In the Boss's Bed (Harlequin Blaze)

Hot for the boss...

Maya Connor was already embarrassed after a dare—and a shot of vodka—resulted in one seriously sexy kiss with an even sexier stranger. She had no idea that the man she made out with was hotel magnate and reputed playboy Jamie Sellers. Or that she would soon be working for him...

Maya won’t let anything get in the way of her ambition. And she’s determined to be taken seriously as she begins her career—and not give in to the heat that’s constantly driving her to distraction.
Lust, that’s all it is
. The more Maya and Jamie ignore it, the stronger it gets. But ending up in the boss’s bed won’t just be Maya’s wickedest fantasies come to life...it’ll be the end of her dreams.

“I should go...”

Jamie turned to Maya, brow furrowed. “Why?”

“Because of what just happened. I don’t think—”

Jamie reached over and touched her cheek. “Maya, stop. Us sleeping together won’t be a problem unless we let it be one. And what happened here tonight doesn’t have to follow us back home and into the office.”

She took a deep breath. She was relieved that it wouldn’t put a strain on their working relationship, but also crestfallen that this wouldn’t go anywhere beyond this one night.

“We’re both adults,” he continued. “And I think we both needed to finally get that out of our systems before we imploded. Don’t you think?”

“Yes, I do.” She had spent too many waking, and sleeping, hours lusting over this man.

Her
boss
.

Dear Reader,

I’m going to be honest, I’m pretty new to the world of romance. It was during a province-wide blackout in December 2013 when I read my first romance novel. My phone’s battery was full and I decided to buy ebooks to kill some time. While my friends played a board game, I searched for something to read, and I happened upon the romance section of the online store and came across some Harlequin Blaze titles. By the time the power came back on, I had finished six books. I was hooked!

One thing that attracted me to Harlequin Blaze was its strong, feisty heroines. A Blaze heroine has her own life, a successful career, an unbreakable, independent spirit, and—at first—she needs nothing from the hero...except for a few wild nights, that is. I admired that and much more about the classic Blaze heroine, and I kept that in mind as I wrote Maya.

Getting
In the Boss’s Bed
from my mind into your hands, dear reader, has been an amazing journey. This is my first book, and I hope you enjoy reading about Maya and Jamie as much as I enjoyed creating them.

Cheers!

Juanita

J. Margot Critch

In the Boss’s Bed

Juanita Margot Critch
currently lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland, with her husband, Brian, and their two little buddies, Simon and Chibs. She spends equal amounts of time writing, listening to Jimmy Buffett’s music and looking out at the ocean, all the while trying to decide if she wants coffee or a margarita.

To get the inside scoop on Harlequin Blaze and its talented writers, be sure to check out
BlazeAuthors.com
.

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Visit the Author Profile page at
Harlequin.com
.

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2

For Mom. You’ve always been my biggest fan and supporter, no matter what wacky thing I’m up to. I love you.

And Brian, my fierce, loyal, alpha-protector with beautiful hands. Thank you for supporting me, and being my first reader, my sounding board and my all-around favorite guy. Even though I didn’t use your idea for
Dylan O’Driscoll: Gentleman Rake
, I appreciate all of your input.

To my friends, who always understand when I say I’m writing and can’t leave the house.

1

I
REALLY
SHOULDN

T
be here.
The phrase looped through Maya’s brain.
I really, really shouldn’t be here.
The ice cubes in her glass clinked together as she stirred her vodka-cranberry drink and took a sip. The deafening, bass-heavy music and many sweaty bodies pulsed around her as she quickly crossed the dance floor to return to the booth where her best friend and roommate, Abby, was sitting alone, waiting for her. Feeling a headache coming on, Maya frowned and pressed the heel of her hand against her forehead.

“Could you at least pretend you’re having a good time?” Abby leaned in and yelled against her ear to be heard over the music. “This is the hottest club in Montreal, we both look fabulous and we’re getting a ton of male attention tonight.” As if to make her point, she waved to a group of men at a nearby table who were looking in their direction.

