XOXO Connects Flash Fiction Contest Entry

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Her ample bosom heaved at just the thought of the roguish pirate's touch, and Angeline DeBoussey knew that one day soon, he'd be hers. Shelby read the final line of the manuscript on her computer monitor and sighed.

For a New York Times bestselling author, Lucinda DeMarco sure loved her purple prose. How did she ever manage to sell over five million copies of her books worldwide? Oh, yeah. Because of people like me, the young woman thought.

Glancing at the business cards in the silver container on the corner of her desk, Shelby grimaced. Editorial Assistant. The title printed in black ink under her name had remained unchanged since she was hired at the publishing firm three years ago.

Clicking her discreetly manicured nails on the desktop, she stared at the flashing cursor on the screen. Readers expected over-the-top writing from historical romances, but having both a heaving bosom (and ample ones, no less!) and a roguish pirate mentioned in the same sentence sent a shiver up her spine. Biting her lip, she began typing in the track changes comment box.

"Consider leaving MC's intentions more open-ended to tease readers into sequel," she whispered the suggestion as the words appeared in front of her, knowing full well it would go unheeded.

At least she was done. Saving the document, she was just about to email it off when a man stuck his dark-haired head through her open door.

"Shelby, I need you." He disappeared just as quickly as he'd arrived, but the young woman didn't need any more to follow.

Those four, simple words coming from the mouth of such a perfect male specimen would have made her heart jump on any day. But he was also her superior, so Shelby had a professional obligation to attend his call.

She would have never considered it an obligation, though. As the youngest managing editor at the up-and-coming imprint, Nick Farmer didn't get where he was alone. Smartly leveraging his most talented employees, he built on their drive and success to build his own. And Shelby was one of his favorites.

"What does work-hubby want now?" The woman in the adjacent office grinned as Shelby passed by.

"Ssh, Bree," Shelby chided, pausing to address her colleague. "That's such a ridiculous concept. And one of these days he's going to call Human Resources on you."

"Ridiculous?" Bree stood from her chair and adjusted her skin-tight tank dress. "Then tell me why he doesn't get Liza to help and instead, always comes running to you?"

Shelby shook her head, allowing a wisp of mousy-brown hair to fall from her updo. "I don't have time for this, but I'm sure it's something more involved than what an executive assistant could manage."

Turning on her heels, she rushed down the corridor. After getting a silent nod of approval from Liza and her annoying pixie cut, she entered Nick's office.

Standing at his desk in one of his impeccably tailored shirts, he bent over the computer's keyboard and scowled. But even such a harsh expression couldn't ruin his classically handsome features, which softened when he saw Shelby.

"Oh, thank God." He raked his fingers through his hair. "I have a presentation with the VPs in five minutes, and this damn file won't save to the thumb drive."

Shelby held back a smile and took over. Bree was right, but she didn't care. Sitting at the desk, she attempted to locate the device on the desktop before manually removing it from the drive. As she bent forward, Nick's breath grazed the back of her neck, and she had to momentarily close her eyes to compose herself.

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