Not what radio DJ Tallulah Lazenby expects to hear from the sex god she was in bed with just hours earlier! Who turns out to be her new boss. Total. Nightmare.
Executive Tristan Bamfield's reasons for being in London are strictly professional until he manages to sleep with the woman he was supposed to be firing! And when Tristan has to take charge and get Lula back on air, what was supposed to be one night becomes weeks of tantalizing torture! Because back in the studio those red-hot memories are making Lula a major distraction and "business as usual" is much easier said than done
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Tallulah Lazenby drained the last drop of her large glass of Sauvi-gnon Blanc and clung onto the comforting buzz of the alcohol, until the feeling dissipated and her nerves returned.
She really shouldn't be drinking the night before her grievance meeting with the owner of the radio station where she worked as a DJa job that had, until recently, made her rise with excitement every morningbut she needed something to dull the growing panic that tomorrow could be her last day of work there.
'Lula, snap out of it. It's going to be okay,' her friend Emily muttered into her ear, clicking her fingers in front of her face and dragging her out of her agitated funk and into the here and now of the dimly lit Covent Garden pub, where they were celebrating a friend's birthday.
Lula gave her a tight-lipped smile. 'Easy for you to say; you didn't make the catastrophic mistake of sleeping with your Station Manager and scuppering your chances at career advancement when you refused to be his regular sex-puppet.'
Emily tried to keep a straight face, but failed spectacularly. 'I have to say, Lu, it wasn't one of your best moves.'
She shot her friend a no kidding grimace.
'Lord knows what possessed you to sleep with him,' Emily added.
Lula nodded solemnly into her empty glass.
Jeremyor Jez as he preferred to be calledwas an overconfident, self-absorbed philanderer and the exact opposite of what she was looking for in a long-term partner.
'It was after a very long, very dry patch and he caught me at a moment of weakness,' she muttered, her face hot with the ignominy of how it had cast a dark shadow over their working relationship when she'd told him in no uncertain terms that there wasn't going to be a repeat performance.
Jez was not the type of man you said no to.
And she'd paid the price for it.
After a few weeks of stilted and antagonistic interaction, he'd blithely informed her that he would no longer be moving her onto the Breakfast Showeven though he'd been promising to for months. And, just to rub salt in the wound, he was giving her Drivetime Show to Darlaone of the other female DJs at the stationwho apparently had no qualms about regularly bumping uglies with him.
So now she was just supposed to float around the station, covering for other presenters when they needed time off from their shows.
A major step backwards on her career path.
'At least the owner's taking your complaint seriously,' Emily said, sprawling back in her chair and licking a bit of lemon off the rim of her glass of vodka and tonic.
Lula put her head in her hands and stared down at the table. 'I didn't tell you the worst bit. I found out today that Jez's daddy is best buddies with the owner. There's no way he'll take my side on this. Not when the Old Boy Network is in play.' She rubbed her eyes and groaned, 'Nepotism sucks.'
The corner of her friend's mouth twitched up into a consoling smile. 'It'll be okay. You're the best DJ that station has; they're not about to let you walkhave some faith in yourself.'
Emily leaned forward and slapped an encouraging hand onto Lula's leg. 'You know what you need to do right now? Give yourself a confidence boost so you can stride in there tomorrow with your head held high.'
Lula flashed her friend a pained look. 'How am I meant to do that, exactly?'
'You could start by engaging in some power-flirting with a crazy-hot sex god.' Emily gave one of the trademark saucy winks that had earned her legions of fans on her popular Treasure Trail TV show.
Lula spluttered in mirth. 'Do they even exist? 'Coz I've never met one.'
Emily crossed her arms and shook her head sadly. 'You know, if you took some time out from your tireless quest to find this mythical "perfect man" and just indulged in a bit of funwith someone other than your boss, that isperhaps you'd get your mojo back?' She cocked a chastising eyebrow, before turning away to answer a question one of the other birthday guests called across to her.
