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Merger Complete: Merger, #3

Merger Complete: Merger, #3

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Merger Complete: Merger, #3

ratings:
3/5 (1 rating)
Length:
251 pages
3 hours
Released:
Jun 13, 2015
ISBN:
9781513043777
Format:
Book

Description

Kasey (K.K.) Blakely just walked away from the most important men in her life. Leaving their world and hers shattered. Joshua Crawford, her business partner, and fiancee is the only man she’s ever loved. Jake Crawford, his playboy brother, who just confessed to being in love with her. And, Jeremy Nichols, the doctor who was left dazzled by just one kiss, bestowed by her in her greatest moment of need.

As CEO of Blakely-Crawford Enterprises, she’s going to have to find a way to repair the damage her love life has done to her company. Loving two brothers who are also her business partners will never work. How do you face the storm of your betrayal when so many hearts are on the line? But love and loss are not the only obstacles she’ll have to overcome. Richard, the uncle she never knew, is here to stake a claim on the life he was robbed of and the company she’s worked so hard to build. Secrets unfold and everything she thought she knew comes into question, leaving her devastated and scrambling to right the wrongs. Now, the merger she fought so hard to make happen, hangs in the balance.    

Joshua Crawford never imagined the best day of his life would also be the worst. How could he lose the only woman he’s ever loved? It was a stolen kiss that should have meant nothing, but it did, and now he was competing with a formidable opponent. And his brother’s confession about being in love with K.K. has sent his world into a tailspin. How can he win her back when she’s given her love away? Does he even want to?

Merger Complete is the culmination of forbidden love, broken hearts and finding a way to overcome all obstacles. It wasn’t just a Merger that became Undone, it was the last one to Complete. 

Released:
Jun 13, 2015
ISBN:
9781513043777
Format:
Book

About the author

Heather Miles is a writer of contemporary romance. She has published three novels in her series, MERGER. The first book, MERGER was published in July 2014. MERGER UNDONE, book two, was published in March 2015 and MERGER COMPLETE, the third book and finale in the series was published June 15th, 2015.   She has another novel, SAYING YES, that’s currently being marketed for traditional publishing. Heather, originally from Kansas City, lives in Cleveland, Mississippi. The heart of the Mississippi Delta and home of the blues. She is married, has two children and two unruly dogs that keep her constantly on the move. She retired November 2014 from her executive position as a healthcare administrator to write full-time and has never looked back. She has set a 2015 goal of five novels and with Merger Complete out in June, has completed three. Stay tuned in and watch for upcoming releases. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, River City Romance Writers, Passionate Ink, Contemporary Romance Writers, and The Independent Author Network. Heather M. Miles Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon / LinkedIn / GooglePlus / IAN / Pinterest MERGER / MERGER UNDONE / MERGER COMPLETE


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Merger Complete - Heather M. Miles

Chapter 1 - Kasey

The cab pulled away from The Plaza Hotel with me shaking in the backseat. I didn’t have the nerve to look back. I was leaving the most important men in my life in a whirlwind of doubt, hurt, and anger. But it matched my own and at this point I had one soul to save...mine.

I’d thought of nothing more than how I could make Josh mine forever in the days that led up to his arrival, but now I was too afraid to even look out the window. I knew I’d see a reflection of myself - shattered.  

When Josh came back to New York with the dream of marriage and our happily ever after, it scared me to death. Overwhelmed with life and everything that had happened, I crushed his dream and mine. I just didn’t know if I could live up to his expectations. Or, better yet, could he live up to mine?

The taxi pulled up to the sleek building that marked the height of Manhattan luxury and I paid the fare. I’d just told Josh he could keep my Porsche. I shook my head at the stupidity of it. I had gone from sadness to a cold-hearted bitch in an instant. The acidic words from his mouth still played over and over in my head like a broken record.

"The apple sure didn’t fall far from the tree."

