What you are about to read has some foul language and a bit of sexual content.
Recommended for a mature audience only. Otherwise, enjoy 😉
Few things could’ve ruined her birthday more than having her ex show up as her cousin’s date. Death. Disease. Famine. Fire. Floods. Disasters! But Jack topped them all.
Correction—Jack and Cami topped them all.
Regardless, Rose’s smile was genuine as the familiar notes of the birthday song rang loudly through her parent’s living room. Her mother’s voice was slightly off-key, then higher than the rest as everyone else joined in. She hustled into the room with a tray of a homemade, pink-frosted cake covered in flickering candles.
“There were a lot of candles to fit on there, but I did it, Rosalyn Hussey,” Mom said, smiling, as if she hadn’t just told her youngest daughter she was getting old. “Make a wish, dear.”
Rose was twenty-five today.
And she had so little to show for it. No house of her own. No fiancé or husband or kids. She didn’t even own a pet. So she made a silent wish that this would be her year to accomplish all she’d planned to do and get everything she wanted. Extra conscious everyone in her family was still looking at her, waiting for her to blow out her candles, she took a deep breath and—
“I can’t wait anymore!” her cousin squealed, surprising them so much, some people jumped and Rose choked on her breath. “I have something to share. It’s a surprise for you all!” Jumping up and down, blond hair bouncing, perfect boobs jiggling, in her excitement to—what? What the hell couldn’t she possibly wait to tell everyone until Rose had blown out her birthday candles?
“I’m getting married!” Cami cried, beaming and ecstatic and clapping her hands together, overly enthusiastic, as was her way. “We’re getting married,” she added, walking over to her boyfriend—Rose’s two-timing ex, Jack Hortimer. Taking his hands in hers and rubbing on his arm, all coy and so nauseatingly pleased, she kissed his nose. Then she plastered herself to his side, adding the extra hurtful jab of, “This Christmas!”
Christmas was Rose’s favourite time of the year. It was a time when she got to relax with the family and enjoy being with them for an extended length, doing things they loved. Traditions like carol singing and cookie baking and tree decorating.
“You’re all invited, of course,” Jack mumbled, looking around the room full of family: Rose’s mom and dad; her sister, Alice, and her husband and two kids; Rose’s aunt and uncle, Bob and Jean (Cami’s parents); Aunt Suzy and Uncle Ed; and Grandma.
Cami was the only cousin here tonight. Everyone else was busy or lived out of town. It had been a huge surprise she’d shown up.
Now they all knew why.
Jack towing behind her had been an even bigger surprise. And it had ruined Rose’s appetite for dinner.
Her ex-boyfriend’s proud grin turned into a cocky sneer as he focussed his gaze on her, tipping his glass her way. “Even you, Rose.” He chuckled, like there was some joke in that, making others smile.
Oh, if they only knew…
Rose’s hands tightened about the cake tray in her lap. The cocky SOB. To make matters worse, he was now marrying her cousin.
This was just some shit dream she was going to wake up from. Rose pinched her arm to see if she was right. No matter how hard she pinched, she wasn’t waking up. Crap. This was real. And horrible.
Wax started dripping down the candles, oozing onto the icing in a hardening mess, just as her contentment in spending her birthday with her family drained away too. So Rose blew out her candles, knowing her chance for a wish was forgotten. They were too involved with Jack and Cami, and the upcoming wedding.
An angry bubble started brewing in the pit of her stomach as she stared at the two people ruining her birthday, forced to witness how sickeningly happy they were as they kissed and accepted everyone’s congratulations. Family members forgot they were here to celebrate Rose, and instead turned their attentions toward the newly engaged couple, offering well-wishes and asking for love-story details.
Cami, of course, had to announce her engagement at Rose’s birthday party. She’d always done this, stole Rose’s thunder, ever since they were little. Everything had always been about Cami. Her cousin couldn’t have waited at least until they’d eaten cake?
“Can I have some cake?” Olive asked, her sweet voice a solace in this nasty time.
