Authors: Willow Summers
Tags: #Romantic Erotica, #Literature & Fiction, #Humorous, #Erotica
essica Brodie Diaries
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A Wild Ride, Book 3
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Overcoming Fear, Book 2
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Love & Chaos; Cassie’s Story
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into Hunter Carlisle’s office on Monday morning as a sexual equal. I was flying by the seat of my pants, not regulated by a personal contract. Hunter was trusting me. More importantly, he had allowed himself to open up just a crack and let me wiggle in. It was a huge milestone in his life and I was grabbing it by the horns and hanging on.
He was sitting at his desk with the soft light of the morning spilling over his broad shoulders. My breath caught in my throat for just a moment before tingling overcame my body.
The man was gorgeous, and I thanked God that he had come to his senses. Otherwise I’d have to start stalking him. I still might, just for the thrill.
“Hey,” I said, putting his coffee on the corner of the desk just as I had every working day for the last month. He glanced up at my voice. His hooded, smoldering eyes reminding me of twisted sheets and writhing bodies. I gulped, a little too loudly. “Uh, I have some things to go over concerning my salary…when you’re ready.”
He glanced at the clock at the top of his desk before leaning back. “You know my schedule—when do I have time?”
“Now, or at the end of the day. That’s pretty much it.”
Hunter clasped his hands in his lap as he studied me. His gaze slid down my body before nodding. “I have other plans for you this evening. Sit.”
My stomach flip-flopped. The expectation of what he had planned gave me a hot flash. I sat gingerly and tried to ignore the pounding in my core. I handed over my folder.
Hunter took it without a word, opened it, and glanced at the contents. He laid the folder on his desk. “I know what kind of work you do, Olivia. What kind of figures do you have in mind?”
I took a deep breath. I’d thought pretty hard about this. Realistically, I was getting paid six figures to do a job worth half that, while having sex with the hottest man alive. I would do the last for free, so really, I was way overpaid.
I couldn’t very well tell Hunter that, though. He was a business prodigy the CEO of a huge, global company without even seeing thirty candles. He expected me to shoot high, and then barter hard.
I leaned forward and opened my mouth to spout out a ridiculous number when the phone rang. Hunter glanced at the display, then ripped the handset off the base. “Yes?”
I slowly closed my mouth and leaned back. The man could ignore a grenade blast if he had business to attend to.
“When is this?” Hunter asked with a sharp edge to his voice. He listened for a moment, checked his watch, and then clenched his jaw. “Who else will be there?” After another moment, he finished, “Get me booked in. Rearrange my schedule and move any meetings I can’t miss to online. I need to be there.”
He was about to put the phone back in the cradle when he paused. His eyes flicked to me. “Yes, she’s going.”
He set the phone down. “Negotiations will have to wait. The board has given me a limited time to secure a takeover. If I fail, which they hope I will, we’ll go ahead with a merger. Donnelley—the owner and CEO of the prospective company…”
He waited for my nod before continuing, “He’s attending a business summit at a resort in Nevada. This means he’s shopping around for a buyer. He knows what his company is worth—or, more frankly, what its tech rights are worth—and he’s ready to offload. He can’t handle the size the company has grown to, so he’s ready to cash out.”
“Well…that’s great, huh?” I asked, trying desperately to care. My brain was still lost on what he had planned for later that night.
“Yes, but he doesn’t like me. He won’t want to sell to me if there’s any way of avoiding it.”
“Are there other companies willing to offer him as much as you?”
“A few.” Hunter swiveled in his chair so he could gaze out the window. “My father’s company, for one.”
Intense loathing colored Hunter’s voice. Saying he and his father didn’t get along was putting it mildly. His dad was the root of Hunter’s current distrust of others, distance from intimacy, and desire to be alone.
I was dying to know what had happened, but Hunter was an isolated, closed-off man. Getting at his depths would need the Jaws of Life.
I settled back in my chair. “If you don’t get this takover, what’s so bad about the merger?”
“A significant number of layoffs, organizational restructuring, which will drain our budget, and two leaders with vastly different long-term goals. I’ll have to force my competition out, which will distract me from leading this company.”
My eyebrows rose. “Then why does the board want a merger?”
