I've never seen anyone with worse fashion sense than Katie. But as she sat at one of the tables in the coffee shop, laptop open, she removed those god-awful black glasses, and nibbled her bottom lip. Then she smiled, and transformed before my eyes.
I wanted her.
I'm a good girl--with very naughty thoughts.
Jaxson is willing to help with my writing. I ran into him at the coffee shop. The guy is drop-dead gorgeous. I'm talking six-pack abs, broad chest, and oozing sex appeal. I thought he worked there. Nope, he owns the place, and he's also a very famous author.
His help means I might actually escape my demonic boss, and living with my twin sisters, who are demanding as hell, but hey, it's free rent. If I can turn my writing into a paying career, I'm outta there.
But just how far am I willing to let him go when I stumble over the love scenes? Am I brave enough to break all the rules? In the name of research, of course.
This is book one in a brand new series of steamy, contemporary romantic comedies from USA Today bestselling author Karen Kelley.
I stared at my laptop. Think! You can do this. I took a deep breath, exhaled, and began to type.
She dropped to her knees onto the shiny hardwood floor.
“Ouch.” That would hurt like a son of a bitch. No, I needed to come up with a different word. I rolled my shoulders to ease the knots. Eased? That might work.
She eased to her knees onto the hardwood floor.
Nope, I didn’t like that either. I drummed my fingers on the table. How difficult could it be to think of one freaking word? I closed my eyes for a moment.
Scattered letters swam across my mind, then words began to form.
She eased onto her knees, sinking into the thick, plush, beige carpet. Her gaze was transfixed on the naked man in front of her. His dick…
No… I frowned in concentration.
His cock dangled to his knees.
Bigfoot, only Big Dick? The man with the swinging cock. Great title there. A mental vision formed in my mind. Cockzilla and King Dong going through downtown Dallas. Their cocks knocking over buildings. Women would be running scared, shielding their vaginas.
I chuckled. Sometimes I tickled myself.
Dammit, I was going off in another direction again. I really needed to straighten up and get serious. How was I ever going to have a career as a writer if I didn’t take myself seriously?
Okay, so maybe writing steamy romances wasn’t going to be as easy as I’d thought, but it was a hell of a lot of fun. I might be mousy in person, but when I write, the fire inside me is unleashed. Yes, I have an inner slutty side.
Deep breath. Relax. I pushed my heavy, black-rimmed reading glasses, higher on the bridge of my nose. I needed to get my momentum back. I glanced up from my laptop. There was only a handful of people in the coffee shop. Mostly writers, like me. Probably struggling, like me. At least, I thought they were writers. They had their laptops open on the small, round table in front of them. Not that it mattered one way or the other. Personally, I loved coming here on my lunch hour. The aroma of fresh roasted coffee always teased my senses. The seats were extremely comfortable, too.
As I glanced around, my gaze was suddenly transfixed on the new man working behind the counter. Not bad. Not bad at all. I bet he was hung. My gaze went to his large hands, then back to his face. The guy was seriously good looking. Dark hair, dark green eyes, and broad shoulders. He had a five o’clock shadow, but the kind that only made him hotter. Not the kind that said, “Bro, you need to shave.” He was tall, too. Maybe six feet, three inches. Even though I was five feet seven, he would tower over me. I’d definitely do him.
He looked up and caught me staring. His smile was slow and lazy. I could feel my face getting warm, but I couldn’t look away. When another customer came up, he broke eye contact, and I was finally free.
What had just happened? I wasn’t quite sure.
Another vision suddenly filled my mind. I had a lot of visions. Some people called them fantasies, and maybe they were, but it was as though I watched a movie playing inside my head. In color and everything. I’d heard a lot of writers do the same thing. My family still gets pissed off at me because I’ll stop talking in the middle of a sentence to watch the movie playing in my head. Of course, I could just be bat-shit crazy.
