Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Spotlight: The Naked Truth by Lacey Wolfe





It’s amazing what one can find in strip clubs…

Josh Carter gets the shock of a lifetime when he shows up at a place of ill repute for a business meeting and sees the one that got away gyrating on the stage. Abigail Reese—the girl with so much potential, the girl that took his heart along with his body one night long ago—what brought her to this level?

Though stripping is not what Abigail set out to do, it’s putting food on the table and a roof over her daughter’s head. But just how much can she reveal to Josh without risking it all?

When Josh causes Abigail to lose her job, she has two choices: come clean about her past and her situation or push him out of her life as quick as he came into it. It’s up to her…only she has to think of her little girl too.

Excerpt:
Abigail removed the yellow gloves and went in search of water to curve her thirst. Whenever she was stressed out, she cleaned. As she sipped the water, pride filled her that her place sparkled and smelled of lemon and bleach. Now to get herself clean.
Setting the bottle down on the counter, she began to lift her shirt up over her head.
Knock knock.
Abigail pulled the edge of her tank top back down. She glanced at the clock and thought it was early for the mail man to be here, but he might’ve been ahead of schedule today. Then again, she wasn’t expecting a package at the moment, so it probably wasn’t the mailman. She stood on her tiptoes and peeked through the peep hole. Josh. What was he doing here?
Opening the door, she said, “Hailey’s at school.”
He held an envelope in his hand. He couldn’t possible have the DNA test results already. Then again, he had money, so anything was possible. “I’m here to see you. Can I come in?”
Abigail stepped back out of the way and let him enter.
“It smells good.” He glanced around.
“I was cleaning. I was just about to wash up before you showed up unexpected.”
He grinned. “I thought we could open this together.”
She eyed the white rectangle in his hand. “That’s for you. Not me. I know you’re the father. You were the last man I was with.”
“Before you found out you were pregnant?”
She laughed. “No, as in you’re the last man I’ve ever had sex with.”
“You don’t mean…”
“Oh, yeah, I mean it. I’m a single mother. I don’t have time to date.” He was quiet and she found it amusing. She could only imagine the thoughts running through his head. “Open it up.”
He set the envelope on the table next to him and closed the space between them. “It was five years ago that you and I were intimate. And in all this time, you’ve never gone to bed with another man?”
“You’re still on that?” Men.
His hand wrapped around her neck and he pulled her face to his. “Do you have any idea what it does to me to know I was the last one to touch you?”
She shook her head. “What does it mean to you?”
“How about I show you? Can I?”
She gazed at his lips and licked hers. Before she knew what was happening, she nodded and his mouth crushed against hers. He stole her breath when his tongue swooped in and met hers. She reached out and grabbed his shoulders, bringing her body closer to his.
Her body burst with pleasure, the same way she felt years ago. His arms wrapped around her and lifted her. Her legs intertwined with his waist. Josh spun her around, setting her on the same table the envelope was on.
He ended the kiss, but only to begin a trail on her cheek, to her chin, neck, and collarbone. “Oh God,” she murmured.
She arched into him as his tongue licked the top of her cleavage. Her core ached to be touched. She wanted this man badly. Instinct kicked in and she reached out, yanked a handful of his dress shirt, and smashed her lips to his. Her fingers began working his buttons. Once a few were undone, she slipped her hand inside his shirt and across his firm chest.
“You’re amazing,” he whispered before his thumb flicked over her nipple.
Abigail gasped and then went back to working on his shirt. Just as she reached the last button, she looked up at him and saw the passion in his eyes. But then she wondered what she was doing. Should she be doing this with him? She barely knew the man and for all she knew, when he returned home, she may hear from him again. She couldn’t risk it.
She pushed him away and hopped off the table.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“We can’t do this.”
He came up behind her. “We don’t have to do anything you don’t want to.”
Oh, she wanted to. And her soaking wet panties were all the confirmation she needed. But her heart couldn’t handle it.
“I think you should go.”
“What about the results?”
Abigail turned back toward him. “Like I said before, those are for you. I don’t need to see them.” She left the room for the shower she had originally set out for earlier.

Buy Links:    Amazon     All Romance eBooks    Barnes & Noble

About the Author:
Lacey Wolfe has always had a passion for words, whether it’s getting lost in a book or writing her own. From the time she was a child she would slip away to write short stories about people she knew and fantasies she wished would happen. It has always been her dream to be a published author and with her two children now of school age, she finally has the time to work on making her dream come true.
Lacey lives in Georgia with her husband, son and daughter, their six cats and one black lab who rules the house.

