By Denise Wyant
“So. . . who do you think is going to get the big promotion?” Nicca toyed with the diamond pendant around her neck, nervously awaiting her best friend’s answer.
“Girl friend, my bet’s on you!” Ellie shot her a sideways glance. “Not like you needed to ask, though.”
Nicca grinned and released the necklace. “It better be; otherwise, I’d have to disown you as my BFF!” Nicca’s fingers had been crossed ever since she heard the rumor that Xavier Drake, chief counsel for the firm, was going to retire. Her body hummed with nervous anticipation despite Ellie’s confidence in her abilities. What an achievement to finally be rewarded for all of her long hours and all of those demeaning coffee runs when she was just an intern!
“Come on, girl! You graduated top ten in your law class at Princeton. Have some faith!”
“That’s easy for you to say,” Nicca grumbled, her hazel eyes focused on the floor.
“Look at this place – crystal chandeliers, marble columns, sculptures of naked Greek gods, hand painted murals – it’s not every day the boss throws a gala in his sprawling posh estate.” Ellie’s Robin Leach impersonation was beyond horrific, but it served its purpose – it got Nicca to let loose with a laugh.
Her chuckles morphed into a most unladylike snort. “You got it – back in the day, his mansion would have been featured on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.”
Now relaxed, Nicca decided to embrace the party spirit. She shimmied her hips and grabbed her best friend’s hand to haul her onto the dance floor. However, it was Ellie who halted their progress. Not so surreptitiously, she pointed to a tall, dark-haired man standing on the far side of the room. His hands were animated as he conversed with CEO Jacobson.
Ellie gave Nicca a pointed look. “Wonder who he is? The better question is if he’s single.”
“Would you please stop trying to find me a man!” Nicca had explained this multiple times to Ellie: she wasn’t interested in a relationship because her career is her passion. Despite that, her friend always tried to fix her up with any and all available bachelors. Nicca often joked that Ellie had made it her mission in life.
“Oooh, girl, he is dashing. Just look at those striking eyes and full lips; I bet they can do sinful things to a woman’s body.” Ellie made a point of licking her lips and then rolling her hips seductively.
Before Nicca could muster a snappy retort about Ellie’s mind being in the gutter, CEO Jacobson stepped behind the podium and cleared his throat. He addressed the quieting crowd. “I know this isn’t protocol, but I have no doubt my announcement will enhance Counselor Drake’s retirement celebration.” Pausing for effect, he continued in a booming voice, “I would like to introduce his eldest son, Xavier III. He will be following in his father’s footsteps as our new chief counsel. Congratulations!” As the crowd erupted into applause, Nicca froze her body in shock.
Severe disappointment coursed like acid through her veins as she looked at Ellie in horror. Nicca’s stomach churned as she realized the job of her dreams was lost to someone else. Ellie reached to console her, but Nicca just waved her off and stalked towards the bar in search of a drink. Her mind was reeling, trying to rationalize what she had just heard.
Grabbing a glass of champagne, Nicca stormed out onto the terrace in hopes that the night air would cool off her raging emotions. She downed the champagne in two swallows. Nicca had to get control of herself – she could feel the tears pooling in her eyes, threatening to escape and ruin her mascara. Leaning against the stone railing, she took several deep breaths and concentrated on the calming sounds of the night.
When she felt under control, she headed inside for another drink, something stronger if at all possible. Her timing couldn’t have been worse as one of her male colleagues turned abruptly and collided with her. Of course it had to be a tall, dark, and handsome one.
His warm strong hands reached out and latched onto her bare arms to steady her. She ducked her head and mumbled, “Excuse me.” Her goal became avoiding eye contact and making a hasty exit. Her tears were threatening another appearance, and she refused to show that kind of weakness in front of her coworkers. When he didn’t release her arm, she looked up into his amused gaze. The man holding onto her was the one she was checking out earlier in the evening; the same one who stole her promotion - Drake III.
“I do believe I owe you an apology, Ms . . . ” his deep voice resonated while those now smiling lips parted to reveal perfectly straight, white teeth.
“Morelli. Nicca Morelli,” she seethed. If she could have breathed fire then and there, she would have.
Drake’s eyes, the color of stormy seas, narrowed in thought. “Ah, yes, I know that name. You work for my father; he has spoken highly of your work. However, he failed to mention how stunning you are.”
Nicca was in no mood for compliments. She couldn’t be curt since Drake III was evidently now her new boss, but she could be succinct. “Thank you, but I really must be going.”
“Miss Morelli, give me the honor of a dance. It’s the least I can do after nearly knocking you off your feet.” Drake then paused to take in her silver spaghetti-strapped sheath. “You do realize in that dress all eyes will be on you instead of me.”
Nicca couldn’t figure out if he was being serious, facetious, or just plain dense. She was furious with this man! There was no way she was going to give him the honor of a dance. She caught the quirk of his mouth and the glint of lust in his eye and decided that he had some sort of ulterior motive. Well, more likely, he was thinking with the wrong head. This dress was known to have that effect on men. It accentuated her full, rounded breasts and her narrow waist; it was also nearly see-through.
