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Adding Up to You

Jill Shalvis

  All’s fair in love and war…and business, in this reader-favorite novel by New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis!

  Kenna Mallory is loath to give up her hard-won independence, but when her father asks her to take over as VP of one of the family’s latest hotel acquisitions, Kenna can’t resist the opportunity to prove herself. The catch? She has to be the co-VP along with Weston Roth. With a name like that, Kenna is sure Weston must be old and doddering.

  Wes is neither. And after years of working hard to get where he is, he doesn’t appreciate Kenna’s sudden arrival on the scene. Yet he can’t deny that she’s determined, smart, good with numbers…and nearly impossible to resist. Can he mix business with pleasure without losing everything he’s worked for?

  Originally published as Natural Blond Instincts in 2003.

  Books by Jill Shalvis

  Colorado Protector

  Long-Lost Mom

  The Rancher’s Surrender

  The Detective’s Undoing

  Who’s the Boss?

  Roughing with Ryan

  Tangling with Ty

  Messing with Mac

  The Street Where She Lives

  Out of the Blue

  Hero for Hire

  Her Perfect Stranger

  The Bachelor’s Bed

  Chance Encounter

  Naughty But Nice

  Adding Up to you

  Together Again?

  Adding Up to You (Natural Blond Instincts)

  Jill Shalvis


  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19



  KENNA MALLORY thought she’d turned out okay, though she supposed that depended on who you asked. Zipping alongside the Pacific coast just outside Santa Barbara, the sun at her back, the radio blaring…she herself couldn’t have asked for more.

  But her parents…undoubtedly they could have filled volumes on how they might have changed their only daughter. Changed and molded and created.

  Unfortunately, they’d blessed Kenna with her own mind. Hence, the Mallory family issues. She didn’t toe the line, she didn’t follow the rules, she didn’t fit the mold. Their mold.

  Which explained the slightly exasperated voice of her father in her ear, courtesy of the cell phone she’d won in a mail sweepstakes.

  “Kenna, honestly. You baffle me.” This was said in a paternal tone suggesting impatience, superiority and that mind-boggling emotion called love. A powerful combination on the best of days, designed to crank the guilt factor up to maximum overload. “I’ve got the perfect job for you, and you have no response.”

  None that he wanted to hear, anyway.

  Since he’d been doing his damnedest to run her life from the moment she’d been born, and she’d been doing her damnedest not to let him, the result had made for some interesting arguments over the past twenty-seven years. “Dad…thank you. I appreciate it, but I’ve got my own job, remember?”

  “Washing crap out of poodles’ tails is not a job, Kenna.”

  She glanced at the waves pounding the shore because it was calming, and at the moment, she needed calming. “I don’t do that anymore and you know it.” She purposely avoided reminding him exactly what she did do for a living. Did she really need to say—again—that she wasn’t in his world because he’d kicked her out of it?

  Since then, sure, she’d had some, uh, creative jobs to earn her way through college. But recently, she’d landed herself a position in the accounting department of Nordstrom’s. One thing she’d gotten from Kenneth Mallory, III, was her love of business and finance. She was good at it. So good, in fact, that on her better days she’d call herself a whiz.

  “The job I have for you is important,” he said. “As opposed to, say, slinging beer at that bar where the women wear those tight white tank tops.”

  “Now, you know I only did that for one week.” And she’d made enough money to cover an entire semester’s tuition. Who could complain about that?

  “Kenna, for once, listen.”

  “Fine.” She pretended his tone didn’t sneak past her defenses and stab at her. Was it so bad to want to make her own way? To want to be successful and please him at the same time, without compromising herself and her beliefs just because they were different than his?

  “You’re a Mallory—”

  Oh yeah, here it came. The Mallory card. She could recite it verbatim. As a Mallory, you owe it to the family… As a Mallory, you must present yourself this way… As a Mallory…

  Never mind that she didn’t consider herself a Mallory, and that she hadn’t for a long time. It wasn’t the name she minded, but the baggage attached to it that she could definitely live without. She just wanted to be her own person.

  Her own person who lived quite happily in a four-hundred-square-foot studio apartment in Santa Barbara. Sure, she had neither an adequate bathroom mirror nor a tub, not to mention only enough closet space for one pair of shoes, but she had her pride and her freedom, and she valued both. “I just really want to manage on my own.”

  “Want has little to do with family obligation. Remember your great-great-grandfather Philippe, who—”

  “—came over on the boat from France with only the clothes on his back,” she intoned along with him. “Walking to work every day in the icy, freezing snow, ten miles uphill each way—” She stopped when she heard his reluctant chuckle.

  “Okay, so I’ve mentioned him before.”

  “Only a few billion times.” She smiled at his admission. “I get it, Dad, honest. We work hard. But I am working hard, just not for you.”

  “It doesn’t make sense. Explain it to me. Make me understand.”