Her niece brought so much joy to her life and she was such a welcome reprieve right now. Rose smiled at her. Brushing a dark lock off the child’s precious face, she cupped her cheek. “Of course.”
Olive smiled back at her, excitement in her eyes, eyeing the frosting with a lick of her lips, so Rose headed for the kitchen, cake tray in hand. The little girl followed her in, eager for her treat, bouncing along beside her, her steps small skips of overflowing energy. “Think I’ll get money?”
“Probably. Nana likes to stuff a ton of it in there.”
Mom’s cakes were the best. Rose had wanted cake like Olive. Now, she wasn’t so into the idea of it, not with her stomach wobbling and upset.
“Oh, good. I want to buy a toy.”
Her laugh was light as she sliced the cake, careful to make sure she was cutting a section that showed tinfoil so the little girl could get what she wanted. “Christmas is in less than two weeks,” she said, handing her the plate and a spoon.
“I know. But I can’t wait that long.”
Rose sure could. “Santa will be here before you know it.”
“I know. I’ve been such a good girl too!”
“Yes, you have.” Rose smoothed more of her dark hair off her angelic face. Olive was such a darling, her exuberance for everything so intoxicatingly catching. Rose could almost feel some of her birthday excitement coming back. Almost.
“I’m gonna go eat my cake now.”
“Sure thing, sweetheart.”
The child walked out of the room, trying to balance the plate so the cake didn’t slip off, while Rose stood back watching, knowing she was an independent little miss that wouldn’t appreciate the helping hand. She didn’t want to return to the living room. She wanted—needed—to stay in the kitchen, hidden away, grappling with these emotions she didn’t want to have but did.
Her ex was marrying her cousin!
It wouldn’t be long before she was pulled back into the revelry that was no longer her own. Her family liked to do everything together, and they were here to celebrate her birthday. For now, she’d stay in the kitchen and deal in peace.
Rose stuck her finger into a blob of icing and licked it off. It tasted so good, she ended up grabbing a spoon and digging in, not even bothering to cut herself a piece. No one else wanted cake right now anyway.
Not wanting her emotions get the best of her, regardless of the anger and sadness and total disbelief, she stewed and ate, and stewed some more. She couldn’t get past this shocker of a party. Her bestie, Leah, would be outraged for her and ready to commiserate, but she couldn’t stomach the thought of having to voice it yet, so she didn’t call her.
She didn’t want to celebrate Jack and Cami. He was that bad of an ex, and her cousin was just as horrible. But the rest of the family sure was excited. What would they think if she told them about her experiences with them both?
Rose was a quarter into eating a good portion of her cake when she heard someone coming, so she dropped her spoon into the sink quickly and used the knife to make it look like pieces had been sliced out. She was an emotional eater, sue her.
Jack walked into the kitchen. And she wished with all her might that she’d fled to somewhere more private, like the bathroom or her bedroom. She didn’t want to talk to him. Like. Ever. Again. One time, not long ago, she’d thought he was cute. His dating app profile had been well done. All a lie, but that pic had drawn her in. Now all Rose could see was nastiness.
God, she hated that nickname. A lot. Like so much she wanted to cram it down his throat. She’d tolerated it when they were together, because he didn’t care to stop, though she’d asked him repeatedly. “Jack,” she grumbled back, grinding her teeth, stewing on the injustice of having him here and all that goes along with him.
“You’re not upset, are you?” he asked.
“About what?” she asked back, all sickeningly fake-sweet. She’d play his game, for now. No need to appear the sullen ex. She was better than that.
“About us getting married.”
Rose scoffed, like none of this mattered, because it shouldn’t. It really, really shouldn’t. “No. Why would I be?” She hated it, the fact he’d be in her family for the foreseeable future, around for all events from now on.
She could use a drink.
Rose started with opening the fridge, looking for the wine her mom always stashed in there. But it was missing. Probably out on a table somewhere, and she wasn’t in the mood to search for it, so she moved on to the liquor cupboard. She had to drag a chair across the floor and climb up onto it to reach the cupboard over the fridge, but she was going to get a drink. She needed one, like bad. So bad. Worse now, he was in the room, watching her and projecting his crap.
