Tempting Daddy's Boss
Mailing List Sneak Peek
I shouldn’t be here. I shouldn’t, and I know it. But maybe there’s something about this place that makes me want to do what I shouldn’t.
…Maybe there’s something about him that makes me want to break the rules.
The room is warm, and it’s dark in here but for the neon glow of the city illuminating the room through the enormous, floor-length glass that makes up the entire corner office. Views of all of New York and most of Brooklyn dazzle and sparkle through the window, giving me just enough light to see what I came here for.
No one should be in here. Not here, and not like this. Mostly because of whose domain this is of course. Because the man who sets his seat of power here isn’t one to be messed with, and I’m sure he wouldn’t like people coming into his office without invitation. Certainly not after hours, in the dark, and certainly not with what’s hanging on the walls.
Millions, and I do mean millions of dollars in original Impressionist era paintings.
They’re the reason I’m here. I’ve never met the man whose office this is and whose business this is, even if my internship in this very firm starts on Monday. But I know enough to be more than a little frightened. Powerful, aggressive, cold, calculating.
Damien Castle’s reputation is a thing of legend in the world of huge-money hedge funds. But, great art is great art, and I decided it was worth the risk. I can half-hear the cocktail party that’s happening on the floor below me — the partygoers out on the huge garden terraces that wrap around the building.
Above them sits this floor, where the magic happens. This is where the man whose art this is commands his billion dollar business with an iron grip. And above here, there’s only his personal quarters — his penthouse apartment that occupies the entire top floor of the midtown Manhattan building. That’s how driven the legendarily fearsome Mr. Castle is. He sleeps barely fifty feet from his office desk.
That drive and that reputation is why my stepfather’s own hedge fund has been assimilated by Castle Capital. Because Damien Castle isn’t just good at turning money into more money, he’s the best. His returns are enormous, his quarters never dip, ever, and he’s untouchable in his ability to be at the top of the game.
Oh, right, and he’s also gorgeous.
What’s weird is that I’m an artist at heart. I’ve always been more comfortable in ripped jean shorts and t-shirts with paint all over them than I am in business-place attire. And I’ve never been attracted to the “finance guy” look, even in the hedge fund world I grew up in with my mother’s second husband.
But maybe it’s the dark cloud that seems to hover over him in all his public appearances, or that fierce look in his eyes or in the tightness of his chiseled jaw. Maybe it’s the visible tattoos peeking out of the sleeves and collars of his three-thousand dollar suits that set him apart from most stuffy old hedge fund guys. The body carved out of marble that fills out those suits is certainly a factor.
Maybe it’s all of those things that make me find a man like Damien Castle irresistible, even when I know it’s wrong.
Because of his legendary viciousness.
Because he’s more than twice my age.
Because he’s my stepfather’s new boss.
My eyes scan Degas, Van Gogh, and even a Monet in the dim light, and I can feel my heart beat a little faster. Originals, of course; all of them. And as hard a reputation as Damien Castle has, I decide right there that it’s worth the risk sneaking in here when he’s only a floor away presiding over his party.
The security guard let me through, after I flirted a bit and pretended to be Mr. Castle’s date for the evening. So really, it’s his own fault I’m in here at all. He should have hired better security.
The cocktail party was my one opportunity to see a collection like this — paintings from the French Impressionist era that few people will ever see. Really, it was one of the only reasons I finally agreed to let my stepfather drag me to this thing. I know I’m supposed to be here showing a good face and mingling with the crowd downstairs before I start my internship here on Monday. But I doubt even when I work here that I’ll ever get a chance to see these paintings, so I took a chance.
I mean I’m not technically doing anything wrong. Well, aside from breaking into my stepfather’s new boss’s office — the office of the most powerful, enigmatic man in New York.
I peer close at a Renoir, the brush-strokes taking my breath away before I move over to Van Gogh and feel my heart race. I sip the champagne flute in my hand slowly, swallowing as my eyes drink in the amazing work in front of me. The flute is soda water, of course. I’m sure I could get a real drink at a party like this without question, and there are definitely some dates of other managers and traders at the party downstairs barely older than I am who are sipping champagne freely.
But drinking has never really appealed to me, even if people my age are supposed to be guzzling it down. I know. I’m eighteen, I’m off to college in a few months, and getting drunk should be part of my regular day. That and sex, I suppose, but there’s another thing I’m not doing.
You know, ever. At least, not yet.
It’s not for lack of guys my age trying to help me out in that department, that’s for sure. But there’s never been anything like a spark, and I need that spark to be there if I’m going to finally let go of what I’ve held onto my whole life. And so long as guys my age think a “spark” is “we should do a shot and then you should come check out the backseat of my car,” then no thanks. I’ll pass.
But anyway, I feel like I’m doing enough bad things tonight, what with breaking into this office. So it’s just sparkling water that I sip as I move down the wall, my jaw dropping at a gorgeous Monet. In the quiet, dim darkness of the huge room, I lean close — not close enough to touch, but closer than I’d ever dare to get in a museum. I can feel the blood rushing through my ears as I move ever closer, and closer, and—
“What are you doing in here?”
The voice has me practically jumping out of my skin. I yelp, gasping as I whirl, the champagne flute dashing to the floor at my feet. My heart leaps into my throat as my eyes adjust to the darkness and slowly take in the man standing in silhouette against the big window by the door.
I tremble as I take in his massive form — the broad shoulders, the big arms that bulge slightly at his perfectly tailored tuxedo. The clean-shaven, chiseled jawline, and those piercing eyes.
I can only see the glint in those eyes from the neon lights of the city, but I know that they’re green.
He growls as he steps towards me, and I swallow the lump in my throat as my breath catches.
“I’m going to ask you one more time, and I’d like an answer this time.”
His dark baritone voice is like whiskey and leather, edged in steel, and I can feel his very words pull at something deep inside of me as he approaches.
“Because no one is supposed to be in here, and yet here you are. Which leads me to believe you’re either a thief,” he growls the word out through gritted teeth, his powerful, demanding gaze drinking me in. His eyes slip over my black cocktail dress, which I know is probably a little shorter, and a little tighter than it should be.
His eyes flash in the dim glow of the room, and I can see the muscles in his neck tense as his gaze swallows me up. He moves closer, and I gasp. I stumble a step back, teetering slightly in my black four-inch stilettos before I feel the wall at my back. There’s a priceless painting hanging on either side of me, but his blazing green eyes are locked onto me and me only as he approaches.
“You’re either a thief,” he purrs again, his hands moving to either side of me, palms flat against the wall, pinning me there. “Or you're just a bad little girl who’d decided to go where she doesn’t belong.”
I gasp quietly at the words, feeling my whole body melt under that heated gaze of his.
“And you do know what they say about thieves and bad girls who go looking for trouble, don’t you?”
I swallow again, my breath catching in my throat as I slowly shake my head.
“They always find it,” he growls. His eyes flash as he leans closer, and his huge body practically pins me to the wall, his warm, teasing breath hits my neck as he leans in and it’s everything I can do not to moan right there.
His hand grips my wrist, and this time, I do moan.
And then I feel it.
I feel it tingle over every inch of my skin, melting through every pore down into my core, where it sits there pulsing.
…Like a spark.
“And trust me, little girl,” he growls. “Trust me when I say you’ve definitely found trouble.”