Wednesday, June 15, 2016

New Release for Fearless in Love!

The Maverick Billionaires are back! Fearless in Love is available now, just in time for reading on the beach and transporting yourself into another fabulous place and time! And of course you’ll find all your favorite billionaires from Books 1 and 2 as well.

Remember in Reckless in Love when Matt spies the beautiful Ariana Jones just on the other side of the fountain at Charlie’s grand debut…

I just adore this cover. Matt is such a total hottie!

Now we’ve got Matt and Ari’s beautiful story for you…

After growing up dirt poor in a seedy Chicago neighborhood, Matt Tremont seemingly has it all now—brains, brawn, and billions. And most importantly, Noah, his five-year-old son, the one good outcome of a disastrous relationship that destroyed his last ounce of trust. The only thing he’s lacking is the perfect nanny for his son. And Ariana Jones is absolute perfection. Utterly enchanting. Completely fascinating. And totally off limits.

Like a match made in heaven, this is Ari's dream job. Swallowed up in the foster care system after losing her brother and mother, Ari has always dreamed of family. She showers five-year-old Noah with all the love she’s kept bottled up inside. Love she could also offer to her gorgeous billionaire boss—if only he weren’t the very last man she could ever hope to have.

But when sizzling sparks of attraction turn into a forbidden, sinfully hot night of pleasure, will Ari’s love be enough to make Matt forget the past and love fearlessly?

Fearless in Love, Book 3, available now!  Kindle  Kindle UK  Kindle CA  iBooks  iBooks UK  iBooks CA  iBooks AU  Nook  Kobo  Google Play Print

Let me give you an excerpt of Matt and Ari’s tantalizing story.

Fearless in Love

Maverick Billionaires, Book 3

© 2016 Bella Andre and Jennifer Skully

Chapter One

Matt Tremont’s home was amazing. Ten thousand square feet, maybe fifteen thousand—though it was hard to judge something that massive when Ari was used to living in three hundred square feet.

The man himself left her awestruck. As gorgeous as a movie star, with rangy muscles that made her mouth water, just looking at him was enough to make her lose her words right in the middle of a sentence. He was thirty-four—ten years older than she was—and he made guys her own age seem like boys.

When he’d approached her at the grand opening of Sebastian Montgomery’s media headquarters in San Francisco, she’d actually started to tremble. It had seemed like a pivotal moment that would change her life forever, when a gorgeous, charming billionaire wanted to talk to her. She’d fantasized that the sparks flying everywhere weren’t just in her imagination. “Ariana,” she could almost hear him saying in his deep, sexy voice, let me whisk you away to my private lair for champagne and caviar.”

Only to have her fantasies blown sky-high when he’d asked her to interview as a nanny for his five-year-old son.

Ari was still laughing at herself; obviously, she’d been the only one feeling any sparks. But that didn’t make him any less mouthwatering, even in jeans. Especially in jeans.

Her stomach did backflips as she sat across from him in his living room, but she had her crazy attraction under control.

Sort of.

“Ariana,” Matt said.

Oh, that voice... It was enough to make a girl spin out into fantasy again.

“Please, call me Ari.”

Only Daniel Spencer called her Ariana. Daniel and Matt were two of the Mavericks, five billionaires who had taken the world by storm with their business prowess in many different fields. She knew a little about Matt’s past. Like Daniel and the other Mavericks, he hadn’t been born into money. She knew what it was to be poor, and she admired them all for what they’d accomplished.

Daniel had given a glowing recommendation to Matt. Though technically he wasn’t her boss, since he owned the whole company, Daniel had been really sweet to her since she’d landed the job at Top-Notch DIY when she was eighteen. She’d worked there part time ever since she’d aged out of foster care, scraping together every dime to go to college. Daniel had helped there too, with company-sponsored scholarships, something for which she could never thank him enough. He said she reminded him of his kid sister, Lyssa, who was close to Ari’s age.

Not that she wanted Matt to think of her as a little sister. She already had a big brother, even if she hadn’t seen him in years. Thinking of Gideon made her chest hurt, so she pushed away the memories as she focused on what Matt was saying.

“Daniel told me that in addition to working at his San Jose store, you also take care of kids.”

Nodding, she said, “I graduated from San Jose State last May with a degree in child development. I’d like to be a teacher someday, but right now, I want the one-on-one, full-time experience.” She didn’t add that she also needed to beef up her cash reserves after using everything for college, even with the scholarships.

He looked at her with a penetrating gaze, seeming to weigh her every word, figuring out how it fit into the whole picture. She wondered if that was part of the reason he was hugely rich and successful—because he took note of everything.

Sitting in a big leather chair next to her, Matt shifted his legs a little wider. “That’s very commendable, getting your education while you’re working. So tell me more about how you envision teaching my son.”

