/ Language: English / Genre:love_erotica

Jillian’s Job

Fran Lee

What good is a dream income, access to a private jet, all the perks that go with being Mike Furie’s überproficient personal assistant, if Jillian has no life? She wants a life with a man in it. And staying with overbearing, totally sexy, self-serving bachelor Mike will lead nowhere. A trip to Aspen to “rescue” Mike from the clutches of the latest woman seeking to sink her claws into him, an excess of champagne to fortify her, and she tells him what she thinks of his high-handed tactics. She’s quitting. Again. So how the hell did she end up in bed with him in a Tahoe honeymoon suite, naked? Why can’t she recall how her signature got on that marriage license? Mike discovers talents he never knew Jill possessed. Now he has her right where he wants her. And he wants her again…and again. In his bed and under him. But it’s not all about the lust, and if he gets his way, Jillian won’t be leaving his side or his bed-ever.

Fran Lee

Jillian’s Job

Jillian’s Job Copyright © 2009 Fran Lee

To Katie, Kayllya, Alex, Jessica, Bailey and Andrew…

And the joy you have brought into my life.

Trademarks Acknowledgement

The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction:

Barbie: Mattel, Inc.

Bowflex: Bow-flex of America, Inc.

Cristal: Champagne Louis Roederer

Dior: Christian Dior Couture, S.A.

Dom Perignon: Schieffelin & Co.

Evian: Societe Anonyme Des Eauz Minerales D’Evian Corporation

Gucci: Gucci America, Inc.

Learjet-85: Lear Corporation

Manolo Blahnik: Blahnik, Manolo

Mercedes: DaimlerChrysler AG Corporation

Rolex: Rolex Watch U.S.A., Inc.

Rolls Silver Shadow: Rolls-Royce Limited

Tiffany’s: Tiffany & Company

Chapter One

“Does the bastard ever tell you he appreciates your work?” Tim’s voice was like a small irritating gnat buzzing around Jillian Turner’s head, bothering her as she frowned down at the schedule she was working on on her laptop.

“No, and he pays me enough I don’t have to hear it.” She ignored his sarcasm, and added the recording studio date for Tuesday the 23rd, before hitting the save button and closing the window on her screen.

“Bullshit, Jill. Everyone has to hear it once in a while. Why the hell you insist on killing yourself for that thankless prick, I’ll never understand!” Her brother ran a hand through his already-mussed blond hair, and frowned down at her. “You haven’t had a real vacation in the entire seven years you’ve worked for him, and now the son of a bitch expects you to give up the one weekend we had planned a special family party for your birthday as well?”

Jill sighed, and looked up into Tim’s blue eyes. “I’ll be back in time for the party. I promise. It shouldn’t take more than one day. The party is set for Sunday evening, right? So I just won’t have the full weekend off, that’s all. That’s no big deal.” But it was a big deal, and she damn well knew it.

Tim frowned at her pale face. “You don’t even have a set schedule-the bastard expects you to drop everything and run whenever he decides he needs you. When’s the last time you had a decent night’s sleep?” He glared at the computer screen as if it were a nasty bug. “You aren’t eating right. You look like shit. Mom’s worried sick about you. Have I missed any of the other great perks you have in this job-of-a-lifetime?” Jill had no intention of openly agreeing with him. Even if he were right. Too humiliating-

She smiled at him and put one hand over his lean fingers where they rested on the edge of her desk. “Thanks for worrying about me. But I love my job. I don’t need a nine-to-five schedule. I love the variety. I love the rush. I never get bored.” But that didn’t mean she wasn’t going to quit when she saw her boss this evening.

His eyes bored into her. “Your boss treats you like shit. The son of a bitch walks all over you like you don’t even exist, and you just follow him around and clean up his fucking messes. Quit, and get your life back. The money isn’t worth it.”

Yeah. Right on. Tim’s words sawed through her like a dull knife. Her breath caught in her throat. She knew he didn’t intend to be cruel. He was just worried about her. He cared about her. Her entire family cared. And they all pitied her. Pity-just what she needed for her thirtieth birthday. She swallowed hard and bit the corner of her lower lip. No way was she going to admit that she was going to get her life back as early as tomorrow morning. To admit defeat was to accept it.

“I like my job. I may not have the most thoughtful or considerate boss on earth, but he pays me exceptionally well, I have great insurance and benefits, and I get to go places and see things I would never have been able to as a professional assistant in some corporate office on Wall Street. I travel first class in a private jet. I have an expense account. And if I don’t get all my weekends free, that is just one of the drawbacks to being indispensable.” For one more frigging day, anyway.

Tim bent and kissed her forehead, and growled something about working for selfish pricks who thought money was the remedy for everything in life, and he left her to brood about her job and her life alone.

She shut down her laptop and rested her forehead in her hands. He was right, of course. They all were. And she was pitiful, utterly pathetic. She sighed. She truly didn’t mind working for a man like Michael Furie, as long as he genuinely appreciated and needed her. She gave a sharp, unamused laugh.

Fat chance of that. Michael Furie didn’t need anyone-or appreciate anything.

Michael Furie was an all-powerful, hard-nosed, shoulder-to-the-wheel, totally misogynistic male chauvinist. She stretched and closed her laptop with a groan. And she often wondered if he even knew she existed, beyond her capacity as steadfast, efficient, easygoing doormat and babysitter. Oh yeah. And the most important aspect of her cushy job-professional disaster cleanup.

She knew why Furie wanted her to fly to Aspen at the drop of a hat. As if being treated like she was wallpaper weren’t bad enough. He needed her to “run interference” for him once again. Did she look like a fucking linebacker? She growled and rose from her chair and unplugged the computer cords and cables, stuffing them irritably into the carry bag. She shoved a flyaway curl out of her face and glared at her reflection in the bezel-cut antique mirror over her fireplace mantle.

She did look like shit, just as Tim had said. Okay, so she wasn’t getting any younger. Okay, so she never got a chance to meet decent men who saw her as something more than Mike Furie’s tag-along. Okay, so the only reason she tolerated the jerk was because she had been pathetic enough to fall for him somewhere along the way. As if he would ever notice.

She stared at her flushed face. Was that another frigging wrinkle?

Closing her eyes, she counted slowly to fifty. Twenty wasn’t long enough anymore to regain her composure. It was definitely past time. Of course, she’d had this conversation with her reflection many times before, but she really meant it this time.

It was time to grow up. Become her own person again. Cut and run. As her mom had once so succinctly put it, “stop being a kitchen carpet”. She drew a deep breath and glared at herself. Okay. She would go bail him out again. But he was going to have to find himself another babysitter in the future. Her life was flying past at record speed, and it would be just plain stupid to be following Mr. Hunk-Of-The-Century around like a drooling puppy for another seven years of her life. It was way past time to cut the umbilical that ran from his fine, tight ass to her navel, and get a job that might pay far less, but that would give her some measure of pride back.

Pride? What the hell was that? Oh yeah, she remembered now. She’d always taken great pride in her management capability. In her competence. In her skills as a public relations expert. That’s what had gotten her this job in the first place. And those skills would get her another job that might not pay as much, but would give her back some measure of herself. Some sense of being a real person again, instead of a gofer-escape-artist-interference-runner par excellence. Yes. Keep it up. Repetition was good. She had to keep up the momentum.

Tearing her eyes from her unhappy reflection, she crossed to the sofa and set her computer bag down beside her suitcase. She hadn’t packed much. Just an overnight case with cosmetics, toothbrush, nightgown and robe, and a change for the return flight Sunday morning. The usual hit-and-run assortment of necessities she would require.

She ran her fingertips over the expensive piece of luggage, a gift from her boss from a couple of years back when her luggage got lost somewhere between a photo shoot in Spain and the airport in New York. A sigh escaped, and a sad smile curved her lips. Sometimes-just sometimes-her boss could show compassion and thoughtfulness.

Her old luggage had been ratty and scarred from years of abuse. When he’d found out about the loss, she’d come home to find a fifteen-piece set of the most elegant, expensive matched luggage on the market, filled with the most elegant, expensive clothing money could buy. Everything from underwear to shoes to a floppy brimmed hat (she’d complained about getting a sunburn in Spain) all in the correct sizes and in colors she loved. She had been shocked, elated. But when she’d tried to thank him for his thoughtfulness, he had brushed her appreciation aside like a bothersome gnat, stating flatly that he’d simply had somebody replace stuff she’d lost. No big deal.

But to Jill it had been a very big deal. Another juicy bone tossed to the faithful puppy. It had led to another decision that he was just possibly worth not flaying the delectable skin that stretched so primely over that buff, mouthwatering mass of muscle. Another wasted discussion with her reflection.

That’s the way it always went. She would make up her mind to tell him to take his high-paid job and stuff it, and then he’d do something that totally blew her away. Such as the time she’d broken her ankle dashing across the street on an errand he’d dropped in her lap with no concern for the fact that she’d already had something planned, and he’d come to the hospital in a rented helicopter, landing on the life-flight helipad and rushing to the emergency room straight from a high-class party, wearing black tie and a cummerbund of shot silver silk, his dark hair wet from the pouring rain. And when they’d put her into a cast and had released her, he’d picked her up out the wheelchair they’d taken her to the helipad in, and carried her to the waiting chopper.

And then he’d hired a nurse and a housekeeper for her until she was able to get up and around again.

Damn him! And she’d planned on telling him to hire himself another chump to clean up his messes for him. She paused to get her timeframes straight. That had been…right-last year’s failed attempt to quit.

She frowned at her watch. If she called a cab now, she would be at the airport, on her flight, and on her way to quit again. And this time, she wasn’t going to let anything stop her from giving him notice. Broken bones, lost luggage be damned. And she would take deep satisfaction watching his face when she handed him back the sat phone he had given her just so he could reach her at any and every hour of the day or night. Hah! He wouldn’t be able to find another indentured servant like Jillian Turner. He would have to treat the next one like she had a brain. A life, maybe.

Yes. She would get her life back. Right. Now, if she could just hold that thought.

* * * * *

The driver handed her luggage over and took the bills from her with a nod, and she turned to head into the private terminal, nodding to the uniformed guard who opened the door for her.

“Miss Turner-” He touched his hat and smiled at her as she strode past him.

“How’s the wife today, Jimmy? Has she had that baby yet?”

“She’s a week overdue, but so was our last one. No sweat.”

Jill smiled at the pilot, who handed her bag to the copilot, before offering her a hand as she climbed the metal steps that led to the open hatch door of the Learjet-85. Once seated comfortably in one of the four custom-fitted leather seats, she accepted a chilled bottle of Evian, and nodded that she was belted in securely.

“Weather reports say that Aspen is getting a heavy snow warning. We may have to reroute, but as of one hour ago Sardy was still up and accepting air traffic. I’ll let you know if we have to change the flight plan in midflight.” The pilot smiled, handing her a packet holding the latest magazines. “You know the routine-once the light goes out, you can get something to eat from the galley. Mr. Furie had us stock plenty of microwavables. And I put in some fresh salads too.”

Jill smiled up at Greg Landers, and thanked him for his kindness, before he closed and secured the door and entered the cockpit. Moments later, they were taxiing, and within ten more minutes, the jet was airborne. She sighed and leaned back in the lush comfort of the seat. She was so going to miss this. No commuter lines. No waits for delayed flights. No paying extra for first class.

Damn, she loved this setup, but that was not going to prevent her from taking a stand and telling her boss what he could do with his demands and his lack of consideration. He had been fully aware of her plans for this weekend. She’d put it onto his schedule so he would know that she was unavailable this weekend. A damn lot of good that had done.

