Greyson Crawford works hard by day and plays even harder at night. And he understands and obeys the rules of the game. One, don’t mix business and pleasure. Two, employees are off-limits. So, he’s been eagerly counting down the days until interior designer, Evie Richards is no longer under contract with his Seattle architecture firm. But when that day comes, he realizes there are more obstacles in his way. The biggest…Evie herself.
Until Evie gets asked to be the maid-of-honor in her best friend’s destination wedding, and Evie needs a date. The circumstances are perfect for Greyson to set his plan of seduction into motion. He will happily play the boyfriend for the wedding event, if Evie will surrender to his every command and play in his bed.
For Evie, it’s all fun and games until Greyson’s first touch; then she begins to question what’s real. She knows better than to fall for a guy like Greyson—a skirt chasing ladies’ man—but with every slow caress and kinky adventure, she realizes that Greyson knows what he wants, and it isn’t just her body surrendering to him…it’s her heart.
She’s a goddamn temptress.
Downtown Seattle, in a high-rise that offered views of Elliott Bay, the Space Needle, and the Seattle Great Wheel, Greyson Crawford held back a groan. Sitting behind his grand desk in his corner office, he watched as Evie Richards bent down, picking up the piece of paper that had fallen to the ground. The heat to his groin was swift and unbearable, and he bit the inside of his cheek, fighting against the brutal hardening of his cock. He couldn’t quite put a finger on what was so spectacular. Maybe her long, flowing, blond hair? Her curvaceous, hourglass figure? Her piercing, light green eyes? Whatever it was, she was pure temptation dressed in a proper, professional, black dress that he wanted to rip the fuck off her.
Seven hundred and twenty hours.
No matter how he looked at it, the past days working alongside her had been a horrendous torture. He’d slowly been counting down this day to come. The day that Evie’s contract with his company, Crawford Architecture, was done. Soon, she’d move on, ready to wow some other big company in Seattle that needed her on-point interior design expertise.
Today was the day that he could officially seduce her into his bed.
As she rose, righting her skirt to its proper, knee-length place, he wanted nothing more than to yank that skirt over her hips and redden that round ass a little. Through the glass wall separating his office from the main area with its large cubicles for his engineering and design staff, he watched her move to the temporary desk she’d been given, and reach for her cell phone by her keyboard.
For one month now, he’d endeavored to keep their relationship professional. Grey knew the rules. One, don’t mix business and pleasure. Two, keep his hands off his employees. Throughout her contract, he’d teased her with a little light flirtation to let his interest be known. He’d never crossed the line, though. Soon, he would. But until she left his office today, officially ending her contract, he had to wait. Patiently. Like a lion ready to take its prey.
Right then, she placed her phone back on the desk, tears filling her eyes. Even from where he sat, he could see the tremble in her hands. There was a stillness about her that raised his mental alarms, as her eyes were frozen on the screen.
Grey began to rise from his seat, as Janet, his longtime assistant, suddenly approached Evie’s desk. His eyes were only on Evie, and when she spotted Janet, tears flooded her face, her mouth moving with words that Grey couldn’t hear.
Janet reached out, placing a comforting hand on Evie’s shoulder.
His back straightened like a steel rod, and he was striding to his door and out of the office before his next breath. He didn’t get there in time, and before he could reach her cubicle, Evie suddenly ran into the hallway and past him, her makeup trailing black lines down her face.
Determined to get answers, he moved toward her desk, finding Janet staring down at Evie’s cell phone. “What was that all about?” he asked.
“Oh,” Janet said in her high-pitched voice, her short, blond bob hiding her round face as she picked up Evie’s phone. “I guess her best friend is engaged to her ex-boyfriend, and this weekend they’re having a destination wedding.” She spun the phone around, showing Grey the screen, displaying a photo of a blond woman wearing nothing but a bright red string bikini. Next to her, a brown-haired guy rested an arm possessively around the woman’s shoulders. Can’t wait for you to get here! was written in bold red letters at the bottom of the photo. “Evie is the maid of honor.”
Janet handed him the phone, and as he gazed upon the woman, he said, “Let me get this straight. Evie is the maid of honor in her best friend’s wedding who is marrying Evie’s ex-boyfriend?”
