Within the doors of Sunset Reads William Jameson has come home to take over his mother’s New York publishing house after her death. He’s ready to turn things around when an electrifying encounter with the company’s sexy bestselling author makes him change his priorities to more sensual plans. While his cruel stepfather has decided he wants control of the company, William tries to remain focused as images of soft brown eyes and sensual lips continue to keep him up at night.
Cristina Cruz suddenly finds herself with part ownership of Sunset Reads. Not only has the previous owner left her with part of the publishing house, but also at the mercy of her son William, the company’s handsome new CEO, who seems to be determined to drive her crazy. Not only is he annoyingly attractive, but his alluring blue eyes continue to send shivers down her spine. Working side by side with him becomes all the more torturous as his enticing looks and their heated encounters send her senses reeling.
Adele’s office was located on Fifth Avenue; a posh, contemporary layout in a grim, gray city. The publishing offices were located on the top floors of a twenty story high rise and Adele’s office was towards the far back, set against one of the best views of New York City.
Cristina always felt somewhat out of place in any corporate setting, especially since she mostly worked from home. Her job had to be the best in the world. She set her own hours, her own office, her own deadlines…it was perfect.
Dressed in a navy blue blazer, white t-shirt, black leggings and flats she couldn’t have looked more out of place amongst all the black, pencil skirts surrounding the area. For being publishers and editors they could lighten up a tad.
She approached Madeline, Adele’s secretary; she was an older lady with kind eyes and a gentle smile, who currently looked like a nervous wreck. “Morning Maddie, what’s going on today?”
Madeline stood up, concern etched in her eyes, “She’s mad, like really mad.”
“The new CEO is here, it’s not good, he’s quite temperamental, and he has officially succeeded in pissing Adele off. I’m warning you sweetie it’s not pretty this morning.”
Warily looking over at the closed door ahead Cristina thought about turning around but figured Adele might need her, so she slowly approached the office. As she reached out, the doorknob was suddenly yanked out of her hand. The door flew open and she was left staring into the darkest pair of blue eyes she had ever encountered. The man on the other side was beyond elegant and absolutely…ruggedly…handsome. Dark hair, chiseled jaw, at least six foot two… he was seriously gorgeous. The type of man you would find in a good book on one of those long, lonely nights. He stared back at her and Cristina froze not knowing what to say or do.
“Are you going to move or just stare at me all day?” His voice was deep sending a few shivers down her spine, yet it had a rude undertone that made Cristina cringe inside.
“Excuse me?” She responded startled by his remark.
“You are in my way.” He said pointing around her.
Cristina looked down at herself and then looked at him bewildered at such a response. “I don’t think you know who I am…”
“Nor do I want to know. If you’ll excuse me…” he said literally moving her to the side so he could pass.
She stood there for a moment, in a daze; Madeline came up beside her. “I told you so.”
Adele came up to the door, “That man is the most rude, arrogant, good looking, son of a bitch I’ve ever known!”
Cristina nodded agreeing with everything Adele said. She pretty much encompassed the man in a few well-chosen words. “Where in the world did he come from?” She asked staring down the hallway.
“Hell…where all the gorgeous male specimens come from.” Adele looked me up and down, “What are you doing here anyway?”
“Ah yes…my turn.” Cristina said sarcastically, walking in and situating herself onto one of the large, white, comfy couches at the other end of the office. “I came because I’m requesting a much needed break.”
“Nope not happening.” Adele slammed the door shut.
Cristina sat up straight, “What? Why not?”
“You saw that man just now right? Did he look happy to you?”
She paused for a moment to think, “Not particularly, no, but….”
“I said no, Cristina. Unfortunately, that man is the new CEO of Sunset Reads, he’s arrogant and rude, but he had a good point. We’re not pushing these new novelists hard enough, and that includes our senior authors as well. We need the finished product Crissy, and I’m going to need it before the New Year.”
“What?! It’s September Adele, that’s barely three months away! That’s impossible and you know it.”
