges. But when her ex wants a second chance, who will Kayleigh choose?
Parker groaned as he stared out the window. They had no idea what they were asking of him.
Kayleigh Jemison loathed him, but despite what his family believed, he didn’t despise her. He was angry with Kayleigh. Maybe even hurt by her unrelenting disdain. But spending time with her at Blake and Savannah’s wedding had made it clear that he was still very fond of her.
Being forced to spend a week with Kayleigh would test his will in more ways than they knew.
“I’ll do it for Mom.” Parker nodded. “And for the sake of this deal.”
His father clapped a hand on his back and smiled. “Thank you, son. This means a lot to all of us.”
His father was counting on him. Hell, his entire family was counting on him to make this deal happen. He’d been given a gift. He wanted to prove that when it was time to name a successor to the King’s Finest throne, he was the obvious choice. What better way to show his fitness for the role of CEO than by proving that he’d go beyond the call of duty to ensure the company’s success?
Their receptionist, Lianna, called the conference room to announce the arrivals of Kayleigh and their attorney, Lane Dennings.
“Speak now or forever hold your peace.” Max could barely contain his grin as Blake and Zora dissolved into laughter in response to his marriage pun.
Parker wouldn’t give his siblings the satisfaction of reacting. He simply ignored them.
“Ready, son?” His father held back a smile.
Parker nodded and sat at the table.
“I’ll clear the room. Go ahead and send them up, Lianna,” his father said. “I’ll meet them at the elevator.”
“You’re putting us out?” Zora groused.
“We don’t want to intimidate her. Parker, Lane and I have to be here, and Kayleigh requested that Savannah stay.”
“Well, I’m going down to the day care to spend some time with Davis before I go back to work.” Blake looked especially happy. He leaned down and gave his wife a quick kiss before exiting on the heels of Max, Zora and their father.
“Right this way, ladies,” his father was saying.
Parker’s eyes met Kayleigh’s as she entered the room. His pulse quickened and his mouth went dry.
He’d expected her to show up in tattered jeans and a T-shirt, with her hair a mess. But she hadn’t.
Kayleigh was stunning in a simple white blouse and a plain black skirt with a hemline that hovered just above her knees. Her hair fell below her shoulders in bouncy curls that swayed with every movement.
He’d barely managed spending a single day with her when he’d been charged with escorting her down the aisle at Blake and Savannah’s wedding.
Ten weeks and ten dates?
He was an absolute goner.
Kayleigh Jemison was not easily intimidated. But there was something unnerving about Parker Abbott’s appraisal as she entered the conference room.
His eyes widened with surprise as his gaze met hers and then slowly trailed down the length of her body.
Savannah had been right. Dressing the part was a good choice. It’d thrown Parker for a loop.
What she hadn’t expected was that she’d find his reaction unsettling. Her cheeks felt warm and there was a fluttering low in her belly.
Parker scrambled to his feet and buttoned the heather-gray suit jacket that fit him so well. He offered a stern nod.
Kayleigh returned the gesture before turning her attention to Duke Abbott, who stood beside his son.
She smoothed down the black A-line skirt that skimmed her thighs before taking her seat next to her friend, who squeezed her arm reassuringly. “Thank you for agreeing to my price and terms.”
Kayleigh insisted that the purchase agreement for her building clearly spell out that the deal was contingent on Parker fulfilling his end of the bargain. Duke agreed readily, assuring her that he was a man of his word, as was Parker.
In her experience, neither Duke nor his son were trustworthy. But she needed both of them for now, so she’d play nice.
“I appreciate your willingness to accommodate my unusual request.” Kayleigh tucked her hair behind her ears to keep it from falling forward.
Parker cleared his throat. “Ready to sign the contract?”
“My attorney went over the agreement thoroughly, but I’d prefer to schedule the ten agreed-upon dates prior to signing the agreement.”
A deep frown creased Parker’s forehead. He opened his leather-bound planner. “For the sake of simplicity, why don’t we make it the same day and time each week?”
“What if we already have an event planned that day?”
Parker shrugged. “Then we make that our ‘date.’” He used air quotes.
Kayleigh wasn’t looking forward to combing through her calendar to schedule ten dates with Parker Abbott any more than he seemed to be.
“That’s a reasonable way to settle this, but I think we should allow for flexibility on the time of the ‘date.’” She used air quotes, too.
Parker grunted his agreement without looking up.
“How about Sunday afternoons?” she offered.
“We have our family dinner on Sundays.” Parker frowned. “How about Wednesday evenings?”
“In the middle of the week?” Now it was Kayleigh’s turn to frown. “That’s when I do most of my metalwork, and I’m in the studio pretty late, so that won’t work for me.”
Parker stared up from his datebook. “Saturday afternoons?”
“I can make Saturday work.” Kayleigh opened the calendar app on her phone. She’d gotten some part-time help on the weekends; otherwise she would’ve had to work on Saturday afternoons.
Parker stroked his goatee as he contemplated the calendar. Kayleigh couldn’t help studying his handsome features. Neat, thick brows framed his pensive, dark eyes. Full, kissable lips tugged down in an ever-present frown. His slim-cut gray suit accentuated his long, lean frame.
Okay, so she could definitely see why some women might consider Parker Abbott’s handsome-geek-chic look hot.
“How long will these dates be?” Parker skipped the air quotes this time, but his tone indicated that they were implied.
“We should allow for flexibility, but two to three hours on average should give us time to rehearse our story and get to know each other.”
“Agreed.” Parker made careful notes in his datebook. “How do we decide what we’ll do on each date?”
“We’ll take turns choosing.” Kayleigh shrugged.
“Seems fair.” Parker nodded. “Why don’t you choose first?”
“Actually, I have a suggestion for your first date,” Savannah interjected.
They both turned toward her.
“Blake and I want you to come to our house. Nothing fancy, just homemade pizza and a friendly board game or two, after we iron out your story.”
“Story?” The lines in Parker’s forehead deepened.
“How you two met, why you fell in love with her, your plans for the wedding. The kinds of questions that Kayleigh’s friend and her—” Savannah paused when Kayleigh frowned and subtly shook her head “—family are sure to ask.”
“I have an excellent memory.” Parker tapped his temple.
“It’s not about repeating data verbatim, Parker.” Savannah was remarkably patient with him. Perhaps because she was the only person in the room accustomed to managing the whims of a toddler.
“You must be convincing when you say it.”
Parker didn’t acknowledge Savannah’s statement, but he didn’t object either. In Kayleigh’s book, that was progress.
So what’d you think? 😀 You can read another excerpt of the book here and can I tell you how freaking AWESOME I think it is that Reese has an excerpt on her site?! <3 Has anyone read the first two books in this series? Savannah’s Secrets (the kindle copy is only $2.99 currently!) and The Billionaire’s Legacy.
Thanks again for sharing this exclusive excerpt with us, Reese, and congratulations on your newest release!