Give a Little | Summerhill

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Beatrice Summerhill​ loves risk. She’s ​not afraid to go for what she wants, regardless of anything or anyone standing in her way​.​ ​

Enter Luca Fiorelli, the “Italian Stallion” racecar driver.

Normally, Bea would have dismissed the preening peacock without a thought​, but Luca somehow manages to get under her skin—and her covers. She can’t resist him, and she knows he’s not good for her​,​ so she shuts him out.

Until​ he dangles the most tempting carrot in front of her: an irresistible business venture that will ​take her career to the next level and make her a female Donald Trump. Unfortunately, Luca not only holds the key, but he’s taken it for ransom. All Bea needs to do is ​give a little and close the deal​… If she’s willing to risk everything—including her heart.

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Sneak Peek!
Give a Little ~ Chapter One

Three weeks.

Three weeks since Luca had returned the knickers she’d left in his bed.

Three weeks, and not even a careless ciao from him.

Beatrice whirled away from her desk to look at the London skyline stretched out before her, her mobile lowered despite all the messages she’d yet to answer. That was the problem: the damned racecar driver had burrowed under her skin, and she couldn’t get him out.

Only he hadn’t tried to contact her in the past three weeks. He’d said the game was on, but so far she hadn’t seen any evidence. So far there was only waiting and wondering when he was going to show up.

Why hadn’t he contacted her? Was he already regretting their affair? Was it her? The fearless, confident Beatrice Summerhill she projected to the world knew it wasn’t.

But the self-doubting teenager who still lived inside her—the one who’d never been good enough—couldn’t help but wonder if it was her.

No one knew the teenager still existed except her. Bea was good at disguising her insecurities. Her sister Imogen wasn’t the only actress in the family.

Damn him. She glared out the floor-to-ceiling windows. He was a bastard.

A charming bastard, who kissed like he’d never get enough of her.

Closing her eyes, she touched her lips with her fingers. Most men didn’t know how to kiss, with little pecks that were more annoying than arousing, or slobbering tongues that plundered like Viking marauders.

Of all the faults Luca had, kissing wasn’t one of them. Luca kissed like he only had an hour to live. He kissed like he wanted to taste every last bit.

Luca kissed like a god.

Three weeks without his kisses was a lifetime.

Not that she’d ever tell him.

Frankly, this was all her fault. She closed her eyes, pressing her mobile to her forehead. What had she been thinking, going to his place? Once was bad enough. Once she could chalk up to a lapse of judgment—to one too many martinis. There was no excuse for five times.

What was worse: She wasn’t sure she wanted an excuse. Each time she’d left wanting more.

It was unheard of. She should have been bored with him by now. She never lasted more than three dates with any man. By the third date, she always had a list the length of her arm why she should stop going out with him, and usually it was topped with BORING.

Luca defied reason.

In business, she was known for her risk-taking, she trusted her intuition when it came to mergers and acquisitions. She didn’t do risky in her personal life.

Luca was the very definition of risk.

The door behind her opened, and she heard her assistant’s sauntering footsteps.

Sighing, she composed her expression and turned around to pretend she was thinking about the paperwork on her desk and not the Italian in her head.

Inga’s head was lowered over the folders in her arms, her fingers shuffling through them as she walked in. To look at her, a person thought supermodel: Inga had the awkward grace of a giraffe and a stunning face that stopped men in their tracks.

That was partly why Bea had hired her—as a distraction to her competitors. What most people didn’t know was that behind Inga’s perfect face was one of the sharpest business minds Bea had ever encountered.

The week Bea had offered Inga the job, she’d also been offered a modeling contract. Inga had taken Bea’s offer and never looked back. Why would she? She was Bea’s right hand and had a handsome stake in every deal that came through.

Tossing her long blond hair over her shoulder, Inga set the folders neatly on the desk. “You haven’t signed these contracts yet.”

“I still need to go over them,” she said, pretending to be intent on her mobile. Her focus had been shite lately. In the past three weeks, she hadn’t been able to concentrate properly on anything: not work, not her sister Rosalind’s upcoming wedding, and certainly not other men.

Truthfully, she hadn’t thought of other men since she’d met Luca Fiorelli.

Inga’s eyebrows peaked as she gave Bea a shrewd once-over. Instead of commenting, she said, “I had an interesting call from Pixel Dust. We outbid Fraser for them.”

The news was surprising enough that Bea lifted her head to look at her assistant. “Sorry. I thought I heard you say we outbid Scott Fraser for the hottest special effects company in Europe. In the first round.”

“You heard correctly,” the young woman said with a telling look as she adjusted her glasses. She tapped the new stack of papers on the edge of the desk. “The deal is ours as soon as we sign.”

Bea looked at the files. Suspicious. Fraser never lost a deal to her without a struggle, and he barely made an effort this time.

