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Read by Kate Russell
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Tyra Masters has had enough drama to last a lifetime. Now, she’s back on track and looking forward to her new, quiet life. Until she meets the man of her dreams. The tattooed, muscled biker plies her with tequila-and the best sex of her life. She knows it isn’t the tequila and hot sex talking. He’s the kind of man she’s always wanted. Unfortunately, he’s also her new boss . . .
Kane “Tack” Allen has a rule. He doesn’t employ someone he’s slept with. So when he learns he spent last night in bed with his new office manager, he quickly fires Tyra. Yet when Tyra stands up to him and fights for her job, Tack is intrigued. He tells her she can keep her job on one condition: no more sex. Ever. But as things heat up between them, Tack finds that he’ll be the one breaking all the rules…
Table of Contents
A Preview of Mystery Man
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I'll Make You Coffee
IT WAS TEN to eight when I held my breath and turned off Broadway into the wide, cement-covered drive that took me around the big warehouse auto supply store that was part of Ride's operation. I made it to the forecourt of the three-bay garage that was the other part of Ride's operation.
I studied the mammoth garage as I approached.
Ride Custom Cars and Bikes, my new place of employment, was world famous. Movie stars and Saudi Arabian sheiks bought cars and bikes from them. Their cars and bikes had been in magazines and they were commissioned for movies. Everyone in Denver knew about them. Hell, everyone in Colorado knew about them, and I was pretty sure most everyone in the United States too. I was pretty sure of this because I knew not that first thing about custom cars and bikes. In fact, I knew nothing about non-custom cars and bikes, but I still knew about Ride.
I also knew the Chaos Motorcycle Club owned the garage and four auto supply stores, this one in Denver, one in Boulder, another in Colorado Springs and the last one that just opened in Fort Collins. I knew the Chaos Motorcycle Club too. They were famous because of Ride and because many of their rough-and-ready-looking members had been photographed with their custom bikes and cars.
I also knew them because I'd partied with them.
And that day I was starting as the new office manager of the garage.
And that day was only one, single day after I'd been laid by Tack, the president of Chaos Motorcycle Club and, essentially, my boss.
And lastly, that day was only one single day and one single night after Tack had slam, bam, thank you ma'am'ed me.
"God," I whispered to my windshield as I parked in front and just beside the steps that led up to the door next to the triple bays of the garage, a door with a sign over it that said "Office," "I'm such a stupid, stupid, idiot."
But I wasn't an idiot. No, I was a slut.
I didn't know how to cope with being a slut. I'd never been one before. I did not jump into bed with men I barely knew. I did not have flights of fancy where I thought they were beautiful, perfect, motorcycle man daydreams come to life and therefore did tequila shots with them and then had hours of wild, crazy, delicious, fantastic sex with them.
That was not me at all.
I was not the kind of person who lived life like Tack did. I was thirty-five and I had lived a careful, quiet, risk-free life. I weighed decisions. I measured pros versus cons. I wrote lists. I made plans. I organized. I thought ahead. I never took one step where I wasn't absolutely certain where my foot would land. And if I found myself in a situation that was unsure, I exited said situation, pronto.
Until two months ago, when I looked at my life and the toxic people in it and I knew I had to get out.
So I got out. I didn't plan it. I didn't measure the pros and cons. I didn't organize my exit strategy. I didn't think ahead. When I'd had the epiphany and realized where I was, how dangerous it was, how unhealthy it was, I had no idea where I'd land when I jumped off the ride that was my life. I just straightened from my desk chair at work, grabbed my personal belongings, shoved them in a box and walked out. I didn't even tell my boss I was going. I just went.
And I didn't go back.
For the next two months I bought the paper every Wednesday and opened it to the want ads section. On each page of the want ads, I closed my eyes and pointed. If I was qualified for the job my finger touched, I applied for it.
That was the extent of my plan.
My best friend, Lanie, thought I was nuts. I couldn't say she was wrong. I had no idea what I was doing, why I was doing it, where I was going and what would happen once I got there.
