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Authors: Marissa Clarke

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BOOK: Sleeping With the Boss
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Will sighed with relief when she wrapped her arms around him and nodded.

Chapter Fifteen

Claire leaned back against Will’s chest while the water lapped over her legs and the last waves of passion subsided. The moonlight danced over the water in fragments, like her thoughts, pulling themselves back together after bliss had short-circuited her brain.

Will moved his hands up her body and wrapped her in his arms, pulling her higher on his lap. He ran his lips over her ear, his breath sounding like the wind off the water. His erection pushed against her back.

She shifted to look at his face. “I feel selfish.”

He barked a laugh and squeezed her tighter. “You are so self-sacrificing, you border on having a martyr syndrome. The fact that you let me focus on you and bring you pleasure is not selfish. You’re not taking anything away from me.”

He bit her shoulder and she squealed, body twisting, water splashing in all directions. The bite didn’t hurt, but it surprised her, and caused a jolt of excitement to zap right down where he’d touched her only minutes before.

“Don’t worry, Claire.” He pulled her back against him and nibbled on her earlobe. “Soon, I’ll be taking, and you’ll be giving.”

She shuddered as a pulse of desire flooded through her.

He chuckled. “You like that idea, don’t you?”

Nodding was the best response she could conjure. Her mouth was too dry to speak.

“So, pending your approval, of course, since we are equal business partners here, I propose to you that I prove that I can take as well as I can give. What do you think of that, Miss Maddox?”

His lips tasted like salt water and heaven as she turned in his arms, loving the feel of his wet, muscular body under hers. “I think we work well together, Mr. Anderson.”

Never in her wildest fantasies, even before everything went wrong in her life, had she imagined feeling like this. Relaxed, happy, sexy…
Free
. As they stood to go back to the house, she stared out across the water, trying to catalog the memory for later. Without her glasses, she could see fairly well, but things were a little blurry around the edges—sort of like her conviction to leave everything behind.

One thing she knew for sure was that nobody knew what the future held. For now, all she could do was live for each moment and enjoy Will to the fullest and let events unfold naturally.

And she did just that. The rest of the time on the island flew by in a passionate blur. They spent the next day and night snorkeling, swimming, sunbathing, laughing, and making love in ways she hadn’t known were possible.

Claire boarded the plane home having discovered many new things.

Will was terribly ticklish.

She was ticklish in certain places she hadn’t known about.

Will’s body made an excellent table/serving dish.

Will’s body made a great lounge chair, throw pillow, and overall playground.

There are biting insects in the sand at night.

Her idea to roll around in the sand was not a good one as evidenced by abrasions and bugbites.

Sunscreen application is a long and tedious process when done solo.

Sunscreen application is excellent fun when executed by Will—even when you end up not making it out into the sun afterward.

Sunburns hurt.

Bugbites hurt.

Leaving the island to return to regular life hurt.

Realizing she was madly and irrevocably in love with William Anderson…hurt.


After takeoff, Claire had just started to mourn the end of their trip when she met Will’s heated gaze over the small table between them. She knew that look well by now.

He unsnapped his seat belt and without preamble, stripped down to where he was wearing nothing but an erection that made her mouth water.

Oh, shit.
She squirmed in her chair, heat flooding her body, as he stalked over to her. This was serious. She fought back a grin as he unsnapped her seat belt and urged her to her feet. “So, I take it this means I’m about to be a member of the mile-high club.”
God, that sounded lame.
Was that even a thing, or was it something she picked up in middle school somewhere?

Without answering, he pulled her shirt off, and the bra, too. Then untied her warm-up drawstring, shoving her pants down her legs. “Sit here,” he said, indicating the little table between the comfy leather chairs.

“Will that even hold my weight?” She tentatively put pressure on the table, testing it.

“We’re about to find out.” He sat in the chair and patted the edge of the table. “Right here.”

She sat on the table and he grinned up at her, making her heart hammer even harder than it was before. He positioned her close to the edge, then put her feet on the arm of his chair. He leaned forward, placing his warm palms on her knees and pushing them wider. “Now, Miss Maddox,” he said.

