Authors: Donina Lynn
Evernight Publishing ®
Copyright© 2015 Donina
Cover Artist: Jay Aheer
Editor: Brieanna Robertson
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
WARNING: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this
copyrighted work is illegal.
No part of
this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written
permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.
This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, and places are
fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or
persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Dedicated to everyone who has ever found love with someone who taught
them that what might be considered to be an imperfection to one is actually
perfection to another.
Copyright © 2015
“Cassandra, are you even listening to
me? What are you doing?”
Cassie Sorrelson cringed at her mother
using her full name. Any second, the usual lecture would come pouring out of
the speaker of her cell phone. “I’m sitting at a red light with my hands in the
correct o’clock positions and looking both ways before I cross.”
She glanced up through the windshield to
make sure the light hadn’t turned green and quickly applied her mascara in the rearview
mirror. Multi-tasking because she was royally running late was what she was
really doing. Her mother didn’t need to know that, though. That would just start
a whole other conversation and it was bad enough Cassie was about to get the
“you could have done something with your life” speech—for the hundredth time.
“Don’t be flippant, dear. Your father
and I just want you to be happy.”
Tossing the tube of mascara into her
bag, she pulled her hair up into a messy bun and checked her reflection. Not
bad for sleeping through her alarm and racing around her apartment to get out
the door. If the light would actually change, she might even have a shot at
being on time.
“Yes, Mom. I heard you, and I am happy.”
“No, you’re not. How could you be?
You’re twenty-five years old and you have no job, no husband, no kids, and no
prospects. You have so much potential. You are an intelligent, beautiful woman
and could have done something with your life.”
And there it was. Cassie hit the
accelerator and sighed. She really didn’t want to have this talk. It always
ended with her being more than frustrated and her mother in near tears, fearing
for her daughter’s future. Expectations were a bitch, and her parents had
plenty of them for her.
“Mom, I do have a job.” There was no way
in hell Cassie was going anywhere near the husband or kids topics. She steered
clear of them at all costs. They led straight into her obvious indecisiveness, fear
of commitment, and Cassie’s favorite—how her carefree attitude and inability to
settle down would only find her gray and alone. Not like talking about her
employment—or in her mother’s mind, the lack there of—was any safer, but she’d
take her chances. “In fact, I’m on my way to a new assignment now.”
“That is not a career. That’s something
to pass the time.”
Gripping the steering wheel tighter,
Cassie felt her patience slipping. “I like what I do. Why is that so hard for
you to accept? I don’t need or want some mundane position where I go to the
same place, look at the same faces, and do the same thing each and every day.
I’m happy right where I am.” It was the truth. Cassie liked the diversity that
went hand-in-hand with working for
. Every time she received a new assignment, she got the
rush of excitement with starting something new. Nothing ever got stale or
routine, simply because she was never at one place long enough for it to do so.
She was constantly meeting new people, learning new skills, and even at times
got the chance to travel and see new places. Which, she was lucky enough her
current assignment just so happened to offer.
She didn’t have much information other
than there’d been a request for a temp with the required background, and who could
leave on a business trip for three days. She didn’t have a clue where she was
going and didn’t care. As long as it had a beach, that is.
Cassie packed every bikini she owned,
hoping for some free time to relax, catch some sun, and have a little fun—preferably
with a toned, tanned, and tremendously hot man sporting a nice bulge in the front
of his swim trunks. In Cassie’s eyes, all work and no play wasn’t even an
option. And it had been a long time since she got to run around in a
playground. Six months to be exact. If she went any longer, she’d have to add
spinster to her name.
“Cassandra, I’m well aware of how you
think you’re happy, but at some point, you are going to have to realize there
is more to life than having no responsibilities and your freedom. The financial
security of having a steady income, the stability of having a home to call your
own, and a family to share it all with is what true happiness is about. Just
look at your father and me.”
Cassie resisted the urge to bang her
head against the steering wheel when she pulled into the parking space. Didn’t
matter what she said or how many times she said it, her mom would never really
hear her. There was no point in even trying. “Sorry, Mom. I don’t mean to cut
you short, but I’m here. Got to run. Love you.”