Author Links:    Her Site      Twitter    Facebook


Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Spotlight: Laura's Light by Donna Gallagher


Laura’s Light
by Donna Gallagher

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

BLURB:

Forty-two- year- old single mother Laura Harris devoted more than half her life to raising her son. She remembered the concept of having sex but it had been aeons since she’s actually been a participant - especially with a real flesh-and-blood partner. But it’s time to reclaim her life. Her son is a man now. And the rising star of the Jets rugby league team. Their future is brighter than ever and, for the first time, financially secure. But Laura is starting to think agreeing to have dinner with Trevor Hughes could be biting off more than she can chew. Not that she can’t see herself taking a nice big chunk from the absolutely gorgeous thirty-four-year-old sports commentator’s rump, he’s one prime piece of masculinity! She just isn’t sure how or when the whole sex thing will become an issue. She can’t even get past the what-to-wear step. Let alone the when-to-take-it-off stage…

Trevor Hughes usually avoids the woman with substance - he has enough of his own demons to deal without trying to care for anyone else. But there’s something about the upbeat, sexy, one-woman-dynamo Laura Harris. The woman is pure sunshine and happiness. And that’s surprising when you look at what life has handed her. Nothing seemed to dampen Laura’s spirits and she quickly becomes someone Trevor needs in his life…Until misunderstandings come between them. Can Trevor put things right?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Excerpt Explicit:

Trevor locked his knees so as not to crumple to the floor, felt his eyes roll back into his head, and even though he wanted to watch Laura, wanted to watch her mouth ride him, her cheeks hollow as she sucked on him, he couldn’t manage to focus his eyes. His balls tightened—he could feel the impending release about to spurt from him. God, he was about to come quicker than a virgin on prom night and there was nothing that could save him. He could not prolong the inevitable even though he wanted to feel the thrill of Laura’s mouth on him for longer. Let’s see, eternity might be a good start, he thought.

“I’m not going to last—this feels so fucking good, Laura, so fucking fantastic,” he managed to moan. The words were hardly romantic and not nearly deserving of this amazing woman who knelt before him, but they were all he could manage. He would make it up to her later, when he could manage to think with something other than his cock.

The cock that was plunging in and out of her mouth—he felt the head of his shaft bump the back of her throat, felt her fight the gag reflex. She actually swallowed, the sensation mind-blowing. She was blowing his mind and body. Her teeth grazed his cock as she continued her actions, rolling her tongue over the slit in the end of his cock before sucking him back in greedily, all the way until he felt his balls slap her chin.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Sydney-born Donna Gallagher decided at an early age that life needed be tackled head on.
Leaving home at 15 she supported herself through her teen years.
In her twenties she married a professional sportsman, her love of sport -- especially rugby league -- probably overriding her good sense.

The seven-year marriage was an adventure. There were the emotional ups and downs of having a husband with a public profile in a sometimes glamorous but always high-pressure field. There were always interesting characters to meet and observe and even the opportunity to live for a time in the UK.

Eventually Donna returned home a single woman, but she never lost her passion for watching sport, as well as the people in and around it.

Now happily re-married and with three sons Donna loves coffee mornings with her female friends, sorting through problems from the personal to the international. But she's on even footing with the keenest man when it comes to watching and talking rugby league.

Donna considers herself something of a black sheep in a family of high achievers. Her brother has a doctorate in mathematics and her sister is a well-known sports journalist.

An avid reader, especially of romance, Donna finally found she couldn't stop the characters residing in her imagination from spilling onto paper. Naturally rugby league is the backdrop to her League of Love Series, published through UK publisher Total-E-Bound, spicy tales of hunky heroes and spunky heroines overcoming adversity to eventually find true love.






