AT THE TYCOON'S COMMAND by Shawna Delacorte
Silhouette Desire #1494
Original release: February 2003
eBook reissue: January 2011
eBook ISBN #978-1-426-88607-2
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Employed By The Enemy:
Working for Jared Stevens was not how teacher Kim Donaldson wanted to spend her vacation, but doing so would pay off her father's debt and end the long-standing feud begun by their grandfathers. If only Jared hadn't matured into a handsome man with a magnetic appeal and a smooth, sexy voice that made concentrating extremely difficult!

Reformed playboy Jared was nothing like his unethical father-he was hardworking and responsible... and his attraction to his newest employee was immediate and powerful. Jared found their passionate battles in the office led to steamy lovemaking in the bedroom. But could a woman who no longer trusted find love with a man afraid of commitment?



From ROMANTIC TIMES February 2003 (original print release date)

"Two days after her father's funeral, Kimbra Donaldson is struggling to put his financial affairs in order when Jared Stevens knocks on her door and demands full payment for a $20,000 debt. Since that is not an option, she reluctantly agrees to work the summer as his assistant to pay off the balance. Accustomed to a carefree, playboy lifestyle, Jared is caught off guard by the immediate and intense physical attraction he feels for Kim, which leaves him feeling something close to fear. Still, he is hard pressed to keep his hands, and his kisses to himself. Shawna Delacorte has more than a few surprises in store for readers with her touching and passionate AT THE TYCOON'S COMMAND (4)."


Read G-rated Excerpt inside front cover
Read Excerpt #1 (G-rated)
Read Excerpt #2 (G-rated)
Read Excerpt #3 (G-rated)
Read Excerpt #4 (G-rated)


G-rated Excerpt inside front cover:

"I'd be willing to let you, off the debt."

The shock traveled through Kim's body, followed by a sharp jab of anger, which was compounded by the lascivious gleam in Jared's eyes and the unmistakable challenge in his face.

"You'd what?"

"I'd be willing to make arrangements for you to work off the debt this summer while you're not teaching."

"That type of ludicrous line might work on the many women who frequent your bedroom, but I'm most certainly not one of them!"

"Whoa! Hold on there. I don't know what you're assuming, but I'm offering a legitimate position, handling the summer office chores."

It made sense, but did she dare trust what he said? He was a Stevens. For as long as she could remember, their families had been enemies...


G-rated Excerpt #1

(Jared and Kim meet)

"She did what?" A shocked Jared Stevens swung his legs off the top of his large oak desk and jumped to his feet.

"She tore up the letter and threw it at me. Then, before slamming the door in my face, she told me, and I quote here, 'It will be a cold day in hell before I pay one penny to any member of the Stevens family.' She also said that any claim by you that her father owed a debt to Stevens Enterprises died when her father died." Grant Collins stood on the other side of the desk, a sheepish expression marring the attorney's otherwise dignified persona. "I've never had anyone do that before."

Jared's unmistakable anger surrounded his words, matching the irritation that shoved at him. "Just who does she think she is? I want you to -- " He stopped and took a calming breath as he ran his hands through his thick dark hair. He narrowed his eyes and wrinkled his brow while turning a thought over in his mind.

"Never mind. I'll handle it myself." His tone of voice said the meeting was over.

As soon as his attorney left, Jared poured himself a cup of coffee and settled into the large leather chair. He picked up a file folder from the top of his desk, studied the contents for a few minutes while sipping his coffee, then leaned back and closed his eyes. He didn't have the time or patience for dealing with some old business transaction between his father and Paul Donaldson. The Stevens - Donaldson feud had been going on for three generations. He was tired of it and didn't care anymore what had started it or why it had escalated. He didn't have any interest in pursuing the matter with Paul Donaldson's daughter, either. He only wanted the past due twenty thousand dollar promissory note paid off so he could close out the matter. It was business, nothing personal.

He took a big swallow from his coffee cup. He had never met Kimbra Donaldson, but now it looked as if he would be doing battle with her whether he wanted to or not. The red numerals on his desk clock showed 4:30 p.m. The Donaldson house was only three miles from the Stevens family compound where Jared spent part of each summer since taking over the reins of Stevens Enterprises, even though he maintained a three-bedroom town house in San Francisco where he lived most of the year. The large estate doubled as his business office for a couple of months each summer when he retreated to his home town of Otter Crest on the northern California coast in an attempt to escape the congestion of San Francisco where Stevens Enterprises was headquartered.