Swallowing hard at the ridiculously sexy picture he made, Ari settled into the buttery smooth leather of the sofa. With an intricate pattern of vibrant colors, the carpet was so thick it tempted her to take off her shoes and sink her toes into the plush pile. She couldn’t imagine living in a place like this. Just walking from the front door to the living room had seemed like a mile across polished hardwood floors, past paintings and artwork that probably cost a fortune. But live here she would, if she got the job taking care of Noah.

Her smile grew bigger with the memory of the day she’d played with Matt’s son at the youth center Daniel was building in San Jose. “I like to play in the sandbox rather than sticking kids in front of the TV to let their little minds get warped by cartoons. Not that there’s anything wrong with cartoons,” she clarified. “As long as they’re the cherry on top of the sundae, rather than the entire meal.”

“I agree,” Matt said with a nod. “Children should be outdoors, enjoying nature, playing with insects, and chasing frogs.”

As a kid, she’d lived in an apartment—lots of different apartments—and the only insects she could have played with were cockroaches. The only frogs she’d seen were in stagnant pools of water left behind in abandoned lots. When she wasn’t in school, she’d spent her time buried in the pages of books.

“I like the zoo,” she continued, hoping she was saying the right things. The problem was that he smelled so good, like clean, hot male. It was messing big-time with her concentration. “And you’ve got Henry Coe State Park almost in your backyard.” His huge home was nestled in the trees overlooking Anderson Lake. Footpaths probably led up into the hills right from the back door. “Is that why you chose to live in Morgan Hill—because it’s so much prettier than San Jose?”

“After I had my new factory located here, I figured it was easier to build our home nearby.”

He was so matter-of-fact. Did he ever chase butterflies with his son? She hoped he did.

To prep her for this interview, Daniel had told her that Matt was a brilliant high-tech robotics manufacturer—and a bookworm. Crossing the mile-long foyer, she’d caught a brief glimpse of a library jammed with books. If she got the job, she’d love to spend as much of her free time there as possible. Evidently, Matt had put himself through college with scholarships and hard work, blowing through in three years instead of four. His ideas and inventions were so groundbreaking that his professors had told him to forget earning a PhD and move right into industry instead, so he’d started his company, Trebotics International, when he was about her age.

Though she admired him for his smarts and his success, she didn’t know anything about him as a father. Or as a man. But Daniel had said he was the best dad any kid could ever have. He’d also mentioned that Noah’s mom had dropped out of the picture early and rarely saw her son.

How had that affected Matt and Noah?

“One of Noah’s previous nannies had a boyfriend she constantly talked with on the phone when she should have been paying attention to my son. Will that be a problem for you?”

“I don’t have a boyfriend, or unlimited texting and minutes on my cell phone.” She couldn’t afford a smartphone, and she’d signed up for the cheapest service plan she could get. “So you definitely won’t find me distracted by my phone.”

“I’m glad to hear that. How many children do you currently babysit?”

Interesting that he wanted to know more about her actual experience with children rather than what she’d taken in school, but she knew that book smarts weren’t always the same as hands-on learning. “Six, but only part time for each. One is my best friend’s little boy. She’s a single mom, and I help out with Jorge.” Ari gave it the Spanish pronunciation: Hor-hay. She loved Jorge and didn’t charge Rosie. “I also work for four women in the South Bay who aren’t working moms, taking care of their kids when they’ve got errands or appointments. I wouldn’t be leaving them in the lurch if I came to work for you.” She didn’t want him to think she’d dump him if a better opportunity came along. “I’ve got friends who would love to work for them. I’d just have to make arrangements.” It would be difficult leaving the kids, but she needed the full-time job. Both Daniel and the moms understood that, though it was harder for the kids to accept. “They all said they’d give you references.”

“I’d like to speak with them.”

She fished in her bag for the list. “Here you go.” Their hands brushed, and she went warm all over.

As he looked over the names, numbers, and addresses, she noted that he had sun lines at his eyes, and she wondered if he swam with Noah in the huge kidney-shaped pool she’d seen through the French doors. Or maybe they spent time in the playground out back, with its swings, slides, monkey bars, and huge sandbox.

He was rich. He could give his son anything that was for sale. But she hoped he gave his son time too.

Looking back up at her, he asked, “How long have you been babysitting?”

“Since I was sixteen.” Not counting the foster homes where she’d taken care of the younger kids.

“And you’re twenty-four now?” He frowned slightly as he said her age, but before she became worried, he said, “Eight years is good experience.”

She smiled, then dove in with her own question. “What would my duties be?”

“You would get Noah up in the morning, take him to school. He started kindergarten this year, and he’s attending a private school in Almaden Valley.”

That was twenty-five minutes away. She thought about the morning commute traffic and how brutal it was as more companies moved into Silicon Valley.

As if he could see the thought bubble over her head, he said, “My driver Doreen would drive you when you take Noah out.” Matt Tremont and his son lived a life she’d seen only on TV, with private drivers and mansions. “You would also be responsible for his nutrition. I have a cook, but I’d want you to make sure he’s eating healthy.”

Nutrition had been part of her education. “No treats?”