Hitting the end button on her cell, Cassie
turned off the engine and breathed out a sigh of relief. She loved her mother
and father, but they just never understood why Cassie couldn’t fit into the
life they’d carved out in their minds for her. Even young, she’d struggled
trying to make them see what had worked for them didn’t automatically mean it
would for her, too.
Struggled? Cassie smiled. It was more
like rebelled. She’d acted out, got in trouble, spoke her mind and, as she was
continuously told, was the sole reason why her mother had to start coloring her
hair to hide the grays at such an early age.
Little had changed other than now her
rebellious side took on a more independent, always keep your options open and
grab on to opportunities when they presented themselves type of tone. Who cared
if all her friends were getting married, having children, or had what most
would consider a career? All of that would fall into place eventually. For now,
Cassie was free to go where she wanted, do what she wanted and with whom she
wanted. Variety, change, and excitement were what she craved. Heaven forbid she
would ever settle down or—gasp—become boring. It wasn’t her. Never had been and,
honestly, she couldn’t imagine it ever would be. What she could imagine, however,
was her being unemployed if she didn’t get moving soon.
Leaving her luggage in the backseat to
retrieve later, she grabbed her bag and sprinted for the parking garage
elevator. Hitting the button for the floor the e-mailed instructions stated was
her destination, she rode up and anxiously tapped her foot, waiting for the
doors to open.
When they did, she immediately found
herself standing in a reception area for the headquarters of The Mountain’s
Peak, Inc., one of the largest outdoors and sporting equipment retailers in the
U.S. You couldn’t go to a city without finding one of their stores anchored to
a mall or popping up along the highway. By catering to anyone from the weekend
camping warrior to the extreme sporting enthusiast, they’d cornered the market.
They were large and in charge and Cassie would be working for the VP himself
for the next few days.
Checking her watch to confirm she was on
time, she walked over to the receptionist who was busy typing away at her
computer. The older woman glanced up and gave Cassie a warm smile. “Can I help
I’m supposed to report to the vice president. I’m with The Temporary Assistant
“Oh yes, he’s been expecting you.
Hold on one second. I’m Margaret, by the way.” The woman punched a key on a
desk phone and spoke into her earpiece. “Mr. Dayton, the temp you requested is
here.” There was a pause before she continued. “Yes, sir, I’ll send her right
back.” Margaret pressed another button and stood up to point in the direction
of a corridor on their left. “Okay, just go down the hall and at the very end
will be Mr. Dayton’s office. Go straight in, he’s waiting. Oh, and don’t let
his gruff attitude get to you. On the inside, he’s a decent and fair man.”
“Thanks, Margaret, I’ll try to remember
that. I’m Cassie, nice to meet you.”
After shaking the woman’s hand, Cassie
turned and headed down the hallway while silently replaying how Margaret had
said decent and fair. She would have much preferred hearing friendly, generous,
or even fun. Oh, how she hoped for some fun. If not, these three days might
turn out to be very long, indeed.
Getting to the VP’s office, Cassie read
the name in embossed letters on the door. Myles Dayton, Vice President. Why did
that sound familiar to her? Unable to come up with an answer, she shook off the
thought and let herself in only to find herself once again waiting as the man
behind the desk told someone on the other end of the phone to pull what he
wanted to say out of his ass and get to the point. Mr. Sunshine, he wasn’t. More
like broody and miserable, actually. Not that she could make herself care at
the moment, because lack of a pleasant disposition aside, the VP was one fine
piece of eye-candy. There was no doubt the man kept in shape. With chiseled
features, broad shoulders, a trim waist, and well-defined muscles outlined even
with his suit jacket on, he was damn near buff and, dare she think it…entirely
doable. Now there was a man she could enjoy working under.
Ending the call, he placed the phone on
his desk. Crystal blue eyes set off by jet black hair finally settled on her, causing
an instant memory of passionate lips, strong hands, her dress hiked up to her
waist, and the most regretful and humiliating evening she’d ever had.
Considering Cassie hardly ever regretted anything and nearly never got
embarrassed, that was saying something.
Hoping she was wrong and yet knowing she
wasn’t, Cassie hesitantly asked, “Milo?”