Authors: Allie Standifer
A Total-E-Bound Publication
©Copyright Allie Standifer 2011
Cover Art by Posh Gosh ©Copyright October 2011
Edited by Rebecca Hill
This is a work of fiction. All characters, places and events are from the author’s imagination and should not be confused with fact. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, events or places is purely coincidental.
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced in any material form, whether by printing, photocopying, scanning or otherwise without the written permission of the publisher, Total-E-Bound Publishing.
Applications should be addressed in the first instance, in writing, to Total-E-Bound Publishing.
Unauthorised or restricted acts in relation to this publication may result in civil proceedings and/or criminal prosecution.
The author and illustrator have asserted their respective rights under the Copyright Designs and Patents Acts 1988 (as amended) to be identified as the author of this book and illustrator of the artwork.
Published in 2011 by Total-E-Bound Publishing, Think Tank, Ruston Way, Lincoln, LN6 7FL, United Kingdom.
This book contains sexually explicit content which is only suitable for mature readers. This story has a
To the readers who keep me inspired, my butt glued to the office chair and checking my Facebook page way too often.
The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction:
Facebook: Facebook, Inc.
iPhone: Apple, Inc.
The blue screen of death flashed on Kelli Cornwell’s flat twenty-seven-inch computer screen.
“Son of a bitch, shit-fire, damn it to hell, you son of a frog-lover!” she cursed, slammed her palm on the monitor and shoved away from her desk. The force of motion pushed her plush, leather, wheeled chair halfway across the spacious office. Her harsh words echoed through the large, expensively decorated room.
It took a lot to summon the deep-woods Texas accent she’d done her best to banish, but watching two weeks of work disappear into a blue hole of nothingness had driven her over the edge.
“The last day, last batch of invoices and
, you hideous POS, choose to blow your circuits on me?” She narrowed her eyes at the seemingly innocent machine as it sat there glowing its happy but deadly blue. Smacking the expensive machine, beating the fancy monitor with her umbrella or shoving the entire useless hunk of plastic and wires out of the window sounded like a great plan of action. However, as pleasant as the thought of mass PC chip destruction sounded, Kelli knew she couldn’t allow herself the gratification. Somewhere in the midst of all those circuits, black plastic and glowing things, hid her fourth quarter spread sheet.
Without bothering to look, she grabbed her iPhone and automatically hit number two on her speed dial. What it said about her life when she had her IT company as the second most important number in her contact list, Kelli didn’t even want to guess. Too much thinking about such a depressing thing sent her straight to the chocolate, wine and whipped-cream vodka, which in turn went straight to her ass. Her ass had enough problems without adding delicious but empty calories to the roster.
So long as a certain someone didn’t answer the phone, her night might proceed without any further disasters.
Relief flooded through her as she recognised the chipper young male voice. If a touch of disappointment was mixed with the relief, she ignored it. There were enough problems crowding her plate without asking for more.
“Hey, Walker, it’s Kelli over at Cornwell’s. The expensive paperweight on my desk has gone to the great circuit board in the sky. Either get someone over here to fix it, or I’m going to teach it to fly.”
Youthful, masculine amusement floated over the line. “Kelli, honey, you call with death threats to your computer at least once a month. What’s the poor, innocent, hard-working machine done to you now?”
A snort of disbelief escaped her even as some of the tension eased from her shoulders. “Aughh, it’s the blue screen of death. This thing is possessed by demons, imps or possibly evil frog minions.”
“We’ve been through this before. There is no such thing as evil frog minions. Also, I doubt demons or imps, after escaping from the bowels of hell, would choose to use their powers to destroy your computer. Unless there’s something you’re not telling?” Walker might be young, a third-year college student, but his brain more than made up for his age. The guy was some kind of natural computer whisperer.
She rolled her eyes and tugged out the pins holding her hair up in a tight bun. Chocolate tresses flowed over her shoulders as the relief loosened the tension from her spine. A long day hunched over a workstation poring over last quarter’s receipts had put enough stress in her neck that she’d pay her weight in gold for a massage at that point.
She used the pads of her fingers to rub the aching muscles. “Come on, we’ve agreed to disagree. Just get over here, wave your magic joystick and fix this mess before I get testy.”