All I knew was that I had to do it.
So I was.
Now I was here and here was where I decided I needed to be. I'd spent all day the day before trying to figure out if I should show for my new job or not. I'd screwed everything up, literally, and I hadn't even started the job yet. I didn't want to see Tack. I never wanted to see him again. The very thought was so humiliating, I felt my skin burning and I had that very thought nearly constantly since I slid out of his bed, dressed and, mortified, slithered out of his room.
But I had been out of work for two months. I had a nest egg but I also had a mortgage. I had to find employment. I had to start my life again. Whatever I was supposed to be doing, I had to do it. Whatever I needed to find, I had to find it.
There was no going back now. I'd jumped out of the roller coaster at the top of the crest, just before it took the plunge and I was falling.
I had to land sometime and it was here that I was going to land.
So I'd been a slut. There were lots of sluts out there, hundreds of thousands of them. Maybe millions. They went to work every day and some of them surely went to a workplace where there were people with whom they'd had sex. They probably didn't blink. Their skin probably didn't burn with mortification. They probably didn't care. They probably just found a new workmate or random guy that made their heart beat faster and their skin tingle with excitement and then they slept with him. They probably liked it. No, they probably loved it.
That was part of life, wasn't it? That was part of living, right? You did stupid stuff because it felt good and if you screwed up, you moved on. Everyone did that. Everyone.
Now, even me.
And damn it, I'd been on a scary, freaky roller coaster for a long freaking time. That whole time, I had my eyes closed and ignored the scary, freaky stuff that was happening around me. I was too scared to open my eyes and take a risk on life.
No more of that.
So I slept with my boss. Who cared?
I sucked in a deep breath, hitched my purse on my shoulder, threw the door to my car open and got out. Then I looked around the space. It was early and clearly bikers didn't do early. There was no one there. There was a line of bikes, five of them parked in front of the Compound, which was a long, rectangular building to the side of the forecourt separating the garage from the auto supply store. There was a beat-up pickup truck parked behind the auto supply store. Nothing else. No movement. No sound.
Eloise was supposed to meet me at eight to show me the ropes. I figured I was early but I walked up the steps and tried the door anyway. It was locked. I turned to face the forecourt and looked at my watch. Seven minutes to eight.
I took my purse off my shoulder, dug my cell out, slid my purse straps back over my shoulder and texted Lanie.
Approximately five seconds later, Lanie texted back.
OMG! Why? Are you nuts?
I'd told my best friend about the motorcycle club party I'd attended and I'd told her about my new boss's slam, bam, thank you ma'am. I did this in an attempt to stop my skin from burning when I thought of it because every girl knew, a problem shared with her best friend was a problem lost. Though I'd learned a new life lesson, and this was that those problems mostly were discussions of what to wear on first dates or whether or not you should invest in that fabulous wrought iron wine rack from Pottery Barn and not the fact that you'd had a one-night stand with your new boss. I learned this because even after sharing with Lanie, it didn't help.
Lanie was of a mind that I shouldn't show at my new job and what I should do was my want-ad finger-pointing thing for another two months, or twelve, just as long as I never entered Tack's breathing space again. Then again, Lanie had a really good job as an advertising executive and was living with her fiancé, Elliott. She didn't have to worry about her nest egg depleting not only because she was talented, in great demand and therefore made a more than decent salary but also because Elliott was a genius computer programmer and made big bucks. Huge. She was spending ten thousand dollars on flowers alone for her wedding. Their catering budget sent my heart into spasm. And her dress cost more than my car.
My thumb went across the number pad and I texted back, Not nuts. I need a paycheck.
Five seconds later, Lanie texted, What if you see him?
I was prepared for that and I'd spent a lot of time preparing for seeing Tack again. Indeed, I'd spent all night doing it considering I had all of two hours of sleep.
If I see him, I see him, I texted back. I'm embracing my inner slut.
To this, I received, You don't have an inner slut!!! You're Tyra Masters. Tyra Masters is NOT a slut!!!
