Authors: Krissy Daniels
Tags: #romance, #Erotic Romance, #Suspense, #978-1-61650-623-0
HOW TO KILL YOUR BOSS
An Erotic Love Story
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.
For lovers, dreamers, and victims of douchebag bosses everywhere.
To Sexy Boyfriend and the babies that are too amazing to be mine, your patience was pushed well beyond the limit with this book and you all handled it like the champs you are. Thank you for being my rock every single day.
Corinne, thank you for putting up with me yet again. I have a newfound respect for nipples and their proper place in the literary world. You make me laugh even when I know you want to slap some sense into me. You are a gem.
Renee, thank you once again for a kick-ass cover and for all you do. Thanks to Lyrical Press/Kensington and all who work their tooshies off behind the scenes.
Jen. From ant hills to paradise pond, Tubbs Hill streakers to pervs with a penchant for toes, you have been and always will be the Laverne to my Shirley, the Red and White to my Apple Blue. I could write a thousand adventures starring you.
Mom, Share-Bear, Auntie Lia. My heart is bursting with the love I have for you, the three women I admire most in this world. You’re my calm in a sea of crazy.
And above all, thank you dear sweet baby Jesus for the narcissistic boss who inspired this story. His lies, greed and psychotic personality made for one hell of an exercise in patience, humility, and human decency in general. Thank you for the chain of events that led me here. I didn’t understand at the time, but I’m starting to get it now.
As the blade sliced through the taught flesh of his stretched neck, revenge was not first and foremost on my mind. When his skin spread wide, revealing the muscles and tendons beneath, I didn’t squirm, gag, or suffer the slightest queasiness. Warm blood stained his shirt, sprayed across his desk, coated the leafy fern nestled in the sunny corner of his office, yet my thoughts were not filled with twisted delusions of
hell yeah, he’s getting what he deserves.
Rocky road ice cream called my name.
Mmm. My stomach rumbled. The closest grocery store was what, five minutes away? What time was it? I used the back of his shirt to wipe his blood off my watch. He wouldn’t mind. He was dead. Oh good, only nine-thirty. Plenty of time to get to the store before it closed.
When I released my death grip on the over-gelled, wiry hair rooted in Wallace Cruse’s head, he slumped and fell with a hard thud against the hickory desk. I cringed, thinking that must hurt, then remembered he couldn’t feel a thing.
Before dropping the weapon, I contemplated stabbing him in the back a few times, for dramatic effect. But time was-a-tickin’ and I needed my chocolate fix.
“Tatum!” he called out to me with his whiney voice.
What? I killed him. Dead people didn’t talk. Raising my arms over my head, I double-fisted the thick handle of the butcher knife, and with all my might pounded into a less-than-spectacular back. His flesh offered no resistance, and at first, I thought I’d missed.
So I did it again.
A pillow stuffed with pudding would’ve put up a better fight. The blade sunk with no effort right through flesh and bones. Its tip stuck in the edge of the desk.
Interesting. Apparently, his physical form was as weak as his moral character….
“Tatum. Tatum!” A whack to my backside snapped me back to reality. “Stop daydreaming. You gotta see this.” Nan looped an arm around mine and guided me down the hall. Stacy, from accounting, shushed us from the opposite side of Wallace’s door. Acting the love-sick teen, she wiggled her eyebrows, pointed toward his office, fanned her face, and swooned.
Whoever came to visit had to be hair-curling hot, because Stacy never behaved in such a manner. Maybe Wallace had landed a celebrity client again. Last time that happened, a fresh buzz of excitement chased the doldrums clean out of the place for weeks. We were long overdue for another shot of team spirit adrenaline.
“Tatum!” Wallace screeched with his high-pitched tenor. Thank goodness Nan still held my arm, because I jumped hard enough to hit the ceiling.
I’d yet to ascertain why, when Wallace needed me, he didn’t use the phone like everyone else. Nan’s office was one door down in the opposite direction, yet he’d never screamed for her. I’d stopped trying to figure him out years ago. Instead of dwelling on the three thousand reasons I hated my boss, I fantasy-killed him at least once a day.
A chill swept over me when I stepped through the threshold. The room, as always, reeked of overpriced hair and hand lotion. Only this time, a familiar scent tickled my nose. Dad’s cologne. I choked back the emotion that gelled in my throat. Even though he’d been dead for three years, I still welled with sentiment every time I caught a whiff of the beloved fragrance.
Wallace wore his fake smile and sat, back straight, hands clasped atop his desk. The unnatural gesture wasn’t for my benefit, but the person seated across from him.
“Ah, Miss Wood.” He lifted his chin to me. “Mr. Reed is joining our team today. Would you make sure Steve’s old office is stocked with the essentials?”
Miss Wood? Oh, jeez. Wallace only addressed me with the formal title when he needed to crank the schmooze dial to high for important clients—important meaning filthy, stinking rich. This guy wasn’t a client, so why the show?
“Of course.” I didn’t add “Mr. Cruse”
to my reply because I knew it’d knock him down a peg. “I’ll be happy to.” Although I’d known Wallace my whole life, he insisted I call him Mr. Cruse at work, a request only made after my father passed. Dad would’ve slapped him silly for being so high-handed with me.
“Anything else?” I asked, sugar-coating my words.
The man seated in front of me turned his head my direction, revealing what had incited the tizzy outside. Yikes! One glance and my heart pitter-pattered. Those eyes. Electric blue, so striking I took a step back. I snapped my attention to Wallace. His ugly I could handle, and it didn’t make me drool.
