Authors: S. Ann Cole
Tags: #Amazon Copy, #February 4
Named after God’s favored prophet himself. Not a Dick or Daemon. But a Noah. Smooth, sexy, tantalizing name.
Noah Van Der Wells, the ultimate man to rock your boat down to the very last nail. And then rebuild it.
Rational Lotty mumbles, rolling her eyes.
These are the kind of thoughts that remind me how immature I still am. Rock my boat? Seriously? Who am I,
A giggle accidentally pops out, and I bite down on my lip to stop myself. Glancing up, I find
is watching me. Hard. The green of his eyes are like emeralds today, they’re so heated. I’m not sure what that sudden heat is all about. No one’s ever looked at me like that before. Is it anger or impatience?
Forcing my attention back to the contract, I read on. When I find myself at the payment and work hours section, I sit up straight.
First and foremost, live-in maids get
payment? Whoa. Second, I’ll be getting a fixed weekly salary, not an hourly rate. And the amount is
. Big whoa.
“I—do housemaids really get paid this much?”
He gives off a sound. Something between a snort and grunt. “You said you want to be able to cover your online tuition. You said you want to do law. A standard housekeeping wage will not be able to cover your tuition, let alone allow you to save up for law school. You would have to defer and get a second job in order to save up enough to cover all of that.”
“So you doubled the standard wage so I can cover my tuition and begin saving for law school?”
“You may say thank you.”
I inform him, “I plan on deferring anyway.”
“Why is that?”
“Because there are limitations to having an online law degree. The American Bar Association doesn’t really accredit online law schools. Only California allows one to sit in their bar exam with an online degree. I’m only getting the basics out of the way right now to prepare for law school.”
“You said you plan on deferring,” he says, looking confused.
“Yep,” I reply slowly. “That’s because I won’t being studying here in the U.S.”
He stares. For a long moment. “You’re migrating?”
“Brazil. My mother has relatives there.”
“So…you’re migrating with your mother? Or is she already there?”
Averting my gaze just over his shoulder, I find sudden interest in the sky scrapers outside. “No, just me.”
My sharp peripheral vision shows him staring at me, but I don’t meet his gaze. “Is your mother comfortable with you being some womanizing bastard’s live-in help?”
His self-description shocks me. A womanizing bastard. Coming straight from the horse’s mouth. I’d do well to remember that brutal—or pompous?—self-assessment.
“She wouldn’t care if I were selling dope or blowjobs. Even if she were alive.”
Noah jerks upright, bringing my attention to him, his eyebrows intensely furrowed, effecting a deeply bewildered expression. “Your mother is dead?”
“Uh-huh.” I say this with complete insouciance, forbidding myself, as hard it is, to feel anything at all for her.
“Weeks ago. Cancer.” My brows pinch together as I take in his shocked and disbelieving expression, greatly confused by his reaction. “You’re acting like someone dying is foreign to you. Relax. People die. It’s not like you knew her or anything.”
He scowls. “Forgive me for being human. You seem pretty apathetic for someone who lost her mother mere
Gripping the contract, I ostensibly flip through to the end, then glance back at him. “I’m sorry, but it appears the ‘Passing Judgments’ section of this contract is missing.”
Flicking a dismissive hand at me, he leans back in his lofty chair and mutters, “I keep forgetting you’re still a child.”
Every time he says I’m young, or a child, or whatever, something in me winds tightly. Like a coil of righteous anger building. Temping me to spring wide and wild, and show him just how much of a child I am
Seething, I grip the pen tight, tick the “
I agree to the terms and…
” box, and then all but scratch out my signature along the dotted line.
Shoving the contract across the desk to him, I stand, picking up my bag. Glaring at his stupid diamond-patterned blue tie, I ground out, “I would like to be shown my quarters now, Mr. Van Der Wells.”
Noah smiles wickedly. “I’m not Abercrombie anymore?”
you were Abercrombie. As of ten seconds ago, you are my boss.”
“Noah will do.”
“I’m comfortable with Mr. Van Der Wells.”