He was supremely selfish, self-centered, thoughtless of her needs and totally ambivalent toward her privacy, never thinking once about barging in on her when she was in residence at one of his homes. When she was able to get back to her own apartment once in a coon’s age, she liked being able to walk around in her underwear and flop on her sofa with a snack and watch TV. But she never dared do anything like that when he was around.

He had once even walked into the luxurious bathroom attached to the guest bedroom she normally used at his Aspen house, while she was in the middle of a shower, jerking the glass door aside to yell at her over some minor mistake she’d made in his schedule. He had ignored the fact that she was trying very hard to cover her breasts with the fluffy white washcloth, and was angling her hip to him so she wasn’t flashing him with a view of her pubic hair.

He had simply raked her up and down with one angry glare and had told her to get the hell out of her shower, put something on, and get his fucking schedule fixed-stat! She doubted that the asshole had even realized she was naked, for all the notice he took. She had exited from her bathroom three minutes later wrapped in her terry robe, to find him pacing in her bedroom, rifling absently through her personal stuff on the dresser. He had glanced up and had said tersely, “Get rid of my appointments for the rest of the day. I have someplace to be, and I don’t want to be bothered with business.”

And then he had unexpectedly dragged her along with him to the Aspen Music Festival, where he had insisted that she accompany him and take notes on anything he found interesting.

There had been a minimum of note-taking. It had been a wonderful outing, and she had loved it, but he had acted as if she had destroyed his entire day with that one measly error where she’d forgotten to enter an appointment with Gretchen Gaines, the movie and music editor who had been trying her damnedest to get an exclusive interview-or possibly get him in a compromising position-for months. Ms. Gaines had shown up on time, and had made herself at home while he was talking on the phone with his attorney about getting a new rock group under contract.

After ten minutes of backpedaling, and finally getting her out of his house, he’d marched into Jill’s private suite and had blown his gasket. And he hadn’t even bothered to apologize for invading her privacy and embarrassing the hell out of her. But the next day, when she’d tried to find her terry robe, she found in its place a stunning, extremely sexy and expensive satin dressing gown. And to add to her humiliation, he had taken it upon himself to replace her flannel nightgown with a filmy, scandalously sexy one she felt half-naked in.

Just like him to point out that she owned ratty, dowdy sleepwear, and an old bathrobe that she’d had for over ten years. What the hell was it to him? She realized he was just trying to be conciliatory, but she would have greatly preferred a verbal apology. However, Mike Furie wasn’t one to apologize or admit fault. Money fixed everything. Still, the gown and dressing gown had been breathtaking, and she had to admit that it had been rather sweet of him-

Whoa there. Sweet? Nothing about the man could remotely be called sweet. She had halfway expected him to ask her to model it for him, but he hadn’t mentioned it, so neither had she. She’d started locking the bedroom and bathroom doors after that. No more unexpected visits from a ranting boss, thank you very much.

She was going to try to forget all the times she had been fully prepared to walk out on him, only to be brought up short in her efforts by something oddly out of character that he did, or some unforgettably kind action that he’d taken. Like the time he’d been driving to an appointment and a ten-year-old accidentally swerved and plowed into his fender, falling off his ancient, second-hand bike, and the man had ended up buying the kid a top-of-the-line replacement, and had bought the entire down-on-its-luck family a fabulous Christmas, as well as stocking their pantry for half a year with food.

The Mercedes had taken twelve hundred dollars in repairs to the paint and chrome, and the kid hadn’t even been scratched.

She shook her head in disgust. Stay on track, Jill. Don’t go getting soft, now. You’ve made up your mind. No more! He was toast. She had even brought the classifieds with her to look for a new job. She sipped her water as she circled another personal assistant job in red ink. She winced at the lousy pay offered. Oh well. At least she could count on having a decent, normal schedule where she could even see her family when she wanted.

She read down the column. So damn many jobs-no wonder. Nobody would take a job that required such high skills for such a pittance. But then, not every CEO or executive demanded 24/7 access to his assistant. She would have nine-to-five days. Weekends to herself.

As long as the job offered decent insurance and benefits, she could easily afford to take a cut in pay. She’d been damn frugal with her generous salary these past seven years. She had invested in mutual funds, and plowed some into treasury bonds. Not the highest return rate, but one hell of a lot safer than the stock market these days. And don’t forget the bullion she had in her economy-sized lock-box at the bank. Gold would still be valuable even if the dollar dropped out the bottom of the world again, right? Buy low and sell high, right? She’d learned a few things in her stint with Furie Enterprises.

Yes. She could afford to find a job that paid less. A job where she might actually meet nice, normal men. She gave a snort. Yeah right. Normal, married-but-looking, divorced-but-shopping-around, or single-with-a-momma-complex men. Face it, girl. The unattached males in her age group were seldom actually unattached, and seldom what they appeared to be. She’d had enough of them make passes at her over the past few years. Friends or business associates of Furie’s-producers, musicians, sundry and assorted creeps of every imaginable type and income level. Unfortunately, most seemed to assume that simply being the “personal assistant” of a high-powered, sexy and wealthy man like Michael Furie meant that she was loose, looking and available.

Furie himself had hired her for her excellent mind, and for her ability to overlook the fact that he was one of the world’s most eligible, wealthy bachelors and one of the world’s most heart-stoppingly handsome and sexy males. Her willingness to do her job without falling all over her tongue as every other assistant he’d hired then fired had done. Her cool, sexually appropriate manner gave him no fear of his assistant grabbing at him and tearing off his clothes and begging to have him take her to bed, as his last assistant had. He had expected total professionalism, total commitment. And he had paid top dollar for such. Jillian Turner was probably the world’s most highly paid personal assistant and gofer. And she had been worth every damn penny.

Her ability to deal with high-powered, hotheaded men of every kind came from having six older brothers. Six older brothers who had teased, tortured, goaded, antagonized, lorded over and otherwise abused her throughout her tender childhood. Not to mention had kept every cute guy she had a crush on so utterly terrified of asking her for a date, she had grown up without ever once being asked to go to a movie or to a prom until her last brother had gone away to college. But by then she had learned to manage without male attention, and had learned that she could accomplish far more without the uncomfortable entanglements of a male ego bashing its ugly head against her damn stubborn pride.

So, except for one or two short-lived, abortive attempts at finding a compatible male to share an occasional drink and an occasional sleepover with, she had remained blissfully unattached. Until she had gone to work for one of the most aggravating, irritating and mouth-wateringly delectable males on the face of the earth. And even though she considered herself immune to males of his type-or any type for that matter-Jillian Turner had found herself, for the first time she could recall, wanting a man to notice her as something other than a piece of furniture. She fantasized about her boss in X-rated dreams that brought her awake panting, her panties drenched with cream as she fought to contain her heart rate.

But her implacable, charismatic, breathtakingly handsome boss had apparently hired her for her very lack of attractive qualities. Her inability to appear feminine enough to distract him. For her ability to maintain a cool, ultra-professional demeanor and not drool all over his shoes whenever she was in his presence. Damn! So she had wisely deferred her drooling to nights when she found him wandering into her fevered, pathetic dreams. Every lean, succulent, delicious millimeter of that six-foot four-inch, Bowflex hardened, wet-dream-gorgeous body that made every female within one hundred yards of the man sit up and whimper. One look from those laser-blue eyes killed most women. And that silky, dark, finger-combed hair made them want to brush back the wayward lock that inevitably fell forward over that smooth brow as he worked.

And so she remained single and available, so to speak. Nursing a pathetic, unrealistic crush on a man who saw her only as a robot there to do his slightest bidding, without question.

Oh well. That was all going to end very soon. So long, dream-man from hell. Hello, normal, everyday existence and a new lease on life.

Chapter Two

She glanced at the overcast sky as she slid into the limo he had sent to the airport for her. The blown flakes of snow quickly covered her light jacket, making her realize that she’d left L.A. without even thinking that not every place on earth was a comfy seventy degrees in the middle of February. At least she wouldn’t be staying long enough this time to need a heavy coat. She would be on the jet back to sunny skies by Sunday morning.

The driver tucked her bag into the trunk, and came around to his door and got in, then lowered the privacy glass and said, “Mr. Furie is entertaining. Do you want to stop at Dior or Gucci before we arrive? You didn’t bring much in the way of luggage.”

She smiled and shook her head. “I won’t be joining the party, George. I don’t plan on being here long enough to need additional clothes. But thanks for inquiring.”

The privacy glass slid back up, and she leaned back to continue reading the classified section. She had circled ten prospective jobs. Only four of them included even close to the benefits package she wanted, but she could always negotiate. She flicked on the overhead light, since the waning daylight was too dim to allow for comfortable reading. That, along with the privacy coating the limo had on the rear windows, made it impossible to see without the added light. Finally she tucked the section back into her oversized shoulder bag, and checked the packet of labeled flash drives she had brought along to drop off with Furie. The important data she wouldn’t need anymore because-she-was-quitting.

She leaned back again and gazed out the window to watch the tourist traffic that seemed to fill the streets during the ski season. She loved Aspen in the winter. She had learned to love snow, and California was not the best place to live if you liked snow. Yes. She was going to miss this particular perk of her job.

Mike Furie had homes in Aspen, Los Angeles, New York, Florida, and Virginia. He maintained the homes and spent a couple of months in each area, but called California home. He used the venerable pre-Civil-War estate in Virginia for political activities, the New York apartment was his east coast base, the Florida ranch was surrounded by orange and grapefruit groves, and the California estate in Coldwater Canyon was big enough to house ten families. The house in Aspen was the place where he came to ski and relax.

Sure. If you could possibly call it relaxing with a hundred guests milling around your house? He gave lavish entertainments in Aspen. Most of the people he associated with spent time there. His ten-bedroom house sported a six-car garage and thirty wooded acres. But then, Mike Furie was always surrounded by the jet set-the beautiful people. Wealth and fame seemed to be attracted to her boss. And a great many leeches and mooches. People who hung around because he was too busy and high-powered to notice they were eating all his food and drinking all his expensive wines and champagne. People who simply needed to be in the shadow of a man like Furie.

She could sympathize with them. She’d spent seven years in his shadow, and it could be most addictive. But unlike those who clung for the usual reasons, she simply wanted to be anywhere he was. She shook off the feeling she got at that thought. Totally pathetic. What a frigging simp she was. Now she was sounding even to herself like she desperately needed psychoanalysis. Any woman who would desperately cling to a man who didn’t even know she drew breath was one sick puppy. Oh. Right. He knew she existed. She was his highly paid gofer.

She glanced at her watch again and frowned. They should have arrived at the house a few minutes ago. She pushed the button to lower the glass, and George glanced into the rearview mirror and said quietly, “Mr. Furie ordered me to take you to Dior. Sorry, Miss Turner. He says you are supposed to be dressed for black tie when you arrive, and I don’t think he’ll take no for an answer.”

Knowing better than to argue pointlessly with George, Jill merely sighed and nodded. “Very well, George. I’ll humor him this time. Exactly what is the nature of the entertaining he’s doing tonight?”

The chauffeur smiled. “He doesn’t confide in me, Miss Turner. But his guest list reads like the Who’s Who of the high-society world. I do believe he is having some difficulty…dislodging…one rather tenacious lady.” George knew exactly what this was all about.

She nodded and sank back into the seat. O-kay. So running interference apparently meant that some high-society doll face had tried to fasten her claws in Furie’s hide, and needed to be shaken loose by a jealous lover. Not the first time she’d been hauled off the bench to run a fake-out pass at the twenty-yard line. Well, if the man intended to have her pretend to be his love interest again, she was going to make him pay through the nose, with the most expensive, most scandalously sexy ready-to-wear Dior had on its racks. And she might even have them toss in a couple of baubles from Tiffany’s as well. After all, a jealous fiancée was one hell of a lot more impressive than a jealous girlfriend-right?

* * * * *

It appeared that she was expected, for the moment she entered the lavish, lush showroom, she was personally greeted by Madame Francine and escorted to a private viewing room. From the obvious quality and expense of the gowns she was shown, she realized that he was giving her carte blanche to rig herself out in one-of-a-kind regalia, so she spared no expense and pampered herself outrageously. It would be his going-away gift to her, for seven years of hard work and dedication. To hell with a chintzy gold watch.

An hour later, decked out in Dior’s finest evening gown, and wearing matching necklace, bracelets and earrings that had just set her boss back a couple hundred thou, and wearing a three-carat diamond and platinum engagement ring that had set him back another one hundred twenty-five thousand dollars, she pulled her full-length white fox fur about her body and slipped into the backseat of the limo, giving George a wicked wink as the man stared, open-mouthed.

“Can’t argue with the man, eh, George? Maybe next time, he’ll think twice before turning a pissed-off woman loose with his credit cards.”

* * * * *

The secluded, three-level house was ablaze with lights as a snow-filled dusk fell, and when George pulled into the underground garage to save her from entering the front door through the snow, she suddenly felt as if she had seriously overstepped the boundaries of her relationship with Michael Furie, clad in finery that had set him back well over three hundred fifty thousand dollars. But he deserved it, ignoring her wishes and insisting she take this damn trip. Besides, he could always return the jewelry, and probably even the gown. The Manolo Blahniks gold open-toed pumps with a dainty toe buckle crusted in faceted blue and white sapphires might not be able to be returned, but the rest? Yeah. He could get his money back.

An attendant offered her the crook of his arm as she stepped from the limo, and she graciously accepted, allowing the uniformed man to escort her into the entry foyer guests used when inclement weather prevented entrance through the wide double doors above. She noted the carpeted stairs had been covered with a red cloth, and smirked as she wondered who warranted the red-carpet treatment tonight.

As she reached the main level where a uniformed attendant was waiting to take her coat, she glanced about at the cathedral-ceilinged open area that served as a ballroom or a party room, and she smiled. “Hello, Cecile. How’s Eddie doing?”

The woman blinked at her questioningly before she recognized her, and dark eyes widened in amazement at the stunning vision the gown, fur and jewelry must be projecting. “Señorita Turner! My, you are truly a vision. You’ve been hiding your light under a bushel, I think.”

The housekeeper’s daughter, Cecile, came in to help out with parties, and to assist her mother in cleaning up after the holidays. Her husband Eddie had broken his hip and thigh in a car accident the last time Jill had been here, and Furie had given her more hours to help out with expenses because he couldn’t go back to work for a few months. Plus her boss had paid the medical bills. No! Don’t think about things like that. You are here to deal with the problem of quitting.

Cecile petted the stunning fur wistfully and shook her head with a sigh. “He is much better. Senor Furie has given him a job working on his cars until he can go back full time when his casts are off. Oh, this is lovely!”

“And where is the great hero?” Jill asked with a grin, knowing that in Cecile’s estimation, that’s exactly what her boss was at the moment.

“He is on the top level. He wants to know the moment you have arrived. I will have Manuel let him know you are here-”

“It’s okay, Cecile, I’ll let him know. Don’t bother.” She straightened her shoulders and headed for the curved staircase that led up to the third level of the huge house. She noted the heads that turned to follow her, and bit the corner of her lip. The sapphire-blue silk gown with its overdress of gold netting was certainly an eye-catcher, especially with the back of the dress practically nonexistent. Draping seductively from a crossover halter neckline that left barely enough room for the exquisite diamond and sapphire choker to rest above the material, it fell away to her feet in a sultry, swirling fall that brushed over breasts and hips like a soft hand. The matching tennis bracelet and the long dangle earrings sparkled under the track lights that lit the staircase with a soft glow.

She had not had time for a hairdo, so she had simply swept the thick red-gold curls up into a high-set ponytail at her crown, and had wound another bit of sapphire silk around the band to conceal the elastic. It gave the impression that her neck was longer and left the gorgeous earrings plenty of space to sway and glitter breathtakingly.

She stepped up the final carpeted stair and paused, glancing around the smaller salon that opened up over the gallery at the head of the stairs, before narrowing to the corridor that led to the bedrooms at the back of the level. The bronze and smoked glass chandelier at the apex of the vaulted ceiling cast warm light over the area, and made her shimmery gold overdress and glittering jewels look even more amazing than they had in the showroom. She decided that not a soul would recognize her unless she introduced herself, so she gathered her courage and moved slowly toward the center of the gallery, looking about for Furie.

Heads turned to follow her progress, but no one called out her name. She was not a familiar face to the beautiful people. Only his employees knew her well enough to recognize her. Her anonymity was assured.

And then she saw him, standing uncomfortably in a tight group of people, with a stunningly beautiful supermodel type holding onto his arm like she had grown there, her laugh a high tinkle of feigned amusement that never quite reached those gorgeous amber-colored eyes. Jillian stood for a long moment, relishing the amount of discomfort he was experiencing, waiting for his eyes to swivel her way before she made her grand entrance.

A man turned to glance at her from a jovial conversation beside her, and gave her a keen once-over before sidling up to her and introducing himself. He didn’t have to. She knew his face from the magazine covers and the tabloids as Jerrod Lane, two-time Academy Award winning actor and heartthrob of millions of females the world over. She glanced at him with a cool smile and replied to his outrageous compliment with a simple “thank-you” before turning her gaze back to her boss.

“I haven’t seen you around before. And from the look of that boulder on your hand, I’d say you were taken…but Heaven help me, I wouldn’t be a red-blooded male if I didn’t try.” Jerrod slid one lean hand around her waist, and tried to draw her closer. His reward was an acid stare that could have wilted the entire White River National Forest. He grinned and released her waist, and said in a husky tone that had dropped an octave, “Who’s the lucky devil who’s got you wrapped around his pinkie?”

The moment he spoke, Michael Furie glanced up, his ice-laden dark blue gaze locked with hers, and his body unfurled from the defensive posture he’d assumed, forcing the female hanger-on to loosen her grip. Jill tried not to look shaken. She tried not to react to the heat that ran through her like a shot of fire from head to toe-tips, making her wonder numbly if the Manolo Blahniks had melted off. She smiled across the room at him, and Jerrod followed her gaze, instantly whistling softly and backing off a step.

“I should have guessed, Gorgeous. But if you ever decide to trade up, I’m always around.” He vacated his spot beside her as Furie slowly extracted himself from the other woman’s grasp with a quiet, “Excuse me.” Heads turned as he stepped out of the tight knot of bodies and moved across the gallery toward her, and she fought the urge to bite her knuckles and whimper. That man had such a walk.

She managed a brilliant smile up into his eyes as he stopped so close she could feel his body heat through the silk of her gown, and she placed her hand with the blinding rock on it on his forearm, and said just loudly enough to be overheard for about ten feet, “Mike! Darling! I’m sorry I’m late.”

She noted the circuitous route those eyes took as they slipped over her gown, her jewelry and the impressively breathtaking engagement ring she was prominently displaying, and a muscle twitched in the deep groove beside his mouth. He seemed to be fighting some dark and angry emotion that she feared she would hear about later-and in the most uncomplimentary tones possible-but surprisingly, he gave her a sexily crooked smile.

“Don’t I even get a kiss after waiting all this time for you to finally show up?” His voice was a sexy growl that was just loud enough for those around them to hear clearly, although he pretended to be speaking for her ears alone. Jill felt like they were in a fishbowl, the way all eyes were glued to them. She stood up on her tiptoes and aimed for his cheek. But before her lips made contact, he turned his head and she ended up planting one smack-dab on his smiling mouth. And oh, what a mouth the man had…

And he didn’t settle just for a friendly kiss. He slid his arms around her body and dragged her up against his chest, smoothly covering her jerk of shock by catching the back of her head in the palm of one hand and slanting his mouth to take hers completely. His strong, champagne-flavored tongue slipped easily past her lips as she opened them to ask what the hell he was doing. Her heart rate ratcheted up as he traced the inside of her mouth sensuously. If she hadn’t known her boss so damn well, that kiss might have fooled even her, but she figured he had paid through the nose to be kissed, and she decided that she might as well let ’er rip.

Warring with his tongue, she explored the warm depths of his mouth as she slid her hands up behind his head and arched her body into his tuxedo, pressing her hips against his suddenly burgeoning cock, ignoring the rush of excitement his highly obvious arousal gave her, as she did exactly what she had wanted to do for the past six-plus years.

She kissed him-savagely, hungrily, possessively. Giving as good as she got, even though for him it was just an act to discourage the positively fuming blonde who had turned and stomped off toward the stairs back to the second level.

His mouth was decadently hot and delicious. The expensive champagne was dry and heady on his tongue, and she could not possibly have imagined how it would feel to have him kissing her like this-not even in her wildest wet dreams. His hot, spicy masculine scent filled her nostrils. Her heart felt like a super ball that might easily zap its way straight out the front of her silk gown and go bouncing wildly across the carpet if he kept kissing her.

Tongues tangling voraciously, breathing uneven and heated, their bodies were plastered hungrily against each other as his arms pulled her so tight into his embrace she could almost feel his spine. And then his hand cupped her ass in a familiar, possessive squeeze, and she inhaled and tried to back away. He murmured huskily against her lips, “Relax. You’ll survive.”

She would smack him upside the head later.

When she finally felt her dangling feet touch the carpet again, and his mouth lifted from hers, she realized that men were slapping Furie on the back, and voices were raised on every side as her “fiancé” accepted congratulations from his associates even while he kept her firmly pressed against his still-rampant hard-on. Probably to conceal it until it eased.

She smiled at the people who spoke to her, not hearing a damn word of what they were saying. Her belly was a wad of hot mush. Her legs wouldn’t have held her if he had decided to let go of her, and she had no desire to sit in a heap on the carpet at everyone’s feet. So she kept her hands tightly clenched on his shoulders.

“So, Furie…this is the surprise you said you had for everybody? It’s about time, man! I can’t say I blame you for keeping her under wraps. I wouldn’t let her out of my sight, if I were you.” Voices buzzing, glasses clinking as toasts were raised, laughter-not much strained through to her shell-shocked mind with that hard, completely mind-blowing body clamped possessively to hers.

She was going to kill him…and then maybe attack him and strip him and-

Jocular comments fueled by large quantities of expensive champagne were bandied back and forth, and when his amazing erection had eased enough to not make a spectacle of himself, he allowed her to move slightly away, but kept her firmly wrapped in one arm, pinned to his side. A flute of champagne was thrust into her hand, and she drank for want of anything better to do as he used her for the inevitable prop and made the most of the stir her presence had caused.

And the stand-in QB throws a touchdown pass…

Numbly she smiled and shook hands as she was introduced as “My fiancée, Jill,” without her actual last name ever being given. Plausible deniability. She downed the flute of delicious champagne, and accepted another. She had begun to feel a lot like a blonde kewpie doll permanently attached to his hip.

After what seemed like hours of listening to inane talk, and male jokes being bandied back and forth, everything began to blend into everything else. Except that during those hours, she had very possibly swallowed about a gallon of champagne, and champagne was not her drink of choice.

Damn! Faces were swimming. Voices were fading in and out. Tinny laughter was making her dizzy. She felt something hard under her cheek, and realized that she was leaning into Furie’s chest, and they were dancing. Or at least, he was dancing, and half-carrying her around the floor with her feet half an inch off the floor. For the first time since she’d arrived, no one was babbling at them, and she drew a shaky breath and said, “I need…t’talk…to you.”

“We have plenty of time to talk later.” His breath was warm against her ear, and she shivered.

