Embraced By A Donovan
Book 11 in the Donovans Series
The Miami Donovans are bringing the drama!
Parker Donovan is used to the fast life and even faster women. But when his first attempt at marriage ended in a dismal failure, his priorities suddenly shifted and the immature playboy grew up. Now, as the vice president of Donovan Network Television, he’s focused on bringing quality entertainment to the world and living up to the Donovan family name. Until Adriana Bennett shows up and all thoughts of business and success take a back seat to desire.
…and falling in love as hard and as fast as ever!
Adriana Bennett managed to survive the intense modeling world and an eating disorder to finally fulfill her dream of becoming an actress. Just when she thinks her life is on the right track, ghosts from the past reappear to haunt her every step. Only this time, she doesn’t have to fight the battle alone, Parker Donovan is there, tempting her with tender caresses and scorching kisses, until Adriana has no choice but to believe that the safest place to be is in a Donovan’s loving embrace.
**AUTHOR’S NOTE: This book is #11 in a series. While it may not be necessary to read each book that has come before this one, it is recommended that HEART OF A DONOVAN be read before reading this book, as there is a continuing plot in each of these stories.
The print version of this book is available in the Donovans Volume II anthology.
Embraced By A Donovan
38 Years Ago
Las Vegas, Nevada
“Wait a minute,” she asked slipping her now shaking arm into the bra strap and adjusting it. “Are you saying you’re still going to marry her? After all that we had, all that we just did!”
Henry Donovan sighed, rubbing a hand down his face, hating the lapse in judgement he’d just had as much as he’d regretted the five month long relationship he’d shared with Roslyn Ausby four years ago when he was a junior in college. He’d just pulled his pants up, fastened them and was now reaching toward the standard hotel dresser where his shirt had fallen when she’d pulled it over his head and tossed it across the room.
“You knew I was engaged when you asked me to meet you here, Roslyn. I told you over the phone two weeks ago,” he told her before putting his shirt on for the second time today.
He’d had reservations about coming here and should have listened to that inner voice that had warned him to stay away. But it had been four years since they’d seen each other, since he’d broken up with her and she’d been devastated by that news. Henry wasn’t a player, not like his younger brother Bernard had been during their years in school. Al was the oldest and had been all about the books. While the three of them had attended the same school, they were each as different as night and day in personality and motivations. Henry had wanted his degree to satisfy his father, Isaiah Donovan’s, declaration that all of his sons would go to college. He’d wanted nothing more than to head up the expansion of Donovan Oilwell and to make his mark on the company his great grandfather and uncle had founded. Bernard, the rebellious one, could care less about going into the family business, but he hadn’t wanted to be totally cut off from his trust fund either. So he’d gone to college, got the grades he’d needed to graduate and went his separate way from the family, settling finally in Seattle where he built his own investment firm. Al had come out before both of them, going back to Houston to his position at Donovan Oilwell’s headquarters.
They’d all had plans and for Henry, none of them had included Roslyn Ausby, the pretty and somewhat militant girl from Atlanta.
“I also know what we just shared, what we’ve always shared, Henry,” Roslyn countered, her large, always expression-filled eyes, already beginning to water. “She doesn’t know you like I do. You’re only marrying her because it looks good on paper, because your father and your family approve.”
“I love her,” Henry told her with a heaviness in the center of his chest that he hadn’t anticipated. He’d hated hurting her four years ago. After the first two weeks he’d had to stop listening to the voice messages that she was leaving him and dodging her around campus had become one of his newest and greatest skills. Bernard had been the one to tell him to keep it moving, to find another girlfriend and let Roslyn deal with her own issues. His younger brother had always thought she was overly emotional and more than a little unstable. He’d warned Henry about dating only her for so long.
“She knows who you are, bro. That means she knows how much money you have. Why else do you think she’s all up in your face?” he’d said about two weeks after Henry had started dating Roslyn. They’d just come from a party where Bernard had danced with so many different girls Henry had gotten dizzy just watching him.
“Not everyone is out for the Donovan money,” Henry remembered telling his brother.
“That’s a lie and you know it,” Bernard had said with a frown. “Look, once you get out of school and get some more years and experience on you, maybe, just maybe, you’ll find a genuine woman that will love you as much as you love her. I believe some people find happiness like that. But right now, you’re barely twenty years old, you don’t know squat about love and neither does she. But she does know about your money,” he’d added with one final nod.
