I’m promoting releases for three anthologies and gearing up for the release of the HOTTEST free collection of the summer. A Taste of Submission has 12 authors with the first books in BDSM series, including The She-Wolf on the Twentieth Floor (Unbillable Hours #1) by my erotica pen name Ree L. Diehl and Replay Set 1 (Viking Raid, Triple Play, and Honour Bound) in my most popular series, set in the Replay BDSM theme resort offering historic cosplay with kink. OUT JUNE 11 – AUGUST 31, free on all platforms (Amazon will have to price-match, so keep watching until it’s $0.00).
And that’s not all. There’s a $50 Amazon gift card up for grabs, but you’ll have to go to the original post on Facebook and follow the instructions. Good luck!
Welcome to the lands of whips, chains, and ecstasy…and the first night is free. A Taste of Submission is a collection of first-in-series books from twelve of the hottest BDSM authors around. There’s domination, submission, pleasure, and punishment in every offering. Get a taste of each of their worlds and see if you’d like to stay awhile.
If you’re a fan of hot Doms and sexy subs, whether you like your BDSM dark or light, or you’re a fan of contemporary or sci-fi, there’s something here for everyone. And if you enjoy what you read, you can find the rest of the series at your favorite online bookseller.
A Taste of Submission introduces you to a dozen hot BDSM series by twelve amazing authors. USA Today and international bestsellers, Golden Flogger Award Nominees and Winners, and Amazon Bestsellers all giving you a taste of their best work. Best of all, it’s FREE, but it’s only available this summer!
A Taste of Submission comes out June 11, and you will be able to download it FREE everywhere you buy eBooks. But it goes away August 31, so get your copy as soon as you can.
Tag line: Two shifters must keep their fated mate safe when darkness threatens.
Blurb: When grad student Morgan Leviss chose sexual surrogacy for her thesis, she never expected to become one. Now she’s tasked with turning two reclusive men into social creatures. Zac Blackstone and Aiden Goldman are nothing like what she expects. Handsome and charming, they’re a puzzle she finds intriguing.
Zac and Aiden have known each other for over two hundred years. Part of a cadre of shifters, they’re on a mission to mate and procreate. Powerful warriors for centuries, they lack the social skills and sexual experience needed to attract a partner. When a beautiful redhead comes into their life to teach them, they discover new hope.
Bound by secrecy, the men can’t tell her who they really are. What they are. Increasingly drawn to Morgan, they begin to recognize her as their fated female. Convincing her that she’s theirs may be as hard as keeping her alive when danger appears from the shadows.
Morgan is the first in the Guarded HeartsSeries of standalone Erotic Paranormal Romance Ménage deftly penned as subtle Romantic Comedy with a heat level that’s off the charts. Written for Ages 18+.
First in the Guarded Hearts series of standalones (no previous reading required)
Cover Reveal September 1, 2019
Release Date October 19, 2019
EXCERPT (731 words):
Morgan was speechless. When scholarly, bespectacled Emmett had escorted her upstairs tonight, she never expected to be met at the door by two very naked and extremely well-endowed men.
Tonight’s session was supposed to be about discovery. Shedding clothes, honestly evaluating your body, discovering hidden strengths, discussing doubts, and finding ways to work through them.
These guys seemed to be doing just fine.
She picked her jaw up from the floor and forced her feet to move forward from where she’d been frozen in place, stunned by the sight of them. Zac might be older, but dear Lord, he was perfection, from the manscaped hair on his chest to the Adonis belt pointing the way to the promised land. Aiden could be a cover model, with his chest shaved and lightly oiled muscles gleaming in the glow of dozens of lit candles that were scattered around the room.
Jesus, take me now.
“Good evening, Morgan,” Aiden greeted her, his voice slightly roughened. “We have prepared ourselves for this evening as required for this session.”
They were both staring at her expectantly.
Leaving her coat and bag on her normal chair, she ran her palms nervously down her sides. “Yes.” She cleared her throat. “I can see that.”
They moved to stand beside the sofa. She sank into the recliner facing them. They looked so at ease with their nudity. As if it didn’t bother either of them that they were buck naked in front of each other. Morgan was having a hard time keeping her mind on track. An insidious little whisper in her head kept telling her to skip sessions. It was accompanied by images of sweating, thrusting bodies.
