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First Look: 'Beautiful Bastard' (Exclusive)

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

One
My father always said the way to learn the job you want
is to spend every second watching someone do it.

“To get the job at the top, you’ve got to start at the bottom,” he told me.
“Become the person the CEO can’t live without. Be their right-hand man.
Learn their world, and they’ll snatch you up the second you finish your degree.”

I had become irreplaceable. And I’d definitely become
the Right Hand. It just so happened that in this
case, I was the right hand that most days wanted to slap
the damn face.

My boss, Mr. Bennett Ryan. Beautiful Bastard.

My stomach clenched tightly at the thought of him:
tall, gorgeous, and entirely evil. He was the most self-righteous,
pompous prick I’d ever met. I’d hear all of
the other women in the office gossip about his escapades
and wonder if a nice face was all it took. But my
father also said, “You realize early in life that beauty
is only skin-deep, and ugly goes straight to the bone.”
I’d had my fair share of unpleasant men in the past few
years, dated a few in high school and college. But this
one took the cake.

“Well, hello Miss Mills!” Mr. Ryan stood in the
doorway to my office that served as an anteroom
to his. His voice was laced with honey, but it was all
wrong . . . like honey left to freeze and crack on ice.

After spilling water on my phone, dropping my earrings
into the garbage disposal, being rear-ended on
the interstate, and having to wait for the cops to come
and tell us what we both already knew—that it was the
other guy’s fault—the last thing I needed this morning
was a grumpy Mr. Ryan.

Too bad for me he didn’t come in any other flavor.

I gave him my usual. “Good morning, Mr. Ryan,”
hoping he would give me his usual curt nod in return.

But when I tried to slip past him, he murmured,
“Indeed? ‘Morning,’ Miss Mills? What time is it in
your little world?”

I stopped and met his cold stare. He was a good
eight inches taller than me, and before working for
him I’d never felt so small. I’d worked for Ryan Media
Group for six years. But since his return to the family
business nine months ago, I’d taken to wearing heels I
used to consider circus height just so I could approach
him near eye level. Even so, I still had to tilt my head
to look up at him, and he clearly relished it, hazel eyes
flashing.

[pagebreak]

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.”

Asshole.

“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.

[pagebreak]

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

As everyone began filtering out for lunch, I remained
glued to my desk with my coffee and a bag of trail mix
I’d bought from the vending machine. Normally I’d

bring leftovers or leave with the other interns to grab
something, but time was not on my side today. I heard
the outer office door open and looked up, smiling as
Sara Dillon walked in. Sara was in the same MBA internship
program at Ryan Media Group that I was,
though she worked in accounting.

“Ready for lunch?” she asked.

“I’m going to have to skip it. This is the day from
hell.” I looked at her apologetically, and her smile
turned into a smirk.

“Day from hell, or boss from hell?” She took a seat
on the edge of my desk. “I heard he was on a bit of a
rampage this morning.”

I gave her a knowing look. Sara didn’t work for him,
but she knew all about Bennett Ryan. As the youngest
son of company founder Elliott Ryan, and with a notoriously
short fuse, he was a living legend in the building.
“Even if there were two of me, I wouldn’t be able
to get this finished in time.”

“You sure you don’t want me to bring you back
something?” Her eyes moved in the direction of his office.
“A hit man? Some holy water?”

I laughed. “I’m good.”

Sara smiled and left the office. I’d just finished off
the last of my coffee when I bent down, noting a run in
my stockings. “And on top of everything else,” I began,
hearing Sara return, “I’ve already snagged these. Actually,
if you’re going somewhere there’s chocolate, bring
me back fifty pounds, so I can eat my feelings later.”

I glanced up and saw that it wasn’t Sara standing
there. My cheeks flushed red and I pulled my skirt back
down.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Ryan, I—”

“Miss Mills, since you and the other office girls have
plenty of time to discuss problematic lingerie, in ad-
dition to putting together the Papadakis presentation,
I need you to also run down to the Willis office and
retrieve the market analysis and segmentation for Beaumont.”
He straightened his tie, looking at his reflection
in my window. “Do you think you can manage that?”

Did he just call me an “office girl”? Sure, as part
of my internship I often did some basic assistant work
for him, but he knew damn well I had worked for this
company for years before receiving a JT Miller scholarship
to Northwestern. I was four months away from
getting my business degree.