  As she came into Santa Barbara, a sprawling, hopping, happy beach town that liked to party, the glittering summer sun set its edges down on the ocean, creating a glorious end to the day. Never one to pass up a sky-gazing moment, Kenna shoved her sunglasses to the top of her head to see better. “Well, for starters, you and Mom live in San Diego.”

  “Not a good enough excuse.”

  “It’s four hours away, Dad.”

  “Like you’ve never moved before.”

  “Well then, how about because we spontaneously combust if we’re together in the same room for more than five minutes?”

  “So we’ve had a few obstacles in our day. That’s no reason to stop trying.”

  Obstacles. Meaning, of course, her wild and crazy years. The years Kenna had spent battling her insecurities and inadequacies in the face of her brilliant parents had been long and rather ugly. But she’d paid the price—dearly—when, at the age of eighteen, she’d had all funds yanked from beneath her feet, leaving her as accused.

  Wild and crazy.

  And penniless.

  It had been their version of tough love, and it had been tough. Extremely so. But she hadn’t been born a Mallory for nothing. Stubbornness and tenacity had been bred into her, and she’d marched off to college determined to prove she could manage on her own. She’d been the principled, idealistic rebel, an activist on campus staging sit-ins at the administrative building whenever she thought an injustice had been committed.

  She’d horrified her parents on a weekly basis, but because they’d already overplayed their hand by cutting off the money, they
were powerless to do anything about her actions. With such freedom in front of her, she’d never looked back, not until the day she’d graduated.

  Granted, she’d graduated by the skin of her teeth, at a far less prestigious school than her parents had planned on, but she had finished. She’d done it on her own, grooming poodles, doing the aforementioned “slinging beer,” mopping up at K-Mart, you name it, she’d done it for the little luxuries like food and tuition. She’d done it because she’d wanted to, and because she figured her parents had not expected her to. They probably had planned for her to last a week—two, tops—without their financial support. Then, when she came begging for money, they could have pulled out the Mallory family rule book, forced her to agree to follow said rules in exchange for that support and signed the whole deal…in blood. One more time their rebel daughter had not performed according to plan.

  Her father had tried to get her to work for Mallory Enterprises after graduation. Pick one of our hotels, he’d told her. Take an entry-level position and learn the ropes.

  It had been a decent idea. After all, she’d studied the hotel industry in college, but the bottom line was that their ideologies clashed. Her parents were conservative fiscally and socially, whereas she was about as liberal as you could get.

  They thought in terms of dollars.

  She thought in terms of people. She believed minimum wage should be high enough that everyone could live without hunger and poverty. They’d like to see minimum wage abolished.

  Clash, clash, clash.

  “You’re ready for this now,” her father said. “Taking over this newest acquisition for us is just the beginning for you at Mallory Enterprises. Admit it, you love business the way your mother loves performing surgery. You’ll be a natural.”

  “I don’t have the image.”

  “You’re a Mallory, aren’t you?”

  “Maybe I meant physical image.” She certainly could have meant that. At fifty-eight, her father defined elegant and sophisticated, a self-made man who had turned a small fortune into millions. Her mother could have passed for a young Audrey Hepburn…who just happened to be a brilliant surgeon.

  And then there was Kenna. An untamed blonde. A good six inches taller than her parents and stacked to boot. Her Saxon looks were a throwback to the grandmother she’d never gotten to meet.

  “I understand there will be a learning curve,” her father said, most likely referring to the reforming of her strong-willed, strong-minded and, on the best of days, somewhat unpredictable nature. “Think of it, Kenna. Working for me, you could buy that Ferrari you always dreamed of. Maybe I’d even buy it for you.”

  Oh, now that wasn’t fair, using an old fantasy against her. She hadn’t dreamed of having a Ferrari since she’d been sixteen years old. She tapped the steering wheel of her extremely old Honda Civic and tried to remember how many third-world countries could be fed on the price of one fancyschmancy car.

  “How’s this,” her father proposed. “A vice president position. You can run things, as you want.”

  Treacherously, her heart leaped. Vice president…

  “I’ll expect you in one week at our latest acquisition, the San Diego Mallory. We picked it up eighteen months ago. It just reopened after major renovations. You’ll be working with a Mr. Weston Roth. The two of you will run the place together.”

  Vice president definitely had a better ring to it than her current position—accounting clerk, level one.

  “You and Roth are a partnership made in heaven, trust me.”

  “I thought this was your baby,” she said.

  “No, no. It’s Weston’s. He’s been acting VP since Milton Stanton retired last year. And now, with your education under your belt and your silly roaming the planet habit out of your system, it’s yours as well.”

  She’d “roamed the planet” for six glorious weeks as a travel scout for a travel agency just outside of Los Angeles, and she’d worked her tush off. But while business, and more specifically, numbers, were her thing, organization and travel writing were not. She’d failed horribly. “I don’t think so, Dad. I’m sorry.”

