A sexy new enemies-to-lovers romance is out now from author Annika Martin, and I have an excerpt for you.
On his office wall is a massive photograph of him sprawled upon a princely chair; three gorgeous gown-wearing supermodels hang on him. They’re all laughing.
I stand there flooded with loathing and something else that I don’t have a category for.
“You like it?” he asks.
I turn. “What?”
He tips his head at the wall. “The photo. You look at it enough. I could get you a copy for your bedroom wall. For…personal purposes.”
I snort. “As if.”
“And to save you the extra labor, I could have my assistants angrily pre-snip the women out of the picture. Or would you prefer I have them scratch their eyes out? Or maybe both? A two-step process?”
“Do those poor women know you’re a robot with no feelings?” I ask.
He leans back, so cool. “I like to keep that a surprise to whip out on the second date.”
Heat steals over my face. Is he dating one of them? All of them? I can’t think of what to say back. Never mind; he’s looking down. He’s noticed the sandwich.
I bite back a smile as he lifts the bun. “What is this?”
“Grilled whitefish with a spicy curry sauce. It’s only available in December.”
“I ordered the roast beef and swiss cheese croissant sandwich. Not this.”
I fix him with a steady gaze. Max’s book stresses the importance of believing in yourself, or at least looking like you do.
“I know what you ordered,” I say sweetly, “but this is the sandwich that you want. You’ll like it much better.”
“I’d like a roast beef and swiss croissant sandwich much better.”
He frowns. “You can’t just change my order.”
I tilt my head, all sunshine and innocence. “This special-edition grilled whitefish sandwich comes from a food truck on Seventh. Way better than your stupid croissant sandwich.”
He looks between me and the sandwich, baffled. “You can’t just…”
“Change your order?” I ask, feeling happy and excited. Max needs to do a revised edition of his book, because nowhere does it say how crazy fun the process is. “Why not? It’s the superior lunch.”
The secret truth is, he will like it best. Not only is it the objectively superior meal, but it matches his taste. I might not be able to tell you what my best friend in junior year preferred for lunch, but I can tell you what kinds of food Max always went for, a result of the furious concentration it took to be enemies with him.
I’m excited for him to take a bite. Not that my life’s goal is for him to have a delicious sandwich, but I like that I’m showing him I’m superior and in charge, just like his book says to.
He stands. Gives me a hard look.
Max was always much taller than me, maybe that’s why he stands. To intimidate me from across the room.
Shivers go over me. Is he trying to intimidate me? Or is it more than that?
He comes around his desk.
I swallow. “Try it, you’ll like it.”
He keeps coming at me, eyes on mine.
My skin tightens.
This process is getting more exciting by the second. “I’m telling you that this is the one you’ll like best.”
He keeps coming until he’s right in front of me. I gaze up into his eyes, awash in a feeling of hilarity and something else—a strange alertness. My nipples strain at the fabric of the cat suit. What’s up with the AC in this place?
“Do you want to get fired? Is that it?” he grumbles.
My heart is basically banging out of my chest at this point. I swallow with difficulty. “No, I don’t want to get fired. I’m telling you what sandwich you want.”
Emotion flares in his eyes.
It’s been forever since I’ve been this close to Max.
“You think you can tell me what sandwich I want,” he gusts out, words like feathers on my forehead.
“That’s right, Max. That is the sandwich,” I enunciate sassily, “that you want.”
“If I’d wanted it,” he says, “don’t you think I would’ve had it?”
“Not necessarily,” I say, “being that you have no idea of how amazing it is. All that you’ve missed out on. So sad…”
Something in the way he looks at me changes; his nostrils flare, and for a crazy second, I think he’s going to kiss me.
For a crazy second, I want him to. I’m the amazing one, I think. I’m the one you missed out on.