Operation Foreplay by Christine Hughes
I'm totally in love with this book. First of all, it's hilarious. Second, it chock-full-o' crazy sexual tension, and I love that. Jared and Melody heat up the sheets and the pages and I loved watching them get each other all riled up then trying to fight the urge. It's the perfect light, funny, sexy, easy weekend read. Enjoy! [December 2015]
Series Reading Order
By Christine Hughes
UNEDITED DELETED SCENE
“Welcome back. How was your vacation?”
“Oh my goodness, Melody! You scared me.” She clutched her chest.
“Oh?” I eyed Jenny. She was acting weird, like I caught her doing something she shouldn’t have been doing. “I never heard from you. How did the interview go?”
I walked into my office with her on my heels. Dropping my purse and briefcase on the floor next to my next, I opened my snack drawer and pulled out a granola bar. I was famished. Forgetting to eat breakfast was getting old. After a beat, I also pulled one of the gold-tipped gummi bear bags from the pile and dropped it on my desk next to my granola bar.
“It went great! I can’t believe I forgot to call you. I got the job. Zac, um, Mr. Waterman, “she stuttered and flushed, “called me over the weekend. He said I am a natural for the position and to have someone like you mentoring me, he thinks I’ll do well.”
“Mr. Waterman has faith in you then.” Something felt off. I should have been the one to be informed first, considering she was technically my employee.
“I guess he does. He said your recommendation sealed the deal. So thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” I pulled my glasses out of my top drawer. “When do you start?”
“Oh, well there is a training period I have to go through first. I forget how long that is.”
“Well, then after that. I am seriously over the moon. Training starts as soon as you find my replacement.”
My phone buzzed. “Hello?”
“Mr. Waterman.” I stared at Jenny.
“Can you come by when you get a chance? We have a few things to discuss. The Fredo account needs some work. We have another client in the wings and we have to schedule you some time to interview candidates to replace your assistant.”
“Yes. She was just telling me about the promotion.”
“Well, yes.” He coughed. “I’m sorry I didn’t have the chance to let you know first. My weekend got away from me. She is a good candidate and I am sure with you as her mentor, she’ll do quite well.”
“Lunch?” I tapped my pen on the desk while I watched Jenny fiddle with her diamond earrings.
“I’m booked all day. We can have a working lunch. My office or yours?”
“Ah, yours is fine.”
“Sushi?” I asked.
“Yes. You know what I like.”
“That I do. See you then.” I clicked off and looked at Jenny. “New earrings?”
“I’m sorry?” She tilted her head and dropped her hands to her lap.
“I need some coffee. Can you please make a run and get me something extra large and extra caffeinated? I have a huge workload to get through before lunch with Mr. Waterman.” I opened a file and started checking out the descriptions.
“Yes?” I looked at her over my glasses.
“I thought I was—“
“Training? Yes. You will. Until then, you are still my assistant. I will work as diligently as I can to find your replacement. I will include you on some of the work I think would help you. But first and foremost, you are my assistant. If you can’t handle that, then we need to have another look at what it is you are looking for. Understood?”
“Yes, Ms. Ashford.”
She barely contained the eye roll as she hightailed it out of my office. And calling me Ms. Ashford? We put and end to that the day I hired her. Maybe I felt a little bad for hurting her feelings but I also wasn’t one to sugar coat things. I was busy. I had a lot of clients. I needed an assistant. She was it until I found another. Those were the breaks.
Not to mention the feeling I had that she was headed down a path I’d once travelled.
Zac and I were sitting in my office discussing the Fredo account when Jenny arrived with lunch.
“Thanks Jenny. You can set it on the table.” I didn’t look up but I heard her pause before placing the food a little too heavy handed on the table. By the time I wanted to react, she was not-quite-slamming my office door behind her.
Zac chuckled. “You certainly did something to piss her off.”
I leaned back, tossed my glasses on my desk and considered him a moment. I watched as his eyes shifted toward the door. “You dumb fuck.”
