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As promised, here is an excerpt from my upcoming book, The Billionaire’s Matchmaker. It’ll be the first story of the Sweet Matchmaker series from my “small-town sweet story” line of books.
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The Billionaire’s Matchmaker, book one of the Sweet Matchmaker series
Five Months Ago
He’d walked up to Keisha Powell’s desk with a perfect suit, a crisp gait, and a platinum ring—none of which fit in at her small-town matchmaker’s office. He didn’t have an appointment, either. But she’d give him the benefit of the doubt. As an out-of-towner, he must not have known any better. But if he didn’t, why was he here? Not that she minded. Looking at him sure beat the drizzle trickling over her office window that gray Thursday morning.
She stood from behind a wide walnut desk. At five-foot-ten plus another inch or two thanks to a kitten heel, she usually stood eye-to-eye with men. Not with this one. He cleared her by another few inches. Tall, handsome with a square jaw, deep-set, determined green eyes, a short buzz of dirty blond hair, and a lean build—she reminded him of Brad Pitt from the movie Mr. And Mrs. Smith. She hoped this guy wasn’t looking for trouble. But he didn’t seem like it. He smiled a little after she stood as if her height had pleasantly surprised him.
“Can I help you?” Keisha asked.
“Keisha Powell?” He spoke with a crisp northern accent that matched his walk. “I’m Marcus Macy.” He shook her hand. “I’m hoping you can help me.”
“I’ll try.” She smiled, placing her hands to her sides, the open, friendly posture she used for potential clients. Maybe he knew someone that needed a matchmaker. A sibling, a friend—
“I need a wife.”
A wife? Didn’t he already have one? She wasn’t the polygamous kind of matchmaker, and his bluntness had taken her aback. She glanced at the ring on his left hand again. “I’d rather you check in with me after papers are signed, and the ink is dry.” She sat back down, holding back a huff of judgment.
“You’re wearing a wedding band, Mr. Macy.”
He stuck out his left hand like it was a new attachment to his wrist. “Oh.” He yanked the ring off and stuffed it in his pants pocket like loose change. “That’s just… It’s for show.”
Yeah, this guy was trouble, alright. Keisha could only hope he wasn’t as duplicitous as the character in Mr. And Mrs. Smith. If he knew martial arts like Brad Pitt’s character, this would be a big problem. Keisha hadn’t been in a fight since middle school. And if Al in the barbershop to Keisha’s left had the clippers going, and if Jenny in the cake shop to Keisha’s right had the mixer going, no one would hear her scream.
When Mr. Macy unbuttoned his suit jacket and sat down in the cream leather chair across from her, she put aside the notion that he came to kick her butt for no reason. Matchmaker’s offices weren’t exactly known for carrying vaults of cash.
Feeling a bit more relaxed, Keisha said, “You’re going to have to explain why you’re wearing a ring if you want my help.”
“Understandable.” He leaned back in the chair. “I’m a businessman, a very successful one, and I—”
She wondered if his last name had anything to do with his success. “Do you have any relationship to Macy’s, the department store?”
“Unfortunately, no. Though having the same name doesn’t hurt. If people make assumptions, so be it.” He smoothed his purple-striped tie.
“And the ring?”
“I was getting to that.” He cleared his throat. “I’ve been doing a lot of venture capitalism lately, which means I’m constantly meeting people. In the past few months, I’ve noticed a recurring topic of conversation among my clients.” He adjusted his tie again. “Family.”
Keisha nodded slowly. “I see.”
“At twenty-five, I didn’t care whether I had anything to add to those kinds of conversations. But I’m thirty-one now and… I’m expected to be in a different place.”
“So, being single is bad for business?”
He smirked. “Something like that.”
“And you bought a ring to pretend that you’re married?”
He glanced out the window behind her. “Lately, I’ve imagined myself with a wife, kids, family. I believe in the power of envisioning. I’m one of those crazy people with vision boards and things like that.”
Keisha used to believe in that, too. She had a vision board at home. Cut-outs of a cute family taken from a magazine years ago. Pictures of tropical islands and beaches where she’d like to vacation. None of it had happened. No family. No beachy vacations. Over time, she tucked the vision board in a dresser drawer and buried the prospect of family along with it.
“Have you lied yet?” Keisha asked.
“About being married? Yes.” His quick admission surprised her, though it probably shouldn’t have. His green eyes trailed from the window back to her face. “Luckily, details weren’t asked at the time. But either way, I don’t want to make it a habit.”
“Where are you from?”
He smiled. A bright, perfect smile. “Is it that obvious I’m not from here?”
“Absolutely.” She grinned back, noticing his eyes twinkle at her.
