Dirty Sexy Saint (Dirty Sexy #1)By: Carly Phillips & Erika Wilde
“I think it’s time you proposed to my daughter, Harrison.”
Samantha Jamieson stopped short of knocking on the door leading into her father’s study as Conrad Jamieson’s matter-of-fact statement made her heart jolt hard in her chest. She’d been dating Harrison Blackwell III for the past eight months, but recently she’d thought more about ending their relationship, not marrying him. Apparently her father had other ideas, and Samantha remained rooted to the spot just outside the room.
“I know it might feel like I’m rushing things along,” Conrad went on in his deep, commanding voice, “but you’ve proven yourself as a top-level executive, and it’s time to move you into the CEO position. Marrying Samantha would accomplish that goal, and will also ensure that the company stays in the family.”
“Conrad, I’m honored you think of me that way,” Harrison replied evenly, in that unemotional way he had about him. “In fact, I’d hoped this would be the end result of my time with Samantha.”
Disgust rose in her throat as she realized that Harrison’s determined pursuit was all for the sake of the firm and securing his position within the company. It had nothing to do with any romantic interest in her. She was a business transaction to both men and nothing more. And even if she’d contemplated breaking up with him, she’d been in the relationship for honest reasons. He, clearly, had not.
Her father’s company, Jamieson Global, was a hedge fund enterprise and major investment firm, originally founded by Samantha’s grandfather, who’d passed away of a heart attack over ten years ago. Her father had taken over the reins, and with Samantha as an only child and having no interest in any aspect of the family business, Conrad had obviously decided to set up an arranged marriage to a man who’d come from an equally wealthy and powerful family.
The arrangement between her father and Harrison shouldn’t have surprised Samantha. All her life, she’d been well aware that her parents were grooming her for this position—from attending an exclusive all-girls academy to making certain she was well trained in handling herself in high-society situations. And for the most part, she’d been the quintessential good girl—obedient and respecting her parents’ wishes for the past twenty-six years of her life while squashing the side of her personality that wanted to rebel against being molded into a perfect Stepford wife. That rebellion was scratching its way to the surface fast and furiously now.
She leaned against the wall and swallowed back a pained laugh as her father and Harrison continued to discuss her as if she were a commodity, and not a woman with emotions and desires and dreams that went beyond being a well-trained, subdued wife and hostess to a successful man who merely saw her as an asset. Just like the role her mother, Cassandra, played to Samantha’s father—a beautiful and dutiful wife who enjoyed her elevated status and all the perks of being a wealthy and prominent Jamieson.
“Cassandra already bought an engagement ring she knows is Samantha’s taste and style, which saves you from that tedious task,” her father continued in a business-like tone. “All you have to do is put the ring on my daughter’s finger, and Cassandra will start the wedding preparations.”
Samantha would have no say. Not in the groom, the ring, or in her future. The assumption that she’d automatically say yes prompted her to move into the study and take control of her own life.
Without knocking, she pushed the door open the rest of the way and walked into the room, startling both men with her sudden and unexpected appearance.
She stopped next to the leather chair Harrison was sitting in and met his wary gaze. “I’m not marrying you, Harrison, so don’t bother asking.”
“Samantha.” Her father barked her name as a reprimand, using the harsh tone of voice that would normally bring her back in check.
Not this time. She stood her ground, refusing to give in or back down. She realized in that moment that she was facing a pivotal point—obeying her parents as she’d always done or finally living her life for herself.
Harrison’s lips flattened into a thin line. “I take it you overheard our conversation?”
He didn’t even have the grace to look guilty for getting caught bartering her for a promotion at Jamieson Global. “I heard every word. I’m not a piece of property for either of you to use to secure a business deal.”
Neither man denied her statement, and her frustration and anger grew.
“Don’t you think you’re overreacting?” Harrison asked in a placating tone as he stood up, forcing her to tip her head back to look up at him.
He was lean and tall, and she hated when he used his height in a way that was meant to assert his authority over her. It was something she’d begun to notice lately, that if Harrison didn’t get his way, he resorted to subtle intimidation tactics.
“I’m hardly overreacting.” Her mother had often called her obstinate, and Samantha didn’t hesitate to embrace that tenacity now. “I don’t love you, and you don’t love me.” In the eight months of them dating, they’d never said those words to one another. Their relationship had lacked intimacy and passion and respect—all the things that made a person fall in love—and Samantha refused to spend her life in a loveless marriage, as her own mother had, for the sake of the family business.