She almost giggled at his boardroom business voice, but bit her lip so he’d keep going.

“This is by no means the end of our collaboration on the Claire Project, but it is, sadly, the closing transaction of our business trip.” He ran his hands tantalizingly down the inside of her thighs, then back to her knees. This time she did giggle. He answered with an arch of his eyebrow, then continued. “Therefore, I would like you to be the boss this time.”

She snorted, which wasn’t very sexy, but she couldn’t help it. His playfulness was amusing, and hot as hell. “I will gladly assume that position.”

And that did it. They both busted out laughing then. With a wave of his hand, he indicated her vulnerable state, legs apart on the table in front of him, feet on the arms of his chair. “I think you already have.”

Still laughing, she put a finger to her lips and pointed at the pilot’s cabin.

He caught his breath. “No, it’s okay. He has on headphones and is under order to let us know before he comes out. Anderson policy. We sometimes conduct business during flights.”

She conjured her most serious face. “I thought that’s what we were doing, Mr. Anderson.”

Then it was his turn to snort—well, it was more like a guffaw. “You’re right. I am awaiting your orders.”

No way. She wasn’t much of a dirty talker and this was out of her comfort zone. He must have seen her reticence, because he reached out and ran his hands down her legs and trailed his fingers up her belly to her breasts, where he stroked her until her nipples hardened and sent bolts of heat straight between her legs. “Tell me what you want,” he whispered, leaning forward to swirl his tongue around her nipple.

His tongue was so hot and felt perfect, but it wasn’t enough. “Touch me.”

His mouth hardened into a smile against her breast. “Where?”

Dammit. He was killing her. “Between my legs.”

He leaned back in his chair. “How?”

She made a growly sound of frustration. At least he hadn’t made her get anatomically specific. “With your tongue.”

His sexy grin emboldened her. She looked down at his erection and grinned back. “While touching yourself.”

A surprised look crossed his face followed by that signature eyebrow arch. “Hopefully not with my own tongue.”

She busted out laughing but her amusement turned to desire when he wrapped his hand around himself and began a slow, deliberate pumping action. It was hard for her to sit still. “That is so hot.”

“Really? This turns you on?”

She nodded, mouth dry.

“As much as this?” He pushed her knees farther apart, her feet still on the arms of his chair, then leaned forward and flicked the tip of his tongue over her most sensitive part. She gasped, and he did it again. This time, she moaned.

“That’s what I thought.” Using both hands, he parted her and looked up at her face. The cool air against her wet skin sent a jolt of heat through her, and the thought of how exposed she was caused her to squirm. The table creaked underneath her.

“Will, I need…”

“I know.” He lowered his head and ran his talented tongue from bottom to top several times while she held on to the edge of the table for dear life.

The table creaked again as he fell into a rhythm that drove her wild. One hand splayed across her belly and the other wrapped around himself. She angled her body to give him better access and threw her head back, focusing on the texture and pressure of his tongue as the waves of desire grew and filled her from head to toe.

When he closed his mouth over her and concentrated on the one spot that made her wild, that was it. With only a few calculated circles of his tongue, she shattered apart, calling his name. She was completely lost, oblivious to anything but his touch and the passion rolling through her in waves.

Crack!

The table tilted and she tumbled onto his lap. Their bodies collided, causing both of them to freeze. Knees on either side of his hips in the wide, comfortable chair, she sat astride his lap, completely immobile except for the tiny aftershock tremors still rolling through her.

There was no sound except for the hum of the plane engines and their heavy breathing as they stared into each other’s eyes.

“That would be a Claire-ism,” she said.

“Or fate,” he replied.

“We broke the table.”

“I hadn’t noticed.”

She slid forward and back over his erection and he groaned. “I hope you brought some supplies back with you, Mr. Anderson.”

He reached down and grabbed his shorts from the floor, fishing in the pocket. “Lucky for you, I did.”

“Lucky for both of us.”

He pulled her down against his chest and took her lips in an insistent, charged kiss. “We
are
lucky, Claire. The luckiest people I know.”