The clack of keys reached her ear as Walker typed her information into the company system. Eyes closed, Kelli could practically visualise every move he made. She should be able to, since she called Douget, Inc. every time that hateful contraption went crazy on her.
“Jesse’s free and you know she loves hanging out with you.”
“Perfect.” And she meant it. Jessie Ranger, another third-year student at the local college, had become, if not a friend to Kelli, then certainly a highly respected and talented computer specialist she enjoyed spending time with. “What’s that girl doing working on a Friday night?”
“Says she needs to pay for next semester’s labs,” Walker explained. It took one broke college student to identify and sympathise with another, which meant the younger employees at Douget, Inc. were a close and loyal bunch.
Kelli liked that about the company she’d sunk so much of her time and trust into. At least they were friendly and didn’t make her feel stupid every time she called with another mysterious bug eating away at her system. “Come work for me and I’ll pay you both enough to take care of college for the next year—and grad school. You can fight the evil supercomputer demons all day long while I throw money and food at you in gratitude.”
The offer was familiar and voiced often enough for Walker to laugh easily. “Yeah, yeah, yeah. But you kill computers, while Remi lets me bring them back to life. I can’t very well go to work for a woman murdering the things I love.”
“You need a better love life,” she quipped, and ignored the hitch in her chest at the mention of Douget, Inc’s owner and Walker’s boss.
“And you need to stop destroying innocent machines, but I doubt either one of us will get our wish.”
A whirl followed by a harsh, grinding noise span her around, her eyes narrowed in suspicion at the pulsing blue box of light. “It knows I’m talking about it and I think it’s getting angry.”
A stray hank of hair fell over her eyes and Kelli blew out a nervous breath to remove the annoying strand. “The thing is snarling, growling and possibly spitting or hissing at me. Get Jesse over here before it comes to life and takes over the office.”
“You got it, Kelli. I’ll have someone over there in thirty minutes.”
A relieved breath escaped her. “You are my hero, Walker.”
“Ah, I bet you say that to all the computer geniuses you meet.” He told her to call if there were more problems and hung up.
As much as she hated watching her computer self-destruct just from being in her presence too long, Kelli enjoyed the people it brought into her life. Running her corporate event planning company didn’t leave any time free to meet and mingle with people outside a structured environment. Most events she designed and attended were for the company bigwigs—CEOs, CFOs—and each one inevitably showed up with the requisite trophy wife. Not willing to be any man’s mistress, much less his one night stand, Kelli kept her manner cool and her professional mask in place at all times.
However, here at her office or on the phone with Douget’s crack team of wonder kids, she let her hair and barriers down. Maybe a little too much, if the attention Remi Douget paid was any indication.
The first time her computer crashed, Kelli had called their help line, desperate. Twenty minutes later, Remi had arrived and rescued her office network from pop-up gay porn and ads offering Florida condos. What the two had in common, she’d never know, but she’d be grateful for eternity to have them finally gone from her system.
It was only after he’d saved her day and sanity that Remi had moved onto more personal business. She hadn’t wanted to say no. What woman in her right mind would turn down a dinner and dancing date with a handsome, black haired, black eyed Cajun? His six-foot-two frame, packed with sleek muscles, had Kelli swallowing back drool. Houston might be close to the Louisiana borders, but she’d never dreamt they grew them this big and bad in the bayou. If she’d known, Kelli would have spent more time in the swampy state.
Damn, the man did know how to wear a T-shirt. Tight enough to hug his well-defined chest, washed enough to tempt touching, and loose enough that she could imagine her fingers slipping under the soft material to explore the hard planes beneath.
A phone call had saved her from making a huge mistake and possibly more. Remi had answered the phone, his accented voice low, soft and sexy. When Kelli overheard him confirming plans the next day with another woman, she’d known he wasn’t the man for her. Granted, one dinner date did not make a relationship, but still—chatting up one female while another stood in the same room struck her as more than rude. It was downright cocky and arrogant.
She’d said, “Thanks, but no thanks. I’m not into crowds.”
To give the man credit, he hadn’t bothered to deny the accusation, just shrugged one solid shoulder while a mischievous smile tugged at his full lips.
