Read TROUBLE 1 Online

Authors: Kristina Weaver


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PART 1 of 3




Copyright © 2015

All Rights Reserved.
This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review and certain other non-commercial uses permitted  by copyright law.

This is a work of fiction. All characters appearing in this work are products of the author's imagination. Any resemblance to events, businesses, companies, institutions, and real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Chapter One


“I need the Gillespie reports by this afternoon, and don’t forget to call Margery and reschedule lunch.”

I take down the monumental list of tasks that I have to get through and watch as my boss, Jordan Farns, fiddles with the stack of messages on his desk.

I hate my job most days, and not because it’s not a great job or because I can’t do it with ease. No, my boss, since I’ve been promoted to the ninth floor, is a total asshole who wouldn’t know how to read a report if it bit him in the ass.

So, in reality, I am not only a PA but an executive, too. I just don’t have the title or the money to prove it.

“And don’t forget to go pick up my dry cleaning, Hannah,” Jordan barks as I open the door to go back to my little office.

I want to tell him to fetch his own goddamned dry cleaning like a civilized human being, but I hold my tongue and nod, closing the door with a soft click instead of the bang I wish for.

Lucy, Mr Owens’ PA, is sitting on a corner of my desk as I enter my office, and I grin at her as she waves the middle finger at Jordan’s door.

“That idiot still getting you to do his job?”

“What’s new? And I am now responsible for organizing the Gillespie account on top of everything else, too.”

I don’t really mind doing it. I love hands-on learning and the opportunity to make my chops on such an important account. I just don’t know how I’ll manage it while running Jordan’s life as well.

“God, I am suddenly really grateful I got Mr Owens and not Farns.”

I’ll bet.

“So what brings you all the way up here? May still giving you grief about the office supplies?”

“No, thank God. Actually, I came up here to dish about the new client, Lucas Ships. You should see this guy, Han! He is fine with a capital F,” she gushes, and I roll my eyes at her.

Lucy can’t resist a pretty face and the opportunity to flirt. Thank God the woman is in a long-term, committed relationship, or I’d be hearing about office romances.

“I don’t care if the man is hot or not. Anyway, I’ll probably never meet him. That account is being handled by Jack and his team, isn’t it?”

I wish I’d pulled Jack as a boss. The man is a machine, but he’s fair, and I bet he does his own work instead of leaving his assistant to do it while he plays golf twice a week.

“Nope. Jack got the Freefall account. Word from the top is the account is coming to Farns.”

Shit. That means I’ll have two major accounts on my hands, and I’m barely coping with my workload as it is.

Just keep things organized. You can do it.


“So lunch?”

“Sorry, Luce. Rain check. I’m so busy today I don’t know if I’ll have the time.”

I hate missing lunch because I am pedantic about routine and keeping things scheduled to the minute, including my own life, but it’s not like I can’t afford to lose a pound or two.

“I’ll bring you back a chicken wrap. Don’t work too hard, Han, you need to unwind a little,” she says, jumping to the floor and leaving with a wave.

By twelve thirty I’ve made inroads into my inbox and I have time for a quick coffee. When I get back to my desk I find a scowling hunk of a man restlessly tapping his foot as he perches on the edge of my desk.

“Uh, can I help you?”

As I wait for his reply I allow my eyes to take a wandering look from the top of his honey blonde head all the way to the tips of his designer loafers. Goodness, now this is what I call a man.

When my gaze comes up, it’s to meet a sardonic smile that reveals two shallow dimples and sherry brown eyes that are crinkled, as if he smiles a lot.

I bet it’s usually at other people’s expense.

“I’m Gregory Lucas. I have a meeting with Jordan, or at least I had a meeting with Jordan. He doesn’t seem to be around.”

Gregory Lucas? As in
Gregory Lucas, shipping mogul and number three on the Forbes richest men list? God, now I know why Lucy had been having a meltdown just at the sight of him.

He really is fine with a major, huge, gigantic F.

Unfortunately I am now going to be working closely with him, so fine or not, it’s hands off.

“Are you sure? I don’t remember scheduling anything for today,” I say, setting my cup down to scan today’s appointments. If this man had an appointment I’d know it.

“Trust me, I have one. We agreed to get together when I ran into him yesterday. He must have forgotten.”

I see him frown, and cringe inwardly. It makes a terrible impression that Farns has forgotten a meeting with such a huge client, especially if the client has only just signed on.

“I am so sorry, Mr Lucas. Mr Farns had a last minute meeting to attend. I’m sure he feels terrible about this. How about I reschedule for tomorrow and I’ll have him come to your offices?”

He considers me silently for endless minutes, and I can almost feel his eyes like a caress as he sweeps the knee length pencil skirt and soft pink shell I’m wearing. I look good, I know, but certainly not good enough to engender such a thorough inspection.