He stands, straightening his jacket. “You want to keep this job, you’ll call me Noah.”
Biting my tongue to refrain from acting out like the little girl he thinks I am, I try seething in silence. But that lasts all of two seconds. “If addressing you appropriately—that is, by your surname—is such a big deal, why not just put it in the frickin’ contract?”
Lacing his fingers before him, he nods at the contract on the desk and raises a brow. “You signed without reading all of it?”
He’s got to be kidding. “That’s really in the contract? I get fired if I address you by your surname?”
He inhales a short breath as if I’m some insufferable brat, then turns and gestures for me to follow.
I want to kick his feet out from under him and watch him fall flat on his ass, but the problem with that is I also see myself straddling him after he falls, ripping that expensive suit off him and taking some serious employee to sexy-as-flames employer advantage of him. How warped is that? That I both want to injure him and screw his brains out at the same time?
I follow him to the other side of the penthouse.
While his expensive suit looks like it was made
him, in this moment, I wish he was wearing less, because I know all about the fine,
ass, muscled thighs, and hard calves that are hidden under this sharp suit.
His unhurried, almost rhythmic footfalls across the wood floors mimics the beat of my pulse.
God, I’m such a slut.
He comes to a stop at the very first door on the right of a short hallway. A few feet down, another closed door is on the left.
Retrieving a key from inside his jacket, he opens the door and steps aside, waving me in. The wordless gesture is like a sharp sword beheading the pointless tension between us.
I walk in, ignoring the static, hair-raising goose bumps as my arm brushes against his. It’s an accident, I swear.
“This is some kind of help quarters,” I drone in a bored voice, even though I’m anything but. I’m, in fact, in a light haze of reminiscence, of when I used to be someone. Of when I had a life worth living. When I was happy and problem-free and wore
Space. Lots of it.
-size bed—say what?—with pristine white covers and violet throw-pillows. A beige love-bench at the foot of the bed. Gentle lilac accents in the paintings, curtains, lamps, and rug. A small sitting area over by the floor-to-ceiling windows, with two accent armchairs and ottomans.
Letting my bag, which feels like garbage in this immaculate place, fall to the floor, I wander around the room, checking it all out, before slipping into the bathroom. All marble. Lush white towels, shiny steel pipes and handles, jetted bathtub and rain shower.
“The real help quarters is next to the pantry,” Noah informs me with a poker-face when I return from examining the bathroom.
Not cool, dude
. Scowling at him, I grab up my bag from the floor and throw it over my shoulder. “Then why show me this room? To tease me?”
He smooths a hand over his chin, in a way only a cocky, rich hotshot could without coming off as a slimeball. How did I miss this side of him that first night? He’s like half and half of two different persons. Half an arrogant, miserable bastard and half a normal handsome guy who can be funny and kind. And wholly a man I want to ride in reverse cowgirl, hard, until he screams my name.
Stop. Stop it!
’ Rational Lotty hisses at me.
She can be such a boring prude sometimes.
“The original help quarters is much, much smaller. And plain. With a twin bed.” He slips his hands in his pockets. “I’ll sleep better knowing you’re staying in this guestroom instead.” He quickly adds, “If you don’t mind.”
“What? ‘Little girls’ get special treatment on this side of the city?”
He’s unamused, looking as though he’s tired of me already. “Would you prefer the original help quarters?”
Stuffing my hands in the back pockets of my jeans, I rock back and forth on my heels like a two-year-old standing guiltily before their disapproving parents. Typical me again. Never knowing when to shut the hell up. Of course, I’m not giving this room, and a
bed, up for some plain, tiny quarters with a twin bed. Not after sleeping on a moldy, broken-down couch for years. Therefore, I keep my mouth shut, for once, and glance around the room instead, avoiding his stare.
” he murmurs, eyes widening a fraction. “I cannot
believe it. She
know how to keep quiet.”
A scowl pitches on my face again. “Oh, big whoop, you —”
“Your uniforms are in the closet. Unless it’s your day-off, you should always be in uniform during—”
“Are you serious?