He smiled for the first time. And she stopped breathing.

Literally stopped.

No one should be allowed that much gorgeousness. She would see that smile in her dreams.

“Treats were my favorite thing as a kid. Probably because I didn’t get many.” He said it with a laugh, but she wasn’t sure she bought the way he tried to play off his difficult childhood with a smile. Ari hadn’t grown up with much either—and she’d also learned how to smile through it. “In any case,” he continued, “treats are fine every now and then, but I don’t want him gorging on candy and soda.” With that, he went on with her duties. “He’s only in school in the morning, so I would want you to devise lesson plans for the afternoon. Trips to the zoo and other activities that teach him would be great. He’s learning to swim, and I’d want you to continue, as long as he’s got his water wings on.”

A commotion in the hall drowned out the rest of Matt’s list—a young voice, the stomp of running feet. For a little boy, Noah Tremont made big noise, which she loved.

He flew around the corner, sliding on the hardwood floor until his toes hit the rug. “Daddy, Daddy, you gotta see!” A moment later, he saw Ari. “I know you.”

“We met a month ago at the house your daddy was building with his friends.”

Noah had a mop of hair as dark as his father’s and cheeks that hadn’t lost their baby roundness yet. He ran around the coffee table and flung himself at her on the sofa, grabbing her hand. “You gotta see too.”

“Noah,” Matt interrupted. “We’re in a meeting.”

A harried older woman appeared in the doorway, wisps of hair flying out of a bun that had probably been neat that morning. This must be the temp Matt said he’d brought in while he was searching for a full-time nanny. “Mr. Tremont, I’m sorry. Noah, come here.” Her voice was more tired than annoyed.

But Noah was too excited to listen. Ari plucked him up and set him on her lap, a wriggling bundle of boundless energy. He was adorable. She wanted to spend her days with someone so happy and sweet, take him to the zoo, chase butterflies, teach him the names of birds.

“You know”—she gave Noah the biggest smile—“it’s nice to let people finish what they’re saying. So as soon as your dad’s done talking, then you can show us whatever you want.”

“It’s my new Lego set Jeremy gave me!” He couldn’t stop bouncing. Ari remembered Jeremy from the day at the youth home, a sweet young man—a brother of one of the other Mavericks, maybe?

“All righty then. We’ll finish up, then you can show us your Lego.” She gave Noah a solemn look. “I’m a Lego master, by the way.”

“Cool, me too!” He nodded vigorously, his curls bouncing. Then he stopped and bit his lip, and she was struck by how much of a mini-Matt he was. “I forgot your name.”

“It’s Ari.”

He beamed at her. Yup, the kid version of his dad’s smile. “I like your name.” With that, he hopped off her lap.

When Ari turned back to Matt, he was staring at her with his head cocked slightly. “A Lego master?” He shook his head. “Even I have a hard time putting some of them together.”

“I doubt that,” she said, which made him smile again. Oh, that smile. It got under her skin, made her hum inside. Everywhere inside. “You were saying? About my duties?”

“We’ve pretty much covered it.” He began to list the things she’d get out of the deal. “You’d have your own suite next to Noah’s. You could eat meals with us, but you’d be free to raid the kitchen. Sunday would be your day off. If you wanted to make prior arrangements to go out in the evening for a date or whatever, that would be fine. I try to be home in the evenings and on weekends for Noah.”

“Like I said, I don’t have a boyfriend, but I get together with my girlfriends sometimes in the evenings.”

He nodded, then said, “The salary is twelve hundred a week, plus medical insurance.”

She barely managed to keep her chin from hitting her knees. “A week?” She couldn’t believe it. It rivaled what she made in a month. Plus benefits.

“Considering that you would be on duty almost twenty-four hours a day, six days a week, it’s reasonable.”

“Reasonable?” She was afraid she sounded like an airhead repeating everything he said, but his offer was beyond anything she’d dreamed of. “I mean, yes, it’s totally reasonable.”

Especially considering all she had to do was look after an adorable little boy and live in a fabulous mansion with her own suite. And she could have all the sizzling-hot fantasies she wanted about Matt, whose bedroom would undoubtedly be just down the hall. Completely secret fantasies, locked in a compartment inside her brain that she’d wait to open until she was alone.

If there was one thing she knew how to do, it was compartmentalize. She’d spent six years in the foster care system after her mom died, so Ari was a master at living a rich fantasy life without confusing it with reality. Everyone deserved a dream world. In fact, it was healthy—as long as you knew the difference between fantasy and reality, and Ari always had.

She knew what it was like to have things ripped away from you at a moment’s notice, when you thought a foster family cared about you only to realize it was the money they received that meant the most, or their real daughter hated your guts so you had to go. And she knew about other things that still gave her nightmares sometimes—foster fathers and brothers who didn’t care about the personal boundaries of the new foster girl.

So, yes, she definitely kept her dreams uncontaminated by reality. And this job was far better than anything she could have dreamed up on her own. If she got it, she would owe Daniel for recommending her, more than she could ever repay.