Hunter shifted and looked back toward his computer. “Short-term gain, mostly. They estimate an increase in stocks, we’ll have a larger market share, more reach—there are a great many reasons to do it, but an equal number of reasons not to. If we can get the takeover, on the other hand, we’ll have more potential down the road. Most don’t believe me, but I know I’m right. They’re keeping me on a very short leash.”
He faced me again and edged closer to his desk. “My father has a certain type of charm—he can manipulate people like no one else I’ve ever known. It’s him I am competing against for this. He’ll play the small business card—he’ll say he built his company from scratch and knows the value of company loyalty. He’ll talk about it like it’s his child. He’ll even say he wished his only son would’ve gone into business with him so he would have someone to pass his legacy on to. It’s all crap, of course. But Donnelley will buy it, because my father will sell it. What I need is someone who
speaks Donnelley’s language. Someone who is starting that uphill climb and trying to figure it out. Someone that loves her jeans and hoodies, just like Donnelley does…”
I raised my hand in the air and then dramatically pointed at myself. “I assume you mean
“Yes, you, Olivia,” Hunter said. “You are my secret weapon. You’re my charm. I need you to get me in. If he falls in love with you, and sees your loyalty to me, then hopefully he’ll warm up to me.”
“I don’t know about falls in love with.” I crinkled my nose.
Hunter’s eyes sparkled. The edges of his lips tweaked, as close to a smile as he usually came. “We’ll settle for deep respect, then.” A stern expression crossed his face—his business mask. “We leave Wednesday, early. Plan for four days, maybe five. Pack some dresses—not too showy—and a large selection of casual clothes.”
“Wednesday?” I gasped. I thought over the things I would have to do before leaving. Like laundry, and coffee with Kimberly, and… My mind went blank
Oh, that’s right. I had no life.
“Okey-dokey, Wednesday it is.” I bobbed my head.
“Use the rest of today to help Brenda get everything organized, learn what you can about Donnelley, and get prepared. You can take tomorrow off to get your personal things ready.”
“Oh.” I stood, glancing at the folder sitting open on his desk. “Okay.”
“We’ll talk money when we get back. If you land this, you’ll have quite a bartering chip on your hands.”
“I don’t think bosses are supposed to tell subordinates how to get more money. It’s not really in your budget’s best interest…”
“I don’t think subordinates are supposed to alert bosses when the bosses make a snafu regarding employee bartering…”
“Hmm. Right you are. Forget I said anything.” I hopped up and turned to leave.
I glanced back at Hunter expectantly.
“Check in before you leave.”
Like a shock wave, a thrill arrested me. “Okay,” I said in a breathy voice.
He turned back to his computer as I walked away stiffly. Once at my desk, I took a moment to gather myself. I couldn’t wait to see what he was like when he could be completely in charge. When he didn’t have to hold back for fear I’d pack up and leave.
With a shaking hand I reached for my mouse. Images of his naked body ran through my head, muscular and delicious. I closed my eyes as I remembered the feeling of him moving inside of me. It had been nearly three weeks. Much too long. I was going through withdrawals.
“Ah!” I jumped.
Brenda stared at me from her desk with her lips half turned up in a grin. “What’s up with you?”
“You surprised me!” I clutched at my chest as my heart clattered against my ribs.
“I surprised you? I’ve been sitting here the whole time.”
“Sorry.” I looked harder at my computer. “I was thinking.”
“What were you daydreaming about?”
“Must’ve been juicy, whatever it was. Your face is giving you away…” Her grin turned evil. “It’s a man, isn’t it?”
I leaned toward my computer, staring hard at my email. There was no way I was admitting that I was slipping into dangerous waters with the boss. She’d just tell me all the reasons why it was a terrible idea. Like he was emotionally comatose and I’d get my heart ripped out. Or maybe that he had an arranged marriage set up, and even if he liked me, he was about to marry someone else. Just little things like that.
“Anyway, I’m working on the plans for that retreat,” Brenda said. “Do you know what your role will be?”
“Wear jeans, act like a blue-collar worker, and get some business guy to like Hunter. Hunter apparently doesn’t care that I’m mostly antisocial. Of all the people he chose to put his faith in…”
“I don’t think he knows anyone else who wears jeans.” She smirked. “It’ll be fine. Mr. Carlisle hates to smile. He hates small talk. Compared to him, you’re charming enough to be a politician.”
“Is that supposed to be a compliment?”
Brenda’s fingers flew across her keyboard. “Could be.”