As pinpricks of desire tingle through every part of me his eyes touch, I know this is going to be a huge problem. I will not get in any way involved with a client or co-worker, and the fact that the man is good looking enough to make me want to, is not good. Not good at all.

My nipples bead, forcing me to hunch my shoulders, until eventually his eyes come back to my face and meet mine.

“Tell Farns to call me. Please. And next time your boss drops the ball, let him try to pick it up himself instead of making his apologies, darlin’,” he drawls seductively, and I hear a slight twang.

Oooh, Southern. Darn it. I love Southern accents.

“Yes, sir.”

There’s nothing left to say, and as I watch him stroll to the elevator and enter it I am unable to tear my eyes away from the raw strength I see in the rippling muscles beneath his three piece suit.


“You have a nice day now, Miss Newman. I look forward to working with you.”

As the doors close, finally breaking the connection, I snap out of the mortifying daze I’ve been in and fall into my chair with a huff of annoyance.

How the heck am I going to work with the man and keep myself from becoming an embarrassing fool? I have enough on my plate as it is. I’m paying for Nana’s nursing home fees, my sister is on the brink of losing her bakery, a lifelong dream that hasn’t been as successful as hoped, and my boss is a slave driver.

No, I do not need this kind of distraction in my well-ordered life, and as far as I’m concerned Gregory Lucas is more than hot. He’s trouble with a capital T.

For the rest of the day I work until nothing but a few copy orders and a message are left in my inbox. Five rolls around, and by the time I shut my computer down and grab my purse I am starving, grumpy, and in no mood to be bothered.

Unfortunately my boss has no concept of time, and he strolls in just as I’m about to leave, his light blue golf shirt sweaty and wrinkled.

“You missed a meeting with Mr Lucas this afternoon.”

“Shit! I totally spaced on that. Did you cover for me?”

It’s not exactly a lie when I nod. Jordan does not need to know that Gregory Lucas fell for my excuses about as easily as a fish walks on land, so I keep my mouth shut and spare myself a tantrum.

“He wants you to call him tomorrow for a reschedule.”

I turn to leave, wanting enough time to go home and grab a quick shower and change of clothes before I have to make the hour long drive to Gable Jones, the nursing home where my grandmother currently resides.

“I’ll need everything you have on Lucas Ships on my desk first thing tomorrow,” Jordan barks, slamming into his office without so much as a please.


Oh, save it, I tell myself, dropping my purse back into the drawer and firing my computer back to life. There’s no way I’ll have everything ready that early and the idiot knows it.

I call the nursing home as I start pulling up files, and the director answers on the fourth ring.

“Miss Newman, we really have to talk about your grandmother’s conduct. She’s been sneaking into our male residents’ rooms again, and you know it’s against policy.”

This problem has been a thorn in my side for months, and no matter how many times I talk to her, Nana blithely ignores my reprimands and keeps playing the field as if she’s eighteen instead of seventy-three.

“I’m so sorry, Mrs Ludwig. I’ll have another talk with her. I can’t make it tonight, so it’ll have to be tomorrow.”

I hear a deep sigh of annoyance and grind my teeth.

Do not get Nana kicked out of another nursing home, Hannah. But it’s so unfair. I’ve been through this for six years, since Mom passed away and Nana’s care fell to me. I love the old bat, but she’s randier than a goddamned billy goat, considering her age, and she keeps getting kicked out.

If they boot her from this one I’ll have to get her a place on freaking Mars.

“We’ll see you tomorrow then. Please try to talk to her. Another infringement will result in expulsion.”

I slam the phone back into its cradle and focus on the task at hand, reminding myself that keeping order in my life is the only way to keep myself together.

I just wish everyone saw it that way.

Chapter Two


My morning is going about as perfectly as a broken down jalopy. It sputters to a start at six, when I get a call from Amber about needing to borrow money to cover her payroll, and gets worse after I walk into my office.

Jordan, as usual, is running late, and the meeting he’s set up with Mr Lucas is in five minutes, with Jordan nowhere near ready to present a pitch for the shipping company’s latest campaign.

I like every aspect of putting together a proposal, but I am no ad exec, and now it’s up to me to pretend the guy has actually done his job. I know nothing about shipping or even why a company like Lucas’ would need a campaign, so I am not exactly the right person to be doing the job.

Mr Lucas arrives five minutes early, while I am frantically trying to gather as much data on the previous campaigns as possible. Jordan, of course, has hidden the info I put together last night, and now I am scrambling to get something in order.

I hate this. I hate chaos and disorder and the repercussions of not being prepared. This is why I’ve divorced my ex-husband Tom and imposed such strict control over my life.

Things are so much easier without complications, and I live to ensure my life is as clutter-free as possible. I’ve put Nana in a nursing home instead of hiring on a nurse for just that reason.

