Under normal circumstances, Whitney March might have appreciated sharing an elevator with a ridiculously attractive and clearly wealthy guy. Even enjoyed it. But when her companion turns out to be the man who almost ran her over in parking garage moments earlier? Nope and nope. Besides, she's on her way to a job interview at a prestigious law firm, and she needs to stay focused. Not staring at the rich and sexy jerk.
Then the elevator comes to an abrupt stop. They're stuck.
Jordan Campbell has every intention of acing the interview for his dream job, and he's not about to let anything stop him. Not even the sexy, capable, and fiery woman who turns out to be his main competitor he's trapped with. The only thing they have in common is determination to get the job...and an escalating attraction. And it's only a matter of time before these competitors indulge in a very sexy little connection between floors.
About the Author
Kerri Carpenter began writing in her grandmother's kitchen at the age of seven in a small town outside of Pittsburgh, PA. A life-long fan of reading, she got lost in the worlds of The Baby-sitters Club and Sweet Valley High. She also assumed that everyone had characters and plots forming in their heads at all times.
During college, her mother gave her a copy of Nora Roberts', Seaswept, and she didn't stop reading until she'd blown through every other Nora Roberts book availabe. After graduating from Georgetown University, and working at The Washington Post and several nonprofit organizations, she began her freelance writing career. But she still continued to read romances. Since she couldn't get enough of books with happy endings, she started writing her own.
Now, Kerri writes contemporary romances, usually set in small towns. She enjoys reading, cooking, watching movies, taking Zumba classes, rooting for Pittsburgh sports teams, and anything sparkly. Kerri lives in Northern Virginia with her adorable (and precocious) poodle mix, Harry.
Read an Excerpt
Flirting with the Competition
By Kerri Carpenter
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2014 Kerri Carpenter
All rights reserved.
This was it — the day that could change her whole life.
Whitney threw her Toyota in park, snatched her purse off the seat, and hopped out the door. Excited butterflies darted around in her belly as she locked her car and looked at the stairway that led out of the parking garage and into the building where she hoped to soon be working.
After four years of tirelessly putting herself through college, an even tougher three years of law school, plus three more years of working her butt off at Preston and Associates, she was finally about to get the payoff from all of that work: an interview at one of the most prestigious law firms in Washington, DC.
Who would have ever thought that Whitney March, the shy girl from West Virginia, would have a real shot at becoming a lawyer? Or of living in Washington, DC? The city was so different from her teeny-tiny hometown in West Virginia, they might as well be on different planets.
An excited shiver ran through her. Time to turn her dreams into reality.
She took a deep breath and started toward the stairway.
She didn't know if she heard the screech of the tires first or felt the wind from the speed of the car. But she turned and saw the grill of a red BMW rushing toward her. She leaped back against the trunk of her car, eyes wide and breath stuck in her throat as the BMW sped through where she'd been standing.
While she tried to contain the shaking that had overtaken her entire body, she spared a glance into the car. The driver seemed as surprised as she felt. His mouth hung open, and any coloring in his face had faded. Whitney waited for him to get out, or at least roll down his window, but as he took in her car, he cocked his head, frowned, and lifted his hands in the universal expression of What the hell?
How could he be pissed when she was the one who'd almost been run over? She strode forward, intending to give him a crash course — pardon the pun — in how not to kill someone with an overpriced car. But before she could do or say anything, he put the car in reverse, backed up, and sped away down the ramp to the next level of parking.
Now it was her turn for a What the hell? gesture.
Her heart was beating so quickly she had to put a hand to her chest and take a couple of calming breaths. She hadn't gotten the best view of the jerk, but she had noticed his thick brownish-blond hair. It would have given off a surfer vibe if it hadn't been slicked back.
And he'd had a strong jawline. One that screamed of power and made her stomach flutter. She knew the type. When he walked into a room, everyone deferred to him. When he declared what he wanted, he always got it. Maybe that was why he drove like a bat out of hell. Why would he care about his driving if everyone always gave him the green light?
