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Thrill of the Chase
By Elle Keating
Formats and Prices
- Trade Paperback $19.99 $24.99 CAD
- ebook (Digital original) $7.99 $9.99 CAD
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around December 15, 2015. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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Erin Whitley knows she shouldn’t fantasize about her boss. Yet from the moment the legendary Chase Montclair summons her to his office, all she can do is think about having his sexy hands all over her. No matter how much her body wants to give in to Chase, Erin knows that a relationship with him will expose her deepest, most painful secrets and ruin the life she’s built for herself.
Chase Montclair is used to being able to buy whatever and whomever he wants, and never in his life has he come across a more delicious challenge than prim and proper Erin Whitley. Willing to bet his fortune that there’s a vixen hiding behind Erin’s perfectly polished exterior, Chase is determined to bring her to life. But someone from Erin’s past is watching from the shadows-waiting to destroy everything . . .
I want to thank the incredible team at Forever Yours, in particular my editor, Lauren Plude, for taking a chance on me. I will be forever grateful.
To my family, this story would never have landed in my editor’s hands if it wasn’t for you. I want to thank my patient husband for allowing me to disappear for hours on end to write, to pursue a dream that I never thought was possible. You know you have it good when your guy has a glass of wine ready for you when you walk through the front door after tackling all those edits. And to Molly, Emily, and Jack, your support and love is what keeps me going. I love you!
The city was changing, the rigidity of the work day slowly unraveling and melting into night. Chase Montclair powered on the wall of screens and sat back in his leather swivel chair. He’d loosened his tie and started to roll up his sleeves when he saw her.
He reached for the intercom. “Lydia, please come here.”
His secretary was at the doorway of his office within seconds. “Mr. Montclair, what do you need?” Lydia was old enough to be his mother. Her maturity and refined beauty were exactly what he wanted in a personal secretary. But her most coveted quality, the trait that Chase needed above everything else, was her loyalty. Her dedication to him was unwavering. And he couldn’t…wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Who is she?” Chase pointed to the screens on the far wall. Each monitor played the same image. Lydia stared at the large center screen. It took only moments for her to identify the mystery woman. Lydia made it a priority to know everyone on staff at Montclair Pharmaceuticals because Chase didn’t have the time or desire to acquaint himself with the company’s peons, though he did check on them every so often via monitor to ensure that they were doing their jobs and living up to his standards.
“She works in research and development. Her name is Erin Whitley.”
He liked the sound of her name. It was both feminine and strong. Chase watched the woman tap the tip of her pen against the desk and then bring it to her lips. Her eyes remained fixed on her computer screen. There was a quiet confidence in her gaze, but there was also something lonesome about her.
“Bring her to me tomorrow…after my five o’clock,” he said, rolling up his other sleeve. “And ask her to supply me with her latest report.” Lydia bowed her head and left without uttering a word.
Chase had never sought out an employee to satisfy him sexually. An office relationship would be an unnecessary distraction. Instead, he chose to fulfill his needs with women he didn’t need to see on a regular basis, women who didn’t get attached or require him to give more than he was capable of providing. After what had happened last year, it was best he check his feelings at the door and enter each sexual relationship emotionally barren.
Chase stood up and walked over to the monitors. He watched the woman closely, his intrigue growing. Only a small strip of fabric fell below her lab coat, followed by long, athletic legs and black high heels. Her blond hair was pulled into a smart ponytail, though he could imagine what it looked like unbound, when she threw her head back at the moment of climax. The thought of her beneath him, in nothing but those high heels, aroused him. He felt his trousers grow tight around his mounting erection. And it only got worse when Erin Whitley rose from her chair and started to walk toward the other side of the lab. The swing of her hips and the sight of that tight little ass made his cock beyond stiff, and he determined that he would need to remain seated when she arrived tomorrow.
It’s not you, it’s me?’ Is that what I’m going to hear next?” Paul asked, half-sarcastic, half-hurt.
“I think it’s time.”
