Embrace My Heart
by AlTonya Washington
by AlTonya Washington
All of the delights and none of the drama—that's what heiress and gallery owner Vectra Bauer wants from her fling with Qasim Wilder. The gorgeous financial adviser has been Vectra's platonic friend, but now, after the end of her last painful relationship, she's ready to take a small risk and open her heart.
Settling for a little of anything isn't Sim's ideal. Possessive by nature, he makes no secret of how much he wants Vectra. And he can't understand why she's hiding from their intense connection that's way more than just physical. The man who always gets what he wants is embracing his biggest challenge yet: to make the woman he adores believe in love once more…
Excerpt: Embrace My Heart
They had been friends long enough for her to know that he hated ties. He usually discarded whichever one he wore either just before or right after lunch. The guy loved his comfort and the fact didn't diminish the stunning craftsmanship of his body or face.
Bottomless dark eyes competed with the ebony richness of heavy brows and the sleep cap of hair he wore close cut. His facial hair was tamed into an intentional five o'clock shadow that partly hid a cleft chin and the faint lines that proved he was easy with his smiles.
Vectra blinked suddenly, at once regretting and realizing how much time she'd taken to admire the man's face and form. The fact made her wonder whether she'd subjected any of her other male friends to such scrutiny. Doubtful. Her male friends were just that—just friends. Or, rather, they had been…until she met Qasim; he was a male friend she would have preferred become much more.
He opened one of the towering maple doors leading to his office. Vectra quickened her pace when she realized he was going to hold it for her as though she were an actual welcomed visitor. In spite of his polite manners, however, she could've sworn she picked up on a low yet distinctive sound of agitation. That sound rumbled through his chest when she passed him on her way into the room.
If ever there was an office that personified its owner, it's Qasim's, she thought.
The place was a testament to pretty much everything he held dear. One far, expansive corner was a hive of activity with wide-screen monitors broadcasting both financial and sports news from their perches atop a pair of pristine maple desks. Towering bookcases lined the room and were filled with pictures, plaques, awards and books spanning a range of genres. Above the cases nearest the desks was a stock ticker.
Vectra set her tote on one of the square black leather chairs that surrounded an impressive gaming area. She wondered if nice or nasty was the way to begin their conversation. She didn't have long to debate.
"Coming to invite me to another party, Vec?"
The words carried over Qasim's broad shoulder as he headed into his work area. He removed his suit coat, slung it over the back of the sofa he passed and smiled in her direction when he turned.
Okay, then… she decided, accepting that the conversation would be a tad strained. "Actually, I came to ask why I've been selected as the lucky one to get the brunt of the petty side of your personality?"
He smiled. While the gesture held a great deal of humor, the air of agitation remained.
"Qasim?" Vectra's attempt to remain steely gave way, and her curiosity got the better of her. "Why are you angry with me?" She didn't care for the pleading tone that clung to her words, but she wanted answers.
Qasim appeared taken aback, but recovered soon enough. "I'm not angry with you." He made a pretense of reviewing the folders lying open on his desk.
"Well, you're something. What'd I do?" Curiosity had given way to a smidge of self-consciousness while she stood before him. Something changed. His smile was gone, and the look that replaced it was observant in a way that made Vectra flush with heat.
Another of the agitated rumbles surged in Qasim's chest, and he pushed back the wide black leather chair behind his desk. Vectra could hear nothing over her heart beating wildly as anticipation had its way with her.
Qasim didn't take a seat in the chair; instead, he headed in Vectra's direction and then shifted toward the maple wet bar, which displayed a wide array of liquor bottles in various shapes and sizes. Quietly, Qasim went about preparing Vectra's vodka tonic, which he set firmly upon the bar top. From the full-size black fridge behind him, he retrieved his beer of choice and popped the top.
He tipped the bottle to his mouth. "I'm not angry with you."
Vectra stood in place, nervously rubbing her fingers together while she observed Qasim with a wary gaze. He motioned with his bottle for her to take the vodka. Vectra didn't care how eagerly she accepted. The drink went a long way in calming her ridiculously frazzled nerves.
The lush line of Qasim's mouth grew even lusher as a smile emerged. She rolled her eyes. "You said that already, so excuse me for not believing you." She gave him her back, keeping the drink clutched securely between her hands.
Qasim allowed his emotions greater purchase while Vectra's back faced him. He didn't realize the blackness of his stare softened as it always did when just the mere thought of her stirred.
He watched her sip from the glass but noticed that she didn't empty it. She put more distance between them, which gave him time to absorb the missed sight of her.
The more time they spent together, the more she stunted his ability to properly think or even speak. He'd masked it for as long as he could. When he could no longer do that, he latched on to his only option.
Because he didn't want to be her friend. He wanted much more.
( Continued... )
© 2015 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, AlTonya Washington. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.
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