“What?” He steeled his gaze, daring me to continue. He knew I knew.
“You’re fucking her.” I pointed at the closed door.
“I don’t think that’s your business, Melody.” He leaned back, crossed an ankle over his knee and clasped his hands together. It was his ‘don’t fuck with me’ body language. His domineering body language. The body language I’d watched him use in meetings with personnel and clients. It used to turn me on to see him so in charge, in control.
“The fuck it isn’t!” I couldn’t decide if I was angry at the fact he was banging my assistant or if I was hurt that he’d moved on so quickly. Did I honestly mean so little? Even though my first instinct threw up my hackles, summoned my inner bitch, it only took a moment for reality to take over.
I didn’t need him.
I didn’t want him.
“You know what? You’re right.” I tossed my pen. “It isn’t my business. But I am telling you right now,” I leaned forward and pointed at him with admonishment, “you curb her little fucking attitude or I will. I have no compunction about firing her ass.”
“Jealous?” His smirk made my stomach clench.
“You’d think so but no. Actually, I’m quite relieved.” I stood and walked to the lunch Jenny dropped on the table.
“Relieved?” He stood and followed me to the table, placing his hand on the small of my back.
My back and shoulders stiffened. “I’m pretty sure you should remove your hand.”
“You used to like it when I touched you. You used to melt when I rubbed your shoulders.” His hands moved to my shoulders.
“I’d really rather you not touch me.”
“A little late for that, don’t you think? I’ve already touched every possible inch of you.” He leaned in and whispered in my ear.
I felt dirty. My skin crawled and I wanted to throw up.
“Zac, stop.” I turned and stepped to the side, suddenly needing to get some air. The touchy feely he and I used to play wasn’t fun anymore. I couldn’t fathom that I ever thought it was.
“Melody,” he grabbed my wrist and pulled me to him. “How could you have possibly already forgotten the things we used to do to each other? How could you want to leave it all behind? I still love you, you know.”
“Get off of me.”
“My Melody.” He tucked my hair behind my ear.
“Zac, I’m not going to ask again. Seriously.” I tugged my arm to free it from his grip.
He leaned in once more and whispered furiously, “You’re just jealous that I’ve found new pussy to fuck. I was done with you anyway. Shit gets old and shriveled once it hits thirty, you know.” He squeezed my wrist one last time before he let go.
Without thinking, I raised my hand and slapped him so hard he lost his balance. And just like in the movies, the door to my office opened at the same time. Before I knew what was happening, Jenny chased Jared into the room but wasn’t able to stop him. He calmly walked up to Zac and punched him.
The crack was shiver inducing. Zac hit the floor and blood spurted out instantly.
“You okay?” Jared asked me. I was too shocked to answer so all I did was nod. He turned his attention to Zac who was currently being attended to by his new fuck toy. “You stupid fuck. I told you if you touched her again I would break your fucking nose.”
“”I will sue your ass.” Zac sounded like he had a cold.
“I dare you.” Jared tossed a box of tissues at him.
“No you won’t. Unless you want me to discuss your predilection for sleeping with women in your employ.”
“You know what? Fine. Keep her.” Zac yelled through hands that covered his face.
“I’m going to go now.” I walked behind my desk. “Please, make sure my office is cleaned up. Be prepared to discuss my more than ample severance package when I return. Good luck, Zac. And by good luck I mean go fuck yourself.” With shaky hands, I quickly shoved my things in my briefcase and handed it to Jared. He already had my purse in his hand.
“You sure you’re okay?” Jared asked again.
“I’ll be fine.” I looked over at Zac who was sitting up and leaning against the wall under the window. Jenny was holding a bloody tissue under his nose. “It didn’t have to be this way.”
“You ended it.”
“We never should have started.”
I turned and walked out of my office with Jared.
“Are you really okay?” He squeezed my hand.
“I am. Are you? How is your hand?” I pressed the button to the elevator.
“It needs some ice, to be honest. I never hit anyone that hard before.”
“Want me to go run and get you an ice pack?”