This was a particularly good vision, though. The guy behind the counter would saunter toward me. “Katie,” he would say, but my name on his lips would sound like warm honey sliding down a hot biscuit. “I want you. Right now. I want to slide my cock inside your wet, dripping…”
Yuck, that was just gross! What? Was I diseased or something? If I was dripping, then I needed a pap smear, ASAP.
“Do you want another cup of coffee?”
I rapidly blinked my eyes. As they cleared, I found myself staring into the gorgeous eyes of the man I’d been fantasizing about. I really needed to get my shit together. “No, but thank you.” He was way too distracting. When I looked away, my gaze landed on the wall clock.
Damn, it couldn’t be one o’clock already! I was supposed to be back at work by now. Where had the hour gone? I automatically pushed save on my work as I stood. Crap, this was terrible. My boss was going to kill me. This was the third day this month that I’d been late. It didn’t matter that I stayed over most days, and had never gotten paid a dime of overtime. Never. Zilch. Nothing. Yes, I was salaried, but still… Candace wouldn’t see it like that.
Maybe Candace had taken a long lunch today and I could beat her back to the office. I began cramming everything into my oversized satchel: laptop, spiral notebook, my favorite pen, flash drive…
Flash drive? Where the hell was my flash drive? I scanned the table.
“Do you need any help?” he asked.
I looked up, momentarily confused by the interruption. He was still there. Why hadn’t he gone back to work or something? I was frazzled enough as it was. “No, I’m late for work.”
He smiled. God, the man had a crazy, sexy smile. It even reached his eyes and made them twinkle. Goose bumps spread up and down my arms.
“Most bosses will forgive you if you’re a few minutes late. I wouldn’t worry too much about it.”
“You don’t know my boss. I think she hates me.” Maybe I’d already put my flash drive in my satchel. Yes, that was probably it.
“If she’s that bad, why don’t you quit?”
Quit? Yes, I’d thought about it many times. I slung my satchel over my shoulder and looked at Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome again. “No, I can’t. The coffee was very good. Thank you.” I rushed out the door and ran toward my silver compact. The car wasn’t much, but it was mine. I didn’t owe a dime on it. Candace might be a bitch, but she paid well, except for overtime or bonuses.
I planned to work another three years, putting every bit of money I could spare into my savings account, which was already looking pretty decent. When I had enough of a nest egg, I was going to find a part-time job so that I could devote myself to writing full-time. At least, that was my plan.
I started the car, then pulled into traffic. Please, let Candace be late, I prayed.
I needed to put it out into the universe. “Candace will not be back from lunch yet because she had a flat tire.” No, that had a negative ring to it. I needed to be more positive. Besides, I’d always heard a person should put good things out into the universe, or they would come back to bite them on the ass. Kind of like, what goes around, comes around.
I tried again. “Candace will not be back from lunch because she had a flat tire, and a really hot guy stopped to change it.” There, I’d said it, let it be done.
As I pulled into my parking space, I saw Candace’s car. So much for putting my words out into the universe. Sometimes I wondered why I believed some of the crap that I believed. So far, putting anything into the universe had never worked. I mean, had I won the fucking lottery yet? Nope, not even close.
I turned off the ignition, then dropped the key into my purse. Candace was going to be so pissed. I grabbed my satchel and purse, locking my door after I got out. I stored my satchel inside the trunk, then slammed it shut and hurried inside.
My shoulders sagged as I walked inside the office. Three years sounded like forever. I would be twenty-seven. Right now, that seemed way too close to thirty.
The door to Candace’s office was closed. I glanced at the clock. I was only twenty-three minutes late. Maybe I could get away with it. I quickly stored my purse under my desk and sat down, bringing up my computer.
Candace was a fashion designer, but with only moderate success. The way she put on airs, anyone would think she was Haute Couture of the fashion world, when in fact her line of clothing was better suited for Wal-Mart. She definitely had an overblown ego. The door to Candace’s office opened. I took one look at her face and knew she’d been watching the clock. That one look could’ve frozen the balls off a bull in heat.