My life is perfectly ordered.

Or it should be. Go figure, my boss,
my job,
would be one of the areas in my life that is becoming uncontrollable.

“Good morning, Miss Newman.”

I look up from the folder I have put together and make an effort to smile as butterflies invade my belly.

“Good morning, Mr Lucas. May I get you something to drink or eat while you have a seat?”

God, please say yes, I beg silently, striving for a calm I do not feel in his presence. The man makes my knees weak with nothing more than a smile, and I know I am not capable of presenting anything worthwhile to him while he keeps that steady sherry gaze on me.

“He’s late, isn’t he?” he asks sardonically.

What can I say? He’ll see right through a lie, and making excuses for a man who can’t tie his own shoes without help is not in my job description.


“Coffee then, if you don’t mind,” he finally says, holding my eyes captive as he hikes his pants and lowers himself onto the sofa across from my desk.

I practically run from the room to get away from that penetrating stare, and return a few minutes later with a cup of Italian roast and a fresh blueberry muffin.

“There you go, sir. Can I get you anything else?”

He accepts the coffee with thanks — good mannered too, dammit — and waves me over to the sofa.

“You can tell me what you know about my company while we wait.”

I want to crawl into a ball under my desk and pretend this messed up day hasn’t started yet, but I obey with a slight nod instead and seat myself a good three feet away.

“Well, to be honest, I haven’t really read up on your company. I don’t know anything. I assume you’re into shipping—”

“Yes, but the ad campaign I want is for the cruise line side of things, not the trade,” he explains, and I blush.

I should know this.

“You have a cruise line?”

“Yup. We branched out about six years ago to take advantage of the growing industry. A lot of money to be made in expensive luxury holidays, despite the economy, so I bought an old line and revamped it. We offer the best in luxury,” he explains, and I see his eyes take on a seductive light when I realize my skirt has ridden up my thighs and I’m showing a bit too much skin for comfort.

I tug imperceptibly at the hem as I clear my throat and start volleying questions.

“What’s so special about this campaign, though? I assumed your focus would be around your bigger shipping interests,” I say, fiddling with my nails as he continues to stare.

“We’re in the process of instituting environmentally sustainable cruises in the next few months. We’ve refitted some liners to utilise solar power, new wastewater treatment methods, and alternative fuel options. What I want is for the campaign to emphasise the impact of our services on the environment. Cleaner cruises are the way of the future, and I’d like for the company to be rebranded as an environmentally friendly option to vacationers.”

Wow. It must have cost millions to take a step in this direction. I’m no environmental expert, but I’ve seen what alternative energy and carbon reducing initiatives cost. Suddenly I feel a respect for the guy that I really don’t want to feel.

He’s so likeable I’m finding it hard to remember why I shouldn’t want him.

“That’s so cool. It must have cost a fortune. How many ships are eco-friendly?”

“Three. It’s a process to get them up to the standards I want, so we’ve launched three so far.”

My mind has taken what he’s telling me and run with it, and I see a myriad of paths this campaign can take. I am so excited by the prospect I don’t notice when his hand brushes my thigh, until I feel a tickle at the hem of my skirt.

My eyes practically bug when I look down to see his thumb stroking me. When I look up I am caught in the glare of his desire. He wants me, I can see it, and the knowledge frightens me as much as it turns me on.

“Uh, er, I should get back to work,” I say, rising quickly and dislodging his hand.

“If you insist.”

Oh, but I do, I must, I think silently as I scuttle to my station and sit gingerly. He continues to stare as I pretend to work, and by the time Jordan walks in I’m a bundle of rattled nerves.

Things, things that I haven’t felt since the first year of my disastrous marriage are coming to life deep inside me, and I feel unsettled to the extreme.

I have never been this conscious of my own body, never, and I’m not sure what to do with it.

“Hannah, coffee,” Jordan barks, stopping short when he spies Gregory Lucas. “Oh, hello. I’m sorry I kept you waiting. The traffic, you know,” he rambles off as Mr Lucas follows him into his office.

I scramble to my feet and rush to the little kitchen, taking deep breaths to regain my composure before joining them. By the time I enter Jordan’s office I am my usual unflappable self, and I feel more composed as I serve the coffee and hand Jordan his notes.

“I’ve been telling Miss Newman about my expectations of the campaign. I hope you’ve been researching the issue. I want people to know what the line has to offer on a global perspective.”

Jordan looks nonplussed, and I’d bet my prized Manolo Blahniks —post-divorce shopping —he doesn’t have a clue what’s going on. Lazy bastard.

“Well yes, yes, of course. Here at Yates and Marshall we offer only the best.”

What a crock. If the account had gone to Jack that statement would be so true. Under Jordan’s guidance the campaign will be filled with blonde beach babes swimming in the cruise ship’s pool. If he’s lucky.