Getting my degree and getting the hell out from under
you
, I thought. I looked up to meet his blazing eyes.
“I’ll be happy to ask Sam if she—”

“It wasn’t a suggestion,” he cut me off. “I’d like you
to pick them up.” He gazed at me for a moment with
a clenched jaw before turning on his heel and storming
back to his office, pulling the door closed roughly
behind him.

What the fuck was his problem?Was slamming doors
like a teenager really necessary? I grabbed my blazer
from the back of the chair and began making my way
to our satellite office a few buildings down.

When I returned, I knocked on his door but there
was no response. I tried the knob. Locked. He was
probably having a late-afternoon quickie with some
trust fund princess while I ran around Chicago like an
insane person. I shoved the manila folder through the
mail slot, hoping the papers scattered everywhere and
he’d have to get down and sort them himself. Would
serve him right. I rather liked the image of him on his
knees on the floor, gathering scattered documents.
Then again, knowing him, he would call me into that
sterile hellhole to clean it up while he watched.

Four hours later I had the status updates complete,
my slides mostly in order, and I was almost hysterically
laughing with how awful this day was. I found myself
plotting a very bloody and drawn-out murder of the
kid at The Copy Stop. A simple job, that’s all I had
asked. Make some copies, bind some things. Should
have been a piece of cake. In and out. But no. It had
taken two hours.

[pagebreak]

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,
please.”

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
started.”

[pagebreak]

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

He made a low, angry noise deep in his throat and
took my blouse in his hands, ripping it open, the silver
buttons skittering across the long conference table.
He slid his hands up my ribs and over my breasts,
thumbs slipping back and forth across my taut nipples,
his dark stare fixated on my expression the entire time.
His hands were big, and rough almost to the point of
pain, but instead of wincing or backing off, I pushed
into his palms wanting more, and harder.

He growled, fingers tightening. It occurred to me
I might bruise, and for a sick moment I hoped I did.
I wanted a way to remember this feeling, of being
completely sure of what my body wanted, entirely unleashed.

He leaned close enough to bite my shoulder, whispering,
“You fucking tease.”

Unable to get close enough, I quickened my pace
on his zipper, shoving his pants and his boxers to the
floor. I gave his cock a hard squeeze, feeling him pulse
against my palm.

The way he hissed my last name—“Mills”—should
have sent a rush of fury through me, but I only felt one
thing right now: pure, unadulterated lust. He forced
my skirt up my thighs and pushed me back on the conference
table. Before I could utter a single word, he
took hold of my ankles, grabbed his cock, and took a
step forward, thrusting deep inside me.

I couldn’t even be horrified by the loud moan I let
out—he felt better than anything.

“What’s that?” he hissed through clenched teeth,
his hips slapping against my thighs, driving him deep
inside. “Never been fucked like this before, have you?
You wouldn’t be such a tease if you were being properly
fucked.”

Who did he think he was? And why the hell did it
turn me on so much that he was right? I had never had
sex anywhere but on a bed, and it never felt like this.

“I’ve had better,” I taunted.

He laughed, a quiet mocking sound. “Look at me.”

“No.”

He pulled out just as I was about to come. At first I
thought he was actually going to leave me this way, until
he grabbed my arms and yanked me up off the table,
lips and tongue pressing against mine.

Look at me,” he said again. And, finally, with him
no longer inside me, I could. He blinked once, slowly,
long dark lashes brushing against his cheek, and then
said, “Ask me to make you come.”

His tone was all wrong. It was almost a question,
but his words were just like him—all bastard. I did
want him to make me come. More than anything. But
I’d be damned if I’d ever ask him for anything.

I dropped my voice and stared back at him. “You’re
an asshole, Mr. Ryan.”

His smile told me that whatever he’d needed from
me, he got. I wanted to slam my knees up into his balls,
but then I wouldn’t get more of what I really wanted.

“Say please, Miss Mills.”

Please, go fuck yourself.”

The next thing I felt was the cold window against
my breasts, and I groaned at the intense contrast in
temperature between it and his skin. I was on fire; every
part of me wanted to feel his rough touch.

“At least you’re consistent,” he snarled into my
ear before biting my shoulder. He kicked at my feet.
“Spread your legs.”

