By: Julia Kent | Other books by Julia Kent
Published By: Excessica Publishing
Published: Mar 08, 2013
ISBN # 9781301624867
Published By: Excessica Publishing
Published: Mar 08, 2013
ISBN # 9781301624867
Word Count: 68,000
Available in: Epub, Mobipocket (.mobi), Adobe Acrobat
DescriptionOne playboy CEO. One curvy, determined administrative assistant. One hidden camera.
What could go wrong?
Lydia Charles is determined to show her boss that getting caught reading Fifty Shades of Grey in the parking lot can help the company bottom line. Preparing for the biggest work project of her life, a romance book marketing campaign, she never expected that an actual romance would interfere with the business of romance. Tough and cynical, her last office relationship exploded in her face. No man was worth it.
Until Matt Jones, a boss she didn't know she had - a boss who took the Director of Social Media job she was gunning for - swept her out of a promotion and off her feet. Lydia didn't want to respect him, much less like him - but her body had a mind of its own, turning traitor in chance encounters. After a steamy elevator episode that left her missing her panties - and most of her resolve - she decided that maybe it was time to let him get inside her - in more ways than one.
When he closed off to her unexpectedly, hurt feelings unleash a torrent of tension, with his order to follow his command triggering malicious obedience - following the exact letter of the law - in her. Interest from Matt's eccentric millionaire friend Jeremy left her hot and bothered, with threesome dreams that made her want to obey - but in the bedroom. Not the boardroom.
What Lydia didn't know was that "Matt" was really Michael Bournham, the CEO of the company, part of an undercover reality television stunt. Keeping his hands off Lydia's luscious curves was becoming an exercise in restraint, but what was harder? Keeping his heart from her. For Michael, Lydia's malicious obedience ignited a night of unbridled passion in the office that made him forget everything - including the rolling cameras - until it was too late.
Sometimes the best way to break the rules is to follow them...
Reader Rating: (3 Ratings)
Excerpt:"I want to explain why I was reading Fifty Shades of Grey in the parking lot." Not that I have to, she thought, but this conversation needed to happen, whether she – or Matt – liked it or not. For the past three months, Lydia had been working on a pitch for an advertising and social media campaign that would help boost her department's profits. She felt like Peggy from Mad Men, trying out her lipstick slogan, swimming against the tide of an impossible current.
Matt didn't help. Job stealer.
Her resentment was understandable, though undeserved. He looked up from the cup of coffee he'd been nursing and those bright green eyes caught her off guard. They seemed surreal. Fake? No, not really. Just a little too good to be true.
"You don't have to explain." A sly smile stretched across his face, the angular nose widening, dimples forming where she would never have imagined they could peek out. "I'm sure you are just reading it for...pleasure." He was classically handsome, in a Regency-era kind of way, but with a touch of firefighter. Lumberjack.
"I do, actually." Ignoring that maddening tone, the absolute fury it sparked in her, the intense arousal it also ignited in her – infuriatingly! – Lydia struggled to maintain her sense of professionalism. Now? Really? When she needed it most, her career on the line. Leaving home had been hard. Getting into grad school difficult. Finding a job at Bournham had been damn near impossible. Blowing it all because her new, cocky boss was teasing her about her work research for a project of her own making made the universe seem petty and unfair.
She spread a series of graphics on his desk, shoving aside a pile of folders, his travel mug, a smart phone with Angry Birds open on the screen, and a paper clip holder. "Angry Birds? Seriously?"
He just shrugged. "It's my Christian Grey." The way he said it made her blush, and she did not want to blush. Not now. Not today. This was her big chance and if it didn't go well, she had to reckon with failing on her own. Failure might not be an option as a slogan, but in the real life it was all too common, and she didn't want to taste one drop of it today.
"Oh, please," she said in a clipped, no-nonsense voice, though as he leaned closer to her, from the other side of the desk, she caught a whiff of his scent again, a spicy soap and a musk that made her swallow, hard. Her eyes couldn't stop looking at his hands as she organized her graphics. Strong, tanned, no ring and perfectly buffed fingernails. A little dandified, until he turned one over, retrieving the phone and slipping it in his pocket. Calloused and a bit worn. A man who had used his hands, but who now worked in an office. That spoke to a past quite different from this middle-management life, or a side hobby. Pulling in the reins of her wandering mind, she shook her head a bit, nipples beading as she inhaled and stretched her neck slightly, trying to distract herself.
She didn't want to like him. Her body couldn't seem to help it, though.
Mind over matter. Mind over matter. Career over clit. Career over clit.
"Fifty Shades of Grey isn't just smut. It represents an enormous sea change in the publishing world, and we're idiots if we don't do some pitches to reach out and grab market share in advertising and social media pushes." His grin shifted from one of sensual teasing to intrigued business, his hands picking up the first graphic.
"That's just a fad."
"Random House earned more than $70 million from that 'fad,' enough to give every employee, from top management to mail worker, a $5,000 bonus. You know what I got this year from this place?"