“I’ll check your references tonight.” He tapped the list she’d given him. “But after what Daniel said, it all looks good. I’ll give you a call tomorrow.”

Please, she silently prayed as she grabbed her bag, hire me and make this dream real. “I really like Noah. He’s a great kid.”

“I’m lucky to have him.” Love filled Matt’s voice when he talked about his son. “And he obviously likes you. I hope you have time to see his latest Lego masterpiece before you go.”

“Of course.”

They stood at the same time, suddenly close beside each other at the edge of the coffee table. For the briefest of moments, she let her eyelids drift shut as her senses drank him in—that fresh rain scent, the heat radiating off his body, the gentle wash of his breath across her hair.

Noah was so cute, and the setup was amazing. But Matt? Well, he was the cherry on top of her sundae.

And if she got this job, she would make sure nothing screwed it up.

I hope you enjoyed this taste of Ari and Matt!

If you missed the first two books in the Maverick Billionaire series, here’s where you can catch up!

Breathless in Love, Book 1, Will and Harper  Kindle  Kindle UK  Kindle CA  Kindle AU  Nook  iBooks  iBooks UK  iBooks CA  iBooks AU  Kobo  Google Play  Print  Audible  iTunes

Reckless in Love, Book 2, Sebastian and Charlie Kindle  Kindle UK  Kindle CA  iBooks  iBooks UK  iBooks CA  iBooks AU  Kobo  Nook  Nook UK  Google Play Print  Audible  iTunes


Preorder Irresistible in Love, Maverick Billionaires Book 4 (Evan’s story) on iBooks Preorder!!!


Don’t miss Love Affair to Remember, After Office Hours Book 2, also an iBooks preorder.

 Freebies and Sales!

Dead to the Max, Max Starr Series, Book 1 is still free!

She’s Gotta Be Mine is FREE! Try Book 1 of the Cottonmouth Series.

Try Somebody’s Lover, the first book in the The Jackson Brothers Trilogy for FREE!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Fearless in Love is ready for Preorder!!

I hope you’re all dying for the next installment of the Maverick Billionaires, just like I am! Bella and I are working on the revisions right now, and I think you’ll all fall in love with Matt and Ari just the way we have. I’m so excited that the preorder is up for all of you and the book will be released in time for your summer beach read on June 15, 2016!

A quick note: Be sure to drop to the Sales and Freebies section to see what I’ve got going for you!

So let me tell you about Fearless in Love. Remember the end of Reckless in Love, at the grand opening of Sebastian’s headquarters??!! And Matt spies the beautiful Ariana Jones just on the other side of the fountain…

Oh, I just adore this cover. Matt is such a hottie!

Here’s more about Matt and Ari’s beautiful story.

After growing up dirt poor in a seedy Chicago neighborhood, Matt Tremont seemingly has it all now—brains, brawn, and billions. And most importantly, Noah, his five-year-old son, the one good outcome of a disastrous relationship that destroyed his last ounce of trust. The only thing he’s lacking is the perfect nanny for his son. And Ariana Jones is absolute perfection. Utterly enchanting. Completely fascinating. And totally off limits.

Like a match made in heaven, this is Ari's dream job. Swallowed up in the foster care system after losing her brother and mother, Ari has always dreamed of family. She showers five-year-old Noah with all the love she’s kept bottled up inside. Love she could also offer to her gorgeous billionaire boss—if only he weren’t the very last man she could ever hope to have.

But when sizzling sparks of attraction turn into a forbidden, sinfully hot night of pleasure, will Ari’s love be enough to make Matt forget the past and love fearlessly?

Preorder Fearless in Love, Book 3, coming June 15  Kindle  Kindle UK  Kindle CA  iBooks  iBooks UK  iBooks CA  iBooks AU  Nook  Kobo

If you missed the first two books in the Maverick Billionaire series, here’s where you can catch up before Book 3 comes out!

Breathless in Love, Book 1, Will and Harper  Kindle  Kindle UK  Kindle CA  Kindle AU  Nook  iBooks  iBooks UK  iBooks CA  iBooks AU  Kobo  Google Play 
Audible  iTunes

Reckless in Love, Book 2, Sebastian and Charlie Kindle  Kindle UK  Kindle CA  iBooks  iBooks UK  iBooks CA  iBooks AU  Kobo  Nook  Nook UK  Google Play  
Audible  iTunes

Freebies and Sales!

First, I’d love you to try out my audiobooks. So here’s the deal: To 10 people who email me, I’ll give you the code for a free Audible audiobook of Revenge, Book 1, West Coast Series. The only thing I’d like in return is an honest review once you’ve listened! Sound like a deal? Enter this drawing by sending an email to jenniferskully at gmail dot com.

Dead to the Max, Max Starr Series, Book 1 is still free!

She’s Gotta Be Mine is FREE! Try Book 1 of the Cottonmouth Series.