Henry had brushed his words off at the time because Bernard was a year younger than him. How the hell did he think he knew so much that he could dish out advice to his older brother? Henry had lost count of how many times over the years since he’d first met Roslyn that he’d wished he’d listened to his younger, and obviously smarter, brother.
“I’m marrying Beverly next month, Roslyn. That’s what I want to do.” He’d cleared his throat and spoke in his no-nonsense business tone, in the hopes of finally getting through to her.
“You’re a bastard Henry Donovan!” she’d screamed, lurching herself at him, arms swinging.
Henry caught her by the wrists, pulling her arms down to her side to keep her still.
“I loved you! All these years I’ve continued to love you and this is how you treat me. Again! She’s never going to be what I could be to you. Never!” she yelled into his face.
Henry could only shake his head. She was right. Beverly Grant would never have called a man that she’d broken up with four years ago to a hotel room with the hopes of sleeping with him one more time. Throwing herself at any man was not on Beverly’s to do list. It was desperate and pitiful and he hated the fact that he’d played right into Roslyn’s hand by coming here and most regretfully, sleeping with her again.
“I should not have come,” he told her steadily. “None of this should have happened and I apologize for any pain this may be causing you.”
“Do you have that memorized?” she spat, jerking her arms free from his grasp. “That’s the same bullshit you told me four years ago! You know what Henry, you’re going to miss me like you’ve never missed anything in your life before. I know you’re used to getting everything you want, but I’ll be that one thing that you’re gonna wish you’d held on to.” She was moving around him then, gathering the rest of her things from the room.
Henry didn’t know how to reply to that. In fact, he didn’t want to reply. He’d told her what he had to tell her. It was over between them, had been for years. She could either accept it or not.
“I’m sorry, Roslyn,” he told her one last time, as he turned and headed for the door.
“Oh you’re sorry alright,” she yelled behind him as he opened it and began walking out. “You’re gonna be so sorry for the rest of your perfect, rich life!”
Henry had kept walking, pulling the door closed softly behind him. With each step he was sorry and guilty and angry with himself for making a mistake that could have cost him everything. Beverly was the love of his life, there was no doubt in his mind about that. They were getting married and moving into a new house and in about seven months she would give birth to their first child. Henry had too much at stake to have even considered coming to this meeting today. But he had, and he’d done the unthinkable. But as he climbed into his silver BMW he swore he’d never tell Beverly and he’d never do anything this stupid again.
I’m a lover, not a fighter.
The words to that famous Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson collaboration rang in Parker Donovan’s ears as he watched the scene before him play out.
On a bed with ivory colored satin sheets her golden hued skin glistened. From her narrow feet, up the length of long, gorgeous legs, to the curve of her hip, the dip of her flat abdomen, the palm-sized breasts and all that jet black hair that fell forward to cover said breasts, she was mouth-watering. Hence the deep and rapid swallowing Parker found himself doing as he stood behind the cameras, the director and other members of the production crew.
He didn’t normally visit the set of the shows he produced on behalf of Donovan Network Television, but this one was special. Or rather one of its stars had made quite an impression on him, so that whenever he knew they were taping, staying in his office and completing the mountains of work there, became a distant thought. He had to be here, had to see her.
The funny thing is he’d seen her so many times before she’d begun starring in Indiscretions, DNT’s top rated drama after its first highly acclaimed season. Taping for season two had begun a month before season one’s finale had even aired. The ratings had soared since the first week so Parker had immediately ordered the next season, keeping Lori Griffin as the show runner and Giovanni Morelli as the director. Aside from the show, Parker, and a good portion of the entire world, he suspected, had seen Adriana Bennett’s gorgeous half Brazilian, half African American, face all over the place. Whether on magazine covers, billboards, or runways, a little over ten years ago, when she was just a senior in high school, she’d taken the modeling world by storm. And with every year she’d grown more beautiful, her talent shining brighter than any other models. So when Parker had received a call from Jaydon, his ex-wife and director of Donovan Network Management, asking him to meet with Adriana, he’d at first been leery. Then, when he’d put a face to the name, he’d been excited.
