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By ANNE RAINEY
APHRODISIA BOOKSCopyright © 2010 Anne Rainey
All right reserved.
Chapter One"Good morning, Mr. Gentry," Lydia said as Dane Gentry of the Gentry, Anderson & Dailey Law Firm strode through the door, a scowl marring his handsome face.
A grunt seemed to sum up what he thought of her chipper greeting. One thing Lydia had learned over the two years since coming to work for Dane, the man hated mornings. "Coffee's on your desk and here's your schedule for the day." She handed him the printout. If it were possible, his frown deepened as he looked her over.
"What time did you get here?"
She pushed her glasses higher on her nose and said, "Uh, five, Mr. Gentry. I had a few things to catch up on."
He rubbed his jaw. "Do I pay you overtime?"
Lydia was so confused by his question she just sat there, staring at him as if he'd lost his mind.
"Lydia, answer the question. It wasn't that hard."
"No, sir, you don't. I'm salary."
"Then it makes no sense to work overtime, now does it?"
"I suppose not, but I needed to finish up some research."
Dane shook his head. "You work too much."
Lydia was beginning to feel a spark of anger. She liked her job, but there were days when working for three lawyers really was a joke. "Are you complaining about my performance, Mr. Gentry?"
He frowned. "Of course not, but you put in way too many hours."
"Someone had to finish the research. I don't have a magic wand here ... sir," she said, allowing a hint of sarcasm to seep into her voice.
Her boss leaned across the desk, coming way too close for comfort, and whispered, "You have a very smart mouth, Lydia. One of these days it'll get you into trouble."
Lydia tamped down the urge to move her chair closer, to inhale his clean masculine scent. She'd always had a weakness for Dane. He was so tall and broad shouldered. His messy dark hair with the little curl at the collar always made her want to reach out and play with it. Deep brown eyes watched her with an intensity that had her feeling as if someone had jacked up the temperature. It was no wonder he had so many female clients. She thought of his statement and answered, "There are times when I find my quick wit to be rather helpful, Mr. Gentry."
"Dane," he gritted out. "Will you ever call me Dane?"
"I see no reason to, no." This was an old argument between them. She stood on formalities and it drove him crazy, which was partly why she did it, of course.
"I can make it mandatory."
She laughed. "That can't be legal."
"Who gives a damn if it's legal or not?"
She was about to remind him that he was a lawyer when another voice intruded. "Is he giving you a hard way to go, sugar?"
Dane straightened and turned around. Lydia peered around Dane's massive body to see Mac Anderson striding through the door, a bagel in one hand and his briefcase in the other. Lydia went back to work mode. "Good morning, Mr. Anderson. Your schedule," she explained as she handed it over. "Don't forget you said you'd have lunch with your mom today at one."
Mac grinned and looked at Dane. "Think she'll ever call us by our first name?"
Dane snorted and crossed his arms over his chest. "Unlikely."
Mac was Dane's polar opposite. He walked around with a perpetual grin and everyone was a friend. In fact, she wasn't sure she'd ever seen the man grumpy. With his sandy blond hair and pale blue eyes, he looked more like a laidback surfer than a lawyer. His easy charm was merely a veneer though. He was every bit as sharp as Dane and just as cunning in the courtroom.
"This subject has been beaten into the ground," she replied as she pretended an interest in the e-mail she'd been going through. "You both might as well get used to the fact that I'm never going to call you by your first names. It's not professional and that's the end of it."
"Mouthy, isn't she?" Mac noted.
Out of the corner of her eye she saw Dane frown, again. "Someone needs to teach Ms. Burke a lesson, if you ask me."
"Someone has a meeting in half an hour and shouldn't be wasting time chatting."
"She has a point," another voice chimed in. They all three looked at the door to the office just as Trent Dailey marched through it, his movements precise, his expression serious. Lydia straightened in her chair. Trent had a way of making people check themselves. He wasn't exactly a drill sergeant, but she secretly thought he would have made an exemplary one if he ever chose to change professions. Ever the serious one, with his amber eyes, neatly trimmed black hair and powerful build, Trent rarely cracked a smile, and he always did everything with efficiency. She often felt like a slacker around him, and for a workaholic like her, that was saying something.
"If you two can find it in you to break away from the charming Ms. Burke, I have something I need to discuss with you."
Mac looked back at her and winked. "He's at it already. Look out, sugar, you could be next."
Dane didn't say another word, just growled something about coffee and stomped into his office, Trent and Mac hot on his heels.
The phone rang and she had the feeling her day was about to turn chaotic. "I just love Mondays," she mumbled, before picking it up.
Lydia had started the day with a smile, but that was well before Dane turned her world upside down. There wasn't a moment's peace. The minute she finished one task, she'd end up having fifty more dumped on her desk. And it was only noon!
"Lydia, I need you to get Gordon Michelson on the phone," Dane said. "I want to set up a meeting right away concerning his personal injury case."
