Authors: J. Lea López
2013 by J. Lea López
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 author
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Table of Contents
Those three little letters can mean so many different
things. They can be a question or an answer, a command or a request. When
spoken, they have the power to seduce and reassure. When left silent, they can
break hearts or shatter dreams.
I also happen to think
is one of the sexiest
words in the English language. The following five stories explore the
implications of unspoken desires, as well as the possibilities that await when
we say what we really want and make
the most important word—whether
it's said to a lover, or a friend, or even ourselves.
Sasha cradled the wine glass in her upturned hand, the
delicate stem nestled between her ring and pinky fingers, her thumb caressing a
nervous arc across the bowl. After nearly ten years in retail where “holiday
party” usually meant “lunch in the break room,” this catered after hours
shindig was a little overwhelming. Especially since she'd only been a legal
intern for a few months.
She sipped the sweet Moscato and walked slowly through the
room in search of a friendly smile to give her an in, an excuse to insinuate
herself into some conversation. Networking and being social had been a
challenge for her in the world of retail politics, too, but it was more than
just that aspect that fueled her desire to go back to school a few years ago.
Even if a client didn't ooze gratitude, she knew she'd be making a positive
impact on the world around her with this career change. No one
$400 Michael Kors bag. Not everyone needed a lawyer, either, but meeting that
need was more fulfilling to Sasha than convincing someone to part with their
hard earned cash in the name of blind consumerism and brand recognition.
Bitter? Maybe a little. Though in her experience, even the
bubbliest people in retail had a streak of disdain just beneath the surface.
A few smiles and nods greeted her as she made her way across
the banquet hall, but nothing solid enough to warrant stopping and injecting
herself into already lively discussions. So she kept moving. At the worst, she
could stop at the hors d'oeuvres table across the way as if that had been her
intention all along and not look like a wandering fool. Which was how she felt.
Thank god for the wine, which gave her nervous hands something to focus on.
Finally, her work crush, Malcolm Dane, came to her rescue
with a smile and a small wave. She headed in his direction, holding tight to
her glass. If she rubbed her thumb on the same spot for much longer, the glass
might wear thin and shatter. Malcolm was only a few years older than Sasha. Of course,
he hadn't wandered off into the black hole of retail fashion like she had, so
while she was a thirty-something intern, he was on the fast track to becoming a
She had been prone to what she called “work crushes” since
her first job in high school. They were innocent little things, these crushes.
It was inevitable. Spending so many hours a week with the same group of people,
there's an attachment that develops. Not necessarily romantic, although Malcolm
was cute. Really, really cute. In fact, there were quite a few attractive
people in the office, and their appeal only grew when she got to see their
passion and intellect at work. That was sexier than any bright smile or
chocolate brown eyes.
Malcolm raised his glass and Sasha raised hers in turn.
“If I had known there were such great company parties
waiting for me in the legal field, I would've dumped retail a long time ago,”
“Well, we're happy to have you now.” He clinked his glass
against hers, then drank.
He tipped his head back, draining his glass, and Sasha
admired the hard line of his jaw, the soft line of his throat. His Adam's apple
rose and fell with each swallow. She licked her lips, sweet with the wine that
also warmed her cheeks. As he finished his drink, Malcolm motioned across the
“You'd think an office full of lawyers would know better.”
Somehow she'd missed the mistletoe hanging near the tree
when she'd canvassed the room earlier. Probably because everyone was sober
then. There were a few people who'd clearly indulged a little too much already,
even though the night was young. She watched as Jake, the cute mailroom guy,
locked lips with an office assistant.
“Do they have that every year?” she asked.
“Three or four now.”
“And no sexual harassment cases the Monday after?”
“I guess not. A few pissed off wives, though.” He gave her a
smile that seemed to say something more, but she couldn't figure out what.
She envied mailroom Jake a little. A bit of inebriated
action with a work crush that one or both of you might very well forget by
morning didn't sound too bad. She returned Malcolm's smile and wondered if he
could read the
in her expression.
He jumped like someone had pinched him.
“Sorry.” He reached into his jacket and pulled out his cell
phone. The smile that brightened his face moments ago faded. “It's a client.
Excuse me for one minute. But don't go anywhere, please. I'll be back.”
She liked that he said please. With a sigh, she turned back
to watch the action under the mistletoe. Some people avoided more passionate
displays; others took full advantage of the opportunity to release their pent
up sexual energy under the guise of innocent holiday fun. After a few minutes,
Malcolm was still missing in action and Sasha was beginning to feel conspicuous
standing there all alone with her empty glass. It wouldn't hurt to wander over
to the refreshment tables.
As soon as she had a mouthful of shrimp cocktail, a deep
voice sounded from behind her.
“Ms. Carlson. Very happy you could join us this evening.”
She whirled around, pressing a napkin to her lips, to face
Edwin Cathcart, one of the founding partners of the firm. She almost choked on
the shrimp when she saw his attire. His ample physique and silver hair had
always reminded her a little bit of Santa Claus, but the beard he'd been
growing for several weeks sealed the deal. The red Santa suit didn't hurt,
“Santa—I mean, Mr. Cathcart. I’m happy to be here. Having a
He snagged two fresh glasses of wine from a passing waiter
and handed her one. “Having an equally wonderful time working for us, I hope?”
