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#SaturdayNightSecrets Is Happening ~ Get Your Secrets On!

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How about a double header tonight? The Proposal by Ivy Landon and The Gift by Jeanie LeGendre


“I have an important proposal I need to run by you tonight.” Craig’s husky voice came through Tracey Vennet’s speaker phone, and the anticipation of seeing him sent a thrill down her spine.
Tracey made a note to have her secretary cancel her dinner engagement with the Japanese trade group and reschedule for next week. It was uncharacteristic of Craig not to give her more warning of his sudden arrival in town. Usually their meetings were set weeks in advance.
She kept her tone smooth and business like. “Is anything wrong?”
As president of Acton Industries, she was responsible to Craig Logan, CEO and owner of Acton, and his demands on her time took top priority. She tapped her pencil on her desk. In her mind, Craig Logan would always be first.
She’d fallen in love with him the first time they’d met during the Tinker Truck advertising campaign. While the other executives sat around the enormous conference table, Craig had taken off his jacket, rolled up his sleeves, and kneeled on the floor. With childish pleasure and intuitive genius, he’d pushed the Tinker Trucks across the carpet, scooping up imaginary piles of sand. Afterward, he’d quickly sketched his suggested design changes and diverted the necessary funding to the appropriate department.
His maverick design and her hard work on the ad campaign led to the most successful new toy on the market. When she convinced a major film company to use Tinker Trucks in their movie, sales skyrocketed, and Craig promoted Tracey to the presidency. Oddly, he left her alone to run Acton as she wished, only rarely flying in to check on his company.
Tracey looked forward to the intimate dinners in the private company dining room where she had Craig to herself. On several occasions he’d taken her to his penthouse apartment, and they’d made love on his bed overlooking the city’s skyline. Their sex life might not set her ablaze with passion, but she’d always believed torrid lust a romance writer’s invention. For months now, she’d hoped for a proposal that would make their arrangement more permanent.
“Nothing’s wrong,” Craig’s voice reassured her. She could almost see the corners of his lips twitching into a teasing smile. “At least nothing we can’t fix over the weekend. Are you free?”
For him, she would always be free. “I’ll give my theater tickets to my mom. Unless you’d like to go?”
“Let’s keep this weekend private. I don’t want to see anyone but you.” At his sensual tone, her heart beat accelerated a notch. She imagined him looking lazily across his desk though half-closed lids that disguised the most brilliant intellect she’d ever matched wits with. Many a businessman had been taken in by his enigmatic expression, unsuspecting of a mind that was equally comfortable reading Homer’s Iliad in Greek, sketching pigeons in Central Park, or calculating the mathematical equations for high-tech computer chips.



“Behave, my lady,” the Kislar Agha ordered, “or the Sultan will be greatly insulted. Calm yourself.”
Alessandra de Got tugged the edges of the guimlik over her bare breasts, aghast at the command. Calm herself? When the very idea of bondage as the Sultan’s concubine nearly made her faint!
The chief eunuch glared at her, black eyes peering from his face. “You are the Gift, and the Sultan has called you to him this eve. He wants to see how Ibrahim Pasha honors him. This is a chance to distinguish yourself, to earn a place as his favorite.” His thick-set fingers gripped her chin, tilting her face upward, preventing escape. “The Sultan is young. His energies have been devoted to fighting and strengthening the boundaries of our beloved land. His haremlik is virtually empty. He has taken no wife. Do you understand what this means?”
Alessandra didn’t care. But the words stuck in the back of her throat, and no sound passed her lips. His mouth thinned into a tight smile. “His mother, the Sultan Valide, is dead. The women are his father’s slaves with no one to rule them. The Sultan has called you to him this eve, my lady, and you alone have a chance to catch his eye.”
“I am no concubine. I am a French woman—”
“You are the Gift!” He released her chin abruptly. “Your fate lies within the haremlik of the Sultan’s Palace. You can live life as a lowly slave, or you can attract the Sultan and claim a position of honor in his household.”
Alessandra’s mind raced. A lifetime as a concubine! Sheer panic swept through her. She could not live her life imprisoned within the walls of the haremlik, her every action dictated by the lustful whim of a man. Slaves had no freedom. Every tale she had ever heard of the haremlik—and she had heard many—described a place rife with debauchery, mystery, and intrigue. She must persuade the Sultan to free her. Once he discovered she was the French Ambassador’s niece, surely he would return her. He wouldn’t risk diplomatic problems with France, would he?
Taking a deep, steadying breath, Alessandra straightened her shoulders, preparing herself for what was to come. She glanced up at the Kislar Agha and nodded.
He sighed in obvious relief. “All will be well. Just smile and remember what I’ve taught you.” The sleeve of his emerald satin robe swept against her neck, and she trembled as he brushed strands of hair from her face. “There, there, you are exquisite. Your silver-gilt hair is as fine as spun silk, and your skin glows like a pearl. The Sultan will be enchanted.” He reached for the corded bell pull. Instantly, the doors to the chamber opened, and she followed him past the gilded columns of the entrance into the Royal Salon.
Braziers glowed from all corners, and the melodious strains of the lyre filled the air. The Kislar Agha led her past silent rows of black eunuchs prostrated along the path to the throne. His words echoed in her memory instructing, “Never utter a sound and always keep your eyes lowered.”


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