“I’m from the San Francisco bay area. I caught the first plane out this morning to come here.”
That news flattered her. But it concerned her, too. Had he already strolled into every matchmaking office in California to no avail? A hot, successful businessman should’ve been able to find a wife with an easy finger-snap. If Jenny from the bakery next door saw him, she’d probably offer to be his wife on the spot.
Keisha asked, “Have you tried a matchmaking service before?”
“No, but I’ve done a lot of research. You have a hundred percent success rate. This town has strong family values and a low divorce rate. I had a feeling you would be a good place to start. And frankly, I don’t have a lot of time. Five months, more or less.” Before she could comment on the rushed timeline, he added, “So, if you don’t mind, I’d like to get started.”
Four Months Later
Marcus sat in the cream-colored leather chair across from Keisha like he had the seven or eight times since his first trip to her office. She tapped buttons on a keyboard to pull up another round of ladies for him to check out. Candidates, she called them.
His gaze floated over her. Too bad she couldn’t be one of his candidates. She was sharp, witty, and not intimidated by his success—or enamored by it. She was self-sufficient, independent, and enjoyed her career. Definitely a turn-on.
He’d been attracted to Keisha from day one when she stood and he saw her height. He always liked a tall woman who didn’t shy away from a heel. Ladies like that commanded a presence and confidence that went unspoken.
Keisha turned her computer monitor toward him. The end of her long sleek ponytail tumbled from her shoulder to her back. Almond-shaped eyes followed his gaze, which wasn’t on the monitor. He shifted his focus from her pretty face back to the computer screen.
“This is Tina Bartholomew,” Keisha said. “She’s—”
“Bartholomew?” He shook his head. “I don’t like that name. Reminds me of a client I had. Things didn’t end well.”
Her lip quivered, trying to hold back a laugh, he guessed. “So you throw her out because of it?”
“Well, yeah. What if they’re related?”
“What if they’re not? You’re not related to Macy’s.”
He tipped his head in her direction. “Touché.”
She gave him a little smile, the crooked one that screamed “sexy” without her knowing it. “Okay, Mr. Macy, I’ve got a few more for you today.”
“I told you to call me Marcus.”
“I do call you Marcus. But I call you Mr. Macy when you throw out my ladies like they’re an old rag.”
“Fair enough. What else do you have?”
Keisha pulled up another picture. Marcus flinched, blinded by the woman’s pale skin against her black dress. “Ugh.” He pulled a face. “Too pale.”
Keisha chuckled. “She has …what’s that term? Porcelain skin.”
“Nope.” He shook his head. “This isn’t 1914. I like women with a tan.” He glanced at Keisha’s neckline, a natural tan color that women would kill to have. She must’ve noticed because she shifted in her seat.
“Okay, let’s try Kylie.”
Wasn’t that one of the Kardashians’ names? He sighed at the thought as Keisha pulled up the woman’s photo. Cute girl. A registered nurse, which meant she’d have long shifts at work and would probably understand Marcus’s lengthy workdays. Her skin had a healthy glow. Nice smile. Lived in California, too. This could be promising, he thought, until he read the line about her height.
“Five-one?” He groaned. “I’d tower over her.”
“Five-one isn’t that bad.”
He frowned. “I don’t want to feel or look like I’m holding hands with a child.”
“I know for a fact that she loves to wear platforms.” As if that mattered.
He glared at her. “I’m tall, Keisha, I need a tall woman. And I need a woman of color…” He hurriedly added, “I mean, a woman with color…”
He hadn’t planned for it to come out quite that way, for his interest in Keisha, a woman of color, to be that obvious. But there it was, hanging in there air now.
Keisha’s brow lifted. He’d gotten her attention—in a good way or bad one, he wasn’t sure. His heart thump-thumped beneath his ribs, awaiting her reaction.
“Marcus, are you interested in seeing more black women in your list of candidates?” Her lip pursed in a teasing manner.
“Yes,” he answered firmly. “Preferably tall ones. Say five-ten or eleven…” He kept going when a light of recognition flickered in her almond-shaped eyes. “…with light brown skin and a long ponytail.”
Her gaze locked with his, and the air in his lungs floated in his chest. Her full lips parted in surprise, and she shifted behind her desk again. “Marcus, I…” She broke their gaze, turning her attention back to the computer. “There’s a line. A professional line. You’re my…I can’t—”
“You can’t date a client,” he finished for her. “Yeah, I read that in the clause. So what?”
Her gaze flicked his way again, darkened by a little annoyance. “I take my job seriously.”
“So do I.” He chose his next words carefully. “And I take you seriously, too.”
Hey, you —
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