“Is something wrong?” Zac inquired when the silence stretched. “You seem… uncomfortable.”
Morgan blinked. “No. No. It’s just not how I planned it. I thought that we would talk first before you stripped. I wanted to discuss how you feel about your bodies and what you think are your individual strengths and weaknesses.”
“I don’t like my toes,” Zac said, squinting down at them. “They seem too…, I don’t know. Gnarly? Other than that, I am pleased with this vessel. It is that of a well-made, mature man who can handle whatever life brings him. Aiden tried to talk me into shaving my chest, but I read that some women find the tactile sensation of chest hair to be pleasing. What do you think about furbabies?”
Morgan forgot to breathe for a second. Furbabies? Was this leading into some Furries kink where everyone dressed up as cute animals? She couldn’t imagine either man dressed up in a bunny suit but she didn’t yet know their sexual tastes. After the spanking incident, anything was possible.
“I… um, like men with chest hair,” she admitted. “And you’re right. Some women do enjoy the sensation, especially against sensitive parts of their bodies. Your scruff…”
Zac arched a questioning brow.
Morgan felt her cheeks warm ten degrees. “Yes,” she croaked, wondering how in the hell she was going to talk herself out of this one. She’d been imagining how it would feel against her skin while she rode his mouth. “A soft beard can be very stimulating. An abrasive, prickly beard can hurt to the point of turning someone off, whether it’s kissing or oral stimulation.”
“Like cunnilingus?” Aiden asked.
“And fellatio,” she stated, her gaze caroming between the two of them. “When two men have a relationship with each other.”
“We wouldn’t know,” Zac told her. “We’ve never been with a woman to find out. Soon, though, we hope. We have been watching threesomes in porn to see how these things work.”
They wanted a threesome?
Oh. My. God.
Morgan’s thighs clenched together, her body reacting to the thought of having both of them between her legs. Christ. It was hard to not be aroused.
She had two naked virgins, eager for their first sexual experiences. This was supposed to be one on one when the time came, and they were already planning a threesome. Could she handle both of them? Should she even try?
Reality couldn’t be as good as the wet dreams she’d been having. Most mornings, she woke up needy and desperate and grateful for her roommate’s foresight to buy batteries ahead.
Includes IRRESISTIBLE – A RETELLING OF LEDA AND THE SWAN by Nia Farrell
Anthology Release Date September 13, 2019
WATCH THIS PAGE FOR UPDATES
IRRESISTIBLE – A RETELLING OF LEDA AND THE SWAN
by Nia Farrell
Length 17,522 words
Nia Farrell puts a fresh twist on an ancient legend in this erotic telling of Leda and the Swan. After years of barrenness, Leda, the Queen of Sparta, is visited by Zeus in the form of a swan. The god of the heavens promises to fulfill her heart’s desires if she will yield herself to him. Desperate to give her husband an heir, Leda agrees.
A month later, Leda is sick to the point of miscarrying. Divine intervention saves her, but she dreads the day that her husband King Tyndareus learns the truth. She’s actually pregnant with two sets of twins, one fathered by him and one by Zeus.
A divine swan. A god come down from the sky. Quadruplets who were born in eggs.
There are truths to be found in myth and legend if you open your mind to the possibilities.
Sizzling erotic sci-fi romance, written for Ages 18+.
The wounded swan landed on the bank with a thud to lie still and unmoving. Tears stung Leda’s eyes to see such a beautiful thing laid low. Injured, it was easy prey for hunters, animal or human. If it wasn’t already dead, the bird was doomed unless she could find a way to help it.
The swan’s head lifted and dropped. Relieved to see it, she released the breath that she’d been holding. It folded its wings against its body, adopting a protective pose. The blood on its back was plainly visible, but from this distance, she could not tell how deep its wounds went or what damage had been done.
She needed to be wise, though. This was a wild creature. The largest swan that she had ever seen was newly injured and in pain. If her intent to help was perceived as a threat, she could end up being hurt as well.
She started praying, silently chanting a hymn to Asclepius, petitioning the god of healing to guide her willing hands. When she walked out of the water, the swan turned its head and watched her approach with the same wariness that she was feeling.