"Yes, Mr. Gentry," she replied, barely containing a groan. As she closed the document she'd been working on for Mac and searched through her list of contacts for Michelson's phone number, Dane popped his head out of his office once more. "Lydia, did you do that research for the Wilson case?"
"It's not quite finished. I'll have it to you by the end of the day, sir."
"That's fine. By the way, don't forget to interview that potential client, Sam MacKenzie."
Lydia had finally reached the end of her rope. "Okay, you know what? This is too much for one person. I get a few things done and you drop a hundred more on me. I'm not a robot!"
She grabbed her purse and started for the door, aware she'd attracted the attention of her fellow coworkers. Dane was quick to intercept her. She tried to move around him, but he only grabbed her arm, halting her forward progress.
"Where are you going?"
"I need a break," she gritted out.
"I'm sorry. Don't quit, please."
She put her hand on her hip and glared up at him. "Well, of course I'm not quitting! But I am taking the rest of the afternoon off. You can get along without me that long, can't you?"
Dane leaned down and whispered into her ear, "If you don't come back tomorrow I'll come looking for you, sweetheart. I won't let you get away from me so easily."
Lydia shuddered at the sensual tone. All the time she'd worked for Dane, he'd never used that dark, mysterious tone on her. Or endearments for that matter. He wasn't like Mac, where every woman he met was either sugar or darlin', an influence of his Texas upbringing. Dane had just crossed a line, and despite warning bells going off inside her head, his wicked threat tantalized her.
As he released her arm and stepped to the side to let her pass, Lydia watched his lips tilt to one side. He was flirting with her and she was woefully unequipped to handle a man like Dane Gentry.
Lydia forced her feet to move, her entire body suddenly too warm for comfort. As she left the office building, she could swear all three men stared at her, and she had a sneaking suspicion it wasn't professional concern they had on their minds.
As soon as the office door closed, Dane let out a breath. Jesus, that was close. He'd been a heartbeat away from kissing her. That would be the wrong thing to do. Way wrong. But if that was the case, then why did he feel as if he'd lost a golden opportunity? What would she have done if he'd closed that little distance? Damn, Lydia Burke had been a fire in his blood for too long already. If he didn't do something about his fascination with her, he was going to lose it.
As he'd watched her get all authoritative and demanding, he'd been tempted to push her to her knees and force her to submit. There was a chemistry between them. Hell, there'd always been a spark. Though he had a feeling she liked to pretend it wasn't there, Dane knew the truth. Lust, craving, obsession; whatever the label it didn't matter. It wasn't going away, not until they did something about it.
"Shit, that was close," Mac groaned. "I thought she was leaving you for good this time."
"She won't leave," Dane stated. "She knows I'd find her and bring her back."
"We've got another problem," Trent grumbled as he motioned them into his office. After he closed the door, he said, "Clyde just put in his two weeks' notice and we need to replace him."
As Dane glanced at Trent across the room, the throbbing in Dane's head gained momentum. Trent referred to the manager at Kinks, the bondage and submission club they owned. "Damn, he was the best we had so far. No one stepped out of line as long as Clyde was around," Mac said.
Dane moved toward Trent's desk and sat on the edge. "What happened?"
Trent pushed his fingers through his hair in agitation. "Hell, he always did say it wouldn't be a permanent thing for him," Trent explained. "He's getting married and his fiancée wants him to concentrate full time on the landscaping business they've set up. Being our manager wasn't really part of his five-year plan."
Dane crossed his legs at the ankles. "I met the fiancée once. She's such a damned prude, I'm surprised Clyde lasted this long."
Trent's eyes widened. "She came into Kinks?"
"No, she picked him up at the door one night; his car was in the shop. She took one look at me and went pale as a damn sheet." His lips twitched. "I think it was my leather dom hood that did it."
Mac laughed. "It's wrong for us to find amusement in that."
Dane laughed, though it felt hollow. The rest of his day would be shit because Lydia wasn't there. He never quite understood his fascination with her, which was one reason he'd kept his distance. He didn't like going into a relationship blind.
"Back to the problem at hand," Trent insisted. "We need to replace Clyde. I asked him if he knew anyone he could recommend. Of course, he didn't; that would've been too fucking easy. I thought maybe we could bump Ralph up. He's been there the longest and knows the ropes. We put him on as manager and replace his spot on the floor. It's bound to be easier to find someone to replace him, rather than taking the time to train someone new to take Clyde's position, agreed?"
Dane and Mac both nodded. Dane was the first to speak. "Fine by me."
Trent moved toward his office. "Done then. We can take care of it tonight."
Dane suddenly felt exhausted. "Did either of you think it'd be this much work to run that damned club?"
Mac arched a brow at him. "Having second thoughts?"
