CHAPTER 1 - OVERTIME WITH THE BOSS
After a long, stressful day, the last thing Samantha needed was overtime, but when it’s the big boss to have summoned you, you can’t quite say no, can you?
Hence, for how reluctantly, once everybody had left, she stood, straightened her dress, and, grabbed her papers, she headed over to the CEO’s office, cursing herself for having forgotten to do laundry. Had she, now she wouldn’t have to spend who knows how many hours all alone in her boss’ office while wearing such stupid dress.
She had to be so lucky, to be summoned right that day, huh? Sure, it wasn’t the first time she worked closely with the CEO, it was part of her job to collaborate with him quite often, but usually there was a whole team with her, it was never just the two of them.
She was antsy. Being all alone with a man she barely knew, how couldn’t she be antsy? The fact that she felt so uncomfortable in her own skin only made it worse.
Within six months of work at the Grant Enterprises, Samantha had never been in close contact with the CEO, aside from her first day, she’d never even remained alone with him, and now, out of all days possible, right this one when she was so out of her depths, she had to catch up with all those missed occasions.
Not that she cared much for people’s opinions, she barely even acknowledged humans around her, unless it was to guard herself from them, but certainly showing up at a solo meeting with the CEO in those conditions wasn’t exactly appropriate, was it?
A little strapless red lace dress wasn’t appropriate for the office, imagine for doing overtime with the CEO, but it was the sole clean thing Samantha had left in her wardrobe, unless she wanted to go to work in sweats, so she had to make do. Hopefully he wouldn’t notice.
The dress was an old gift, some classmates bought it for her 18th birthday, not considering it wasn’t her style, she’d never worn it, she didn’t even know why had she brought it to New York with her, and now she regretted wearing it. The sole fact that it was strapless was a nuisance, because it forced her to pull it up every now and then, as it was made for smaller cups, which she wasn’t blessed with.
It barely reached her mid-thighs, therefore even though she had worn flat ankle boots, that stupid dress still showed too much of her skin. Already feeling her colleagues’ eyes on her had made Samantha not only self conscious, but also vulnerable, and she hated that kind of state.
Last thing I need is to stay up all night with Mr. Temptation Personified. Samantha thought once in front of his office. Her boss was even too handsome for her own good, she couldn’t deny she did feel some sort of attraction, but then, what woman didn’t? Lucas Grant was like a magnet to women, and given his reputation, he apparently didn’t mind one bit.
Samantha loathed that type of man, the conceited kind that isn’t content with having a stable relationship but jumps from one bed to another. Her employer seemed to be the perfect prototype of such subject.
He’d had a lot of flings, rumors had it, he’d even been with a couple of celebrities, the most recent gossip attributed him a flirt with no less than Laurel Herrera, one of the most famous and most loved actresses of the moment. Apparently, they’d been seen hanging out a couple of times, which had Samantha grimace, not because she had any type of crush on him, but because she’d also seen him with some busty blonde at a few fundraising events, which only meant that he was indeed a player, and Samantha loathed players. Besides, he was a little too arrogant for her liking.
Promising to herself to be quick, Samantha took a deep breath, and knocked on his door, utterly determined to get it over with as soon as possible.
On the other side of that door, the young billionaire sat at his desk, a little nervous, fidgeting more than usual, staring at the door. It hadn’t been a great idea, had it? But what choice did he have? The project was due in three days, and the draft was quite messy, he needed to work four eyes with her, and that day had been so hellish, that he hadn’t found one minute to do that, so that left only overtime.
Normally he did a lot of that, but the idea of remaining completely alone with this particular employee made him nervous. She made him nervous.
Samantha Benedetti had been, for the past six months, for how unknowingly, an ongoing torment for her employer, she’d been crowding his mind with those tantalizing curves of hers, he had no idea why, but he kept having dirty thoughts about her, he’d had so many fantasies about taking her against every surface possible that he felt he was going insane.
