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Authors: Cari Quinn


BOOK: ProvokeMe
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Provoke Me

Cari Quinn


Book two in the Unveiled series.


Sometimes extreme provocation can
lead to exactly what you need…


Kelly is focused on the bookstore
she manages.
Sex is relegated to a list of candidates on her PDA.
Only one man
pushes all her buttons―her boss.

Spencer is
determined to fight his desire for Kelly.
For years they’ve bumped heads over
the store they both love.
But there’s more than one reason a potential
relationship is too complicated.

When Kelly and Spencer unexpectedly meet up at a sex club, all the rules go out
the window.
Suddenly there’s only one way this match of wills can
end―naked, preferably all night long.
In this battle for sexual
supremacy, there are two winners—and two losers, when their stubbornness leads
to the very thing each dreads most.


Ellora’s Cave Publishing




Provoke Me


ISBN 9781419933653


Provoke Me Copyright © 2011 Cari Quinn


Edited by Jillian Bell

Cover art by Syneca


Electronic book publication June 2011


The terms Romantica® and Quickies® are registered trademarks of
Ellora’s Cave Publishing.


With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not
be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written
permission from the publisher, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.® 1056 Home
Avenue, Akron OH 44310-3502.


Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this
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This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons,
living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental.
characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.


The publisher and author(s) acknowledge the trademark status and
trademark ownership of all trademarks, service marks and word marks mentioned
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Provoke Me

Cari Quinn



To my mom, who thinks I’m a genius even when I’m so not.
to Taryn Elliott, who went above and beyond the CP call of duty by reading all
80K+ of this ms, twice, including the night before I submitted it.
I can’t wait
for the day you dedicate your first book to me!


Chapter One


Being called to the boss’s office was never a good thing.
Especially when said boss sat entirely too close to the doe-eyed pastry vixen
from the bookstore café.

But she wasn’t jealous.
Not in the slightest.

Kelly Crossman inhaled deeply and knocked on Spencer
Galvin’s partially open door, interrupting the Hallmark moment on the loveseat.
Spencer and Leigh stared at her silently.
Looking guilty as hell, the both of

“You wanted to see me, Spencer?” Kelly asked when her vocal
cords unfroze.

Had she just interrupted them on the verge of a clutch?
Forget verge.
Leigh had practically been in his lap and her graspy little hands
had been an inch away from his dark blond curls.

Petite and adorable, Leigh Cory was the kind of woman men
loved to fawn over to feel big, strong and capable.
Kelly had never figured
Spencer as the type to need that kind of ego stroking.

If he did, well, bully for him.
That would explain a lot
about why he’d never looked
She was as far from petite and
fawnlike as a sheep was from being sleek.
And God, she’d never felt more tall
and gawky and completely out of her element than she did right now.

“Yes, Ms.
Crossman, I did.
Come in.”

Everyone else in the store got the first name treatment, she
What did he call Leigh when they were alone?

Maybe he just groaned unintelligible words.
Who really needed
names then?

Wincing at that image, Kelly propped her hands on her hips
and strode into his office.
She’d be damned if she shrank away.
Not here, not
And for damn sure, not with him.

Not only was Spencer the big boss man, he’d been her crush
since oh, the moment she’d laid eyes on him.
The first time he’d argued with
her in that alpha male
I always know best
way she’d been in serious
lust, which probably proved the depth of her dysfunction.
But he never talked
down to her.
He just liked to poke holes in her ideas until they
resembled swiss cheese.

He was brilliant, ruthlessly so.
An amazing boss.
And his
ass was a thing of beauty.

She hooked her thumbs in her belt loops.
“Sure I’m not

“No.” He gritted out the word.
“You’re not.”

Kelly almost said,
Tell that to Doe Eyes
, who looked
as if she’d been socked in the stomach.
But somehow she held her tongue.

Leigh reluctantly slid away from Spencer and rose.
lifted her chin and shot Kelly a look that spoke volumes.

Hands off.

Kelly smiled again, this time icily.
As if she’d pay
attention to Leigh’s warnings.
She’d seen her type before.
They radiated that
hurt me, I’m so wittle and defenseless
vibe and then put out the minute
they were behind closed doors.

And wow, this one must be a method actress because her
cheeks even looked wet.
Had she actually been fake crying to get into Spencer’s

Maybe she should file that idea away for later.
whatever worked…

“Have a nice day, Lisa,” she said as Leigh booked for the

She always called Leigh the wrong name, helpless against her
urge to needle Little Miss Perfect.
Did she really think no one noticed the way
she simpered around Spencer?
He seemed immune to her attempts at flirtation, or
at least that’s what Kelly’d thought.

Then again, Leigh had just been in his arms.
A place Kelly
had never been.

Would never be.

She shook off that thought as the door closed behind Leigh.
She’d never be in his arms for lots of reasons, number one being they worked
Her job meant everything to her.
She wouldn’t jeopardize that for a
one-night stand.
Even if there were times she was sure she’d climb out of her
own skin if she couldn’t get her hands on him, she wouldn’t risk her position
in the store.
She had her priorities.

Spencer skirted his desk, giving her a glimpse of his toned
ass showcased in perfectly cut slacks.
Her mouth watered.

It didn’t hurt to look.

He sat in his captain’s chair and steepled his hands on his
stomach, a pose intended to radiate relaxed confidence.
Normally it might have.
But she’d become adept at reading him over the years and there was no mistaking
the deep lines of tension etched around his eyes.
She imagined those eyes
warming like hot coffee, steam rising in their hidden depths.
Scalding her if
she got too close, like she was now.
Here in his inner sanctum with another
woman’s fresh-cut-apple scent a tart tang in the air, she wanted more than ever
to push the limits between them.