She is now, I replied, adding, or she was Saturday night.
No more flying solo, Lanie texted in return, then right on its heels came, Any and all future social events you attend, I'm your wingman.
I smiled at my phone, heard a door slam and my head came up. Then my lungs seized.
Shit! There was Tack standing outside the door to the Club's Compound. He was wearing faded jeans, motorcycle boots and a skin-tight white t-shirt. Even from a distance I could see his hair was a sexy, messy bed head. And I knew why since he was currently making out with a tall, thin, dark-haired woman, and when I say making out, I mean making out. They were going at it, her hands at his fantastic ass, his hands at hers.
God, I'd been in his bed Saturday night and he had a new woman in his bed last night, Sunday. And he hadn't walked me to the door and made out with me to say good-bye. Hell, he hadn't even said good-bye.
I closed my eyes tight and swallowed and when I did, it hurt… a lot.
Okay, maybe I couldn't do this.
I opened my eyes and pinned them to the phone, my thumb flying over the number pad.
He just walked out of the Compound, I told Lanie.
Two seconds later, I received, OMG!!!!
He's making out with a brunette, I informed her.
OMG!! OMG!!! OMG!!!! Get out of there! Lanie texted back.
I heard an engine cough to life and lifted my head to see the brunette in the beat-up pickup. My eyes slid to Tack to see his on me. My gaze shot back to the truck to see the brunette was waving at Tack but he was done with her. I knew this because she was waving at him but when I looked back to him he was not paying a bit of attention to her and was walking my way.
I looked back down at my phone and typed in, She's taking off. He's coming to me.
I sent my message and stared at the phone, not lifting my head and trying hard not to bite my lip or, say, have an embarrassment-induced seizure.
"Red," I heard when my phone beeped in my hand, and luckily I didn't have to lift my head immediately because I was reading Lanie's latest message.
Escape, Tyra, go, go, go!!!!
"Red," I heard from closer, and I finally lifted my head to see that Tack was three of the eight steps up and climbing toward me.
He looked good. Everything about him looked good. The way his clothes fit. The way his hair looked like he'd just got out of bed and run his fingers through it. The way those lines radiated out the sides of his eyes. The way his body moved.
Nope, I couldn't be a slut. I should have listened to Lanie.
"Hey," I forced out.
My skin started burning and I was pretty sure it was pink top to toe as his eyes slid the length of me. When he made it to the top of the steps, he looked down at me and he didn't look happy.
"What're you doin' here?" he asked.
I stared at him, surprised. I mean, I'd told him on Saturday night I was his new office manager.
So I said, "I work here."
"I work here."
His eyes did a top-to-toe again then he repeated after me, "You work here."
"Yes, Eloise hired me. I'm taking over for her. I'm your new office manager."
He stared down at me and he didn't look any less unhappy. In fact, he looked unhappier.
Then he stated, "You're shittin' me."
I fought against biting my lip again, succeeded and shook my head.
Apparently, Tack wasn't a big fan of working alongside women he'd loved and left. Or, in my case, loved and then kicked out of his bed.
I found this interesting, not in a good way, but it was interesting nonetheless.
Then Tack announced, "You don't work here anymore."
I blinked up at him as my hand automatically reached out and grasped the railing beside me.
"What?" I whispered.
"Babe, not good," he growled. "What the fuck were you thinkin'?"
"About what?" I asked.
He leaned in and it hit my fogged, stunned, fired-before-I-even-started brain that he was even unhappier than before, and I had to admit, it was a little scary.
"I do not work with bitches who've had my dick in their mouth," he declared, and that was when my skin stopped burning and felt like it was combusting.
"But," I started when I could speak again, "I thought I told you I was your new office manager."
"You did not," he returned.
"I'm pretty sure I did," I told him.
"You didn't," he replied.
"No, I think I did."
He leaned even closer to me and growled, "Red. You. Did. Not."
"Okay," I whispered because he was now definitely scaring me but also because I actually wasn't pretty sure I did, I was just kind of sure I did.
