Taken by the CEO
Her first one-night stand…and her new boss.
It was only supposed to be a little white lie. When Emmaline Greene pretends to be Sarah, the confident, sexy woman she wishes she could be, she figures no harm, no foul. Her one-night stand will never find out. Wrong. The gorgeous guy she slept with isn’t just amazing in bed…he’s also her new boss.
Parker Wentworth has just been appointed CEO of his family’s company and is tasked with repairing its scandalous reputation. He can’t afford any distractions. So why can’t he forget the incredible night they spent together and move on?
Ms. London has become one of my go-to authors for contemporary romance...I’ve really looked forward to every one of her releases since, and I’ve got to say that this first book of her Scandalous Wentworths series was riveting, fast-paced and a story I couldn’t get enough of..." HarlequinJunkie
"Once again Ms. London has brought her A-game. With her wonderful writing, the author gives us a perfect balance of heat, romance, emotion and drama...just a titter of it within this story that really enhance the characters and the storyline. What a fabulous start to a new series." - Katrina, Goodreads Review
"Let me say I don't necessarily rush to give 5 stars, but for Taken by the CEO by Stephanie London, I couldn't hit that fifth star fast enough!!! I love her well developed characters, spirited and sassy female leads, and hot and handsome, wanting to do the right thing corporate executives!" -Diane Mason, Star Angels Reviews
"Once again Stefanie London has written a book that made me laugh, tear up, get angry (on a Emmaline's behalf), and also curled my toes. This is why she is one of the top five authors on my must-read list. I am very much looking forward to the rest of the books in this series." 5 star review, Heather
“Did your first order of business have to be firing someone?”
“Yes.” Edward Parker Wentworth looked up from tying the laces of his running shoes to meet the judgmental stare of his younger brother, Ian. “What? The CIO wasn’t performing and, while I’m aware that you’ve all been able to run amok like it’s the goddamn Jungle Book in there, that’s not going to fly with me. You perform or I show you the door.”
He ignored the bait and stood, taking a moment to stretch the tired muscles in his back. “And technically I don’t start until Monday, so Arthur fired him.”
“On your orders.” Ian followed him out the front door.
“On my recommendation.”
“You’re such a buzzkill.”
Of course Ian would say that. But the fact was, the Wentworth Group’s IT spending was triple that of their closest competitors, and yet they still hadn’t implemented a new point-of-sale system or updated the online shopping functionality of the company website. Which explained why their customer engagement scores were not only at the bottom of the pack in their latest benchmarking report, they were practically six feet under.
Just like your reputation will be if you don’t get in there and make some changes.
“Did you see they called you Edward in the memo that went out last week?” Ian chuckled at his expression.
“I’ll be fixing that the second that I start on Monday,” he said. While Edward was his legal name, he’d only ever been referred to as Parker growing up. The name suited him better, and Edward made him sound a good two decades older than his thirty-two years. “I’m sure they’ll keep it on all the official stuff, but I don’t want people calling me Edward.”
“Won’t be an issue. I’m sure they’ll be calling you Mr. CEO or Your Highness, anyway,” Ian quipped.
Parker had moved back to Melbourne for the one and only thing that could’ve tempted him to deal with his family again—a CEO position. It wasn’t just a title to him, it was the chance to take over his family’s company and restore the value of their name. A name that his father had dragged through mud.
Parker and Ian jogged down the steps and onto the street. His new apartment was a short distance from Melbourne’s Tan running track, and the leafy surrounds were just what he needed to clear his head. If only he could get Ian off his case…
“Or maybe they’ll call you the Terminator if you keep firing people,” Ian added.
“It’s my job to start picking up the pieces. Arthur has made a right fucking mess of that place.”
“Lighten up, Park. When was the last time you got laid?” Ian snorted. “Or do you only get a hard-on for numbers these days?”
Parker shot his brother a look. “One of us needs to focus on keeping the family business going. You should thank me for protecting your inheritance.”
“I’m looking out for you.” Ian chuckled as they rounded a corner. “You know if you don’t use it, you lose it.”
“I am using it,” he muttered, knowing full well that his brother was winding him up for sport.
“You can’t wait for the perfect woman to crash into your life, you know,” Ian continued. “You have to seize the moment.”
