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Authors: Laura Storme


BOOK: Breathless
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Laura Storme

Alexandra Chambers' well organized and well defined life had put her on a path to fall in love with wrong man at the wrong time. Tad Pierce defined Washington, D.C. Tired of his manipulations and abuse, Alex sought to distance herself from him. By accepting a position in the last place she expected, Ashmore Valley offered peace, serenity and a new start. All of the things she desperately needed. And all of the things she never expected to experience.

James O’Reilly’s soon to be ex-wife’s treachery had destroyed any chance any woman had of breaching his defenses again. Accepting a meaningless affair with his secretary, Francine Malone, he thought that by satisfying his lust, he could ignore his heart. When Alexandra Chambers looked at him with those eyes, he was lost and he knew it.

Alex wasn’t ready for another man to be in control of her and James wasn’t ready to entrust his heart to another woman. But somehow, through the turmoil that a jealous Tad inflicts on the couple, they fight for the happiness that they so rightly deserve. They accept the roses that love brings and the thorns that jealousy breeds.

About the Author

Laura Seger began writing when on a Smith Corona that her grandmother gave her for Christmas. Born and raised outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she began reading Agatha Christie at twelve and anything else she could acquire from family and the library. She has written articles for SEO companies such as and WriteforCash.

Chapter 1
The autumn breeze blew the dry leaves imitating
Alex's inner swirl of thoughts and emotions.
building, emanating the coldness of the metal that
created it, stood uninvitingly in front of her sending
sounds she was not familiar with, containing people
she never met before; strangers preparing to greet
another stranger.
Leaving the familiarity of her
car, Alex took a deep breath and moved up the
loading dock ramp to the door.
"I can do this," she sighed one-more time before
entering the plant.
Alex walked into the lobby
that doubled as Francine Malone's office.
It had
once been a hallway with a dead end, but was
remodeled to accommodate the office, reception
area and extended into the main offices.
looked up briefly from her typing and eyed Alex as
she walked towards her.
Francine had welcomed Alex warmly when she
came to interview two weeks ago.
That had
changed, however, when Alex was given the office
manager's position that Francine coveted and
Francine was to continue her secretarial
She had decided then not to make the
adjustment easy on Alex.
"Morning Francine, is Jeff in," she asked her upon
reaching the desk.
"Yeah, he's expecting you.
Go on in," she said
jerking her head to the left indicating Jeff’s office
Alex moved past her desk and shook her head at
Francine's rudeness.
Alex smiled slowly as she
remembered her first comparison of Francine to a
Shih Tzu dog.
With her flaxen blonde hair pulled
into a banana barrette, way too short skirt and tight
blouse, it was obvious that Francine had considered
her job a step up from a strip club.
As Alex entered, Jeff Blakely, the plant manager,
was just hanging up the phone.
He smiled
broadly, as he heaved his girth up from his chair to
greet Alex.
She imagined that she heard the chair
sigh for the brief reprieve of Jeff as he stood.
five foot ten frame did little to adjust for the two
hundred pound plus weight he was carrying.
"Good morning, Alex," began Jeff, "Welcome back.
Did you have any troubles finding us again?”
"Good morning," taking the proffered hand, "No, I
didn't. The plant isn’t far from my new house,”
she replied.
"So you found a place, huh," he asked sitting back
down in his chair and gesturing to an armchair for
Alex, "when did you finish moving?"
I still have plenty of unpacking to do.”
"That happens.
I'm sure you'll enjoy the change of
pace here, Alex.
Like I said two weeks ago, you
have the energy and the proven track record we
were looking for.
It's hard to find somebody like
you in Ashmore Valley.”
"I'm happy to be here. I think Ashmore Valley will
provide me with the relaxation I'm looking for and
Hasani will give me the challenges I need.”
Jeff smiled at her ambition and her courage.
had given up everything she knew in Washington
D.C. to come here and start over.
He had to
admire her spunk, not most women would give up
the known for the unknown.
Jeff offered a tour of
the facilities and he explained the basics of Hasani
Alex had heard the speech before, but
now absorbed more of the information.
word sunk into Alex as he described the
requirements she and the factory.
As he led Alex through the various shops, she was
aware of the absence of women on the plant floor.
Jeff had told her before that the only woman was
Francine and they had had little success in hiring a
woman to work in the factory itself.
Alex now
joined the mostly male ranks of Hasani Industries.
She smiled to herself knowing that her compatibility
with men would be priceless in this position.
"I made the right choice," she thought to herself as
Jeff led her to the weld shop.
Jeff showed Alex every nook and cranny of the
factory. The scent of sweat intermingled with metal
and oil made Alex aware of the difference between
here and Capitol Hill.
Alex and Jeff were about to
enter the machine shop when the whine of
Francine's voice came over the paging system.
had instructed Francine to interrupt him only if Mr.
Hasani called.
"I'll let James O'Reilly show you back there," he
said, steering her away from the machine shop, "I
need to take this call."
As they neared the back entry to the offices, Larry
Christie, the production supervisor, popped his
head from his office. Upon seeing Alex, he stepped
across the threshold to greet her.
"Alex, welcome back," he smiled in his West Virginia
"Good morning, Larry, it's nice to be back."
"Is Jeff giving you the nickel tour?"
Alex nodded her head in assent and again looked
Larry over. His short stature did little to hide the
impressive figure that he struck.
Larry's voice
made him sound like a giant and his ability to
beguile anybody made him look like one. The red
coloring on his neck and face hinted at his high