He cringed, which seemed odd. As if he were prepared for some sort of blow. If he was going to work here, though, he might as well know the truth about cheap old Michael Bournham. "What?"
"A coffee mug with Bournham Industries' logo on it. And a thumb drive on a logo key chain. Give me Fifty Shades any day."
Sputtering, he seemed to defend Bourham. "I'm sure there was a perfectly logical reason for that."
She nodded. "Yep. The logic is that Bournham's a cheap ass."
He frowned. "What does this have to do with Fifty Shades?"
"We can target that emerging market and use Fifty Shades to leverage buying patterns and marketing campaigns for existing and new clients. Have you looked at the New York Times' bestseller lists lately? Sylvia Day. The menage series by Shayla – "
In the middle of taking a sip of coffee, he did a spit take, turning his head at the last second to avoid hitting her papers. "Did you say 'menage'?"
"Yes. It's a word. Get over it."
"Two girls, one cup?"
"Two guys, one well-loved woman."
"You've researched this?" His eyes lit up with mischief and her body began to tingle. What did he consider fun in bed? Ah, how she needed to know. As he held her gaze a little too long, with a ferocious heat that made her simultaneously hunger for his touch and recoil in horror at her own pliability, she broke the look and gave her head a quick shake, resuming her professional stance.
The twitch of his lips, a seductive look on his face that he respectfully turned away from her, told her the feeling was mutual.
Damn it. She didn't need actual romance to interfere with the business of romance.
"Depends on who your target demographic is. For women 26-44, with bachelor's degrees, earning $70,000 or more per year and buying the majority of romance novels, MFM is where it's at."
"MFM? Is that like LOLcats?"
She closed her eyes in frustration, taking a deep breath to center herself. "If you have to ask, then never mind."
"BDSM as the wave of the future?" His voice was skeptical. Winning him over was her goal, and if she could convince him, then maybe – just maybe – she could convince their boss, Dave. The Director of Communications. The gateway to promotions.
"BDSM as a paradigm shift in popular culture, especially among the 26-44 crowd." Confident now, she used her extensive research and market analysis to push aside the attraction that keep slithering back in and undermining her goal: to win his respect and to be an ally in what she knew would be a battle later.
"They're not the big spenders – go down an age group." The words "go down" nearly made her gasp, heat pouring into her belly, her clit beginning to tickle and throb. Even he looked a little uncomfortable at the hint of a double entendre, but quickly covered it up. "Eighteen to twenty-five is where the big money is in social media and pop culture."
She nodded, knowing that already after countless hours of research. "Yes – and that's precisely why Fifty Shades is such an enormous shift. Because the buying dynamics for everything from eBooks to print to magazines to personal aids – "
"You mean sex toys. Don't sugar coat it." The command in his voice sent a thrilling tingle up her spine.
"Fine." Reaching across the desk for her fourth graphic, she came a little too close to him, brushing against his arm. It was intentional. He pulled back, as if burned. "Here's a fact: sales of vibrators shot up 414 percent when suggested to readers of the Fifty Shades trilogy." Locking eyes with his, she held steady, waiting for him to flinch. When he didn't, she felt her cheeks burning, the implication prickling her skin, a thin sheen of sweat popping up between her breasts. Her throat clicked as she swallowed, the air crackling with sex.
The look he gave her made her toes curl, a combination of smoke and smolder and amusement and questions. Then his eyes went neutral, as if he flipped a switch and pulled himself back. Whatever edge he had just been standing on, she wanted to join him, grab his hand, and jump together.
* * *
The effort it took not to look down her shirt, not to touch the silk collar and just keep moving down, not to stand and lean forward and kiss her, not to roam through her hair with hands that were hungry for those soft breasts, those luscious hips, and that creamy skin – that effort told him how strong he really was.
A disciplined man, he wasn't accustomed to fighting urges like this. Something about those almond eyes, that rich, chocolate voice, those flared hips and the delicate, yet confident way she carried herself, made him wild and untamed inside. Rational thought normally was enough to tuck away whatever irrational feelings might drive an impulsive response. If it didn't make sense, he didn't do it.
Lydia, though, made perfect sense. in his lap, on him, his tongue in her mouth, his hands burning through her skin, tantalizing and taking and claiming.
Deep sigh. Fight for control. His hands nearly shook as he reached for one of the graphics, desire wildly coursing through veins as his mind tried to tame it. Say something.
So he said, "Retail algorithms don't readily predict consumer behavior, though." Cleared his throat. Tried to shift imperceptibly. Anything to reduce the tightness in his pants. And, he remembered – to make nice with the cameras. They were rolling, of course, and he could imagine the producers' glee. Fifty Shades? Sex toys? It's as if Lydia were in on the stunt and planned the most targeted, trending topics she could for this discussion.
His erection, thankfully, wasn't on stage, buried beneath his desk. Right where it needed to stay.
"Since when?" With an expression that said what the fuck?, she gave him a condescending look and a professional tongue-lashing. "You call yourself a social media expert? I can deconstruct a mailing list and extrapolate plenty of behaviors – and be nearly dead on – from the right data. Social media's no different."