Chapter Sixteen

By the time they landed, Will had a new definition for lucky. Claire teased him about being the boss, but hell, he felt like the king of the world.

He slid into the limo buzzing like he’d just run the Ironman. His whole body hummed with endorphins and something else—happiness. For the first time in a very long time, Will was truly happy, and he owed it all to the woman in the seat next to him. He reached over and took her hand.

Jacob paused before closing the door. “I’m sorry about this, sir, but your brother Michael said it was urgent he speak with you. He asked you to call him the minute you land.”

He pulled both phones out of the pocket in the limo door where they’d left them, and turned his on.

“Welcome back to reality,” Claire said, taking her own phone and pushing the power button.

Michael was probably pissed he’d taken the weekend off. Hell, Mikey got pissed about everything that wasn’t on a schedule or color-coded. He’d always thought his brother needed someone in his life who would conform and follow his rules. But maybe Claire was right. The best thing for him would be to have someone come in and shake him up for once. And right now, Will wanted to shake him. Not that way, but until his teeth rattled. He could have at least given them until Monday morning.

“Well, I have good news at least,” she said, scrolling through a message. “Heather’s at my place packing for me.”

“That’s a good friend who will help you move.”

The minute his phone got a signal, “Smooth Operator” started up. “Yeah, Mike. What’s up?”

Claire shot him a nervous look, so he put the phone on speaker. Total transparency from now on.

His brother’s voice sounded benign coming through the tiny phone speaker. “I’m not going to address how I feel about company policy or what a prick I think you are, Will.”

“That’s decent of you, brother,” Will responded, winking at Claire. “So I’ll do the same.”

“Sometimes I fucking want to kill you.”

“Sometimes? I must be losing my touch.” He leaned back against the seat, knowing this was going to be long and frustrating.

“There’s been another one reported while you’ve been…out.”

That, he didn’t expect. He sat forward, phone in palm. “Do you have any details?”

“Whittle’s grandson came in with a set of canopic jars. They were diverted to another dealer the same day.”

“When?”

“The day of the Guidry auction. Whittle said he was approached by a petite blonde in a business suit around nine o’clock.”

Will didn’t answer. Claire had left just after seven. He hadn’t arrived at her place until after ten.
No. Just, fucking no
. He knew better. He
knew
Claire.

“Your girl was the only one working on this one,” Michael said. “I’m so sorry. It’s not looking good.”

He couldn’t even look at her right now. He knew she was mortified to be under suspicion again. “She’s not the spy.”

“I trust you, Will. You have great instincts. I have all the hope in the world you can exclude her, but we need to find the real spy, if she’s not the one.”

Michael’s softening toward Claire gave him hope. “Agreed. I’ll find out who is really doing this.” He shot a look to Claire and winked. She returned his gesture with a faint quirk of the lips—something resembling a failed attempt to smile.

“Good. I’ll see you when you come in tomorrow. I was successful in the Greek acquisition and flew home yesterday.” His screen went blank. Michael had ended the call and Will’s happiness high as well. Time to get serious and end this business once and for all.


A horrible sinking feeling surged through Claire in an intense, nauseating wave. She
was
the only one working on the canopic jars. She was alone in her apartment at the time the client was approached. This looked awful. No, it
was
awful.

The only way out of this was to find out who the spy really was. She glanced over at Will. The look on his face held nothing but concern and tender compassion. He trusted her. She needed to validate it.

“I have no way to address this yet,” she said.

“You don’t have to. I know you didn’t do it.”

There was really nothing she could say at this point. She didn’t need to protest her innocence, because he already believed it, and it sounded like Michael was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, too, but she couldn’t leave the country with this suspicion hanging over her time with Will. She couldn’t provide an alibi, because she didn’t have one. After dinner with Heather, she went straight home…

Wait a minute.
She picked up her phone and flipped backward through the photos. There were the canopic jars…and the Anubis statue…and the jade necklace and earrings…and the …
holy shit
. Icy cold dread prickled the back of her neck and arms as a horrible realization hit.