"I do not fuck anyone who's got my signature on their paycheck," he again made his opinion perfectly clear, and my mind raced to find a solution to this new dilemma at the same time it struggled with fighting back the urge to run as fast as I could to my car and peel right the heck out of Ride Custom Cars and Bikes forecourt and get as far away from this freaking scary guy as I could.
I mean, what was I thinking? I thought he was beautiful. Perfect. My motorcycle dream man.
Boy, was I wrong. Very, very wrong. He wasn't. He was a rough-and-ready motorcycle man, the president of a motorcycle club, and he was downright frightening.
With effort, I pulled myself together.
Then I told him, "Okay, that works for me. Minor blip. We forget it happened and since it's never going to happen again, we move on from this and you don't have to break your no-sleeping-with-employees rule in order to, um… employ me."
"We forget it happened?" he asked, looking even angrier.
"Uh… yeah," I answered.
"The rule's broken, babe, no unbreaking it," he returned.
"It's not broken," I told him.
"Red, it's broken."
"It isn't," I stated, and he opened his mouth to speak again, his face hard, his eyes flashing and I quickly went on to explain my reasoning. "See, you said you don't sleep with anyone who's got your signature on their paycheck. Eloise hired me but I hadn't actually started. So, I didn't have your signature on my paycheck because I'd only had the job offer. I wasn't actually doing the job. I walk in that door," I pointed to the office door, "that's when I'm your employee and since we're not, erm… you know… and won't again, then, technically, you didn't break your rule and, um… won't."
"I know what you taste like," he informed me of something I already knew.
This was an odd and slightly rude thing to share so I had no response.
"And what you sound like when you come," he continued being rude.
This was not getting better and I clenched my teeth to stop myself biting my lip.
"And how fuckin' greedy you are," he went on. "Babe, you think you're around I'm not gonna want seconds, you're fuckin' crazy."
Then I asked quietly, "What?"
"Darlin', you're the greediest piece of ass I've had in my bed in a long fuckin' time. I got a taste for greedy, you think I'm not gonna take it?"
Now he was definitely being rude.
"I'm not greedy," I whispered.
He leaned back. "Jesus, you fuckin' are. So fuckin' hungry, you nearly wore me out. And, darlin', that's sayin' something."
This was already not fun and it was getting less fun by the second.
"Can we not talk about this?" I requested.
"Yeah, absolutely, we can not talk about this. That works for me. It also works for me you showed since you didn't leave your number before you took off on Saturday. So give me your number, get your ass in your car and I'll call you when I got a taste for you."
Oh my God. Did he just say that?
I felt the blood stop rushing through my veins as my entire body solidified.
"Did you just say that?" I asked when I got my lips moving again.
"Red, give me your number, get your ass in your car and I'll call you when it's time for us to play again."
He did. He did just say that because he'd also just mostly repeated it.
I clenched my teeth again but this time for a different reason.
Then I asked, "Do you know my name?"
"What?" he asked back.
"My name," I stated. "I told you my name Saturday night and I know I did so don't tell me I didn't." And I did. I absolutely, totally told him my name. In fact, I'd done it at least three times when he kept calling me "Red."
"You're shittin' me," he said again.
"Stop saying I'm shitting you. I'm not. What's my name?" I demanded to know.
"Babe, who cares? We don't need names" was his unbelievable answer.
"Ohmigod," I whispered. "You're a jerk."
"Totally a jerk." I kept whispering and he crossed his arms on his chest.
"Two choices, Red, give me your number, get your ass in your car, get outta here and wait for my call or just get your ass in your car and get outta here. You got five seconds."
"I'm not getting in my car," I told him. "I'm waiting for Eloise to come and show me the ropes then I'm going to work."
"You are not gonna work here," he returned.
"I am," I shot back.
"No, you aren't."
"Babe, not gonna say it again, you aren't."
That was when I lost it and I didn't know why. I wasn't the type to lose it. You didn't lose it when you planned every second of your life. Caution and losing it did not go together.