She sounded like him, more than ten years ago, trying to persuade his dad to let him try the data mining route. Crossing his arms, he heard her out. "You can?" The look on her face told him he'd chosen the dead-wrong response, as she collapsed all emotion into a pin prick of indignation. What had he said? Why the sudden change?
"I may be just an administrative assistant," she began, cheeks bright red and eyes narrowed in anger. Ah. That's what he'd said.
"I wasn't implying – "
"Yes. You were," she retorted, establishing control once again. Accustomed to having the upper hand in every business situation as Michael, he found himself unsure as Matt. Should he let her win this one? With cameras rolling, maybe that made better television? He frowned. Thinking like that wouldn't get him anywhere with Lydia.
Yet thinking about Lydia right now wouldn't help him raise profits. Her idea, though, might.
"Don't tell me what I'm thinking," he said, voice low and rough. He waved his hand, knowing it would piss her off, wanting to see how much fire she had in her belly.
"Don't snow me and claim I'm wrong," she answered back, voice steady, jaw clenched, standing ramrod straight now. The business suit she wore was more formal than her normal dress, which tended toward tasteful V-neck sweaters, dressy skirts and leather heels. Why the heathered grey wool suit and silk shirt? Lilac suited her, the blouse's shimmer bringing attention to her rich hair, those dark eyes, and adding a femininity to her carefully-cultivated professionalism. Quite different from her frumpier, casual look on his first day at the job. He liked both.
What he'd prefer most, though, was if she wore nothing at all. Those curves, that ass, the ample body that seemed poised for so much more, all soft and swelling. The outer packaging of a mind he was coming to respect. A body that he wanted to savor.
The resemblance to Catherine Zeta-Jones was uncanny. Did she ever do any nudes scenes in her films? He'd have to check. No, he'd have to ask Jeremy – he would know.
His khakis and cheap oxford seemed out of place, suddenly. Pausing, he told himself that this was one for Mike – not Matt – to handle. It was safe to stand now, so he did, taking a few steps around his desk and facing her, two feet feeling like five miles. A faint odor of something sweet, like vanilla, tickled his nose.
"You're projecting your insecurities onto me, Lydia." Wide eyes met his. Aha! He was right. "Just because some part of you doesn't feel like being an administrative assistant is 'good enough' and that people downgrade your intelligence doesn't mean I'm one of those people." He huffed, a bit incensed on her part, for no reason he understood. "That's the lazy way."
The slope of her mouth changed, jaw jutting less, tension easing in the muscles. Her brow furrowed and breathing slowed. A little flag of victory waved inside until she said, "I hadn't thought any of those thoughts, Dr. Phil, but apparently you have projected them onto me. Gender politics at work."
That flag was suddenly white. Shit. Not the reaction he expected. Lydia began scooping up her files, muttering to herself.
He stopped her with a hand on her forearm. Frozen, she didn't move. Didn't breathe. Didn't blink. "How is that gender politics?"
Sputter. Smirk. Eyeroll. "How isn't it? Dave's known for more than a year – no, two years – that I wanted a chance at the social media job. You come in here strutting like the CEO's nephew and bam – instant boss. You're going to tell me my ovaries have nothing to do with that?"
He frowned. "You're conflating two issues. Am I here because of perceived favoritism or because I'm a man?"
"Both, apparently. So you are his nephew!"
"Michael Bournham." She raised her eyebrows in a look of contempt. “You know. The owner of this company?”
At the mention of his real name, it was his turn to freeze, the sound of it rolling off her tongue and lips like some sort of answered prayer. He wanted to hear her hiss it in his ear, riding him, sweat pouring onto –
Shake it off, Mike. "I'm no one's nephew." Fake laugh. "All my parents' siblings are girls who didn't marry or have kids."
"There you go. Girls. Unless they're all prepubescent females, you sound like Don Draper from Mad Men."
"I've been called worse."
"You know what? Forget it. I came in here to explain my new proposal, which I'm presenting to Dave tomorrow, but you aren't any different from the rest of them.”
Gender politics? He had women as vice presidents, on the board, and in high management positions. What was she nattering on about?
She continued, her voice shifting to a sarcastic, sultry tone, the incongruity charging the air. “Shall I get you some coffee? Email the email you ask me to email to some work group? Schedule your lunch reservation? Bring you slippers and the newspaper? Meet your," she paused, her lips shifting into a pout, her face softening, eyes hard and cold as she whispered in a Marilyn Monroe, breathy voice, “every need?”
With that, she marched out, papers jutting here and there in her hastily-layered stack, hips swaying out of sight as, once more, he cursed his too-tight pants.
Reader Reviews (1)
Submitted By: PianoACS on Mar 27, 2013This book is the first in a series. They leave you hanging in the middle of the story hinting at a manage but not really getting there, then give you a coming soon blurb about how everything that happened in this book blows up in peoples faces. Most of the sensuality comes in the form of dreams and were not very original and the hero is so busy thinking of himself that I want to just toss my e-reader out the window. It's unlikely that I will follow this series.