Authors: Marie Carnay
© 2016 by Marie Carnay. Cover and internal design © by Marie Carnay. Cover image copyright © Deposit Photos, 2016.
All rights reserved. The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.
The use of stock photo images in this e-book in no way imply that the models depicted personally endorse, condone, or engage in the fictional conduct depicted herein, expressly or by implication. The person(s) depicted are models and are used for illustrative purposes only.
This book is for sale to mature, adult audiences only. It contains sexually explicit situations and graphic language which may be considered offensive by some readers. Please store this e-book where it cannot be accessed by minors.
Two billionaire brothers, one feisty woman, and a media firestorm. Turn up the heat, this love is ready to ignite.
age and Holt
have a problem only good press can solve. When the brothers buy a struggling news network, they find the perfect woman to change their image. The only catch? Her sexy curves and spitfire personality spark way more than good press.
Jess spends her days tucked safely behind the scenes. When Gage and Holt demand she work for them—up close and personal—she’s forced way out of her comfort zone. She never expected to end up splashed on the front page or tangled up in the arms of two men.
The last time the brothers dated the same woman, it ended in disaster. Will the media torch this new love before it starts? Or will the brothers be the light Jess needs to shine?
is a standalone, steamy MFM romance novel.
I did it again
. Jess clambered up the subway stairs like a hurdler, sloshing coffee over her hand. It stung, but she didn’t have time to care. Busting out of the station and into the bright downtown sunshine, Jess winced as her eyes adjusted.
Her laptop bag bounced up and down on her hip as she ducked past a throng of business-types pouring into the nearest office building.
A woman in a power suit shouted into a phone a few steps ahead. “I told you, Bill, I need that story yesterday. Either deliver it by two, or it’s not on the morning broadcast.”
Jess recognized the voice. Vanessa Hawkins was one of the top reporters on News Network Today. She didn’t get there by playing nice.
With a deep breath, Jess let her hair fall across her face as she rushed past the woman. Thank God that wasn’t her.
It was bad enough to have set hours and a boss who checked in on the daily. As a reporter, she’d have to wear navy wool in the middle of an Atlanta summer and constantly jockey for position.
She would take her research job at NNT any day of the week. It might not come with a car allowance or fancy clothes, but faded jeans and a T-shirt suited Jess fine. She ducked inside the revolving door of the network as a man in front of her gave it a mighty shove.
The metal and glass groaned and creaked and spun her out into the lobby. Maybe she’d luck out and her boss wouldn’t notice her empty desk.
An elevator dinged, people piled on, and Jess squeezed in, hoping to go unnoticed.
The doors slid shut and Vanessa dashed her optimism. “Aren’t you late?”
She risked a sideways glance over her coffee cup and almost choked. How did reporters perfect that withering, give me your secrets, expression? Was it a natural gift? Did they practice for hours in the mirror?
“Just running behind. Did you have a good weekend?”
The coifed brunette rolled her eyes. “If you ever make it to the screen, you’ll realize this job doesn’t afford weekends, Jessica.”
The elevator doors opened and Jess rushed onto the reporting room floor without saying goodbye. She scurried past the reporters’ desks and fell into her seat in a cubicle in the corner. At least Harvey hadn’t seen her.
“What happened to turning over a new leaf?”
Jess smiled as her best friend slipped inside the partition and offered a weak excuse. “The power went out?”
“You used that one last week.” Wendy leaned on the edge of the desk, perfectly put together in a trim pencil skirt, crisp white blouse and heels. Even her nail polish gleamed bright pink and chip free.
Jess glanced at her bare nails. “My manicure ran long?"
Wendy shook her head and her blonde curls bounced around her face. “I’d go with the cat ate my bus pass.”
“I don’t have a cat.”
Jess stuck her tongue out and turned on the computer. They might be complete opposites, but Wendy always said the right thing. “You know you’re the main reason I’m still working here, right?"
“I thought it was the stellar coffee.” Wendy glanced at the contents of her mug with a scowl. “If Harvey catches you late again, he’ll send you to copy editing for a month.”
“I should pack now, then. I ran into Vanessa in the elevator.”
Wendy’s gasp was genuine. “Did she notice you?”
“Even had time to remind me how I’ll never steal her job. She’s probably ratting me out to the boss man as we speak.”
“It’s my fault. I was up early digging into city permitting and I lost track of time.”
Wendy set her mug on the desk. “Harvey told you to drop that months ago.”
Jess typed in her computer password and focused on the little bar moving across the screen. “I can’t. Someone in city planning is taking bribes. How else do you explain the sales and the condemned signs on that block?”
“The economy’s improving?”
“They’re the last historic homes in the whole neighborhood. They’re supposed to be protected. Something isn’t right, Wendy.”
“Then you should give it to a front-line reporter. Let Dwayne or Anderson follow leads. They’ve got sources in city politics. You don’t.”
“No one wants it. It isn’t sexy enough. Hell, it wouldn’t even make the website.” In a few clicks, Jess pulled up NNT's web page. A color photo of the MacIntosh brothers filled the page. “Instead, we’ve got this. When did we start stroking the egos of people like them?”
Wendy reached down and clicked Jess’s mouse to enlarge the picture. Her eyes roved over each man as she spoke. “They are handsome, aren’t they? Can’t say I mind opening my home page to this in the morning. Last I heard, they’re both single.”
Jess glanced back at the computer screen. “What does that matter?”
Wendy waggled her eyebrows. “I'd spend a night with the pair of them. You know their reputation.”
“I’m an opportunist.” Wendy straightened up and perched against the desk. “If you would loosen up and take the job Harvey keeps offering, you’d be one too. Think about the attention a reporting gig brings.”
Jess shuddered. The last thing she needed was extra attention. “Not a chance.”