“There, there,” she crooned, blanching when she saw how long the gashes looked. It’s a miracle that the bird wasn’t bleeding more. “Poor thing. I don’t know what I can do for you. We can try to find a place where you can stay until you’re strong enough to fly, but you’ll need to let me help you. Will you do that?”
To make herself less intimidating, Leda folded her legs and crawled to a spot that was well in sight but out of reach. Easing down to sit, she hummed and talked and crooned to the bird, doing everything in her power to show that she meant it no harm.
She wished that her harpist was here. Music could be profoundly soothing, instilling a sense of peace and promoting tranquility. Inspired, she started singing. Hymns to the gods and goddesses. Popular ballads. Children’s lullabies.
Miraculously, the swan began to move, drawn by the music. It inched closer … and closer yet, until its chest was by her upturned toes. Hoping to get a good look at its wounds, she slowly, carefully parted her legs. Before she had a chance to lean closer, the swan worked its way higher.
It didn’t stop until its breast was pressed against her chest and its head was on her shoulder with its bill buried in her hair.
She held herself perfectly still, wondering at what her efforts had wrought. The creature seemed unafraid. More than that, it seemed to take comfort from her presence, seeking shelter and finding it. The bird nestled itself against her body, initiating contact.
Tentatively lifting her hand, she petted its long, elegant neck.
The swan sighed.
Confused by what she’d thought that she heard, Leda froze.
If she had any doubts, the swan sighed again.
It pushed against her, digging in with its feet to force her back until she was flat on the ground with its full weight on her body.
She swore that she heard it groan.
Panic gripped her heart and clawed at her chest, sharp as an eagle’s talons.
The words echoed in her mind. She lay, unmoving, aware that she was part of some great mystery that had yet to be revealed, may the gods protect her from harm.
We will. I swear it.
More words, heard as clearly as if they had fallen from human lips.
The meaning was clear enough. She was in the presence of the divine—or so he wanted her to believe.
The swan stretched over her. Its weight pressed down on her, increasingly so. Its body lengthened. Its neck grew shorter. Feathers disappeared, replaced by warm skin and magnificently sculpted, decidedly masculine muscles. He kept his head to the side, denying her the sight of his face. A pair of perfectly chiseled lips skimmed her throat, sending a bolt of sexual energy like lightning to her core.
“Close your eyes to be safe,” he rasped against her ear, his voice thick with arousal. Flexing his hips, he let her feel the strength of his desire. “Know that your prayers have been heard. I am here to answer them.”
But who was he? What was he—this man with wings who had fallen from the sky?
“No man,” he answered, reading her mind. “But you know that, don’t you? I have told you what I am. Heaven-sent and wounded in your service. Even gods bleed, Queen of Sparta. Kiss away my hurt and I shall grant your heart’s desire.”
He was a god.
A deity come from Olympus in answer to her prayers. If she kissed away his hurt, her dearest wishes would be granted. Of late, she had asked for only two things—for her husband to return safely and for the gods to bless them with children.
Could she do this? Submit to a god to secure her husband’s throne?
After years of barrenness, she felt that she had no choice. Praying that Tyndareus would understand, she closed her eyes and submitted to the will of the gods.
He spread her legs and parted her folds with his crown. Surging upward, he wedged his length inside her like a forester’s maul, threatening to split her asunder with his girth.
Tears stung her eyes to feel him where no man save her husband had gone.
“Fear not, Queen of Sparta,” he crooned in her ear. “The mightiest of men must bow to the will of the gods.” Pulling back, he thrust again, driving deep enough to make her wince. “My priests will see that your husband does as well.”
Hips churning, he gathered speed until he was pounding into her, his rhythm as fierce as a war drum. “You are blessed among mortal women,” he swore. “My chosen vessel. I shall anoint thy womb and make it fruitful. Kiss me, mother of princes, and your husband shall have his heir.”
No matter what walk of life you are from, we are all perfectly imperfect beings of ourselves. We don’t need to be someone else’s image, we only need to be who we are.
Remember, you are the only person who can disappoint yourself. Others will try, but having the will and the want to stop the bullying where it starts is how you can beat a bully or end the violence.
The best way to stop violence and bullying is to think smarter and act brighter.
