Sweet Surrendering by Chelsea M. Cameron

  Sweet Surrenderings

  Copyright © 2013 Chelsea M. Cameron


  Digital Edition

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are use fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, business establishments or locales is entirely coincidental.

  No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. All rights reserved.

  Cover Copyright © Chelsea M. Cameron

  Edited by Jen Hendricks

  Interior Design by Novel Ninjutsu

  How in the name of everything holy did I end up on my back on the polished mahogany table in the boardroom, getting the daylights fucked out of me by one of the sexiest men alive?

  Wait, wait, wait. That’s not the place to start the story. Let me rewind a little for you. . .

  Dad called me on the phone first thing on Monday morning, and he didn’t sound happy. One thing about working at the same company as your father is that you never know if you’re in trouble for something work-related, or if it’s something else. I locked my computer and strolled down the hallway to his office, trying to keep my face blank. I usually wore a blank face at work so I could never be accused of being “too young and emotional” to do my job. I knocked softly on Dad’s door.

  “Come in,” he said, and it sounded like the voice of doom. I scrolled through anything I could have possibly done wrong. I was paranoid, so this was a long list. I’d also only heard him use this particular voice when he fired people, or he called them out for screwing things up royally. Wait, could he fire me?

  “What’s wrong?” I said, wanting to get this over with as quickly as possible. One cut.

  He held up a folder with papers in it. My heart beat erratically at the sight of the folder. For all I knew it could have been nuclear launch codes, or that fourth grade test I cheated on that he never found out about. Until now?

  “Have you seen this?” he said. His face was drawn and serious. This worried me even more.

  I crossed my legs and cleared my throat. “I’m not sure, what is it?” Just get it over with. I almost closed my eyes and braced for the blow.

  “I was just going over some of the expense reports and something popped out at me. See what you think.”

  Wait, what? Expense reports? Who gave a fuck about expense reports? I mean, normally I did, but at this moment? I couldn’t find any fucks to give.

  But I opened the folder and tried to calm my heart and find what he wanted me to see in the sea of numbers that were doing this weird swirly thing that they probably shouldn’t be doing.

  “See that?” he said when I obviously wasn’t immediately picking up on what he thought should be patently obvious.

  “Yeah, look at that,” I said, not sounding convincing.

  “The sixth line down. Does that look right to you?” I looked at it. Okay, yeah, that did look odd.

  “Did we really go through that much toner? That seems like an awful lot. Do you have the other months here?” He pointed and I thumbed through and saw that we’d been going up and down, but steadily ordering more and more. Not enough to make a huge red flag, but once I thought about it, it seemed like a lot.

  “Has anyone been looking over these?” There were people whose entire job it was to check these things over and make sure they made sense and that everything was accounted for.

  “That’s just it. Seems that the reports have been altered. I haven’t told anyone else, but I wanted to make sure that I had something to go on before I said a word, so I needed your eye.”

  “What are you going to do?”

  He sighed and sat back in his chair.

  “Well, the problem is that clearly, if this is something, it’s an internal thing, which means that I can’t make a big deal of it, or whoever it is will be tipped off. For right now I’m going to keep my eye on it, and if you could do that as well, I would appreciate it.”

  “Yeah, absolutely.” He didn’t need to tell me to keep my mouth shut about it, so I handed him the files back and he put them back in his desk and then locked it and put the key back in his pocket. His face changed and morphed back into the one I knew so well.

  “Thanks, Rory. I’m so lucky to have you.” He got up from his desk and gave me a hug. I hugged him back and I held on a little too long.

  It’s funny how something that seems so insignificant, so unconnected to your life, can alter the course of it so dramatically.

  Sal Martin had worked for my father’s software company, Clarke Enterprises, as an administrative assistant since the very beginning. He’d been a friend of my father’s, and when he’d needed a job, Dad hired him. Dad was always like that. A nepotist, through and through.

  Sal had started out low on the totem pole and had worked his way up. When his mind started to go, I took him on as my assistant once I joined the company after college, because I knew how much he valued his job, and the company. I kept his workload light, but soon his mind was in the grips of Alzheimer’s and there was nothing we could do. It was absolutely heartbreaking, and more than once I caught Dad crying in his office about it, and I’d shed more than a few tears, watching his decline.

  I planned a retirement party for him, and in the meantime started looking for a new assistant.

  I was all for promoting from within the company, and that’s what Dad would have done, but I still put an advertisement online, just in case there were any stunning applicants.

  “Anyone strike your fancy?” Dad said, finding me alone in the room we used for interviews, my head resting in the desk. I loved, loved, loved my job as Vice President, but being one of the only women in the company was challenging. Especially in times like these. Being the boss’ daughter didn’t help either. People either thought I was an entitled airhead, or were so scared of me they couldn’t speak. All three of my interviews had been some variation on those two themes.

  I lifted my head as Dad put his arm around me. In spite of looking like a man who never hugged his children, Dad had always been affectionate. Just not in front of the whole office. He’d made sure my door was closed before he’d hugged me.