? Do people still—”
“Oh, Christ.” He closes his eyes and pinches the bridge of his nose. “Honestly, I had no idea you would be this much of a headache. Why did you sign the contract if you didn’t read it in its entirety? Maybe we should rethink—”
“Okay, okay,” I say, holding up my hands in surrender. “I’ll shut up. Sorry. I’ll shut up. I can’t help it sometimes. I grew up kinda like a brat. Always got my own way. Things went south, forcing me to adjust to a new lifestyle. For the most part, I’m not the person I used to be, but sometimes I get like this. Sorry. I apologize.” Pressing my thumb and index finger together, I draw it across my lip in the universal expression for “my lips are sealed.”
Apology accepted, he nods his understanding. “Your uniform is like an identification card. It saves you the time of having to explain your presence to every visitor, friend, or family member who comes over. What days did you tick for your day off?”
Nonplussed, I blink.
Noah sighs. “Listen, I’m going to need you to read through that contract again.
All of it.
put your signature on anything without reading and understanding every single word of it.”
Shrugging, I mumble out, “Doesn’t matter what’s in it. I would’ve signed it anyway. I told you, I need this job.”
He shakes his head at me as if I am some harebrained child who has a lot to learn. And maybe I am. Who knows how many screws I lost from all those thumps to the head? Or maybe it’s from that one time Andrew head-butted me. Senses scrambled, scattered, lost into the ether, never to be regained.
Continues Mr. Beautiful, “You have the option to choose any two days as your off days. It’s just me here, and I don’t host parties or dinners. All you need to do is keep the apartment clean. Do the laundry. Iron—”
“Ohhh, I read that part of the contract!” I smile big, proud of myself.
“So you just read the “Duties” and “Salary” sections and ignored everything else?” He holds up a hand. “Don’t bother answering. There’s a magnetic pad on the fridge in the kitchen listing all the foods I’m allergic to. I’m up by six for my runs in the mornings. When I get back I usually blend up a protein smoothie—you will be doing this from now on—and I have breakfast at eight before leaving for work. On Saturdays, I work from home. I get back from work anywhere between six and seven, and I prefer to eat before I do anything at all—like exchange words. So be sure to have a hot meal prepared in the evenings before I’m home. If I’m staying late or eating out, I’ll let you know in advance.” He reaches into his pocket and withdraws a platinum keycard, handing it to me. “Contractually, this penthouse is now yours as much as it is mine. Take care of it.” Using two long fingers to shift his cuff in order to check the screen of his Patek Phillipe, he tells me, “I’ve got to run. I won’t be back until late. For tonight, take a warm bath. Relax. And
re-read the contract
His back is to me and then out the door before I can get a word out. Guess he’s had enough of my insubordinate yapping.
Like a dummy, I stand in the middle of the room and listen to his footfalls echoing through the apartment. Seconds later, I hear the ding of the elevator. Gone. Yet his presence, his essence of midnight storms, lingers in the space where he’d been. It’s as if his body is gone, but his soul remains, staring at me, ogling me, knowing my naked eyes can’t see him.
‘Rein it in,’
Rational Lotty advises.
‘No more hot men. They’re dangerous. They’re demons. They’re all bad and bossy and abusive a-holes. Play it safe. Choose wisely this time around. Though, in my opinion, the better option is to swear off men completely. At least, for a year or two.’
I nod, as if Rational Lotty is in actual human form, pressing her palm of wisdom on my shoulder and whispering pragmatisms in my ear.
Taking Noah’s advice, I run myself a hot bath. Lord knows I haven’t had one in a while.
While the bath runs, I pad into the closet to unpack my scraps of clothing. Not surprisingly, it’s a spacious walk-in.
Hanging on a rack to the side are seven starch-pressed uniforms. I pout at the absence of cute French frills or a sweetheart neckline for cleavage. Just a boring black and white straight tunic with a hidden zipper down the middle, a stiff white collar, and double box pockets.