She hadn't been able to see his eyes since they'd been covered with a pair of silver aviators, but she'd bet they were simmering hot. Blech. Why did the hot ones always turn out to be the assholes?
Which was just as well that he'd driven off. She'd had enough of bad boys puffed up by their need for control. Just once she wanted to meet a guy who had power but was a small-town boy at heart. The kind of guy that egotistical, bad-driving assholes most definitely were not.
Whitney squared her shoulders and strode toward the exit door. She refused to let this guy ruin her day.
Once inside the building, she wasn't surprised to see that the lobby was empty. No people, no security guards, and hardly any noise.
Of course, being the day before the Fourth of July, most residents had fled DC, leaving the District resembling a ghost town. In fact, she was supposed to be one of those escapees. But she could stall her vacation for a day if it meant getting her dream job. She was just glad one of the partners had called her yesterday morning.
She'd been surprised to get a call for an interview the day before a holiday — most lawyers were long gone from town days before any holiday — but Mr. Wyatt had said he was stuck finishing up some briefs anyway, so she may as well come in for a chat. Of course she'd said yes. All of her late nights studying at Georgetown Law, not to mention the hours spent on her feet waitressing, would finally pay off.
Whitney punched the elevator button, tapped her foot in a quick rhythm, and huffed out a breath. As if in a slow motion replay, she saw the hot douche bag lifting his hands in frustration. So for good measure, she stabbed the elevator button one more time. Hard.
She needed to forget about him and focus on the interview. The coveted position was between her and one other candidate, a detail she probably wasn't supposed to know. But she couldn't help it if she'd happened upon a Wyatt & Becker human resources employee during happy hour in a bar right next door to the office building.
Whitney wanted to pat herself on the back, not only for the information a couple glasses of scotch had provided, but for the job she had no doubt would be hers in a matter of hours. No thanks to the guy who'd almost ruined her shot with one quick swipe of his car.
She jabbed the elevator call button three more times in rapid succession. The elevator had apparently fallen victim to the upcoming holiday — or perhaps the humid July weather — and was taking its good old time arriving.
A minor setback compared to almost being mowed down in the parking garage.
"Stupid jerk," she muttered into the silence of the lobby.
What a thoughtless idiot. He'd spared her a glance for less than a millisecond. And didn't that remind her of someone she knew. Her ex-boyfriend had taught her a huge lesson. Not only should she never date assholes, she could strike coworkers off the list, too.
Everyone deserved the chance to make at least one mistake. And dating your coworker definitely counted as a monumental mistake. One she would never make again.
Closing her eyes, she repeated the mantra she'd developed during her many years of practicing yoga.
It doesn't matter where you came from. It matters how hard you work now.
Opening her eyes, she straightened her black suit jacket as the elevator finally reached her floor. A little ding sounded, and the doors opened.
Stepping into the car, she double-checked the suite address for the law firm and pressed the button for floor fourteen. This was it. Nothing was going to get in her way now.
"Hold the elevator."
She registered the words as the silver doors began to slide shut. Snapping to attention, she pressed the button to hold the door.
"Thanks," a harried man said as he bounded into the elevator.
"No prob — "
Her eyes grew wide as she took in the clean-shaven man. He was attractive in that old-money-meets-movie-star kind of way. His thick brownish-blond hair. Cologne that smelled amazing. And his jawline — the strong, powerful kind that made her heart go flutter, flutter. The only thing about him that wasn't sexy was the bottle of water in his hand, and even that seemed tempting. Her throat suddenly felt parched.
But sneaking a longer look at him, she had to admit ... the guy looked an awful lot like the douche bag who'd almost run her over.
Oh, holy hell. Couldn't be.
The entire building was full of offices. He could be any number of employees coming to work from the street entrance.
Yeah. And I guess he just happened to get here at the same time as that douche bag, right?
"What floor?" she asked.