Proceeds from this anthology will go to National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Stand Your Ground includes
Independence Day by Nia Farrell and Damage Control by Ree L. Diehl.
by Nia Farrell
(historical novella that addresses domestic violence)
Length 23,077 words.
Fearing for her life, Becca West escaped her abusive husband and has been living under an assumed name. When the new sheriff comes to town, he knows that she’s not really Molly Malone. Truly widowed, Becca vows to never again be at a man’s mercy. Sheriff Donovan insists that marrying him is her best—possibly her only—chance of keeping custody of her boy when Billy’s rich, ruthless grandfather discovers where they are. What will a mother do to protect her son?
Independence Day is an erotic romance set in 1868 California. The heroine was inspired by the gut-wrenching true-life story of Anna Glud, who served as a drummer boy under General Grant. The fictional story includes post-rape PTSD and adult themes and may contain triggers. Written for Ages 18+.
INDEPENDENCE DAY Excerpt 1
As apprehensive as Molly had been when Sheriff Donovan first arrived, she was soon thanking her stars that he had come to Walnut Creek. He was firm but fair, enforcing statutes that the last sheriff had been lax on and making improvements to their community. Billy adored him. The sheriff had quickly, disturbingly grown on her as well.
So far, she had done her best to ignore it.
At night was the hardest. When her father was dying and insisted on seeing her safely settled before he met his end, she had honored his wishes and wed the man he picked for her. At fifteen years of age, she felt that she had no choice.
Grayson was kind in the beginning. Her wedding night was more than she could have hoped for, given his true nature, with a gentle deflowering and hours of passionate lovemaking. Despite the brutality that Grayson had descended into once her father was gone, she could remember when their marital bed harbored more than forced entries and sleepless nights.
Her body yearned for that again.
She ached for Matthew Donovan.
She could not let him know how he affected her. She longed to touch the shadow of his beard-stippled face at the end of the day and sooth the tension from his brow. The worst was remembering what he looked like naked. Two weeks after he came, he’d failed to lock the bathing room door. She had gone in to clean it…only to find him climbing out of the tub, water clinging to the mat of crisp curls that spanned his chest, thinned below it, and narrowed to a tempting trail that led to his manhood.
His body had stirred at the sight of her, while she watched, mesmerized. He had snatched the towel and covered himself, breaking the spell and sending her flying out the door, her cheeks as red as chili peppers and the heart of her womanhood pulsing with new awareness. It was as if a fire had been sparked inside her. Unable to extinguish it, she now struggled to keep it banked. If she allowed it to flare to life, she feared that it would consume her.
But there was no help for it. Marriage would reduce her to the status of chattel. She refused to put herself at a man’s mercy ever again, and no affair was worth the risk. She would lose her reputation, her livelihood, her home, and possibly her son. Should she be judged an unfit mother, the court would take Billy away.
She was doomed to live each day with the knowledge of what Matthew Donovan looked like naked, and a keen awareness that he shared that most intimate memory.
Things had been awkward between them ever since.
INDEPENDENCE DAY Excerpt 2
His hazel eyes were as serious as she’d ever seen them. “We can have a second ceremony in the Church when things settle, but we’re making it legal now. As soon as supper’s done, we’re paying the justice of the peace a visit. The only way to ensure that Francis West won’t get custody of Billy is for you to take a husband who can pass close inspection. I’m not perfect, Becca, but my reputation is as good as any man’s and better than most. Mr. West can look for dirt in Indiana or Kansas or California, but he won’t find anything on me. I’ve kept my nose clean and chosen my friends well. Being a lawman, you live a life of risk. Under other circumstances, I’d give you plenty of time to think about that. Once we’re married in the Church, that’s it for either of us. There’ll be no backing out. No divorce. I’ll go off to work each day, and you’ll be here, not knowing if I’m coming home in my boots or in a box.”
She paled at his words and the bleak picture that he’d painted with them.
He shoved five fingers into his hair and sadly shook his head. “Unfortunately, that will be our reality,” he said. “I’ve always hesitated to saddle someone with it. I wouldn’t now, but it can’t be helped. It’s the only sure way to keep you and Billy safe. But if we do this, I want us to be clear. I plan to be your husband, in every way.”
She felt her cheeks warm. A marriage had to be consummated to be legal. If they married, they would share a bed.