Janet gave a tight smile and nodded. “Now you understand why she’s upset. I think the reality of it all maybe just hit her.”
“I suppose that explains the tears,” Grey surmised.
Janet nodded, a scowl marring her usually sweet face. “Poor girl, if these are the people she has in her life.”
Grey stared down at the photo before the screen went black, confused. Evie didn’t seem the type to allow anyone to make her feel small. Christ, her confidence was one of the things he found so damn titillating. “Leave this with me,” he told Janet, holding up the phone. “I’ll see that she gets it back.”
“Oh, I’m sure you will,” Janet said, pointing a long, red-painted fingernail at him. “Don’t you dare make her more upset. She is a very sweet girl. She’s not like your usuals.”
“I’m well aware,” Grey retorted, shoving his hand into his pocket, not at all insulted. Janet, as well as Grey’s closest friend, Maddox Hunt, a cop with the Seattle Police Department, might be the only two people who knew him enough to know that statement was warranted.
Sometime back in college, with a reputation that followed him into his thirty-fifth year now, he’d been called a skirt-chasing ladies’ man. He had lived up to that name, and he didn’t make apologies for it either. He liked women, usually only once, but sometimes more than one at a time. Sure, he’d done the relationship thing before, but women tended to get a) clingy and b) boring.
She tempted him in ways no one had. And it wasn’t just the game of playing hard to get. There was something different about this woman…something that made him count down the days until she stopped working for him.
“All right, as long as we’ve got that clear,” Janet said, giving a tender smile, patting Grey’s arm. “Be gentle with this one.”
When Janet headed back to her desk outside of Grey’s office, he looked back to the black screen on the phone. What kind of thoughtless friend would not only date an ex but then ask you to stand up for the wedding? There had to be more to the story.
Determined to get to the bottom of it, and erase those tears the bastards had caused, he kept Evie’s phone in his hand and then moved down the hallway, looking for her. Midway down the corridor, he noticed that his CFO’s assistant, Trina, was glancing at the women’s washroom. “Did Evie go in there?” he asked Trina when he reached her.
“Yeah,” Trina said with a soft nod. “She seemed upset.”
Grey glanced at the closed black door with the woman’s washroom logo. “Is anyone else in there?”
“I can’t be sure since I haven’t really been paying attention, but I don’t think so.”
Good enough for him. “I’d appreciate it if you could ensure that no one else goes in until I come out.”
Trina didn’t even bat an eye. “Yes, sir.”
Of course, she wouldn’t. Grey was her boss, and this was certainly none of her business. Even if his company had typical office gossip, and he knew word of this would get around, no one would ever dare chatter to his face.
Intent and careful to take his time not to scare any other employees in the restroom, he entered the simple and modern bathroom with the five stalls. Only one door was closed, and there was no one at the sink, so he moved toward the vanity and leaned against it. Hands shoved into his pockets, he stared at the closed door, giving Evie the time she needed. That’s when he heard her soft cries, and with those pained noises, something inside of him tensed.
It was a sensation strong enough to make him question what it was about this woman that drew him in so intently. She’d gotten a grip on his mind and body so tightly that he pondered her situation, and his, and what he could do about both. He’d become so lost in his thoughts that he didn’t realize she’d opened the door until she was leaving the stall and striding out.
Head down, she hadn’t noticed him yet, so he called out to her, “Evie.”
A scream ripping from her throat, hands pressing against her chest. “Holy shit!”
He couldn’t help but chuckle. “I’m sorry for scaring you.” His amusement washed away when he took a good look at her face. There was so much pain there. He didn’t like it.
The shock from her face slowly faded. “Why are you in here?” she asked.
“To return your phone to you.” He moved to her, watching her following his every step. The heat in her eyes was instant, and that’d always been the problem. She wanted him. Christ, did she want him, he could tell. But she was smart and clever, never one to cross the professional line either. She was also a good girl, who likely needed love before sex. Maybe that was the real reason she didn’t ever cross the line. Maybe it was less about the job and more about protecting her heart from a guy that screamed danger. He could understand why
Though he never was a man who took the easy road, and he sure as shit liked a challenge. He stared into her gorgeous eyes, and a plan formed. One that got him what he wanted, and yet would benefit her, too. He’d never been a sly or shady guy, but he was a good businessman. And that meant using a situation to his advantage.