“No! Need to talk-now.” She shook her head. The motion made her dizzy as hell, and she hiccupped. “Ooops. I’m drunk as hell-” She giggled drunkenly.

“That you are. Am I the one who bought that ring for you?” His voice was a rumbling purr against her temple.

“Serves you right, you selfish prick,” she murmured. “Missing my…birthday…’cuz of…you.”

She expected him to be angry, so his soft laughter startled her. She twisted her head up from his chest where it lay, and frowned at him. He was definitely blurry. “Came here…to tell you…to fuck off.”

Dark blue eyes gazed back at her. Why’d the bastard have three eyes? Nope, four eyes-the son of a bitch had more of everything…as usual.

“You mad at me for some reason, Turner?” he breathed against her temple, sending chills through her.

“’Course…I’m mad-” She frowned, trying hard to figure out which eyes belonged where. The one on his nose was definitely in the wrong place. “Chauvinistic bastard. My name’s Jill…you never use my name-”

“Want to tell me how you really feel?” He gave her a crookedly sexy smile.

“I just did…didn’t I?”

“You don’t drink, do you, Jill?” He was grinning. The jerk.

“’Course I drink…’cuz I’m fucking drunk-”

“Calling you Turner makes me a bastard?” His mouth moved slowly against her skin as he whispered.

“‘Course not. You’re a…bastard…because you don’t even…know…I exist…you bastard-”

She thought he laughed, but she couldn’t be exactly sure, because that was the moment she passed out.

Chapter Three

Her head must have fallen off. No. It was still there, because it hurt like hell. Her tongue tasted like old green felt that had been stripped off an old pool table. Her hair hurt. She reached up to check to see if it was on fire. Her hand found nothing but tangled curls and a pillow that was pulled over her head. A groan escaped her lips. Ow! Even that made her head hurt. What was it? Champagne? Dom Pérignon? Or was it Cristal? Ooohhh, God. If she ever saw another bottle of champagne, she’d puke.

She groaned into the mattress, and decided not to bother opening her eyes. She wondered if even that tiny movement would make her sicker than she already felt. Probably. Best to just remain still. She drew deep, slow breaths. She rubbed the back of her hand over her nose to stop an itch, and nearly sliced her nose off.

What the hell? She blinked blearily at her hand under the pillow, illuminated by the faint light that came from around the edges. The cold glitter of a huge diamond nearly blinded her.

Huh? Oh yeah, the rock. Her eyes dropped closed again, and then flew open. Was that…an arm clamped around her? She drew a deep breath, and verified that the heavy weight of a human arm was clamped possessively around her body. Her. Naked. Body?

It was a bad dream. It had to be. An alcohol-induced hallucination. Yeah. But then the hallucination’s arm tightened slowly, pulling her back against another naked body. One that had hard, solid muscles. And one particular muscle was prodding into the small of her back like a frigging fence pole. Her eyes closed tight again.

What. The. Hell?

What the hell was she doing in bed with a naked man? And just what naked man was she in bed with? Sudden visions of Jerrod Lane jarred through her thoughts-the way he had latched onto her and had offered to be big daddy made her swallow hard. Her stomach lurched dangerously.

Oh God. Had she gotten blotto and let that jerk take her to bed? Visions of little Jerrods racing around at her feet were swept away by the blessed recollection of the implant she had decided to get last summer after the rape scare that had gone through her apartment complex. Thank God for paranoia.

Oh, her head throbbed. But no way was she going to just lie there in bed with Jerrod Lane. Famous, handsome, promiscuous, totally hot Jerrod Lane. She pulled the pillow off her head and winced at the brilliant morning light that spilled in through the windows of the unfamiliar room. She forced her bleary gaze to check out the room that was visible, and she saw her sapphire and gold job tossed over the back of an antique chair. On top of a black tux. Shit. Now what?

He hadn’t moved. He hadn’t spoken. Maybe he was still asleep. Lots of men got morning hard-ons. Right? She shifted carefully and tried to slip quietly out from under that arm, only to have it wind even tighter around her body, dragging her back against hot, solid muscle. The naked man behind her drew a deep breath, and stretched slowly. Aw, hell. He was wide awake.

Trying hard to move her ass away from that marauding cock, she tugged at the arm, and said in a cool, calm squeak, “Look, just let me get up and out of here, okay? I won’t tell anybody if you don’t.”

Lips brushed over the back of her bare shoulder, sending chills along every nerve she possessed, and she gave a startled yelp. “Stop that! This was all a great big mistake. Just let go and I won’t start screaming-okay?”

A lean hand slid under her from behind to cup her breast, while the one on top slid slowly down over the curve of her hip to rest between her thighs. The naked man behind her whispered huskily against her ear, “You weren’t nearly so pissed off last night, Turner.”

Nope. Not Jerrod Lane. The naked man was the bastard himself. With a whimper of pain from jerking her throbbing head around like Linda Blair to stare into Michael Furie’s whiskery face, Jill gave a yelp of terror and struggled like a salmon hooked by a grizzly, but he merely allowed her to turn over in the bed to face him, and she was in an even worse spot than she had been with her back to him. His hard-on now prodded wetly against her mons.

“What the hell have you done, damn you?” she yelped hysterically. “You took advantage while I was drunk out of my frigging mind? Oh, I always knew you were a bastard, but I never dreamed…” she grated furiously, her head pounding and her stomach lurching.

“Not even a sweet, good-morning kiss for your husband?” he asked quietly.

“Let me up right-” Her jaw dropped. Her eyes widened to saucers. “My WHAT?”

Dark blue eyes glittered with something she didn’t recognize. “You heard right the first time. Except I can’t call you Turner anymore. I think Furie would be more apropos.”

“This is so NOT funny. Ha ha! Great joke. Now let me the fuck up and I’ll be on my way.”

Pounding head be damned. Fuzzy tongue be damned. Waking up naked with this man was not her idea of the best way to end an employer-employee relationship, but so be it. A long-cherished wet dream, to be sure, but this was not exactly the way a woman should turn in her two-week notice.

“Funny. You weren’t this prickly last night when we got married. In fact, you were rather adorably cuddly and giggly. Hangovers seem to make you damn cantankerous.” His arms tightened, and she was flat against his chest, his hard-as-nails cock resting solidly between her thighs. “I like you naked, Furie. If I’d have known how fucking good you felt before, I think I’d have gotten you naked a lot sooner.”

“No. Way. Are. We. Married, Michael Furie! Just buying myself a diamond with your credit card doesn’t mean we’re hitched, dammit.” Her wriggling was only working that rock-hard invader deeper into her amazingly wet slit.

“No, but your signature and mine on our marriage certificate makes it pretty official, I’d say.”

Jill stiffened. “But…I can’t be married to you. I hate your guts.”

“So you told me last night.” His long fingers traced over her back, sending hot and cold shivers along her spine.

“I would never have gotten married to you. You…you’re a-”

“A selfish, chauvinistic bastard. Right. And you can’t stand the sight of me, because I treat you like a slave…” His lips dragged slowly over her forehead, making her dizzy again, but for an entirely different reason.

“I was going to tell you to…”

“Take my high-paid job and stuff it up my ass. Yeah, I heard.” The flick of his tongue across her jaw made her bite her lip to keep from whimpering.

Her hands tingled where they rested against his hard, muscular chest, and she debated if she should move them. No. If she moved them, her breasts would be flat against his chest, and she didn’t think she could handle the sensory overload. Her nipples ached to feel his smooth, hard body. Ached to feel his hot, hungry mouth. Faint memories of last night wedged themselves into her consciousness. The feel of his steel-hard, silken erection between her thighs brought back memories of feeling it buried deep inside her body as he moved so slowly and deliciously to pleasure her. No. Impossible!

“You wouldn’t marry someone like me,” she blurted. “You’re one of the most misogynistic, hard-nosed, impossible-to-pin-down, dyed-in-the-wool bachelors on the face of this earth.” Okay, that sounded good. Too bad he wasn’t letting go of her.

His lips grazed her throat, and moved down to taste her collarbone, then her puckered pink nipple, his tongue swirling hungrily around the swollen peak as he slowly drove his hips against hers, rubbing his cock over her aching, wet folds. “Guilty as charged.” His hot breath against her nipple made her moan. “I have to admit, Mrs. Furie, that you are the most breathtaking lover I’ve had in a long time.”

“You complete and utter bastard,” she hissed as he rolled her more firmly under his body and wedged his hips between her thighs, sliding deep inside her with a smooth, hard thrust that brought her body up to meet his with a keening whimper of need.

“Oh. My. God! That feels so darned good.” Her mind melted under the sensory onslaught of Mike Furie’s thick, utterly decadent cock buried hard and deep inside her, plunging in and drawing out with a measured, insistent rhythm that made her lose track of what she’d been saying. She couldn’t even remember her own name.

“You might detest me as a boss, Jillian Furie,” he rasped as he drove into her again and again, “but as lovers, we mesh perfectly.” His voice was a guttural growl in his throat as she wrapped her legs about his hips to take him deeper, her nails scoring his back as she threw her head back and climaxed with a scream of pleasure, her pussy clamping around his cock so hot and tight, she could feel nothing but his length filling her.

Clinging to him as he continued to drive his lush cock in and out of her, she wondered if she’d died and gone to heaven, or if she’d died and gone to hell. It felt like heaven, but the devil couldn’t go there, right? So if Mike Furie was making love to her, she couldn’t possibly be in heaven.

Riding the most decadent wave of orgasmic pleasure, Jill arched upward to take every delicious inch of that hard body into herself, and another mind-bending climax shuddered through her like shards of hot glass.

He gave her a few more of those powerful thrusts before he drove deep and came so hard, his eyes rolled back into his head. He lay on her sweet soft body, his head filled with her lush scent. The scent of woman, mixed with the heady, delicious perfume she preferred-the scent that had driven him to wet dreams from hell for the past seven years. The only thing that had kept him from making a try long ago was the fact that quick, hot affairs invariably destroyed good working relationships, and she had not once in seven years ever made the slightest move that he could possibly construe as an invitation. And Mike Furie didn’t go where he wasn’t invited.

But last night, after she’d gotten blotto on his extremely expensive champagne, she’d admitted that although she didn’t like him one damn bit, his indifference to her as a woman pissed her off.

Now, that could reasonably be construed as an invitation. He had simply taken her up on it. And securely locked his priceless treasure of a personal assistant into a long-term contract. For the measly price of one designer original gown, a fifteen hundred dollar pair of shoes, a quarter-million in jewelry and a seventy-five dollar marriage license. Not a bad night’s work.

And on top of that, she was completely amazing in bed. Adorable. Delectable. And as he buried himself blissfully in her succulent, hot little body once again, he realized one more thing-he had to make her fall head over heels in lust with him. Because as pissed off as she was right now, he might end up in divorce court before the honeymoon was over.

Chapter Four

Jill glared down at her brand-new wedding ring tucked beside her huge diamond. Well-that was one hell of a way to refuse her resignation. If anything, Mike Furie was resourceful.

How the hell he had managed to parlay her quitting her cushy job as his assistant into a totally hot, completely mind-bending marriage of convenience totally escaped her. One minute she was telling him off. The next, she was humping him madly in a hotel room in Tahoe. She had absolutely no memory of leaving Aspen in his jet. There was a fuzzy recollection of visiting the wedding chapel at the Tahoe Hilton. And falling into a California King bed with satin sheets in the honeymoon suite.

The only thing she was damn sure of-she wouldn’t get within a hundred feet of another bottle of champagne as long as she lived. And walking around all day in a slinky designer evening gown was not going to cut it. She showered and paid a visit to a couple of the exclusive designer boutique shops in the hotel lobby, to buy something to wear besides her gown. Not a soul even lifted a brow as she walked into the expensive little boutiques wearing a wrinkled evening gown. Possibly because it utterly screamed wealth.