He emitted an audible sigh. The matter of the promissory note had to be resolved as soon as possible so he could put it behind him and get on with real business. And that included the date he had that night with the stunning redhead he had met a week ago at a party thrown by a business associate in San Francisco. A little grin of expectation tugged at the corners of his mouth. It was almost an hour drive into the city, but it would be worth it for the night's pleasure he anticipated. But first he had to deal with the troublesome issue of Kimbra Donaldson. He placed the file folder in his attaché case, grabbed his car keys from his desktop and headed out the door.

Kimbra Donaldson had been in the same high school graduating class as his half brother, Terry Stevens. Terry's mother had been the second of what turned out to be a total of six wives plus numerous mistresses and short-term affairs for Ron Stevens. On many occasions Jared had thought how fortunate it was that his father didn't have more children by his many wives. When Jared left Otter Crest at the age of eighteen to go to college, Terry and Kimbra were ten-year-olds in elementary school. That had been twenty years ago.

Terry's opinion of Kimbra had not been very flattering, but Jared didn't put much stock in Terry's opinions. They hadn't been very close before their father's death five years ago, and Terry had been an ongoing problem for him ever since he had inherited the task of keeping an irresponsible Terry out of trouble.

Along with responsibility for Terry, he had also inherited the presidency of Stevens Enterprises. It had been a sobering dash of cold water thrown on his flamboyant social life, yet at the same time a stimulating challenge for someone who had been drifting through life without much purpose.


As he climbed out of the car, Kim Donaldson continued to watch him from behind the edge of the curtain. She had heard the car pull into the driveway but didn't recognize the silver Porsche. Then the door opened and the occupant climbed out. A hard lump formed in her throat followed by a sinking feeling of dread. Jared Stevens in person. She had allowed her anger to get away from her earlier and said a couple of things she shouldn't have. She had no idea that her outburst with the attorney would produce such a quick, decisive and definitely unwanted response.

She swallowed the lump, took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. She had never met Jared Stevens, but she had seen him on a few occasions over the years when he had returned to Otter Crest during the summer. One such occasion had burned into her memory. She had been in high school. She had stopped to watch a softball game in the park and had immediately spotted one of the players dressed in cutoff jeans and a tank top. The physical attraction had been like a bolt of lightning.

Kim had fallen instantly in lust with the ruggedly handsome young man in his early twenties without even knowing who he was. The image had remained burned into her consciousness...the long legs, broad shoulders, strong arms and golden tan. Later she found out the man of her dreams was none other than Jared Stevens, Terry's older brother -- the one the residents of Otter Crest always referred to as a womanizing playboy. She had immediately dismissed any interest in Jared Stevens. Their families had been feuding for generations, and there was no reason to assume he was any different than his brother, who she knew for a fact was an insufferable jerk, but the enticing image had remained with her all these years.

She watched as Jared leaned across the car seat and grabbed his attaché case. His jeans, T-shirt and running shoes belied his position as head of a multimillion-dollar corporation. A wave of anxiety swept through her. Should she pretend no one was home? No, that wouldn't serve any purpose. She had to face him if for no other reason than to reinforce her comments to his attorney. She had no intention of paying him one penny of a debt her father had long claimed didn't exist. Besides, there was no way she could raise twenty thousand dollars even if she wanted to.

The ringing doorbell sent a nervous anxiety rippling through her body. She took another calming breath, but it didn't help. She opened the door to her uninvited visitor.


G-rated Excerpt #2

(Kim's changing attitude)

Even when she had her back to Jared she could feel him watching her. It left her uncomfortable and excited all at the same time. What kind of a man was Jared Stevens? So far, in spite of the fact that he had misled her about the nature of the work she would be doing, he didn't seem to be the same type of jerk as his brother.

Terry Stevens had been cruel with his cutting comments and put-downs. He had lorded his family position over everyone, especially Kim. He had done his best to belittle and humiliate her, and she had never forgiven him for it. Jared, on the other hand, had pretty much left her alone all day, other than to outline what he wanted her to do. She did have to reluctantly admit that every time she had been at the office during the day he had been at his desk and looked busy. It had not been as bad as she'd anticipated.


"You brought my car back?" He swung his legs off his desk, rose to his feet and started across the office toward her.

"Yes." She held his keys out toward him. "I guess I'll be going home now."

"Not so fast, Kim." Their fingers brushed slightly as he took the keys from her hand, causing a ripple of excitement to dart across her skin. "We're not quite finished for the day."

She glanced at her watch. "It's almost five-thirty. I've been here since a little after eight o'clock this morning. What is there that can't wait until tomorrow morning?" A hint of irritation pushed at her. "Is there some other menial little task that you feel should be pushed off on me? Do I need to run out and fetch the newspaper for you? Check the mailbox and bring in the mail? Take the dog for a walk? Rearrange the kitchen pantry so that all the food is in alphabetical order?" She leveled a challenging stare at him. "Well? What is it?"