“Think you standing on there is a good idea?” Jack asked, leaning back against the counter with his arms crossed and ankles hooked. He had a look on his face that was pure judgment.
No surprise there. He was always judging her.
She’d wanted to keep him in the past where he belonged, with all her other life’s mistakes, and not have to see him ever again. Didn’t she have that right?
But here he was, about to become family.
Where the hell is the liquor?
“It’s fine. I always stand on this chair.”
“It’s pretty wobbly. You sure it can hold your weight?”
“Yes. It’s fine.”
All the liquor bottles at the front of the cupboard were almost gone and not what she liked to drink. She wanted the rye, but that was at the back and she’d really have to reach for it. So she stretched for it up on her tiptoes, knowing it wasn’t the safest position, but it was the only way to get what she wanted. Rose always had to reach for what she wanted; nothing ever came easy. When her fingers wrapped around the bottle’s cool neck, she pulled it out, ready to preen with success and shove that shit in Jack’s face.
But then the chair creaked, and not an average “this chair is old” creak, but a—crack.
And the stupid thing broke!
Rose made a rapid attempt to hold on to the fridge to keep herself from falling. A stupid, useless try, because the fridge wobbled and it certainly would never hold her up. And that futility only made a huge mess, as cookbooks and random dusty papers fell along with her to the floor.
She landed on her ass with a super-loud thud and an “Ow.”
And to make matters worse, the bottle of rye smashed, sending glass pieces everywhere and amber liquid running to places that were going to be hard to clean. Mom was going to be pissed.
But, oh my God, that had hurt! She was sore already, pain radiating up her back and into her neck, but starting in her butt. Things were going to be tender, a lot, over the next few days.
“Told you that chair couldn’t hold you.”
Rose glared at him.
“Oh my goodness!” Mom said, rushing in, with everyone close behind her, all of their faces peeking around each other for a view of what was going on. “What happened to you?”
“I fell,” Rose said, hating the watery sound of her voice. She was not going to cry. She was not. She was not going to give Jack the satisfaction of seeing her broken.
“She broke the chair,” Jack said. “It couldn’t hold her weight.”
“Oh, Rose,” Dad said, stepping into the room and shooting Jack the dirtiest of looks. Yeah, Dad. “You okay, darling?” he asked, offering Rose a hand to stand.
Jack hadn’t even cared enough to extend the offer. She was surprised he wasn’t laughing his ass off, or crowing over having been right. Maybe he was holding it, being phony for the family.
“Careful of the glass,” Dad added as he helped her up.
“I’m okay,” she lied, brushing glass off her jeans. She wanted to brush the stupid tears in her eyes away before anyone saw them but she was afraid she’d wipe rye and glass into them, so she refrained, instead trying to uselessly blink them away. A few trickled down her cheeks, which frustrated her and made her want to cry that much more. She smelled like a liquor store and was soaked through.
She was embarrassed as hell, too.
“Olive, dear, can you get Auntie Rose’s shoes from the front mat? I don’t think she should be walking around in this. Alice,” he said to Rose’s sister. “If you could grab the mop and broom, that’ll be a big help. I think we can get this cleaned up in no time. If you all would go back into the living room with Penny…”
“Oh. Of course,” Mom said, brushing her hair back and smoothing it down. “Let’s go, everyone. I’m sure Cami has more stories to share about how she and Jack met.” She put her arms around Cami and led them all away.
Jack, for some unknown reason, stayed behind to…what, annoy her more?
Olive raced back into the room, shoes in hand, so fast Dad had to pick her up so she didn’t step in the mess.
“Here’s your shoes, Auntie Rose.”
“Thanks, sweetheart.” Rose slipped them on. “I’ll get this cleaned up,” she said, grabbing a roll of paper towels and cringing with pain as she crouched down to sop it up. Ouch.