They worked well together.
Mostly well.
They disagreed from
time to time, occasionally saw things differently.
The Book Nook was his life,
as it was hers.
When he was in town—as regional manager, he attended to The
Book Nook’s other stores in Maryland as well as the new stores they were
opening in Virginia and South Carolina—he was at work before sunup and remained
there long after closing.
Nights she made sure to work an extra shift, just in
case she’d get to tease him.
doing that.

And she’d never once seen him loosen his tie.

Then there were the other nights she stayed late, when he
wasn’t around.
One of them stood out in her mind in particular.
When he’d left
his office unlocked and she’d been alone in the store—and lonely.
Feeling more
than a little reckless.
Weeks later she still couldn’t believe she’d taken
things so far.
But exploring his office had led to imagining he was there with
her, and then exploring herself…

She’d kicked back in his chair and stretched out her legs,
rubbing her thighs against the supple leather.
His crisp aftershave permeated
the air and she’d reveled in it, spinning fantasies worthy of the sexy books
she read during breaks.
He’d left some paperwork on his blotter and though she
hadn’t snooped, his messy handwriting made her smile.
He wrote fast.
everything fast, from what she could tell.
She’d pictured him swiveling to talk
to her as he always did, except this time he flipped up her skirt to rub her
And then he guided her down on his waiting cock, her name spilling from
his lips.

Oh God, Kelly.”

By then she’d been on the loveseat, her fingers frantically
working her pussy.
She’d brought herself to the most spectacular orgasm ever.
All because of him.

She released a shaky breath and blinked the memory away.
one knew.
She’d just had some harmless fun.
Even so, she never did crazy stuff
like that.
But damn, had it felt good.

“Are you dating Leigh?” she blurted.

Are you fucking her?
Is she getting what I’ve never had
the guts to go after?

Lists on PDAs didn’t count.
She’d listed him as number ten
on her somewhat sophomoric list of men she wanted to have sex with as a whim,
not out of some misplaced belief she’d ever actually get her hands on his naked
But for a while, that list had given her, the girl once voted most likely
to be the last virgin at Middlemarch High, a way to level the playing field.
She didn’t have to wait for some guy to find her sexy.
Instead she could pick
her targets and go after them as methodically as some women charted caloric

She charted that too.
But her PDA was basically her diary
and she liked keeping a record of things.
Just call her sentimental.
But no
matter how many lists she put Spencer on, unless she changed her name to Profit
and Loss, he wasn’t interested.

Or so she’d believed until she’d seen him in a semi-clinch
with Leigh.
Now she wasn’t so sure.
Maybe she didn’t have him pegged at all.
Just because he was devoted to work didn’t mean he didn’t have sex.
He had
needs like everyone else.

And oh God, so did she.
She bit the inside of her cheek as
his gaze pierced hers.

“Absolutely not.
Leigh is my employee.”
As are you.
He didn’t voice the rest, but she heard the implication just the same.

Kelly lifted a shoulder, let it fall.
“When I came in here,
I assumed—”

“Assumptions are dangerous.
Didn’t anyone ever teach you

“What about a girlfriend?” she pressed, going for the gold
while she had the opening.
Her gaze dropped to his noticeably bare left hand.
“No wife,” she added, though she already knew he was single.

“I’m married to the store,” he said simply.

If he was surprised by her line of questioning, he didn’t
show it.
But that was Spencer.
Inscrutable, controlled, driven.
He wouldn’t be
flustered by a few pesky questions from one of his employees.

One of his much
He was a decade
older than she, and probably considered her about as complex as a tricycle.
Leigh was several years younger than she was.
So what did that mean?

He wouldn’t lie.
She might not know much when it came to the
inner workings of the man’s mind, but she knew that.
He’d never been anything
but honest in the three years she’d known him.
True, he tended to be pretty
But he wouldn’t shy away from a direct question.
If he said he
wasn’t dating Leigh, he wasn’t.

“Why did you ask to see me, Spencer?” she asked finally, the
silence beginning to unnerve her.

He rarely looked at her for more than an instant, but right
now those instants were piling up.
Her skin prickled under his attention and a
single drop of sweat slipped down the back of her knee, wending its way down to
her fashionably cheap clogs.

She wasn’t dressed in something cute and flirty like Leigh.
She didn’t
cute and flirty.
Well, maybe at the back of her closet,
along with her precious few going-out outfits.
But cute wasn’t her standard MO.
That was a hard look to pull off when you were almost five-ten in flats.

His hand dropped to his top drawer, still partially open.
His fingertips slid along the edge, drawing her gaze until she shook herself
out of the mental fog he seemed to invoke every time he was within spitting
“Unlike everyone else, you call me Spencer.
Not Mr.
Why is

She tried not to frown.
Why wouldn’t he get to the point?
She wasn’t called to his office very often.
Now he wanted to play guessing

“Leigh calls you Spencer.”
She also undresses you with
her eyes every time your very fine ass strolls past her café counter.
also calls you Spence,” she reminded him.
Marcia was the store manager and
Kelly’s immediate supervisor.

He waited.
Apparently Leigh and Marcia didn’t count.

She hissed out a breath.
He never strayed into personal
territory with her but she’d also never seen him this stilted.
“Because when we met, you told me to drop the formalities.”

“And you took my advice.” With a thin smile, he shut the
drawer with an audible
“Yet I’ve never even called you Kelly.”

“You can.
You should.
Isn’t The Book Nook’s spiel that we’re
all one big family?” Her palms were so wet that she scrubbed them on her cargo
“I love my job.
There’s nothing else as important to me.”

He tapped his thumb on his blotter, his gaze unwavering.
“Not even your extracurricular activities?”

“What extracurricular activities?
I fucking live and breathe
this store.
If you’re requiring more than that from me—”

BOOK: ProvokeMe
2.44Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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