“Oh, but I do. As long as people aren’t sacrificed.”
He nodded. “Spoken like a true yoga teacher.” His gray gaze drilled into her. “I’m curious how you became involved in this field of work. Your proposal is impressive. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear you graduated with a business degree.”
“I hold a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in business.” She tried to keep a straight face when she saw his surprise. “I confess I’m a vegetarian—or at least I try to be—but I hate green sprouts and tofu. I still have trouble standing on my head. But I do take a multi-vitamin daily.”
A smile tugged at his lips. “Am I that bad?”
Chandler nodded her head and laughed. “Most people equate the term yoga with an image of a guru in a turban. I was equally doubtful the first time I took a class. I completed a paper in college on the effect of meditation on society. I researched yoga, and became hooked. Learning to focus so clearly gave me the feeling I could accomplish anything. It also gave me the freedom to be comfortable doing nothing at all.”
She shook her head at the memory. “Everyone is so caught up in the rat race. Complete a degree, make loads of money, support a family.” She leaned forward. “We start to forget the feel of sunshine on our face, the salty smell of the ocean, the taste of chocolate. We sleep through the sunrise and ignore the sunset. We don’t know how to stand still and enjoy the moment.”
She watched as a slight frown creased his brow.
Logan studied her for a moment, saying nothing. When he’d first heard he was scheduled to speak with a yoga teacher, he’d been ready to wring his secretary’s neck. The last thing he wanted was to waste time discussing proposals with a flower child of the new millennium, so he’d decided to cut the meeting short.
He changed his mind the moment she entered the room. Maybe it was the banked flame he saw in her emerald eyes; or all that dark honey hair begging to be set free of her severe spinster bun. He wondered how far it would tumble down her back.
She moved with a natural grace and had greeted him in a low, husky voice that soothed his ears. As they exchanged pleasantries, he’d decided to humor her for a while and look over the proposal. After all, the time was blocked on his calendar, and he’d have the opportunity to satisfy his curiosity.
He hadn’t expected her business plan to be good.
But what was even worse, Logan decided as he watched her fidget beneath his stare, was his reaction to the woman herself. Her passion for her plan caused an odd hunger to stir deep in his gut. When was the last time he'd gotten impassioned over a sunset, or even thought of something other than his next business deal? Maybe, Chandler Santell lived moment to moment, with no intentions of settling down with a husband and family. Logan ignored the faint prickle of unease that shot through him at the image of her making love to anyone but him.
“You sound like you decided to give up the kind of life most people strive for,” he said.
A shadow passed over her face as she dealt with the memories. Then she forced a smile. “There’s a certain amount of reality in that world. I follow a different path. I’d like to see people made more aware of the simple daily pleasures, then they can make their own choice.”
“Sometimes there are no choices, Chandler. Sometimes people do the best they can.”
She blinked in surprise at her body’s sudden, feminine reaction to his words. Her mouth became dry. Her stomach clenched into a tight, silken fist. Funny, how the sound of her name from this man’s lips evoked a sensation she’d never experienced before. Her body seemed to vibrate, humming to a tune she couldn’t quite catch. Maybe it was just the way his voice caressed, deepening to a low, dark pitch as he spoke. Maybe it was the sudden glint of regret she caught in his eyes, that made her wonder what events had shaped this powerful man’s life. Or maybe she was finally losing her mind.
This time she caught her hand in mid-air before she pushed away honey brown strands that weren’t there. She tried to re-direct the conversation back to business. “This program will keep you on the cutting edge.”
“How would you implement the workshops?” he asked. “To be perfectly blunt, I can’t see my executives seeking out a stress reduction class.”
She nodded. This was the delicate part of the negotiations. She tried to keep her mind clear and calm her nerves. “I’ve given the matter some thought. When a seminar is offered in a company the employees take note of which groups attend and how important their function is. For example, if top management signs up for a seminar, the lower level managers usually follow, until it works its way down the hierarchy.”