Try Somebody’s Lover, the first book in the The Jackson Brothers Trilogy for FREE!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Excerpt Chapter 2 of Desire Actually!

I hope you all had a fabulous Valentine’s Day! We’ve got Norwegian relatives visiting, and it was great fun celebrating the holiday with them!
Desire Actually, Book 1 in After Office Hours is available now! Just for fun, I thought I’d give you another taste, Chapter Two! If you didn’t read Chapter One, be sure to go back to the previous blog for that. And away we go!

Desire Actually

After Office Hours, Book 1

© 2016 Jennifer Skully

Chapter Two

Jordana licked the gloss on her lips. Grady could almost taste the fruitiness of it. His blood roared in his ears, rushing straight down.

He’d never cheated on his wife, never wanted to, never even thought about it. God help him, though, he was thinking about it now. What had seemed inconceivable in the aftermath of Darlene’s divorce email consumed him now. He couldn’t even bring his wife’s face to mind. Maybe it was the anger flushing away the image, but all he saw was Jordana’s lush mouth, and he fell headlong into the deep blue of her eyes, suddenly under the influence of her fast-acting citrusy scent. It seeped in through his pores and took him over. Their proximity revealed the slight rise and fall of her chest with each shallow breath she took. His gaze focused on a lock of her brunette hair against the rapid flutter at her throat. He had the insane urge to bend down and lick her right on that pulse point.

Back up, back up, back up.

The danger signal rang in his head. Taking that first step away was the hardest move he’d ever made.

“I understand.” He sounded disgustingly wheezy.

“Do you?” Her voice was still husky, hypnotic.

Hell, yes, he understood intensity, and he was desperate right now. His fingers curled with the need to touch her. His mouth salivated as if she were a savory-sweet piece of meat. His head ached with the fear that he’d lost his mind. Because she wasn’t his wife and he shouldn’t be feeling any of this.

“Teach me.” His voice actually cracked in the middle.

“Teach you what?”

The distance between them shrank. His back was against the wall—physically as well as metaphorically—and he didn’t even know how he’d gotten there. “How to make a woman feel desired.” He gritted his teeth. “How to make my wife feel desired.” He stressed the word. It needed stressing. His wife. Not Jordana.

The spell around them shifted, space stretched like elastic, and she was no longer within breathing distance. He wasn’t sure she ever had been. It might have been his imagination.

“Are you asking me to give you lessons?”

“Pointers. Examples,” he said quickly. “Like what you just told me.”

They still spoke in hushed voices. Her gaze slid down to his mouth, and a lick of heat passed through him. He told himself that he wanted the theoretical side of desire, but he couldn’t help wanting to know more about what turned her on.

“Kissing.” The word sizzled on her lips.

“Kissing,” he repeated. “I can do kissing.”

“Not just any old kiss.” Her mouth curved in the slightest yet sexiest of smiles. “Wrap your hand gently around my throat. Or cup my face in your palms. Hold me still, devour me with just your lips, nothing else touching, not our bodies, not even our arms. Nothing but the heat between us.”

She created an image so tangible that he could taste her on his tongue. His breath came faster, and his pulse beat against the surface of his skin. He needed a demonstration. He wanted…

“You need to watch some chick flicks.”

He wasn’t sure he’d heard correctly. “Chick flicks?”

Her smile flashed, her hands moved, animation exciting all her facial muscles. “Bridget Jones’s Diary.”

Good God. Bridget Jones’s Diary? A man had to have some limits.

She recognized his shock. “When Colin Firth kisses her at the end, it’s to die for.”

“Then I can just fast forward to the end.”

“No-ooo,” she exclaimed in two syllables and a wave of her hands. “If you don’t see the entire thing, you won’t get why the kiss is so hot.”

He didn’t think he’d get it if he watched the movie five times, but then the sparkle in her pretty blue eyes clued him in. “You’re making fun of me.”

She would have been completely serious except for the slight twitch of her lips. “Of course not. And there’s a reason they’re called chick flicks. Because we—” She put a hand to her chest, at which point he thought he might have a heart attack. “—love them. And why? Because they depict what we desire.”

“So I can learn everything I need to know from watching chick flicks?” God forbid.

She laughed. He’d heard her laugh before. After all, he’d seen her five days a week in the nine months since she’d been hired. The lovely sound, however, had never resonated inside him to the point that he missed the next thing she said. “What?” he had to ask.

“Not what, but who. James.” As if just the first name said it all, she sighed, affecting a dreamy gaze. “He’s an actor. Becoming Jane. Boy, can that man kiss. Oh, oh.” She fluttered her hands at him. “Penelope. He’s in that movie, too, and he kisses her the same way. Like he’s been thinking about it for months, years even, and suddenly he can’t stop himself.”

He didn’t know who this James person was. “Becoming Jane. Boy, Can That Man Kiss. And Penelope. I haven’t heard of any of those movies.” Becoming Jane sounded familiar for some obscure reason he couldn’t recall, but the other two were a mystery. Darlene had never been the chick-flick type.