I parted my legs and without hesitation he pulled
my hips back and reached between us before thrusting
forward into me.

“You like the cold?”

“Yes.”

“Devious, filthy girl. You like being watched, don’t
you?” he murmured, taking my earlobe between his
teeth. “You love that all of Chicago can look up here
and see you getting fucked, and you loving every minute
of it with your pretty tits pressed against the glass.”

“Stop talking, you’re ruining it.” Though he wasn’t.
Not even close. His gravelly voice was doing wicked
things to me.

But he just laughed in my ear and probably noticed
the way I shivered at the sound. “You want them to see
you come?”

I groaned in response, unable to form words with
each repeated thrust into me, pressing me further
against the glass.

“Say it. You want to come, Miss Mills? Answer me or
I’ll stop and make you suck me off instead,” he hissed,
driving himself deeper and deeper inside me with every
thrust.

The part of me that hated him was dissolving
like sugar on my tongue, and the part that wanted
everything he had to give me was growing, hot and
demanding.

“Just tell me.” He leaned forward, sucked my earlobe
between his lips and then gave it a sharp bite. “I
promise I’ll give it to you.”

“Please,” I said, closing my eyes to shut out everything
else and just feel him. “Please. Yes.”

He reached around, moving his fingertips across
my clit with the perfect pressure, the perfect rhythm. I
could feel his smile press into the back of my neck, and
when he opened his mouth and pressed his teeth to my
skin, I was done for. Warmth spread down my spine,
around my hips, and between my legs, jerking me back
into him. My hands slammed against the glass, my entire
body quaking from the orgasm that was rushing
over me, leaving me gasping for air. When it finally
subsided, he pulled out and spun me around to face
him, ducking his head to suck my neck, my jaw, my
lower lip.

“Say thank you,” he whispered.

I dug my hands into his hair and tugged hard, hop-
ing I could get some reaction out of him, wanting
to see if he was in control or delusional. What are we
doing?

He groaned, leaning into my hands and kissing up
and down my neck, pressing his erection into my stomach.
“Now make me feel good.”

I released one hand and brought it down to his cock
and began stroking him. He was heavy, and long, and
perfect in my palm. I wanted to tell him, but I’d be
damned if I ever let him know how amazing he felt.
Instead, I pulled away from his lips, staring at him with
hooded eyes.

“I’m going to make you come so hard you forget
that you’re supposed to be the world’s biggest asshole,”
I growled, sliding down the glass before slowly taking
his entire cock in my mouth and back against my
throat. He tensed and let out a deep moan. I looked up
at him, his palms and forehead resting on the glass, his
eyes closed tight. He looked vulnerable, and he looked
gorgeous in his abandon.

But he wasn’t vulnerable. He was the biggest jerk on
the planet and I was on my knees in front of him. No
fucking way.

So instead of giving him what I knew he wanted, I
stood up, pulled my skirt back down, and met his eyes.
It was easier now, without him touching me and making
me feel things he had no business doing.

The seconds ticked by, neither of us looking away.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” he
rasped. “Get on your knees and open your mouth.”

“Not a chance.”

I pulled the front of my buttonless shirt together
and walked out, praying my shaky legs wouldn’t betray
me.

Grabbing my purse from my desk, I threw my blazer
on, trying desperately to fasten the button with my
trembling fingers. Mr. Ryan still hadn’t come out, and
I ran to the elevator praying to God it would get there
before I had to face him again.
I couldn’t even let myself think about what happened

until I was out of there. I’d let him fuck me,
give me the most amazing orgasm of my life, and
then I’d left him with his pants around his ankles in
the company conference room with the worst case of
blue balls known to any man. If this was someone else’s
life I would be high-fiving them so hard. Too bad it
wasn’t.

Shit.

The doors opened and I entered, quickly pushing
the button and watching as each floor counted down.
As soon as the elevator reached the lobby I raced out
and down the hall. I briefly heard the security guard
say something about working late, but I just waved and
sped past him.

With each step the ache between my legs reminded
me of the events of the last hour. As I reached my car I
unlocked it with the remote, pulled open the door, and
collapsed into the safety of the leather seats. I looked
up at myself in the rearview mirror.

What in the fuck was that?

Text copyright © 2013 by Lauren Billings Luhrs and Christina Hobbs Venstra. Published Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.  Printed with permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc.