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Authors: Meghan O'Brien

Thirteen Hours

BOOK: Thirteen Hours
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THIRTEEN HOURS

© 2008
B
Y
M
EGHAN
O’B
RIEN.
A
LL
R
IGHTS
R
ESERVED.

ISBN 10: 1-60282-014-7

ISBN 13: 978-1-60282-014-2

T
HIS
T
RADE
P
APERBACK
O
RIGINAL
I
S
P
UBLISHED
B
Y

B
OLD
S
TROKES
B
OOKS
, I
NC
.

N
EW
Y
ORK,
USA

F
IRST
E
DITION:
M
AY
2008

THIS IS A WORK OF FICTION. NAMES, CHARACTERS, PLACES, AND INCIDENTS ARE THE PRODUCT OF THE AUTHOR’S IMAGINATION OR ARE USED FICTITIOUSLY. ANY RESEMBLANCE TO ACTUAL PERSONS, LIVING OR DEAD, BUSINESS ESTABLISHMENTS, EVENTS, OR LOCALES IS ENTIRELY COINCIDENTAL.

THIS BOOK, OR PARTS THEREOF, MAY NOT BE REPRODUCED IN ANY FORM WITHOUT PERMISSION.

C
REDITS

E
DITORS:
J
ENNIFER
K
NIGHT AND
S
TACIA
S
EAMAN

P
RODUCTION
D
ESIGN
: S
TACIA
S
EAMAN

C
OVER
D
ESIGN
B
Y
S
HERI
(
GRAPHICARTIST
2020@
HOTMAIL
.
COM
)

Acknowledgments

First and foremost, I would like to thank Radclyffe for the opportunity to join the Bold Strokes team. I’ve received such a warm welcome, and the future looks bright. I would also like to thank Jennifer Knight for lending her mad editing skills to another of my novels. Each time we work together I learn so much, and I’m forever grateful for this continued education. I’d also like to thank Stacia Seaman for finding all my boo-boos and helping to make this book the best it can be. And as always, I need to recognize K.E. Lane for her constant willingness to read my work and offer thoughtful suggestions.

On a personal note, I want to thank my partner Angie for her unwavering support. I know it’s not easy to be a single mother when I’m busy writing and/or editing, and I appreciate you giving me time away from being mommy so I can work. Thanks also to Ty, who has encouraged me from the beginning and always has good advice when I need it. And a hearty thank you to my sister Kathleen, for always being there.

And last but certainly not least, I want to thank my parents. I’ve felt strange about acknowledging them in the past, but only because it makes me uneasy to think of them reading my steamier scenes, and not because they don’t deserve it. They have offered me incredible support and always take interest in my writing, whether I want them to or not! (Just kidding). Mom and Dad, I love you, and thanks for being the best parents in the world. And please, for the love of all that is good, don’t read this book!

Dedication

To Angie. I love you.

H
OUR
Z
ERO

A
t approximately seven o’clock on the evening of her twentyeighth birthday, during an otherwise uneventful Friday night at the office, Dana Watts was confronted by the most perfect pair of naked female breasts she had ever seen. Given that her real-life exposure to naked female breasts had, until that moment, been limited to the odd glance in the locker room at the gym and, when she was twelve years old, a rather uncomfortable glimpse of her grandmother dressing in her bedroom with the door ajar, this was perhaps not saying a lot.

The breasts in question were attached to a half-naked stripper who landed on her lap and began gyrating in time with some godawful, bass-heavy music that blasted from an iPod now sitting on Dana’s desk.

Unable to move with the woman’s weight across her thighs, uncertain about what to do with her hands, Dana could only sit and stare at the rosy-tipped breasts that swayed in front of her face.

They were perfect, and for a crazy moment she forgot about the proposal she was supposed to be drafting and considered reaching up to cup them in her hands. But Dana wasn’t the irresponsible type, and she certainly wasn’t the kind of woman who went around feeling up strippers. Humiliated by her impulse, she felt hot anger surge through her body. Her proposal was far more important than whatever cheap thrill this woman thought she was offering.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Dana snapped. “Stand up and turn off that music. Now.”

The dark-haired stripper grinned, rocking against her body. “I’m your birthday present.” She reached down and grasped Dana’s hand, bringing it up to rest on one of her perfect breasts. “Enjoy me,” she whispered hotly in her ear.

Dana’s fingers curled automatically at the sensation of an erect nipple poking into the center of her palm. Exhaling through her nose, she repeated, “Turn off the music. Don’t make me ask you again.”

The stripper stared at her, still straddling her thighs. She raised an elegant eyebrow. “You don’t seem totally disinterested.”

Dana willed her face not to color in embarrassment. “Just get off my lap. Put your shirt on, for God’s sake.”

Her tone was harsher than she’d intended. Being so close to so much bare skin made her anxious, and she was determined to show control. Someone was responsible for this, some idiot coworker who would live to regret this stunt.

Thankfully, the stripper seemed to understand she wasn’t kidding.

She stood and backed away from the chair. As she bent to fish her Tshirt from the backpack she’d dropped on the floor, Dana tried not to let her gaze stray to the woman’s bottom. She failed miserably.

The stripper grinned over her shoulder as she straightened up.

“See something you like?”

“I’m just wondering how you made it in here without getting arrested for solicitation,” Dana shot back as her unwelcome visitor pulled on a form-fitting T-shirt and torn, low-slung blue jeans. “You certainly look the part. Is the trashy outfit a stripper thing or just your own personal preference?”