Erin had told her brother that the arrangement wouldn’t be permanent when she moved in, but she was aware that Paul would try with everything he had to convince her not to move out. He had always been overprotective, even when they were kids. But things were different now and he often took his overprotective nature to an unhealthy level. She remembered how he’d grilled her after her first day on the job. Paul wanted to know who was in her department, if they were male, if anyone gave her the creeps. Erin wouldn’t have been at all surprised if he hadn’t believed her when she told him that her colleagues appeared normal and had gone ahead and conducted a background check on every individual in research and development. Erin wondered what Paul’s reaction would be if she actually made plans to meet up with a friend and behave like a typical twenty-five-year-old single woman. Would he be tempted to pat down the poor unsuspecting friend who dared to have a drink with her or encourage her to have a social life? He had dropped Josh’s name a few times over the past several weeks.
Erin’s life was painfully simple. She woke up, went to work, worked out, picked up dinner from Whole Foods and came home to an empty apartment. Her brother often worked late due to his first-year status at the law firm. He was putting in all kinds of crazy hours, hoping it would pay off in the end. And it would. He always landed on both feet.
“Erin, the plan was for you to live with me while you went to med school.”
Erin had put med school on hold, maybe indefinitely. Her desire to be a doctor had been extinguished months ago, and she wasn’t going to enter med school now and attempt it half-assed. But her decision to suspend her dream plagued her, so much so that it had become a recurring theme in therapy in recent months. Dr. Cahil had to be sick of hearing her bitch about how it enraged her to think of her former classmates attending medical school one minute, and the next do a one-eighty and adamantly defend her choice to work at Montclair Pharmaceuticals.
Her heart pounded as she tried to retrieve the words she had practiced in therapy, but they weren’t coming. The panic started to percolate, but she fought through it and said, “Sometimes, plans…change.” She forced a smile, which seemed to prompt him to stand down. His skeptical expression softened and she knew she had him.
“I need this, Paul.”
Paul got up from his chair and grabbed a beer and a bottle of Chardonnay from the fridge. He poured her a heaping glass of the chilled wine and then opened the Heineken for himself. They stood at the island in their modern kitchen and stared at each other, wondering who would break the silence. As always, Erin gave in first. She didn’t want tension between them. But more importantly, she needed him on her side, she needed him to support this.
“I just need to start my life. That’s all. I already found an apartment and I want you to come see it, make sure it lives up to your standards.”
He took a hearty swig and set his beer on the counter. “Right now?” he asked with a raised brow.
Stay strong. You can do this. Pull up your big-girl panties, strap on a set, whatever you need to do, but don’t back down.
“Yes, as a matter of fact. Right now.” Erin grabbed her wine glass and Paul’s hand.
He was just about to reach for his coat when she stopped him. “No need. But bring your beer.”
His brow relaxed but his eyes had grown squinty and suspicious…and very lawyer-like. They reached the elevator and Erin pressed the circle for the seventh floor. Paul was leaning against the elevator wall with his arms crossed and staring at her. His penetrating gaze was relentless and she quickly looked away. She reached inside her hoodie pocket and withdrew the silver key. She held on to it, squeezing it into her palm until the metal was warm and saturated with her sweat. They descended three floors and when the doors opened, Erin led him down the hallway to apartment 715. She took a deep breath and attempted to unlock the door, but the key slipped through her trembling fingers. Although she couldn’t see his face, she could feel Paul behind her, analyzing her. She shook her head in self-disgust and bent down to retrieve the key. She jammed the key in the lock and threw open the door.
Erin already had it painted with soothing earth tones and even had the living room and bedroom fully furnished. Not that it was a tremendous feat. Ethan Allen deserved most of the credit. With a few clicks of the mouse and a confirmation number, an espresso queen-sized bed frame and quilted mattress and matching bureau and nightstand had been delivered and assembled. A visit to Target.com resulting in artwork, two lamps and bedding completed the clean, earthy look. Erin shut the door behind them and Paul instantly went to the windows and checked the locks, analyzed the front door for any potential problems and surveyed the rest of the apartment without a word. Finally, he put his beer on the granite countertop in the kitchen and sat on one of the bar stools.
“So, I have no say in the matter? You’ve made your decision?”
“You do have some say.” Erin smiled, although she knew how hard this was for him. He would always feel responsible for her, always have that need to protect her. She knew that it killed him that he hadn’t made it in time. The image of her lying on the ground in that cemetery haunted him. Erin often heard him from her bedroom in the dead of night screaming her name and cursing. Erin had asked him if he would like to accompany her to one of her counseling sessions, to dispel those demons he wrestled with, but he flat-out refused. Erin didn’t want to push him, so she backed off after that. “You get to choose the security system.”