“I’m sorry,” Maya yelled back. She really wanted to go home. But she also didn’t want to ruin her friend’s night. Abby had put a lot of effort into dragging Maya out. Earlier that evening, at home, Maya had spent far too long styling her hair into waves, although the end result was supposed to have looked as though she hadn’t spent any time styling it. While constantly reloading YouTube tutorials, she had studiously worked until she achieved things called smoky eyes and contouring. It was then that Maya had decided it was all too much work, and was about to change into yoga pants and a tank top and curl up on the couch when Abby had selected her littlest black dress and strutted into Maya’s room proclaiming it
the one
.

“Maya, every guy in that club is going to be drooling over you in this,” Abby had assured her.

“Great,” Maya had replied, without much enthusiasm. “I hope all that saliva comes out at the dry cleaners.”

But she was forced to admit, thanks to Abby’s instruction and help with styling, makeup and hair techniques, Maya had never looked better.

“I’m getting such a headache. And I should really get home. Finals are coming up. And we’ve got that early class tomorrow—” Maya grasped for any reason to not be at Swerve Nightclub on a Thursday night.

“God, you’re practically agoraphobic!” Abby huffed in frustration.

“I’m not agoraphobic. I’m an introvert, and it’s super trendy right now. Thank-you-very-much.”
It’s cute to be introverted
, she thought defensively. Words she wouldn’t dare say to her friend. There were an abundance of articles and listicles online proclaiming such a thing.
It’s good to have some mystery about you. And who is more mysterious than a girl who never leaves her house?

“Either way, you’re not going anywhere!” Abby pulled on Maya’s wrist until she was seated at the table with her. “Don’t worry about class. Dr. C. invited in some guest speaker, so it’ll just be some long-winded, ancient colleague of his. They’ll turn down the lights and we can nap in the back.”

Maya opened her mouth, but Abby plowed over her, running her fingers through her own flawlessly styled, bleach-blond pixie haircut. “We’re here to have fun. For the past few years, I’ve watched you lock yourself in your room, hibernate in the library and never take a minute to look up from your books. We are graduating in two weeks—” she reached out to grab Maya’s hands in her own “—and I need to see you act like the beautiful, exotic, sassy young thing that you are before we part ways, become old hags and never see each other or have any fun ever again.” Abby took a long pull on her beer. “We need to act young and stupid, this one last time,” she pleaded. “Be irresponsible. Live a little with me.”

Maya laughed. “Hey. I have fun.”

Abby raised an eyebrow, clearly not convinced. “Staying home on Friday night and binge-watching
Orange Is the New Black
on Netflix isn’t the type of fun that a single twenty-five-year-old woman should be having. Especially a complete knockout like yourself. When was the last time you had sex?”

Maya’s mouth dropped open, shocked that her friend would even go there. “What?”

Abby smirked. “That’s what I thought.” She relented. “Okay, when was the last time you were even kissed?” Maya remained silent. “Your last date?”

Maya sighed. Abby was right. It had been so long since she’d been on a date, or gone to a nightclub, or even let herself focus on anything but school. But she was so close to the end. She’d spent every waking moment of the past five years working diligently toward her goal, completing her master’s degree in Business Administration. For the entirety of her short adult life, it was her dream to pursue a career in hotel management, running an upscale resort hotel. Probably on a beach. Most definitely somewhere hot. She dreamed of a life in Miami, or the Bahamas, or any other exotic location in the Caribbean. She could only smile at how close she finally was to that life.

Abby continued, pressing her argument, at which she was so talented. “We’re part of the hospitality industry. And in order to be successful we need to monitor trends to stay on top of our game. And at least one small part of that, my friend, includes visiting nightclubs and having fun! Trying new drinks, networking, schmoozing a little and learning to talk to people to get information about things they like and things they don’t. Getting a sense of what’s hot and what’s not—and this place is hot, by the way. Don’t you want to be at the top of your game, Maya?” Abby finished with a smile, obviously proud of herself for putting their girls’ night out in terms of their studies, knowing Maya would respond favorably. Really, it was her only hope of getting her to stick around.