Talk about a sucker punch. I couldn’t believe it. In the end, it wasn’t the words that cut so deep, but the fact that they’d hit so close to home. I was in love with both of the Crawford brothers. Hell, I was my mother’s daughter. She’d been in the same position with my father and his identical twin. There was even speculation that I might belong to Richard instead of Robert, the only father I’d ever known. Richard Blakely, my uncle, the man who was the spitting image of my father in every possible way, showed up at my father’s funeral making more claims on my life than I could recount. I still didn’t know what was fact or fiction, but the truth would surface. It always did.

I stood on the sidewalk staring at my building, contemplating my next move. I didn’t want to be around the flowers that reminded me of my father’s death. And the thought of seeing Josh’s clothes in my room made me want to puke. When had my perfect existence turned to utter shit?

The heavy brass door to my building opened and Marcus, my building manager and concierge, tipped his hat. Good evening, Ms. Kasey. Do you need assistance this evening? He was probably curious why I was on the curb looking at the building I lived in with great interest. There was something a hell of a lot better waiting for me at The Plaza Hotel, but it came at a very high price and millionaire or not, I couldn’t afford it.

Actually, I think I’m in need of a walk. But I do need assistance.

He smiled eagerly. Certainly.

Can you go to the penthouse and get rid of everything that resembles a flower? He tilted his head and looked at me, perplexed. Marcus, my father passed away and the hole that he’s left can never be filled. I’m reminded of his death every time I walk into my home. It’s a damn barrage of floral. It’s a nightmare, and frankly, it’s too much. I’ll keep all the plants, but if it’s a flower, get rid of it.

I understand. Once again, I’m sorry for your loss.

Which one? I wanted to say but refrained.

I turned and started walking down the sidewalk when my phone rang. It was the slick sexed-up Ballad of Rick James’ Super Freak, which meant the call was from my best friend, Beth. The term friend was probably pretty loose at this point, but certainly not on her part. I’m the one who needed to own up to my actions. Hello.

Hey. Where are you?

Outside my building. I’m going to get a drink. How about you?

Care if I join you? she asked. Any other time I would have been more than thrilled to hang out with her, but I wanted to be left alone. I didn’t feel like crying. I wasn’t even angry anymore. I was emotionally numb. A walking zombie on a path of self-destruction so encompassing it had no breadth or end. I really don’t mean to be a bitch, but I’m not going to be great company. Can we get together tomorrow? I have to go to the attorney’s office for the reading of my dad’s will. I’ll be in desperate need of a drink afterward.

Sure. I just didn’t want you to be alone, she said. I got a text from Josh. He said you may be in need of my friendship.

Josh needs to quit fucking worrying about me and start worrying about himself!

Ouch! she replied. Okay. I gather you two are fighting. What the hell happened? This morning you were admittedly nervous about accepting his proposal, but gave him a ‘yes’ anyway. Have we already moved from proposal to runaway bride? she joked. But I didn’t’ laugh.

Yeah, something like that.

I went into the Corner Café. It was a quaint bistro that served gourmet fare and wine. I pushed through the door and held a single finger in the air when the hostess acknowledged me. The irony wasn’t lost on me. I chuckled under my breath. It would have been more fitting if I had used the middle finger as my solo gesture. It held a dual meaning: one person and up your ass. Better translated as, Fuck you world. I’m by myself and happy about it!

What’s so funny? asked Beth, having heard my surreptitious giggle. I’m sure she thought I was manic. Which wouldn’t have been too off target, but I’d never admit it. One minute I’m growling and cursing, the next I’m laughing. Certifiably crazy!

"Nothing. I was just reminded of my status. Single."

You’re not single, K.K.

The hell I’m not. I told Josh to go fuck himself tonight. Her gasp was remarkable and echoed like a drum.