Something was wrong with Claire. Maybe hearing his brother’s concerns did it, or maybe it was something else. At least Michael hadn’t been a total dick this time.

He reached over and ran his hand over her thigh and she scooted against him, tucking against his body as if for protection. “We’ll figure out who it is,” he whispered into her hair. When she didn’t respond, he settled down and simply enjoyed having this remarkable woman in his arms.

When they reached the city, she stiffened again, then texted someone. He peeked down at her screen and saw it was a message for Heather. “Wait for me,” was all it said.

Still silent, she stared out the window as if the crushing weight of the world were on her shoulders. God, he wanted to lift that weight, but he just didn’t know what it was. He would like to have thought it had to do with the inevitable end of the best weekend ever, but somehow, he didn’t think so.

The limo stopped and he pulled her even closer. “Can I stay?”

Her body was so stiff and brittle, he felt like it might break. “Heather’s up there and I owe her some girl time, you know?”

No, he didn’t know. It made no sense at all. “Sure.”

Jacob opened the door and she stepped out. Will followed, unable to let her go yet. He took her hand and Jacob walked to the front of the car to give them privacy. They stopped under the awning outside her building. Around them, the city went on as always, but inside Will, everything had stopped. “Can I see you tomorrow? I’m great at packing, you know.”

She gave a half smile. “You’re great at everything. This weekend was amazing.
You’re
amazing. Thanks.”

Her words had been right, but her tone was not. He took her hand. “Wait. Are you okay?”

For a minute, he thought she was going to open up, but she didn’t; instead, she pulled her hand away. “Yeah. Something came up. I just need to sort it out and everything will be fine. I’m sure it is an easy fix.” She shrugged and gave the most pitiful excuse for a smile he’d ever seen. “I’ll call.”

“Let me know if I can do anything.” He took a step closer, longing for a positive sign. Anything.

And then she pulled him down for a kiss. It was hungry and desperate—totally the opposite of their playful encounter on the plane. She finally released him and walked through the doors of her building without looking back. It hadn’t been a thanks-for-the-fantastic-weekend kiss, it had been a good-bye kiss, and he had no clue why or what to do about it.

At this point, chasing after her or calling her would be counterproductive. All he could do was wait. Will was good at waiting. He’d done a lot of it.


Heather was the only friend Claire really had. She’d stood by Heather when her husband walked out and then sat by her side when her nephew had his first chemo treatment. Likewise, Heather was always there for Claire when the nights with Sissy never ended, and then when things needed to be wrapped up and the funeral planned.

Which begged the question:
Why?

Claire’s hand shook as she slipped the key in the lock. She had never seen a betrayal of this kind coming. Never.

“You’re back!” Heather’s voice called from the kitchen. “I’ve almost got this room packed up. How was your trip? And precisely how amazing was William Anderson, hmmmmm?”

She couldn’t even make her feet move. Her friend was carrying on from the next room as if everything were normal. She shut and locked the door.

“You’d better be ready to dish, girl, because I need some serious details.”

So did Claire. Wicked, freaking serious details.

Heather was on her hands and knees digging under the kitchen sink when she walked in. Her voice echoed from inside the cabinet. “So where did you two go?”

Paradise
. But now she was in hell.

“Claire?”

“I’m right here.”

Heather jerked and smacked her head on the underside of the sink. “Ow, shit. Don’t sneak up on a girl.”

Claire crossed her arms over her chest and leaned back on the counter. Her shock had turned to horror and now bordered on fury. “I might tell you the same thing.”

Brushing off, Heather stood. And then comprehension filled her eyes. “Oh, shit.”

“My thoughts, exactly.”

“Look. I had a reason.”

“You’d damn well better have had a reason. And it had better be a good one,” Claire shouted. “You might have ruined one of the best things that has happened to me…
NO!
The
only
good thing to ever happen to me and honestly, I’m so mad right now, I want to kick your ass.”

Heather recoiled against the refrigerator, but it did nothing to stop Claire’s tirade. She’d sat in the limousine wanting to barf she was so upset. Then she’d blown off Will, who’d been nothing short of perfect to her the entire weekend. “How could you? How? You were supposed to be my friend. You just destroyed me.” Bordering on totally losing it, she slammed her fists onto the counter and held her breath. It hurt too much to even cry.