"Four ... Hey, do I know you?" he asked. His sensual green eyes held a mix of confusion and curiosity as he gave her a long, thorough once-over.
She glanced down quickly at the emerald-green camisole peeking out from her black skirt suit. Yep, everything was in place. Well, mostly. Her pantyhose had a slight snarl from the incident in the garage, but what did she care? As long as she crossed her legs in the interview, no one important would notice.
So why did she find herself shifting her weight to hide the run as those attentive green eyes continued to survey her?
Then she saw the pair of silver aviators tucked into the jacket pocket of his suit. The same pair Jerk Face had been wearing. Great. Now there was no doubt. Today must be her lucky day.
Just the reminder of what had happened in the garage made her blood boil. She looked up — way up, since this guy was apparently a giant — and gave him her own assessing stare.
As the elevator began its upward ascent, she opened her mouth to hurl insult one of five hundred at him —
But she stopped and shut her mouth. Whitney wasn't here to go head-to-head with this guy. Today was about getting the job of her dreams. Besides, what was one short elevator ride?
"I'm sure I've seen you somewhere before," he said.
"I don't think so," she said. She blew out a breath and turned to face the door.
"Are you sure?" he asked, oblivious to her teeth grinding.
How dare this jerk not even recognize her? But then again, that's what his type thrived on. Making the other person feel inferior. He must have gotten pointers from her ex.
Whitney pursed her lips together even tighter.
"Because I swear we've run into each other at some point."
"Interesting choice of words," she said tersely.
"What does that — "
His words cut off as the elevator let out a screeching sound, then lurched and came to a complete stop. Whitney fell backward against the railing. Jerk Face fell too, slamming into the left wall.
As she pushed her now-disheveled hair out of her eyes, she noticed that not one strand of his perfectly coiffed hair had moved an inch. Figured.
He reached out a hand to her. "Let me help — "
"I'm fine," she said, regaining her balance on her own. "What happened?"
The run in her hose had grown exponentially.
"You okay?" He rubbed his shoulder with the hand that hadn't taken the brunt of the fall.
"I said I'm fine."
"Good. I guess I'll live," he said.
"Oh, I just assumed you meant to ask if I was okay, too," he said.
Silence took over as they eyed each other. She saw something sincere flicker in his eyes. Maybe the guy really was making an effort.
Well, too little, too late. She wasn't about to give the guy a pass after what he'd done. Even if he was the hottest guy she'd seen in a while. And since Aidan, she hadn't seen a hot guy this close in far too long.
Whitney broke the contact as she averted her eyes to the numbers posted atop the elevator doors. None were lit up, which must mean they were between floors.
"Shit," Jerk Face said.
Whitney's worst fear was confirmed by the half-annoyed, half-worried expression on his face. Not only was she going to be late for her interview, she was stuck in the elevator with super-sexy Jerk Face.
She glanced one more time at the doors, willing them to glide open right onto floor fourteen and the coveted interview for her dream job. She closed her eyes, repeating her hope as a new mantra.
I will make it to the fourteenth floor. I will get this job.
But when she opened her eyes, nothing had changed. Still in the elevator. Still not moving. Still standing next to Jerk Face.
They were trapped.CHAPTER 2
Of all the things that could have happened on the way to a job interview, Jordan never would have imagined he'd get stuck in an elevator. Normally, this type of situation wouldn't faze him. He'd been in worse jams. But today was different. Today was incredibly important. And everything needed to go perfectly.
At least he had company, though. He glanced at her now.
Make that very attractive company.
He glanced at her again.
Make that extremely attractive company.
Company who was currently puffing out breaths of annoyance and throwing looks of contempt in his direction.
"I'll have us out of here in a couple of minutes," he said.
"You don't know that."
True, but how long could they be stuck in here, really?
She tapped her heel-clad foot in a rapid rhythm. Man, she was smokin' hot, and her anger just made her all the more attractive. Nothing turned him on more than a strong-willed woman. Her hair was straight and silky and the most unique color — a cross between blond and red. It lit up her high cheekbones and pert nose.
