Authors: Sarah P. Lodge
Tags: #Romance, #love triange, #secret babies, #Contemporary, #billionaire love story, #coming of age, #workplace, #wealthy, #International, #billionaire romance, #new adult, #Genre Fiction, #Literature & Fiction
He paces around the room but I find it impossible to look
away from his face. From his body. An aura of masculine beauty pervades every
part of him, and the sexy baritone timbre to his voice makes my legs quiver,
drifting over me like a magic charm until all I can think about is his strong
powerful shoulders, his thighs like tree trunks... and those enormous arms...
I cut my thought process short. I need to stop thinking
about my boss’s body...
His gorgeous and unfathomably well proportioned body...
No, this is bad.
I made it my mantra to remain invisible at work, ever since
Richard got me the job in the admin department. The one thing, no - the most
important thing, was I knew when I got this job was I had to stay out of the
sights of my billionaire boss.
But lying about my true intentions and who I really was - it
was so much easier before I ever met him.
Now, though, as his hypnotic gaze wanders over me, I fight
the urge to blurt out the truth. I’m an awful liar and I have the worst poker
face, but I know that this secret is so deep and dark that I would be risking
more than my job if I blurt it out.
But his eyes are so hot and piercing. They drift me into a
spell where I feel like I could tell him anything.
That I should tell him everything.
And he would forgive me and show mercy and all would be right
with the world. And I wouldn’t have to lie anymore.
But I’ve been around powerful alpha males all my life. I
know their kind and how they operate. He’s a famous playboy renowned for
promising the world and leaving before the dawn; a man whose business prowess
is only surpassed by the ruthless means he’ll go to achieve it.
A man like that could never show mercy. Not if he knew the
truth about my father. Or worse - my brother. He’d fire me without question.
Maybe even worse.
“Little Melody Watts. All alone in my office,” he muses.
The light catches his face and I see a glint in his eye. He moves closer.
“And these would be your admin files,” he says and flips one handed through the
papers I left on his desk.
He’s so close now that I can practically smell his rich musk
washing over me. It’s so warm and clean.
I quiver involuntarily.
“It’s an interesting lie,” he says.
“That you’re here doing admin work. For a start, outside of
myself, no one enters my office unless it’s my secretary or by personal
invitation. Then there’s the fact, Miss Watts, that you yourself admitted to
working downstairs in administration. Now, I can only assume that translates
to working in accounts, which gives you no reason for operating on this floor,
let alone my office. Well?”
I dry swallow. My eyes bear down on the expensive wood
“I was working late. I like the quiet up here and I didn’t
want to be around anyone.”
“You’re lying again.”
“I’m not, I promise!”
“On a Friday night? Please. You were spying through my
files. Weren’t you?”
“No! I wasn’t! Please, believe me.”
“Then tell me the truth,” Chase says. He folds his arms.
“I was hiding,” I squeak.
“Hiding? Hiding from who?”
“The security guard, at first.”
The truth is torn out of me, and it feels anything but
“And from you.”
His beautiful green eyes widen at the statement. He taps
his index finger against the desk.
“Why?” he asks. “The truth.”
My breath turns to stone in my chest. He’s so close to me,
the heat of his body almost beats against my skin and my mind goes blank.
The soft lamplight bathes the room in a golden glow, but the
corners of the room sit submerged in the deep inherent darkness of the
“I was crying,” I say. My voice is barely a whisper.
Chase leans closer to hear my words more clearly.
“I went home and saw...”, I continue, “...I had to be somewhere
else, anywhere else. I had my employee ID and some work to catch up on and I
was upset, so I thought I’d come here to get my mind off things but then the
guard came and then you did and...”
“You didn’t want me to see you crying,” he says.
I nod, the lump in my throat the size of a bowling ball. I
can feel more tears welling up, sitting on the tips of my eye lids and ready to
spill out at any moment.
But I steel myself. I couldn’t weep anymore, especially not
in front of my ridiculously powerful and famous boss.