Lula snorted at the back of her friend's head, but accepted that Emily had a point. She probably should give herself a break and stop worrying about finding The One, but it had been one disappointing relationship after another recently and she was beginning to panic that she was destined to be single for ever.
Hence the foolish move of sleeping with her boss.
She'd just celebrated her thirty-first birthdaywhich both of her parents had managed to forget about this yearand Jez had been so attentive, so seemingly sympathetic, that she'd found herself succumbing to his determined advances.
And look what had happened.
She was never making that mistake again. Sleeping with colleagues was a fool's game. It only ever ended in tears and awkwardness. And possibly unemployment.
If only she didn't find it so nerve-racking talking to men she found attractive. It was much easier to connect with people when she was behind her microphone. If a conversation was going badly on-air and she was floundering, she could cut them off by playing a song or going to an ad breaksnatching some time to pull herself togetherand nobody was any the wiser. She'd also got into the habit of pre-recording interviews so she could edit them later and pushing her listeners to send a text or tweet to the show, instead of calling in.
Recently it had seemed as though her show on Flash FM was the only place she had a modicum of control. Out in the real world her deep-seated shyness, stemming from way back in her youth, often made her blurt out stupid things or induced one of her humiliating brain freezes and her mortification would show clearly on her face for all to see.
'Rabbit caught in headlights' was not a good look on her.
She glanced around the bar, her gaze snagging on a cosy-looking couple to her right. She experienced a sting of jealousy as they giggled at some private joke together.
Was it really too much to ask to meet someone who was genuinely interested in making her the centre of their universe, getting married some day and starting a family? Something she'd been dreaming about since her own dysfunctional family had come apart at the seams.
Her chest gave an uncomfortable lurch. No. This was not the time to start dwelling on her less than perfect childhood.
'Hey, Lu, speaking of sex gods, check out the guy sitting behind us,' Emily murmured into Lula's ear, her hot, boozy breath tickling the hairs on her neck.
Intrigued, Lula swivelled round to get an eyeful of the guy Emily was talking about. She could only make out his broad back and a hint of his profile because he was turned away from her, but she could see exactly what had caught her friend's interest.
The textbook triangular shape of his torso stretched his expensive-looking shirt to perfection, giving a tantalising suggestion of the ripped body concealed underneath.
Lula would bet her life he could be found sweating away in the gym every morning before setting off for some high-powered job. Something about his self-possessed posture made her think he was somebody big somewhere. You just got a feeling from people like him.
Power and control.
The skin on the back of his neck between the crisp collar of his shirt and the clean, razored cut of his dark, short back and sides haircut was tanned a warm honey colour, as if he'd just got back from a holiday in the sun. Lula could picture him, stretched out on the golden sand in just a tiny pair of swimmers, his body shimmering with perspiration in the intense midday sun.
The buzz from the glass of wine returned, only this time it washed a deep satisfying heat through a much more intimate part of her body.
Good grief, if just a flash of his skin could do that to her, imagine what would happen if she got to speak to him face to face.
Spontaneous combustion, probably.
A crazy idea struck her that made her heart thump heavily against her chest. Perhaps she should practice the façade of kick-ass poise and self-assurance that she was going to need at tomorrow's meeting on him. She could buy him a drink, then plonk herself down at his table as if she chatted up dishy men every day. She just needed to draw on the confidence she summoned to perform on the radio and she could become the outgoing woman everyone expected her to be in real life.
At work she got past any awkwardness at meeting new people by researching her subjects thoroughly and planning her questions, but she didn't have the time or tools for that right now. This would have to be a study in improvisation.
She would fake it till she made it with this guy.
Even the suggestion of 'making it' with him sent another zingy little frisson deep into her pelvis.
Just flirting, Lulathat's all that's gonna happen here.
Okay. Time to get her game face on.