“He’s thorough Crissy. He’s looked though all your books and your timelines. He agrees with me that you’re one of our bestsellers, but you need to give us something to work with here. It’s been a year already…”
“I’ve been going through some stuff Adele; I can’t just pull a novel out of thin air.”
“I understand honey, but there really isn’t anything I can do. That man was adamant about getting a book published. Truly, if anything, I suggest you speak with him directly. ”
“Are you really going to put it on me?! You’re my editor; I shouldn’t have to deal with this!”
Adele shook her head, “I just got my ass chewed out Cristina, the last thing I need is to hear it again because you can’t seem to put some words on paper. I’m sorry honey, but you need to get your shit together and produce something soon, I’m serious.”
Cristina left Adele’s office infuriated. She marched right up to Madeline and demanded to see the intolerable man, “Where is he?”
Madeline stammered, “Wh…who are you talking about?”
“The new guy…the arrogant bastard!”
Madeline’s eyes widened, “Crissy…maybe you should calm down first before you see him….”
“Maddie, you both announce me now and walk me through that door, or I’m going to barge in like a crazy woman. Either way, he’s going to see me today!”
“Ok, ok. Just give me a second.” She picked up the phone and quickly dialed out, “Daisy? Is Mr. Jameson in? I have Cristina Cruz here to see him.” She paused for a minute and nodded, “Thank you.” She stood up and grabbed her by the arm, holding her close and whispering, “Please, please Crissy, play nice. You don’t know this man, he may be tougher than you think.” She whispered.
“I don’t care to know him Maddie, I just want answers. I mean, who the hell does he think he is?”
Madeline frowned and paused at the door, then knocked. A strong male voice was heard from beyond the wall, “Come in.”
Opening the door slowly she peeked her head in, “Mr. Jameson, Miss Cruz is here to see you.”
“Yes, yes, I was expecting her eventually.”
Cristina walked through the door feeling confident in herself and her work, “Were you now?”
He stood up and his long lean body stretched out to enhance every muscle beneath his fitted, black suit. Her confidence suddenly managed to waver and she took in a deep breath and found a way to compose herself. She stood straighter and forced herself to act professional. ‘Stop ogling him Cristina, he is the enemy and you are a renowned author, get your shit together!’ She forced herself to look at the deep blue eyes that had been so rude to her moments before.
He stood in front of her, his hand outreached, “Sorry about before Miss Cruz, it truly is a pleasure to meet my favorite author.”
Cristina stood there, staring at this sexy god, not knowing whether to slap him or drape herself around him. She blinked twice and grabbed his hand in a strong shake. Electricity poured through every cell of her body as his warm hand enveloped hers. She told herself to remember to breathe, “So, you are Mr. Jameson. I’m sorry, but all I know of you, is your last name.”
Cristina’s thoughts went back to her romance novels, when the heroine meets the man of her dreams and everything goes perfectly well, and she knows exactly what to say and how to react... Well, it’s not true. It usually goes down right sour even though his hand feels warm and strong and he drips sexiness and charm.
He laughed at her comment, an almost unrealistic sound that would send tingles down the spine of any hot blooded woman. “Yes well, you wouldn’t know me. You are far too important to notice a man like myself unless you considered reading Forbes Magazine and Business Journal every once in a while.”
Was that a quip, she smirked. “I suppose if those matters intrigued me I would know you. Yet, if you were that important you would have not only been mentioned, but written one of those articles yourself.”
He laughed again, “You are everything Adele said you would be and more.” He let go of her hand taking it’s warmth with him. “Please, have a seat.” He walked back to his desk and hit the intercom, “Miss Arias if you would please be so kind to bring in two coffees, I take mine black. Miss Cruz?”
“No thank you Daisy, I’ll just be a minute.” She answered averting his gaze by focusing on the intercom in front of her.
He sat down unbuttoning his suit jacket and leaning forward giving her a glimpse of a strong, tanned neckline and well-developed muscles. She stared for a moment and then blinked trying to glance around the office instead of at him.
“What can I help you with today Miss Cruz?” he asked bringing her out of her stupor.
