Boss Me Good (Boss Me #1)

Boss Me Good (Boss Me, Book One)
Eva Grayson
Favor Ford Publishing

© 2016 by Favor Ford Publishing

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

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Part One
Boss Me Good (Boss Me, Book One)

amn it

I can’t get him off my mind.

I nibble on the end of my pen and take another furtive glance at the door, where Dane Rossi is most likely holed up behind his massive mahogany desk, scrutinizing a pile of papers.

My boss is a perfectionist, with a finely tailored Armani suit that hugs his chiseled body, clean-cut brown hair and welcoming smile—for clients, of course, manufactured but quite believable for those who don’t assume the way I do that it’s all just a mask.

Something about that cool elegance, disguising what I suspect is something deeper, something I imagine few people ever get to see, just makes me crave him even more.

It’s ridiculous how much the man stirs my blood.

Ridiculous and borderline embarrassing. But I can’t stop fantasizing about feeling his big hands on my bare skin. His warm mouth caressing mine. Not once has he ever looked at me with an ounce of heat in his eyes—not that I’ve ever seen, anyway. This stupid crush of mine is getting out of control, yet I’m powerless to stop these feelings.

The overhead lights shut off an hour ago, since the last person in the building except Dane has gone home, and now it’s just me, Dane’s personal assistant, waiting until I too can depart.

I’m sitting at my desk right outside of his office at eight pm on a Wednesday night, with no real social life to speak of, working by a single lamplight.

In yet another futile effort to stop thinking about my boss, I stare hard at the textbook open in front of me until my eyes feel like they’re crossing. I can’t focus on my classwork right now, and I finished all my regular work a half hour ago, so there’s nothing left to do. The silence in here is deafening, so unlike how it is during the day. There’s not a peep from behind his door. Did he sneak out without me knowing? Probably not, since there’s still a soft glow coming from the crack underneath his door.

My fingers itch to reach for my purse, to grab my journal and spill out all my thoughts about this day.
No, not here,
I tell myself. It’s dangerous enough that I even carry it around with me. But ever since I was a kid, journaling has been my way of venting stress, working out my issues, and purging my secrets. Plus it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than therapy. And there are times when I just can’t wait until I get home at night to bare my soul to someone, something,

After another ten minutes dragging on, with the words in the textbook still blurring before my eyes, I give in and grab my journal. I whip the book open to a fresh page and write the date at the top.

oday has been

and brush my fingers along the leather edge of the cover, well worn and soft from regular use. I continue scrawling on the thick journal paper.

y morning class
was cancelled since the prof was sick and couldn’t find a TA in time, so I sat in the commons with a cup of coffee and watched everyone on campus. All these young girls, clustered together, giggling and wearing tight clothes to attract attention. I just don’t feel like any of them. Even when I was in undergrad, I never connected with others my age, but part of that was probably my fault, I’m sure. Mostly from not going to parties or socializing outside of class, even though I did get a couple of invitations that first year. But I couldn’t just ditch my brother to go enjoy myself, could I?

Anyway, when I got to work and slipped into our daily meeting to take notes, Dane got pissed at Carl, who hadn’t completed the color survey with one of our new clients, a big corporation we recently snagged from a massive design firm—a huge achievement on our part. Carl’s lazy, and he totally had the ass-chewing coming. I can’t count the number of times that balding prick has tried to pawn his work off on me, acting as if he’s doing me a favor by giving me “real business experience.” Thanks so very much, douche. I might not be your age, and no I’m not done with my schooling yet, but I’m not an idiot. I hate that he treats me like one. Like I’m a slave here to do all the shit he thinks is beneath him.

Anyway, when Carl stutteringly admitted in the meeting that he hadn’t yet done his work, Dane’s voice dropped to a low growl, almost inaudible. I could see a slow throb in the pulse on the side of his neck. His eyes slit just a fraction, and his nostrils flared. But he never yelled at Carl, not once.

Somehow, the man’s so much more…dangerous when his anger is quietly controlled. Like all that suppressed emotion is coiled up in him, just waiting for an opportunity to be freed. Does he ever release it? Does he go home and punch a bag, or run, or drink? How does he vent the day’s stresses?

As he quietly gave Carl the business, I couldn’t stop staring at him. And…my panties got wet. I know, it’s crazy, and I feel super embarrassed even admitting that. But it’s true. And if I can’t tell you, my dear journal, who else can I confess my darkest sins to?

I don’t know why he makes me so hot when he’s mad like that. Maybe it’s how there’s a spark of realness in his eyes whenever he gets in that zone, not just that impersonal, formal persona he puts on around us in the office. But I imagine what it would feel like if Dane got passionate, fired up beyond the point of suppression, then got it out all of his system by slamming me against the meeting room wall and fucking me. Pounding me over and over again until I was raw and sore and thoroughly pleasured and begging him to stop—but not really meaning it, of course.

Because if he ever looked at me with more than professional courtesy, if he ever put his hands on my body, I’d never want him to quit.

stop writing then
and press a hand to my warm cheeks. Just thinking about it has made that low pulse in my belly return, and I struggle to control my breathing and keep it quiet. Biting my lower lip hard helps curb my rampant emotions.

his craving
for Dane is getting out of control. I can’t believe the feelings he brings out of me. No man has ever made me hurt and ache like this, like my body is both fire and ice at the same time. Just being in a room with him makes me throb all over, makes me feel feverish. I try so hard to keep a calm, even composure around him so he’ll never guess what I’m thinking.

Actually, to tell the truth, I don’t know why I bother hiding how I feel. Dane isn’t going to notice me that way—he sure as hell hasn’t so far. I’m not insanely sexy. I don’t have huge, round breasts or super-long legs or glossy hair or a flirty style, like some of the girls who drop by to see him for lunch dates or whatever. I’m not overly witty and charming and dynamic.