So, instead of spending that night with the handsome business owner, Kelli had gone home alone and eaten the last of her frozen yoghurt for dinner. Ever since that night, she’d done her best to avoid Remi and the temptation he presented. If he showed up at her office, she got one of her employees to deal with him. If he picked up the phone when she called, Kelli hung up. Granted, it wasn’t the most mature or responsible choice, but sometimes a girl had to do what a girl had to do. Any time spent in Remi’s presence, hearing his voice, or even the vague scent of his cologne, sent her hormones into overdrive and her brain into a meltdown.
“And I don’t have time to play
Undress the Cajun
like some sex-obsessed freak.” Though she wouldn’t mind one time, to get him out of her system Remi could be the one exception to her anti-one night stand rule. A single night to immerse herself in his body and touch. To finally know the taste of his skin on her tongue, the feel of his chest rubbing against the sensitive flesh of her nipples, and to have him filling her empty, aching body with his thick, hot cock.
Shivers of need raced down her spine before Kelli shook herself from the empty, sensuous fantasy. Some things weren’t meant to be and, unless Remi came to her on his knees begging to please her, she didn’t see her fantasy coming true.
Kelli checked the time on her watch, then ordered two large pizzas with all the sides and enough soda to float a ship. At the end of the night the food and drink would leave with Jesse and they’d both keep their pride. The food was little enough thank you for the younger woman’s help on a night when she should be out having fun with people her own age. Though less than ten years separated them, sometimes Kelli felt ancient when faced with Jesse or Walker’s youthful enthusiasm and prideful determination.
Within ten minutes Kelli had changed into the never-used workout clothes she kept in a duffel in the bottom of her closet. A vain attempt to motivate her curvy body to hit the gym which, like all the bright ideas before it, had failed. But at least she had clean clothes to change into after spending more than fourteen hours in her restrictive office attire. Nothing felt better than pulling off her hose and wiggling her feet.
“Set the girls free or keep them caged?” She fingered the light teal strap of her bra. On one hand, nothing would feel better than to remove the restrictive material covering her breasts. On the other hand, Jesse would be there any minute and even though her T-shirt wouldn’t show her bare breasts, Kelli would still feel awkward swinging free in front of the other woman.
“And on the third hand…” She smirked to herself and yanked off the offending garment with a rebellious toss of her head. “It’s almost ten o’ clock on a Friday night and it’s my damn office. Here’s to living the wild life.” And she tossed the bra in the direction of her brown leather duffel.
Mechanically, she brushed her long hair into a loose ponytail while enjoying the plush feel of the carpet under her squiggling toes. How long had it been since she’d enjoyed the simple pleasure of bare feet in her office? Way too long if she had to ask the question.
After years of struggling, pinching pennies until they screamed, she had everything she’d once promised herself. A successful career, money in the bank and the respect of her peers—and no one to keep her warm at night as the problems of the day crept in.
A simple turn of her head and Kelli saw the physical rewards of years of hard work. From the nineteen-twenties restored, solid, dark oak desk, to the wide expanse of curtained windows looking out over the Gulf of Mexico, her workspace sanctuary screamed ‘winner’. After all, it had taken years to find the right paintings for the walls, accent pieces to enhance her big desk and enough live plants to make her forget her windows didn’t open. The wide, overstuffed couch she sometimes used as a bed pretty much screamed her name in sleepy temptation. She could practically feel the soft, blue damask material cool against her cheek. Time to shake off those thoughts.
“Work first, sleep second.”
The old adage about all work and no play swirled around in her head. Changes needed to be made in her life. Kelli understood that, but where and how to make those changes left her baffled.
“One worry at a time,” she reminded herself. For now, there was the computer to be fixed, invoices to be mailed and IRS forms to be avoided. But none of that would happen tonight, not with the insidious blue light glaring brightly at her in accusation.
A niggle of guilt wormed its way down her spine. Kelli refused to cower before an inanimate object, regardless of the colour it turned. Instead, she concentrated on removing the knots in her back and neck. Bending from the waist, she touched her bare toes, enjoying the stretch and pull of her tight muscles. She hung there for several minutes, enjoying the slight pain as her body loosened.
She put her hands flat to the floor and moaned. “Ahh.”
you keep that going and we’ll never get your computer fixed.” A familiar, dark, male voice, heavy with a Cajun accent, cut through her thoughts.