Monday, 25 February 2013

Interview: Turning Point by Tiffany Snow



Thank you to Little Fiction for hosting me on the blog tour for TURNING POINT, the third book in The Kathleen Turner Series.  There will be a total of five books in the series.  Book four, OUT OF TURN, will be released on 12/17/13.
Prior to writing romance novels, I worked as a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer in the IT field for years.  IT was a field I just sort of fell into and found I had an aptitude for it, so I stayed.  I wouldn’t say I had a passion for a job until I began writing.  Whereas most people would say computers and writing are two separate parts of the brain, I would disagree.  Many of the problems I faced on a daily basis in IT required thinking outside the box to find the solution, so perhaps technology isn’t so far from the creative centers of the brain than you would think.
I’m here today to talk about the third book in my continuing series, The Kathleen Turner Series, TURNING POINT.  Kathleen Turner begins in book one, NO TURNING BACK, as a runner for a highly successful law firm in Indianapolis.  An unfortunate introduction to Blane Kirk—partner in the firm, Navy SEAL, rich playboy—sends her life in a new direction.  Murder and mayhem follow Kathleen and she’s forced to turn to Blane for help.  In NO TURNING BACK, we’re introduced to Kade Dennon—ex-FBI cyber crimes agent, current assassin-for-hire—who just happens to be Blane’s half-brother.  The lives of these three intertwine throughout all the books, leaving all of them changed in marked ways.
My inspiration for The Kathleen Turner Series began when I knew I wanted to write a series that contained the same characters so I could stay with them for several books.  That’s one of my favorite things to read myself so naturally, that’s what I wanted to write.  Kathleen is an homage to one of my favorite heroines of all time – Nancy Drew.  I grew up reading about Nancy and her adventures so Kathleen and her strawberry-blonde hair is a nod and wink to Nancy.  Another cornerstone of this series is the love triangle, which is one of my favorite romantic elements and I was very excited to write my own.
If my books were made into a movie, Kathleen would be played by Amanda Seyfried, Kade would be played by Ian Somerhalder, and Blane would be played by Chris Hemsworth.
Kathleen Turner

Kade Dennon
 
Blane Kirk

If I were to describe my heroine in five words, they would be (in no particular order):  loyal, na├»ve, trusting, brave, sweet.


Blurb:
After her promotion from law firm Runner to Investigator, Kathleen Turner is learning the ropes of her new job from none other than assassin-for-hire Kade Dennon, a situation her boyfriend Blane Kirk is none too happy about. But the lessons with Kathleen take a back seat when Kade becomes a target. Previously untouchable, his enemies now know of the chink in his armor – his brother’s girlfriend.

And Kade’s not the only thing coming between Kathleen and Blane. From Blane’s inexplicable defense of a man guilty of a horrible crime, to a mysterious stranger from Kathleen’s past, to Kathleen’ risky investigation into human traffickers, the obstacles mount against a relationship that’s just begun to find trust again.

While Blane considers a job offer that would take him back to the front lines in the war on terror, Kathleen is determined to pursue her new career, with or without his approval. Unfortunately, her current case is far more dangerous than anyone knows. Someone close to Blane will go to extreme lengths to split them up, lengths that may prove worse than death for Kathleen.

Kathleen, Blane and Kade must atone for the sins of the past and the present. The fallout will force Kathleen to a turning point…in her career, and her life.


   


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Friday, 22 February 2013

Spotlight: Opposites Attract by Lacey Wolfe


Opposites Attract 
by Lacey Wolfe
Book 4 in the Hot Bods series

Francesca thought she knew what she wanted in life until one stormy night when she got a blast from the past.
When Randy receives a call at his auto shop one night from a woman whose car has broken down and needs a tow, he never imagined he'd be coming face-to-face with his high school sweetheart. Randy has never loved a woman the way he loved Francesca, but she broke his heart, claiming he could never provide the life she was determined to have. That was years ago, but he's still bitter about the way she tossed him aside.
Seeing Randy again, Francesca realizes what a mistake it was to breakup with him. She'd like to try to rekindle the old flame, and she can tell he's still attracted to her too, but every time they're together, all they do is argue. Can she convince Randy she isn't the girl he remembers and that she can settle for love even if it comes without money?
Content Warning: explicit sex