Jordana gave him that tinkling laugh again, covering her mouth with her hand. “It’s not a movie. I meant that James can really kiss. Penelope is sort of a fairy tale. And Becoming Jane is about Jane Austen.”

“So watching these movies is supposed to teach me how to kiss?”

She shrugged, a sexy little shimmy that seemed to twist through her whole body. She’d laughed, shrugged, and done all those things in front of him before, he was sure, but her gestures had never elicited a response like this. He’d never even actively noticed. It had all been subliminal. But somehow, from the moment she’d told him exactly how to make her melt with desire, he couldn’t stop noticing.

“It’s a start,” she said. “But it isn’t just the kiss. It’s all the stuff leading up to the kiss. The dance. The furtive looks. The subtext. The innuendo.” She rolled her eyes like a teenage girl, and he was suddenly aware of their twelve-year age difference. “You’re married,” she added. “You must have done the dance at some point.”

“I’ve been married for fifteen years, and we dated for five years before that.” They’d both thought it was reasonable to get their careers going strong before getting married. “It’s been a long time.”

“That’s your problem then. You’ve forgotten. You need reminding.”

Jordana had certainly reminded his body of something.

She gasped. And that did more strange things to him. “You’ve got to watch Castle. I think it takes them something like five seasons of that show to finally get there.” In her excitement, she bounced a couple of times on the toes of her high-heeled shoes. “And Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Not the Angel thing, but Spike.”

He didn’t have a clue what she was talking about. Except that Buffy the Vampire Slayer was some sort of teenage angst show about vampires… and teenage girls.

Sighing exaggeratedly, she caressed him with another dreamy smile. “The whole secret love-hate relationship is so sexy. It’s totally what women want. We want the fantasy. That we’re the only one and you’ll do anything to have us.”

That dreamy smile was getting to him, making his heart kick and his palms sweat. Not to mention other things. But a man truly did need to have his limits. “No self-respecting man of forty-two watches chick flicks and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

She put her hands behind her back and took one step too close to him. He couldn’t think when she was this close. Or rather, he thought too much about things he shouldn’t even allow into his married brain. “Are you saying,” she said, deadly soft, “that you’re not willing to do anything, absolutely anything, to get your wife back?”

The challenge jerked him out of the sexual daze he’d fallen into. Darlene had left him and not five minutes later, he was entertaining inappropriate thoughts about another woman. A much younger woman with gorgeous blue eyes and sexy, messy, silky dark chestnut hair and… other attributes he had no right speculating about. And she’d just voiced the only question that really mattered: Was he willing to do absolutely anything to get Darlene back?

“You’re angry right now.”

Her remark brought her face into focus again. She’d heard his side of the phone argument, and he was pretty damn sure he’d revealed everything in the heat of the moment. “You could say that.” He could feel his teeth start to grind again.

“But do you really want to throw away fifteen years of marriage?”

In his anger, yes. If Darlene was cheating on him, definitely. But if he was completely honest, did she bear the entire blame? Or had he simply dug a hole so deep in the sand that it covered not only his head, but sucked in his whole body, too? He’d been comfortable with their life, but he’d never asked if she was. He’d taken everything for granted. He was complacent, just as Darlene had claimed. It didn’t justify cheating or excuse divorce by email, but did he want their marriage to be over without even a fight? “I don’t know.”

He was answering Jordana. He was answering himself.

“So show her what she thinks she’s been missing. It certainly couldn’t hurt.”

He tried to lighten the moment. “It could if anyone found out I turned into a chick-flick addict.”

Her mouth in a half smile, she drew her fingers across her lips. “Totally sealed.”

He sighed, trying to sound dramatic. “All right, you win. But I don’t have Netflix, and I’m not even sure where there’s a video store.” In the age of mail-order DVDs and streaming, most of the video stores had gone out of business.

She beamed in high wattage. “You’re in luck. I have them all on DVD and I’ll let you borrow them.”

“Wonderful,” he said dryly.

“And for every movie you watch, I’ll give you a gold star.”

“Great.” He almost groaned. “I’ll be the teacher’s pet.”

She clapped her hands. “Doris Day and Clark Gable in Teacher’s Pet. I forgot to mention all the classics you should watch, too. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Pillow Talk. An Affair to Remember. They’re fabulous.” She cocked her head. “Although the kisses aren’t quite the same as you see in movies today.” Then she added with huge affectation, “Oh my gosh, we can’t forget Love Actually. Yeah, Love Actually is totally perfect.” She gave him a cheeky smile. “So many chick flicks, so little time.”

What the hell had he gotten himself into?

* * * * *

The next morning, preparations for the quarterly company meeting commandeered everyone’s focus. Rhonda wasn’t satisfied with the changes Jordana had made to her presentation, despite the fact that they were exactly what she’d asked for. Jordana was also in charge of making sure the cafeteria was converted into a makeshift auditorium with enough chairs, bottles of water, the right AV equipment, that all the VPs had their updated agenda, and on and on.