What the hell had this woman on him? Why couldn’t he quit desiring her? Ever since they’d met she’d started messing with his thoughts, and after six months he hadn’t been able to find a solution. Well, in truth, there was a very simple answer, as his friend and deputy CEO had pointed out. Maybe, simply consuming his desire would rid him of it.
Lucas had considered that, but he observed a dutifully strict policy on mingling with employees: any woman that worked for him was off limits. It was already a huge exception that he’d had one or two not very decent moments with his own personal assistant, he couldn’t afford more. It could all go from enjoyable fraternizing to hellish lawsuit for harassment, and the company didn’t need such bad exposure.
He wanted her, though ... so bad. There was just something about Samantha Benedetti that drew him in, had him crave to touch her, taste her, kiss her ...
Lucas shook his head violently in order to get rid of those indecent thoughts: she was an employee, and as such, she was off limits.
Sighing, he dropped his head back against his chair, rubbing the bridge of his nose. How could one single woman grip his mind so tenaciously without even knowing was beyond him. She wasn’t even that gorgeous, was she?
Yes, she was fairly pretty, but not the drop dead gorgeous type, she wasn’t ... say, a Laurel. Laurel was indeed gorgeous, and how couldn’t she be? She was a Hollywood star, of course she was gorgeous, yet she didn’t grip his mind as much as this Samantha Benedetti did. How was it possible?
Then again, with her soft curves, her deep hazel eyes, her puppy look, even her soft voice, Samantha Benedetti was indeed sexy, even too sexy for her employer’s good.
She was a pretty common type, the kind of beauty you’ve seen around so many times, yet there was something ... Lucas couldn’t quite wrap his head around it, but whatever that was, it drew him to her, pushed him to desire her, anywhere, anytime.
When he heard the light sound of a knock on the door, Lucas flinched, sitting properly. Clearing his throat, he urged the person to come in, only to then have a hard time trying not to gasp and curse loudly.
Did she want him dead? How could she wear such thing while he was trying so hard not to give in to temptation? Was she trying to provoke him? It wouldn’t be the first time an employee tried to get him charged of sexual harassment, neither would it be the first time a woman tried to set him up. Was that her intent? Did she plan on getting a juicy check from him?
“Um ... hello, Mr. Grant, I’m here, as you requested ...” Samantha started, her unsteady voice letting seep her nervousness, her fingers playing nervously with her brown hair that was left cascading down one shoulder, falling into her cleavage, dangerously pushing him to follow its course with his eyes.
Lucas gave himself a sole moment to gawk at her, and he nearly gulped. Damn, was she hot in that dress. There was so much skin exposed, so much to drool over ... she’d never worn anything that would reveal more than her collarbones, how comes now she had on such taunting stuff? Did she seriously plan on setting him up?
“Um ... Ms. Benedetti, have you ... have you been wearing that all day?” Lucas asked, unable to watch his tongue.
He didn’t really know her, she seemed quite tranquil for a type, pretty taciturn and introvert, but for all he knew, he might be looking at one of those conniving gold diggers that only aimed at his wallet.
Maybe she thought she could easily get him to his knees, be it with a draining lawsuit for sexual harassment or by having him knock her up. One way or another he’d have to spill money ... more than a few hyenas had tried that route, always failing.
Samantha, from her part, blushed, embarrassed. She bit her lip, twirling her hair, involuntarily enhancing his complicated position, for she looked only sexier like that. “I’m ... sorry, but ... um ... it’s just that I didn’t do laundry, so I was left just with this, and ... I promise it won’t happen again, sir. I know it’s an office, and there’s a dress code to respect, and-”
“Calm down, Ms. Benedetti, mine was just a question.” Lucas cut her off, barely succeeding in hiding the smile that craved to erupt at her cuteness. Well, to the very least, he was now sure she wasn’t the nth hyena after the golden piggy.
Taking a deep breath, Lucas stood, gesturing for her to reach him behind his desk. Damn, the close sight only made it worse ... he shook his head once again. Off limits, she was off limits. No flings with employees, no flings with employees. Easier said than done.