His brow knit with worry when she said nothing. “Some women who’ve survived what you did would rather die than be touched by a man. I’m hoping that you’re not one of them.”
She remembered him naked and felt her whole body go flush. “I don’t think so,” she whispered, blood thrumming in her veins to pool in her loins. “How can I know?”
“Well,” he said, “why don’t we start with a kiss and see if you can stand me when it’s done?”
“All right,” she croaked, already wondering what he would taste like.
“Let’s get your chair turned.” Taking hold of the seat from behind, he pulled her away from the table and turned her ninety degrees, so that she sat beside it. He put an empty chair next to hers but in the opposite direction, forming a makeshift courting bench. Folding his long body, he sat down, facing her, with their right hips nearly flush.
He inhaled deeply and exhaled, forcing himself to relax. His hazel gaze snagged hers with the look of a man facing a challenge that he was hopeful he would win.
The sheriff grinned crookedly. “It’s been a while for me, too,” he confessed, “but I think I remember how it’s done.”
Raising his right arm, he held her face in his hand, brushing her cheek with the pad of his thumb, letting her become accustomed to his touch. After a long minute, he reached to cup her head. Leaning forward, he gently pulled her to him.
They met in the middle.
He angled his head for perfect alignment and brushed his lips against hers. His breath smelled of whiskey and lemon, from one of the hard candies that he bought at the mercantile and kept for a treat. When she didn’t shy away, he grew bolder, pressing his lips fully to hers and holding them there, inhaling her breaths and letting her inhale his.
He pulled back his head and looked at her. Keeping her hands clasped tightly against her waist, she met his gaze, unflinching.
“Whiskey eyes,” he murmured. “I could drown in them, you know.”
Certain that they revealed the maelstrom that was wreaking havoc inside her, she was tempted to close them. It was all she could do to sit, trembling at his touch, bathed in the fire of his breath that threatened immolation.
She wondered, would she burn or rise like a phoenix from the ashes?
“Becca,” he whispered hoarsely. “I’m going to really kiss you now.”
Taking her head in both of his hands, he kissed her like a starving man. He consumed her, covering her mouth with his and feasting on it. His tongue came out, capricious at first, then deliberate, seeking her essence to claim for his own. After thoroughly tasting her lips, he urged them apart and delved inside.
She moaned from the feel of it, of him. Her curious fingers touched the faint shadow of his beard, delighting in their differences. Hard and soft. Masculine and feminine. Leashed power and burgeoning passion.
Sensing it, he groaned and pulled away. They stared at each other, motionless save for the rise and fall of their chests with each rapid breath. When the sheriff spoke, his voice was a delicious baritone rumble that echoed in her core.
“Well?” he managed. “What do you think?”
That she was mad to want him. Mad to marry him. She had vowed to never be at the mercy of a man.
She wished that he would kiss her again.
INDEPENDENCE DAY Excerpt 3
“I’m afraid that you’ll have to tell me what to do. Matthew, how do you want me? Where do you want me?”
He swallowed hard, his throat muscles working. Focused on him, she watched his Adam’s apple move above his cravat. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat. Tearing his gaze away from her lips, he looked towards her bed.
“Stand up and take off your dress for me.”
He offered his large, strong hands to help her off the floor. Staying close, she unbuttoned her cuffs and bodice, bent to catch the hem of her skirt, and pulled her dress over her head. Turning it right side out, she shook it straight and hung it back in her wardrobe.
Acutely aware of his gaze on her, watching, she untied the waist of her hoops and dropped them. They collapsed at her feet. Her two petticoats and corset cover were next to go, leaving her standing in her corset, shift, pantaloons, stockings, and shoes.
“Sit on the bed,” he rumbled, pushing himself to a stand. She watched, mesmerized, as he pulled off his frock coat and removed his vest. He reached for his belt buckle. She felt herself pale, remembering the bite of leather into her flesh. Noting her reaction, he tossed it aside. When he turned back, his lips were pressed tightly together and his brow was creased with concern.
“I’ll switch to suspenders,” he promised. “I never thought—”
“No!” she whispered. “Please. I need to get used to it, is all. I’ve managed with other things. I can do it with your belt, too, but it takes time. Just be patient with me, please.”