Candace was a forty-six year old divorcee, times five. Each divorce had given her a little more money to invest in her business. Candace was shrewd, and she was smart. I always thought of her as an older version of a Marilyn Monroe look-alike-wannabe.
“You’re late. Did you get stuck in traffic?” Venom dripped from her words.
“I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.”
“You’re damned right it won’t. I’m not paying you to take a two hour lunch.”
“An hour is what I take, and I was only a few minutes late.”
Candace cocked a finally drawn eyebrow. “It was more than a few minutes. You can stay an hour over to make up for it.” Her gaze traveled over me, lip curling. “Can’t you do something with all that hair? Tie it back. No one wears their hair down to their waist any more. And I want those market reports on my desk in five minutes.” She turned on one heel and marched back inside her office, shutting the door none to gently behind her.
Great, I hadn’t planned on staying over tonight. I’d wanted to write when I got off work. I was in the middle of a chapter, and it was getting good. By the time I drove home, fixed something to eat, cleaned up the kitchen, I’d be exhausted. I might be able to squeeze in a couple of hours, though. At least tomorrow was Saturday, so I didn’t have to work.
I punched some keys and brought up the marketing report that Candace wanted, then printed it out. Before gathering up the papers, I grabbed a band from my purse and pulled my hair back. My hair wasn’t down to my waist, only the middle of my back, but I certainly didn’t want to upset the demon boss any more than I already had. Only then did I knock on her door. I didn’t wait for her to answer, which was how Candace wanted me to perform. Sometimes I felt like a trained seal.
Candace was on the phone, so I quietly laid the papers on her desk in front of her. Without even looking at me, Candace picked up the papers and tossed them to the side, as if they were nothing, then waved her hand imperiously for me to leave the office.
I turned, rolling my eyes. Whatever floats your boat, lady.
The rest of the afternoon dragged by. By the time five o’clock rolled around, everyone was already leaving. Candace was still in her office, so I knew I couldn’t get away with sneaking out, even though all of my work was done for the day.
Candace’s door opened. I quickly looked at my computer screen and began to type.
“I need you to take some notes,” Candace said, then turned and went back inside her office.
Oh no, not take notes. Please, not that. Candace could ramble for hours, literally saying nothing important, yet wanting it all written down and typed up. She would also want all the notes on her office desk when she arrived on Monday, and Candace was never late getting to work.
I stood, grabbing my pencil and paper, before going into the lioness’s den.
“I’m making out the schedule of where I’ll need to be over the next few months. We’ll start with June.”
I glanced up at the clock. Great, I would be here till midnight. With a deep sigh of resignation, I began to take notes. An hour passed before Candace finally grew bored with her project.
“That should do it,” Candace said. “We got a lot accomplished. Now, just type everything up and put it on my desk before you leave. Also, I want it done in columns for each month, and boxes so I can check everything off.”
“But it’s already after six.”
Candace came to her feet, smoothing her hands over her pale blue, pencil skirt. She reached for her suit jacket. “Then you’d better get started, and maybe you’ll remember not to be late when you come back from lunch next time.” She picked up her purse and waltzed out of the office.
Tears filled my eyes. I quickly blinked them away, refusing to cry. I hated that woman. I should look for another job. So what if I had to put my dream off for a couple of more years. It might be worth it.
I went back to my own office and dropped down into the chair, resting my elbows on the desk and my chin in my hands.
I knew I wouldn’t quit. When I did, it would be on my terms. With a deep sigh, I began to type up the notes.
Besides, who was to say my next job would be any better? My last one consisted of booking trips for other people. It was okay, but the pay sucked. Jennifer was nicer than Candace, but her business was struggling. Then she’d closed the doors, and I was without a job.
That was when I moved into the apartment with my identical twin sisters, Blair and Bridget. Or, as I often referred to them, the twins from hell. Admittedly, they weren’t that bad. Just demanding, but in a sugary sweet way. They were four years older than me, so they had the bossy gene built in.