Maya smiled back at Abby. She loved her friend dearly, despite the fact she sometimes wanted to maim her. “You wench,” she said with a laugh. Once again, Abby was right. Maya sighed and brought her glass to her lips and drank back a fortifying gulp. When the glass was empty, she slammed it down on the table. “Fine. You win. Let’s have fun.” Then she stopped and looked at Abby quizzically. “How do we have fun?”

“We start with me getting us more drinks.” Abby stood, picking up Maya’s empty glass and her own empty bottle. “That round did not last long enough.” Abby straightened her crop top and smoothed her hands down over her skinny leather pants and she made her way back to the bar.

Maya pulled out her phone to check her email, seeing nothing new, she opened her Facebook app. She flicked through the pictures that some of her friends had posted, people her age going out to clubs and having parties. They somehow managed to juggle their studies and their social lives. She scrolled lower and lower and saw more friends having drinks at pubs and eating in restaurants, hiking, playing paintball and riding on party buses. She tapped on the icon to view her own profile. There were no pictures, and at no time had she ever ridden on a party bus. Was Abby right? Had Maya let a good part of her twenties escape her without getting out there and doing wild things?
Maya, you’re twenty-five. You’ve never gone skinny-dipping in the park or drunk a bottle of wine by the ocean.
She looked in disgust at her mostly pathetic Facebook profile and grimaced.
No more, Maya. You’re going to have some fun tonight even if it kills you.

“And it just might,” she whispered to herself, as Abby walked back to the table, holding two fresh drinks for them.

“That was quick,” Maya remarked, accepting her glass.

“Yeah, but I schmoozed the good-looking bartender earlier, so when he saw me walking up, he skipped everyone else at the bar to serve me.” Abby smiled.

“That’s awful. But nicely done.” Maya proffered her glass in salute and Abby clinked it with her beer bottle. “So what are we going to do?” she asked.

Abby pursed her lips, deep in thought. Maya watched her as she scanned the club, searching for inspiration. “How about a little truth or dare?”

“What?” Maya scoffed. “We aren’t twelve anymore. I’m not going to tell you who I
like
.” She giggled. It seemed that the vodka in her cranberry was working its way through her brain.

“Okay, how about dare, then?”

“Mmm, Abby, I don’t know...” Maya hesitated.

“You said you wanted to have fun,” Abby pleaded. “Come on, I’ll do anything you dare me to do.”

“Well, that’s easy for you,” she said, smiling broadly as she put a comforting hand on her friend’s arm, “because you have no shame.”

Abby laughed. “Even so.” She continued scoping out the club. “Oh, I’ve got it.”

“What?”

She pointed to the bar. Well, she was actually pointing to a gorgeous male specimen who was standing next to it, chatting with the bartender. “See that guy?”

Am I blind? How could I possibly miss a man like that?
“Yeah, of course I do.”

Abby pasted on her most devilish smile and directed it at Maya. “Good. Because you are going to walk up to him, wrap your arms around his neck and you’re going to kiss him like you’ve never kissed a man before.”

“I am absolutely
not
doing that,” Maya insisted.

“It’s a little harmless dare. What have you got to lose?”

“My pride, my dignity...” Maya trailed off. She looked at the man. It looked as though he had left work and came to the nightclub. He wore tailored pants that showed off his very nice, round behind. He had unbuttoned the top button of his shirt and had rolled up his sleeves. She watched him laugh as the bartender said something to him.
What could it hurt to walk up to him and kiss him? It’s not like I’ll ever see him again, a city this size...

She thought of her sad, little, unexciting Facebook profile and Maya slammed her glass down, sloshing some of the pink liquid over the edge and onto her fingers and the table.
What the hell?
Abby was right. It had been a long time since she’d done anything other than what was expected of her. “Okay.” She looked determinedly at the man. “I’m going to do it.”

