USA Today Bestselling Author
If you write an email to a friend about a fantasy involving your gorgeous boss, don’t send it to All Staff…
It’s not easy to reinvent yourself, but my thirteen-year-old son and I are ready for a new start. Old Maggie was a magnet for disaster, but New Meg is going to be elegant, sophisticated… and blonde. I’ve landed a dream job at the other end of New Zealand as PA to three rich directors who spoil me rotten, I’ve found a beautiful new apartment, and I feel reborn.
Then I write an email to a friend describing in vivid detail what I want to do to the sexiest of the directors—involving melted chocolate and/or whipped cream—and mistakenly send it to All Staff. It turns out that New Meg is pretty much just Old Maggie with different packaging. Some things never change.
I’ve wanted Meg since she first walked into my office with her soft lips and sexy curves, but she wears another man’s ring, so I’ve steered well clear… until now. My mind’s been occupied anyway since I broke up with my ex, Natalie. She’s desperate to have me back and won’t take no for an answer—so I’ve come up with a brilliant plan, to hire a fake fiancée for Christmas to prove to her that we’re done.
After sending her hot-as-hell email, Meg confesses the truth about her past, and it gives me an idea. She can pretend to be my fiancé, and I can protect her from the guy she’s running from. Sounds like the perfect plan, right? Her teenage son’s no problem because we get on great. Sharing her room? That’s more of a challenge, but I’ve always had excellent self-control.
Yeah, I know. I keep forgetting about the melted chocolate. What an idiot.
Stratton thinks he has the perfect solution to the problems with his ex. He’s getting married, at least that’s how he announces it to his sister Teddi, his best friend Rich and his PA Meg at their morning meeting. This leads to an interesting discussion of his ex Natalie and how she’s harassing him. He get’s Meg to set up appointments with prospective ‘fiancés’ only instead of a modeling agency she calls an escort service. The results are hilarious.
As Meg is preparing to leave for the day she sends an email to her best friend, only it goes to the entire company.
This is a favorite scene.
I start packing up my things, glance at my computer screen, and smile when I see an email from Alyssa. She’s a new friend I’ve made since moving to Auckland. We met at the local swimming pool and got on well, as we have a lot in common, including that we’re both single mums with teenage boys.
In her email she chats about her family and her day job at the kindergarten. The email subject shows we have been back and forth about twenty times and the message is as long as my arm, so I start with a fresh one and begin telling her about my day. Not about the call girls—I decide to leave that part out—but I tell her a bit about work, just general chit chat.
Then, because he’s on my mind, I tell her about Stratton.
I’m just crazy about him, I type. He so gorgeous he makes my mouth water. I’ll have to introduce you soon. He has thick dark hair touched with gray and the most amazing eyes—one blue, one green. A stunning smile. He’s six foot three and a big guy, but he’s very unassuming and self-deprecating. You’d like him a lot. It’s not easy working for him every day. I find myself sitting in meetings and instead of typing minutes I daydream about covering him in melted chocolate—or whipped cream, it varies—and then licking it all off. It passes the time.
I finish it with a smiley face, sign it Meg, click the arrow where it says ‘To’ and choose her name, then hit send. Briefly, I wonder whether the IT team ever monitors my emails, but it’s too late now, it’s gone, so I suppress a sudden feeling of unease and rise to get my bag, ready to go home for the day.
A ping tells me I’ve received another email, though, and I sink back down to check it. I stare for a moment as I realize it’s the one I’ve just sent. What? Why would it come back to me? Has it bounced? Has Alyssa closed her email account or something?
I look at who I’ve sent it to, and my jaw drops. Cold filters through me. Disbelievingly, I quickly start up a new email and click the down arrow that shows me the list of people I send to regularly. Oh no. I thought I’d clicked on Alyssa’s name. But I haven’t. I’ve clicked on All Staff.
My head spins, and I feel faint with horror. I’ve just told everyone in the building about my secret fantasies. Everyone who works here will have gotten that email. And that’s bad, but it’s not the worst of it.
Rich will get it, and so will Teddi.
And it’s currently pinging up in Stratton’s inbox, too.
Panic washes over me. What have I done? I’ve ruined everything with one hit of a tiny button. What an idiot. What a fucking stupid idiot I am.
I can’t stay here—I’ve got to get out before everyone reads it. At least it’s Friday—I can take the weekend to work out how the hell I’m going to deal with this.