You didn’t, she said, shocked. I could sense the gape of her mouth and wide-eyed expression right through the receiver. He loves you, K.K. I’ve never seen anyone so head-over-heels for anyone in my life. That man adores the ground you walk on. Frankly, I was jealous. No one has ever fawned over me like that.

It gets better. I put the words out there but hesitated on the follow through. I uh...something happened with Jake today as well.

I don’t know what you’re about to say, but whatever it is, it won’t surprise me.

"Oh, I think it will surprise you."

Jake’s in love with you too, K.K. She said it like it was a well-known fact. I wondered now if the signs were always there and I just didn’t see them or dismissed them as something altogether different. I loved him too, just not the way he apparently loved me. He was easy to be with. Fun, playful, and carefree. He made me laugh. Everything was light-hearted and stress-free.

Yeah, he told me, I said in a whisper. I felt ashamed of his affection. She liked him and he was harboring feelings for me. Life wasn’t fair.

Yeah, well he didn’t tell me, but it was so obvious. He was always so attentive to you. You’re all he talks about. I think it was really hard for him to stay at your place with Josh and you together. When you guys were having sex and he heard you yelling Josh’s name, I thought he was going to lose it. He acted like he wanted to see the city and we went out on the patio, but I could see the change in his demeanor. He was trying to have fun with me, but I could see how affected he was. I knew how much he cared about you then. I just didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to add any more stress to a girl who was already totally frazzled.

I’m so sorry, Beth. I felt like a complete, utter asshole. She was my best friend. I knew she actually liked Jake. Here I was, worried that he’d break her heart. She’d discovered his feelings for me long before he’d expressed them. It seemed cruel. Even if I was the recipient of his love.  

Don’t be. I told you this morning that there was really nothing between us. Hell, maybe I should be the one apologizing. I slept with a man that was clearly into you. I have to admit. He was the hottest lay I’ve ever had. She grunted for effect like she’d just devoured the tastiest morsel of chocolate ever. I knew her words to be true but wasn’t going to tell her as much. It was an intimate and personal moment that Jake and I had shared. It was ours to keep and there would probably never be a repeat performance.

What are you going to do? she asked. 

I don’t know. I pretty much told them both that I was out of reach. The Crawford men are going to be my downfall. I have to work with them, Beth. I never wanted this to happen. I’ve really fucked things up.

No, you haven’t K.K., she said sympathetically. You are always so hard on yourself. That’s life. Shit happens. Okay, admittedly not so much to you, but it’s nice to know you’re human. You’re always in such control of everything around you. Your life has been scripted and you’ve followed it tirelessly and without fault.

She was right on so many levels. I’d never really thought too much about it. It was one foot in front of the other. College, M.B.A, and my place at Blakely Incorporated. There was never anything else. I’d never considered any other option. I’d been groomed to lead and thrived in that environment. I’d never had any successful relationships because the small strand of jerks that had bounced in and out of my life weren’t worth the effort. Their motivations to be with me were either to acquire me as eye candy or because they enjoyed the limelight of my position in the business world. The fact that I was wealthy, didn’t hurt either. They were shallow, meaningless relationships. But, neither Josh nor Jake needed me for any of those things. They were my equals in many ways. I knew better than to get involved with either of them, and here I was in the middle of a love triangle with both my business partners. It didn’t get any more fucked up.

Two men in love with you isn’t the end of the world. The fact that they are brothers isn’t ideal, but you could be doing a hell of a lot worse than Josh or Jake Crawford. That’s for damn sure.

I didn’t know how to reply. After today, I didn’t know if any of us loved each other anymore. I hadn’t even mentioned the untimely presence of Dr. Jeremy Nichols at brunch. My love triangle had expanded into a square. Not a pretty picture. From single and celibate to slut in a mere four weeks. Awesome!

I just need to take a ‘Crawford’ breather and get my life back on track.

I love you, she said.

