A brand new standalone novel in the By The Bay series is available now from author J.L. Berg, and I have a sneak peek for you.
“Thank you all so much for taking the time out of your busy day to come together as a team to honor and celebrate this wonderful company. Our annual meeting is always a special occasion because it truly humbles me to see the hard work that goes into making this company great and to recognize much you achieve on a daily basis, both in and out of the office. So, without further ado, let’s get this party started!”
Everyone laughed at his attempt at humor. It really wasn’t that funny, but with the addition of Lorenzo’s Italian accent…well, it helped.
Plus he was our boss, so of course we laughed.
“Here we go,” Kyle whispered beside me. “Wake me up when they get to you.”
“No, I get easily bored and this is fucking long.”
He wasn’t wrong. We weren’t a large company, but we were by no means small. This was just our corporate office. We had satellite offices in several other countries, and even though none of those people were here, Lorenzo felt the need to honor them anyway.
So, it could get a little long.
We celebrated promotions and retirements and even births and marriages. In Lorenzo’s eyes, those were equally important, although none of the top staff members even knew what it was like to be married, let alone have kids since we were all married to our jobs, but we celebrated everyone else with a smile and a round of applause.
Finally, he got to promotions in the corporate office. I hit Kyle in the ribs, causing him to sit up straight and pay attention. Just as Lorenzo was about to open his mouth, several beeps and buzzes filled the room, like everyone’s phone had gotten a notification at the same time.
Wanting Lorenzo to continue, I ignored my phone, but several others didn’t.
He casually pulled his phone under the table, like half of the room, and I watched as his eyes nearly bugged out of his head.
And he turned to me.
Along with everyone else in the room.
“What?” I spat in a hushed tone in his direction.
He didn’t say anything. He didn’t even make eye contact with me. He just handed over the phone as everyone watched.
“What is going on?” Lorenzo asked, not bothering to conceal the tone of his voice. He was annoyed.
I looked down at the phone, at the email that had been sent out. The title: Guess Who’s Screwing the Boss?!
In the body of the email was a video and a single sentence. I didn’t have to watch it to know what it was. I could see from the single-preview shot exactly what it was.
Lorenzo and me. In his office. Last night.
I guess we all know how she worked her way to the top.
A single tear fell from my cheek as I read the email. I forgot how to breathe as I looked up at Lorenzo. His annoyance turned to panic. His hand went to his pocket as he, too, found his phone and the email.
The email that ruined everything.
“Who sent this out?” Lorenzo’s voice boomed. “Who sent it?”
The room went silent.
I looked down at the sender. It was blank. Whoever had sent it didn’t want to be found. I swallowed hard as I handed Kyle his phone back.
“I guess our arrangement isn’t going to work out, huh?”
“Me being your assistant? Was I going to have to sleep with you, too? Because you know I don’t swing that way.”
My vision was fuzzy as my only friend began ripping me apart in front of the entire company.
“Kyle, please,” I managed to say. “It isn’t like that.”
“It isn’t like what?” he bellowed. “It isn’t like I’ve been working my ass off every damn day for the past seven years while you fucked your way to the top?”
My eyes met Lorenzo as he just stood there, unmoving, unwilling to come to my aid.
But what could I say?
I’d slept with my boss.
I was the cliché, the cautionary tale.
And because of a single email, I’d lost everything.
So, I did the only thing I could.
* * *
My eyes bolted open as sunlight from the windows glared down at me.
Where am I?
I sat up, quietly stretching as if I had all the time in the world.
Because I did, right?
No job. No responsibilities.
Breakfast for the guests!
I bolted out of bed, frantically searching for my clothes. Where were my clothes? I tried to think back to the night before, but it was blurry.
And then the hammering in my head began.
Shit, how much did I drink last night?
“Where are you running off to so early?”
The deep British accent had me stopping in my tracks.
I turned on my heels, tugging on the short shirt I had on, wishing it were suddenly a dress. Or a robe.
Or anything longer than a shirt.
Aiden’s eyes perused my body with a wide grin on his face as he casually tucked his hands behind his head. I tried not to notice the way the muscles in his arms flexed.
Or the fact that, besides a carefully placed sheet, he was basically lying naked before me.
“Oh my God,” I whispered. My fingers raked through my hair as I tried to remember the night before. “We didn’t…did we?”
The question had him immediately sitting up in bed, causing that well-placed sheet to shift.
I gulped as all of him—and I did mean all of him—came into view.
Oh Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.
I turned around, my cheeks flushing as heat spread through my body. He wasn’t just naked. He was naked and very much awake.
“You don’t remember?” he asked as I listened to the bed groan as he stood.
“No,” I admitted. “Do you?”
I heard the telltale sign of jeans being zipped, giving me the courage to turn back around. Sure enough, he was decent.
Well, as decent as a shirtless, hot-as-fuck Brit could be. God, I thought his muscles had muscles.
“Um, no,” he answered, but there was a hint of sadness to his eyes as he reached down to grab his shirt off the floor.
I let out a tiny whimper of protest as the black T-shirt slid down his body.
He really was beautiful.
I shook my head, trying to keep focused. “Oh, that’s great. Just fucking great. So, what happened here exactly?”
He pointed to the pile of clothes and the mostly empty alcohol bottle on the nightstand, that sadness drying up as he let out a breath and straightened, his features hardening. “I think that’s pretty clear.”
My arms folded across my chest before I realized that only brought my shirt higher up my waist. Aiden didn’t miss the extra peek of flesh either as I watched his grin widen.
“Nope, I don’t believe you. I don’t do one-night stands. Ever.”
“Ever?” he echoed, surprise written all over his stupid face.
“Yes. Ever. Why is that so hard to believe? Do I look like the one-night-stand kind of girl?”
“Well, right now. Sort of.”