  “No, I understand.” Her father’s voice lowered. Sounded sad. “It’s just that you’re an only child. The business is massive. Hotels scattered throughout the West. If something were to happen to me or your mother…”

  She flicked off her radio, her chest suddenly tight. “Okay, what’s the matter?”


  “Is one of you sick?”

  “If I pretended to be, would that count?”

  She let out a relieved breath. “I know you didn’t have me just so that I’d take over your business.”

  “You’re really going to let this multi-million dollar corporation go to your cousin Serena simply because it’s not your thing?”

  Serena was deeply entrenched at Mallory Enterprises, working in conference sales and management, and very happy there. She could have the place and Kenna’s new partner, Mr. Weston Roth, as far as Kenna was concerned. Just his name evoked images of an old, stern, hard and unforgiving man.

  She hated stern, hard, unforgiving men.

  “Please, Kenna. Please do this.”

  Wow, he’d hauled out the magic word, which to her recollection, he’d never used before.

  “Try it,” he cajoled. “Give me…say, six months.”

  Just give up her life in Santa Barbara for six months to work in San Diego, two hundred and fifty miles away. Like that was easy to do. It wasn’t San Diego that was the problem—she loved the exciting beach town nearly as much as she loved Santa Barbara. It was the thought of once again being under his thumb, following his rules…

  And yet, something was new here. He was asking her, not telling.

  As she’d secretly wanted all her life to please him, please him while still being herself, it made her hesitate. “What happens at the end of the six months?”

  “If you’re not cut out for the job, I’ll be man enough to admit it.”

  “You mean that?”

  “I just said so, didn’t I?”

  Yes, shockingly enough, he had, and Kenna had never known him to go back on his word. “I’ll drive you crazy,” she said, and held her breath.

  Deny it, she silently wished. Deny it.

  “Only if you’re inadequate.”

  She let out the breath and resisted banging her hand on the steering wheel. Her gut churned because she’d always yearned to show him exactly how her creative and inventive ways could be channeled into something good, something worthwhile, something that would please them and herself at the same time.

  She was insane, but… “Okay.”


  “Okay, I’ll do it.” What the hell, six months wasn’t a life sentence. And it would be nice to be able to afford good hair products again. “If I can do it my way.”

  He hesitated for a long moment. “We’re talking aboveboard, right? All legal-like?”

  She rubbed her temples. “Yes, Dad. All legal-like.”

  “Well, then. Perfect.”

  “And after six months, I’m free to go.”

  “Unless you like the job.”

  Insanity, that’s what this was, but Kenna couldn’t pass up the chance to show him she could be strong, she could know her own mind and still fit into their world if she chose to.

  She just couldn’t believe that she was choosing to.


  KENNA SPENT the week shifting her life from Santa Barbara to San Diego. It was surprisingly easy, because as it turned out, there were lots of people waiting in line to get her Nordstrom’s job and fabulous employee discount.

  She’d been far more expendable than she thought. A bit of a blow to her ego, but that made her more fiercely determined to succeed somewhere else. And that somewhere else might as well be within Mallory Enterprises. For now.

  By the following Monday morning, she was a little more nervous than she would have liked as she made her way do
wn the ornately decorated hallway of the latest Mallory acquisition, the San Diego Mallory. She supposed that could be directly related to the fact she had never really fit in with her family, so she had no idea what made her feel she could fit in here.

  Well, screw ’em. She didn’t need to fit in. She just needed to do her job and do it right. As a mood bolster, she wore her favorite pair of strappy high-heeled shoes with her suit, both in her favorite shade of fuchsia. Not exactly a Mallory corporate color, but she wasn’t a black-suited, sedate sort of girl, so no use pretending.

  She moved down the freshly polished floor, taking in the extraordinary antiques from all over the world that lined the walls of Mallory hotels, her watch mocking her—8:07 a.m….

  She hated to be late, hated it. Her heels clicked as she picked up her pace, her purse banging her hip as she went. The building’s striking architecture and stature were synonymous with the Old World charm and elegance that would appeal to the discerning business and social elite who made up the clientele of Mallory Enterprises. This hotel would fit right in.

  Good for it.

  Not wanting to skid into her first meeting, she slowed down and took a deep cleansing breath that didn’t help as much as it should have. She tugged at the skirt that kept creeping upward, given the lack of a slip.

  The lack was her mother’s fault. Kenna had come down from Santa Barbara the night before and had stayed in her old bedroom at her parents’ house. She hadn’t lived there since the day she’d graduated from high school, and there’d been a good reason for that—aside from getting cut off financially, that is. Her parents had complete and utter disregard for her privacy. Just this morning while Kenna had been in the shower, her mother had set out a black suit on the bed, complete with nylons. Nylons. Now there was an item of clothing that had not been invented by a woman.

  She’d given her mother back the suit and nylons, and the look on her face had made Kenna want to wear underwear with holes in it.

  Or a fuchsia suit.

  But by then, she’d been running late, and hadn’t spared the time to locate her slip in the mess of her as-yet-unpacked suitcase.