Excerpt:
Randy cleared his throat, hoping to break the tension between him and Francesca. The way she was looking at him, he was worried she was about to pounce. It was taking everything in him to not walk over there and kiss her.
Picking up a work towel, he wiped his hands on it and then directed her toward the front office. She walked in front of him and it was his turn to devour her ass. And hot damn, the jeans she wore were tight and molded to her butt perfectly. Her pants hugged her legs all the way down. She wore black boots that came to her knees. He wasn't sure what shirt she wore, because his eyes had yet to make it past her luscious behind.
Once in the office, he stepped around her, getting a whiff of a very tempting smell. He quickly sat and scooted under the desk as far as he could. He was hard and didn't want her to see.
Francesca took a seat in front of him and he now noticed her pink tank top that was cut low enough he got a hint of cleavage. Inhaling again, he wondered what perfume she used. It really was igniting his senses.
"I spent some time looking at your car today. When was the last time you had an oil change?" he asked.
"It's been awhile."
"I can tell. And how long has the car been leaking oil?"
She shrugged. "Not sure. I wasn't concerned since it was just little drops here and there."
"Those little drops here and there add up. You almost had no oil in your car. And I hate to tell you, but you have torn up your engine."
"Well, can't you just pop a new one in and it'll be good as new?" she asked.
"I wish it was that simple. Here, look this over." He slid a sheet of paper across the desk. "The top portion has to be done, the middle is recommended, and the bottom is optional. The price is on there too."
Her eyes widened as she read over the paper. She then glanced up at him. "This can't be right."
"I'm afraid it is. You haven't taken very good care of the car."
"I get it washed and detailed all the time. I take very good care of it."
Randy shook his head. "There's a lot more to a vehicle than just its appearance. You've got to take care of the things people don't see too."
She was quiet for a moment and then finally spoke. "I don't know if I can afford this."
He raised an eyebrow at her. "Don't you have some rich man who can pay for it?" He regretted saying it the moment it left his lips.
Francesca's mouth fell open and he could see the shock on her face.
"I'm so—" he started to apologize.
"I can't believe you would say that, Randall. You of all people," she snapped.
"Me of all people," he repeated. "What the hell is that supposed to mean? If I recall correctly, you dumped me because you wanted a rich man to take care of you. Tell me, how is that working out for you?"
Francesca stood up, placed her hands on her hips, and leaned forward slightly. As much as he hated it, his focus darted in for a peek inside her shirt.
"I'll have you know that I'm not the gold digger you think I am," she argued.
"I bet you refuse to date any man whose income level doesn't meet your standards. Tell me, why haven't you married one of them yet?"
"Why aren't you married? Can't find a girl who will have you as a husband?"
Randy stood and stepped around the desk. "I haven't found anyone else who can start my engines the way you could." He rubbed the back of his fingers on her upper arm. "Haven't you found a rich guy yet who can kiss you breathless?"

Buy LinksBeachwalk Press   Amazon   Barnes & Noble


Watch the Trailer:  Youtube Link

About the Author:
Lacey Wolfe has always had a passion for words, whether it’s getting lost in a book or writing her own. From the time she was a child she would slip away to write short stories about people she knew and fantasies she wished would happen. It has always been her dream to be a published author and with her two children now of school age, she finally has the time to work on making her dream come true.
Lacey lives in Georgia with her husband, son and daughter, their six cats and one black lab who rules the house.

Author Links:    Her Site      Twitter    Facebook

Giveaway:
Lacey is giving away a $10.00 Amazon gift card during her tour. To enter for a chance to win just fill out the Rafflecopter below.

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Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Spotlight: The Couple by Harlie Williams

The Couple by Harlie Williams
A woman has one thing on her mind tonight…sex. Dirty, sweaty, kinky sex with a cowboy. With her man gone more than he is at home, she needs the release.
After being away for two weeks, a cowboy goes looking for someone to play with for the night. Being away is part of the job but not having someone to come home to is hurting his soul. Feeling disconnected in his love life, the red head will be perfect.
Once they meet, can one night of pure passion led to more than just a one night stand for either of them? Communication is the key to every relationship. Can these two find a way to connect emotionally or are they destined for heartache.

Excerpt
“What’s a girl like you doing at a bar like this?” he asked.

Her voice was a purr, like a cat well satisfied with its stolen pitcher of cream. “I’m looking for someone special.”

Hoping that she meant him he asked, “Did you find him yet?”

“Maybe.” The glint in her eye told him he was definitely in the running.  However, I’m not looking to hook up with just any old cowboy.  He must be able to go the full eight seconds and come back for more.”  She eyed him from head to toe.  “Think you can handle that?”

Oh, I can most definitely handle you sweetheart.
Not wanting to seem too eager he replied, “I’m not sure but I’m willing to try.”

“Do or do not.  There is no try.”  He struggled not to let his grin escape.  The fact that she was trying to seduce him made his dick twitch.

“Let’s just say I’m looking to burn off some pent up frustration. A little excess energy.  And I’ve got plenty to burn.”