blood pressure while providing the employees
fodder for West Virginia/redneck jokes.
"Well, if you ever want the quarter tour, let me
know," he finished, lighting a cigarette and heading
out into the shop to "survey the damage", as he
called it.
Jeff continued to lead Alex towards the offices and
took her in a door beside a flight of steps.
explained that the steps went to the second floor
where the research and development offices were.
"This is James' office. He should be along shortly,"
he said and continued through to the other door
that led back into the center office, the reception
area and his office.
Alex was left standing there as Jeff engaged his
stubby legs into a trot.
When she had come to
interview, Jeff explained that the assistant plant
manager, James O'Reilly, was in Saipan.
He was
assisting a customer with maintenance issues on
their Hasani products.
Alex surveyed the office,
glancing at the plaques on the dark paneled walls.
Alex felt closed in with the cave feeling of the room.
The white window blinds, looked like an
afterthought in the decoration of the room and let
in some sunlight to relieve the darkness.
Alex had just taken a seat, when the door from the
plant burst open and two men as different as night
and day entered the office.
Alex recognized one
of the men as one she had seen in the machine
shop when she toured the plant.
His appearance
shocked Alex when she saw him.
His blood shot
eyes, unshaven face, and long hair pulled into the
opening of his baseball hat was not what she was
used to seeing.
He looked like a misplaced rocker.
The other man, who she assumed was James
O'Reilly, confirmed her thinking of what a factory
employee would look like.
His well-kept beard,
oxford shirt and green button down sweater made
her feel overdressed in her suit.
Now that she
thought about it, all of them made her feel
Alex crossed her legs as casually as
possible and waited for them to acknowledge
James and the rocker moved a cabinet that
stood beside the door against the wall behind his
"Now, what were you looking for, Morgan," he
asked of the strange looking employee.
"A 3/8" tap," replied Morgan, turning his attention
to Alex.
"It's right here, where I told you it was," grabbing
the object from the drawer and thrusting it into
Morgan's hands.
"So I couldn't find it, bite me," he responded still
staring at Alex.
"Morgan, the language, there is a lady present.
"Yeah, I saw that," he said salaciously and left the
James shook his head, sat down at his desk and lit a
cigarette, "Back to business.
I apologize for
When you've been here as long as I
have, you'll think you have forth-three children; all
grown men who act like they're going through
puberty again," James watched as a slow smile
crossed Alex's face and continued, "Since I wasn't
here when you visited us two weeks ago, I'd like to
take a few minutes to get to know you.
In case
you hadn't figured it out, I'm James O'Reilly.
He stuffed the cigarette between his teeth and
offered his hand from across the desk.
Alex stood
from her chair and shook his hand.
As their hands
met, James and Alex felt the surprising heat from
the other's touch.
Alex sat back down and ran the
hand over her skirt to cool it off.
She felt as if she
had touched a burning candle.
James absently did
the same on his jeans.
He wasn't expecting that
handshake to stir his soul so deeply.
"So Alex, tell me a little about yourself; Jeff is
practically dancing in the streets to have you here.
I must say that your resume is quite impressive, but
I'm not sure you'll be comfortable in this
As James posed that question and waited for her
reply, he took the time to assess the beautiful
woman in front of him.
Her fiery red hair was the
first thing that had caught his eye when she was
touring the plant, but her blue eyes spoke volumes.
He could see the depths of her soul and the recent
pain of losing somebody she cared for deeply.
James' eyes roved her body creating a mental image
of her naked and underneath him in the throes of
He realized that he was losing track of
the conversation and shook his head to clear the
image and return to the present.
His current
lifestyle left him in a less than appropriate position
to be anything more than a supervisor to her.
Alex had been outlining her career when she caught
James' attention wavering.
She was watching him
look her over and found it an opportune time for
her to do the same.
Alex still felt the imprint of his
hand clasping hers and wondered if his whole body
felt that way.
She looked over his features
studying the pale green eyes and beard that hid the
lower half of his face.
She wondered what he
looked like without it.
She watched the way he
sucked on the cigarette and wondered how supple
his kiss would feel.
Alex unconsciously blushed at
her thoughts and turned her mind back to what she
was saying.
Another inconvenient work
relationship was not in her immediate future.
"So, after participating in most of the ways that
people do business, I thought it would be an
interesting career move to see how a product is
built," she finished.
"You've had an excellent career. Coming here
couldn't have been an easy decision," James said
cocking his head to one side as if trying to jog his
memory, "Have I've seen you someplace before?
You look familiar.
Alex appeared taken aback by the question posed
to her.
She hadn't considered the fact that he
might recognize her from the picture.
"I was
photographed leaving a restaurant with Senator
William Adler's chief aide and my fiancée, Tad
Pierce, in Washington, D.C.
The photo appeared
in most of the national press about six months ago,"
she responded curtly wondering why she had
referenced Tad as her fiancée.
James sensed her unease with the subject and
wrapped up the interview, "Well, welcome to
I know you want to get started but, did
you want to see the machine shop?"
Alex said yes and James stood up and led Alex back
into the factory area.
The pair were just reaching
the machine shop area when a buzzer sounded
Almost immediately all of the
machinery in the building stopped and Alex could
discern the different music varieties better.
corner of the factory seemed to have its own radio
BOOK: Breathless
2.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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