He captured her look and held it with his unwavering gaze. Her irritation quickly turned to embarrassment. Once again his eyes seemed to be reading her innermost thoughts and feelings. And her thoughts at that moment were certainly less than complimentary toward Jared Stevens, but they were also enveloped in a sensually elevated heartbeat.

His silence made her embarrassment grow until she was forced to break eye contact with him. She attempted to maintain her position and determination, but her confidence crumbled. She tried to swallow the lump in her throat. "Well..." She nervously glanced around the office in a desperate attempt to avoid eye contact. "What is it that I still need to do tonight before I can leave?"

"Fred brought in the mail, I already have a newspaper, the food in the pantry is just where it needs to be and Lurch has a big hunk of two acres in which to run and exercise."

She bristled at his condescending tone, partly because she knew she deserved it. Perhaps she had gone too far with her inappropriate comments. Even though she had originally planned to make the situation uncomfortable for him, she had not been able to go through with the ill-conceived plan. It was not her nature to initiate confrontation in spite of the fact that there was something about him that seemed to bring out the worst in her. Every time he opened his mouth she became defensive.

She waited, hoping he would say something else, something to help relieve the awkward discomfort rapidly building inside her. Something to let her know she hadn't been that far out of line with her flippant gibes.

It seemed as if an eternity passed before he spoke again, an eternity that left her stomach twisted in knots. Why did he have to be so sexy, so desirable? If only she could dismiss him from her mind as easily as she did with her words.

His voice gave her no indication as to what was going on inside him, how her harsh words had affected his decision. "What I had in mind was checking the refrigerator to see what's there and fixing something to eat. I thought maybe I could put a couple of steaks on the grill and you could make a salad." He cocked his head and shot her a questioning look. "Unless you have other plans for dinner?"

Had she heard him correctly? Dinner? That's what he had in mind? Now it was more than simple embarrassment that filled her. It had been a long time since she felt this foolish.


G-rated Excerpt #3

(Jared and Chloe)

"Get over here right now."

Kim sat upright and tried to shake the sleep from her mind as she attempted to make sense of the call. "Jared? Is that you?" Sarcasm enveloped her words. "Does this mean you need someone to change the channel on your television for you? Do you have any idea what time -- "

"Now -- I need your help right now. Hurry!"

The phone line went dead as he hung up without even saying goodbye. Kim was wide awake and angry. She reluctantly climbed out of bed, then stood in the middle of the room as a realization struck her. The edge in his voice seemed to be desperation more than anything else, and he had said he needed her help. Was there a genuine problem to deal with? Was he okay? Had he been injured? Was he ill? A new surge of panic rushed through Kim. He said he needed her help, and it sounded urgent. She threw on her clothes, then dashed to her car.

A few minutes later she arrived at Jared's house. Before she could ring the bell, the large double doors swung open. The sight and sound that greeted her were the last things she would have imagined.

Jared held a crying toddler in his arms. The look on his face was a clear combination of panic and stark terror.

"Do you know anything about babies?"

"I used to baby-sit a lot in high school and college."

"Good." He frantically held the noisy bundle toward her. "That makes you an expert in my book."

A startled Kim took the child from him. "Where did -- "

"I changed her diaper and tried to feed her, but she won't stop crying." Jared looked at Kim, his eyes pleading as much as his tone of voice. "Can you do something? Can you make her stop crying? Crying this much can't be good for her. She'll make herself sick."

Jared wore only a pair of jeans. He was bare footed and bare chested. His broad shoulders, hard chest and strong arms brought back memories of their lovemaking. His tousled hair made him look as if he had just climbed out of a warm bed, the same bed she had shared with him a couple of nights ago. Her heart pounded a little harder. She quickly turned her attention to the crying child, as much in an attempt to rid her mind of the erotic thoughts prompted by the sight of a half-naked Jared Stevens as it was to tend to the needs of the toddler.

"You said her. What's her name? How old is she? Whose child is she? Where did she come from?" It was quite a revelation. This very assertive, take-charge man appeared to be genuinely afraid of the noisy little girl.

Jared seemed not to hear her questions. "Can you make her stop crying? I didn't know what to do."

Kim looked around. They were standing in the doorway, the cool night air streaming in around them. She didn't see any other people, nor did she see anything that might belong to the toddler. She tried again to get Jared's attention. "Where are her parents?"

"She was given to me. That makes me responsible for her."

"Someone left this child here?" Her incredulity at what he had said came out in her voice. "What in the world are you talking about?" She kicked the front door closed and headed toward the living room, looking for a place to sit down.