The way she shivered at his words, he knew he almost had her.  He winked as she licked her crimson lips and blew out a small breath.  Damn what this woman is doing to him

He pushed her knees apart with his left leg and was rewarded with the amazing scent of her arousal.  The knowledge she was wet for him had him close to going off in his jeans. 
Houston, we have lift-off!

“Why don’t you have a seat cowboy and we’ll talk about it.”

She gasped when he shocked her with a brush of his lips against hers; fighting with everything he had not to deepen the kiss. 

Patience, patience.

He would play her game for the moment but sooner or later, she would be his.  Tied up and begging for more. 

He asked her, “Now about that eight second ride?”


About the Author:
Growing up in Dallas, I never thought I would write. My goal was to teach the love of books to students. Now as a stay at home mom, I write and teach my son the love of books.

I live in East Texas and I'm married to my own hero who encourages me to write. I can't ask for a better mate. 

Author links:

Site     Twitter    Facebook     Goodreads

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Spotlight: Love Redeemed by Sorcha Mowbray


Love Redeemed (The Market Series, Book 2)
by Sorcha Mowbray
Erotic Historical Romance
Published by Decadent Publishing
Release Date: November 27, 2012
Heat Level: Sizzling
Word Count: 29,000

Buy Links

Blurb
Brennan Whitling wants for nothing but the love of a good woman. He has a close family, good friends, and a successful textiles import business. But, a beautiful and elusive young woman he has only seen from afar haunts him. Until a chance meeting leads to far more than dinner.

Serena Freemont has only ever known the life of a prostitute. When an invitation to dinner by a handsome gentleman provides her an opportunity to experience life as a young lady, it’s too tempting to pass up. Much like the man issuing it. After a night of passion she must disappear or face his reaction when the truth is revealed.

To find happiness Serena must shed her past long enough to realize she is worthy of a future. To win her heart, Brennan must show her the redemptive power of love.

Warning: This title is intended for readers over the age of 18 as it contains adult sexual situations (including BDSM/light bondage) and adult language and may be considered offensive to some readers.

Book Trailer:






Excerpt (Hot!):
Relief washed through Serena when he deepened the kiss. Her body flattened against him as his hands gripped her shoulders causing her toes to curl in her slippers. A deep-seated desire to pleasure him with the full range of her skills drove her hard as she was no longer bound by his notion of virginity. Edging away from his heat, she worked to strip him of his clothing.

He placed his hands over hers on the buttons of his waistcoat. “Stop.”

“I want to do this for you. This and other things I could not do that night.” Serenity in the rightness of taking care of him stole through her.

“Very well, but go slow. I want to savor the feel of your hands on my body.” He released her letting her finish stripping him. Arousal spiked through her veins with the weight of his gaze tracking her every move. “Remove your dress.” His rich tone caused chill bumps to burst over her skin as she reached back and made short shrift of removing the green gown. Beneath she wore a black sheer chemise and under bust corset. She sported stockings with garters, but no drawers as usual. Aware of the erotic picture she presented, her breathing grew shallow to the point of panting.

He groaned. “On your knees.”

Feeling her control of the moment slip away left her unsure what had changed, but the natural compulsion to obey his demands drove her. She sank before him, took hold of his rising cock with a firm hand, and proceeded to lick from the back of his balls, over the glans, and to the glistening tip. His body shuddered in pure pleasure she needed no words to interpret.

With practiced ease, she took his entire length in her mouth and proceeded to let him slide down into the back of her throat. She wanted to bring him to completion once before he touched her. This pleasure was for his enjoyment and hers. Swallowing as he worked in and out of her mouth and throat intensified the sensations for both of them. He moaned, threading his fingers through her hair, and proceeded to fuck her mouth with utter abandon.

“Serena, I’m close.” He tried to retreat, but she wanted this. Pulling him closer and taking him deep spawned his orgasm. A guttural noise erupted from him as he pumped until the last drop hit her tongue. Reveling in the saltiness of him in her mouth, she released his softening penis.


About the Market Series
The Market Series is a set of three novellas that take place in and around a Victorian era London brothel called The Market. The brothel is run by Madame Marie Marchander. The Market consists of three row houses. The main house in the center contains the common rooms. From the street, the house on the left is for the average customer who is there to see one of the ladies of the house. The right side caters to those with less average desires and the income to indulge them. Kinks of all kinds can be found on the right side. Voyeurs given something to watch, floggings can be both given and received, domination abounds, and orgies are not uncommon occurrences.