Dane shrugged and sat back. They'd taken over the running of the club a little over a year ago, after the previous owner had found out he had cancer. They'd grown close to Leo, so when he confided in them that he wanted the club to go to someone he knew and trusted, someone who would take care of it, they'd stepped in and made it happen. The place now made them a hefty profit. It was never about the money though, not for any of them. It was their home away from home. The only place they could truly be free to explore the darker nature of their souls. The three of them had gone to college together. It had been there that they'd discovered they shared a common passion for the kinkier side of sex. When the club had practically been dropped into their laps, it'd seemed perfect. But Dane hadn't counted on how much work was involved. Trent liked having a club to run, Mac just plain enjoyed sex, but he'd been drawn to the dom role. Still, being a club dom was fast losing its appeal.
"I don't know. I think I'm getting worn down from burning the candle at both ends."
Trent moved toward Lydia's chair and sat down. "I've been feeling the same way, but now that it's turning a profit we can start thinking of hiring more help."
Mac's usual grin was replaced by a scowl. "That could be tricky as hell, considering what we do during the day. We have to protect our interests."
"That's why we have the employees sign a confidentiality agreement and it's also why we never go out to the floor without our hoods." Trent reminded him.
The members of the club thought they wore the hoods for effect; never allowing anyone to see their faces lent to the dark mystery. The truth wasn't nearly as enticing. Dane knew the legal end was secure, but society didn't always care about laws and regulations. In the end, the general population would still view the club as a place that catered to sexual deviants. "Can you imagine if someone found out we run a BDSM club? We'd be finished as lawyers."
"It's not illegal, Dane," Trent growled. "You make it sound like we're drug lords or pimps."
"Our clients wouldn't give a damn about legalities, Trent, and you know it. They'd find a new law firm quicker than any of us could blink."
"You're forgetting one important factor here, buddy," Mac said, a mischievous gleam lighting his eyes.
"Some of our clients are also members at Kinks. They want their privacy protected just as much as we do."
Dane nodded. "No shit. And they're way more connected than we are. We give them a place to play in safety. They'll damn near kill to keep that little privilege."
"Besides, it's not like anyone at Kinks is beyond reproach," Trent said. "I've yet to see a single goody-goody come near the place."
Trent's words brought Dane back to his talk with Lydia that morning. "Speaking of goody-goody. I'm about fed up with Lydia's constant refusal to call me by my first name. The woman's been my paralegal for two years."
"It'll never happen," Trent said, his voice resigned. "I don't know why you even bother. Lydia is way too professional. In her mind it's inappropriate. End of story."
"Damn, can you imagine her coming into Kinks?"
Mac's question tore straight through him. Hell yeah, Dane could imagine it. He'd done so a hundred different times, usually while he jacked off. "She'd faint dead away," he mused.
"There's just something sexy about that librarian getup she wears though," Trent added. "It makes me want to tear it off her and see what she keeps hidden."
"Paradise," Mac assured them. "I can feel it in my bones. That woman is built."
"Then I'm not the only one who's fantasized about my delectable paralegal?" Dane asked. Trent and Mac both shook their heads. Somehow that made Dane feel better, like less of a debaucher of virgins. "If she ever does venture into our lair, she'll be in for one helluva ride."
They all three grunted in agreement.
Chapter TwoLydia slammed her car door before pulling her cell phone out of her purse. She dialed with shaking fingers. Roni answered on the second ring.
"I'm heading to lunch, do you have plans?" Lydia asked, her mind still reeling from the look on Dane's rugged face. It was the expression of a man bent on seduction, but why had it been directed at her?
"Nope, I was just heading for some fast food."
"Ah-ha!" Lydia cried. "I've saved you from a heart attack."
Roni laughed. "Most likely. Where do you want to meet?"
"How about Alejandro's?" Lydia asked, referring to one of their favorite Mexican restaurants.
Lydia heard Roni sigh. "You're determined to kill my diet, aren't you?"
"You don't need to diet; your body is perfect." Lydia secretly wished she looked as good as Roni. It seemed the older they got, the better Roni looked. It wasn't fair.
"Fine, but if my pants are tight tomorrow, I'm blaming you."
Lydia pushed the key in the ignition and started the car. "Deal, meet you there."
They hung up and Lydia sat there another few seconds to let herself calm down. Why do I always let Dane do this to me? She needed a vacation or she really would lose her mind.
As she put the car in gear and headed out of the parking lot, she recalled the day Dane had hired her. She'd been nervous as hell and she'd spilled coffee down the front of her tan skirt. Dane had handed her some tissues, a kind smile tilting his sexy lips. Trent had frowned at her as if she'd spilled the coffee on him instead of her. Mac had simply winked. Flustered and near tears she excused herself and nearly bolted for the restroom. When she'd finally managed to face Dane again, he'd offered her the job and told her she could start right away. She'd always wondered why he'd bothered to hire her. She'd been a total klutz, completely unprofessional, and yet he'd taken her under his wing.
Excerpted from BODY RUSH by ANNE RAINEY Copyright © 2010 by Anne Rainey. Excerpted by permission.
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