Authors: Desiree Crimson
Bedding the Geek Tycoon
By Desiree Crimson
(c) 2012, All Rights Reserved
Jenn MacLennan was a superhero.
Granted, she wasn’t the kind of superhero that punched out villains or saved people. Her archenemies were bugs that debuggers couldn’t fix. She faced down millions of lines of code that had, somewhere in their depths, a little error that made the entire damn program malfunction.
There were no lives at stake or exploding buildings, but as far as her open source project was concerned, Jenn was a superhero. That was good enough for her.
A drop of sweat rolled down from Jenn’s hairline, trailing down to her jaw and dripping to her chest. She swiped at it with the back of her hand, pushing her sweat-damp hair behind her ear with the same impatience.
She watched her monitor as computers in the data center downstairs pounded away at her data. If she wanted to wait a month, the machines could solve the problem, but Jenn had never been patient. The program was a thousand times faster with the right operator at the keyboard.
Jenn typed in the completed formula, making sure she got every single character right, and hit the enter key.
The three dimensional character she had been modeling stopped its frenzied shifts. The non-planar polygons fell into place.
“It works,” Jenn said softly, dropping her pen to the desk with a
.” She threw her head back and pumped her fists into the air. “
!” she yelled, momentarily drowning out the hum of her computer.
The cheer fell awfully flat without anyone to join her.
Her hands slackened in her lap.
“Good job, Jenn. You’re so brilliant,” she muttered at her reflection in the mirror she affixed to the monitor so she could tell when her boss was approaching. Her tired eyes stared back. “Oh, why, thank you, Jenn. You’re so considerate for noticing.”
Feeling about a million times more pathetic than she did before conquering the code, Jenn stood, feeling twinges of pain in her legs and back from having been sitting too long.
She tried to rub feeling into her legs, bared by cut-off shorts that were by no means appropriate for her office. Nobody would dare discipline her for breaking the dress code. She was the best programmer in the entire company, despite her use of corporate equipment for pet projects, and she never missed a day of work. They couldn’t afford to scare her off.
She stretched out her back, winced at the pops it elicited, and bent to check her computer clock.
Nine-thirty at night.
“Lunch time,” she announced to the empty office. “How does pho sound? I think pho sounds awesome.” The tiny Tom Servo figurine stuck to the side of her monitor with a wad of gum did not respond.
Her cell phone rang from somewhere in the cubicle, startling her with the theme from Super Mario World. Jenn felt around on her desk for her phone. She found it hidden behind the monitor.
Shock jolted through her at the name on the screen.
For an instant, she felt a surge of disorientation—like she was back in the computer lab at college, hogging the equipment to compile naughty little viruses while living off Red Bull and Doritos.
Ryan had been a computer science TA, and she had been completely head-over-heels for him—even though he hadn’t known she existed.
How could he have her number two years later?
She pressed the button to accept the call. “Hello?”
“Is this Jennifer?”
Oh dear Zelda, that was a sexy voice.
“Yes,” she said, trying to sound composed. “Is this Ryan Stone?”
He gave a low, masculine chuckle that sent thrills to the hot place between her legs. If she closed her eyes, she could imagine him the way he looked at graduation. That wide jaw, the dimpled chin, the Superman smile hidden behind Clark Kent glasses. He was a weightlifter, too, so he even had superhero shoulders. But it was nothing compared to his brain. Ryan was a geek girl’s wet dream.
“How did you know it was me?” he asked.
Because Jenn had tethered her phone to a private database that had phone numbers for everybody in the city—illegally, of course. “Lucky guess.”
“I’m surprised you remember me. We hardly spoke in college.”
Her voice was about an octave too high. “Well, you know, memory like an elephant and all. How can I help you?”
Please let it involve nudity.
“I need a programmer for a special project. I asked around for references, and Professor Pratt recommended you.”
Professor Pratt. Of course. Jenn had loathed his stupid assignments in Visual Basic, but if she had seen him now, she would have kissed him for sending Ryan her way. “Special project? Sounds exciting. Let me give you my email address…”
“Actually, I was hoping we could discuss it in person. Are you busy?”
Her heart skipped a beat. “No, not at all. I was just heading home.”
“Why don’t we meet your place?” he asked.
Ryan Stone, sexiest geek at Jenn’s alma mater, in her apartment? Alone? She swallowed back a too-enthusiastic response and was proud of herself when her reply came out sounding casual. “Sure. We can do that.”
She gave him her address.
“I’ll be there in a half an hour,” he said. “See you soon.”
Jenn got to her apartment ten minutes before Ryan did. She rushed to clean: picking up things her cat, Bowser, had decided wasn’t correctly arranged on the shelf; putting the dirty clothes from her bathroom floor into the washing machine; throwing out bottles of Bawls by the cushy couch she used for gaming.
But there was too much to do and not enough time. She settled for kicking everything on the floor under her couch and chairs.
Her apartment looked convincingly tidy. Not bad for a five minute blast.
Bowser meowed at her feet. “What do you need?” Jenn asked, looking down at her very fat marmalade with her hands on her hips. He mewled again and bumped his head against her shin. “Right. Food. Does my big mean neighbor still have you on a diet?”
His only response was an approving purr as she reached for a can of cat food in the same cabinet as the Top Ramen.
A heavy knocking at the door. Jenn’s heart leapt. She tore off the can’s top and dropped it on the floor.
“Just a minute!” she called, stepping over Bowser as he hunkered down to eat. Jenn took one last, sweeping look at her apartment, pushed her hair behind her ears, and opened the front door.
Ryan Stone stood on the other side.