Why? I’m painful. I could almost feel her smile through the receiver. She knew me better than anyone. She’d seen the good, the bad and the ugly, and her friendship had never wavered. She wasn’t just any friend, she was family. I’d just had sex with a guy she was totally into, and here she was boosting me up. I probably didn’t deserve her love, but I was glad to have it.

Sometimes, she giggled. But your worth it.

Thanks, Beth. I love you too.

I hung up and finished the glass of wine I’d ordered. Unable to stomach much more than necessary, I ate three bites of the grilled cheese and half the bowl of tomato soup. It was the ideal meal for my emotional state: comfort food.

I walked back to my place feeling no better, or worse, than when I left. I was relieved that I hadn’t severed my friendship with Beth, but it didn’t make the reality of my situation any different. I couldn’t imagine what I was going to face tomorrow, but I needed this day to come to an end.

When I entered my penthouse, I was happy to see most of the flowers had been discarded. Only one set of roses remained. Josh’s four dozen long-stemmed reds, which sat elegantly displayed in the center of my dining room table. Marcus apparently didn’t think I meant to include them and the way they sat so prominently, only made their meaning more exaggerated. I love you. You’re mine forever. I want to spend my life with you. Marry me. But, now they might as well have said...Fuck you! They didn’t start with fuck you in mind, but I’m sure he’d love to say nothing shy of those words now.

Just when I thought I’d experienced the worst day of my life, another day emerged worse than the last. Today being the penultimate of terrible, awful, rotten, tear-filled, screaming, slapping, gut-wrenching, heartbreaking and all around fucked up days.

With a sigh, I walked briskly to my bedroom. I needed a scalding hot shower to wash the nightmare of my sexcapades away. With any luck maybe I could cleanse my way back to being the woman my father raised, instead of the stranger that stood before me. I stripped down and walked past the bed, then turned back. I foolishly picked up the pillow and buried my face into the cool, smooth cotton. One deep draw and I was back in his arms. It smelled like Josh. His cologne still lingered, bringing with it a wealth of memories and profound feelings. I inhaled him in for the last time. Or, so I thought until I heard someone stumble and fall into my house at three o’clock in the morning.

Shit! I heard him yell under his breath, but his drunken attempt to remain quiet was falling short. An elephant could have done less damage. Then the crashing sound of something being knocked over echoed out. What the hell was he thinking coming here? There were a million other places he could have stayed in the city. This wasn’t one of them.

I lay there contemplating my next move. Nothing good could come from another confrontation. Certainly he wouldn’t dare come to my bedroom. I needed to kick him out, right? Hadn’t we hurt each other enough? I’d lost so much of myself I was sure I needed a life transfusion. Josh wasn’t far behind. Maybe he was in greater need than I was. In fact, I was sure of it.

I walked down the stairs and stopped midway. The only light filtering in the room came from the bustling city outside the wall of windows that lined one side of my penthouse and the small light above my kitchen sink. Joshua Crawford, my business partner, lover and earlier this morning - fiancée, was sitting on the cold marble floor of my foyer with his back against the door. His body was half upright, half lying down, legs spread wide and head half-cocked. He was holding something in his hand, but I couldn’t make it out. One of my dining room chairs was knocked over and the roses that he’d bought were at the edge. The card that bore his signature script was missing from the plastic fork in the vase. I knew now that it was what he was holding. Reading the words that once represented how much he cared for me, but now were far from the truth.

I walked over to his slumped, barely coherent figure and kicked his shoe with my bare foot. What are you doing here Josh? He looked up at me with bloodshot eyes. The five o’clock shadow that grazed his cheeks made him look rugged and sexy, but his features were marred by sadness and anger.

I didn’t have anywhere else to go, he slurred. Besides my whole life is in this stupid penthouse.

You could have stayed with Jake or your father? I said impatiently.

Oh, you fucked that up, I don’t know if I’ll ever talk to that motherfucker again.

Grow up! I shouted. He’s your brother.

