Authors: Ember Casey
Tags: #family saga, #romantic comedy, #contemporary romance, #steamy romance, #new adult, #damaged hero, #billionaire romance, #alpha billionaire, #billionaire hero, #romantic bet, #alpha billionaire romance, #romantic games, #sexy damaged hero
By Ember Casey
Copyright 2013 Ember Casey
Smashwords Edition, License Notes
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment
only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people.
If you would like to share this book with another person, please
purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading
this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your
use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your
own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this
All 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 except for the use of
brief quotations in a book review.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters,
businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of
the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any
resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is
, used under license.
You can contact Ember at [email protected]
I’m elbows-deep in invoices when a shadow
falls across my desk.
“Just a minute, Dad,” I say without looking
up. My pen scratches across the paper, slashing through the numbers
I spent all morning typing up. “Leda Collins called and changed her
head count again. Now she needs twelve round tables and ten extra
chairs. I told her there’d be a rush charge on the additional
linens, but she said she was fine with that.”
I push a loose strand of hair behind my ear.
I’ve been staring at this latest batch of invoices for so long that
my eyes are starting to cross.
“Have you heard from the Robinsons?” I
continue, turning to my computer. “They were supposed to call and
confirm for the twenty-eighth. And we should probably figure out
when we’re doing the summer gallery show next year. I already have
a bride who wants to use us for her reception in—”
A hand grasps me firmly by the chin and tilts
my face up. Suddenly I’m staring into a pair of dark, intoxicating
eyes, and my breath hitches in my throat.
“What’s this?” says a deep, familiar voice.
“Have you forgotten about something?”
Even now, weeks after I broke onto his
family’s estate, the sight of Calder Cunningham still makes my
stomach flip-flop. He’s looking extra sexy right now, the broad
line of his shoulders accentuated by his navy suit, his hair
curling deliciously around his ears, the corner of his perfect lips
curled up in amusement. But if he’s here, that can only mean one
“Shit!” I say, pulling out of his grip. I
scrabble around on the desk, looking for my cell, but I already
know what the time will say. When I do find the phone, buried
beneath a file of class registration forms, the screen reads
Shit. Shit shit shit.
“I swear, the last time I glanced at the time
it was three o’clock.” I dart around the desk, looking frantically
for my bag. If I hurry, if I leave my hair up and go light on the
Calder catches me as I try to sweep past him
and draws me toward him. The motion pulls me off-balance, and I
fall against his chest, my hands clutching at the smooth lapels of
his jacket and my nose brushing the crook of his neck. I freeze,
and he loops his arms around my waist and holds me there. He smells
faintly of soap and, beneath that, his own intoxicating scent. I
take a deep breath, breathing him in. It’s been too long since I’ve
seen him, too long since he’s held me like this in his arms.
Okay, it’s only been three weeks. Three weeks
since Calder chased me through the hedge maze on his former estate.
Three weeks since I’ve had him in front of me, close enough to
touch. Three weeks since his fingers skimmed across my bare skin,
as they’re dancing over my neck right now. Those three weeks might
as well have been a lifetime, as badly as I’ve missed him.
But of course, screwup that I am, I lose
track of time on the day of our first real date.
“I’m so sorry,” I say. “I swear, I—”
He silences me with his lips. His mouth is
gentle at first, hesitant, like he’s uncertain how I’ll respond
after our time apart. Like he’s forgotten how natural, how
our bodies feel against each other. But the minute his
lips touch mine, my entire body comes alive. Goose bumps ripple
across my flesh, chasing the waves of heat that rush just beneath
the surface of my skin. I let out a small moan, and whatever doubts
Calder had seem to disappear.
He yanks me against his body, crushing me to
his hard chest. His mouth moves hungrily, desperately, against my
own, and mine meets his with equal passion. I revel in the taste of
him, eager to drink it all in.
Damn, I missed this.
He’s backing me up against my desk now, and I
don’t protest when he pushes me down on top of it. Something falls
to the floor beside us. My files? The invoices? Honestly, I don’t
care. One of Calder’s hands moves around the small of my back while
the other winds in my hair, his fingers twisting and pulling at the
strands. He leans over me, nudging my thighs apart so he can press
nearer. There’s a clatter as something else tumbles off the desk.
Something big this time—probably that dinosaur of a three-hole
punch we’ve had since this place opened.
There’s no way Dad didn’t hear that.
I push Calder off of me and sit up, grabbing
him by the tie even as my dad’s voice floats in from the next room.
“Lily? Are you all right?”
“I’m fine! It’s nothing!” I tug Calder around
the desk and shove him down onto the floor. He’s too surprised to
resist or argue, and I pray that he catches the warning in my
glare. I’m just bending to pick up the three-hole punch when Dad
appears in the doorway.
“Is everything okay, honey?”
“Yeah,” I say, waving the beast of a gadget
at him. “Just knocked a couple of things off my desk.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I see Calder
raise his eyebrows in surprise. I give him a small kick, hoping he
gets the hint.