I scowled at her. That didn’t sound promising.
“Anyway,” she said, “I hope you can pull this guy out of the older Mr. Carlisle’s back pocket—that guy gives me the creeps.”
“Tell me about it. He all but asked me to be his mistress at that charity dinner.”
Brenda’s look was scathing. “Disgusting. He’s old enough to be your father.”
“And rich, which is all some women see. The girl with him was about my age.”
“He wasn’t with his wife?”
“He said they were getting a divorce.”
Brenda tsked. “Typical. She probably grew too old for him. That’s his third—no, wait.” Brenda glanced at the ceiling, thinking. “The first was Mr. Carlisle’s mother, then the maid, then…was there another one before this one?” She drummed the desk. “Yes, this must be his third. He was married to the maid for a while—just to put it in Mr. Carlisle’s face, I’d wager. And he calls himself a father.”
“To put it in Hunter’s face?”
Brenda glanced at me. Wariness crossed her features. She glanced toward Hunter’s opened door. Her voice lowered to a whisper. “I don’t know much about it. Everything I heard comes from gossip, and
came from Mr. Carlisle senior, I think. Hunter has never said a word.”
Brenda got up and moved closer, her coffee cup in hand. She glanced at the door to Hunter’s office again. “Apparently—and again, this is hearsay—Hunter was in love with the maid. This was when he was young, maybe ten years ago. A little clichéd, I know.” She rolled her eyes. “The word is that Hunter loved the maid, his dad found out, and then started having an affair with her himself. Well, she tried to leverage that connection somehow. It got ugly, from what I heard. Hunter’s mother found out and threw a fit. She told all of their friends, all of Mr. Carlisle senior’s work associates—you name it. I think Hunter was pretty sheltered as a kid—not many friends, not around many girls—so she was kind of it. And then she goes and betrays him… With his
of all people…”
She quirked her eyebrow and straightened up a little. Her lips pursed. “Damaging to a young guy. To his ego…”
“Yikes.” I grimaced, but mostly for show. While that would definitely suck, and certainly be an ego crusher, it didn’t smack me as reason enough for a life of cold business and solitude. It was a little weak on the “life trauma” Richter scale. There had to be more.
“You’re telling me!” Brenda said, giving me a look before wandering back to her desk. “He’s a good guy when you look past the rich-guy mentality. He just needs a hardheaded girl to break him out of his shell.”
I snorted. “Good luck. He holds on to his rude
I know everything
act with both hands.”
“That’s a man for you.” Brenda sat back down at her desk. “Do you need to go shopping at lunch, or are you going to take care of that tomorrow?”
“Shopping? Jeans and hoodies was my daily uniform before this job. I miss those days. Now I have to look around for a napkin when my hands are dirty.”
“What does a napkin have to do with wearing jeans and a hoodie?”
my napkin. That’s why they are so awesome—very versatile.”
“Gross.” I heard Brenda chuckling before the chorus of ticking announced her typing. “I’m ordering in lunch, then. Mr. Carlisle needs to give us a treat for working so hard.”
“I’m all for free things.”
“Aren’t we all.”
he day passed
in a blur of facts, figures, and strange habits about a man I had never met. I felt like a private eye hired for a con. When Brenda shrugged into her jacket, I leaned back and rubbed my eyes. It was half past seven—late for her to be heading home.
“I thought you didn’t do overtime?” I asked as she grabbed her purse.
“Usually, no. I don’t want Mr. Carlisle to get accustomed to my being here all the time. But at crunch times, I put in the hours and take a half-day when the excitement wears off.”
“Excitement, huh?” I smirked and glanced back at my computer. “I’ll be working from home tomorrow, I think. I still have a bunch of things to get through.”
Brenda paused on the other side of her desk. “Get ready for the trip first, and do work last. Mr. Carlisle has a bunch of meetings lined up when he gets to the summit that you won’t need to attend. You can catch up then.”
“So, lounge by the pool by day, and snuggle up to a perfect stranger at night. Sounds…weird.”
Brenda barked out laughter. “Welcome to the job, girl. Welcome to the job.”
She walked off to the elevators shaking her head. I scanned my spreadsheet one last time, retained nothing, and drooped against my desk. I was spent. As I didn’t need a whole day to get ready tomorrow, I might as well call it a night and finish up later.