  “Not yet. I think I’m going to look at some of the applications after lunch. See if anyone pops out.”

  “Go with your gut, Rory,” he said, using my childhood nickname. It made me smile.

  “I always do.” That was one piece of Dad’s advice that I always, without fail, followed.

  After a quick lunch at my desk while I scanned the new quarterly report for typos, I went back to the applications that had been submitted online. A knock at my door brought me out of my work haze.

  It was Mrs. Andrews, Dad’s current administrative assistant and another one of his oldest friends. Nepotism, I tell you.

  “Um, Miss Clarke? There is a gentleman to see you.” I pulled up my calendar on my email and scanned. I’d been so frazzled lately, that I could have forgotten I had a meeting. But I was coming up blank. Mrs. Andrews was nervously hovering, half-in and half-out of my office. What was with her?

  “I don’t see a meeting. Did I forget to put one on my calendar?” It had happened before.

  She looked over her shoulder and then came all the way in and closed the door, as if someone was chasing her.

  “What’s wrong?” Mrs. Andrews leaned over my desk and spoke quietly, as if someone was listening in. What was going on?

  “It’s . . . someone to see you about the assistant job. I don’t know how he talked his way in, but he’s insistent that he has to speak with you.”

  “Has he sent in his résumé?”

  She shook
her head. “He’s got it with him.”

  “I’m not sure how I feel about that. He sounds . . . pushy.”

  “I’d say he’s the kind of fellow who is used to getting what he wants. If you know what I mean.” Yes, I most certainly did. Growing up with money meant that I practically had a degree in Men Who Don’t Understand The Word No.

  I sighed. This really wasn’t something I wanted to deal with, but if it came down to it, security was only a button push away. I also didn’t think Mrs. Andrews should have to deal with this douche, whoever he was. I’d put him in his place faster than you could say “privileged.”

  “I’ll take care of it,” I said, getting up and straightening my black peplum jacket, which was buttoned over a white shirt. I’d chosen to wear a black skirt that matched the jacket, and now I was regretting that. He’d probably see the skirt and think I was just a woman, and he could push me around. My stature didn’t help either. Unless he was under average height, I’d be looking up at him, which was why I wore monster heels most of the time, especially when we had stockholder meetings, and today was no exception. Dad always called them my stilts.

  Checking to make sure my honey blonde hair was still pulled out of my face, I strutted out of my office, Mrs. Andrews in my wake.

  My bright red heels clicked pleasantly on the floor, alerting everyone that I was on a mission. I strolled with purpose down the end of the hall, turning the corner to get to the reception area where I stopped in my tracks. A man, with his back to me, leaned against the desk. My first impression was of a well-tailored dark-blue, nearly black suit. I’d seen a hell of a lot of suits in my life, and I can spot a custom-tailored one a mile away. I also saw a shock of dark auburn hair that was combed back, but was probably unruly most of the time, because little strands were starting to curl from the July humidity outside.

  Then he turned around and I almost choked on the words I was about to spew at him. He seized my moment of silence and spoke first.

  “Are you Aurora Clarke? I’m Lucas Blaine and I’m here to apply for the administrative assistant position. I was hoping to speak with you about it in person.” His voice was deeper than I thought it would be. It reminded me a bit of a country singer I couldn’t name at the moment. It was the kind of voice that made me quiver, deep down inside, and I hoped he didn’t notice.

  I finally let my eyes travel from his sleek black tie up to his face, where I nearly gulped when I saw that he had a chin dimple. He had a dusting of freckles on his nose to go with the hair, and then I met a set of eyes that were a strange color in between blue and gray. Like wet stones I used to collect on the beach at our vacation home in Maine. Or the color of the clouds before a storm.

  I gaped like an out-of-bowl goldfish for a second and he held his hand out. I kicked myself as I stared at it, as if I’d never seen one before.

  Shake his hand, Rory.

  No! Don’t shake his hand! You’re here to yell at him, not ogle his chin dimple. This was only happening because I hadn’t gotten laid in months. I was just a little sex starved, that was all. Looked like it was time for another session with Mr. Buzzy, my favorite vibrator. A long session.

  I finally found my voice. “Listen, I’m sure you’re more than qualified for this position, but that doesn’t mean you can come in here and harass Mrs. Andrews. It doesn’t really start you off on the right foot, you know.” I tried to turn on what I liked to call my “bitch voice.” It was the one I used when I had to talk over a bunch of men who all thought they were right, but none of them were. I’d dealt with far worse than this, so why was it so hard to think when I was looking in his eyes.

  Stop looking at his eyes.

  “I figured you’d see it as assertive,” he said. “Being assertive is a good quality to have in an employee, don’t you think?” He sort of turned his head to the side and, once again, I was speechless.

  Oh, fuck me.

  “Well, do you have your résumé with you?” He had a briefcase in one hand and I could see a white piece of paper.

  “Signed, sealed, delivered,” he said, holding it out as the Stevie Wonder song floated through my head. I took it from him and pretended to scan it, though it could be written in Chinese for all I took in of it, but I had to keep up appearances. He waited while I pretended read, just barely tapping his briefcase against his thigh. That could get irritating. Fast.