In truth, the young woman looked lovely. The barest hint of black panties rose above the waistband of her jeans. In her hand was the lacy black bra she’d cast aside when she dropped onto Dana’s lap. Her nipples strained against the cotton of her T-shirt.

“Scott was right,” said the envoy from Slut City. “You do need to loosen up.”

And suddenly it all makes sense
. “Scott put you up to this,” Dana said without humor. “Of course.”

“Of course. But he didn’t warn me you’d be such a bitch. What’s your problem? Are you scared of naked women or something?”

Dana regarded the woman coolly. “Maybe I’m scared of what I might catch with you squirming around on my lap like that.”

The stripper’s eyes flashed. “Fuck you. I’m leaving. Happy birthday, and go to hell.” She snatched up her iPod from Dana’s desk, shouldered her backpack, and half turned to stalk out of the office.

Dana stood up and grabbed her by the elbow. “I’ll escort you out.”

She wasn’t about to let a total stranger, an interloper in her domain, wander the hallways alone.
Then I’ll call Scott and bitch at him for ruining a perfectly productive evening with his stupid little stunt.

The woman pulled away, eyes burning. “Don’t bother. I found my way in, so I’m sure I can manage to find my way out.”

“It wasn’t an offer,” Dana said. “I’m taking you downstairs. I don’t know how you managed to get into the building after hours, but you shouldn’t even be here.”

As she marched the stripper across the room, the woman complained, “You’re a lot of fun. What’s got you so uptight? Wait, let me guess—you haven’t gotten laid in about five years?”

Dana didn’t rise to the baiting, taking giant strides to the elevator down the hall from her office. The lights were dimmed in the hallway, a testament to her solitude in the building. Everyone else had left much earlier to begin their weekends at home. To Dana, home was intolerably boring compared to work. There was nowhere she would rather be than right here, at Boynton Software Solutions, indulging herself in her passion. Project management.

She stopped in front of the elevator and jabbed at the call button.

Incredibly, the stripper hadn’t given up. Bumping Dana with a playful shoulder, she said, “If I gave you a pity fuck, do you think you could manage a smile?”

“Getting laid isn’t as high a priority for me as it apparently is for you,” Dana said. “What makes me happy is having a great job. You know, like the one you interrupted me doing tonight.”

“Yeah, it looked fascinating.”

Dana ignored the sarcastic comeback and stared up at the display.

How long did it take for the car to crawl from the lobby to the twentyninth floor? Was it incredibly slow tonight, or was she just incredibly angry? Indulging herself in some tit for tat, she remarked, “I wouldn’t expect a girl who takes off her clothes for money to understand the pleasure that comes from being successful.”

“And I wouldn’t expect a cold bitch like you to understand what’s really important in life.”

Dana snorted. “What? Having some cheap stripper shake her tits in my face?”

The elevator doors slid open in time to avoid further conversation.

Dana stepped inside, dragging the woman with her, and pressed the button for the lobby.

As the doors slid shut in front of them, the stripper muttered, “You looked like you were enjoying my tits until you remembered that you might be stripped of your Ice Queen title.”

Dana spun her head around, a denial on her lips, when the lights flickered and then blinked out, and the elevator shuddered to a halt.

The sudden motion threw them both forward a step, and Dana brought her arms around the other woman instinctively, preventing her from tumbling to the ground. For a moment, the elevator was pitch black, then the dim emergency lights activated and flooded the car with gentle light. After a beat, they both looked at the elevator door and the rows of buttons next to it.

The woman in Dana’s arms stared up at her with wide blue eyes.

“No way,” she whispered.

Shocked into action, Dana released her and took a step toward the door. She shook her head. “Everything’s fine. We’ll just push the emergency button.” She examined the controls, searching for the one that would get them out of their unlikely prison the fastest.

“Are we…stuck in here?”

Dana shook her head. “No. There is no way I’m getting stuck in an elevator with a goddamn stripper when I’m in the middle of my goddamn proposal.”

“Your proposal?” The stripper looked incredulous. “You’re trapped in an elevator on your birthday, on Friday night, and you’re worried about a proposal?”

Dana chewed on her lip, pushing each button on the panel in succession. None lit up, and none seemed to trigger an emergency failsafe.

“It’s an important proposal.”

“Oh, man. Stuck in an elevator, and it has to be with the most boring woman alive.”

Having tried the last button, Dana slammed the heel of her hand against the elevator door. “Fuck! We can’t actually be stuck in this thing.”

“Someone will notice us, right? They’ll get us out of here.”

“Eventually, but everyone’s already gone for the weekend.” Dana couldn’t believe she’d stepped away from her desk without her cell phone. They were probably going to be incarcerated here until Rocky, the security guard, arrived at seven or eight tomorrow morning.

“Eventually?” the stripper screeched. “No
fucking
way I’m going to sit in this elevator all night. With
you
.”

Dana winced at the shrill put-down. “You think I’m happy? This never would have happened if you hadn’t bothered me with your stupid lap dance—”

“Hey, I was just doing my
job
,” the girl retorted. “You know, the one
your
friend hired me to do? If you’re pissed off, take it out on him. Not me.” She moved as far away from Dana as she could, facing the back of the elevator car and folding her arms across her chest.

BOOK: Thirteen Hours
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