But I lost it.
I planted my hands on my hips, took a step toward him and lifted up on my toes to get in his face.
"Now, you listen to me, scary biker dude," I snapped. "I need this job. I haven't worked in two months and I need this job. I can't wait two more months or longer to find another job. I need to work now." His blue eyes burned into mine in a way that felt physical but I kept right on talking. "So you're good-looking, have great tats and a cool goatee. So you caught my eye and I caught yours. We had sex. Lots of sex. It was good. So what? That was then, this is now. We're not going to play, not again. We're done playing. I'm going to come in at eight, leave at five, do my job, and you're going to be my scary biker dude boss, sign my paychecks, do my performance evaluations and maybe, if you're nice, I'll make you coffee. Other than that, you don't exist for me and I don't exist for you. What we had, we had. It's over. I'm moving on and how I'm moving on is, I'm… working… this… job."
I stopped talking and realized I was breathing heavy. I also realized his eyes were still burning into mine. I knew he was still angry but there was something else there, something I didn't get because I didn't know him and I couldn't read him. But whatever it was, it was scarier than just him being angry, which, frankly, was scary enough.
When he spoke, he did it softly. "You think, Red, right now, I put my hands and mouth on you in about two minutes you wouldn't be pantin' to be flat on your back, legs wide open in my bed?"
At his words, I forgot how scary he was and hissed, "You're unbelievable."
"I'm right," he fired back.
"Touch me, you bought yourself a lawsuit," I retorted acidly.
"You are so full of shit," he returned.
"Try me," I invited hostilely, though I didn't want him to. Not that I thought he was right, but because he was a jerk. A huge jerk. And I'd just decided I'd rather be touched by any man currently residing on death row before I wanted Tack to touch me again.
"Is everything okay?" we both heard, and our heads turned to look down the steps to see Eloise at the bottom looking up at us with wide eyes.
I opened my mouth to say something to Eloise, what, I had no idea, but before I could speak, Tack did.
"You tell her she wears that fancy-ass shit to work again, her ass is canned," Tack growled, and I watched Eloise's body jerk in surprise.
She was in jeans, a tight t-shirt and high-heeled sandals and I was in a pencil skirt, blouse and high-heeled pumps; therefore I had to admit I definitely made a mistake on the dress code but it wasn't worth termination.
I looked to him to see his eyes cut to me. "And you," he said, "I taste you again, any way I can taste you, and I will, Red, trust me, you're gone. Outta here. Get me?"
"You won't," I declared, and he glared at me then his eyes moved over my face. They did this for a while and while they did this, they changed. I could swear I watched the anger leak clean out of them and something else, something curious, something warm and therefore something far more frightening filled them.
His warm blue eyes locked on mine and he muttered, "We'll see."
Then he stepped away, jogged down the steps, sauntered to a bike, threw a leg over it, started it, backed it out and roared away.
"What was that?" Eloise asked. I jumped and turned to see she was standing at my side.
"I don't think I made a good first impression on my new boss," I answered. Eloise was staring after Tack but at my words she looked at me, eyes still wide, so I pulled my I-can-do-this mask over my face, smiled at her and cried, "Oh well, never mind! He'll come around. Now, let's get crackin'."
And I turned to the office door.
Bring It On
IT WAS DAY three at Ride. Eloise was gone, I was on my own and I had no idea what I was doing.
It would seem it was important to know a little bit about cars and bikes in order to be the office manager of a garage that made custom ones. Eloise did the best she could in the two days she had to show me around, but she had a job in Vegas to get to. She was a blackjack dealer as well as a garage office manager. Her man had already left to start his new job there and she had to get her ass out there (her words) because her man was getting impatient. Seemed there weren't many women who were equipped to run the office of a garage, or at least not ones that would meet Chaos MC (short for Motorcycle Club, one of the few things Eloise taught me that sank in) standards, and therefore her hiring efforts took longer than she expected.
She did not share what Chaos MC standards were but apparently they didn't include knowing that first thing about cars and bikes.