I blush, feeling embarrassed for him, and make a quick escape, studiously ignoring Mr Lucas and his oddly penetrating eyes.

My phone is ringing when I sit, and I answer it with a terse hello.

“So how hot is he?”

Oh, Lucy.

“Don’t you have work to do?”

“Nope. My boss actually knows how to do his job. What’s wrong?”

What isn’t wrong? I’ve developed a monumental crush on a client, I have to go to the nursing home and sit through an hour of lecturing by Mrs Ludwig, and my sister’s a mooch.

“Nothing. Just digging up stuff on the new client’s company.”

I love Google. He, and I say he because he’s become a living entity lately, is my friend. He never lets me down and usually rewards me with more information than I actually require.

“What happened to my wrap yesterday?” I ask, digging a granola bar out of my purse as I read the Lucas Cruises and Sea Travel website. There’s so much here I won’t have to look anywhere else.

Have I mentioned how much I love order?

“Sorry. I went to lunch with Tony, and by the time we got back…it was smooshy. Sooo, back to the reason I called you. How hot is he?”

She says it so loudly I pull the phone a good distance from my ear and wait for the squealing to stop. I don’t want to talk about my schoolgirl crush, but what the hell.

“Super-hot,” I admit, hitting print and grabbing up the paperwork. “You could have warned me, Luce. I just about swallowed my tongue when I found him at my desk.”

“But I did! I told you he was—”

“Fine with a capital F. I got it. Fine is not exactly accurate though, is it?” I ask, and I grin as she starts rhapsodizing about abs beneath the starched shirt and an ass you could bounce a quarter off.

By the time we say goodbye I’m giggling at her enthusiasm.

“Good to know you’re not as immune as you appear to be, Miss Newman,” I hear, and I look up to see him lazing against Jordan’s office door, a huge grin of victory on his face.

Blood rushes to my cheeks, and I freeze as mortified embarrassment washes through me. I don’t say anything because, honestly, there is no way to unsay the words ‘nice ass’, ‘dreamy eyes’ and ‘ravish-me lips’.

At this point I’m just hoping he didn’t hear the part about my three year celibacy and the sudden need to break my dry spell. Could this day get any worse?

“Dinner,” he says as his eyes drop to half-mast.

“Dinner?” I croak.

Really, Hannah, get a hold of yourself.

“We should go to dinner,” he clarifies, and I can see he’s laughing at my stunted replies.

Dinner. He wants to go on a date? Hell no. Heeell no! As much as my vagina is screaming with glee, I absolutely refuse to sit through an hour of blushing and stuttered replies while this gorgeous specimen silently laughs at me.

I also, and this is important, do not want anything to do with men right now. If ever. I’ve been married and survived the crushing disappointment of a disinterested man. I’ve already Googled Gregory Lucas —briefly, because I’d felt weird about it — and seen the drove of broken hearts left in his wake. I do not intend to be one of the heartbroken millions, thank you very much.

“You know, that meal we eat after dusk,” he prompts, and I shake myself back to reality.


That sounded good, I think.

“No?” he asks, and I can see how perplexed he is by my outright refusal. Obviously Gregory Lucas is not used to the word. A small thrill of victory races through me, and I fight a smile. I take my pleasures where I can, and thwarting him is not too shabby on the pleasure scale.

“No, thank you, Mr Lucas. I do not fraternize with the clients.”

Although right now, with the lazy, seductive way he’s looking at me, I really do want to fraternize. And fraternize. And fraternize some more.

His eyes light suddenly, and my stomach drops to my feet as he ambles over and plants his hands on my desk, leaning so close I feel his breath on my lips.

“That’s okay. You just sit there and look beautiful. Leave the fraternizing up to me,” he drawls. “I can promise you, darlin’, I
very well.”

My mind instantly conjures images of exactly what his fraternizing entails, and I feel a swift heat set in between my legs as a steady throb of arousal beads my nipples.

Lord, the man’s mouth, so close to mine, probably knows exactly how to…fraternize. With skill and determination.

“Hannah, I — oh, Lucas, you’re still here.”

I wrench away from him and look anywhere else but Jordan as he freezes and looks between Mr Lucas and me.

“I was just leaving, Jordan. Miss Newman had an eyelash in her eye.”

An eyelash? The man is a genius tycoon, and that’s the best he can do? I think heatedly as he winks, turns on his heel, and strolls to the elevator with an indolent swagger.

“Yes. Well. Hannah, I need you in my office,” Jordan mutters as soon as the doors close and we’re left alone.

I ignore his probing stare and gather my notepad, cursing the man to hell and back. I do not need this right now.

As I sit through twenty minutes of Jordan’s demands and idiotic ideas, I stretch my brain for a way to avoid Gregory Lucas and his smug innuendo.

Mars seems reasonable, if I could get there.

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