However, their first meeting had left a lot to be desired. Adriana had been nervous and jittery and he’d been perhaps too preoccupied with the family reunion and wedding he’d missed, not to mention the capture of a convicted murderer and the woman that had once threatened DNT with a hostile take-over. His family had just returned from the Donovan private island of Sansonique, only a few days before his dinner meeting with Adriana and his younger sister Regan, was still pissed off at him for insuring that her arch-enemy, now lover, would be on the island as well. Regan had been dodging his calls but sending angry texts to him for days. He’d received one just as Adriana had come to the table.
“I can leave if I’m disturbing communications with you and your girlfriend,” she’d said in a cool and aloof voice as he’d slammed his phone down on the table.
“The professional greeting would be, ‘Hello, I’m here for our meeting’,” had been his stiff reply.
From that moment on they’d been on shaky ground, only he’d known by the end of dinner that she was perfect for the new show. DNT was all about staying competitive with the ever changing viewing market. Parker, along with his brother Savian and Regan, worked to bring the most innovative and diverse shows to their cable network. With Regan dedicating a lot of her time to the reality shows and Parker and Savian developing more substantial series productions, DNT was now one of the top rated networks. Indiscretions needed a sexy and alluring female star. Someone with a fresh face that would instantly pull in their targeted 20-35 year old female, African-American and Hispanic demographic. The show’s leading male, Tyler Cants had just finished starring in a very popular action movie series and posing for Playgirl Magazine, so he had that demographic on lock.
Adriana had never acted, not even in a commercial, she’d only modeled. But she’d done one hell of a good job becoming just as famous as any movie star for posing, smiling, pouting, and whatever else the photographer needed her to do to get the always perfect shot. She was everything they were looking for and even though Parker had left the restaurant feeling agitated, he’d known that he would call Jaydon first thing the next morning to have her scheduled for an official reading.
A year later and he was no longer agitated by Adriana Bennett. At least not in the way he was before. Now, he was more bothered by the perpetual hardness of his dick anytime he was near her, thinking about her, dreaming about her. Hell, lately he’d felt more like a love-sick teenager than a grown ass, divorced man, running a multi-million dollar television network.
Today, he actually thought he might have reached his threshold of resistance.
The glossy satin sheet slipped ever so seductively down as Tyler Cants pulled at it slowly. Somewhere in the background there was supposed to be music. Parker knew because he’d read this particular script at least fifty times since receiving it early last week. He’d known today was the day this love scene would be shot. Knew that Adriana’s on-screen affair with Tyler would be stepped up a notch in the seven minute act. And he hated the thought.
Tyler had rolled her onto her stomach, pushing all that thick, dark hair over one delicate shoulder so that she looked like she was posing for a picture instead of getting ready to make love in front of a camera. The line of her spine curved and dipped until the sheet just whispered past the small of her back until the perfectly tempting globes of her buttocks were revealed.
Parker jumped at the sound of the word, a sigh of relief mixed with regret escaping before he could stop it. Turning quickly he looked to see if anyone else had witnessed it as crew members all seemed to begin moving at the same time. Giovanni was up from his chair, heading over to where Adriana was quickly pulling the sheet around her body and Tyler, who Parker had just noticed was only wearing a G-string, still stood way too close to her. Giovanni was telling them something, moving his arms in gestures between them as Parker approached. He had no idea why he was approaching or what he intended to say, and yet he kept moving. Until he was now the one standing between where Adriana sat on the edge of the bed and the not-nearly-dressed-enough Tyler Cants now stood giving him a perplexed look.
“We’ll pick up with the rest of this scene tomorrow,” Giovanni was saying, casting a curious gaze at Parker as well.
“Good, because Ms. Bennett has a very important meeting that she cannot miss,” he said, again, not at all sure why, but holding his hand out to help her off the bed just the same.
“So back at nine?” Tyler asked as if he were bored and more than ready to leave.
“Yes, and not a minute late,” Giovanni barked. “You hear that, Adriana? Not a minute past nine. You should be ready to go so whatever was going on today, please leave it at home.”
“She’ll be here and she’ll be fine,” Parker replied, giving the director a shut-the-hell-up-before-I-punch-you look.
Giovanni did the smart thing and clamped his lips shut, turning quickly and walking away without another word.
“See ya in the mornin’,” Tyler told them with a salute and a smile.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” she snapped the second they were alone.
