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First Look: 'Beautiful Bastard' (Exclusive)

Editor's Note: The following excerpt contains mature language and adult situations.

“I had a bit of a disaster morning. It won’t happen
again,” I said, relieved that my voice came out steady.
I had never been late, not once, but leave it to him to
make a thing of it the first time it happened. I managed
to slip past him, put my purse and coat in my closet,
and power up my computer. I tried to act like he wasn’t
standing in the doorway, watching every move I made.

“‘Disaster morning’ is quite an apt description for
what I’ve had to deal with in your absence. I spoke to
Alex Schaffer personally to smooth over the fact that
he didn’t get the signed contracts when promised:
nine a.m., East Coast time. I had to call Madeline
Beaumont personally to let her know we were, in fact,
going to proceed with the proposal as written. In other
words, I’ve done your job and mine this morning.
Surely, even with a ‘disaster morning’ you can manage
eight a.m.? Some of us get up and start working before
the brunch hour.”

I glanced up at him, antagonizing me, glaring, arms
crossed over his broad chest—and all because I was an
hour late. I blinked away, very deliberately not staring
at the way his dark tailored suit stretched across his
shoulders. I had made the mistake of visiting the hotel
gym during a convention the first month we worked
together and walked in to find him sweaty and shirtless
next to the treadmill. He had a face that any male
model would kill for and the most incredible hair I’ve
ever seen on a man. Freshly fucked hair. That’s what
the girls downstairs called it, and according to them, it
earned its title. The image of him wiping his chest with
his shirt was forever burned into my brain.

Of course, he’d had to ruin it by opening his mouth:
“It’s nice to see you finally taking an interest in your
physical fitness, Miss Mills.”


“I’m sorry, Mr. Ryan,” I said with just a hint of bite.

“I understand the burden I placed on you by making
you manage a fax machine and pick up a telephone. As
I mentioned, it won’t happen again.”

“You’re right, it won’t,” he replied, cocky smile
firmly in place.

If only he would keep his mouth shut, he’d be perfect.
A piece of duct tape would do the trick. I had
some in my desk that I’d occasionally pull out and
fondle, hoping someday I could put it to good use.

“And just so you don’t allow this incident to slip
your memory, I’d like to see the full status tables for the
Schaffer, Colton, and Beaumont projects on my desk
by five. And then you’re going to make up the hour
lost this morning by doing a mock board presentation
of the Papadakis account for me in the conference
room at six. If you’re going to manage this account,
you’re going to prove to me that you know what the
hell you’re doing.”

My eyes widened as I watched him turn away, slamming
his office door behind him. He knew damn well
that I was ahead of schedule with this project, which
also served as my MBA thesis. I still had months to finish
my slides once the contracts were signed . . . which
they weren’t—they hadn’t even been fully drafted.
Now, with everything else on my plate, he wanted
me to put together a mock board presentation in . . .
I looked at my watch. Great, seven and a half hours,
if I skipped lunch. I opened the Papadakis file and got
down to it.