“Don’t worry about it, honey,” Dad said. “I’ll get it. You get yourself cleaned up.”
She stood there for a second, feeling Jack’s criticizing gaze. “I guess. If that’s okay? I could use a shower.” Maybe the warm water would help ease some of her rapidly setting in pain—and wash away her misery.
“That’s probably best.” Dad gave her an empathetic smile, his expression so compassionate Rose blinked back tears again. She still wasn’t going to cry. She’d save that for later, when Jack-ass wasn’t around. “And you, my Olive-bean, you get back to your cake.”
“Oh, goodie. I still haven’t found my money!” With a smile, she was off running, back to her treat, such a ball of positive energy.
Gosh, Rose loved her. That kid was the best.
“You sure?” she asked her Dad, uneasy about leaving a mess she’d caused.
“Thanks, Dad.” Rose kissed his cheek and tiptoed out of the kitchen, careful not to bring too much of it with her, just as Alice came back in with the cleaning supplies. They shared a smile, an understanding sort of look that told Rose her sister was sorry she was going through this stuff today. Rose sent back a quick smile, glad to have someone aware of the real story. Alice was on her side. More family might have been had she shared her woes, but not wanting to appear petty, she’d refrained and regretted that now.
Cami had gotten her good.
She’d never seen Jack coming.
How the hell had she even known about him? Rose hadn’t shared those weeks with anyone, not even afterward when she could have ranted and raved and bemoaned her stupidity.
It wasn’t like she was jealous now—hell no! She was glad to be rid of him.
As she climbed the stairs, Rose heard a creak behind her and turned to find the ass following her. Letting out a long sigh, she glared at him. “What do you want, Jack?”
“Wanted to see your room. Never got to in the time we dated.”
“You are not coming in my room,” she growled, warding off the shivers his smile produced. At one time, his grins had made her heart flutter, now they just creeped her out. “You don’t have that right anymore. You fucked your way out of that.”
“Yeah, I did. And now I’m marrying your cousin.” His grin was all things leering and wrong, cocky as shit.
“I wish you well,” she spat. “Cami is…” A bitch. A tease. Selfish. Not pleasant.
“Good in the sack.”
What? “Go away, Jack.”
“Guess we won’t have to put you down for a plus-one for the wedding,” he said, his voice tossing off condescension.
Rose spun around to face him and stepped back, bashing into the wall, when she found him standing no more than a foot from her. He was so not winning this. “I’ll be bringing a date. My boyfriend.”
He laughed, smug and self-assured, the sound of it climbing up her spine and creeping her out. “Yeah, right. Cami said you’re still single, always single.”
“Well, Cami was wrong. He’ll be coming to the wedding.”
“Whatever,” Jack said, flipping his hand as he walked down the stairs, away from her, finally. “I’ll believe it when I see it.”
Rose growled, and hurried into her room. She slammed the door—and her stomach sank. She’d lied!
She didn’t have a boyfriend. She didn’t even have a date.
And she only had eleven days to fix that. Oh, crap.
“Your cousin is a bitch.”
Rose shook her head at her best friend, though Leah couldn’t see her doing so through the phone, and let out a stilted laugh. Right now, she’d too easily agree with her friend’s choice in words. Maybe if she said all the things she was thinking out loud, it would cleanse her of the negative energy suffocating her life, but she couldn’t seem to do it. Not that she was one of those green girls that did yoga every day and ate only organic and talked about crystals and shit. Rose was more of an eat-what-you-want-and-bemoan-the-effects-later kind of girl. Yoga was far too complicated for her. Couch surfing and binge-watching TV were more entertaining.
She hurried about work’s conference room, placing papers in each of her senior bosses’ places and setting up tea and coffee on the small sideboard to their specifications. This was her Monday morning ritual and she was anxious to get it done today. This morning’s call to Leah for support meant she was doing her job with her cell pressed against her ear, listening to her friend rant and rave and say all the things she wished she could say, and answering a million questions about her crappy weekend. Rose usually excelled at multitasking; today she was too tired.