As she used his unlimited credit to purchase enough clothes to fill two trunks, she wondered what had happened to make him suddenly decide he wanted a wife instead of just a personal assistant. She wasn’t naïve enough to think the man was in love with her. But he was definitely in temporary lust with her, and she could deal with that. For now.

She decided that abusing a man’s credit cards must be like some sort of aphrodisiac to him. Maybe it was his ego that she’d wounded. Maybe he was just getting even with her for telling him he was a major bastard. But then, that was certainly no reason to get married. If all it took to catch a man was to call him a bastard, every woman on earth would be married.

And how on earth was she going to break this sudden news to her family? “Hey, Mom…Dad? Guess what happened last night in Lake Tahoe?” They would never believe this was a real marriage any more than she could believe it. But she’d seen her rather sloppy signature on that marriage certificate, right along with his. Too bad he’d kept it out of her reach, or it would have been history.

He had blatantly admitted his perfidy. He had bluntly told her he had no intention of losing his best employee, even if it meant playing dirty. That had been after the third time he’d jumped her bones, and she’d demanded to know what the hell he was thinking when he’d pulled such a stupid stunt.

She supposed it could be worse. She was finally getting to live some of her wet dreams in person, with a real live man who didn’t melt into smoke when the alarm went off. And to top it all off, this was the man she’d been fantasizing over for the past seven years, and he was as good in bed as she’d always imagined he was-oh, was he ever.

Now all she had to do was figure out how to make it to her birthday party…

* * * * *

Once he’d made certain she wasn’t going to bolt from the hotel, Mike had made some business calls, had the marriage license sent by courier to the County Recorder’s Office so she couldn’t rip it up and say he’d never married her, and then he’d made a call to his office in L.A., telling them that he was on his honeymoon and wouldn’t be back in the office for at least two weeks. He had no intention of letting Jill out of his sight until he was sure she was okay with their new “situation”. He was having her carefully spied upon even now, while she was shopping, not quite trusting her not to cut and run. So far, so good.

He knew her well enough that she wouldn’t renege on a contract. But an impromptu wedding was not quite your usual contract. Females had odd ideas about such things. And then there was her family to deal with. Those six big brothers she had mentioned once or twice, and that college-professor dad and her high-school-teacher mom. Correction-retired high-school-teacher mom. He hadn’t given this much lucid thought before he’d made his instant decision to take things into his own hands. If her brothers didn’t all gang up on him at once, he stood a fair chance of survival.

Of course, he intended to continue paying her a salary even if she was married to him. That would make her think he appreciated her more. She had told him last night just what she thought of his lack of appreciation for such an exemplary employee as she’d been-and damn, she was right about that.

But he hadn’t dared tell her how much he needed her around. How much she did for him. How much he liked being around her. How much he enjoyed her wit and her no-nonsense approach to business. He’d been afraid she might think he was interested in her. Hello? Anybody home in there?

She had never once intimated that she might like to elevate their working relationship to a higher level. And with him, a woman could only expect that it would elevate to a completely sexual level. Love was not a part of the sex equation. He wasn’t the kind of man to fall in love with some beautiful body and face. Love was not in the cards. Only great sex. And not many women could deal with great sex without all the crap that normally was expected to go along with that.

But Jillian Turner was not your everyday flighty, starry-eyed female with an eye out for that picket fence and kids and all that went with it. She could handle a great-sex kind of relationship. And being married would make sure she didn’t feel like he was using her just for sex. Even if he was-sort of-along with the personal assistant relationship.

It was ideal for both of them. She liked sex with him. He liked sex with her. She was all soft, hot woman, yet all business, too. They had been together for more time than most couples stayed married, right? This was just one step higher up, without all the romance and all the love crap. He could deal with this. And he was damn sure she could, as well, once she got used to the idea. Think of all the candy and flowers this would save him. No more having to woo this woman or that one into his bed. His cock grew hard thinking about having Jill at his sexual beck and call. Sweet Jesus, she had fucking blown his mind.

He decided to do the honeymoon thing in Aspen. After the ton of cash he’d dropped on her in one day’s time, he decided that paying forty-five hundred dollars a night for the honeymoon suite was not going to happen. He could get her into bed just as easily in Aspen as he could in Tahoe. At least, now that all the moochers were gone.

Shit. He swore under his breath at himself for never thinking things through properly. He had ordered her to Aspen to get him out of the clutches of Miss Fashion Model Barbie, and had ended up married to her. He recalled looking up and seeing the most beautiful creature he’d ever laid eyes on, talking to Jerrod Lane. And then the fist that had hit him in the gut when he’d realized who that sensational creature was. He had expected her to come dressed for his party, but she’d come dressed for seduction. His. Well, maybe not exactly his, per se, but certainly for someone’s. And the sight of Lane putting moves on his personal property had just about worn that bastard’s welcome out with him. He had barely stopped himself from yelling out across the fucking room, for chrissake.

And when he’d gotten a look at the rock on her hand, he had suddenly felt so fucking possessive, it had scared the hell out of him, wondering who the fucking hell had put his dibs on her. And then he’d realized she was doing it up brown, pretending to be his fiancée, and the idea had sort of wound itself into his gut like a hot toddy, giving him some damn gnarly goose bumps, plus one big one in particular that had felt amazingly good pressed into her belly as he’d tricked her into kissing him.

He had never imagined how good she would feel in his arms-in his bed. And the woman could kiss. Oh, how she could kiss. When she’d opened to him he’d almost lost it completely. Her mouth had tasted like hot honey, like horny woman ready for action. He had been so fucking hard, he’d figured she’d likely slap his face and walk out, but she had let him hold her, fondle her, taste her.

God, how he loved the taste of her.

And she had tasted good all over. It had been challenging getting her to wake up enough to make love to her. In fact, he’d licked and sucked on her until she had come alive with passion, rewarding his efforts with the most mind-blowing sex he’d had as far back as he could recall.

He’d undressed her, taking off that irritatingly delicate blue and gold thing, and then her panties and garters and those silky nylons that sparkled like her legs were covered with glitter. The sight of his amazingly businesslike personal assistant gloriously naked, sprawled out across that fucking round bed, her breasts begging for his mouth, and her sweet, hot, mouthwatering pussy gleaming with moisture as she lay there-well, he’d totally lost his mind.

He had stripped and joined her on the bed, and as he’d run his hands over his new toy, he’d been in a dither as to how to get her to wake up and have some fun. But she’d been cuddly and succulent, and when he’d spread her pussy and gone down on her, she’d moaned and wriggled and grabbed his head, and he’d known she was willing.

Oh, how good she tasted, like hot honey butter. And the way she’d whimpered and moved as he had licked, sucked, nibbled, had enflamed him. He’d slid his fingers deep, feeling for her G-spot and finding it, watching her as she came hard again and again from the feel of his hands and tongue. She had completely blown his mind.

And when he’d slid up her naked body to pull her thighs around his hips, she’d clung to him and had taken every rock-hard, hot inch he had to give her. The sounds she made while he was inside her had driven him crazy. The way her body trembled and clenched when she came, clamping him hard and deep inside her ’til he thought he would die of delirium, the way she threaded her long, slim fingers into his hair as he licked and sucked her tight little nipples…

He almost came in his pants thinking about her.

No. He wasn’t going to give her up. Not for a long time. He usually lost interest the minute he had a woman, but Jill wasn’t just any woman. She belonged to him-lock, stock and contract. And he planned to get his money’s worth for every penny she’d spent dolling herself up and seducing him like that.

He glanced at his Rolex and wondered if she would be back at her laptop and working on his next month’s schedule. He had a massive batch of headache-inducing meetings coming up, and he needed her back on the job. But for the life of him, he couldn’t get his mind off her sweet pussy gleaming up at him as he bent to slide his tongue into her and she arched and cried out so deliciously.

Fuck. He had to get his mind back on business.

Chapter Five

“You are aware that your party is starting in less than four hours?” Tim’s deep voice was filled with irritation. “So where the hell are you? I take it you couldn’t get out of there like you promised…”

Jill winced, and ran one hand through her loosened hair. “I’ll be there. I promised, and I will. I called the airport and told them to have the jet standing by. I’m only an hour away in Tahoe. Tell Mom I didn’t forget.” She heard the door to the suite open, and she stiffened.

“You’re in Tahoe? I thought you were flying to Aspen.”

“Look…stop being such a mother hen. I said I’d be there and I will. See you in a couple of hours.” She hung up the phone and turned to face Mike, and the look on his face was not a friendly one.

“And where do you think you’re going in my jet in a couple of hours?”

She inhaled deeply, mentally counting. “Home. I promised my family I would be there and I will not disappoint them-again.” Her inflection on the final word had the desired effect.

“What time?”

“It won’t cut into your schedule. I’ll have the jet back here by midnight.”

His penetrating blue gaze stopped her cold as she realized he was walking slowly across the thick carpet, his eyes slipping down over her new teal-colored pantsuit. “I see you did a bit more shopping. Am I still solvent?”

Blushing furiously, she straightened and opened her mouth to tell him what she thought. Mistake. She should have made a strategic retreat. His hands were on her waist, dragging her close. His mouth found the deep vee of her blouse, and she gave a shudder of delight as he pulled her uncompromisingly against his thick, hard erection.

Managing a gasping reply, she shoved her palms flat against his chest to gain an inch of space to breathe. “Of course you’re solvent. In case you weren’t aware, you are filthy rich, Michael Furie, so don’t go giving me shit about buying a few things I needed.”

Ignoring her retort, his pressed a line of hot kisses to her throat and murmured seductively, “How long do we have before takeoff?”

“About an hour…”

He swept aside her resistance, making short work of the buttery-soft blouse and slacks, as she gasped and melted into him. The heat of his cock found its way past the thong that did nothing to conceal her pussy lips, and he sucked her puffed nipples through the lace of her wispy bra. He picked her up and wrapped her legs around his hips as he entered her with a deep groan of sheer pleasure, firing her pulses and setting her aflame with every slow, deep plunge into her pussy.

“Jesus, that thong feels so fucking good dragging over my cock, Furie. I don’t think I can hold off much longer…”

Jill whimpered and thrust her clit against his opened zipper, ignoring the sharp teeth of metal. “Oh God…touch me…please…” she begged, and she felt him come just as his lean fingers sought her throbbing clit, sending her over the edge to follow him as he pinched her aching nub gently and lightly bit the side of her throat.

Her orgasm jolted through them both as her pussy clenched tight and milked every drop of his cum. “Are you trying to make me forget my birthday party, Boss?”

Her throaty voice stopped his thrusts cold as he realized with a jolt that it was her birthday. What a fucking jerk he was! She had even reminded him in notes on his schedule. No wonder she was so fucking pissed at him. He had forgotten. Again. He buried his lips in her velvet skin and calmed his mad need to fuck her until he got enough of her. Which would be roughly never.

“No. You won’t miss your birthday party, Furie. But I still have ten more minutes of quality time with this completely delicious pussy before we have to leave for the airport. So humor me, for God’s sake. And you won’t ever regret it. That’s MY promise…”

He unhooked her flimsy little bra and bent to suck a swollen nipple deep into his hungry mouth, rolling it with his tongue against the roof of his mouth as she gave a throaty cry of pleasure that made his cock harden into a steel pole once again. He felt her fingers clutching his hair as he adored her sweet breasts, beginning another slow, pulsing invasion of her succulently wet cunt, dripping with the thick cream from his first ejaculation. God, but he was getting badly hooked here.

She was so fucking responsive, he thought he would die from the heady pleasure of her tight little sheath clutching his wet shaft. As he turned and backed her against the wall next to the bed, he pumped harder, ramming deeper as she clung to him and begged him never to stop. Hell no. He had no plans of ever stopping.