“So, that’s it. You got out the good cry you needed to,” he said to her, and he liked the way her lips parted when he leaned in toward her; it showed him just how much she yearned for his kiss. “Your ex is marrying your best friend,” he added. “He’s an asshole. She’s a bitch. This is happening, but it’s how you deal with it that truly matters.”
“He’s not an asshole,” she said softly, shaking her head. “And she’s not a bitch. I’ve helped plan their wedding for the last year, and I’m happy for them. I think…maybe it hadn’t sunk in or something.” She drew in a deep breath, releasing it out her nose and added with a soft smile, “But I’m better now. I’m sorry I fell apart out there.”
“One, I disagree with you,” he retorted sternly. “I’m not convinced these aren’t terrible people. And two, do not apologize that their selfishness hurt you. In fact, I’d say it’s time to get revenge, don’t you think?”
The side of her mouth arched slightly. He noted her long exhale, and he knew that had nothing to do with emotions. That it was this push and pull thing going on between them. Call it chemistry, intensity, whatever, it was as addictive as it was captivating. “How exactly do I do that?” She grabbed a paper towel, got it a bit wet with cold water, and then began wiping off her makeup, adding, “Murder them?” She gave him her sexy smile that pooled heat in his groin.
Grey chuckled, leaning his hip against the counter. “Perhaps that’s a bit extreme. Murder means jail time, and you going away is definitely not what I want.”
She slowly glanced at him then, cheeks flushing pink, and the dilation of her pupils was obvious. That look had snagged him the very first day after his COO hired her to design the lobby of the interior of their latest multi-million-dollar high-rise.
Now, the look intensified, hardening his cock, centering his mind on all the wicked things he’d like to do to her. He stepped toward her, as she spun around, leaning against the counter, wide eyes on him. There was something about her, maybe her innocence, maybe this unexplainable connection that had only grown since he worked alongside her, but it captured him in an unbreakable spell.
In the seconds that passed, the desire practically wafted off her, scented so sweet his cock went hard just that easily. As it always did, the space between them felt charged with electricity, but he’d never gotten this close to her before. He never let her feel the extent of how he wanted her. Now, he held nothing back.
“I have a better idea than jail time,” he told her, giving her enough distance that if she wanted to move and leave the bathroom, she could. When she stayed put, he added, “Show these bastards up. Take me with you, and make them both ragingly jealous.”
Her eyes searched his, then she broke out in loud laughter. “Yeah, right. Hilarious.”
She might have said one thing, but the only thing he noticed was that she wasn’t moving, eyes locked on him. “I’m not kidding,” he said, erasing the distance between them, placing both hands on either side of her, trapping her between him and the counter.
“You’re not kidding,” she said, more of a statement than a question.
Grey glanced from her bottom lip she nibbled to her flushed cheeks to her smoldering eyes… Christ, what he’d do to this woman. It would be indecent. “I would never joke about something that so clearly upsets you,” he told her seriously. “I can only imagine you want to one-up them. I know I would. Use me to do it.”
“She’s my best friend,” she said softly. “I don’t need to one-up her.”
He let his gaze roam over her pretty face before looking into her smoldering eyes again. “Tell me it’s never crossed your mind what it would feel like to walk in there not like a sad third wheel but like a woman who owns the world.”
“And how would that ever happen?’
“You’ll have me on your arm.”
Her mouth twisted. “You’re pretty sure of yourself.”
“Angel, I am never the third wheel of anything,” he told her, dead serious. “I’m the engine, the accelerator, and the whole damn car.”
She swallowed deeply and studied him, hard. “All right,” she eventually said, “say I’m game and actually agree to this crazy plan, what do you get out of it?”
“I get you.” He brought his mouth close enough to tease her. She wanted his kiss, angling her head backward, parting her lips. He dragged his nose across hers, and added, “I get to have you in all the ways you know I want you. Beneath me, over me, against a wall, on your knees, screaming my name, whatever I want. Completely under my control.” And to ensure there were no misunderstandings, he sternly added, “My game. My rules. Your surrender, until we’re back in Seattle.”