He raised his eyebrow and downed the last swig of his beer. “Well, prepare to live in nothing less than Fort Knox.”
Erin walked over and gave him a hug. She felt Paul sigh and return the gesture. He rested his chin on top of her head. For the first time in her life, her rock, the impenetrable force she called her brother, was standing down and willing to concede. Because he trusted her. Because she was ready to turn the page and leave that dark chapter of her life behind. “I was counting on it,” she said.
The morning flew by, not because her work was so engaging, but because she was determined to meet a deadline that many people in the department deemed impossible. The report was almost complete and Erin was very satisfied with the results so far. Was it pathetic that completing a report could do it for her these days? That pressing SAVE and watching tiny dots circulate signifying a successful save could bring about an adrenaline rush?
She would have kept going, but she had promised to take Paul out for an “I’m sorry I’m moving out but I’m trying to be a big girl” lunch. She slid her white lab coat off and hung it on the hook behind the door. Erin adjusted her black pencil skirt and confirmed that her blue oxford blouse was securely tucked in. She didn’t bother changing out of her black heels into more comfy foot attire; their lunch destination was only a stone’s throw away from the Montclair Building.
Monty’s Dips was definitely a guilty pleasure. It was home to the best sandwiches in the city, as the crowd waiting to be seated confirmed. Paul must have arrived early or called ahead, because there he sat in the booth housing a bucket of salt-and-vinegar fries and sipping on a bottle of root beer. He had ordered her a vanilla soda.
“I assume you ordered already?”
He swallowed a mouthful of fries and raised his eyebrow. “Were you planning to deviate from your old standby?”
Erin scooted into the booth. “Not a chance in hell.”
She greedily gulped her soda and munched on some fries. Erin wanted to make this outing casual, no big deal. But Paul quickly identified the elephant in the room and just put it out there.
“You think feeding me delicious food is going to make me forget that you’re moving out this weekend?”
His tone was serious, but Erin saw the acceptance of the situation in his intense blue eyes. “Is it working?” she asked, her voice steady, and with just a touch of playful sarcasm.
“It will take more than just one lunch date, I’m afraid. I see many of these outings in your future.” He smiled, which he seldom did around others.
“Well, I guess I can make room in my hectic schedule.” Erin grabbed her cell phone and pretended to plug him into her calendar.
“That reminds me,” Paul said as he grabbed the phone from her hand, “we need to do something about that.”
“About what?” Erin eyed her phone and then watched as he sifted through her contacts. Sadly, it didn’t take very long.
“About the fact that you have no friends, that you spend every waking moment either working, sleeping, eating or exercising.” Erin didn’t like where he was going. Yes, she wanted to reclaim her freedom. But at her pace. “Ah, there he is.”
No, she didn’t like it at all, and before Erin could even stop him, Paul had already pushed his number. It wasn’t difficult to deduce who the “he” was. The only other male in her contacts was sitting across from her, looking smug as hell. She reached for the phone, but it was too late.
“Hey Josh. It’s Paul.” Her eyes shot daggers, which only made Paul’s smile widen. “I have to be quick. Erin and I are out to lunch. She just left for the bathroom and I was finally able to get my hands on her phone.” Erin could hear Josh talking through the phone, though she couldn’t make out any words. But just the thought of Josh on the other end made her heart ache a little. She had been a terrible friend to him over the past year.
“Look, I want to surprise Erin. She’s been working like a dog at her new job and she needs to get out, have fun, see an old face, even if it is your ugly mug.” Erin could hear Josh laugh on the other end. His carefree nature always brought a smile to her face. “Sounds great. Meet us at that that new club on Fifty-Second, Charo’s. Say tomorrow, around eight o’clock?”
This was not part of the plan, at least not yet. Calling Josh, bringing someone back into her life who had the potential to remind her of her past, was at least number five on her mental checklist. Participating in therapy had claimed the top spot, finding a job had come in second and declaring that she was moving out of Paul’s apartment had been number three on that list. She had achieved all three and was proud of herself. She wanted to bask a little more in that accomplishment and not prepare to take on another demon so soon. She also despised being told what to do.
Paul smiled, again a rare occurrence. The sight quelled her rage, but only temporarily. “Excellent…and Josh, be easy on her. She’s a raging workaholic, getting out of the office and out of her apartment will be a culture shock for her.”
They exchanged a few more pleasantries before they ended the call. Erin glared at her brother, though she was no match for his own icy stare. She hated lawyers.
“And what exactly am I going to tell him? Have you thought about that?” Erin paused when their waitress came into view. She set the two plates of heaping goodness in front of them and left. The waitress must have been swamped; she didn’t utter a word nor did she check to see if they needed a refill on drinks before she rushed off. “‘Oh, hi, Josh. So sorry I dropped off the face of the earth. So sorry that I have only returned a few texts and emails over the course of this year. So sorry that I have avoided you and any other person that could remind me of that night.’” Luckily, Paul couldn’t see that her heart was racing, but he would see her trembling fingers. She quickly thrust her hands beneath the table and let them shake freely, undetected.
Paul sighed. “Look, you said you wanted to start your life. You have a good job and as much as it will keep me up at night worrying about you, you are moving into your own apartment. That’s a step in the right direction. Now, let’s include a friend or two in the mix, shall we?” He scooped up the first half of his sandwich and devoured a quarter of the massive concoction in one bite.
Erin sat in silence, knowing her brother was right. She just didn’t know if she was ready for item number five on her checklist, a checklist Paul knew nothing about. It was better that way. Paul didn’t need to know how difficult it was for her to even consider leaving his apartment. He would blame himself. He always did. It was best to let him interfere and allow him some semblance of control. Because that was what he needed right now.
Erin recalled a night when Paul wasn’t in control, but numb and utterly distraught. Erin hadn’t been prepared to lose both her parents in an accident that was so ridiculous, an accident that spawned more anger than grief. Erin was supposed to have been with them that night. Her parents had been celebrating their twenty-eighth wedding anniversary and had wanted her to join them for dinner at Rocco’s, an upscale Italian restaurant located on a pier overlooking the Delaware River. Erin made up an excuse not to go because she thought they hadwanted to be alone on their special night.
Erin had just drifted off to sleep when she heard the knock at the door. She had opened the door to her dorm room to find herself face-to-face with a man resembling her brother. His eyes were red and vacant. To his left was a policewoman. Her brother had opened his mouth to speak, but no words would come to him. It was the policewoman who had come to his rescue and explained to Erin that her parents were dead; the pier on which they had dined had collapsed into the rough waters of the Delaware River. Their bodies had been recovered a half mile downstream. Fifteen people had still been unaccounted for.
“Josh is a nice guy. One of the few guys I would even put in that category. You’ll just have to suck it up, sweetheart, and suffer through an evening in the company of two of the best-looking guys in New York City.” Paul took another bite of his sandwich and winked at her. Erin sat back in the booth and breathed a long, dramatic sigh. Yes, it was going to be a long night.
Erin made it back from her lunch break with six minutes to spare. Determined to finish the report, she retrieved her lab coat and hunkered down in front of her computer for the next several hours. It was pushing five thirty when Erin had the strangest feeling that someone was watching her. An unnatural chill slithered up her spine, triggering the tiny hairs on the back of her neck to stand upright. She looked up from her computer screen and surveyed the lab. Everyone was gone for the day, which only contributed to her uneasiness. Erin massaged the base of her skull with her fingers, in an attempt to knead away the tension and to put those tiny hairs back where they belonged.
Erin’s eyes gravitated to the corner of the room and the globe-shaped security camera. She worked for a pharmaceutical company, where drugs were there for the taking; security cameras were standard operating procedure. Without Big Brother watching, it would be very easy for employees to pocket the experimental drugs for personal use or to make a profit by selling the unmarked pills to countless addicts on the streets.
You’re safe. This room is being watched by a security guard, maybe multiple guards. No one is going to hurt you.
Erin looked down at her trembling hands and swore out loud. Her hands never shook before the attack, but now when she felt threatened or found a situation to be particularly uncomfortable, Erin had noticed that her hands would begin to shake. The therapist she was seeing said it would subside and disappear over time. But until then, she would just have to deal with the annoyance.