She clasped her hands together and knew she had his full attention. “So, if we institute a stress reduction workshop, there’s only one way every employee will attend.” Chandler paused. “You have to be the first person to enroll.”
A short silence fell as her words hung in the air. Then he smiled. Chandler pulled in her breath at the sight of his dangerous, masculine smile which displayed a row of straight, white teeth. Logan Grant looked as if he’d found an interesting prey and wanted to toy with his catch. She shivered at the thought.
“You want me to go to these classes personally?”
Chandler gathered her courage and took the plunge. “Yes, I do, Mr. Grant. It’s the only way this program will work and—”
“Logan,” he interrupted softly.
“I think this class will be the best thing for you.”
“How so?” he drawled, leaning back in his chair.
She crossed her arms in front of her and vowed not to be intimidated by his tone. The words bubbled out of her mouth before she stopped to think.
“I’d guess by the dregs left in the coffee pot and the tired look in your eyes that you’ve been up half the night, going on caffeine and raw adrenaline. I’d also guess your temper hit full steam first thing this morning by the way your secretary looks at you with fear. Papers are stacked on your desk, it took me over a month to get an appointment, and I bet the door behind you leads directly to a bathroom and sofa. You probably work day and night here. All in all, I think a class teaching you to deal with stress couldn’t hurt.”
She inwardly cringed and waited for the explosion. No wonder she hadn’t done well in the business world. Her father always warned her blunt honesty never closed a deal. But how could she stay quiet and watch someone go blithely through life, without really living? Collecting the next degree or earning the next million didn’t ensure peace or happiness. Once, she lived her life by a similar philosophy, and searched for something to help her forget the emptiness. Alexander Santell taught her about money and power, confident his only daughter would follow in his footsteps and inherit control of the company. She’d watched her father ignore his own family to pursue the path of success, and he lost everyone who’d ever cared or loved him. She didn’t want to someday see the man across from her in the hospital because of a heart attack, where all the money in the world couldn’t help. If she implemented her stress seminar, he’d finally understand.
She’d teach him to understand. If he gave her the chance.
Logan studied the woman across his desk with amusement. Obviously, she regretted her impulsive words but decided to brazen it out. She held her chin high in defiance. Admiration flashed through him. Of course, he’d be insane to accept her offer. There was no sure way to measure the results. There was no guaranteed profit.
There was no way he’d agree to her proposal.
He tapped his pen against the desk in a steady rhythm, and tried to analyze his deep pang of regret at the thought of Chandler Santell walking out the door and out of his life. He heard honest concern and anger in her voice when she lectured him on his work habits. In his long climb up the ladder of success, many people gave advice regarding his next business move, and many shared in his rewards. But no one expressed interest in his personal health, or suggested a move to help him.
His eyes raked over her figure for about the twentieth time. He took in her professional appearance from her tawny polished fingertips matching her honey-hued hair pulled back into a strangled bun, to the high neckline and short wool skirt of her “show-me-the money” green business suit, to her too sensible low heeled black pumps. She projected the image of a serious businesswoman who desired to be accepted into a man’s world, but not be particularly noticed by anyone. Especially a man.
The problem, Logan decided, was that Chandler Santell was destined to fail at her goal of men not noticing her.
He knew by the way she unconsciously lifted her hand to check her bun that her hair would spill around her shoulders in riotous waves. Anger made her green eyes flash, which would challenge a man to turn temper into passion. Her lips may be drawn tightly together, but Logan glimpsed the gentle fullness to her mouth, hinting at a certain softness and vulnerability. Her business suit couldn’t hide ripe curves, or long slender legs. Even her scent bewitched him; a subtle fragrance of vanilla that teased his senses and kept him from concentrating on their conversation.
As she spoke, he realized beneath her constrained appearance lurked a passionate spirit yearning for freedom. He became intrigued at the thought of tapping into a hidden part of Chandler Santell. He wondered if such a spirit could be tamed to live with one man, or if she’d ever even met a man with enough guts to try.