She cleared her throat and forced to herself to look straight at him. “Well, I’d like to know why suddenly now I get limitations and deadlines placed upon me?”
He nodded, “I understand why you might be upset Miss Cruz, but this can only benefit you.”
“And you…you do understand Mr. Jameson, that if I am forced into a short deadline, I am being forced to produce half assed work.”
He nodded, “Honestly Miss Cruz, I didn’t feel you could ever possibly produce less than wonderful work.”
“Flattery will not get you anywhere Mr. Jameson…”
“Will.” He replied suddenly.
She paused, “I’m sorry?”
“My name is William, I go by Will, I prefer my colleagues call me that.”
She stopped and stared at him for a moment, her mouth slightly ajar in confusion. She shook her head, “Yes…ok, Will…the reason I am here is because I need an extension.”
“And why is that Miss Cruz?” the deep tone of his voice vibrating in what seemed like fake concern.
Seemingly flustered she tried to explain…”My inspiration…I am having trouble…I can’t concentrate.”
“Are you telling me you have writer’s block Miss Cruz?”
“Yes…no…yes, and stop calling me by my last name!” Suddenly feeling aggravated by him, she pressed a forefinger to her temple.
“Oh… and how would you like to be called?”
Shocked, Cristina stared at him; his eyes almost looked endearing, like a small child’s, “Crissy…” she whispered nonsensically.
“Crissy...” he whispered back and smiled, “I can work with that. Well then Crissy, how long of an extension were you looking for?”
“I’m not sure, deadlines make me flustered and I don’t like them. I don’t work well under them, it’s one of the reasons I chose to work with this publishing company….”
“And are you aware Miss…Crissy, that because of our lack of deadlines this company may collapse.” His voice held a slightly serious undertone to it causing Cristina to squirm uncomfortably in her seat.
“I doubt very much….”
“I am not finished.” He said sternly.
She paused and stared at him in astonishment as he stood and walked to the far side of the office proceeding to actually pour himself a drink. ‘A drink! In the middle of the day?!’ Cristina realized that no matter how handsome he was, Adele was right, he truly was a conniving bastard, a truly slimy businessman who was used to getting his way.
“Neither was I.” her voice sounding stronger and louder than she meant it to be. Standing up she walked over towards him. ‘If he wanted to play hardball then he would need to be prepared for what was coming.’ She stood straighter coming to stand in front of him, “Now are you going to give me a drink or will I have to serve it myself?”
William’s eyes widened and he looked at her…then down at the bottle. He slowly handed her the glass he held and proceeded to pour another. Cristina held her breath and took a sip, the dark liquid unexpectedly heating up her insides. She managed not to cough and set the glass down reaching out for her purse, “As I was saying Mr. Jameson, I don’t work well under pressure. I’m well aware of your status here, but I also know you are well aware of mine. So I suggest you buy me some time unless you want to lose your best author.”
She went to leave, but quickly turned back around, wanting to get one last glimpse of the handsome man, “And Mr. Jameson, I hope next time you’ll be able to offer me a better drink.” He smiled at her, a real smile that lit his face up. She quickly stepped out and walked away before she lost her nerve. Cristina felt good as she closed the door behind her, like she had won a battle. There was absolutely no way a man, let alone that man, would place any restrictions on her work. She refused to abide by them and she would make sure he understood it if he wanted to keep her. Her confidence remained strong, that is…until she reached the elevator doors and was stopped by Daisy, his receptionist. Astonished, Cristina watched as the pretty, petite, brunette came running up to her.
“Miss Cruz! Miss Cruz wait!” The younger girl breathlessly held out a piece of paper. “Mr. Jameson wanted me to give this to you.” Cristina reached out for the folded up note; scrawled inside was a brief message. ‘I am looking forward to anything you may have written for me by New Year’s Eve.’ Cristina stared at the words for a good five minutes and then looked up to find Daisy watching, her bright brown eyes held curiosity. “Is he expecting an answer?” she asked incredulously.