I’m just me.

It’s not that I’m not proud of who I am—I work damn hard at school and in the office, and I’m honest and caring. But he and I are leagues apart. Worlds apart.

And even if he did happen to see me as more than just a plain girl, he’s my boss. Nothing can ever happen with us, so I guess it’s good that it never will. But that doesn’t stop me from wanting it like I need my next breath of air. It won’t stop me from writing all of these fantasies down, if only to purge them from me. Maybe someday I can get ov—

y cell phone vibrates
, startling me mid-word. I drop the pen and scramble for my phone, slamming the journal shut. The home phone line’s number pops up on my cell’s caller ID.

“Emme,” my brother says, his voice sounding slightly ragged when I answer.

“Hey, Robert,” I say evenly, struggling to tuck my errant emotions back deep, deep inside my heart. My brother has no idea how I feel about Dane. No one does. And no one ever will. I shove up from my desk and move to the women’s restroom, where I can talk to him in private for a minute. Not that I think Dane will eavesdrop on me, but I don’t want him knowing I’m taking a personal call when we’re still at work, even if it’s just him and I here. Since Robert knows not to call me while I’m in the office, something must be wrong for him to do so now. “Are you okay?” I ask quietly. “What’s going on?”

My brother exhales loudly, and I can’t help the uneasy feeling that instantly settles in my chest, though I try to fight the kneejerk reaction back. “It’s just…it’s late, and you’re not home yet,” he says.

I swallow and make my next words neutral, soothing. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize I was going to be at work this long. Dane is still here, and you know I can’t leave until he does.”

That was one of the clear rules when I got hired—Dane won’t make me put in one minute more of work than he does, but if he’s here and I’m not on campus, I’m here too, since he relies heavily upon my help to get his multitude of tasks done. Most of the time we don’t stay too late, but there are the occasional late nights that keep me burning the midnight oil. That’s how it is when your boss is the owner of the company.

The pay is good enough to cover Robert’s out-of-pocket therapy, since my insurance won’t cover him and his unemployment doesn’t cover enough, so I can’t complain. Not to mention this job is in my dream industry, business interior décor and renovation. Since I started at Rossi Design six months ago, I’ve been on my best behavior, quietly soaking up everything I can.

“I’ll be home soon,” I promise my brother, who responds with a disappointed huff.

“Sure. Yeah, fine.”

Maybe I can approach Dane just this once and ask to leave early, with a promise to not make this a habit. I’ve been good about his wishes so far. I can hear an undertone in Robert’s voice that makes my stomach flip over itself. He’s been so cheery lately, more like his old self. I don’t want him to sink back into that darkness. It took me weeks to pull him out of it last time.

I force my tone to sound upbeat. “Hey, I’ll bring takeout home with me, too. What do you want?”

“Not hungry.”

I bite my lower lip to fight off the wave of frustration and draw in a slow breath through my nostrils. His doctor warned me about these mood swings, and I just need to ride it through. I have to be patient. He’ll come out of it, eventually. Me getting snippy about his sullenness will only make it worse. “Gimme five minutes, and I’ll head home. And I’m bringing pizza, no argument. You have to eat. Besides, you promised we’d watch our show tonight. You can’t bail on me.”

His voice takes on a bit lighter of a tone, though grudgingly. “Well, yeah, I did remember to DVR it for you. Looks like a good one tonight.”

“Thank you. I appreciate it.” Between work and grad school and studying, I rarely watch TV anymore. But I make an effort to watch recorded shows with Robert when I can. “Okay, I’m gonna go. I’ll see you soon. Get your appetite up, because I’m bringing home the biggest pizza I can find. I’m betting I can eat more slices than you can.”

That earns a laugh from my brother. “Guess I have to defend my title. Fine. You’re on.”

Some of the pressure in my chest eases, and I can breathe smoothly once more.

We hang up, and I cram my phone in my pants pocket. I draw in another breath to steady myself. I’ve been a dedicated employee since I started. Surely this one time will be okay, right? I’ve worked hard to keep my personal life and work life separate, so no one knows about Robert’s condition. God knows he doesn’t want the pity, and I don’t either. But it’s my responsibility to take care of him, and life is about more than just work. My brother needs me.

I gather my stuff, toss on my coat, and knock on Dane’s door, my excuse right on the tip of my tongue.

No answer to my knock.

Did he leave already? The light is still on, but maybe he forgot to shut it off. Or maybe he left when I was in the bathroom.

Dane’s usually good about telling me good-bye when he goes, but it’s possible our paths didn’t cross. Perhaps he’s gone already and I can just leave. Before I can talk myself out of it, I head to the elevators and press the button, sliding into my coat. After a moment, the doors ding open, and I step in, wrap my scarf around my neck.

I’ll send him an email as soon as I get home, explaining I had to go. And if Dane gives me any shit about taking off, well, I’ll just tell him I thought he’s already left, since I knocked on his door and he didn’t answer. Let him argue with me about that. I ignore the sick swirl in my stomach and tell myself it will be fine. He’s a reasonable man, and I had nothing left to do, anyway. Why would he want to pay me for sitting around?

I stroll through the empty parking lot, bathed in a golden glow of overhead lights, hop in my small sedan, and shiver. The air’s getting that October bite in it that warns a cold New England winter is on its way. My breath puffs out in front of my face as I crank the engine on and turn up the heat.

Then I pull out of the parking lot and head home.

* * *

saw online
what happens at the end of the episode. Just you wait,” my brother says with a smug smile as he digs himself deeper into the corner of our worn gray couch. With his right hand, he folds another slice of pizza and chows down.

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