“No, he didn’t,” Bea murmured, tapping her mobile to her lips. She and Scott Fraser had a longstanding rivalry, extending back to their first jobs, at the same investment company. Fraser had taken credit for a deal she’d put together and had been promoted because of it.

The businesswoman in her respected him for the move and was grateful for it; she’d never made the mistake of trusting the wrong person again.

The rivalry it’d sparked was part of the reason she’d become the mogul she was today. She was as determined to best Fraser in every deal as he was to best her, which made it doubly suspicious that he’d let this one slip through his fingers.

As if reading her mind, Inga said, “The legal team and I touched every page, so if they were lined with poison, we’d already be dead.”

“Good to know.” She leaned back, touching her mobile to her chin. “Do we know anyone at Fraser Enterprises?”

“I believe I have an acquaintance or two there,” her assistant said casually.

“Excellent.” She smiled. “Perhaps you can call them and have drinks.”

“I’ll see what I can do.” Inga nodded and marched out of the office.

“What are you up to, Fraser?” Bea mumbled as the door closed. She swiped on her mobile and checked her email for messages from him. Nothing, which was suspect in itself, because he always emailed her sour grapes when he lost out on a deal.

She frowned at the screen. She’d find out what was going on.

Frankly, it was a relief to have this to think about. It distracted her from other things—other things being Luca.

Inga came back half an hour later, striding in without knocking. “My friend at Fraser Enterprises sends his regards.”

Bea smiled. “I trust he’s doing well?”

“Yes, but he’s been working overtime doing research on a company called Stallon-E.” Inga gave her a flat look. “Apparently it’s an electric car manufacturer that launched their prototype this week at the London Motorexpo.”

“Yes, I’ve heard about them.” She opened an app on her phone and pulled up the Forbes article she’d seen earlier that week.

“Apparently this company has technology that’s going to revolutionize the automotive industry.” At Bea’s raised brows, Inga shrugged. “I read that on their website.”

“I don’t usually invest in automotive companies.”

“Neither does Fraser,” Inga pointed out. She tossed her hair over her shoulder. “Apparently Fraser is experiencing financial setbacks and looking to diversify. He’s consolidating so he has resources on hand. They’re readying for a large move.”

“Are they?” Bea crossed her legs and looked at her shoe while she thought about it. Her instincts were usually spot-on, and they were telling her to investigate Stallon-E. “What sort of name is that anyway?”

“Italian,” Inga replied. “Stallion in Italian is stallone. Stallon-E combines that with the E for electric. It explains that on the website as well.”

“Italian.” She wrinkled her nose.

“Do you have something against Italy?” her assistant asked mildly.

“Pasta is hard on the hips.” The last thing she wanted to do was deal with more Italians, but she saw no recourse. She was damned if she’d let Fraser pull one over on her. She scrolled through her address book until she found his number. “I think I’ll give him a call.”

Inga’s eyes widened. “You aren’t tipping your hand, are you?”

She raised her brow.

Her assistant relaxed. “You had me worried. You haven’t been yourself lately.”

Fortunately, the line picked up so she didn’t have to reply to that.

“Call to gloat, Summerhill?” Scott Fraser said in the proper clipped accent he hadn’t had when she’d first met him almost twenty years ago.

“Of course not, darling.” She turned to face her windows. Adding smugness to her voice, she said, “I called to offer you condolences on your loss.”

“I’ve always commented on how caring you are, Beatrice.”

She heard her office door close, and she crossed her legs. “Well, we have known each other a long time, which is precisely why I’m surprised you didn’t push harder on this deal. You aren’t feeling a pinch from the economy, are you? I’m happy to lend you money if you need.”

“Like I said, you’re all heart.” His voice lowered into a purr. “Go out to dinner with me, and we can discuss terms.”

This again. He’d been trying to get under her skirt from the first moment they’d met. “Is your wife going to join us?” she asked sweetly.

“Only if you’d like her to.”

She rolled her eyes. “Perhaps when hell freezes over.”

“It’s a date then,” he said with a smirk in his voice. “I’ll see you there.”

“Not likely.” She hung up, tapping her mobile against her lips. So he was after an Italian car manufacturer, was he?

She pictured Luca and his sly grin as he said, The game is on.

The game was on, indeed. She pushed the button for the intercom. “Inga, compile all the information on Stallon-E that you can find.”

 

Her mother was already in the study when Bea arrived. Despite the fact that she had her shoes kicked off and legs folded under her, Jacqueline Summerhill looked every inch the Countess of Amberlin: fashionable and impeccable.

Although in the past the Countess of Amberlin would never have been caught with ink stains on her hands. Now she sat with a new leather-bound notebook, writing as she waited. Her first book, a narrative nonfiction work about the Summerhill women being touted as a modern-day Downton Abbey, was coming out in several months, and the next one was already in the works.

If that wasn’t enough, a couple weeks ago her mother had sold the film rights for her upcoming book.