The good thing about these two days was that after Tack roared off on his bike after our incident, I only saw him twice. The first, he was roaring in when I was leaving the first day. The second, he was standing, hands planted on hips outside the back door of the auto supply store talking to two other rough-and-ready motorcycle dudes. His back was to me and the conversation looked unhappy. I had a list in my purse and was on my way to get lunch for Eloise, the mechanics and me so I didn't pay much attention. When I returned, Tack and the two rough-and-ready dudes were nowhere to be seen and didn't return before I left.
Now I was back, my third day, my first without Eloise, and Tack was there. I knew this because, as I drove up at ten to eight, one of the big bay doors was open and he was bent over the engine of a bright, cherry red car. His head turned to watch me drive in but that was all I saw because after I caught the initial glimpse, I studiously avoided looking at him as I parked. I equally studiously put him out of my mind as I grabbed the box of donuts I brought for the mechanics, got out of my car, unlocked the office, turned on the lights and computer then started coffee.
Forty-five minutes later, some of the boys were in. I could hear them and a few had been in for coffee and a donut. I was sitting behind the desk, sipping coffee, staring at an order for parts I was clicking into the computer, no part I knew what the hell it was and the notes I was using that were scribbled on a scrap of paper looked like Sanskrit, when the door that led into the garages opened.
My eyes slid to it as my mouth started to form a smile for who I thought would be one of the mechanics when Tack walked in.
My smile froze. Then my eyes went back to the computer screen.
I tried to pretend he wasn't there but I failed at pretending. I knew exactly when his body stopped at the other side of my desk even though I was studiously avoiding looking at it.
"Thought I told you 'bout those clothes, Red," he growled.
I didn't pry my eyes away from the computer screen, took a sip from my coffee and kept clicking the mouse.
"You don't have an Employee Handbook," I informed the computer screen.
"Say again?" he demanded.
My eyes slid to the side and up.
Damn, he was gorgeous. Another white t-shirt, skin tight across the wall of his chest, broad shoulders and lean abs, this tee stained with grease. His hands were also stained with grease even though he was carrying a grease-stained cloth. He'd obviously wiped them and, from the look of it, so had every other mechanic, all of them about ten thousand times.
I made a note to self to look into laundering the guys' grease rags as I repeated, "You don't have an Employee Handbook."
"So?" Tack asked, his hands going to his faded jeans-clad hips, the cloth dangling from one.
"So, you don't have an official dress code. Therefore, I can wear whatever I want. And I take this job seriously so I'm wearing serious clothes."
And I was. Another pencil skirt, this one bone-colored. A cute little pale pink blouse with barely there sleeves and darts up my midriff. And spike-heeled, pale pink slingbacks that I thought were awesome. So awesome, I bought the blouse, another skirt and a pair of slacks to go with them, I loved those shoes so much.
"Babe, this is a garage. You don't wear uppity, high-class shit at a garage. You wear jeans at a garage."
I straightened away from the computer and swiveled my chair to him, my head tipping back as I did so.
"Would you like me to draft an Employee Handbook that includes a dress code?" I asked.
"Yeah, Red, you do that," Tack replied.
- "Ashley delivers a deeply emotional second installment of the Chaos contemporary romance series (after Own the Wind)... Punctuated by blistering-hot sex scenes and fascinating glimpses into the tough world of motorcycle clubs, this romance also delivers true heart and emotion, and a story that will stay with the reader long after the final page is turned."—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review, on Fire Inside
- "[Kristen] Ashley captivates."—Publisher's Weekly
- "There is something about them [Ashley's books] that I find crackalicious."—Kati Brown, DearAuthor.com
- "I felt all of the rushes, the adrenaline surges, the anger spikes... my heart pumping in fury. My eyes tearing up when her my heart (I mean... her heart) would break." (On Motorcycle Man)—Maryse's Book Blog, Maryse.net
- On Sale
- Jan 28, 2014
- Page Count
- 528 pages
- Hachette Audio