Pissed off that she was letting her paranoia get to her, Erin finished the last two pages of the report, saved it to her flash drive and then pushed PRINT. She got up from her chair and started down the aisle. Erin was halfway to the printer when she heard the door to the lab close.
Erin had never been summoned before, not by a boss nor by a professor. With report in hand, Erin walked behind Lydia, Chase Montclair’s personal secretary. Erin kept her head down, taking note of the rich mahogany hardwood floors. They rounded a corner and Erin found herself in what appeared to be a lobby. A set of simple, but what she suspected to be very expensive, chairs atop an Oriental rug served as a centerpiece for the space. She was worlds away from her research lab, a space that gave off a hospital-like feel that was cold and devoid of character. Erin looked to her right and saw a large desk. A wall fountain with recessed lighting illuminated what Erin assumed was Lydia’s work space.
What was she doing here? Did she screw up somehow? Erin’s head was going a mile a minute as she tried to figure out what she possibly could have done wrong to earn a trip to the boss’s office. All her reports had been completed on time. She had never been late to work or even called out sick. What the hell was happening? She had worked so goddamned hard to fly under the radar. But here she was, being escorted to the office of the CEO, a man she had never met before.
A large conference room was positioned to Erin’s left, though the lights were out within the room, its occupants long gone. Lydia guided Erin to the only lit office on the floor and as they reached the doorway, she announced Erin’s arrival to the man behind the desk and promptly left Erin alone with Chase Montclair. He didn’t stand in her presence, but simply gestured Erin to a brown leather chair situated directly across from him with a wave of his hand. The plush leather enticed her to sit back and relax, but she rebelled and sat on the edge, positioning herself to hightail it out of there the first chance she got. He was on his cell phone and apparently confirming dinner reservations for two. A moment later, he ended the call and set the phone on his desk. His attention shifted completely to her and it was then Erin got a good look at one of the most beautiful men she had ever seen. It wasn’t his perfectly tailored suit or the subtle scent of his cologne that she tried desperately not to detect, but his piercing blue eyes that caused her to suddenly lose the ability to breathe. Although it was the end of a long work day, every brown hair on his head was magically in place. She tried to picture what he would look like with his hair mussed, or better yet, what activity could cause his hair to become disheveled. The naughty thoughts this man seemed to evoke were coming rapidly, and it took everything she had to appear composed. Erin took a deep breath, convinced herself that this man was just that—a man—and sat up in her chair, her chin held high.
He leaned back in his chair, appearing to make himself comfortable. Despite his broad shoulders and frame there was still room for one more on his swivel chair—on his lap to be precise. A slight smile appeared on his face and Erin cringed. Was he reading her mind? Getting a bird’s-eye view of her scandalous thoughts? His smirk morphed into an all-business expression and Erin relaxed somewhat. “Ms. Whitley, thank you for coming. Were you on your way home when Lydia came for you this evening?”
His voice was smooth and steady, which only made the situation more frustrating. He was calm and poised. Inside, she was anything but.
“I wasn’t leaving until I finished my report on Cabraxol.” Her stomach was churning and she was unraveling swiftly. Erin tightened her grasp on the report on her lap. She was clawing for solid ground and the one thing that she was certain of: her report.
“May I see?”
“Of course.” She handed the packet to him, but as he reached for it his fingers brushed hers and she felt what could only be described as a charge pass between them. She felt hot and on the verge of breaking into a sweat. In her mind, she was not just sitting on his lap now, but straddling him and taking the first steps to muss up those chocolate-brown locks. That damn smirk had returned to his face. Erin sat back in her seat, her face hot and, she suspected, the color of crimson.
He leafed through the first few pages and then found her conclusions at the back of the report. “Will you be presenting the drug to the board?”
“No, Mr. Montclair, someone else will be presenting the findings.” A year ago, Erin would have been up for any challenge, but not now. She was comfortable remaining in the lab with two research assistants who usually minded their own business, researching new medicines and compiling reports. Erin enjoyed flying below the radar. But she couldn’t dismiss a nagging, unrelenting feeling that her solitary life in the lab was about to change.
“This research must have taken you months. The presentation should only be given by someone with such intimate knowledge of the drug.”
- On Sale
- Dec 15, 2015
- Page Count
- 352 pages
- Forever Yours