“Not only did my cousin and my ex commandeer my birthday for their evil, blissful wishes,” she whined, knowing Leah wouldn’t fault her for it. “But now they’re stealing Christmas, too!”
Worn out emotionally, she sank into the nearest chair with a heavy sigh and groaned at the tenderness in her ass. She wasn’t as stiff as she’d been yesterday, but she had a large, nasty-looking, dark purple bruise on her right butt cheek that hurt when she sat down. At least no one would be seeing it.
Yeah, like that’s a good thing.
Shifting, she got comfortable in her boss’s chair, one of them, anyway: Logan Rhodes, Mr. Hottie. It wasn’t like he was going to be sitting in it anytime soon. The meeting didn’t even start for another ten minutes and he was always a good fifteen minutes late. Heaven help her, the plush black leather smelled like him: spicy and smooth and a bit woodsy, like a well-aged Scotch that’d likely go down just as nice. She’d certainly heard the rumours about him going down and the pleasures that brought…
“Stealing Christmas?” Leah cried. “That’s like the best holiday of the freaking year!”
“What is Cami-bitch doing now?”
“Apparently, her and Jack have waited long enough to be together. They’re getting married.”
“Well, Christmas Eve, but that’s almost the same freaking thing. Now instead of indulging in hot chocolate and cookies, and singing carols around the town’s tree with our neighbours as we do every year, we’ll be doing wedding crap instead.”
It does. “You want to know the worst part?” Rose spun the chair around to face the fantastic view, needing to find some inner peace. Staring out at the world beyond could do that. One of the perks of working at such a successful firm was working at the top of the high-rise and being able to look down at the bustle of the city, so close, yet so far away. She really liked working here.
“I told them I was bringing my boyfriend as my date.”
“But you don’t have one.”
“That’s the problem!”
“Why would you tell them that, then?”
“Because Jack made a snide comment about ‘guess we don’t have to put you down for a plus-one’ and it had hurt. I couldn’t let him think he’d won. Not after what I went through.”
“I get it,” she said from the other end of the line, as she booted it somewhere, judging by the sounds of her consistent huffs and the echoing click of her heels on what Rose assumed was stairs. “I wouldn’t want to show up to my cousin’s wedding to my ex single either. Guess you need a date.”
“But it’s Christmas, Leah. What the hell am I going to do? No guy is going to give up Christmas with his family to hang with me.” She didn’t even have a guy to ask. Right now, Rose was as un-dated as she’d ever been. “I can’t add that to my dating profile and hope someone will be like ‘hey, babe, I’ll spend ten days with you and pretend to be your boyfriend.’”
She propped her feet up on the chair beside her, toeing off her shoes and getting comfy. She had a few minutes before everyone arrived for the morning meeting anyhow. “God, Leah. I’m so screwed. Now I’m going to have to ’fess up to my cousin and Jack about how pathetic and alone I am and see their smug, smiling faces as they join together in holy freaking matrimony for the rest of their happy, fortunate lives. While I sit at a table alone and drink.”
“So you’re going all woe is me here, are you?”
“Leah. This sucks.”
“Of course. So why not freak out now?”
There was a few moments pause, where Leah went from quiet into a room full of voices, then she added, far too chipper for Rose’s liking, “You’ve got ten days to come up with someone. That’s not bad. You can do it.”
Panic gripped her stomach tight, making it feel like she was going to retch up her morning bagel. With a loud moan, Rose closed her eyes and bashed her head against the back of the chair, inhaling deeply when it set Mr. Hottie’s scent free.
She couldn’t wait to see him today in all his sexy glory.
Rose spent their Monday morning meetings eye-fucking the hell out of him—and quickly looking away, dying with embarrassment whenever he caught her staring at him, which was more often than not. He always gave her a sardonic lift of his right eyebrow, as if he were saying, “Really, you think you’re in my league? Keep dreaming, baby.” But every Monday, she continued to look anyway. Because why not? When a man was that handsome, he was made to be stared at.