Heather held her hands up palms-out as if warding off danger. “I hadn’t intended to do it. When I placed you at AA, I’d wanted to get you in front of the Anderson brothers. You’re pretty and smart and they are hot as blazes. I figured Michael would see you and it’d be a done deal. He’s a huge player.”

“He’s a huge douche,” Claire answered, not even trying to temper the venom in her tone.

“Well, you met me for drinks and told me all about a cool Anubis statue, and I recognized it from a private collection I’d seen while working for Ed at that antique store. He’d always loved that thing and had tried to talk the owner into selling for years. But Ed’s a real jerk and nobody who meets him likes him, so I kind of figured I could help things along for the guy since he’s on his own now that his wife died.”

What. The. Hell.
Claire felt a little dizzy as she tried to make sense of this mess.

“I’d found out that day that Brian wasn’t going to get his dose because my sister and her husband couldn’t afford the meds without insurance. It was the answer. No harm, no foul to the deep pockets of the Andersons, and it could save a life. I researched the piece, got the information of the owner, and pretended to be Flo Smith. I never gave them Ed’s name, but I told them that it was an alternate dealer whom the Andersons knew and sometimes shared with. Some people bought it, some didn’t.” Heather was on a roll now, and only paused for a quick breath between sentences. It was like she was barfing her soul all over the parquet wood floor.

“Oh my God.” Claire slumped to sit on the floor.

Heather knelt in front of her. “It’s not illegal. I didn’t break any laws, Claire. I swear it. The clients made as much money if not more than they would have using the Andersons. Nobody was hurt and my nephew got his medicine.”

And she’d been complicit. She’d shared photos that should have been private.

Heather took Claire’s face in her hands. “If they find out it’s me, I’ll lose my company. The Andersons will see to it. My nephew won’t get his meds.” Tears rolled down her face. “I’m so sorry. I never thought I’d get caught. I really didn’t think they’d even notice. A few deals are nothing to the Andersons. Nobody was hurt, Claire.”

“I was hurt,” Claire shouted. “
I
was. You hurt
me
, Heather.” She pushed to her feet and strode to the living room to get away. Michael had every reason to believe she was the spy. Hell, she practically was. God, what was she going to tell Will? The front door caught her eye and for a moment, her vision blurred with tears.

A sob came from the kitchen, slicing through her chest like a blade to the heart. She understood why Heather had done it, but still… “It was a freaking stupid thing to do.” She was answered with another sob.

What a mess. An absolute, horrible mess
. Heather stood to lose everything: the business she’d built, the apartment she’d worked so hard for, her reputation, and she even stood to lose her little nephew if the Andersons found out. Claire simply couldn’t let that happen.

She had none of those things to protect. There was nothing here other than Will. Her heart constricted painfully.
Will.
She took a deep breath as the decision was made and turned into conviction.

“Okay, Heather, I have a plan.”

Her friend appeared in the kitchen doorway, face blotchy.

Claire took a deep breath and straightened her shoulders. “It’ll only work if you promise me you will never, ever tell anyone, especially the Andersons, that you were the spy.”

She nodded and wiped her eyes.

“And you will never interfere with the Andersons’ clients again. You’ll have nothing to do with them from now on.”

“My, God. What are you going to do, Claire?”

“I’m going to confess.”

She ran and grabbed Claire by the shoulders. “No. You can’t.”

“I can and I will. It’s the only way out and you know it. I’m leaving the country and taking the secret with me. Don’t make this any harder than it is.” A traitor tear escaped her eye. “You are my friend, my only girlfriend, and have been for years. Nothing happens to me if I take the blame. You’re ruined if I don’t. There’s simply no other option.”

It wasn’t until Heather left that Claire allowed herself to break down. Saving Heather meant betraying Will and crushing his trust. It wasn’t her time or freedom she was sacrificing, like she had with Sissy. It was her heart…and his, too.

BOOK: Sleeping With the Boss
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