* * * * *

Jill turned off the shower and then stepped out onto the thick white mat, reaching for the towel that hung beside the shower on a heated rod. Her thoughts were on the three marvelous orgasms he’d given her just before he’d told her to shower and get dressed. It didn’t take her long to climb back into her teal outfit. She glanced at her slim gold watch. He was waiting downstairs with a limo for the airport. She had exactly three minutes to brush her hair and meet him.

She wondered exactly what her brothers and parents would say when she arrived in the second limo that would be waiting for her at the airport when she touched down. Usually she arrived in a cab. Her dad already thought she was nuts to be working for Furie Enterprises. He would see the lavish vehicle as another ostentatious trapping of the decadent lifestyle her boss lived. And damn it all to hell…her surprise announcement that she had just quit her job would certainly not be forthcoming. Except now, she wasn’t getting paid to work. Unless you counted a whole shit load of hot sex as a salary of sorts.

She wrapped her still-wet hair up into a knot atop her head and shoved a long ivory hairpin through it, grabbed her suede jacket and shoved her bare feet into the teal leather sandals, realizing that it was still snowing outside and laughing at the extravagance. Ah, well…in just over an hour she would be back in temperate, sunny California, with nary a snowflake to be found. She picked up her purse and rushed out to the private elevator across from the gold double doors of the honeymoon suite. In a little over an hour, she would be back with her family.

* * * * *

She slid into the backseat of the limo and found him seated on the other end of the seat, apparently having decided to go with her to the airport. “Is my overnight case in the trunk?” Her question to the driver was answered by Furie.

“Our bags are in the trunk.”

Our bags?” His blue eyes slid over her once more, and she shivered. God, but the man was enough to drive a sane woman mad.

“Isn’t it proper for a husband to meet his in-laws?”

That brought her instantly back to reality. “I don’t think this would be the best time for a meeting with the family.”

“You weren’t going to tell them about me.” The quiet statement brought hot color to her cheeks.

“Um…no. Why spoil my birthday party?”

He winced theatrically, and quirked those decadent lips. “I would think they would be delighted that you had brought the dragon up to scratch.”

Her intensified blush brought a broader grin. How the heck had he known that’s what she called him when talking to her family? Had he eavesdropped on her? The jerk. “I don’t think you should go with me.”

His eyes probed her red face. “Tell me, Furie…were you even planning to come back to Aspen after your party, or did you plan to send the jet on without you?”

Caught. She chewed the corner of her lower lip. “I need some time. You tricked me, dammit! I need time to sort through all this. You owe that that much. I was your gofer for seven years, and you didn’t even know I was female. Then, out of the blue, you decide to trap me into staying any way you can. You knew I planned to tell you to take your cushy job and shove it, and you trapped me. You owe me.”

“Trapped you?” His brow lifted wickedly. “I would say you trapped me, with that fucking sexy dress and hanging all over me and rubbing that sweet pussy on my thigh and-”

Her face grew hot. She jerked her hand up to stop his words, and she swallowed hard. “I never…”

“Oh, you did. And you shoved my shirt up and licked my nipples. Want all the gory details, Furie?”

She couldn’t get her breath. OMG. Had she really done that?

Her lack of response seemed to have been taken as permission to continue, and he leaned in close to whisper seductively in her ear. “You rubbed my cock through my pants until I thought I would burst, and when you pulled it out and sucked on it, I was lost. Hell yeah, you did all that.”

She squirmed on the seat, her pussy getting soaked just listening to him. And then he was on the floor between her thighs, and his hands were unzipping her slacks. “Have I made you horny telling you what you did to me? Would you like me to do that for you, Furie? Come on, lift your hips…” He dragged her slacks down and off her and shoved her legs wide, bending to lick her glistening pussy lips as he drew the wet thong aside.

Jill threw her head back against the seat and bit back the cry of delight that almost left her lips at the feel of his hot tongue laving her slit. “Stop! We’re almost to the airport.”

“Then you need to have an orgasm fast so the driver won’t find us here with my face buried in your cunt.” His voice was a rasp of amusement as he sucked her throbbing knot of hot nerves into his lips and tugged seductively on it until she arched up and shattered into a million sparkling embers.

“Another one?” He breathed against her pussy and she felt his lean fingers slipping deep into her as he sought her G-spot, while his lips tugged so delightfully on her clit once more.

“ Oh. My. God!” she gasped, as she spiraled once again into the throes of another trembling, splintering climax. And when he withdrew his fingers and licked them, his eyes holding hers, she breathed raggedly, “You are a wicked, wicked man, Boss.”

“And you are a hot, tasty morsel that I am going to thoroughly enjoy as soon as your party is over, and I get you alone again.”

Chapter Six

No amount of cajolery, threats or pleas could keep the damn man from boarding that plane, and so Jill settled in for the short flight home. Her nemesis closed his eyes and leaned back into his plush seat opposite hers, and she tried not to stare at him. She wanted to remain pissed off. But by the time they touched down at the commuter jetport at LAX, she had memorized every line and sexy whisker on his face, counted every deliciously long dark lash that curved over those high cheekbones, and had smiled as she discovered that he snored slightly, but only when his head fell off the side of the seat cushion.

When his eyes blinked open, and he yawned capaciously, Jill struggled to hide the fact that she had been ogling every damn inch of the man while he slept. Oh, but he was scrumptious. Even out cold, he was enough to keep her panties wet through the entire trip. Naked or clothed, he was enough to set a woman aflame.

As they debarked and she was seated in the elegant Rolls Silver Shadow that he had arranged to travel from LAX to her parents’ home in Culver, she wondered exactly how she was going to introduce her boss/husband to her family. Here she was, bringing home the man they all thought was a complete chauvinistic asshole, and she was sporting his huge ring. She winced as she thought of what her father would say to him, without even waiting to hear an explanation. And Tim and Tom…they had mentioned how they planned to flatten his face when they saw him. The twins were not going to cut the man an inch of slack, unless she could get to them first.

If the big jerk insisted on accompanying her, she needed to make certain he wasn’t going to get mangled. He watched her thoughtfully as she drew the sat phone out and dialed her parents’ house number. He said nothing. He waited until she got the voice mail and hung up in disgust before speaking.

“I already called. They know I’m coming with you.”

Her mouth dropped open. “You already called? When?”

“When you were taking your sweet time getting out of the hotel. I figured they needed to know the score. I must say, your mother took it well. But I could hear a male voice in the background threatening to take my cock and wrap it around my throat. I was flattered that he thought it was that long.” His lips curved into a wicked grin at the shock on her face.

“You told them,” she grated furiously.

“I told them. I’m not sure what reception I’ll get when we arrive, but there will be no shocks.”

Panic welled inside her. How the hell was she going to face her family? After all the years of hearing them say what a bastard Michael Furie was, and for her to end up married to him…oh God! She would never hear the end of it.

A lean hand wrapped itself around hers where it rested on her lap, twisting her teal pantsuit into a wad. She glanced up, and with her free hand dashed away the tears that slid down her face. “My brothers have sworn to rip your throat out. I hope you’re prepared for mayhem…”

“Is that tear for me? You don’t want to see my mangled body lying on the front lawn?” His voice was deep and gruff.

She drew a deep, shivery breath, and sniffed. Was it for him? Or was it for herself? How could she face her family when she was married to a man simply for his convenience? No white wedding. No big reception. No family breakfast. Of course, her dad would be thrilled that he’d been saved the huge expense of a wedding. But her mother had been cheated out of the fun of helping plan her only daughter’s trousseau.

Oh well. Maybe after her boss got tired of her, and divorced her, she could have the next wedding the way her mom had always planned. She drew a shivery breath, and then gasped aloud as her boss/hubby slipped a long arm around her and drew her into his chest in an almost comforting manner. “Relax. Somebody might think you don’t even like me, Furie.” His voice was a soft growl close above her ear, and she closed her eyes and buried her face against the warm, delicious skin of his throat.

“I hate you.” She breathed wearily.

“No, you don’t.” His chin rested on the top of her head, and she could feel it when he kissed her tousled hair.

“I want to hate you,” she amended as a shiver of reaction ran along her nerves at the touch of lean fingers slipping inside the neckline of her blouse to trace over the swell of her breast.

“We have half an hour before we arrive. Will that be enough time to convince you that you don’t hate me?” His lips caressed the nerve at the base of her ear, and she whimpered.

“Stop kissing me.”

“Okay,” he whispered huskily, and instead, he licked the vein that ran from her throat to her collarbone.

“Oooh,” she moaned, and shoved at his head without much effect. “I don’t want you touching me.”

Her voice sounded oddly breathless, despite her words. And every thought of rejecting his touch left her as he ran his mouth from her collarbone to her lips and took her mouth with a ferocity that stunned her. Every inch of her skin ached to be touched. Every private place in her body yearned to be invaded. And as his hands slipped under her blouse, and into her waistband, she melted into his kiss, unable to refuse him anything.

Mike wanted nothing more than to strip her bare and lick every inch of delicious skin within reach, but he knew that there was not enough time to do her justice. Amazed by his own need to taste Jill, he slid her blouse away from her breasts and licked and nipped them through the lace and satin of her bra. He dragged one satin-tipped nipple into his mouth and she groaned with pleasure as he slipped his hand farther into her slacks until his fingertips found the wet jewel he sought. His thoughts deserted him completely as he drove two long fingers deep into her hot, tight pussy, and massaged the sweet spot he knew would bring her to climax.

She arched into his hand as he used his tongue to simulate what his fingers were doing, and she sucked his tongue deep as she splintered into a shuddering, trembling orgasm that almost made him come in his slacks. He continued to fuck her sweet pussy with his fingers until she whispered raggedly, “Oh God, Mike. You’re killing me.”

He stopped moving his hand. Had she actually just called him by his name? He gave her clit a long, loving caress as he drew his wet fingers out of her and gently fondled her nub and labia, teasing until she gave a strangled cry and convulsed once again in a gasping, moaning climax.

“Are you sure you still hate me?” He reached up and gently tugged the ivory stick from her loosened hair, letting it fall in glorious tumbled curls around her flushed face.

“Yes…no…I don’t know!” Her sighing breath warmed his throat, and he chuckled as he drew his hand out of her slacks and wiped his glistening fingers with his pristine pocket handkerchief. He grinned at her pink face as he slowly inhaled her scent from the hanky before tucking it back into his breast pocket.

“How about helping me out, Furie?” His lips caressed her forehead, and she swallowed hard, then unzipped his slacks and tugged his swollen, thick cock free of his silk boxers and the fly of his slacks. “Sweet Jesus!” he groaned, and watched his wife slide to the floor of the rear seat and take him into her hot mouth without a moment’s hesitation. “Oh, you beautiful thing, you…” He ran his fingers through her thick curls, and closed his eyes as she devoured his shaft, her tongue licking the thick vein on the underside as she sucked him hard and deep.

Oh yeah, he had no intention of letting her go-ever.

Jill was shocked at herself. All it took to make her forget everything was a great orgasm. And the man could give her orgasms by the bushel. And he seemed to love doing it. As she zipped his slacks back up, and glanced in embarrassment up into his dark blue gaze, she wondered if she had always been a closet nympho, or if he brought that out in her. He smiled and pulled his hanky out of his pocket, and gently dabbed the side of her mouth to mop up a bit of cum that hadn’t managed to go down her throat. And for just that moment, the tender look in his gaze almost undid her resolve to walk away from him. He was looking at her as if he cared for her.

“I must look a total mess,” she breathed as she sank back onto the luxuriant leather of the seat and tucked her blouse back into her slacks.

“You look good enough to eat.”