By the time they’d concluded half of the project, Lucas couldn’t take it anymore. Whether it was voluntary or not, she was driving him insane with those tantalizing curves swinging for him, that soft skin so exposed, those yummy pink lips so close ... resisting to temptation had never been so hard.
“Um ... maybe we should take a break, you must be hungry.” He mentioned. It had been four hours since they’d started, there was still much work to do, but it was getting quite impossible to suppress his indecent cravings. “How about I order Chinese? We’re at a good point, we deserve a break.” More like, need a break ... from the burning thoughts of those enticing curves writhing beneath him, those yummy pink lips wrapped around his ...
“Mandarin chicken for me, please. Meanwhile I’ll take the chance to make a phone call.” Samantha’s voice came to interrupt his fantasy, having him curse internally. Damn, he wouldn’t get out of this alive. But did she just say phone call? To who?
“Hey, Sean ...” She called, phone at her ear, getting out, voice a little too delicate to be talking to a friend.
Sean? Who was Sean? Her boyfriend? For some reason the thought of her with a boyfriend was irksome for Lucas, who couldn’t quite explain himself why.
While she was pacing the hall outside, talking on the phone, he gaped down at his pants ... just the result of self imposed abstinence, probably, still dangerous nevertheless. He could satisfy his needs somewhere else, it was easy for a young billionaire to get a one night stand, wasn’t it? He didn’t like that type of thing, but it was better than risking to be sued for sexual harassment, right?
Times like this, he cursed the company for swallowing all his time, giving him no chance to try and find someone to come home to. He couldn’t afford a girlfriend, barely could he afford a lover, imagine a girlfriend. The company needed its CEO at the top, every day, 24/7, he didn’t have time to go in search of love ... hopefully it would find him someday.
Sighing, Lucas raked a hand over his face as he dropped against the wall. He could barely even remember how was it to have someone to spoon after sweet lovemaking, he recalled pretty well how was it to have a lover to burn when needed, but a girlfriend? A real girlfriend to cuddle also outside of bed, call when missing her, a real girlfriend to come home to? That was a privilege he hadn’t been able to afford since a few years now. Since he started up the company, that is.
Not that he hadn’t had a few flirts here and there, he had, but nothing serious, even with Laurel Herrera, tabloids made it much more huge than it actually was: they met at this fancy event, flirted a little, slept together a few times, it had seemed like a real relationship for a while, but then, reality struck back ... between his and her schedules, they could never get the time to just stop and talk, imagine have a sane relationship.
They remained friends, though. He hadn’t quite denied what gossip said simply because Laurel didn’t want him to, her agent was convinced that attributing her a flirt with such rich and powerful man would be good for her image.
Lucas didn’t feel powerful. He didn’t feel all this importance they gave him, but maybe he was just too caught up in it to actually realize. He was enough famous for gossip magazines to mind him, he didn’t have paparazzi stalking him, but he did receive calls from excited editors or TV authors looking for an interview, which he always denied, no matter how much his counselors pressed him.
Sometimes Lucas craved a much simpler life, made of a quiet, comfortable job, a cozy home and a happy family, other times ... well, he loved his job, there was no denying. The company had swallowed his soul, though.
He’d poured everything into it, not just money, but also time and energy, he’d dedicated the past eight years of his life to building up this empire that only kept getting bigger, but was it worth it, if he didn’t have someone to share it with?
Sure, he had his family, and good friends, but ... there was always that essential piece missing. Meeting women was very easy for him, getting more than just a hook up out of it, that was the real struggle.
Maybe he was just paranoid, but it seemed that every woman he slept with only aimed at his wallet or his status. They didn’t want Lucas, the nice guy they might fall in love with and marry, they wanted Lucas Grant, the young billionaire that had caught half America’s heart, they only wanted money and spotlight, they didn’t care about the man behind the wallet.
Lucas had always had this dream, that he’d meet this unique woman that would turn his world upside down, she was supposed to be out there, waiting for him to find her, but how could he, if he was chained to the company?
