Love Irresistibly(3)

By: Julie James

“You’re not concerned that I only have five years’ experience?”

“I’ve seen you in action many times, Brooke. You’re tough when you need to be, and you can charm the pants off men who have three times your experience.”

“Well, yes. Although I try not to take advantage of that too often. Very awkward negotiating with people who are sitting around in their underwear.” Ian had grinned. “I like your style—and just as important, I like you. So the better question is, do you think you can handle the job?” A direct question. Luckily, Brooke had never been one to mince words, either, and Ian’s enthusiasm and drive were infectious. It was an opportunity to take a chance, to get involved with a young company that was on the rise. So in answer to Ian’s question, she’d looked him right in the eyes. “Absolutely.”

Because Brooke Parker was a woman who was going places. She’d made that promise to herself a long time ago.

Two years later, she had zero regrets about taking a chance with Sterling. The company had grown steadily since she’d come on board as GC, most notably in their sports and entertainment division.

After finalizing negotiations with Wrigley Field, Brooke and the other two members of Ian’s “dream team”—the VP of sales and the VP of operations—

had spent a lot of time schmoozing and wining and dining prospective clients. And when they’d landed a contract to take over the food service at the United Center—home of the Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks and the fifth-most-profitable sports venue

in North America—they’d all partied like it was 1999

at the Sterling corporate office.

A few months after that, they’d headed down to Dallas, where Brooke and the two VPs had given their best sales pitch and negotiated a deal with the Cowboys. A short while later, they landed the contract for Dodger Stadium, too.

During the Dodger negotiations, the general counsel, a woman with whom Brooke had formed a friendly relationship, just so happened to let it slip that she’d heard whispers that the folks at ll.A.

Arena Company—who owned the Staples Center, aka home to the Los Angeles Lakers, Clippers, Kings, and Sparks—were also unhappy with their food and beverage vendor and looking to make a change as soon as their current contract expired.

So the dream team had struck while the iron was hot.

And now, assuming there were no hiccups in the deal Brooke was finalizing today with the lawyers representing ll.A. Arena Company, Sterling Restaurants would soon be adding the Staples Center, the

number-one most profitable sports venue in the country, to their roster.

In a word, they were hot.

Sterling was an exciting, demanding, absolutely exhausting place to work. Sure, that meant long hours for Brooke, but she believed in the company and her role there. Whether negotiating a multimillion dollar contract with the GC of the Dallas Cowboys, or investigating an internal complaint that one of their pastry chefs had a problem playing grab-ass with the waitresses, there was

never, ever a dull moment.

After exiting the elevator at the third floor, Brooke turned down the hallway that would take her to Sterling’s offices. She pushed through the frosted-glass doors and said hello to the receptionist.

According to the clock on the wall, she still had fifteen minutes to eat lunch before her conference call. Plenty of time.

“I’m back,” she told Lindsey, her assistant, who sat at the desk outside Brooke’s office.

“A couple of calls came in while you were out,” Lindsey said. “The first one was from Justin. He asked that you call him back as soon as you get in.” The message took Brooke somewhat by surprise.

She and Justin, aka the Hot OB, had been dating for a little over four months now, and she could count on one hand the number of times she’d talked to

him at the office. Both of them were always so busy during the day, it was simply easier to e-mail or text him on her way home from work. “Uh-oh. I hope he’s not calling to cancel tonight. We’ve got reservations at Rustic House,” she said, referring to a nearly-impossible-to-get-into restaurant on the north side that was not in the Sterling family.

“Traitor,” Lindsey said with a grin. She handed Brooke a piece of paper with a phone number on it. “And you also received a call from Cade Morgan at the U.S. Attorney’s Office.”

Now that got Brooke’s attention.

Just about anyone who followed the local news knew who Cade Morgan was. One of the top assistant U.S. attorneys in Chicago, he’d made a name for himself by prosecuting several high-profile government corruption cases—and, a little over a year ago, the famous “Twitter Terrorist” case that had garnered international attention. He had a reputation of being smart, disarmingly charming in front

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