Since I like Bogie and anything is better than sports, I’m happy about his choice.

Technically, I’m supposed to be working, since it’s still early and I got nothing accomplished in the afternoon. So I’ve got my laptop open and I’m reviewing Aiden’s notes on my revised marketing plan and budget. I’m alternating that task with filing and responding to a variety of pending emails from both my account and Damien’s.

In other words, I’m truly multitasking. The real estate life. The assistant life.

And the good life, I think, as I look at Jackson and grin.

I’d changed into a pair of Megan’s shorts and a tank top, and Jackson keeps looking up from the sketch pad he has balanced on the side of the couch to grin lasciviously at me.

“You are so transparent,” I say.

“Am I? Maybe you’re just extremely intuitive. Let’s test that theory. What am I thinking about?”


“Lucky guess,” he says with a grin. “Slow, lazy, easy sex? Or hot, nasty, kinky sex?”

I raise a brow. “Totally transparent,” I say, then bend my knee so that my foot slides over his jeans to stop right over his crotch. “Hot,” I say as I move my foot back and forth. “Nasty. Kinky sex.”

“How right you are.” He closes his hand over my foot, so that the arch is pressed now against his growing erection. “More,” he says, and suddenly this lazy autumn evening has turned midsummer hot.

And then, of course, my phone rings.

“Ignore it,” he orders, but we’ve both already seen the display from where the phone sits on the coffee table. Cass. “All right, answer it. But tell her she’s not scoring points.”

I laugh and promise to make it up to him later, then I take the call and am immediately flooded by a diatribe of stress. “It’s just everything,” she concludes. “The franchise stuff. Zee. I know we’re in that be-together-all-the-time phase, but I’m starting to feel claustrophobic.”

“You need to chill,” I say. “Do you want me to meet you for a drink?” I shoot Jackson an apologetic smile.

“That would be great, actually. Jackson won’t mind?”

“Hang on.”

I relay the situation to Jackson, who says he’s fine with me going, but suggests I invite her over instead.


“She’s your best friend. You can drink without driving. I can get to know her a little better—though I promise to go to my office and leave you two alone, too. And she can stay the night. For that matter, invite her to the fund-raiser tomorrow night, too. We can pick her up in the limo on the way.”

I just stare at him until he shifts a bit, clearly uncomfortable with my inspection.


“You’re amazing.”

“Remember that the next time we fight.”

I grin. “I’ll make a note of it.” I take my phone off mute and relay the conversation to Cass, who actually claps when I tell her about the party.

“Seriously, Syl, I think he’s a keeper.”

“I’m not going to disagree. So get over here, already.”

Unfortunately, Cass doesn’t live far enough away to allow Jackson and me to follow through on our original plan for hot, nasty, kinky sex.

“Tomorrow night,” he says, pulling me in for a kiss before I head down to make sure there are sheets on the guest room bed. “After the party. Be ready.”

“I’m always ready for you.”

His smile suggests he knows perfectly well that I’m not even exaggerating.

When Cass arrives, Jackson shows her around the boat, then joins us on the top deck for a drink. It’s easy and casual, and I’m grateful when he asks her what’s going on with the franchise, and then even answers her questions.

“I just need to talk it out, you know?” she says. “Zee doesn’t even want to entertain the idea I might do this.”

“Anytime,” Jackson says, and I bask in the way my best friend glows at his very obviously genuine offer.

We talk a little bit about the resort, but then Jackson segues that conversation into an excuse to leave. “I should be working on that resort,” he says with a glance toward me. “The woman who hired me is a tough taskmaster.”

“I think stone-cold executive bitch is the phrase you’re going for.”

“Hey!” I protest. “I’m an aspiring stone-cold executive bitch.”

“And you’re doing just fine,” Cass says with a maternal pat to my hand.

Jackson laughs at our silliness, kisses me hard, then heads down to his array of computer screens.

Tags: J. Kenner Stark International Trilogy Romance