Looking at her mother was like looking into a mirror twenty years in the future, except that lately her mother had a glow of happiness and contentedness that Bea didn’t have and never expected to achieve. That wasn’t her.

“Sorry to have kept you waiting,” she said to announce her presence.

Her mother looked up, her smile dimming at the edges. “You look agitated.”

“Not agitated.” She unwound her scarf and tossed her coat onto a chair. “On the hunt. Have I ever mentioned a man named Fraser?”

“Only a few hundred times over the past two decades,” Jacqueline said with a dry smile.

She accepted the tea her mother handed her and reached for one of Fran’s shortbreads, bypassing the macarons, which were okay in a pinch but not her favorite. “He tried to deceive me today.”

“That doesn’t sound any different than what he normally does.” Her mother sat back and studied her. “I take it you nipped it in the bud.”

“I’m certainly going to attempt to. I have an advantage on him. He doesn’t know I’m aware of his ploy.”

“And then what?”

She paused with her cup halfway to her mouth. “What do you mean?”

Her mother studied her with that gaze that cut through all the layers to the little girl she still was deep inside. “What happens after you wiggle this deal out from under him? Another deal?”

“It’s what I do.” Currently it was keeping her from completely obsessing about Luca, and she considered that a good thing.

“Yes, but is it enough?”

She sipped her tea quickly and scalded her tongue. Setting the cup down, she frowned at her mother. “What are you getting at, Mother?”

Her mother lifted her chin and looked her in the eye. “Perhaps it’s time to think about the rest of your life, Beatrice.”

“As in retirement?” she asked incredulously.

Her mother smiled. “No one is delusional in thinking you could ever retire. I’m talking balance. All you do is work. When was the last time you took a holiday?”

The idea was a foreign concept to her. She shook her head. “I don’t take holidays, and I enjoy what I do.”

“I’m suggesting that you may enjoy doing other things as well.” Jacqueline leaned back, her arm across the back of the couch. “Maybe with someone else.”

She didn’t need to be a mind reader to know whom her mother meant. “If you’re asking if I date, I do. Plenty. I just haven’t met anyone who interests me past a minute.”

Her mother raised her brow. “Haven’t you?”

In her mind, Luca’s face smiled, with a half-lidded gaze and that sexy curl of his lips that said he wanted to undress you slowly and revel in you for days on end.

She crossed her arms and stared her mother down. “I know what you’re insinuating, and that’s not going to happen.”

“Why not?” Jacqueline asked with boldness she’d only recently discovered.

“He’s entirely wrong for me.”

“He loves you.”

“He loves himself,” she retorted, her arms tight. “And he’ll love anyone who adores him.”

“You can’t deny that he’s been there whenever we’ve needed him,” Jacqueline said from behind her teacup. “For us, because he loves us, but mostly because he loves you.”

Her heart hitched with a strange sort of longing, but she killed it. “I’m only a conquest to a man like Luca Fiorelli. Once he gets me, he’ll be bored.”

“You can’t believe that.”

She shrugged. She wasn’t sure—she only knew that around Luca she saw her worst self: the thirteen-year-old who wanted approval.

Back then it’d been her father. She thought she’d finally gotten over that—a woman who ran the world didn’t need anyone’s approval. But when she was around Luca, on the inside, something deep inside her reverted back to the girl who wanted assurances that she was enough.

She hated that.

How could that possibly be good for her? She didn’t get to where she was by seeking approval from men.

I dare swear he is no hypocrite, but prays from his heart,” her mother quoted from Much Ado About Nothing.

I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me,” she quoted back.

“You don’t have a dog,” Fran said as she entered the study.

Bea shook her head. “It was figurative.”

“It was shite,” her former nanny said as she took a biscuit and sat on an opposing chair.

Jacqueline smiled. “That was rather concise of you, Franny.”

“Some people need to hear it like it is.” She gave Bea a long look. “Especially pigheaded people.”

“I prefer to be thought of as determined,” she murmured, lifting her teacup.

Fran pointed a stubby finger at her. “You’re going to be thought of as a fool if you let Luca get away.”

Jacqueline cleared her throat delicately. “What Fran means to say is that you’ve been taking care of us all these years. You kept the family together after your father tried his best to drive everyone apart. When he died, you kept me from losing everything. You help your sisters, and you have countless people who rely on you. But isn’t it time you took care of yourself?”

Reclining, she stretched her arm out and flashed a confident smile to cover up her agitation. “Don’t worry, darlings. I have everything I need.”

Jacqueline and Fran exchanged a look. Fran rolled her eyes and said, “Stubborn as the day is long. Always has been.”

Her mother’s expression was harder to read. She hesitated, and Bea thought she wasn’t going to say anything. But then Jacqueline said, “I know you have what you need, but what about what you deserve?”

She frowned. “You think I don’t deserve what I have?”

Her mother took her hand. “My love, you deserve so much more.”

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