“No way. Wait until we’re out of the building.”
“I’m sorry I punched your boss.” He pushed a stray hair out of my face.
“I’m sorry you hurt your hand.”
We stepped onto the elevator. When the door closed he turned to me, “Did you just quit your job?”
“I think I did.”
He sighed. “I’m sorry you quit your job.”
“I’m not. I’m good.” I blew out a shaky breath and he raised an eyebrow. “Fine. I’m not really all that good but I for sure, definitely know that I will be. Probably.”
We rode the elevator in silence after that. It wasn’t until we reached the street that I asked, “Shouldn’t you be a work?”
He held his fist in his hand. “It’s lunchtime. I thought I’d come by and surprise you.”
I looked around and my eyes landed on one of my favorite lunchtime spots. “Let’s go have lunch then. And get you an bag of ice for that hand.”
“You were pretty bad ass back there.”
“Yeah, I kinda was wasn’t I?”
After a painful lunch, I called Berk and had him cover for Jared. And then I took Jared to the hospital. Apparently the knuckle of his ring finger wasn’t as strong as the rest of the knuckles. After a no so fun-filled visit to the ER that included a cast of his color choice, we ended up back at my place.
I shook one of his pain pills in my hand and grabbed a bottle of water and handed both to him.
“You left a few things here if you want to change out of your suit. I folded them and placed them in my bottom drawer.” I walked back into the kitchen.
“You had room for my stuff?”
“I made room for your stuff.”
He tilted his head and smiled.
“What?” I asked as I opened the bottle of wine.
“You want some wine?” I called from the kitchen as I stepped in to grab a glass.
“No thank you. I think I’m just going to sit here a minute.”
I poured my glass and walked into the living room. Jared was gorgeous sight. His head fell back on the couch, his tie and shirt completely undone, his undershirt untucked from his trousers. His black cast rested on his stomach.
I sat in the chair across from him.
“What are you looking at?” Though his eyes were closed, he knew I was looking.
“You’re just pretty amazing.”
“No so amazing. I punched your boss and broke my hand.”
“That’s exactly one of the things that makes you amazing.”
He smiled, eyes still closed. “I’m tired.”
“The meds are going to kick in soon and you’ll be out. Let me go get my bed ready.”
I changed into a pair of sweatpants and a tank and pulled down the covers of my bed before heading back into the living room to get Jared.
I leaned down and whispered in his ear. “Let’s go handsome.”
“I can’t get up.” The pain medication was kicking in.
“I’ll help you. On the count of three. One. Two. Three. Up.” I locked my hand with his and used the other as leverage as I pulled him to his feet.
We shuffled to my bedroom where I sat him on the bed and slid his arms out of his shirt, careful not to disturb the arm with the cast too much. He flopped back and I tugged off his pants before lifting his legs and sliding him into bed. I pulled the covers over him, kissed his forehead and turned to leave when he grabbed my hand.
“Will you lie with me?”
He scootched over to make room and I slid in next to him.
Immediately he turned over, draping his casted arm on my stomach and his leg over mine. He snuggled in and took a deep breath. For a few moments the only sound was the sound of him breathing. Until he shifted and whispered, “I love you, Melody.”
A strange feeling swirled in my stomach and my face burned hot. A lump settled in my throat, tears stung my eyes and for a moment I didn’t think I would ever breathe again because I realized I loved him too.
SLOWING DOWN THE SEX-CELERATOR . . .
Melody Ashford hates waiting for anything-especially sex. But after a disastrous affair and a one-nighter with Mr. Micropenis, Mel realizes she's suffering from some bad bedroom juju. And no amount of hot, casual, or friends-with-benefits hookups is going to fix it. Instead, Mel's decided to resist the demands of her ladyparts.
Saying no might have been no problem . . . except that her temporary roommate, Jared Myers, is all kinds of hot male sex on a stick. Now Mel is consumed by all manner of dirty thoughts, and remembering why she decided to "go slow" is getting harder and harder . . .