  Finally I had to say something, so I cleared my throat and nearly choked in my own spit. Smooth, Rory.

  “Well, Mr. Blaine, this a bit unorthodox, but I’ve been having some trouble finding a suitable candidate and I do have some free time now, so why don’t you come with me and we can do an interview right now?” I wondered if he could spot all the lies. Firstly, I didn’t have free time. I had a meeting I had to prepare for. Second, there was no way I could interview this guy without doing something stupid.

  It had to be the cursed chin dimple. It was rendering me incapable of behaving normally.

  I’d taken shit from men ever since I started at this company as an intern in high school. There was no way this guy was going to come out on top, so I rolled my shoulders back and motioned for him to follow me.

  I made extra sure that my heels were loud as we marched back to the interview room, Mrs. Andrews gaping at me from where she’d been eavesdropping in the hallway. I gave her a look that told her I had everything under control and opened the door to admit Mr. Blaine.

  This . . . could be interesting.

  “May I offer you some water? Coffee?” I motioned to the little table that had a mini water cooler and a Keurig on it. I turned my back to him for a brief second to pour myself a glass of cool water, and I could feel his eyes staring at my ass. Granted, it did look great in this skirt, but you’re not supposed to ogle your future boss.

  “To be honest, I’d like a Scotch on the rocks, or even a Whiskey, but I’m guessing that would be frowned upon.” He was trying to throw me off; I could feel it. Two could play at that game. I turned slowly, sipping my water. I set a glass down in front of him and sucked my bottom lip into my mouth to get off the last of the water.

  He watched me without blinking and I could almost see the wheels in his head turning under that gorgeous mop of hair. Something sparked in his earlobe, and for the first time I noticed a tiny diamond stud in his left ear that was out of place, given the office setting, but somehow suited him.

  “Sorry to disappoint you, but this is an alcohol-free building. Unless, of course, it’s one of the corporate dinners. Then all bets are off.” I sat down across from him, making sure my back was as straight as possible, crossed my ankles and rested my hands on the table.

  “Would I get to see you go a little wild? Let your hair down?” He motioned to my tight chignon. Oh, he knew absolutely nothing about me.

  “How about we talk about you, Mr. Blaine, since you’re the one that needs a job?” I put emphasis on the word “job”. Mr. Blaine leaned back in his chair as if he were in his living room and gave me a whisper of a smile.

  “Aren’t you a little ray of sunshine?”

  I fumbled with my list of normal interview questions and could only come up with a few.

  “Where do you see yourself in five years?” He smirked at me for a second, as if he was going to give me a wiseass answer and then changed his mind.

  “I see myself being happy. Having a job I love and working with people who are reaching for the same goals. Despite my earlier comments, I’m not a slacker. I work hard and I don’t take no for an answer. I just see it as an incentive to make someone say yes.” He leaned forward then, placing his forearms on the table and I saw his arms flexing under the jacket. One sleeve slid up and a watch glinted on his wrist. I pulled my eyes away from the watch and back up to his eyes, which were blazing now.

  The storm was raging. This . . . this was a passionate man. Was he passionate in all areas of his life, I wanted to ask, but I already knew the answer.

  Unequivocally, yes.

  I re-c
rossed my ankles and cleared my throat again, moving on to my second question.

  He answered it the same way as the first, with a sincerity that was hard not to believe. I moved on to a few more questions and I realized that it was growing hot in the room, and I was wishing I could open one of the windows without making a fuss.

  “So,” he said when I was done with all the normal questions I could think of and was groping for something else to say, “where do you see yourself in five years, Miss Clarke?”

  That was none of his business. This was his damn interview, not mine. I’d already gone through one of those. Several, actually, as I worked my way up. Being the boss’ daughter only got me so far. In fact, I was pretty sure being Walter Clarke’s daughter made it even harder to get where I was.

  “But we’re not talking about me, Mr. Blaine. This is your interview.” A beat of silence followed what I said and he was studying me in a way that made me both uncomfortable and a little intrigued. He stared so openly, so confidently. Not in a gross way, more in a way that said he was just as interested in me as I was in him.

  “Why can’t we talk about you? Yes, I am the one who needs the job, but wouldn’t it be good to see if we are . . . compatible? We will be working very closely together.” Was it just me, or did he mean to make that sound dirty? To make my mind play a little fantasy of the two of us getting close? As soon as I thought it, I was picturing it.

  I swear to God, I was going to kill Royce Winkle for cheating on me and forcing me to break up with him, so I wasn’t getting regular sex anymore. The fact that his last name was Winkle should have been my first red flag, but he was charming and rich and liked to pay for dinner when we went out. That was before I found out that he was just after my money (big shocker) because he had a gambling problem and owed a lot of people a lot of money. He was also banging a bartender on the side, but that was just the straw that broke this camel’s back.

  “I suppose you have a point there. What, do you want to play twenty questions?” This was already an off-the-wall interview. Why not make it even more so?

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