“That’s not doable for me. You know that,” Rose said. “It’s me.” She punctuated that with a pat to her chest, even though her friend couldn’t see it. “I have a hard time finding a date, period, never mind asking some guy to pretend he’s in love with me enough to attend Christmas and a wedding with my crazy family.”
Rose gasped and jolted forward, surprised by the warm pressure of a hand on her shoulder. Flicking her eyes open and twisting around in her seat, she stared up behind her—into sparkling blue eyes.
Oh crap. Mr. Hottie.
“Working hard, I see,” he said, his voice so deep it sent a shiver racing up her spine. His smirk made her stomach roll and tumble, in a good way this time. Everything with him was in a good way.
Rose fumbled to her feet, nearly dropping her phone and falling flat on her back in the process, as the chair wobbled and slipped back into him. He let out an oomph as the chair slapped him in the gut, and his hand fell away from her shoulder. She instantly regretted it. His touch had been nice. But it wasn’t as if he’d been feeling her up or anything, just getting her attention.
Faintly she could hear Leah freaking out on the other end of the phone, asking what was going on, but she couldn’t bring herself to put it back to her ear and speak. One, because she wasn’t supposed to be on her cell during work hours, and two, because Mr. Hottie was staring her down and she couldn’t seem to look away.
Heat spread out along her limbs, tingles of excitement coursing through her body, pricking along her skin, and making her super aware he was standing close to her—a chair length away—and they were alone in a room together.
“Yeah,” she said moments later. Stellar conversationalist, she was not.
“You were in my seat.”
He waved her apology away and moved to sit in his chair, his ass exactly where hers had just been. When he sat, he closed his eyes a moment. “No worries.”
Tossing his notebook and cell on the table in front of him, he swung the chair around to face her and lounged back, looking up at her with a strange glint in his ultra-deep blue eyes that made her heart flutter and race. He clasped his hands loosely on his firm abs, making her gaze drift down his long body.
He was so flipping hot in a gray suit and blue shirt and tie.
Rose stood there awkwardly, her cheeks burning, wanting to ask what exact parts of her conversation he’d overheard, but knowing everything she’d said made her look sad. If he’d heard some, he’d heard more than enough. There was no need to draw attention to her plight.
“Don’t mind me,” he murmured with a note of amusement to his tone and a flippant hand gesture. “Feel free to carry on with your conversation.”
She turned around fast, hoping he wouldn’t see her cheeks flush hotter and raised her phone back to her ear. “Leah, I gotta go,” she mumbled, certain this was the worst Monday morning ever—and best too, because Mr. Hottie. Enough said.
“What? Why? Was that a man’s voice I heard? You should ask him to be your date!”
A quick glance back confirmed he was still watching her. And his wide smile and the twinkling mirth in his handsome eyes said he’d heard her friend’s words. Oh God.
Rose swiped to end the call, without even saying bye, and stood for a long, quiet moment, trying not to succumb to the sensual charge consuming her. She had the most insane urge to make him forget what he’d heard by climbing on top of him and doing every dirty thing she’d dreamed about doing with him.
“You were about to ask me something.”
“No. No, I wasn’t.” She resigned herself to the fact she was going to have to carry on with her day as if this had never happened and hurriedly slipped her shoes back on in case she needed to flee the room to suffer in solitude.
“Oh come, Rose. Surely I’m not as scary as all that.”
He knew her name? Well, of course he did. He was her boss. She worked beneath him. Oh God. She’d love to work beneath him. Or on top of him. Hell, she’d even settle for beside him. In front. Below. Above. She’d take him any way she could get him.
She couldn’t get him—have him. He was her boss.
ML&B were the best employers around. They’d given her a chance right out of school, when she’d had little experience, and for that, she was indebted to them and appreciative. They had her loyalty. She couldn’t screw that up. Plus, it didn’t hurt that the men around here were nice to look at, especially the one sitting before her.