High cheekbones? Pert nose? Jordan shook his head. Time to reclaim his man card. He vowed to renew his subscription to Maxim as soon as he got out of here.
She crossed her arms over her chest, and Jordan had to force his eyes to stay on her face.
"I can't believe this," she said.
"It's not the fifties," he said. "They can repair elevators remotely now. Hold on, I'll give them a call and get this fixed." When she didn't move, he pointed at the phone behind her. "If you don't mind?"
"Oh ..." she said.
He took her arm and guided her out of the way —
As soon as he touched her, he felt a familiar stirring in his lower regions.
Okay, maybe she wasn't the kind of girl he dated, but he knew that feeling. He'd have to be careful. Step one, don't touch her. Step two, focus on making this phone call. Step three?
Remember why you're here. Nail the interview. Get the job. Or else you'll never get away from the family business.
He opened the panel on the wall and pulled out the phone. It only went to one number, so he held it to his ear, waiting for someone to pick up. After a tense few seconds, a male voice finally came on the phone.
"Hey, this is Larry."
"Yeah, Larry, my name's Jordan, and I'm stuck in the elevator between ..." He looked up at the numbers above the door, but they gave nothing away. "I'm stuck between two floors with a woman named ..." He looked to her for the answer.
"Whitney March," she said.
He found the airy tone of her voice incredibly seductive. "Whitney," he said, tasting the word, savoring her name. He shook himself. What was wrong with him? "What do we need to do next?" he asked the operator.
"Ah man, that's tough. Shit. See, I'm new. And I'm only the assistant here. I need to call my boss and stuff."
Jordan rolled his eyes. Damn, he was definitely going to be late. This was not his day. "Okay, call your boss. Get us out of here."
"Yeah, see, the thing is ... it's Fourth of July."
"What's he saying?" Whitney whispered, stepping so close her breast brushed his arm. Jordan tried not to react, but almost independently, his eyes roamed the rest of her fit physique.
"Shhhh," he warned her, hoping she couldn't see his reaction to her.
Cold water. Baseball.
He glanced at Whitney.
Being stuck in an elevator.
At her smooth skin and pink lips.
Being stuck in an elevator with a gorgeous woman.
Okay, this wasn't helping.
"It's July third, actually," Jordan finally replied to the operator. "July Fourth is tomorrow."
"Yeah, but see ..." The unhelpful operator took a long breath. "You know how the city is, man. DC's crazy. Everyone's gone for the holiday."
Whitney inched closer. "What's he saying?"
Jordan froze. She needed to give him some room, like yesterday. Between the idiot operator irritating him and whatever it was about her that was infiltrating his usually well-guarded control, he was about to start climbing the very narrow walls of the elevator car.
"I beg to differ," he said to the operator. "I'm here this weekend. My elevator friend, Whitney, is here. You're here. Most importantly, the people working in this building — people who are waiting for me — are here. So you need to get us out of here pronto."
"Yeah, but see, my boss went out."
"Okay, does your boss have a cell phone?"
"A cell phone?"
"That's right, a cell phone."
"I guess so."
"Well, let's give him a call, please," Jordan said.
A long, exasperated breath escaped Whitney's mouth. She put her hands to her hips and started tapping her toes. He had to wonder if she realized the stance made her very firm breasts jut forward in a delicious way.
"Give me that." She snatched the phone from his hands. "Hello, my name's Whitney March. Who am I speaking with? Larry? So nice to meet you. My ... friend and I are in a bit of a bind. Can you please call your boss — and then the fire department — to alert them that two passengers are stuck in the elevator?"
She listened for a long time before a small smile cracked her otherwise tight lips.
Very sexy tight lips.
Come on, Jordan. Get a hold of yourself.
Excerpted from Flirting with the Competition by Kerri Carpenter. Copyright © 2014 Kerri Carpenter. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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