If she could succeed at capturing the interest of a handsome man in a bar tonight, she could damn well persuade the station owner to give her a fair hearing tomorrow.
Tonight, audience, I'm going to be Tallulah
Lazenbytop rated DJ at Flash FM, social mover and shaker and loquacious livewire.
She sat up straighter in her seat.
Yes. Positivity. That's the ticket.
Powered by that rousing resolve, she grabbed her bag and got up, centring herself on her six-inch heels, and primed herself to shimmy on past the sex god and over to the bar.
Tristan Bamfield winced and placed his empty beer bottle onto the sticky pub table with a firm clunk as the group of women sitting behind him let out another squall of high-pitched laughter.
Usually he wouldn't stray from the hotel bar when he was working away from home, but he'd found himself needing to escape from the over-zealous attentions of a primped-to-within-an-inch-of-her-life Sloaney who'd zeroed in on him, and this dimly lit traditional London pub, with its purple and black painted walls and trendily scuffed up leather sofas and painted tables, had seemed like the perfect refuge.
Until this vociferous band of banshees had followed him in shortly afterwards, that was.
All he'd wanted was one quiet drink before going back to the cold solitude of his hotel room but it seemed that peace was the last thing he was likely to get in here.
He knew he was being uncharitablehe wasn't usually averse to a bit of lively banterbut he'd been plagued by a vague sense of irritation ever since his father had convinced himby way of passive aggressive joshingto come to London and sort out some seedy-sounding mess at his vanity project of a radio station while he swanned around the Middle East on a honeymoon with his fifth wife.
What a total farce.
Tristan hadn't even bothered going to the wedding, knowing full well this marriage wasn't likely to last long either. He'd made sure to buy them the most expensive present on their wedding list, thoughhis way of acknowledging the union and mitigating any potential hard feelings about his no-show. He didn't dislike his new stepmotherhe'd barely even met herbut he couldn't bring himself to summon up the fake smiles and phoney enthusiasm required at these events any more.
He twisted the empty bottle between his hands and turned his thoughts to the situation at the radio station instead, not wanting to waste any more time dwelling on his father's irrepressible addiction to nuptials.
It seemed that one of the DJs, Tallulah somethingor-other, claimed the Station Manager had reneged on a promise to promote her to Breakfast Show presenter and had also taken her off her current show when she refused to sleep with him. The manager, on the other hand, swore blind she was lying and angry with him after he'd disciplined her for turning up to work drunk.
The whole thing had a sickeningly sordid air about it.
Added into the mix was the fact that Jeremy, the Station Manager, was the son of a good friend of the family and his father wanted the DJ fired to keep relations cordial between them.
Tristan knew from past experience of working with his old man at the family business that he was often too quick to take the more convenient way out of a problem instead of taking time to look at the whole picture.
He needed to be careful here.
Sighing, he rubbed a hand over his face, trying to relieve his building frustration.
He really didn't need this right now.
After taking the last couple of months to get his head together following a humiliating end to a four-year relationship, he just wanted to be left alone to settle back into what was left of his life in Edinburgh.
Fat chance of that.
One of the women from the table behind him sidled past, distracting him from his thoughts as her fresh floral scent hit his nose. He watched as she click-clicked away on ludicrously high heels, her shapely rear swaying provocatively from side to side as she headed towards the bar.
Despite his resolution to steer clear of women until he'd got his head straight again, he couldn't help but be captivated by her petite, curvy figure. It made him think of an Amazonian woman in miniatureall delicious voluptuousness and sexual potency.
He watched idly as she waited for the barman to notice her, appearing to sink against the high, solid wood counter the longer she was ignored, until her previously upright posture had dipped down into a full-on slouch.
There was a particular kind of dejection to her body language that made him sit up and take notice.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was my first book by Christy McKellen. It is a light, fun story with likable characters that people can relate to. The pace was perfect for keeping things believable and interesting. Great for a quick afternoon read. ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.