She didn’t have a moment to pass over the DVDs she’d brought for Grady. She hadn’t stopped thinking about last night. He’d made her laugh, especially with his obvious horror at having to watch chick flicks. Sometimes attraction was like a bolt of lightning the first time you saw a man, that chemical thing that tripped all your nerve endings. Other times it was slow-growing, until one day you realized your feelings for a guy had been percolating inside you. This was somewhere between the two, where lightning struck and suddenly made her see Grady Masterson as far more than the VP across the hall.

Of course, he was married, even if his wife had just dumped him. And Jordana stuck strictly to single men.

Over the years, she’d been absorbed by her career, and dating had never been top priority. Men tended to get in the way, wanting you to divide your attention between your work and their needs. That was one of the reasons she didn’t go in for long-term relationships. Besides, keeping everything short-term meant there was less chance of being hurt or getting dumped. She also wasn’t ashamed to admit she liked hot, fast, and intense, something with a bit of an illicit nature, like sneaking away at lunch for a quickie. She preferred the high of lust versus the pressure of a relationship, at least until she’d achieved her career goals. That didn’t mean she would never think about marriage. She saw herself as a mother eventually, and having her dad run off when she was only three—no calls to check on her, no letters, not even a card on her birthday—had taught her that a child needed both parents. So she’d get married at some point in the future, but at thirty years old, there was plenty of time ahead of her for all that.

Her career came first right now, and she’d fallen behind right out of the gate. It took her three years to finish junior college because she was working at the same time. Same with university. She’d had a scholarship to San Francisco State, but she’d worked as well and couldn’t handle a full load of classes every term, so she’d graduated later than planned.

“Hello. Earth to Jordana.”

Jordana nearly fell off her high heels. Squatting on the floor to arrange bottles of water and cans of soda in the ice filling the metal tubs, she hadn’t even heard Rhonda crossing the floor in her sensible, rubber-soled shoes.

“I asked if you’d loaded my presentation on the laptop. And you were a million miles away.”

Jordana pushed herself up from her crouch in the front of the drink tubs. “Yes, Rhonda.”

To put it diplomatically, Rhonda was a micromanager, with occasional bursts of outrage she pretended hadn’t happened. That trait made it doubly odd for her to run the quarterly leadership workshops. Rhonda accentuated her matronly appearance by favoring staid business suits and a short hairstyle that added an unnecessary sense of plumpness to her face. She refused to dye the gray out of her hair, saying that as a woman in a man’s world, she wouldn’t use her sex appeal to her advantage. What sex appeal? Jordana hadn’t asked that obvious question in the nine months she’d been Rhonda’s assistant. She circumvented the micromanaging with politeness and ignored the outbursts. She didn’t work in Human Resources for nothing, after all.

“You can look it over and make sure everything is the way you want it.” Jordana had loaded the PowerPoint presentations. All the speaker had to do was a push a button to move through their slides. She tapped a few keys, and Rhonda’s headcount numbers appeared. Staff had grown by 20 percent over the last quarter, and all the new hires were in Manufacturing, which was exactly where they should be. After a long stint of R&D, the company was scheduled to begin shipping product by the first of the year, and they’d received a large influx of cash from a group of venture capitalists in order to make that happen.

Rhonda plodded through every slide, making more changes Jordana knew she’d have to fix before the meeting. “Are you sure about this number?”

“I checked it the first time you asked me, Rhonda.” Jordana forgave the micromanaging, but she still let her boss know she was doing it. Again.

“Oh yes. I forgot.” Rhonda allowed her the reminder. She’d never gone off on Jordana, maybe because Jordana called her on the small managerial infractions.

Rhonda Clark wasn’t the best boss or the best example to follow, but she knew her stuff, and Jordana soaked up knowledge like a sponge. She wanted the VP spot, not Rhonda’s specifically, but something in a fast-growing, dynamic company. That’s why she’d gone for a start-up, because she wanted training in everything to do with the HR field. Since college, she’d worked in two conglomerates, and while the experiences had been good—she’d even worked in Payroll for a while to familiarize herself with that technical area—overall, she’d been slotted into one tiny area of expertise, never getting the big picture. That wasn’t for her. She had too much to catch up on to remain narrowly focused. If she wanted the top job, she had to be proficient in every aspect.

Training aside, with a start-up, there was the added benefit of stock options when the company went public.

While Rhonda went through her presentation, Jordana returned to stacking drinks in the tubs. Even organizing events like this, she considered a skill to be learned. The meeting could totally suck, and she’d been to plenty of yawners like that. There was an art to making sure the assembly listened to every word.

Of course, there wasn’t much she could do about Rhonda’s actual performance.

“Oops,” Rhonda said loudly.

“What did you do?” Jordana didn’t panic. Yet. Rhonda wasn’t the most technically savvy, but she couldn’t do that much damage in five minutes.

