“Interesting seeing you again, Ryan,” Jaci said in a catch-a-clue voice.
A puzzled frown pulled his brows together. “Maybe we should have coffee, catch up.”
“Honey, you don’t even know who I am, so what, exactly, would be the point? Goodbye, Ryan.”
“Okay, busted. So who are you?” Ryan roughly demanded. “I know that I know you …”
“You’ll work it out,” Jaci told him and heard him utter a low curse as she walked away. But she wasn’t sure if he would connect her with the long-ago teenager who’d hung on his every word. She doubted it. There was no hint of the insecure girl she used to be … on the outside anyway. Besides it would be fun to see his face when he realized that she was Neil’s sister, the woman Neil wanted him to help navigate the “perils” of New York City.
“Then how about another kiss to jog my memory?” Ryan called out just as she was about to walk into the ballroom.
She turned around slowly and tipped her head to the side. “Let me think about that for a minute … mmm … no.”
But hot damn, Jaci thought as she walked off, she was tempted.
Taking the Boss to Bed
JOSS WOOD wrote her first book at the age of eight and has never really stopped writing. Her passion for putting letters on a blank screen is matched only by her love of books and traveling—especially to the wild places of Southern Africa—and possibly by her hatred of ironing and making school lunches.
Fueled by coffee, when she’s not writing or being a hands-on mum, Joss—with her background in business and marketing—works for a nonprofit organization to promote the local economic development and collective business interests of the area where she resides. Happily and chaotically surrounded by books, family and friends, she lives in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, with her husband, children and their many pets.
MILLS & BOON
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Jaci Brookes-Lyon walked across the art deco, ridiculously ornate lobby of the iconic Forrester-Grantham Hotel on Park Avenue to the bank of elevators flanked by life-size statues of 1930s cabaret dancers striking dance poses. She stopped next to one, touching the smooth, cool shoulder with her fingertips.
Sighing through pursed lips, she looked at the dark-eyed blonde staring back at her in the supershiny surface of the elevator doors in front of her. Short, layered hair in a modern pixie cut, classic, fitted cocktail dress, perfect makeup, elegant heels. She looked good, Jaci admitted. Sophisticated, assured and confident. Maybe a tad sedate but that could be easily changed.
What was important was that the mask was in place. She looked like the better, stronger, New York version of herself, the person she wanted to be. She appeared to be someone who knew where she was going and how she was going to get there. Pity, Jaci thought, as she pushed her long bangs out of a smoky eye, that the image was still as substantial as a hologram.
Jaci left the elevator and took a deep breath as she walked across the foyer to the imposing double doors of the ballroom. Here goes, she thought. Stepping into the room packed with designer-dressed men and women, she reminded herself to put a smile on her face and to keep her spine straight. Nobody had to know that she’d rather stroll around Piccadilly Circus naked than walk into a room filled with people she didn’t know. Her colleagues from Starfish were here somewhere. She’d sat with them earlier through the interminably long awards ceremony. Her new friends, Wes and Shona, fellow writers employed by Starfish, had promised to keep her company at her first film industry after-party, and once she found them she’d be fine. Between now and then, she just had to look as if she was having fun or, at the very least, happy to be surrounded by handsome men and supersophisticated women. Dear Lord, was that Candice Bloom, the multiple Best Actress award winner? Was it unkind to think that she looked older and, dare she even think it, fatter in real life?
Jaci took a glass of champagne from a tray that wafted past her and raised the glass for a taste. Then she clutched it to her chest and retreated to the side of the room, keeping an eye out for her coworkers. If she hadn’t found them in twenty minutes she was out of there. She spent her entire life being a wallflower at her parents’ soirees, balls and dinner parties, and had no intention of repeating the past.
“That ring looks like an excellent example of Georgian craftsmanship.”
Jaci turned at the voice at her elbow and looked down into the sludge-brown eyes of the man who’d stepped up to her side. Jaci blinked at his emerald tuxedo and thought that he looked like a frog in a shiny suit. His thin black hair was pulled back off his forehead and was gathered at his neck in an oily tail, and he sported a silly soul patch under his thin, cruel mouth.
Jaci Brookes-Lyon, magnet for creepy guys, she thought.
He picked up her hand to look at her ring. Jaci tried to tug it away but his grip was, for an amphibian,