Book                                          Hero/Heroine                                                                        Release Date
Love Revealed (Book 1)            Lord Raymond Tarkenton, the Earl of Heathington                     2/3/2012
                                                   Lady Katherine Drummond

Love Redeemed (Book 2)         Brennan Whitling                                                                       11/27/2012
                                                   Serena Freemont

Love Reclaimed (Book 3)          Jonathan Pierce, Baron Heartfield                                             Early 2013
                                                   Madame Marchander

About the Author
Sorcha Mowbray is a mild mannered office worker by day…okay, so she is actually a mouthy, opinionated, take charge kind of gal who bosses everyone around; but she definitely works in an office. At night she writes romance so hot she sets the sheets on fire! Just ask her slightly singed husband.

She is a longtime lover of historical romance, having grown up reading Johanna Lindsey and Judith McNaught. Then she discovered Thea Devine and Susan Johnson. Holy cow! Heroes and heroines could do THAT? From there, things devolved into trying her hand at writing a little smexy. Needless to say, she liked it and she hopes you do too!

Connect with Sorcha Mowbray
Silken Sheets on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SilkenSheets

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Wednesday, 13 February 2013

EDIE and the CEO by Mary Hughes





Blurb
Edie Rowan is passionate about workers’ rights, wanting her Sixties protester grandparents to be proud of her. But championing the little guy gets her in trouble with sexy CEO Everett Kirk. Kirk is Mr. Ultra-Executive with his expensive hand-tailored suits and his eyes the steel blue of a finely tempered sword—but for the intriguing contradictions of his neat ponytail and square workman’s hands.

Edie’s latest disaster, a teambuilding exercise gone facepalm wrong, leads to a knockdown drag-out with rival manager Bethany “The B”—or add the “Itch”—Blondelle. The incident is the last straw for Kirk. He sends Edie to management camp and to her shock, announces he will drive her there himself. She wonders why he would want eighteen hours of enforced intimacy with her, even as she’s dazzled by his sparkling white smile and killer dimple.

Everett walks away from the confrontation with a headache. For years he has protected Edie from the fallout of her righteous crusading, but this may be the last time. A corporate backstabber is trying to eject Everett from his job. Even so, he’s looking forward to spending time on the drive with Edie, attracted to her sunny red curls, fiery personality and fine dark eyes.

Then a snowstorm forces them to seek shelter in an empty mountain cabin. Edie thinks she will take the lead in wilderness survival but Kirk proves more durable than his Italian loafers and silk sweater would suggest. The extended stay rubs them together in all sorts of ways, kindling emotional and physical flames. But when their corporate shells burn away, what secrets will be revealed?

EDIE AND THE CEO Excerpt:

An excerpt from

Edie and the CEO

Copyright © 2013 Mary Hughes All rights reserved — a Crimson Romance publication
Edie wants to make her 60s protester grandparents proud. But championing the little guy gets her in trouble with sexy CEO Everett Kirk. Someone's trying to force Everett out of his job, and Edie's latest escapade hasn't helped. A snowstorm and an empty cabin makes them confront their attraction.
Chapter One
Smack in the middle of the workday, because her brain was fried, Edith Ellen Rowan made her computer chirp Old MacDonald. Naturally that got her into trouble with The Bitch.
At first, Edie didn’t even register the problem. Four sunny bars bee-booped before it hit her—her computer was playing a children’s nursery song in an office full of conservative, nitpicky ears. Houghton Howell Enterprises was staid like an insurance company’s gray suit (fun was something you had on the golf course, or once a year at the Christmas party, but never ever on the job).
“Suck it to shell.” Edie hit the escape key. As ee-eye-ohhh died, she braced against the proverbial fan scattering the proverbial manure in the form of Bethany Blondelle, known to most of the company as The ‘B’ if they were feeling kindly, adding the ‘itch’ if they were not.
Shoulders hunched and breath held, Edie waited. She’d only been trying to motivate her people. Managing a team of programmers at HHE, a firm that sold innovative (read: expensive) solutions in accounting for large companies (read: deep pockets) wasn’t easy. Her team members were getting as fried as she, and so she’d proposed the music-writing contest.
Nothing happened. Edie gradually relaxed.
The Star Spangled Banner burst lustily from Jack’s cubicle next door. Edie groaned.
“What the HELL is that NOISE?” Bethany had her vocal caps lock on again. This would be bad. “Who’s making all that racket? Edie? Edie!”
Edie face-palmed. The contest was supposed to be a bit of fun, not cause for Armageddon. She’d have preferred to ignore The B, but “Bethany” and “proactive” were so synonymous they were hyperlinked on Wikipedia.
Sure enough, a long leg popped through the opening of Edie’s cubicle, followed by the lady herself in eye-bleeding red. Bethany’s fashion sense was from the DoMeHard channel. Her snappy skirts were hemmed just below her panty line. Today’s suit also featured a plunging sweetheart neckline, a chunky citrine necklace getting suffocated in her Wonder-enhanced cleavage. Her long, sleek hair was dyed crayon yellow #6.
Edie looked down at her own lacy teal tee, navy pants and wool blazer and wondered if she was underdressed.
Nah.
“What is the meaning of this racket?” Bethany leaned on Edie’s desk, looming over her. Invading personal space—“A” in the ABCs of corporate dominance.
“Project Pleiades. We had a month to deadline—until your good buddy Junior chopped that to a week.”
“Respect, Edie. Mr. Howell, not ‘Junior.’”
“I’ll respect Mr. Pharaoh Howell when he respects the workers. That deadline is a nightmare. My team has been working twelve-hour days and more. I’ve tried to push back, but you know Junior. Only the Evil Overlord can buck him.”
“Stop it.” Bethany tossed her head, a fleeting remnant of the girl Edie once knew. “The issue is not our executives. The issue is that...racket.” She waved her hand toward Jack’s cubicle, where the anthem was on its final verse.
“Handling Stress 101, Bethany. Work on something else.”
“Playing music on company time?” Bethany glared down her high-bridged nose.
“Stupidity 101. You should listen to me if you want to go anywhere in this company.” She pointed to her cleavage, fingertip disappearing to the first knuckle. “After all, my team’s twice the size of yours.”
“Bigger isn’t better. It’s all about how you use it.” Edie grinned. “How about you run your team and I’ll run mine?”
“You don’t run your team.” Bethany sneered. “They run you.”
“It’s called empowerment.” Edie took pride in her outspoken team. She wanted her grandparents, hard-core sixties protesters, to be proud of her. They’d raised her from a little girl when her parents had died, and she loved them to pieces. “It’s a proven management style.”
Jack’s computer shifted to A Hundred Bottles of Beer.
“Management?” One corner of Bethany’s perfect lips curled. “The only management I
see is mis-management.”
“Ba-dum-bum.” Edie was suddenly tired of the whole conversation.
And, as Jack’s computer continued to tweet bottles down, doubt gnawed at her. It was quite a racket.
“Other people are trying to work.” Bethany went for the kill. “Keep your hooligans under control or I’m going to have to tell Mr. Kirk.”
Edie suppressed a moan. Of all the straight-laced overbearing big shots at HHE, Edward Everett Kirk, president and CEO, was the biggest, straight-laciest. Like laced corsets...naughty corsets in Kirk’s competent hands—
“The way you two fight, it’s only a matter of time before he gets fed up and fires you.” Mme La B’itch drew a red-enameled nail across her slim throat.
Edie winced. “It’s called ‘corporate unfriending’ now. And I couldn’t help the janitor incident. Or the thing with the Super Soaker. Look, I’ll talk to my people. Just cut us some slack, okay? We’ve been working ridiculous hours.”
“Edie, you idiot. Has it ever occurred to you that your ridiculous hours are because of you?”
Them’s fightin’ words. Edie raised narrowed eyes. “I beg your pardon?”
Bethany leaned knuckles on the desk. “Only one kind of project manager confuses effort with efficiency: a bad one.”
“Enough.” Edie jumped to her feet, nearly head-butting Bethany. “Outside. Now.”
“And freeze my butt off? Hardly.” Bethany’s nose was inches from Edie’s. “You have absolutely no decorum, do you? That shouldn’t surprise me, considering the hippies who raised you.”
Edie lost it. “My grandparents were heroes! They fought for what they believed in, rallied at protest marches—”
“Pretty stories. Your grandpa was a long-haired unwashed bum. Your grandma wasn’t much better than a free love hooker.”
Edie snarled. “Now you listen here, you b—”
“If Mr. Kirk were here—”
“Mr. Kirk,” a deep voice rang with power, “is here. And I want to know what, precisely, is going on.”



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