Parker didn’t have an answer to that question. Just as he’d been trying to figure out all afternoon why he’d come down here to the studio instead of staying in his lavish office at the Excalibur Business Center in downtown Miami. Sure, he, Savian and Regan all had smaller offices here at the studio for when they absolutely needed to be on sight for some reason, but Parker rarely ever worked there. He hadn’t even gone in to that office today because he’d come right to the lot where he’d known Adriana would be.
“Helping you up,” he said with his hand still on her elbow.
She moved so that he was no longer touching her and immediately began walking away from the set. Parker knew that she had a dressing room on the premises instead of using a trailer like some of the other actors. He knew because he’d been the one to authorize it.
“I don’t need any help,” she tossed over her shoulder, her strides surprisingly fast considering she was still wrapped in that sheet.
Parker easily kept pace, turning the corner to where her room was at the same time as she did, but beating her to the door. He reached for the knob and opened it, standing to the side so she could go in. She did, with a huff that he recognized from when he pissed Regan off about one thing or another. Parker was the older, but much more laid back one of Carolyn and Reginald Donovan’s children. So it was with his normal lightheartedness that he watched Adriana storm past him before following her inside.
“Everyone already knows that my family connections are what got me this job, Parker. I really don’t need them to think I’m getting even more favors, like the producer of the show coming down to get me out of a day’s work,” she said the moment the door was closed.
She’d moved to a chair and grabbed some clothes and then went into the bathroom and closed the door before he could respond.
“Did you see how Tyler looked at me when you stepped between us?” she continued.
Parker, on the other hand, was simply listening to her, while walking around the room seeing the bits and pieces of her and becoming even more intrigued. There was a couch and a dressing table, a huge mirror, a rack full of outfits. They were for the show, he noted, as he pushed through the garments, remembering seeing her in a couple of them as he’d watched on the sixty-inch flat screen in his bedroom every Monday night.
What the hell was he doing?
Dragging a hand down his face Parker felt like a veil had just been lifted, clearing his vision once and for all. He turned around, seeing the room once again, but this time from the professional stand-point, the place where he should have been all along. He was the producer of this show. His family owned this studio and the Excalibur Business Center and a number of other businesses and buildings throughout the continental U.S. He could get any woman that he wanted. Hell, his mother and all her not-so-subtle hints could have him set up with blind dates for the next six months, all he had to do was say the word. So why was he stalking this one?
With a shake of his head, he dismissed the stalking word from his mind and cleared his throat.
“I just stopped by to see how things were going,” he said, realizing then that she was still in the bathroom. “The ratings are still soaring so I wanted to make sure everyone was still on point.”
There was total silence and then he thought he heard her sigh, but wasn’t sure with a couple of feet and a door between them.
“I’ll talk to Giovanni and square things with him,” Parker said moving closer to the still closed bathroom door. “Nobody will think you’re getting preferential treatment, Adriana. I’ll make sure of that.” And whoever was stupid enough to so much as mumble anything differently would find themselves in the unemployment line.
“No,” she replied hastily.
The door opened quickly and she stood very close to it, looking up at him with eyes that struck him in that moment as extremely sad. Had they looked that way earlier?
“Don’t say anything to anyone. Just leave, please,” she continued. “And maybe, I mean, I know you’re the boss, but if you could not come around so much…um, that might help too.”
She was still standing in the bathroom, her body leaning against the door so that there was only half a view of her and the jeans and t-shirt she’d changed into. On her feet were running shoes in a really shocking shade of lavender, turquoise laces still untied. He almost smiled, but looked into her eyes once more.
“You’re doing a terrific job,” he told her because something in the way she was looking at him said she needed to hear that. “I’ll go now, but I wanted you to know that. I’m sure your family will be very proud.”
Her response was a nod, hair falling over a slim shoulder before she whispered, “Thank you,” and backed away, once again closing the door on him.
Parker could have stayed there. He could have continued to talk to her, to simply be near her, which—to his dismay—he still had a very strong urge to do. He could also march out to that lot and threaten to fire anyone that was giving her a hard time. He knew instinctively that neither was a good idea. And is if a higher being were lending a hand to insure he did the right thing, his cell phone vibrated in his pocket. When he slipped it out to look at the screen he was reminded of somewhere he had to be.
Looking back at the bathroom door, where he figured she’d chosen to hide from him, Parker simply shook his head instead of saying anything else. He walked out of her dressing room telling himself he would never go in there again, regardless of the fact that he owned the damned place. He would respect her wishes and he would keep his distance.
That was probably best. For both of them.