“When was your last date?”
. Jess held up her hands. “No way. I know that look in your eyes. It always ends up with me out on some blind date with a jerk who insists on paying for dinner like that’s the ticket into my pants.”
“What’s wrong with that?”
“Dinner isn’t close to the cost of admission.”
Wendy pointed at the screen. “Then you should check them out. They can pay any entrance fee.”
Jess snorted. “Right. Like a pair of billionaires would ever give me a second glance.”
She turned back to their photo. Tall, handsome, just enough swagger. The MacIntosh brothers would be entertaining, sure. But Jess didn’t want a commitment. Relationships only led to disappointment and regret.
The floor intercom crackled to life. “Good morning. Emergency staff-wide meeting in five minutes. Main conference room. Everyone must attend. Thank you.”
The intercom clicked off and Jess turned to her best friend. “What the hell is that about?”
Jess jumped to the worst conclusion. “What if we’re closing?” There had been rumors for months. Their parent company, a major conglomerate owning everything from light bulbs to TV networks, had offered the network up for sale.
After a while, the office scuttlebutt focused on breaking up the television and internet divisions. The rumor of tabloid format even circulated around.
Jess swallowed a wave of panic. If NNT laid her off, how would she make rent or feed her imaginary cat? She didn’t earn enough to save. Hell, she barely made ends meet.
She should have taken a reporting job years ago just for the pay increase.
She glanced up at Wendy and the half-grimace on her face showed her unease. “Guess we’ll find out. Let’s go.”
Jess followed her clicking heels on silent sneakers. Of all the days to be called into a network-wide meeting, it had to be today. The tattered jeans and
I’d Rather Be Napping
T-shirt were the epitome of class and professionalism. She would probably be fired on the spot.
Tramping up the stairs behind Wendy, her steps grew heavier with each rise. NNT had to be shutting down. It was the only logical answer.
After pushing inside with the horde, Jess wedged herself against the wall. Over the years, she had become an expert at hiding in plain sight. It was what made her a good researcher, able to snag the best bargains in any store, and still single at twenty-six.
“Can I have your attention, please?” The head of the network, Mr. Bob Darlington stood at the front of the room. His black suit jacket hung open to reveal a yellow tie and a waistline that had steadily expanded over the four years he’d been in charge.
The crowd of employees quieted. Jess tucked herself closer to the wall.
“Thank you all for coming on such short notice. I am here this morning to make an important announcement regarding the future of News Network Today.”
Here we go.
Jess ran her fingernail over the pad of her thumb as Mr. Darlington talked. She hated the way people sugarcoated bad news.
Just get on with it.
“As everyone is aware, the network has been searching for a buyer. Today, we are no longer for sale.”
She was about to be fired.
The whole room would be fired. Randy in accounting who hand delivered her check on paydays. Michelle in custodial services who always rinsed the floors twice so no one fell. Wendy.
Jess closed her eyes.
“It’s with great pleasure that I introduce to you this morning the new owners of NNT, Gage and Holt MacIntosh!”
That’s it. It’s over. Wait… What?
She blinked as whispers rushed through the crowd like newspapers in a fan.
It can’t be. He’s serious?
Jess’s mouth fell open as the door behind Darlington opened and the two most eligible bachelors in the country walked into the room.
Oh my God.
Wendy was right. They weren’t just billionaires. They were sexy as sin. Gage, the older brother, stepped up to Darlington first and shook his hand. Buzzed haircut, perfect posture, commanding presence.
His dark gray suit had to cost more than her apartment for a year. And that pale pink shirt open at the collar? Higher thread-count than any sheets she could afford.
Gage shook Darlington’s hand and stepped to the side as his younger brother came forward. Where Gage was tall and composed, Holt was solid and wild. Moppy black hair fell across his forehead. Day-old stubble coated his jaw. Even his three-piece suit said
I’ve been partying all night, aren’t you jealous?
The MacIntosh brothers had more money than they could spend in a lifetime. They could buy anything. But why a struggling news network?
Their fortunes were in real estate. New York real estate, to be exact. Buying a TV network headquartered in Atlanta made little sense.
Jess crossed her arms and leaned back on the wall with a frown. They were up to something.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for coming this morning. I’ll keep this brief.” Gage MacIntosh surveyed the room, his eyes lighting on this reporter and that copy editor. It was a trick she’d seen used so many times before. Good public speakers always made eye contact to induce buy-in.
Gage was no exception. “My brother and I have purchased NNT to make it great again. We have no intention of shutting it down or turning it into a tabloid like other prospective buyers.”
Turning to the left, the eldest MacIntosh brother scanned the crowd as he talked, making eye contact and moving on. His gaze landed smack on Jess and he lingered.
Do I have something stuck on my face? A coffee stain on my shirt?
She raised an eyebrow and he smiled.
“To bring back the glory of the NNT, we’ll need your help. Effective immediately.” He kept looking at her and Jess didn’t know what to do.
The more they stared at each other, the more Gage MacIntosh’s grin grew. He wasn’t just checking her out, he was ogling.
Hadn’t he ever seen a sloppy ponytail and a faded T-shirt? Her threadbare jeans and crossed arms weren’t anything special.
Is he undercover Superman? Does he have X-ray vision?
God, she hoped not. Otherwise, he was getting an eyeful of granny panties and a clearance rack bra.
As Gage ceded the floor to his brother, Jess tried to concentrate, but his stare had her flummoxed. Men didn’t get under her skin. Fun on occasion, never more. Take it or leave it, she’d always said.
Color rose up her cheeks and he quirked a brow.
Damn it. Definitely X-ray vision.
The employees burst into applause over something his brother said and Jess did the sensible thing. She bolted for the door.