“Is that how you justify slacking off from work?” Parker rolled his eyes. Besides, the perfect woman didn’t exist, at least not one who would agree to his two key criteria:
A woman who didn’t expect to be trusted; and
Someone who was happy to play second fiddle to his career.
Since he knew that made him sound like a jerk, most of the time he didn’t bother. One-night stands were better like that—it was easier to “lose a phone number” than have that conversation and deal with other people’s emotions.
The Tan was packed with runners enjoying the fading summer sun. Lush greenery from the Royal Botanical Gardens surrounded the track and could easily make you forget that the city was just around the corner. Parker and Ian picked up their pace, dodging a group of women with children and finding a clear space to keep their speed steady.
“How can you look at all this and not be interested?” Ian gestured to the people running around them.
The Tan was the place to run in the city and, as such, it attracted some very fit women in some very tiny shorts. But Parker needed more than a great set of legs to tempt him. Despite sticking to casual encounters, he still expected them to have some spark.
“Sorry for knowing what I want,” Parker said, rolling his eyes. “Or what I don’t.”
“More options for me, then.”
“Reverse psychology isn’t going to make me any more attracted to these women because you’ve got it in your head I need to get laid more often.” He shot his brother a look. “I’m perfectly satisfied with my life.”
That wasn’t entirely true. The years he’d spent living in Boston had been crazy. What should have been a work hard, play hard scenario had turned into work hard…then work harder. But one didn’t become a CEO without sacrifice. Anyway, he wasn’t exactly hard up for female company. Since returning to Melbourne he’d caught up with a few old flames who knew not to expect anything long term. But unlike Ian, he didn’t give out details about his sex life to anyone who asked.
“So are you ready for Monday?” Ian asked, breaking the silence.
“Of course,” Parker replied a little too quickly.
He was good at his job—that was never in dispute. But he’d taken on the role of CEO when his father had retired suddenly after a heart attack. Apparently, the old man had started banging on about work-life balance or some bullshit.
But the opportunity presented to Parker was ripe for the taking. He had plans to prove that the Wentworth Group was the future of Australian retail. Drive the share prices up and shake the mud off his family name. Piece. Of. Cake.
“Get out of your own head.” Ian gave him a nudge with one elbow. “I can hear the cogs turning from here.”
“Must be a nice change since your cogs don’t get much of a workout.”
Ian laughed. The insult was flimsy at best. His brother’s breezy charisma was often mistaken as a sign that he was “all talk, no action” but Ian was one of the sharpest businessmen he’d ever known. Whereas Parker was often pegged as the serious, studious type, the younger Wentworth brother was the serial charmer. Like chalk and cheese.
“You really do need to get laid. It might help you loosen up a bit.”
“Your fascination with my sex life is bordering on weird.”
“Someone’s got to look out for Little Parker, because you sure as hell aren’t.”
He snorted. “Creep.”
“And you love it.” Ian’s laughter caught the attention of a pair of blondes jogging past. They smiled and giggled to each other as Ian winked. “Seriously, though, it’s good that you came home.”
“Don’t get all soft on me.” Parker rolled his eyes, but deep down he was grateful for Ian’s support.
The rest of their family might be a total mess, but he counted on his siblings. That was one relationship he could commit to.
They jogged in silence for a while, and Ian was making eyes at a brunette beside them. When the girl stopped to stretch, Ian gave him a wave and followed her. Shaking his head, Parker continued on. No doubt his brother would have her number in his back pocket by the time they caught up again.
Sometimes, he wished he could be more like Ian and revel in a little irresponsibility. But Parker had been deeply affected by their father’s mistakes. Like any high-profile family, skeletons in the closet were pure media fodder, and theirs had been blown out of the water when it came out that Arthur Wentworth was not only keeping a mistress on the side—his secretary, no less—but an illegitimate son, too.
A secret family that he’d managed to hide for over two fucking decades.
The bad stench of that scandal hung around to this day. Which was exactly why Parker was coming in to clean the company up. Arthur’s mistakes might have ruined their family, but he wouldn’t allow it to crumble the company.
Parker went to turn around another corner, and a flash of pink blinded him. The woman trying to get his attention almost knocked him clean off his feet.
“Can you help?” she asked, her voice panicked. “Please.”