I would’ve loved to stay in my own apartment, even though it was even smaller than a tiny house, but being in-between jobs, I hadn’t been able to afford it. The twins graciously let me move in for free, as long as I kept the apartment clean and ran a few errands for them. The only problem was, they were both slobs, and they always had a ton of errands they wanted me to run.
I finished the papers and printed them out, then took them to Candace’s office. Finally, I could leave. It was almost seven, but if I hurried, I still might be able to write for a while.
Just as I was getting my purse out from under my desk, my cell began to ring. I automatically looked at the screen before I answered. Bridget’s faces smiled back at me. The twins were complete opposites of me, with their petite frames, blonde hair, sparkling blue eyes, and smiles meant to knock any man off their feet, and they usually did.
I, on the other hand, was taller than either one of them. I was five feet, seven inches. My hair was a dull reddish-brown, and every time there was any humidity, like today, I looked as if I’d stuck my finger in a light socket.
“Katie, darling,” Bridget said.
Bridget always tagged on darling to everything. My sister should’ve been an actress, rather than a lawyer. “Yes, Bridget, what did you want?”
“Are you still at work?”
“I’m leaving right now.”
“I just hate how that woman works you so hard. You should quit.”
“Then I would have no money. I like having money.”
“Well, since you’re on your way home anyway, could you stop by the pizza place?”
The pizza place my sister ordered from was nowhere near the route I took home. “I’m really tired, sis.”
“But I have all these papers to go over for a case that I’m working on or I would go get it myself.”
My sister never picked up her own pizza. “Just have it delivered.” Anyone would think as smart as my sister was, she would have already figured that out.
“It takes forever for the delivery guy to get here. Please, please, please.”
The problem with my sisters was that no one could ever say no to them. Unfortunately, they always suckered me into doing things for them as well. They didn’t do it out of spite. It was just the way they were, and they were very good at it.
“Okay, I’ll pick up your pizza.”
“Thanks bunches, baby sis.” She ended the call.
The pizza place was only fifteen minutes out of my way, one way. Not bad I supposed, except traffic was heavy so it took me twenty minutes instead. My sister hadn’t ordered just one pizza. Nope, there were four of them. All large.
That meant only one thing. Work, my ass. They were having friends over. There’d be drinking and eating half the night away. It shouldn’t matter to me, since I didn’t have to work on the weekends. It shouldn’t, but it did. The apartment would be a mess in the morning. I hadn’t planned on spending all weekend cleaning. From past experience, I knew it wouldn’t do me any good to complain. But I damn sure didn’t have to be happy about it.
Juggling the four large pizzas, my purse, and my satchel with the laptop in it was a feat in itself, but I managed to get it all to the door of the apartment. Using my elbow, I pushed the doorbell, then slowly counted to ten as I waited for someone to answer. On ten, one of the twins opened the door.
“Pizzas are here, darlings,” Bridget called out.
As I stepped over the threshold, eager hands took the pizza boxes from me. I shook out my arms so the feeling would return as everyone followed Bridget toward the living room.
“Thank you so much for picking up the pizza,” I mumbled. “You’re such a good sister. What would I do without you?”
There were at least ten people in the apartment. I recognized some of Bridget’s coworkers. I had no clue who the others were.
“Oh goody, pizza,” Blair said as she came from the direction of her bedroom. “Only four? I know there’s at least ten more people coming.” She inclined her head toward me. Her perfect lips pouted. “But Katie, we’ll need more pizza than this. Can you be a sweetheart and…”
“Really? I just got off work. I’m exhausted. If you want pizza, call it in, and have it delivered. I’m going to my room.” I did have my limits, though.
Blair frowned. “You don’t have to get all huffy about it.”
“I’m sorry. It was a rough day at work.” It certainly wasn’t Blair’s fault that I hated my job.
“I’m sorry, too, sis. Why don’t you take a long, hot bath, and make it an early night.”