“You have my word, Becca. I’m a patient man. And in case you didn’t notice that day you came into the bathing room, I can control myself. Otherwise, I’d have pinned you against the door and taken you then and there.”
The husky timbre of his voice echoed in her core, triggering a primal response that left her swollen, wet, and aching with an emptiness that he would soon fill.
“You wanted me?”
He nodded slowly, his expression earnest. “I’ve wanted you since I first laid eyes on you again. Back in Jeffersonville, you were always a pretty thing, but you were young. Way too young. Next thing I knew, you were married. All I could do was watch from a distance and hope for the best. But when I walked into Harrell House and saw you again, all grown up…”
He pulled out his stickpin and untied his cravat. “I thought you were the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen. I still do.”
She knew that she was passably pretty. The way he looked at her almost made her believe that she was more than merely easy on the eyes.
His hands went to the front of his pants. His nimble fingers worked the buttons to open his fly. Beneath the fabric of his shirt and drawers, she could see the bulge of his erect manhood, rising straight against his belly.
She was no authority, but to her eyes, he seemed very well-endowed. Very. He was large enough, he would have to prepare her to receive him.
The prospect was both tantalizing and terrifying.
The sheriff’s very life depended on being observant. Tonight, with all of his attention focused on her, he saw everything. The rapid lift and fall of her chest with every corset-constrained breath. The night breeze that lifted the curtain and sent gooseflesh rippling across her skin. The uncertainty on her face when she wondered just how large he was and thought of his possession.
“I’ll go slow,” he said. Dropping his gaze to her secrets, he looked determined to uncover them all. “We’ll fit. You’ll see.”
by Ree L. Diehl
Length 18, 365 words. A BBW/billionaire workplace romance (a contemporary novella with workplace bullying and body shaming).
Curvy Isabella DeLorean knows what it’s like to be the butt of jokes but she has brains, talent, beauty, an irrepressible sense of humor, and a plus-size body that matches her big heart. Tough as steel and built for comfort, this DeLorean would love nothing more than to take her new boss for a ride.
Nicholas Wentworth III is CEO of the Wentworth’s department store chain. His newest sales clerk is so popular with customers, Bella wins Employee of the Month and all the perks that come with it—a sizeable bonus, a premium parking space, and dinner with CEO. Bella’s hot Italian-American blood thinks that a boss with benefits might just be what she needs. She’s already dealing with vicious coworkers, a shady manager, and office gossip. Accepting the award from Nick puts an even bigger target on her back. Someone’s aware of their mutual attraction. Someone who’ll stop at nothing to keep her and Nick apart. With Bella’s life in peril, can Nick find her stalker before it’s too late?
Damage Control is Ree L. Diehl’s first novella, her first BBW, and first romantic mystery. It’s a sizzling addition to the Stand Your Ground anti-bullying anthology.
DAMAGE CONTROL Excerpt:
Bella put the credit card printout with the cash register receipt and handed them to Lola.
The bride-to-be tucked them in her billfold. “I’ll give these to Vito when I get home. Thanks for all your help, doll. You’re the best.”
“Thank you, Lola. I wish you and Vito every joy.”
Glancing over, Bella saw Maria carrying Justinian on her hip. The way that he was gnawing on a finger, she wondered if a tooth was coming in.
She was so focused on her nephew that she didn’t see Ms. Cohen coming from the back with a spray bottle of perfume in her hand. “There,” she said, misting away. “Much better!”
For Ms. Cohen maybe, but not for Bella. One whiff and she felt her throat start to close. She stumbled to the chair just outside the lingerie display room, gasping for air.
“Someone get a doctor!” Maria yelled. Justinian burst into tears, wailing like a banshee. Lola called 911. “Bella, can you hear me? Do you have one of those shot things for allergies?”
Bella shook her head weakly. She had an inhaler if she started to wheeze. A runny nose and sinus headache were the norm. She’d never had a reaction this bad, with a fat tongue and dangerously constricted airways. Dear God, what if her throat swelled shut before help came? Not being able to breathe was the most frightening thing she’d ever experienced.
She felt dizzy. She couldn’t get enough air, and she was losing consciousness. Her eyelids closed, too heavy to keep open any longer.