He’s going to fire me, no doubt, for wandering into his
office without permission, for not telling anyone I was in the building, for being
unprofessional and for sobbing to his face. For everything.
But I don’t care anymore. I’ve lost everything else that
mattered to me today - I might as well lose my job as well.
“I see,” he says after the longest pause of my life. I can
feel his admonishing gaze bearing down on me. He’s certainly a tall man, and
right now I feel like a field mouse waiting to be squelched under his gigantic
shoes. “You’re in love with him, aren’t you?”
“What? I don’t know who you-.”
“-The man,” he says sharply. “This ex of yours. The one
“If that is his name.”
“Why would you think I’m crying over a man.”
A sensual curve forms on his lips. “To weep and run and not
want anyone to see you - to be afraid of what they might think if they see you
react this way. Something that powerful and humiliating can only be over
I let out a little laugh, but it’s sombre and full of pain.
“I’ve just had the worst day,” I say. “I went to the gym,
as you can see.” I swish my hand out, as if presenting my sweatpants dressed
body to him like department store mannequin. “I thought about losing some
weight, maybe getting fitter, but the people there... I went home, and I don’t
know if Liz, my roommate, if she thought I was going to be out longer or at the
store or work or something, but I came back home earlier than she thought and...”
“...And found her and my boyfriend. On the sofa. Really not
being discreet at all.”
Chase brushes my arm with his palm. His other hand comes to
rest on my shoulder. “I’m very sorry.”
Is this sympathy he’s showing me?
It’s so unexpected.
His hand leaves my arm and cups my cheek. A spark thunders
from the touch of his fingertips and rushes through my body.
I lift my head and stare deeply into his dark green eyes. I
feel adrift in an ocean of emeralds, lost and searching for something I can’t
name but I know in my deepest thoughts is there.
The lightning touch still pervades my body, like a whirlwind
sweeping across my skin and burning every inch with an intense heat, all the
way from my parted lips down to my nipples pebbling beneath my bra and to below
“I can’t understand why a man would do that to someone like
you,” he says.
“Someone like me?”
“A beautiful young woman,” he says, almost in surprise.
He called me beautiful. Me? It must be a joke or a game
he’s playing. You don’t live my life if you’re a beautiful woman - you live it
if you’re plain and ordinary and weathering every day until the next one
“Now who’s lying?” I say, a note of hurt in my voice. I
knew Chase was powerful, but I never thought he was cruel.
He frowns. “I am not lying.”
“Yes, you are. I’m not beautiful. I’m not one
people, and I know it. And I’m not that clever and I try to lose weight but
it’s just so hard, and for you to stand there and tell me otherwise... It’s
cruel. And it’s patronising. And, quite frankly, Mr. Strong, it’s
He stands over me, a face like stone.
The lump in my throat has grown to the size of a wrecking
I just told off my boss. Worse, I called him names and
insinuated he was a horrible horrible person. I am such an idiot. No job, no
boyfriend, no best friend.
“I’ll get my things,” I say.
I try to turn away to leave, but his hand grabs my arm and
stops me. He spins me around and stares down at my misery ridden face.
“Well, aren’t you an interesting one,” he says. “I
complement you and you resign? I can’t say I saw that one coming.”
. My heart leaps for a moment, filled
with the connotations of the word: engaging, exciting, arousing curiosity. But
then it comes crashing back down to Earth when I realise what he probably
meant: strange, weird, peculiar. It’s the sort of thing my father would say.
“Melody. I’m not firing you.”
I glimmer with hope. “I’m not?”
“Do you want to be fired?”
“No!” I say. “Definitely definitely not.”
“But why? I mean, I don’t want to look a gift horse in the
mouth or anything - not that I’m saying you’re a horse, but...” My mouth feels
uncontrollable. I beg my brain for my lips to stop moving, but the longer he
says nothing, the more I can’t help prattling on. “I’m not meant to be in your
office and I’m crying and avoiding and lying-.”