“I think I will.”
I really did love my sisters. It’s just that sometimes I wondered if either one of them had a clue how the real world worked. They’d always gotten by on their looks. That, and they were both super smart. Blair was already moving up the corporate ladder. She’d snagged a nice promotion that came with a hefty raise, and she wasn’t even thirty yet.
Not that I was stupid, but I didn’t want any part of the corporate world. I wanted to sit in my room and write the stories that were in my head. I had no doubt that my hard work would pay off some day. At least, I hoped it would.
When I was inside my bedroom, I shut the door, and locked it. I liked my privacy. My sisters might be extroverts, but I was very comfortable being an introvert.
I set my purse and satchel on the bed, and changed into a pair of faded plaid flannel pajamas before crawling into bed. This was my favorite place to write. I opened my laptop and clicked on the book in progress. Tingles of excitement ran up and down my spine. This just might be the one that made me enough money so I could quit the day job.
I had two other books that I’d published. Covers and formatting hadn’t come cheap. I’d even paid someone to edit my manuscripts. So far, I’d made exactly four dollars and ten cents on them. They had been listed for over a year.
I’d finally realized I was trying to write books I wasn’t in love with. I’d put myself into a box. Everyone thought I was sweet and shy. Okay, I was sweet and shy on the outside, but on the inside, I was a person no one knew. I had naughty thoughts. Lots of naughty thoughts. These were the stories that excited me and made me want to write.
I began to type, but rather than a faceless hero, the man of my dreams was beginning to emerge. When I finally realized my hero was the man at the coffee shop, I grinned. My fingers flew across the keys for the next two hours. Finally, I had no words left inside me. Exhausted, I hit save, then dug inside my satchel for my flash drive.
No flash drive. I finally set my laptop on the bed, and dumped everything out of my over-sized bag, meticulously going through it. Nope. Nadda. Zilch. Nothing.
My pulse began to race. No, I wouldn’t have a panic attack. Not yet. I needed to think. I’d had the satchel in my trunk. That was probably where I’d lost it. Oh Lord, please let it be there.
I jumped out of bed and ran to the closet. I grabbed the first thing I touched. My oldest, ugliest sweatshirt came flying off the hanger. I pulled it on over my pajama top. Not that I cared what I looked like. After I slipped my feet into a pair of tennis shoes, then quickly tied the laces, I hurried to the door. As soon as I stepped out of my bedroom, the twins looked up, their mouths dropping open.
“Katie, darling, where are you off to looking like that?” Bridget asked. “Surely you’re not going to leave the apartment?” She cast a worried glance toward her twin, as if Blair could somehow stop me.
Everyone was staring, at least thirty sets of eyes. I could feel the heat rising up my face. Oh what the hell. “I’m going to Wal-Mart.”
The color drained from my sisters faces. Sheesh. I rolled my eyes. Sometimes they were so gullible. “I can’t find my flash drive. It may be in the trunk of my car. I’m just going to the garage to look.”
“I’ll buy you a new flash drive,” Blair told her.
I didn’t stop as I headed toward the door. “It has my… Important stuff on it.”
“You mean your little book?” Bridget asked, then began explaining to everyone how I was attempting to write a book.
I wanted to slap the condescending look off my sister’s face. Bridget might as well have patted me on the head. My sisters had never taken my writing seriously. They’d always thought of it as a hobby. To them, having a real job was being a lawyer, or working in the corporate world. Nothing else mattered.
“Yes, I have to find it,” I told them as I hurried out of the apartment.
Except I searched the entire back of the car, and it wasn’t there. I wanted to cry. Sure, I had everything on my laptop, but that wasn’t the point. Where could it be? The only place I’d had my satchel out was at the coffee shop.
I grabbed the side of my car for support. Oh no, what if someone found it and opened my files?
Whoever found my flash drive would probably turn it in. I would just go to the coffee shop in the morning and ask about it.
And for the rest of the night, I would cry.