“Yes, very much.” They chatted for a few minutes, then Mr.
Cathcart extended his hand.
“You wouldn't deny old Father Christmas a dance, would you?”
He wasn't drunk, and had been nothing but friendly and
polite, so she took his hand. He was surprisingly light on his feet, and a more
than competent dancer. Halfway through the song, he drew her a little closer.
Her pulse quickened. She didn't know what to expect next.
“I don't want to rush things, Ms. Carlson, but the word
around the office is that you are tenacious and hard working.”
She let out the breath she didn't realize she'd been
holding. She blamed Malcolm for planting thoughts of mistletoe and
inappropriate advances in her mind.
“In fact, you've been doing some of the best work we've seen
from any of our interns in a long time. It's early yet, and I can't make any
guarantees, but I certainly hope you'll consider us after you've graduated.”
Sasha couldn't believe her ears. Between her own rushing
blood and the music that was now fading, she wasn't sure if she'd heard him
“I—yes. Yes, I would like that very much,” she managed to
“Wonderful. Why don't you come see me first thing Monday and
we'll talk about our options.”
“Thank you, sir.”
He bid her goodnight and she turned around in a daze. Merry
Christmas to her! It wasn't a job offer, but it was close.
“There you are. I thought I told you not to move.”
She grinned at Malcolm and his smile widened in response.
“When the boss wants to dance, you dance.”
“It can't just be the old man's dancing that has you
grinning like a fool.”
She relayed the brief conversation, trying her best not to
sound too much like a schoolgirl who'd just been asked out by the hottest guy
on the football team.
“That's fantastic news,” Malcolm said. “And good to know the
boss hears us when we say things. You'd be a real asset to the office.”
She was sure she blushed.
“Well let's have it, you two. Don't stand there all night
staring at each other.”
Sasha turned toward the male voice. Jake, and the pretty
assistant he'd been kissing just minutes ago.
“We all did it. Your turn,” the young woman said.
Sasha didn't know what they were talking about. Malcolm
cleared his throat, drawing her attention back to him.
“It seems we've come across the mistletoe,” he said,
motioning to the sprig of greenery hanging a few feet above their heads.
He trailed his fingertips over her arm. “I'd hate to end up
in a report on the human resources desk come Monday.”
“It's only sexual harassment if it's unwanted contact.” And
she wouldn't mind a bit of contact with him at all. “Not if we're two
“Would it be okay if I kissed you, then?”
Sasha's breath caught low in her belly. “Yes. Quite.”
He cupped her chin, tilting it up to meet his lips. She
closed her eyes and surrendered to the gentle pressure of his mouth against
What on earth had she done to get on Santa's extra special
nice list this year? Whatever it was, she would try to replicate it next year.
He pulled away too soon. She stepped closer and stared up
into his eyes.
“That was nice,” she said. It was more than nice, but she
didn't want to sound overeager.
“I agree. Can we do it again?”
Something about the way he asked tickled the base of her
spine and flooded her face with warmth. She nodded.
This time he slid his hand to the back of her neck,
supporting her against the force of his kiss. Still gentle, but more urgent.
His tongue slipped past her lips and he tasted every inch of her mouth. She
wanted to open up and consume him completely, but the weight of several pairs
of eyes kept her desire in check. Just before she thought she might pass out,
he broke the connection and she gulped in a breath. They stood there a few more
seconds, bodies pressed together, mouths only a whisper apart.
“Well okay.” Jake's voice broke the spell. “That's how you
Sasha laughed nervously and swiped her thumb across
Malcolm's bottom lip to wipe away a lipstick smudge. He raked his fingers
through her hair, sending a pleasant chill over her scalp, before pulling away
and nodding toward the bar.
“Another drink?” He offered his elbow, which Sasha gladly
Once they were far enough away that their coworkers lost
interest, she squeezed his arm.
“I don't really want another drink,” she said. His mouth was
the only thing she wanted on hers. How she could still walk in her high heels
was beyond her. Her knees were weak.
Malcolm changed direction and led her through a side door
into a deserted hallway.
“What did you have in mind?”
His question caught her off guard. She thought it was pretty
obvious what she had in mind. She thought he was on the same page, but maybe
not. He didn't move to kiss her again.
Instead, he brushed her hair away from her face, tucking it
behind her ears. The caress of his fingertips over her cheeks and around her
ears released the shiver that had been building in her spine. A faint trace of
music from the banquet room carried into the hallway.
“How about a dance?” he asked.
She nodded and allowed herself to be drawn close to his
body. He fit her curves just so. His arm around her waist, her hip against his,
palms pressed together. They swayed to their own rhythm. She nuzzled against
the side of his neck, breathing in a faint spicy cologne. It was surreal. To be
dancing to barely audible music, in an empty hallway, with her work crush. Who
couldn't seem to get enough of her. He slid his hands up her back, over her
arms. Brushed his lips across her neck and shoulder, but didn't kiss her.
Combed his fingers through her hair, massaging her scalp.