Teasing the Boss

By: Mallory Crowe

CHAPTER ONE





“So you’re a stalker now?”

Grace’s eyes widened behind her oversized sunglasses. “I’m not stalking anyone!” she said into the phone as she navigated through the busy morning sidewalks, trying her best not to bring attention to herself. Though it was hard to remain inconspicuous when she banged into the pedestrians walking by.

She’d give anything to take off the damn glasses, but she couldn’t risk being recognized. The long shadows cast by the skyscrapers on either side of her kept the streets dark, and she could hardly see where she was going.

“I’m never going to wear sunglasses again,” she promised as a heel caught in the crack of the sidewalk. Letting out a rather unladylike grunt, she pulled the shoe free and scanned the busy street for her target.

“For what it’s worth, I think they looked fierce.” The smile in Andre’s voice was evident, and she was sure he was enjoying this all too much.

“I think I lost him,” she breathed. Body after body brushed past her, but she didn’t budge from her spot as she looked for any sign of the short red hair she’d followed all morning.

Andre scoffed on the other end of the line. “You lost your one chance at cleaning up your image? You gotta want it, honey.”

Grace pursed her lips. “He’s not my only chance,” she muttered. She moved forward, glanced in the windows of the buildings and hoped he’d ducked into one when she’d been distracted. “He’s just my best chance.”

“Well, the paparazzi are still following me around, so you might be able to take off your incognito wear.”

“I can’t believe that worked.” She passed by a bakery. The scent of pastries fresh out of the oven wafted through the air, and she was half tempted to give up her chase and drown her sorrows in sugar. At least if she was fat, no one would recognize her.

“The press are smart enough when they’re trying to track you down, but the second they think they’ve got a lock, they get blinded by their own greed. I could’ve been five inches shorter with a beer gut, but as long as I was wearing your outfit and that wig, they’d follow me to the ends of the earth.”

The corner of her mouth ticked up at the memory of Andre wearing the blond wig that slightly resembled Grace’s own long locks. “I really appreciate all you did this morning.”

“Just because I like boys doesn’t mean I dress in drag for fun. You owe me.”

A trickle of guilt snaked its way through her. Andre had done so much for her, and not just by distracting the press. He’d been the first employee at Bell Planning, her event coordination business. She owed him so much, and at this rate, Bell Planning would be closing doors within the month.

“Don’t worry,” she told him with false confidence. “I’m going to find this guy, and he’s going to fix everything.”

Andre was silent, and that sent a shiver through her. If he didn’t think she could turn this around, what shot did she really have?

The defeat didn’t have time to settle in her gut. Her target turned out of the coffeehouse a few doors away and started down the street. Right toward her.

Every instinct within her told her to turn and hide, but it was too late. Simon West stared intently at her as he cut his way through the crowds. His gaze managed to keep her frozen in place.

Simon West didn’t fit the mental image she had cooked up in her mind. She expected the consulting prodigy to wear oversized glasses and have a haircut from the eighties. She’d worked with a lot of the high-powered elite during her few years in New York City, and she’d come to realize that most successful businessmen fit into one of two categories: the smooth movers and the number men. From all the articles and stories she’d read, Simon West was one of the best number men in the business.

Except the man who walked toward her, the one she’d followed since he left his apartment twenty minutes ago, was a drool-worthy example of a smooth mover. His gray suit was perfectly tailored to his toned body, and his dusty red hair was kept almost as short as the neatly trimmed beard that covered his face. It was just long enough so his strong jaw and killer cheekbones were evident. And, at the moment, his deep chestnut eyes were focused solely on her. She could tell by looking at him that Simon was the type who got what he wanted, when he wanted it.

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