“Hang in there, sweetie. Help is on the way. Stay with me, Bella. Stay with me. Come on, sweetheart. Stay with me.”
Strange, but Maria’s voice had changed to Mr. Wentworth’s.
Try as she might, she couldn’t force open her eyes. Couldn’t see him and couldn’t stay with him, as much as she wanted to. How ironic was it, to win a date with the man of her dreams and die before dinner?
“I agree. It is ironic.”
Bella stopped breathing again, but this time it wasn’t a medical emergency. She felt the sting of an IV in the back of her hand and heard the blip of monitors even before she opened her eyes and saw Nicholas Wentworth sitting by her hospital bed.
He looked exhausted.
She was pretty sure that she looked worse.
“Hi,” she croaked. “What are you doing here?”
He conjured a tired smile. “Checking on my Employee of the Month. Your mother tells me that you’re a fighter. She swears that you’ll be out of here in time for the presentation tomorrow night.”
Good lord. She’d lost a day? A day’s pay. No, two days. Yesterday and today and maybe tomorrow, depending on how soon they would let her go.
Bella burst into tears. “I’m s-sorry,” she keened. “It’s just—I can’t afford to miss work.”
“Workmen’s Comp,” he said, waving a dismissive hand. “Everything’s covered. Your pay. Your stay. This is a result of an incident while you were on the clock. Trust me when I say that everything will be taken care of. All you need to do is relax and recover. Lingerie will be waiting for you when the doctor releases you. Ms. Cohen, however, will not.”
Bracing his elbows on the arms of his chair, he clasped his hands and leaned toward her. “After your review yesterday morning, I started checking, comparing department profits and sales commissions paid. The figures showed a disturbing pattern. When I called Ms. Cohen to discuss my findings, I was told that she was busy with a medical emergency. Yours.”
He rubbed a hand across his face and smiled grimly. “Miss Chin—Qua—found your phone on the counter, still recording. She had me listen to it. Ms. Cohen was ready to let your sales go through another register. But what she did next was worse. Ms. Cohen knew that you had fragrance allergies. That’s why we put you in lingerie, in a part of the store farthest from the makeup and perfume counters. Yet she deliberately sprayed perfume without your permission, without bothering to ask if you were allergic to that brand. It was an unconscionable act, and I fired her. The search is on for a new lingerie department manager. HR recommends the one from our Charleston, South Carolina, location. Ms. Jackson—Evalynne—has an excellent record but she’s not fond of hurricanes and is looking to relocate.”
“Same job, new boss. I can handle it.” Truthfully, she was relieved to have a job to come back to, especially if it meant that she could catch a glimpse of Nicholas Wentworth III from time to time.
He smiled softly. “I’m certain you can.”
“I’m a DeLorean,” she quipped. “Tough as steel and built for comfort.”
It was one of her standing jokes when someone pointed out her weight. Bella groaned when she heard what had flown out of her mouth. “Forget I said that. Jesus, take me now.”
Mr. Wentworth chuckled. “Sorry, he’ll have to wait until I’m done with you. We have a presentation tomorrow night, and there’s still your Employee of the Month dinner with me. Your mother is looking forward to the first, and I,” he said, “am looking forward to the second.”
She looked for the signs, but he wasn’t joking.
She needed to make a major fashion statement. In her mind, she saw a basic black mermaid wrap with an asymmetrical draped bodice, crossing to one side and fastening at her waist.
“Two weeks,” she said. If they were going to do this, she wanted enough time to make the perfect dress.
“Good,” he said. “Good. You’ll be out of here and back to work. Speaking of which, I’d better get going. I have a conference call in an hour. I’m glad to see that you’re doing better, Miss DeLorean.”
That sounded so formal when she was sitting here with her ass hanging out of a hospital gown. “My family and friends call me Bella, Mr. Wentworth.”
Standing, he smoothed the creases from his suit pants and draped his matching jacket over his arm. “And my family and friends call me Nick. I’ll see you soon, Bella. Get some rest.”
She didn’t want to rest. She wanted to watch that fine specimen of manhood leave her hospital room and memorize how his bubble butt looked in motion. She wanted to bite it. Lick it. She wanted to bend over the bed and let the CEO of Wentworth’s own her every orifice.
God, what she wouldn’t give to have her vibrator right now.