I grab my handbag and run out of my office. Head down, I stride through the large workroom housing the secretarial pool, heads turning as I pass. Nigel from accounts stops me to talk about an invoice and drones on and on, and in the end I tell him I have to leave and just walk away. I ignore the elevators and take the stairs, running down them, my high heels tapping. I’m not sure if I’ve breathed in yet, and my head’s still spinning. I have to be careful not to fall and break my neck—and yet a little part of my brain muses that such an accident might be a relief.
Exiting into the foyer, I run across it. My face is hot and my eyes are stinging with tears. What have I done? Holy fuck. I’m going to be a laughing stock, and as for Stratton… He thinks I’m married. I don’t know whether he’s going to be flattered, amused, or angry. Maybe he’ll think it’s hilarious. Oh my God, I’ll never be able to look him in the eye again.
I can’t bear it. I want to die.
I’m halfway across the foyer when I hear him call my name. “Meg!”
God, no! Anyone but him! I don’t stop and continue running.
“Meg, for Christ’s sake. Stop her, Andy!”
Obediently, the security guard closes the glass door and refuses to let go as I reach it. I hit him with my handbag, almost sobbing in panic. “Let me out!”
“Meg, it’s okay.” Stratton catches up with me and tugs my arm. I wrench it away and stumble back. I can’t bear to look at him. “It’s okay,” he says again, bending to try and catch my eye. “Come on, it’s not the end of the world.”
“Don’t.” My face must be scarlet, because it’s burning as if I’ve been out in the hot sun all day. “Just… don’t.”
“Hey.” He obviously realizes I’m genuinely distraught, takes my arm again, and leads me across to the side of the foyer. Luckily, there’s only Andy to witness the scene, and he averts his gaze as he takes up his place by the doors again, although I know he’s listening.
“Let me go.” I dash away a tear that’s run down my face.
“Meg, sweetheart, come on. It was a mistake. You clicked on the wrong name, didn’t you? It happens.” I cover my face with my hands. “I can’t believe I did it. I’m so embarrassed.”
He gives a soft laugh, moving closer to me and resting his hands on my upper arms. He rubs them gently, trying to offer comfort. “It’s all right. Did you think I didn’t know how you felt?”
I still refuse to look at him. I want to curl in a corner and sob. “I can’t believe I sent it to All Staff. Everyone will know. I can’t stay here. I can’t come back.”
“Meg, come on. Let’s get it in proportion. There’s no way I’m losing the best PA I’ve ever had just because she has a thing about chocolate sauce.”
Oh. My. God. My face could melt lead it’s burning so badly.
“Oops,” he said. “Too soon?”
“Please, just kill me now.”
He laughs and wraps his arms around me. “Sweetheart, we’re grownups, and we like each other. You’re gorgeous—you don’t think I wonder what you look like naked ten times a day?”
“Oh, Stratton, please, don’t. You’re just making it worse.”
“I’m saying that it’s normal when you fancy someone. It doesn’t mean anything. And it’s hardly a huge shock to me.”
I press my hands against his shirt and bury my face in it. “I thought you might be angry.”
“Jesus, why? You made my day.” He kisses my hair.
“Because I’m… m-married.”
He slides a hand beneath my chin and lifts my face so he can look into my eyes. For a moment I think he’s going to kiss me, but instead his green and blue eyes search mine, as if he’s in an attic rummaging around in a trunk. “Are you?” he says.
A breeze washes across my legs, but I’m only half aware that the front door has opened. It’s when I hear my name called—my real name—that I realize someone’s come in.
I turn my head, and for the second time in the space of about five minutes my heart stops. I inhale sharply, feel my eyes widen, my jaw drop, and I push away from Stratton and stumble back.
Woods, Serenity. My Christmas Fiancé (Love Comes Later Book 1). Kindle Locations (801-868). Kindle Edition.
From having to face Stratton to her ex showing up thinking all would just be forgiven leads Meg to agree to be Stratton’s fake fiancé. With concern for her and her son’s safety, Stratton suggests they stay the weekend at his home. This is just the beginning of a very interesting relationship, that simmers before it sizzles.
I look forward to reading Rich and Teddi’s stories, one is New Year’s the other is Valentines.
5 Contented Purrs for Serenity!
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USA Today Bestselling Author Serenity Woods lives in the sub-tropical Northland of New Zealand with her wonderful husband and gorgeous teenage son. She writes hot and sultry contemporary romances with a happy ever after, and she would much rather immerse herself in reading or writing romance than do the dusting and ironing, which is why it’s not a great idea to pop round if you have any allergies.