"No, not there." A moment later they arrived at the den. A bit of frustration pushed at her. His thoughts and manner were totally scattered, and she didn't seem to be able to get through to him with her questions. She spotted a duffel bag next to the sofa and a blanket on the floor.

"Jared..." Kim watched as he paced up and down. She put a little more volume into her words. "Jared, could you please spread the blanket on the sofa so I can put her down?"

His head snapped up and he looked at Kim as if he had just become aware that she was in the room. "What? Oh...the blanket...the sofa...sure." He did as she asked.

"What's her name?" Kim placed the toddler on the blanket. She managed to suppress the amused chuckle that tried to escape when she saw the ludicrous way the diaper had been put on the child. Jared had definitely been way out of his element when he had tried to change the little girl.

"Her name is Chloe."

Kim opened the duffel bag and searched through the items to see what supplies were available for taking care of Chloe. There was one small box of disposable diapers, pajamas, some cookies, a drinking cup and a raggedy teddy bear. She adjusted and fastened the diaper so it was a proper snug fit, then handed the stuffed bear to the little girl, who eagerly took it from her.

Kim sat on the edge of the sofa and held Chloe in her arms until the child had quieted down. She continued to rock her until the toddler fell asleep. Her attention was focused on the little girl, but she caught glimpses of Jared out of the corner of her eye. He was staring at her with what seemed to be a combination of admiration and gratitude. She gently placed Chloe on the blanket and pulled the other side over the child to keep her warm.

Kim stood up, took a deep breath and slowly expelled it. "I think she's finally asleep."

"Yes...I noticed the quiet." The relief echoed in his words and showed on his face. "Thanks for your help. It never occurred to me that it would be as easy as giving her a teddy bear."

She shot Jared a curious look. "Well, it wasn't quite as easy as all that. She was very upset, and I'm sure she was also scared being taken from her bed in the middle of the night and handed to a complete stranger."

Kim sat on the sofa and fixed her gaze on Jared. She saw the uneasiness in the depths of his green eyes. "Now that you have me over here at this horrible hour, I think you owe me an explanation. What is this all about. What did you mean when you said someone gave Chloe to you? Who left her? Who are her parents? Why did they leave a little girl here in the middle of the night?"

Jared took a steadying breath as he ran his fingers through his dark hair. "I'm not sure I know the complete story. I'm told that Chloe is eighteen months old."

Kim paused as she turned the next question over in her mind before asking it. "Are you her father?"


G-rated Excerpt #4


The one thing Kim was sure about was her need to get out of his house and away from the mesmerizing sex appeal of Jared Stevens. She adopted a formal, businesslike attitude as she straightened her clothes. "I've fed the dog. I assume that concludes my chores for the day."

He seemed genuinely surprised by her statement. "But what about dinner?"

"I have a previous commitment." With that, Kim turned and walked away from Jared.

Jared started after her. "Wait a minute -- " He caught up with her in the entryway by the front door. "What commitment?"

She clenched her jaw in anger. "My personal life is none of your business. The only thing that's your business is our agreement for me to work off my father's debt, and I'm beginning to regret having said yes to it." Her voice dropped to a whisper. "There must be some other way to handle the financial obligation."

He flashed a knowing smile, one that said he had the upper hand. "Yes...I'm sure there is."

He brought his mouth down on hers again. It was a kiss that started soft but quickly escalated. Once again he sensed her hesitation, but a moment later, much to his surprise and pleasure, she returned his kiss.

This wasn't what he had anticipated, wasn't what he had in mind when he suggested they have dinner. At least he didn't think it was what he had in mind. But as soon as she responded positively all his thoughts stopped...all except the one that told him he was in real trouble. Whatever was going on inside him, whatever it was that had pushed him to do something he knew he shouldn't was more than physical desire and lust. He chose to ignore the disturbing thoughts about what it could be.

Kim knew she should not be kissing him, should not be standing there giving him her cooperation rather than her indignation. There was no doubt in her mind she would live to regret her actions, but it was something she was going to have to worry about at some other time. Right now his kiss was all she wanted to know about. She thought she had experienced toe-tingling kisses before, but they were nothing compared to the sensuality of Jared Stevens. She would deal with self-recriminations and guilt later.

She started to slip her arms around his neck but caught herself in time. His embrace tightened, sending a tremor of anxiety through her body. This was wrong, very wrong. She had to break it off immediately and make sure he understood that under no circumstances would it happen again.

She summoned all the self-control she could muster and finally managed to step away from him while fighting to bring her breathing under control. The heated flush of excitement spread across her cheeks. Her embarrassment prevented her from looking at him. She reached for the door, then quickly ran out of the house.

"Wait!" Jared's voice reached her but she refused to respond to his shout. All she wanted was to get away from the intoxication of his mesmerizing presence.