Catching the Corporate Playboy

Catching the Corporate Cowboy (2002)
Harlequin American Romance

“I can turn any woman into a princess. Take the waitress, for example…”

That’s what the arrogant, insufferable — and, I admit, drop-dead-gorgeous — multimillionaire Cameron O’Brien said when he thought I wasn’t listening. Seems he’d bet he could make some “poor little working girl” over into his idea of the perfect woman — and he’d chosen me!

Well, he’s about to find out there’s a whole lot more to Darci Sanders than meets the eye. I’ll play along with his little game, let him whisk me off to New York, dress me in designer clothes and teach me high-society “manners.”

But along the way, I’m going to teach him the lesson of his life — and maybe I’ll just stick around to make sure it lasts a lifetime….

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  • Publisher: ‎ Harlequin (July 1, 2002)
  • Language: ‎ English
  • Mass Market Paperback: ‎ 256 pages
  • ISBN-10: ‎ 0373169310
  • ISBN-13: ‎ 978-0373169313
  • Item Weight: ‎ 4.8 ounces
  • Dimensions: ‎ 4 x 1 x 6.5 inches

What are Readers Saying?

A great summer read

Cameron O’Brien has met his match in Darci Sanders. For what the hero doesn’t know is that when you judge someone on appearances, they might not be what they appear.
For Darci, although she’s slinging pellers in a greasy spoon diner, is actually an heiress with an eccentric grandfather who feels that all his grandchildren need to experience all aspects of the company–and this is Darci’s two weeks at the diner.
Of course, her grandfather is also a matchmaker.
Twist Pretty Woman and My Fair Lady with the fact that the girl knows what’s going on, and you’ve got a fun, fast frolic that’s sure to delight. Set in my hometown, I found it humorous and easy to read.


Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

It took only three days, but that was all she needed. Darci Sanders now knew that she absolutely, positively hated grease.

Surely some man had invented it, she rationalized. That had to be the reason why it was so obnoxious, and why she was literally up to her elbows in the slimy, oily stuff.

Sure, when the family cook had allowed, Darci had occasionally dipped into the blue tub of Crisco shortening and greased a cake pan. She’d even once been allowed to drain fried bacon. But none of her “cooking lessons” had prepared her for the amount of grease she’d wiped up and/or been splattered with during her short tenure at Grandpa Joe’s Good Eats.

And if she didn’t love her dear old Grandpa Joe so much, she would have told him exactly where he could put the hideous white congealing substance that filmed over her every pore. Not even scrubbing with a loofah sponge could get rid of it.

“I can’t believe I’m thinking about grease!” Darci chastised herself aloud before adjusting the apron covering her ruined uniform. It was trashed worse than burnt toast.

“Don’t let all this get you down, Darci,” Val said. Grandpa Joe’s manager for the past twenty years blew a big pink bubble, the gum making a crackling sound as it popped and went back beneath her chewing teeth.

Darci pushed a wayward blond hair back up underneath her pink cap. She began moving to fetch the plates of food currently being shoved out the opening from the restaurant’s kitchen.

Get her down? She was down. There was no way she could be any lower. Except for washing dishes, this was it.

Grandpa Joe’s grand plan to indoctrinate his granddaughter into the family corporation started at the bottom. Of course, her brother, Harry, expected her to give up, and he’d bet her a thousand bucks she wouldn’t make it.

But what he hadn’t counted on was Darci’s determination and grit, qualities even she hadn’t realized she possessed in such abundance. No way was she giving her brother any satisfaction. She wouldn’t fail. Jacobsen Enterprises was her legacy, her future. And she wanted it badly enough that she’d agreed to Grandpa Joe’s outrageous rite-of-initiation demand: working at a restaurant he kept for sentimental reasons—and because it not only made a profit, but the land became more valuable every day.

After Darci finished putting the plates on the brown tray, she shot Val a reassuring smile. “Now don’t you worry about me, too. My mother’s doing that enough for all of us. Besides, I may have given up on my nails, my hair and my clothes, but I’m not giving up on my grandpa’s challenge. No way. I want to work at the corporation and eventually take my father’s spot when he retires, and I’m going to.”

Val scratched her ash-white skin. “You go girl. That’s what I like to hear. You’ll make a darn fine businesswoman.”

“Yeah, but I would have thought my previous work experience and my MBA from Harvard would have been enough. But not for Grandpa.” Darci rolled her blue eyes as the smell from Grandpa Joe’s famous chili and eggs assaulted her nose. She tried to ignore the odor as she added some soda crackers to the tray.

St. Louisans had nicknamed the combination of chili and eggs “pellers,” for the way the concoction propelled its way down one’s throat, but how anyone could actually eat the stuff was beyond Darci’s comprehension. Personally she couldn’t stand the lethal combination that had launched her grandfather’s now multi-million-dollar restaurant conglomerate.

Seeing Darci’s disgusted expression, Val clucked like a mother hen and opened her mouth in a wide toothy grin. “Now, sweetie. You don’t have to eat it. Just serve it. And after seeing your grandpa take this company from nothing, I know he knows best.”

“Yeah. So you say.” Darci grimaced and studied her last remaining fingernail. Hopeless. Disgusted, she ripped off the barely attached nail fragment and tossed it in the trashcan.

If she didn’t love Grandpa Joe…She savored that thought. Hands that used to play concert piano for the youth orchestra now served food. That’s what political correctness called it these days. Even her own mother couldn’t bring herself to call Darci’s current employment for what it really was— “waitressing.”

Her mother still clung to Grandpa Joe’s semantics, of calling it “exploring all avenues of the company.” Darci bit back a groan. She would succeed, but it sure wasn’t fair. “So why didn’t he make Harry do this?”

She realized she’d spoken the words aloud when Val answered her.

“Because your older brother is too stupid to take over running a billion-dollar corporation. You ain’t, and your grandpa wants you to prove yourself. Now you best serve that food before it ices over.”

Darci lifted up the tray. Despite the fact she played a mean game of tennis, lately she’d been discovering muscles she never knew she had. A slimy film on the underside of the tray coated her skin as she moved out from behind the counter. Great. More grease.

VAL SHOOK HER HEAD as she watched Darci weave slowly through the tables. Darn if that girl didn’t have gumption. She’d pushed that pretty blond hair up under her cap and gotten down to work. It didn’t matter that she could just live off her trust fund.

No, she’d broken every nail and put up with every obscene pat on her bottom. Darci’s cute face, with the nose turned up just so, beaded with sweat, but she hadn’t really complained. That impressed sixty-two-year-old Val the most.

Darci was night and day from that whiny twenty-eight-year-old brother of hers. Three years older than Darci, he’d lasted less than a day before begging Grandpa Joe to get him out. But Darci didn’t need to know that. Val didn’t want her to quit. Not when she knew Darci would succeed.

Val turned her attention away from her protégé and to the customer waiting to pay his bill.

“How was it?” she asked.

“Great,” the guy slurred slightly.

Val smiled and hoped the girl clinging to his arm was his designated driver. “Of course it was,” she told him matter-of-factly. Grandpa Joe knew what he was doing when he made his pellers, and he knew what he was doing with Darci. There was a method to his madness and eccentricities, and Darci would learn that soon enough.