Chapter One

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***Unproofed and subject to change prior to publication on June 26***


Seducing My Boss

"Hurry up. Hurry up. Hurry up." I rocked on my heels in the packed elevator as I watched the numbers ascend at a languid pace. Carefully balancing two coffees, one on top of the other, I checked the time on my cell phone. 9:02 Monday morning. I would love to have a job where it wasn't a big deal if I ran a few minutes behind, particularly on a Monday.

Particularly after having to stop at Starbucks every day to get my boss his expected triple venti soy no foam latte, the lamest drink known to man.

Particularly after having to leave my apartment an hour earlier than normal, without pay, to stand in line at the Starbucks closest to the literary agency in Rockefeller Center where I worked to get said lame excuse for a coffee.

Particularly because I had to start ordering the same coffee for myself in case I dropped it, as happened one time. The fallout was something I'd like to avoid in the future.

I preferred a basic Americano with milk from an actual cow, not this fake bullshit. I knew all about my boss' allergies. He didn't have any sort of intolerance to dairy. He was just an asshole, and his choice in drink proved it.

Finally, the ding of the elevator snapped me out of my vengeful thoughts and I barreled through the doors into a large, modern reception area.

"9:03," the receptionist sang after me, her voice almost smug.

"I know. I know." I dashed past the desk with Bartlett, Derringer, and Price in big bold letters on the wall behind it, not letting anyone who exited that elevator forget where they were. I wondered if the partners were trying to overcompensate for something.

"And he's in a mood," she added in warning.

"And that's different how?" I mumbled, my voice almost inaudible.

Running past cubicle after cubicle, I prayed today wouldn't be the day I slipped on the slick marble tile and fell ass over tea kettle. Since I'd started here more than six months ago, I had that vision in my head daily.

When my desk came into view, I breathed a sigh of relief. My gaze shot past it to the floor-to-ceiling glass windows separating the big bad wolf from the rest of us sheep. I observed him on the phone, pacing his office, a fierce expression on his face. At least he was preoccupied. Perhaps he wouldn't even notice I was four minutes late.

As I set my heavy messenger bag on the ground with a thump, my shoulder screaming with reprieve from the welcome lack of weight, I realized my wish wouldn't come true.

"Avery!" his powerful voice bellowed. "Get in here!"

"Shit." Subtly rolling my eyes, I opened my desk drawer to retrieve a small notepad, shoving it into the pocket of my suit jacket. Running my hands over my cream-colored sheath top and gray pencil skirt to straighten the lines, I grabbed his sorry excuse for a morning beverage. I paused just outside his office door, took a deep breath, then entered the devil's lair.

"You're late," he barked at me the instant my foot crossed the threshold.

"I apologize, Mr. Price." I met his hardened gaze. All my other friends could saunter into work five, ten, maybe even twenty minutes late. When they did arrive, it wasn't expected they get straight to work. They were able to ease into the day, talk about their weekends, which bars they went to, what movies they saw. But not me.

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