Logan Rhodes looked good today. Hot. Better than usual, if that were even possible. His light, short, brown hair just soft and curly enough to make her want to run her fingers through it. His suit expensive and tailored to show off his perfect physique. His beard trimmed close enough to offer the sensual scrape of scruff, but still long enough to be soft. Yummy.
In her mind, he was already urging her to sit on the conference room table before him, lifting her skirt and having at her… Pressing her thighs together to ward off the ache of desire she shouldn’t be having in these awkward moments, considering he’d just overheard her embarrassing predicament, Rose waddled toward the refreshment table.
“Coffee?” she asked, already fixing him a cup the way he liked it: loaded with sugar and light on cream. It was her job to fetch him and the other two partners in ML&B Holdings anything they wanted on an almost constant basis. And it was probably about time she got back to the business of doing her job. Rose was usually more professional. This morning was a minor blip she’d soon overcome, if he left matters alone. Oh please, let him leave things alone.
“Please,” he murmured in a deep voice that made her shiver. Ignoring the pang of sensual need his rumbled voice set off in her, she brought the mug over to him, her hands shaking so much it was in dangerous risk of spilling over and scalding her. He took it from her with an unnecessary brush of his long, thick fingers and a small smile. “Thank you.”
She beat it to the other side of the room, needing space, so she wouldn’t just stand there and stare at him. Over where she usually sat, she couldn’t smell him anymore, though. Not even one sexy inch. Damn.
“Morning,” Malory Jenkins said, stalking into the room like she owned it. Which she did. She was the M in ML&B, the epitome of a professional woman. Dressed to the nines in sleek designer clothes, her dark hair pulled back in a no-nonsense bun that matched her no-nonsense attitude.
“Morning, Malory,” Logan said back, smiling…at Rose. His gaze eating her up from head to toe, and filling her with a heat she was not accustomed to.
He was acting weird today.
The brunette took her seat at the head of the table, placing her briefcase on the floor and tossing her laptop and belongings in front of her. “You’re early,” she said, calling her friend on his uncustomary behaviour.
Logan stopped looking at Rose and grinned at his business partner, though she never looked up from her phone. “Decided it was time I got serious about work,” he said, which made even Rose laugh, because work was about the only thing Mr. Hottie was serious about. Life, nah, not really. Women, definitely not. Work, yes. Even his easy posture belied his words, but the two women in the room knew differently. He was a well-oiled, well-sculpted…hardworking machine of perfection. “Where’s B?”
Malory snorted as she scrolled through things on her phone. “Probably scrambling out of some poor woman’s bed.” She glanced up at him with a look that clearly said, “I’m surprised you’re not doing the same.”
He ignored that by looking at Rose.
She looked away.
He sighed. “If he’s not here in ten, I’ve gotta run.”
“Have a meeting at the golf course, do you?” Malory asked, sarcastically, her pale lips spread in a fake smile.
“Not a course today.” It was winter. “Just a regular old restaurant.”
And he was back to looking at Rose. His gaze creating its own sense, one similar to touch, but filled with so much heat and sensation she couldn’t breathe. So she ducked her head and pretended an interest in the empty notepad before her, aware of the current of need swinging between them.
Logan usually ignored her. Never gave her the time of day, let alone stared at her.
Had he overheard so much he was suddenly interested in her?
“Good morning,” Bailey Kendall said, sauntering into the room. Blond-haired, blue-eyed, easy smiles, and flirty nature; he was a charmer.
“You’re chipper,” Malory said. She constantly ran the line between fondness and clear dislike. Some days Rose wondered which one it was, especially in regard to Bailey. And he was her cousin! But, then again, proven in Rose’s recent happenings, cousins weren’t always the greatest.
Bailey smirked, unfazed. “What’s not to love about a Monday?”
“Sure.” Malory placed her phone down on the table beside her things and folded her hands on top of the shiny, smooth surface, looking every inch the cool professional she was. She raised an eyebrow and looked at him like she wasn’t happy he was smiling and happy. “I’m convinced you’re suddenly a morning person.” She emphasized her words with a roll of her eyes.