Daisy looked at her hands nervously, “I’m not quite sure Miss Cruz.”
“Well he’s not getting one….” She turned to leave, but something…mostly anger…propelled her to turn around and head once again towards his office. Daisy tried to stop her, but she pushed right past the poor girl and flung his door open slamming it shut behind her. “You arrogant son of a bitch!”
He stood up from his desk almost seeming dismayed, “I’m sorry.”
“You had to have the last word didn’t you?!” She said crumpling his note and throwing it at him, it bounced off his broad chest and onto his desk. His eyes followed the piece of paper and silence ensued. He stood up slowly and remained still, his hands propped on the desk.
He was definitely an unnerving figure of a man, and probably not used to these types of situations. Especially pieces of paper being thrown at him. Cristina almost laughed from the sheer ridiculousness of the moment. ‘Great Crissy, you should win the prize for greatest drama queen.’ The tension in the room had slowly risen.
After a moment he spoke, “I believe we have had a bad start Miss Cruz, so let me repair this encounter by stating the next carefully selected words…..”
She stood in the center of his office waiting quietly…her chest heaving….her hands forming fists at her sides. Cristina was prepared to fight and although she knew this was probably a bad idea, she was not willing to lose.
“Miss Cruz, I have read every one of your novels, have researched every one of your interviews and I will admit this…” he paused, finally piercing his gaze at her, “you Miss, are an incredible writer, but I am sorry to have to diminish your work by forcing a deadline on you. Unfortunately with new management there are new rules to be placed. If I do not follow through with these rules then I will no longer have control. Rules are for everyone Miss Cruz...including my best author. So if you would like to leave the company please say so now, and do not keep me waiting. Yet if you are willing to stay, I do wish you would help me out in the least bit, and be prompt in your writing.”
Cristina had to admit, her confidence went running down the drain at the mere mention of his asking for her help. Was he truly being sincere, or was he just good with words? She wasn’t sure how to respond…she knew she didn’t want to leave, but she also knew she didn’t want to be pressured to produce something that would be a mere fraction of what she knew her capabilities held when it came to writing. Cristina found herself officially speechless.
“Miss Cruz I understand your foreboding, and you’re probable yearn to slap me, or punch me…” he said, wickedly staring at her fists, “but I do believe that if we really try, we can make this relationship work.”
Cristina slowly unraveled her fingers stretching her hands on either side of her. She watched as he stepped down from his perch at his desk and walked across the room towards her. She felt like a lamb left for the slaughter. He stopped a foot away from her, his scent hitting her senses and shattering her apprehension. At that moment she would have said yes to anything he asked of her.
She slowly nodded, “Fine….what if I told you I would try to have at least a somewhat finished project by that timeframe.”
He smiled causing Cristina’s cheeks to flush a bright red, “Honestly Miss Cruz, nothing would be better for you and for this company than to publish one of your works by at least the beginning of the New Year.”
His words actually sounded sincere…surprisingly so. Cristina turned to leave, upset by her words and embarrassed by her actions.
“Miss Cruz?” She stopped short and turned to look at him, “I do hope the next time we meet paper will not be thrown at me…or anything of substance for that matter.”
A small smile formed on her lips, “Unfortunately, I have little control over my actions when I’m angry, I can’t guarantee something might not go flying at you at some point in our relationship.” She emphasized the last word sarcastically making sure he understood what he had implied earlier.
He smiled in return, “Well, I do have a way of angering people.”
“I’m glad you’ve realized that. I guess we do make a great team.” she turned once again, “Goodbye Mr. Jameson.”
“Goodbye… Crissy.” He whispered as the door softly closed behind her.
Cristina stood still in front of the closed doors and a sense of dread soon followed. What could actually happen if she didn’t produce this book? Would he cancel her contract, it was never her intention to actually leave the company. Adele was both wrong and right, he was a gorgeous arrogant bastard, but he was also fair and somewhat understanding. Cristina looked at the door for a moment and quietly left for her apartment in the hopes to find some type of inspiration, if not she needed to go search for it soon.