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First Look: 'Beautiful Bastard' (Exclusive)

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

I raced down the darkened hall of the now-empt ybuilding, the presentation materials clutched haphazardly
in my arms, and glanced at my watch. Six twenty.
Mr. Ryan was going to have my ass. I was twenty minutes
late. As I experienced this morning, he hated late.
“Late” was a word not found in the Bennett Ryan
Dickhead Dictionary. Along with “heart,” “kindness,”
“compassion,” “lunch break,” or “thank you.”
So there I was, running through the empty halls in
my stilt-like Italian pumps, racing to the executioner.

Breathe, Chloe. He can smell fear.

As I neared the conference room, I tried to calm my
breathing and slowed to a walk. Soft light shone from
beneath the closed door. He was definitely in there,
waiting for me. Carefully, I attempted to smooth my
hair and clothing while tidying the bundle of documents
in my arms. Taking a deep breath, I knocked on
the door.

“Come in.”

I walked into the warmly lit space. The conference
room was huge; one wall was filled with floor-to-ceiling
windows that gave a beautiful view of the Chicago
cityscape from eighteen stories up. Dusk darkened the
sky outside, and skyscrapers speckled the horizon with
their lighted windows. In the center of the room stood
a large heavy wood conference table, and facing me
from the head of the table was Mr. Ryan.

He sat there, suit jacket hanging on the chair behind
him, tie loosened, crisp white shirtsleeves rolled up to
his elbows, and chin resting on his steepled fingers. His
eyes were boring into mine, but he said nothing.

“I apologize, Mr. Ryan,” I said, my voice wavering
with my still labored breathing, “The print job took—”
I stopped. Excuses wouldn’t help my situation. And besides,
I wasn’t going to let him blame me for something
I had no control over. He could kiss my ass. With my
newfound bravery in place, I lifted my chin and walked
over to where he sat.

Without meeting his gaze, I sorted through my pa-
pers and placed a copy of the presentation on the table
before us. “Are you ready for me to begin?”

He didn’t respond aloud, his eyes piercing my brave
front. This would be a lot easier if he wasn’t so gorgeous.
Instead, he gestured toward the materials before
him, urging me to continue.

I cleared my throat and began my presentation. As
I moved through the different aspects of the proposal,
he stayed silent, staring directly at his copy. Why was
he so calm? His temper tantrums I could handle. But
the eerie silence? It was unnerving.

I was leaning over the table, gesturing toward a set
of graphs, when it happened.

“Their timeline for the first milestone is a little
ambi—” I stopped midsentence, my breath caught in
my throat. His hand pressed gently into my lower back
before sliding down, settling on the curve of my ass. In
the nine months I had worked for him, he had never
intentionally touched me.

This was most definitely intentional.

The heat from his hand burned through my skirt
and into my skin. Every muscle in my body tensed, and
it felt like my insides were liquefying. What the hell was
he doing? My brain screamed at me to push his hand
off, to tell him to never touch me again, but my body
had other ideas. My nipples hardened, and I clenched
my jaw in response. Traitor nipples.

While my heart pounded in my chest, at least half
a minute passed, and neither of us said anything as his
hand moved down to my thigh, caressing. Our breathing
and the muted noise of the city below were the only
sounds in the still air of the conference room.

“Turn around, Miss Mills.” His quiet voice broke
the silence and I straightened my back, eyes facing forward.
Slowly I turned, his hand skimming across me
and sliding to my hip. I could feel the way his hand
spread from his fingertips on my lower back all the way
to where his thumb pressed against the soft skin just in
front of my hipbone. I looked down to meet his eyes,
which looked intently back at me.

I could see his chest rising and falling, each breath
deeper than the last. A muscle twitched in his sharp
jaw as his thumb began to move, slowly sliding back
and forth, his eyes never leaving mine. He was waiting
for me to stop him; there had been plenty of time for
me to shove him away, or simply turn and leave. But I
had too many feelings to sort out before I could react.
I had never felt this way, and I had never expected to
feel this about him. I wanted to slap him, and then pull
him up by his shirt and lick his neck.

“What are you thinking?” he whispered, eyes somehow
both mocking and anxious.

“I’m still trying to figure that out.”

With those eyes still locked to mine, he began to
slide his hand lower. His fingers ran down my thigh,
to the hem of my skirt. He moved it up so his fingertips
traced the strap of my garter belt, the lace edge of
one thigh-high stocking. A long finger slipped beneath
the thin fabric and pulled it down slightly. I sucked in a
sharp breath, feeling suddenly like I was melting from
the outside in.

How could I let my body react like this? I still
wanted to slap him, but now, more than that, I wanted
him to keep going. The heavy ache between my legs
was building. He reached the edge of my panties and
slipped his fingers under the fabric. I felt him slide
against my skin and graze my clit before pushing his
finger inside me, and I bit my lip trying, unsuccessfully,
to stifle my groan. When I looked down at him, beads
of sweat were forming on his brow.

“Fuck,” he growled quietly. “You’re wet.” His eyes
fell closed and he seemed to be waging the same internal
battle I was. I glanced down at his lap and could see
him straining against the smooth fabric of his pants.
Without opening his eyes, he withdrew his finger and
fisted the thin lace of my panties in his hand. He was
shaking as he looked up at me, fury clear in his expression.
In one quick movement he tore them off, the rip
of the fabric echoing in the silence.

He pulled my hips roughly, lifting me up onto the
cold table and spreading my legs in front of him. I gave
an involuntary groan as his fingers returned, sliding
between my legs and pushing into me again. I despised
this man in a singularly sharp way, but my body was
betraying me; I craved more of what he was doing.
Damn if he wasn’t good at this. His weren’t the gentle
loving touches I was accustomed to. Here was a man
used to getting what he wanted, and it turned out that
right now, what he wanted was me. My head fell to the
side as I leaned back on my elbows, feeling my impending
orgasm approaching fast.

To my absolute horror I actually whimpered, “Oh,

He stopped moving, pulling his fingers back and
holding them in a fist before him. I sat up, grabbing
his silk tie and pulling his mouth roughly against mine.
His lips felt as perfect as they looked, firm and smooth.
I’d never been kissed by someone who clearly knew every
single angle and dip and teasing move to make me
almost completely lose my mind.

I bit his lower lip as my hands made quick work
down to the front of his pants, whipping his belt free
of the loops. “You better be ready to finish what you