“How can I not be when I was woken up with a frigging fantastic blow job?”
“Ew.” She shuddered. “Please don’t tell me things like that.”
“Oh, come on. You gotta give me props for that one.”
“No. I don’t.”
“I will,” Logan said, offering him a fist bump. “Way to go.”
Boys, Rose thought, with a roll of her own eyes. Then, when Bailey crooked an eyebrow, questioning her about something, and cupped his hand to make a motion similar to drinking, Rose jumped out of her seat to fetch M and B their drinks: cold water for Malory and a coffee heavily doused in cream for Bailey. She ignored the feeling of being watched, desperate to get back to her usual work groove. She even managed not to shake the beverages out of her hands as she set them on the table and returned to her seat and her notepad.
Logan staring at her was quite unnerving and really rather abnormal. What was with Mr. Hottie today?
Bailey beamed. “Thanks, man. You get the same?”
Rose paused her doodling, waiting on Logan’s answer, desperate to hear about his life. But his answer never came. Malory scoffed and ruined Rose’s chance to find out.
“You guys are so juvenile.”
“You’re just jealous no one ate you out for breakfast,” Bailey said.
“God, that’s crude,” Malory said with a roll of her eyes. “Even if someone had, I wouldn’t walk in here and let that be the first thing out of my mouth.” She glanced at Rose as if asking for confirmation that the men she worked with were disgusting pigs.
Rose sort of agreed. Guys were guys, after all. So she sent a small smile back. But Logan was not disgusting to her. Delectable, edible, delicious…hot, yummy, every toned inch.
“No, but we’d all be able to tell you got some. You’d be beaming a shit-eating grin and staring off into space with dreamy eyes. And that stick wouldn’t be as far up your ass. Hell, you’d be much happier. Maybe you should try it sometime, Mal. Getting laid would do wonders for your disposition.”
“Shut up, Bailey,” Malory said. Something close to anger crossed her features and some other emotion Rose couldn’t place. “From now on, I don’t want to hear what you do in your free time. As long as it’s not a blow job from one of our employees, I don’t care. Keep the disgusting details to yourself.”
Well, now the tension in the room was amped up. From zero to a hundred, real quick. It was so thick, Rose didn’t want to move for fear of bringing notice down upon her. The woman was pissed, and that would make for a shit day for Rose. Currently filling the position of personal assistant for all three owners, she was barely managing. Malory was a harsh taskmaster on a good day, but when she was having a bad day, everyone had a bad day. Looked like Rose’s day was about to get worse. Thanks a lot, Bailey.
The two men shifted in their chairs and exchanged glances that clearly stated they thought Malory was acting irrational. Like maybe they’d just boiled it all down to her PMS-ing or something. So Rose slapped her notepad on the table, angry on her female boss’s behalf. Screw them. Not every bit of anger a woman had was because of that. Malory had a right to be pissed at her business partner for saying that stuff, especially considering his past.
ML&B had a strict no-fraternizing policy. Thanks to Bailey’s not-so-recent fling with his secretary, and her following attempt at suing their asses for harassment, Malory had made the lawyers draft up a contract every single employee signed in order to keep the fraternizing to a minimum—to make it cease in existence, really. So now, if anyone, bosses included, so much as saw a coworker outside of work, their asses were toast.
No dating allowed. Flings, least of all!
Bailey talking about his nightly conquests every day just amped up her disfavour to a thousand degrees and sent her on rampage of making sure everyone was working according to the rules. She wasn’t about to let her success be dampened by a cousin who couldn’t keep it in his pants, and Malory could be merciless in her quest to see the contract followed through. Employees who’d messed up, gone before they even so much as took a breath to explain.
Rose was determined not to become one of those employees. Dreaming about her boss and checking him out were as far as she was allowed to dip in the delicious, sensual pool of testosterone flooding this office.
Copyright © 2017 by Corrin Keller
All rights reserved
I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek of Faking It With The Boss! Thanks for reading ~ Corrin
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