A deep, intoxicating voice rose from the man before me. “Aren’t you going to introduce us?” he asked, and turned to face Wallace once again.
My boss’ eyebrows crinkled. “Of course. Miss Wood is our receptionist. Tatum, this is Franklin Reed.” Wallace cleared his throat, a nervous gesture he’d developed over the years. It only happened when he lied, or as he called it, embellished the truth, to land clients. “I’ve hired an auditor to tighten up productivity around here.”
Franklin rose, lithe and poised, from the chair. He turned toward me and offered a hand. “Pleasure to meet you, Tate.”
Tate? Nobody had called me Tate except for my father and the assholes in high school. One-Date Tate. The nickname and the curse followed me like a perpetual shadow through most of my academic career.
I would’ve corrected him, but when his full mug came into view, my tongue curled up and shriveled. My IQ dropped thirty points. Again, I quickly averted my eyes. I had no choice. They threatened to pop out of my head. There was good looking and there was gorgeous. This man played in a league that put both of them to shame. “Pleasure meeting you,” I managed to stutter. With grace comparable to a drunk college freshman, I grasped his hand and gave it one good shake. When I tried to pull away, he squeezed tighter and caressed a thumb across my knuckles.
My girlie parts twitched. No joke. I needed to leave before I left a puddle of desire on the floor between my feet. Holy cow, I’d never been affected in such a way.
“The pleasure is all mine.” Franklin tilted his head as if inviting me to admire him.
Nope. No way. I would not look into those eyes again. The way my body reacted, I’d end up sprawled naked across the desk with a rose between my teeth. I reclaimed my hand and jetted through the door.
“Enjoy your tea, Mr. Cruse. I added something special this time.” I winked, smiled, and tucked the empty vial of Kill-Wallace-Cocktail I’d whipped up earlier that morning back into the pocket of my slacks.
He lifted the delicate cup to his lips and drew a long drink. “Delicious.”
“I’m happy you like it.”
“Why are you standing there? Get back to work. Receptionists are a dime a dozen. Without a college degree, you’re lucky to have this job.”
I leaned my shoulder against his doorframe and crossed my arms. Anticipation was half the fun.
Wallace slapped his hands on the desk. “I said, get back—” He coughed. Blood spewed down his chin.
“How ya feeling, Wallace?” I asked with mock concern. “You don’t look so hot.”
Mr. Cruse looked at me, confusion distorting his features. He opened and closed his mouth, unable to form a word.
I swelled with pride when the first crimson tear trickled down his cheek. I tapped my finger to the corner of my own eye. “You’ve got a little something there,” I teased.
Wallace wiped at his face and released a garbled screamed when he spied blood on his hand.
I tapped my ear. “There, too.”
He grabbed a tissue and dabbed first one lobe, then the other. He coughed again and choked on the fluid that bubbled up his throat.
I smiled. Oh, it made my spirits soar to watch him suffer….
A sharp pinch in the fleshy meat at the back of my arm jolted me from my fantasy. “Tate, where were you just now?” Franklin whispered in my ear, sending delicious tickles down my neck. “Boss-man is freaking out. Stop daydreaming and get your ass in there. Cruse needs his daily ego stroke.”
I smacked his arm. The firm muscle underneath his suit jacket didn’t give in the slightest. Franklin had only been with Cruse Investigations for two months, but we were already the best of buddies. Office buds, anyway. His title? Auditor. His duties? Make the women drool, and some of the men, too, while gathering data and compiling reports to make the company more efficient, or something like that. For reasons I failed to comprehend, he spent more time in my office than his own.
He was obscenely gorgeous and smarter than sin. I didn’t understand his career choice. Franklin should’ve been CEO of a Fortune 500 company, modeling, starring in movies, or traveling the world—anything. He didn’t belong in our cozy office. He was a bright star that needed space to shine.
Not that I would dare complain.
I grabbed my bold and obnoxious, red-rimmed glasses. I loved them, partly because they made me feel like a naughty librarian, but mostly because Wallace hated them. He’d mentioned, on more than one occasion, how ridiculous I looked, so I only wore them when I knew we’d be sharing the same space. I didn’t need glasses. My vision was near perfect. They were merely a fashion statement and a fun tool I used to get under the skin of a man I detested.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Cruse.” I smiled, tilted my head in a sweet, shy fashion, and flashed my baby blues. Bastard didn’t even look up from his desk.
“I’m leaving for New York tomorrow. Is the MacKenzie file ready? I need it ASAP, hoping to head out early today.” Wallace scribbled on a piece of paper and got back to typing on one of the four desktops occupying his workspace. Who, in God’s name, needed four PCs? Apparently Wallace did, as he made a point to use each of them every time I, or anybody else for that matter, visited his office. Perhaps to remind us he was king of the castle and important enough to need four computers.
I rolled my eyes, confident he wouldn’t see. Wallace rarely looked me in the face. It’d been that way since I was a child. Mom used to tell me it was because kids made him nervous. What was his excuse now? I was all grown up. Did he feel guilty for the direction he’d steered my father’s company? Could he feel the animosity I harbored? Perhaps it was because I’d known him my whole life and could see through his bullshit.
Wallace had recently turned the big five-o. Looked it, too, despite wasted efforts and thousands of dollars spent on beauty products for men. Everything about him, from his Italian shoes to his waxed brows, screamed mid-life crisis. The few wrinkles he owned were polished, buffed, and shined, nice and pretty. I wanted to laugh.