“Oh please. Stop. You don’t need to pretend until we’re in front of my family.” Her voice shook. “I have to admit, Michael Furie, you are enough to drive a female insane with delight, but we both know you only married me to keep me from quitting my job, so keep the sweet nothings to a minimum.”

The quiet smile curving his decadent mouth was almost enough to make her forget her resolve to keep him at arm’s length for the rest of their time at her parents’ home. The limo was slowing and turning, and she chewed her lower lip to control its shaking. “Please…just please don’t start anything up with my brothers. I don’t want you torn to pieces. After all, you have to support me.”

“I won’t start anything. Unless they force me to finish something, there will be no violence.” His voice was amused.

“This isn’t funny. I’m freaking out here. My family has always detested you for the way you have treated me over the past few years…”

“You mean, I have mistreated you by paying you double what you would have earned elsewhere? By letting you have free run of my corporate holdings and my personal jet and making certain that your health insurance and dental insurance was the best money could buy?” His brows lifted questioningly.

Her face hot, she glared at him. “No…I mean, the way you call me at 3:00 a.m. to tell me you need me to get out of bed and go rescue you from some piranha in a hotel room by pretending to be your wife…” She gritted her teeth. “Or how you simply ‘forget’ that I have a birthday party scheduled and demand my presence in Aspen to rescue your sorry ass from a sweetie you referred to as ‘Miss Fashion Model Barbie’…”

His deep laugh was the last straw for her shredded nerves. Her hand shot out and should have connected smartly with his smiling mouth…except all of a sudden she was flat on the leather seat, her arms held firmly behind her back, and his narrowed gaze pinning her. He shook his head slowly, those sapphire eyes sparkling with dangerous intent. “Oh no…no slapping or biting, darling. You can scream and yell at me later, but we don’t want to spoil your birthday party with a cat fight, do we?”

“Oh…you…” she spluttered helplessly.

“I always knew there was a hellcat inside that cool, unflappable exterior, darling…but save it for later, where we can both enjoy taming it.”

“Stop calling me that,” she hissed as he pulled her back into a sitting position as the limo came to a halt.

“Calling you what? Darling? Isn’t that what a newlywed husband calls his wife?” His eyes crackled with enjoyment.

“I don’t believe you, Michael Furie! You are the most…the most…” she sputtered, then instantly composed her features as the driver pulled the door open, and she saw her father and mother standing on the porch of their home, waiting nervously. “I’ll tell you what I think of you later,” she hissed as she smoothed her hair and pasted on a happy smile as she slid from the leather seat and hurried up the steps to hug her parents.

Chapter Seven

Jill couldn’t believe it. The bastard had her parents and three of her brothers totally snowed. She watched in frustrated silence as Mike Furie wound her family around those long fingers like so much putty. Jim was young enough to be easily impressed by talk of the recording studio that her hubby/boss owned and used. Six of his gold and platinum albums had been recorded there. Just another of her hubby/boss’s many facets.

He had retired from the actual concert touring stuff a few years ago, but continued to be a springboard for other hot rock bands and groups who needed a leg up in the music business. And he’d been highly successful at that, just as he was with everything he did. Damn him. His own music career had made him a millionaire. His sharp business acumen had parlayed that into billions.

Now Michael Furie Enterprises was a conglomerate of a dozen hot and upwardly mobile companies involved in recording, promoting and arranging tours for hot new bands, designing and building some of the best rock musical instruments money could buy, designing and creating the finest electronics money could buy, and so on. The man had the Midas touch, and she was getting more and more pissed off at him with every passing minute.

But the straw that snapped the camel’s back was the way her hubby/boss totally disarmed the twins when they arrived at the house for the party with their oldest brother, Sam, and had them all eating out of his hand. With a disgusted growl, Jill excused herself from the festivities to go “freshen up” and, after changing into jeans and walking shoes, she sneaked out the kitchen door to walk in furious silence down through the kitchen garden to the rose terrace and the woods beyond.

Why it bothered her so much to see the man she had loved for the past seven years enchanting her entire family with that charismatic aura he wore so lightly was beyond her. But the tears that burned her lids were very real as she fought to control them, quickening her steps until she was lost in the inky blackness of the familiar leaf-clogged path that led from the back edge of her family’s property to the river’s edge below. She had walked this path for over twenty years, with her brothers and alone. It was as warmly familiar and welcoming as an old, dear friend as she inhaled the deep warm scents of oakmoss and pine needles and rotting humus.

He was back there stealing her own family from her. Infecting them with his wicked sense of humor and his overwhelming charisma. They were no longer her protective, tightly knit source of warmth. They were his newest sycophants. Even her own father, for Pete’s sake! The man who had sworn to tell the bastard what he thought of him. Her father was laughing jovially and slapping him on the back as if they were the best of pals. Damn the man. She felt like an outsider at her own fucking birthday party.

She followed the sloping path downward to the bank of the slow-moving little river…well, it had been a river to her at six, but it was really just a wide irrigation canal that wound its lazy way through the bottom lands toward the old barn and stables that had been empty for as far back as she could remember. They had once belonged to an old man who died about a dozen years back, and his family had never bothered to clear and use the old wooded property. But it had always been one of her favorite haunts whenever she felt the need to hide from the world.

Frustrated at her perplexing anger over her family’s desertion to the enemy ranks, Jill slipped into the musty darkness of the rotting barn, closing her eyes and imagining that she was ten again, hiding from her brothers. Inhaling the familiar scents of age and decrepitation. Ancient sun-baked wood. Old limestone that was slowly going back to the earth from which it was mined.

She sank onto the old barrel that was still there…once her trusty steed while escaping hordes of wild Indians, but now simply a rusted-out old piece of metal with gaping holes in the end. Sighing under the weight of her own confusion, she found herself wondering how she was going to handle the letdown her family would inevitably feel when they found out that they had been played like a harp by a master conman. When they found out that their new golden idol had simply been selfishly expeditious in keeping her by his side, that he wasn’t madly in love with her at all.

She chewed her lower lip and closed her eyes. Her father and brothers would be absolutely livid. And Jill Turner would be absolutely devastated when he decided to release her from her “contract” once the novelty wore off.

* * * * *

“Where the hell is Jill?” Tim asked as he emerged from the kitchen. “She isn’t in the house.”

Mike glanced up from the blueprints Jill’s father had been showing him, explaining the plans to renovate the seventy-year-old house, and his dark brows knitted. “She went to freshen up.”

“For an hour?” Tom asked with a frown. He looked across the living room at his twin. “Did you check her room? Maybe she crashed and burned.”

“I was just there. Not in the bathroom. Door’s wide open. Not in the kitchen, and I went down to the rec room. Not there.”

Mike’s thoughts were on her mood when she had walked out of the living room. Odd how attuned he seemed to be to her moods since yesterday. She had seemed angry. Nothing he could really put a finger on, but…

“Did she take her purse?”

“It’s in the bedroom with the luggage. I called her cell…it’s still in the purse. Her sat phone’s in there too.” Tim’s words stopped Mike from dialing the small matching phone he had fished out of his pocket.

“Maybe outside in the garden?” Helen Turner asked her sons.

“We’ll check. Shit, Mom, she can’t be far. It’s her fucking birthday.”

“Tim, watch your mouth around your mother!”

Mike wasn’t paying attention anymore. He rose from the sofa and glanced at the two tall blond men who were heading out the front door. “Where does she go when she’s upset?”

“Upset? Why would she be upset? She just got married…the family is celebrating her damn birthday…”

“Tim!”

“Yeah…sorry, Mom.”

Mike drew a deep breath. “We…had a tiff before we arrived. I think she’s still pissed…I mean angry at me.” He quickly amended his words and smiled at Helen Turner. “Sorry, ma’am.”

“I told you to call me Helen. Ma’am makes me feel old.” Her sweet smile reminded him of Jill’s lush curved lips.

“Well, Helen, I think she’s still angry with me…and she should be. I was a bad boy.” His wicked grin had the desired effect on the woman.

“She used to go down to the pastures in the bottoms. There’s an old barn there.”

Mike inhaled deeply. “Point me in the right direction. I think I need to go alone, and start crawling on hands and knees.” He noted the direction Tim pointed. “Got a flashlight?”

* * * * *

Jill stretched and drew a deep breath of the warm, pungent air of the barn’s interior, before snuggling back into the meager comfort of the musty old straw she’d piled up for an impromptu mattress. Not her idea of a comfy place to spend the night, but at least she was warm, dry and safe from the humiliation of crying in front of her family. No one would miss her, she thought peevishly as she frowned. Her hubby/boss was keeping them busy and entertained. She listened to the comforting sounds of rain striking the old wood and shingles, and she figured she was stranded there for the duration. Fine by her.

Some frigging birthday party. Her special day was totally spoiled by his presence. Or was it his absence now that bothered her the most? Had it really only been the day before yesterday that she’d been so damn determined to walk away from him? And today he was insinuating himself deep into her family’s hearts, setting them up for the inevitable letdown and heartache his selfishness would bring them. Damn him!

But even as her mind told her she should hate him, her heart made that hate a lie. How could she ever hate him? How could she ever forget the past twenty-four hours of making love to him every time the urge struck? And it struck often. How could she forget the endearing tenderness he allowed her glimpses of when he wasn’t being a frigging megalomaniac? She buried her face in her arms and bit back the sob that threatened to undermine her determination not to cry. But her tears would not be pushed back yet again. She drew her knees up to her chest and wept bitterly for her lost heart and her family’s future heartache.

* * * * *

Mike managed to reach the bottom of the slope without breaking a leg or falling on his damn face, and he paused to get the lay of the land. The old barn Tim had mentioned was somewhere along the bottoms, and was some distance from the slow-moving canal that flowed past the rocks at the bottom of the slope. He glanced up at the threatening storm clouds that had started to obliterate the moon, pitching the ground into darkness. He turned left as the path reached the water’s edge, and carefully made his way by the light of the flashlight he’d borrowed along the pine-needle clogged path, slipping perilously several times and swearing softly as he nearly toppled into the damn canal.

He didn’t think it was very deep, but the last thing he wanted was to be covered in slimy, stinky canal water. And then the rain began, slowly at first, and he picked up his pace as he wiped his face with one hand. It was a total downpour by the time he finally caught sight of the old barn, and his jeans and sweater were dripping. It wasn’t cold outside, but the breeze made him shiver as the rain water sluiced over his head and face and slid down his neck.

The canal veered off to the right as the path he followed continued on toward the barn. His concern that she might be hurt or frightened slowly turned to anger that she had forced him to trek through this crap to bring her back. He reached the barn and tugged at the dilapidated main door, but it was barred from inside. Swearing violently, he made his way along the wall, grateful for the partial shelter of the roof’s overhang. A few steps along the rear side, he found a smaller door and it was hanging partially open, thank God!

He slipped inside the musty-smelling old barn, and glanced around the empty interior. Shit. She wasn’t there. He wiped the trickles of cold rain off his face, and shivered despite the comparative warmth of the interior. He aimed the flashlight beam all around the huge empty space of the barn, and shook his head. He’d been a fucking idiot to come here, hoping to catch her alone and enjoy her for a while. She was probably back inside the house, laughing her ass off at him for taking the bait.

He sighed and sank down on an old, rusted-out barrel that was standing in the middle of the dank place, and peeled his sweater off over his head, wringing it out and mopping his face and chest with it. Just his luck to be stuck in this fucking old derelict of a barn for the night. The storm was just getting started.

He stiffened, and cocked his head to one side. What the hell was that? The sound was enough to raise the hair on his arms…plaintive and eerie…sobbing…like someone had died, and the world was weeping for them. Sweet Jesus. He stood and tried to pinpoint the source of the sounds, and then he realized they were directly overhead.