“So we’re agreed,” he says. “A fitting act of discipline is
“Oh, no. I didn’t mean... please. I’m sorry. I won’t do it
again. I beg you.”
He smiles. “Melody, if you don’t perform the penalty then
I’ll have to consider more drastic means of discipline.”
“No, I’ll do it. Whatever it is, I’ll do it. What is it -
working late? The file room? Restocking water bottles in the studio?”
“You are going to accompany me to the Wiltshire Charity Ball
My eyes widen, my mouth agape. “I’m....I’m what?”
He leans in closer and my body lights up like an inferno.
“You, Melody Watts, are going to be my date.”
I’m stuck to the floor, paralysed in disbelief. Chase
Strong is the most ungodly handsome man I’ve ever seen. He could have any
gorgeous women he wanted across the entire globe, and, if the rumours were
true, he’d had a great deal of them. He’d had movie stars and pop princesses,
lingerie models and magazine beauties. What could he possibly want with me?
“A horrible punishment, is it not?” he says dryly.
“Why are you doing this?” I blurt out. “Is it a joke or a
He bears down on me, his face not moving an inch. He’s so
gorgeous that I find it impossible to think straight.
“I like to think it’s for the charity,” he says.
“You’re serious, aren’t you?”
“You don’t want me,” I say. “This is the Wiltshire Ball.
It’s, like, the biggest event of the seasons, no - the year. Everyone will be
there - the press, the mayor, all those pop stars on your label. You can have
“I don’t want
. I want you.”
I want you.
That what he said.
I want you.
How could only three little words make my heart pound
against my chest and fill my stomach with butterflies?
“But what about your girlfriend?” I ask.
“I don’t have a girlfriend.”
“But, but I thought you were dating Mercedes Bell?”
“I’m not.” His voice is terse. “Not anymore.”
I raise my head to look up at him and bite my lip. He’s
lying, or at least he’s not telling me everything. I knew he was going out
with Mercedes Bell. I’d seen paparazzi pics from the weekend issue of Celeb
magazine, both of them arm in arm in LA, on the last stop of her world tour.
He’s lying to me and it drives me crazy, but does that make
me a hypocrite?
The cloud of danger sits between us like a dense mist.
If he knew who I was - who I really was - I’d lose more than
my job. I’d get dragged into court, maybe even have criminal charges filed
I can’t go with him to this ball. It’s stupid and self-destructive.
Every second I’m in Chase Strong’s company, I’m a second closer to being found
out and having my life destroyed.
“No,” I say.
“No? What do you mean
?”, he says, shock painting
“Work, I have work to do, and-.”
“Stop lying to me.” He grits his teeth.
Stop lying? Lying is all I have left. There are so many
reasons I should say no - how I’m the daughter of a man he bitterly hates more
than anything. How I’m the sister to his biggest and most despised rival. How
his presence is so powerful and dominating and purely masculine that it
terrifies me at the deepest level. How every moment I’m with him makes my body
shiver and pour with sweat and burn hotter than the sun.
No man has ever had this effect on me. It’s scary and
frightening and all I can think to do is flee.
“Is it your boyfriend?” he asks.
“Uh, yes,” I stammer out. “He...he’s going to be there, at
the ball. Tonight.” I sigh. “With my roommate. I can’t face them, not
Chase’s eyes fill with anger. “This
, do I know
him? Does he work for me?”
“He’s a cover designer. He works in the art department.”
“Makes little drawings for my CDs, does he?”
“Hmmm.” He muses, scratching his chin. “Then he’s bound to
be stricken with jealous rage when he sees you dressed like a princess and on
“You...you think so?”
“Of course. I am a powerful man, who makes it my sworn duty
to possess anything of great value. To see I have chosen you, he’ll come to
you on his knees and beg. And this woman of his, she’ll see me as your date
and her jealousy will consume her.”
“Wow. You think quite a lot about yourself, don’t you?”
“I’ve never had any reason to question it.”
He’s right. I hate to admit it, but if I went as the date
Chase Strong - I’d be the most envied woman in the state. Maybe
even the country.