There was no time to spare on frilly romantic fantasies, a billionaire company wasn’t easily led, was it? Not that he hadn’t indulged in worthless flings, a man has needs after all, but they weren’t as many as gossip counted, heck, gossip wanted him as heartless womanizer that had had unnumbered flirts, while in truth, he could easily count the women he’d been with since he’d started up the company.
That was part of marketing, though, apparently, if the public saw him as this unreachable bachelor women could dream of, sales were bound to reach the sky. Personalizing the company was the key here, the more people identified Grant Enterprises with Lucas Grant, the young and handsome bachelor every woman dreamed of, the more they would buy.
Lucas was tired of it all, though. He just needed someone, one person to turn to when he needed to be common, one person for whom he was just Lucas, not the magnificent billionaire that had climbed ranking after ranking, just ... Lucas.
“Everything alright?” That soft voice came to disrupt his pitiful thoughts.
Lucas flinched, opening his eyes, only to find the delightful sight of those mesmerizing hazels staring at him with mild concern. He shook his head, clearing his throat as he pulled into an erect position. “Uh ... yeah, I ... I’m fine, thanks”. Not that far from the truth, he was fine, just ... a little overwhelmed.
“You sure?” Samantha asked, sincerely concerned. That was the first time she caught her employer off guard, she hadn’t intended to sneak up on him, but when she’d come back into the office, he’d been so taken by his own thoughts that he hadn’t noticed her.
That had given her time to observe him for a moment: he looked torn, tired, as if the world’s weight were crushing him, and she had no trouble believing it. After all, running such a big company couldn’t be easy. To some extents she felt sympathy for him, maybe he wasn’t as inhuman as he seemed.
“Yeah, I-uh ...” Lucas trailed off, scratching the back of his neck, flustered for having been caught off guard like that.
Trying to get back to normal, he mentioned he’d forgotten to call the restaurant, so the following minutes were spent doing just that, and when an awkward silence filled the room, he disrupted it by talking about the project, which Samantha was very thankful for.
However, that topic was soon exhausted as well, which left them with personal questions hanging in the air, none of them daring to step into that uneven ground. Luckily, the delivery guy arrived swiftly in time.
“So, who’s Sean?” Lucas asked as they sat on his desk, eating. So much for not getting personal, his mind chastised.
Well, they had to make some small talk, hadn’t they? Just sitting there eating silently would be awkward, and in truth, he did crave to know. Also, he needed something to distract him from the tempting sight of those long legs crossed one over the other as she sat on his desk, beside him, showing even too much of that silky skin.
Samantha shrugged, picking at her mandarin chicken, not having realized how much her employer was struggling to resist to any temptation. “My neighbor. He takes care of my dog when I’m out”.
“You have a dog?” Lucas asked, averting his gaze from her legs.
“Yeah, a Siberian Husky, his name’s Sky”.
Samantha cracked a small smile, nodding.
Lucas bit his lip, trying to suppress the following question, which was pretty useless. “Do you and Sean get along well?” Read: do you sleep with your neighbor?
Unaware of the deeper meaning, Samantha nodded, swallowing a bite of her dinner. “Yeah, he’s been very kind with me since I moved in”.
Sean was, if possibly, her only friend, both here in New York and back home in Italy, they didn’t hang out or anything, the most they did was exchange a few words on a daily basis, or at least she did, Sean was a little more insisting than that, which she didn’t always like, but it was better than being always all alone with her dog, wasn’t it?
“Do you live on your own?” Lucas asked, just to say something, trying not to wonder too far with his mind. Just because they got along, didn’t mean she slept with her neighbor.
He chuckled. “Why luckily?”
She shrugged. “I like my privacy, and with a roommate it would be difficult”.
“Aren’t you afraid? I mean, New York isn’t exactly a tranquil city ...”
She chuckled, amused. “Well, my neighborhood is fairly quiet, but I took Sky on purpose, he’s pretty protective, and there’s also Sean always hanging around”.
“Ever considered the guy might just be into you?”