The last time she had seen him, Ryan hadn’t quite finished growing into his muscles. But now… now, he looked like a real man. His broad shoulders helped make his six-foot-two height seem even taller, and he filled the doorway with silent, radiating energy. His lips were soft and full—the only feature on him that was soft.
He still had the glasses. Those wonderful, sexy, thick-rimmed glasses.
She stared at him, breathless, and he stared back. “Hi,” she said.
Oh yeah, Jenn. Irresistibly smooth.
He peered around her shoulder. “Hey. Can I…?”
She gave a shaky laugh. “Of course. Yes! Please come inside.”
Ryan’s eyes scanned the room as he stepped in, and she got the impression that he was studying her living space. Jenn tried to see it like he did, but there wasn’t anything interesting about her apartment—it was a collection of IKEA furniture and cat accoutrements. Her apartment had huge windows and wood floors that matched her green wallpaper.
“Your place is nice,” he said.
“Thanks. I guess.” Jenn briefly contemplated offering him a “grand tour,” but it was pretty boring aside from the server room, and she didn’t let guests in there. “Can I get you something to drink?”
“I’d love coffee.”
She led him into her kitchenette. One side of her freezer was packed with frozen dinners; the other side was occupied by vacuum-sealed canisters of whole coffee beans. Ryan tactfully didn’t remark.
Keeping him in the corner of her eye as she ground up the beans, she watched as he wandered up to one of her photo prints. Or, more specifically, she watched his ass move under the fabric of his pants.
Wow. That was a guy that did squats for sure.
Jenn got a pot of coffee started and they sat at the table. Bowser jumped into their guest’s lap and spread his girth across his legs. “Sorry,” she said. “I can lock him in the bathroom.”
“No. It’s fine. I love cats.”
His big hand spread down Bowser’s back, stroking him from ears to tail. Her kitty arched his back and purred as he butted his head against Ryan’s chest. What a slut. Never mind that Jenn would have liked to do the exact same thing.
He had become so intense since she had last seen him—all protracted silences and a gaze that could scorch flesh. She felt like he could see through her, inside her, as if her skin was transparent and he could read her thoughts.
She cleared her throat. “So… Ryan. What special project brings you to my neck of the woods?”
“Have you heard of Turner Industries?”
Of course she had. She would have had to live under a rock not to hear about one of the richest companies in the world. “I assume you mean the military contractor.”
“Yeah. I’m one of their engineers.”
“Congratulations. That’s a great job to land out of college.”
He shrugged, like he didn’t think it was a big deal. “I’m struggling with a program. Your name gets thrown around as an expert in security algorithms, so I was hoping you could help.”
“My company is a competitor of Turner. There’s a non-compete clause in my contract.”
“If I could promise this program won’t compete with anything you’re producing, would you be interested?” Ryan asked. “I’ll pay you for your time.”
She sucked her bottom lip into her mouth as she considered it. Jenn liked her job, but it was way below her challenge rating. Something for Turner could be a real brain-buster. It had been too long since she got paid for something fun like that. And if it meant getting to see Ryan Stone a few more times…
“I could probably work something out,” she said.
He set a flash drive on the table between them. “I appreciate it. This has been giving me a hard time for weeks.”
I could give you a lot more than a hard time
Jenn smiled. “No problem.”
He stared at her for too long. Heat crept up her neck and onto her cheeks. She went to the coffeepot to pour a fresh cup and hide her blush.
The only sign Ryan stood was an offended chirp from Bowser as he dropped to the kitchen floor. She turned, and he was there, standing just inches from her. He was so close that a step forward would have brought her against his chest.
He reached up and touched her chin with his hand, tracing his thumb along the bottom line of her lip. Jenn suddenly had to lean back on the counter to keep from falling over. Ryan had turned that hot, intense look on her lips, and it was almost too much. She felt like she was going to catch fire.
Tragically, Ryan dropped his hand. “It’s late. I should let you get to bed.”
English. Right. Jenn could speak words.
“Yeah, okay. Sure.”
No, no, no!
She walked him to the door, and Ryan hung behind her left shoulder like a tall, broad-shouldered shadow. Opening the door a crack, she glanced around for Bowser to make sure he wouldn’t slip out while they were talking. Ryan was hovering over her, even closer than she thought.
“Jeez, Batman,” she said, trying to make her voice light to cover the pounding of her heart. His proximity made her feel weak inside. “I’m going to have to put a bell on you.”
He didn’t laugh.
Slowly, but surely, Ryan reached up and leaned a hand on the door. It shut with a click. He hovered over Jenn, his arm blocking her path back into the apartment, and she gazed up at him and tried not to faint.
“Shh,” he said, and it was almost too gentle considering his intimidating stature.
Ryan’s hand slid down, and he lifted her shirt enough to trace his fingers along her hip. His skin was hot. It almost burned.
“But I’m just…” She trailed off, and his hand tightened on her skin.
And then he kissed her.
He was rough, as intense in his grip as he was in the hot looks he had been shooting her for fifteen minutes. Jenn felt herself begin to fall, but he caught her with his arms around her back and held her against him. They were pressed close, chest to chest, thigh to thigh, and she bunched her hands in the shirt at his shoulders for leverage as she climbed to her toes to deepen their kiss.
Jenn hadn’t exactly been a monk since college, but trying to garner respect in an office full of men meant she couldn’t date any of them. She didn’t get out much. The one or two times she had gotten something resembling carnal satisfaction had been… well, unsatisfying.
And none of them had been as hot as Ryan Stone. She wouldn’t let the opportunity slip past.
She grabbed for his zipper, but Ryan caught her wrists. “Patience,” he murmured, bringing her hands to his mouth to brush his lips over her knuckles. Jenn tried to step back, but he didn’t let her go. “I didn’t tell you to stop. I told you to slow down.”