Dad is looking curiously at me, and I realize
suddenly how disheveled I must appear. My hands skim over my shirt,
my skirt. And—
“It’s been a rough day,” I say, trying to
brush it off, hoping against hope that my face isn’t as red as it
Crap, are my lips swollen?
But my dad either doesn’t notice or chooses
not to see.
“That Collins woman again?” he says. “She’s
been a real trip.”
I nod. “Called and changed her numbers again.
Calder is touching me. His fingers are
sliding up my leg—softly, slowly, sending shivers all the way up my
thigh. I clear my throat and try to shift away from him, but his
“I—I redid the invoices,” I manage,
indicating the papers that are still on the floor. Calder’s hand
has slipped beneath the hem of my skirt now, and it’s slowly
inching its way upward. His breath is warm against my ankle. When I
try to gently nudge his face away, he nips at my skin and flicks
his tongue sensually along the back of my leg. I try not to
“How many do they have coming?” Dad asks.
It’s hard to remember the number with
Calder’s mouth teasing my ankle and his fingers caressing my thigh.
“Two hundred and twelve, I think?”
Dad whistles. “A big one.”
“We need it.” I lean forward and grip the
desk, trying to keep my face blank. Calder’s ever-climbing hand is
now tickling my strategically closed thighs, trying to force me to
part them. In spite of the situation, my body reacts instinctively
to the touch. Heat pools in my lower belly, a contrast to the
panicked lump in my throat. I’m having trouble breathing normally,
and my face and neck feel warmer with every passing second. I
swear, if my dad finds out about us like this, Calder’s going to
get it. And by “it” I don’t mean the prize he’s currently seeking
between my legs.
I shift again, and this time I feel my heel
connect with Calder’s cheek. He sucks in a breath, and I cough to
cover up the sound.
Dad’s frowning. Great, he must have
But no—he’s shaking his head. “Didn’t you
have dinner plans with a friend?”
“Yes. Yes I do.” I smile. “I was just about
Dad’s smiling again. “Good. You’ve been
working too much these past few weeks.”
“I could say the same of you.”
It’s true, but if I’m being honest, Dad looks
the best he has in months. When the Frazer Center for the Arts was
on the brink of closing, he was a mess. I’ve never seen him look so
old, so tired, so haggard. But now he might be a decade younger.
He’s smiling more—laughing, even—and, as cheesy as it sounds, the
sparkle is back in his eyes. We’re not completely out of danger
yet, but we’re moving steadily in the right direction, and that
positive energy has been enough to make Dad excited about this
“Well, I’ll leave you to it,” he says. “You
have fun tonight, honey.”
No sooner has he turned away than Calder
grabs my hand and yanks me down beside him—or, more accurately, on
top of him. I squirm as he wraps his arms around me, holding me
was an interesting welcome,” he
murmurs against my hair. “First you forget about our date—”
,” I insist. “I just
got caught up in—”
“And then you hide me from your father like
we’re in high school or something.” His arms tighten around my
waist. “Are you embarrassed by me?”
“No! Of course not! I just haven’t told Dad
about you yet. He’s not—I mean, I don’t think he
or anything, but he…” I try to wriggle out of his grasp, but
instead he flips me over so that I’m beneath him. His face looms
over mine, but I don’t get a chance to read his expression before
he dips his head and nuzzles my neck.
“You mean he won’t exactly be happy to know
you’re dating the guy who almost brought this place down around
your ears,” he murmurs before attacking my throat with his
I nod, too distracted by the thing he’s doing
with his tongue to answer immediately. When I agreed to let Calder
pick me up at work, I’d planned to meet him outside.
“Plus,” I manage after a minute, “he’s going
to wonder how it came about, and I never exactly told him the truth
about that weekend.” Ah, yes—those three days I spent trapped in
the Cunningham mansion playing cat-and-mouse with Calder, letting
him tease me and taunt me and give me the most intense sex I’ve
ever had in my life. Even now I shiver at the memory.
But it’s not exactly something you tell your
dad. Especially when the sex god in question is the person
responsible for the near-ruin of his nonprofit arts center. And
that’s exactly what makes our current position on the floor of my
office especially compromising.
But Calder has noticed my body’s reaction,
and he’s not about to let this opportunity slip out of his
“What, you don’t want your father to know
what dirty, dirty things you’ve done?” he whispers against my
throat. He grabs my skirt and begins tugging the fabric up toward
“Calder!” I rasp, batting at his hands. “Not
He ignores me. His fingers slide up the backs
of my bare thighs, moving to the lacy edge of my panties.
“Calder…” This time it doesn’t sound like
much of a warning. God, when did I lose complete control over my
His hand slips beneath the thin fabric of my
underwear and skims across my bare ass. I writhe against him, but
my attempts to get away only backfire, judging by the bulge I feel
in his pants. He starts to pull my panties down my legs. If I don’t
do anything quickly, he’s going to have me right here on the floor
of my office.
Not that my body seems to mind the idea. I’m
trembling, aching for that touch I’ve missed these past weeks. When
he slips his fingers between my legs, I just about lose it.