She blinked her eyes, surprised. “Uh ... no, he’s just very extrovert and talkative”. It was true that Sean seemed to enjoy her company even too much, which made her suspicious in the beginning, but then she’d come to realize her neighbor was just a bubbly guy of his own, no second purposes.
“Is he straight?” Lucas asked, not sure why was he so interested in knowing about possible rivals. Why should he care? She was off limits, wasn’t she?
Samantha frowned, turning to her employer. “Why?”
He shrugged. “Just curious”. Dangerously interested was more like it.
What the heck had this woman to entice him like that? There were no feelings, were there? And how could they, within six months, he’d barely had the chance to remain one minute alone with her or talk to her solo, aside from that first meeting. It was more something ... abstract, like an overpowering pull that drove him insane.
“For all I know, yes, he’s straight”.
Lucas cracked a small smirk. “So he could indeed be into you”. It wasn’t that hard to believe, after all.
She shook her head, disbelieving. “No, I’m sure he would have told me already”. Surely he would have, even against her own will, Sean hung around her a lot, and it had been over six months already, by now he would have told her if he had a crush on her or something, right?
Lucas smiled, not sure if at her naiveté or at the confirm there was no rival in sight. He bit his lip, deleting those thoughts. Maybe he felt attracted, maybe there was something pulling towards her, but even if there was, lingering in the idea wasn’t wise, whatever he may want from her would be impossible, be it only for the self evident conflict of interests.
“How much do I owe you?” Samantha asked once finished eating, suddenly realizing he’d paid all on his own.
Lucas chuckled, hopping off the desk. “Nothing”.
“Seriously, how much?”
“I can afford it, you know”.
She rolled her eyes, although amused. “I know you can, but I want to pay my half”.
He smiled, disposing of his trash as well as hers. “I wouldn’t be a gentleman if I let you”.
Samantha rolled her eyes, but put down her bag. She hopped off the desk, inadvertently letting her dress slide up a little too much, which lasted barely a half second, but it was enough for Lucas to get a glimpse of what he shouldn’t have, which forced him to awkwardly clear his throat as he turned away, cursing himself for that idiotic self imposed abstinence.
He’d never liked flings, they were too impersonal, he didn’t want a toy that would satisfy his needs, he wanted a real girlfriend to cuddle and love, but ... well, that was out of the question given his busy schedules, Laurel was the proof, so he ought to mend how he could. Maybe going out with some friends might help, if not to get a hideous fling, at least to take his mind off of this dangerously attractive employee of his.
Samantha was nervous. Sure, her employer had turned out to be not as bad as he seemed, but they’d spent already half evening in there all alone, when would she be able to go home?
“Everything alright?” Lucas asked, taking her off guard.
She blinked her eyes, turning to him, who stood a bit too close to her, now she noticed, but didn’t quite know how to say it out loud. “Oh, um ... yeah, I ... I’m fine, just ... tired”.
“We’re almost done, can you endure just a couple of hours more?”
“Yeah, of course”. She gave him a smile that was wider than necessary, and went back to staring at the papers in front of them, commenting on them just to fill the silence.
Lucas watched her, standing beside her, his treacherous mind serving him indecent fantasies about him toppling everything to have her lie down and take her, on his desk, or why not, against the wall, or the door ... anywhere.
Damn abstinence. And damn her for causing him such thoughts. What the hell was in her that pulled him in so irresistibly?
When she tiredly rubbed a hand over her neck, stirring her exhausted bones, Lucas wasn’t able to stop himself, and he added his hands to hers, starting to give her a soothing massage. “Relax. I mean no harm”, he coaxed when she flinched.
“It’s okay, it’s just a massage.”
“Not ... really appropriate.”
Lucas cracked a small smile, conscious. “I know, but you’re all tense, I thought it might help”.
Samantha bit her lips, enjoying his massage a little more than due, and she unconsciously deflated her shoulders, letting herself go for a small moment. A massage was really needed, that week had been so stressful, the day was awful, and they’d been working on that project for hours. She was indeed in dire need of a relief of some sort.