“All I did was tap a key and it went away.” Rhonda stared bewildered at what was now a blank screen rather than her document.

“You probably just closed the file.” Jordana had merged all the presentations into one file so that the change in speaker was seamless.

The file, however, wasn’t in the directory. She checked the trash, just in case. She did a search. Nothing.

“Only you, Rhonda. You hit one key, that’s all?”

“I don’t know.” Rhonda made a face. “This pop-up thingie appeared, and I clicked Yes to get rid of it.”

“Hmm.” The file simply wasn’t on the company server. Somehow Rhonda had trashed it, then deleted it out of the trash, too—if that was even possible without knowing you were doing it. Jordana didn’t scream. Everything was backed up on her computer. She had time to fix it. “I’ll run upstairs for a minute.”

“But we have to start in a minute,” Rhonda whined.

Not that Jordana was an eye-roller, but seriously. “The room’s empty, Rhonda. We’ve got time to fix it.”


There were a lot of things Jordana didn’t want to learn from Rhonda. Like being a worrier and a nitpicker. “I’ll be back.”

The cafeteria door opened with the first arrivals. The warehouse contingent came for the free drinks. Jordana squeezed past them and headed across the lobby to the stairs, her heels clicking on the tile floor. She pushed upstairs against the flow of accountants coming down.

The building was divided in two, the cafeteria and a testing facility downstairs on either side of the lobby. Upstairs was Marketing, Customer Service, and the CEO’s office on one side, Accounting, HR, and Grady’s office on the other side. The factory, warehouse, and R&D were in the bigger building across the street. She had time. It would take at least five minutes for everyone to arrive and get seated.

After swiping her card key for the outer door, Jordana skirted the outside of the Accounting bullpen. She turned the corner into her cubicle next to Rhonda’s office. Ivy, Grady’s assistant, had already left for the meeting, and Grady’s office was empty, too.

She smiled thinking of the bag of DVDs she’d dump on him after the meeting. Or maybe she should wait until after office hours.

Jordana punched in her password for her screensaver. In a matter of seconds, she had the file copied onto a flash drive. That way, if anything else went wrong during the meeting, she could quickly transfer.

Tucking the flash into the palm of her hand, she glanced at her watch. Almost show time. Rhonda was probably hyperventilating and clutching her chest by now. It wasn’t as if their CEO couldn’t talk off the cuff for a few minutes. Brett Baker didn’t require slides to do his rah-rah bit.

She was moving fast as she rounded the corner, heading for the door to the upstairs landing.

And smashed right into a hard chest.

He grabbed her shoulders to steady her. She knew that chest. Her face buried against it, she knew that scent, too. Manly soap and tall, sexy man.

“We have to stop running into each other like this,” Grady said.

She liked the hint of laughter in his voice. And his hands on her shoulders. And her face in his chest. It was enough to make her forget about the flash drive.

“You’re finally getting it.” She kept her words soft, a little seductive.

He stepped back, and after a beat longer than necessary, dropped his hands. “Getting what?”

“What women want.”

“Really?” His tone was slightly mystified, his head tilted to the left. “How?”

“That was extremely sexy. Putting your hands on me to keep me steady. Talking before you let me go. Drawing out the moment.”

His mouth lifted at one corner. “Was I supposed to let you fall?”

“If I’d bumped into Rhonda, I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t have held me up. And you wouldn’t have done it if you’d crashed into Brett.”

A full-throated laugh burst out of him. “You’ve got me there.”

“So that means you’re learning.”

He regarded her with those delicious hot chocolate eyes of his. “I wouldn’t have done it for Rhonda either.”

“See.” Something tingled low inside her. “You really are catching on.”

His raised brow accentuated a naughty, crooked smile. “But what if you thought I was sexually harassing you?”

She heard the ticking of her internal clock. She even thought she could hear steam venting out of Rhonda’s ears. But she couldn’t move. This was way too much fun. “You knew I wouldn’t. Especially after our conversation last night. Lesson number two, learn when a woman doesn’t want anything from you at all. And steer clear.”

“I’m still not sure how I’ll know.” This close, he seemed bigger, taller. And totally sexy in his white shirt and tie.

“When a woman brings you a big bag of chick flicks, you just know which way it is.”

“You brought me presents.” He grimaced. “Thank you so much. My weekend will be the envy of every red-blooded American male.”

She winked. “I’ll let you slip in a pre-season football game as well.”

“I’m afraid I only watch the Super Bowl.”

Jordana gaped at him. “That’s sacrilege.”

“Even un-American,” he agreed with a straight face and a slight curve of his mouth. “I prefer Indy car races.”

She imagined the thunder of the engines pounding in her chest. It was almost sexual. She felt her body swaying into him.

Jordana’s internal alarm was now shrieking, and everything she’d ignored for the last few minutes came charging back. The meeting. The flash drive with all the presentations. Rhonda’s wrath.

Grady made her forget all her important duties. And that could be very dangerous.


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