He was until he fucked my fiancée. He looked up at me for validation. I knew Jake didn’t tell him we’d had sex and I wasn’t going to confirm his belief one way or the other. I was ashamed and couldn’t confess my betrayal.

Believe what you want.

I believed that you loved me. That’s what I believed. He was seething, looking me up and down with contempt. I felt stripped bare to the bone. I crossed my arms over my chest to shelter myself from his harsh stare. Why the fuck do you have my shirt on? He tried to get up but fell to the side with a resounding thud. I’d never seen him so out of sorts. He was completely shit-faced.

I’d forgotten that I had put on one of his dress shirts. I wanted to hang on to the scent of him for as long as I could. It was all I had left, beside my memories. I didn’t answer his question. I watched as he clawed his way over to me and then wrapped his hand around my ankle. I was nervous he was going to pull my feet out from underneath me. Drunk or not, he had an advantage of strength and a good fifty pounds on me. But he just lay there staring up at me with broken blue eyes. I felt my heart cracking beneath my ribs.

You can sleep in the guest room.

Thanks for the charity. He laugh-snorted and I knew my offer pissed him off. He was trying to get a rise out of me, but I wasn’t playing into his taunting words. I needed to hold steady to my conviction and break it off before we did more than hemorrhage over the loss of our relationship and fell into an even more detrimental situation. One that would destroy our profession partnership as well.

I bent down and tried to lift him, but he was dead weight. You’ve got to help me, Josh. You’re too heavy for me to lift.

Just leave me here, he mumbled

Please, Josh.

He giggled, amused, and rolled onto his back. The last time I heard you say ‘please Josh’ was when you were begging me to help you have an orgasm. That’s fucking rich isn’t it? I released his arm and tried to stand, but he pulled me down quickly and locked his arms around me so I couldn’t pull away. I don’t want you in my shirt. You don’t deserve to wear my shirt, he hissed in my face. The smell of bourbon coming from his mouth was so strong, I was getting intoxicated with every breath he flushed onto my face.

Let me go, Josh. I twisted and pushed against him, but it was no use.

Did you fuck him? I have to know. I could taste the anger as he spit the words at me like venom.

Let me go, Joshua, I repeated, but he twisted my words and used them against me.

I’m trying to let you go, but I can’t damn it. I’m in love with you. I couldn’t believe how wounded he was. It made me sad to see him hurting so badly because of me. I knew that ache, I’d been there when I thought he’d betrayed me with that whore of an assistant in California. I don’t want to love you anymore.

It was gut wrenching to hear him say the words I’d forced on him. Love wasn’t something you just turned off and on. He reminded me of that on more than one occasion. But hearing him say he didn’t want to love me anymore cut me to the core. Let me go. Please, Josh. I felt my resolve slipping. I was about to break down and cry and I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of knowing how much his words gutted me.

No. He used what little ounce of energy he had left to quickly roll me to my back. With a crash, my body and head hit the marble floor. The weight of his body pressed me down into the cold stone. He spread my thighs apart with his knee and settled his pelvis into mine. I was struggling to get away, but he had me pinned. I want to fuck you, he growled.

I was pushing and hitting him in the chest, panicked, but he was too strong. Stop! Joshua! Then before I could take another breath, he grabbed the middle of the dress shirt I had on and ripped it open, leaving me completely exposed. The buttons popped and flew chaotically to the floor, bouncing around and ricocheting off the door. Please, Josh! I screamed.

With the frightened realization that he was violating the one thing he loved more than life, he flew off of me and onto his back. The wretched sound of his weeping combined with mine was earth shattering. He bellowed out and took the last of my heart in a nose dive straight to hell. I pulled his shirt closed with trembling fingers and he rolled over and put his arm around my quaking body.

I’m so sorry, baby. He pulled his body closer and pulled my fragile form into his chest. Both of us were crying uncontrollably. "I’m so in love with you, K.K. I can’t let you go. I won’t. You’re like the air for me. I don’t want

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