As her employer rubbed her shoulders and neck gently, Samantha closed her eyes, enjoying it. It was odd for her, normally she would never let anybody, not a single soul that wasn’t her father or mother, touch her, but she came to enjoy it so much that she lost herself in time and space, barely acknowledging where she was.
Hence, she didn’t notice when Lucas came to stand right behind her, neither did she notice how did their bodies grow so much closer that they were against each other, and only when she heard his sexy voice ask “Better?” did she realize.
His lips brushed her ear, causing her stomach to flip, and she opened her eyes, suddenly conscious of the position they were in. He didn’t cease his massage, and it was hard to keep herself from closing her eyes once again to enjoy it, but she resisted. “Um ... maybe we should get back to work”. She suggested meekly.
He inhaled deeply, agreeing, yet not ceasing, instead he tilted her head to the side, letting his hands slide over her shoulder blades, dangerously close to her cleavage, their bodies even too close for it to be innocent. The massage might have been truly out of pure kindness, just to relieve her of all that stress, but his moves weren’t devoid of a certain sensual vibe, and she felt it.
Samantha lowered her hand, once more closing her eyes to savor the feeling of his hands working so skillfully over her tangled muscles. “You’re ... great”.
“I practiced in college”. The answer went by unnoticed, Samantha was too busy trying not to let out her sinful notes of appreciation to pay attention to anything else. She really needed a massage, she could already feel all that stress lifting off her shoulders, step by step, so that she could feel lighter, enough to forget the whole external world for a few minutes.
She wasn’t one to easily get comfortable around people, and she would never let any person touch her like that, but his fingers worked so lightly and so soothingly that it was impossible to deprive herself of that bliss just yet.
It wasn’t at all appropriate to be in her employer’s office, pressed against his desk, receiving such an innocently relaxing yet somewhat sensual massage from him, but even her most rational side was put to sleep at this point.
However, the trance was broken off when his hands started sliding over her hips, this time more sensually than soothingly, and their bodies grew closer, his lips finding a cozy spot of her neck where they could start nibbling lightly.
Samantha recoiled, trying to escape from that hazardous predicament, but she felt herself caged against the desk, his arms around her waist pressing her against his hard chest while his lips trailed soft kisses along her neck and jaw, till they got to her ear, and he murmured huskily: “If you want me to stop here, I will, right now”.
She bit her lips when he sucked on her sweet spot on her neck, forcing a strangled moan out of her, followed by her hands moving to grab his around her.
The last time a man had touched her, it hadn’t been pleasant, even under the effect of drug she’d felt the disgust in it. Even those times when she’d been touched pleasantly by her ex boyfriend - the last time over three years ago - it had never felt like this.
Not this exciting, enticing, sensual, irresistible ... those hands on her tonight had her feel deeply desired, as never she had been, therefore it was harder to put a stop to it all. But she had to, be it only because she risked her job.
“Um ... we should ...”
A strangled moan swallowed her words as he bit on her neck, his hands sliding over her soft curves leisurely, as if savoring every single length of hers, until they got to the hem of her dress, stopping there, only to make sure she was okay with it: “Stop me if you’re not comfortable, Samantha.”
She wanted to stop him, she had to ... but she couldn’t quite find the strength. She gasped when she felt his hands slide over her thighs, his lips slowly moving along her neck, until she turned around, which caused him to stop.
They looked at each other intensely for a long minute, one wondering whether he had gotten himself in trouble now, the other wondering how bad would it be to be impulsive for once.
Lucas was ready to apologize, he even opened his mouth to do so ... only to be cut off by her lips crashing onto his once she’d grabbed his collar and pulled him against her, their hot bodies clashing. He was flabbergasted, but soon forgot it all as his arms wrapped once more around her, their kiss deepening.
However, his hands didn’t stay put for long, the deeper the kiss got, the more those hands wandered, until he touched the bare skin of her thighs and pressed her against the desk, groaning when she hooked her legs around his hips, pressing him against herself.
Samantha had no idea what she was doing, she just knew it would be a long, long night.