Chapter Eight

A drop of rainwater splashed on her cheek and she sighed wearily, her pain and tears almost spent. Damn old roof was leaking now. “Shit!” she breathed, and started to roll up from the straw, only to find herself caged in by something wet…wet, warm and solid. Another drop of water splashed onto her nose, and she gave a little yelp of fear. The water was dripping off the body that loomed over her in the darkness of the loft.

Her hands went out in defense, and she felt the wet, hard contours of a bare chest. The scent of water on warm skin and the familiar aftershave set her body off. “What the hell are you doing here?” she rasped, trying her best to sound indignant.

“I think I’m the one who should be asking that question, Furie…” His warm breath brushed her forehead, and another cold drop of water from his dripping hair struck her chin.

“Get off me!” She shoved hard on the immovable wall of his chest.

“Why’d you leave the house?”

“To be alone. Can’t you respect that right?”

“So we’re alone…”

“The pronoun was ‘I’, not ‘we’.”

Her hands felt hot as he lowered his solid body over hers until she felt the wet chill of his jeans pressing her legs and thighs, and the unmistakable solid bulge of his cock against her mons. “You’re getting me all soaked.” Her voice sounded breathless rather than indignant, even to her.

“Then maybe we should both get out of these wet things…” His voice was a deep purring rumble against the side of her hair, and she swallowed convulsively as he kissed the splash of water off her cheek.

“Just go away and let me be,” she gasped as his chest pressed firmly against her taut nipples.

“No way. I got myself soaked like a wet rat looking for you, and I have no intention of going back out into that deluge just to please you.”

His weight slowly molded her body against the musty straw, and the sudden bolt of white-hot lust that forked from nipples to pussy made her whimper with need. “Go back to the house and charm my family. I don’t want you.” she grated through clenched teeth.

Mike stilled at the desperation in her voice, his frown hidden in the dark of the loft. He blinked, and shook his head to rid himself of the water that ran down his forehead and into his eyes. He had pushed her too far. “Well, I want you.” He drew a deep, shuddering breath and lowered his head, finding her mouth by homing in on the warmth of her breath. He slowly opened his mouth over her tightly closed lips, and his tongue slid along the seam of her lips. “Please, Jill…let me in?” His whispered words shocked even him.

Her body jerked at the sound of her name, and her lips relaxed. He fought to remain calm as she slid her tongue over his, and then sucked his into her mouth hungrily. His cock jumped. His heart leapt. His blood pounded through his veins and his fingers tangled in her tousled soft curls as he tilted her face and took her mouth like a starving man. Her soft whimpers of delight undid him completely, and he devoured her. Slim hands slid between their tightly melded hips to work his wet zipper down and he groaned aloud against her lips, lifting his ass to allow her to free him from his sopping denim prison. The feel of her hands circling him almost made him come like a randy kid, and he fought back his climax.

He lifted away from her and dragged her light sweater and tank top off, then dragged her now-wet jeans down her legs and tossed them aside before ripping his own soggy jeans off. They caught on his boots, but he was too fucking worked up to bother, leaving them around his ankles like slave manacles as he felt her thighs gripping his naked hips.

“Sweet Lord…you’re killing me, baby.” He sank back down into the welcoming wet heat of her pussy, groaning loud and long as she took him in with a cry of delight. The diamond-hard nipples that dug into his chest made him wild to taste her. “Arch your back, baby…give me those breasts…” he whispered shakily as he drove his cock deep, feeling her tight walls closing around his shaft like a velvet fist.

Her body arched obediently, and he bent to tug one nipple deep, sucking hard as he listened to her hot little moans of pleasure. He devoured her succulent breast, then moved to the other, feeling her cunt clenching hard around him as she orgasmed, and he almost came right then. He pumped his hips hard, fighting his climax, sucking her nipple deep into his mouth as she clutched his wet hair with trembling fists.

“God, Mike! Oh God!” she cried as he gave a guttural cry and emptied into her explosively, pumping hot semen deep as she tightened her legs about his hips and rode him with eager cries and whimpers until he finally sank down over her and buried his lips in her perspiration-damp hair, feeling her internal muscles milking him so wickedly of his cum.

He had never felt so fucking complete in his entire life. He wanted to stay buried deep in her sweet cunt forever. He listened as their labored breathing eased into deep, slow breaths, and he licked the salty moisture from her throat, enjoying the shudder of delight that rippled through her.

Her inner muscles squeezed his cock as she gave a sweet little murmur of satisfaction, and whispered, “God, Mike…I love you so much.”

She felt him still as she spoke, and his body stopped moving. A feeling of hopeless regret filled her as she waited for him to pull away, to pull out of her body, and to shake his head at her pathetic admission. If only she had not said the words, if only she had kept silent. She closed her eyes to squeeze back the tears. But as the minutes ticked off, and he remained buried to his root inside her, still holding her in a death grip of breathless pleasure, she opened her eyes and said weakly, “Mike? Did you just die of a heart attack?”

His deep, delicious laugh rumbled against her ear, and he rotated his hips to tease her back to life. “Almost…but not quite.” He nipped her bare shoulder and gave a deep growl of pleasure as he began to move once again. “Did you mean what you just said?” he whispered raggedly against her temple as he began to swell back to life within her.

Arching with a groan of shuddering pleasure, Jill tried desperately to regain enough composure to respond, but he spoke again before she could answer. “Because if you didn’t, I still won’t let you renege on that statement.” His head lifted and he stared down into her tear-wet face as he slowly thrust his hips against her pussy, burying his shaft to his balls, then pulling out almost to the tip before thrusting in again with a deep growl of pleasure. His eyes were a glittery sapphire as he shifted and found yet another erogenous zone with his marvelously talented cock, sending her spiraling into another mind-shattering orgasm that drove all thought but the pleasure from her mind.

Could she die of sheer sexual pleasure? Her heart was hammering so wildly she thought it might be possible. What had he just said? His words hadn’t registered, and she still wasn’t sure what she had heard. All she knew was that his body was driving her to total distraction as he slowly pulled his still-solid cock out and gently rolled her onto her stomach, his lean hands lifting her ass until he was level with her pussy. And as he sank his throbbing length back into her, she gave a shocked yelp as he gently pressed a thumb against her anal rosette and whispered for her to just relax and enjoy.

A hot thread of forbidden pleasure wound its way along every nerve in her body as that thick thumb slowly and gently worked its way into her tight anus, then slid back out before slowly pressing back in. “Oh. My. God!” she groaned as her body eagerly accepted the darkly sensuous pressure and the muscle eased to allow him to insert two long fingers to deliciously fuck her ass as he continued to thrust slowly in and out of her pussy.

“You love me?” His voice was a rasp of desire as he leaned over her back to whisper in her ear.

“Mike, I…” she began in panic, but he went on without allowing her to speak.

“Because if you do, you need to know what you’re getting with the package…”

He shifted, sliding his fingers out gently, and she felt his cock easing slowly into her tight entry, working its length slowly deeper, until he was seated to his balls inside her ass. And the delicious, painful pressure of his cock buried deep in her forbidden channel left her breathless with some dark delight. “Do you love me enough to take everything I am?”

His words were tense…as tense as the body that pressed hard against her back.

“I love you…oh God, I love you,” she moaned, as his cock slowly began to move gently in and out of her virgin channel. She whimpered as he filled her to bursting.

“Not nearly as much as I’ve loved you all these years, Furie,” he murmured thickly against her shoulder, and she gave a cry of delight as his lean fingers slid over her mons to tease her clit and drive her to the most amazingly wanton orgasm she had ever felt, with the slow movement of his cock deep in her ass and his fingers teasing and tweaking her throbbing knot of nerves.

Her mind could not wrap itself around the words…and she gave herself up to the exquisite carnal pleasures of her husband’s lovemaking.

Her body was delightfully sore. Her husband had given her enough hot and delicious pleasure to leave her boneless with sated delight. He lay spooned against her back, his semi-solid cock cradled between her butt cheeks and his hand possessively cupping her mons as he slept deeply and blissfully, lulled by the sounds of the rain beating on the old wood shingles overhead. Had he really said that he had loved her for years? She swallowed convulsively. Had they both totally wasted seven years of this kind of loveplay?

Jill drew a shivery breath and rolled over to face him, waking him as she did so. “How long have you loved me, Mike?”

He blinked and yawned, and smiled at her as she glared at him. “Since the first day you walked into my office, I think…”

“Why didn’t you ever tell me?”

He drew a deep breath and rolled her over onto his chest, settling comfortably back into the straw. “Because I didn’t recognize what I was feeling until tonight. Why?”

She wriggled her deliciously wet pussy over his slowly thickening cock, and watched his startled face. “Because I figure you owe me about seven years of mind-blowing sex. That’s why!”

His lips curved wickedly as she rose and reached out to pull him up from the damp straw. “What are you doing?”

“You need a bath.” Her smile left him breathless as she coaxed him to the ladder, her delightfully bare ass teasing him to follow.

“A bath?”

She ignored his confusion as she made her way down the ladder to the lower level, and only when he caught up to her in the dimness did he understand what she was planning. She was dipping both hands into a rain barrel that was filled to overflowing, and she brought a double handful out and slathered down his belly and over his stiffly erect cock, which almost instantly deflated by the icy water.

“Jesus! What the hell-” he yelped, jumping back.

Her laughter was infectious as she dipped back into the rainwater. “Well…I know what I want, and if you don’t let me wash you off, neither of us is getting any.”

He managed to stand without screaming as she carefully cleaned off his cock and balls, and when she was satisfied that he was squeaky clean again, he shuddered and dragged her into his arms for a hungry, hot kiss that warmed his body up fairly quickly.

Jill ran her sweet hands over his trembling flesh as she backed him over to the pile of straw he had thought about using as a bed earlier, and he grinned down into her shadowy face. Her soft words were enough to bring his cock to rigid attention instantly as she whispered, “Now, where were we? Ah…yes…about making up for seven sexless years…”

She sank to the straw and arched her body invitingly. He shook his head and slid to his hands and knees, framing her delectable body with his own as he felt her nails drag over his hard nipples. With a hiss of delight, he settled possessively over her, as she spread her legs wide to welcome him. But then she shoved him over and rolled over on top of him, her incredibly wet and willing pussy sliding hungrily over his throbbing shaft.

A deep groan tore from his chest and he threw back his head as her hands found his painfully erect shaft and slowly guided it into her wet, hot pussy. “Fucking hell, Furie…” His voice cracked as she impaled her tight body on his willing cock. His senses exploded with the intense emotions he had so recently discovered as his wife rode him, hell bent for leather.

“Don’t think you’re going to get out of paying me back, Mike,” she moaned as she drove him to mindless delight. “You owe me.”

“Oh fuck, yeah!” he shouted as he felt her clench around him like a tight fist in her orgasmic delight. This was one debt he would never hedge on.

About the Author

Fran Lee began writing romance novels at the age of 14. Life intruded on a budding writing career-namely, paying the bills, raising a family and the usual run-of-the-mill things that leave a writer no time to pursue a career as frivolous as authoring romance books. Or so everyone told her. But she never gave up on her childhood dreams of writing.

Other things caught her fancy over the years-horses, eBay, martial arts, not necessarily in that order. Over the years, her childish dreams were set on the back burner over and over again. But the things that caught her fancy blossomed into self-confidence-she achieved her black belt in her chosen martial art, spent a fortune on eBay and had the great pleasure of owning a number of wonderful equine friends.

Now she concentrates on her various fancies by collecting horse statues and figurines, teaching karate to kids, and spending time dragging out those old romance novels and bringing them up to snuff for the 21st century. The dream has come true-and it was well worth the wait.

The author welcomes comments from readers. You can find her website and email address on her author bio page at www.ellorascave.com.

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