“Yay!” Abby raised her arms giddily in celebration as Maya walked away from the table.

* * *

J
AMIE
S
ELLERS
TOOK
a satisfied look around his packed club. As the owner, if there wa
S
one person to thank for the popularity of Swerve Nightclub, it was him. In fact, he owned all twelve Swerve nightclubs located throughout the country, from Vancouver to St. John’s. His clubs were frequented by celebrities and professional athletes, and even some royalty graced his establishments. And quite often, his picture was posted on gossip blogs right alongside them, with headlines like “Jamie Sellers Lands a Princess”, “Sellers and the Heiress” and “Nightclub Mogul Parties Hard with Hockey Team.” Jamie shook his head, chuckling at the latest story linking him with the daughter of a prominent local politician.

He was young, single, rich and good-looking. That’s what people saw when they looked at him. When people saw a picture of him standing next to a beautiful woman, he was automatically sleeping with her. If he’d actually slept with every woman that the so-called press had reported he did...well, he certainly wouldn’t have time to be the nightclub mogul they proclaimed him to be. While it would be nice if he found himself frequently in the beds of actresses and celebutantes, it simply, sadly, was not the case.

If a picture of him holding a beer bottle or a glass of whisky surfaced? Automatically, he was portrayed as an alcoholic, a chronic drug user, a degenerate who partied too hard every night. At first, he found it easy to laugh at how inaccurate the stories were—
any press is good press, right?
—but it was starting to wear thin. The fifteen-hour days that he typically put into his work were starting to exhaust him, and the extreme workdays had gotten far more frequent and longer since his assistant quit. Typically, he found only just enough free time in a day to eat, shower, hopefully hit the gym and maybe get a few hours of sleep.

Sure. Maybe ten years ago that reputation would have been warranted. Jamie had grown up with nothing and his first taste of success had been sweet. He had admittedly overindulged in his youth, in alcohol, women, wild antics. But it was local reporter scumbag John Power who had been the catalyst for his turnaround. Power had gotten a hold of a picture of Jamie with a model enjoying a,
ahem
, private moment, and then he uncovered more and more of Jamie’s bad deeds. He’d dredged up the details of Jamie’s less-than-ideal childhood, with an absentee father and a drug-addict mother, a past that Jamie had guarded carefully. To say it was embarrassing was an understatement. Jamie had been cannon fodder for the reporter, who seemingly made a career of gathering information on him.

Since then, Jamie had kept it clean. He no longer overindulged. He never partied. He focused on business and it had paid off. Jamie had enjoyed an unimaginable level of success. Still, no matter how many nightclubs he opened, how much he gave to charity or how often his company showed up on lists of preferred employers, people still saw him as the millionaire, bad boy womanizer.

“Not bad for a Thursday,” Jamie remarked to Trevor—one of his best friends, and definitely the best bartender he had ever met—sipping the cola Trevor had handed him.

Trevor finished pouring a pair of martinis and handed them off to a waitress. “Yeah, it must be the warm weather. Normally the end of semester makes the students hunker down, studying. But this place is clearly bumping tonight,” he said, throwing an appreciative glance over the scantily clad women dancing against each other on the dance floor.

“Keep it professional, Trev,” Jamie warned with a glare, before laughing. He knew that he had nothing to worry about with his friend. Trevor was a pro and would never overserve a guest, or use his position to take advantage of the young women who patronized the club. But it didn’t stop him from appreciating the female beauty that was in front of him.

Jamie bit back a yawn, and Trevor regarded him carefully. “Why don’t you go on home? I’ve got this.”

“I know you do. But I’ve got a few things to finish up tonight. It’s been crazy since Martin left.” Jamie frowned at the thought of his former assistant. “I’ve got a couple of early morning meetings tomorrow and then I have to head to the university and give a talk with some graduate class about entrepreneurship, and entertainment, and hospitality, and yada yada yada.”

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