Nicca composed her face and decided that two could play this game. However, she would have to be very careful. The perfectly tailored tuxedo did nothing to mask his muscular physique. In fact, it barely contained his broad shoulders. She could already feel a flush starting to spread across her cheeks and down her neck.
“Fine, Mr. Drake—,”
Smoothly, he interrupted Nicca, “Please, I go by Channing. There is no need to be so formal.”
Nicca paused, eyebrows raised, making sure he was finished. “As I was about to say, I accept your offer.” She lifted her chin and met his eyes. What a perfect way to get a piece of revenge – flaunt her dancing ability and her feminine allure. Nicca was an accomplished dancer; she was just as at home doing the jive as she was the Viennese waltz. He may be the new king of the castle so to speak, but she would reign on the dance floor tonight.
Taking her hand, he led her onto the parquet dance floor just as the orchestra struck up a sultry tango piece. Sexual prowess poured off Channing as he spun her into his body, her muscles tensing at the hard feel of him. “Relax,” he purred, his breath hot against her ear. He dropped his left hand and pushed his pelvis against her backside to prod her forward in the rhythm of the tango – slow, slow, quick, quick, slow.
Goose bumps covered her body while her pulse sky-rocketed. This is not good, Nicca thought, as her body betrayed her.
Once again Channing spun her and tucked her tightly against his body to begin the seductive affair. This dance is meant to be sexy, she sternly reminded herself. Nicca caught his determined gaze and let her feisty spirit shine through. She was so focused on her partner that she never noticed the other dancers had stopped to watch.
Their bodies glided across the floor, their steps crisp and synchronized. The beat of the music faded to the background as they focused on each other. Every move was flawless and precise. Channing was a strong leader; Nicca had no problem following his cues. Their legs intertwined with low kicks. Nicca’s hips twirled and undulated in time with the music. They stalked passionately around the floor, taking advantage of the large space. Nicca had never danced with someone who appreciated the dance, from both the technical and the emotional viewpoint, as much as what she did.
The two paused, breathing as though they had just completed a marathon. The exertion of the dance, however, had nothing to do with it. Nicca’s body was flushed and heated. Her mind was shrouded in a haze of lust. What is he doing to my body? She bit her bottom lip as she teased her hands over his abs and up his chest. Her hands continued, skimming his shoulders and lodging in his mussed mahogany waves. A predatory growl rose from deep within his chest. The sexual tension was evident in his heated gaze as he dislodged her hands. Before he could grab her, she was sashaying away from him. Channing was spellbound, his eyes focused on the swaying motion of her hips.
The magic of the tryst was soon to be broken. Channing held her as she bent over backwards, her midnight black ringlets nearly brushing the floor. She grasped his corded thighs and slid into a modified split as her dress rose precariously high on her thighs. Nicca glanced at the exceptional male holding her. He was staring point-blank at her breasts, which were in grave danger of escaping her dress. Her body trembled at the desire evident in his face, his eyes half-lidded. At that moment, she had no doubt the man could please a woman for hours on end; it made her wonder what that would be like. Channing’s hands tightened around her waist and pulled her from her musings. He gracefully helped her to her feet. With her body so close to his, the move pressed her breasts into his firm chest. It was all she could do to keep from rubbing against him like a cat in heat. Their faces were so close together that their lips were millimeters apart. A soft whimper escaped from Nicca’s parted lips without her permission. When Channing didn’t take the initiative to kiss her, she took a deep breath, inhaling a scent that was all male and completely mesmerizing.
Seeming to come to his senses, Channing turned her to face the crowd. She tried to smile but was embarrassed by what had just taken place between them. As he pulled her securely against his body, she felt his large erection press against her hip. She was relieved that he was as affected as she was.
As the applause thinned, Channing took Nicca’s hand and escorted her off the floor. Nicca caught Ellie’s eye. Her best friend’s wink and Cheshire grin had Nicca shaking her head. She took advantage of a shadowed alcove and pulled Channing to her, wrapping her arms around his neck. She brushed her lips over his in a light, teasing kiss. His hand landed at the base of her neck. He tilted her head to allow him better access. Nipping at her bottom lip, he demanded she open for him. Nicca complied without hesitation. Their tongues dueled as their bodies had dueled on the dance floor. What started as a chaste kiss deepened in seconds as Channing devoured Nicca’s mouth. She groaned at the decadent, spicy taste of him. Nicca had never experienced such a kiss before, one that affected her body and soul. Is this what she had been missing out on by focusing solely on her career? Maybe there was more to life than work?
Panting, Nicca ended the kiss. She buried her face against his neck, holding on for dear life as her legs felt like they had just stepped off a ship after being at sea for days. He caressed her back, pressing a light kiss to the top of her head. Nicca could feel his pulse hammering against her forehead. The heat coming off his body rivaled her own. She hoped that their sparks of wantonness wouldn’t set them aflame. After a moment, she stepped back from his hold. She covered her red, kiss-swollen lips with a trembling hand. Channing’s unfocused eyes reflected disappointment at the loss of contact with her curves. Stealing a glance at this tented trousers; Nicca noted that he was still very much aroused. She was happy to know she held that kind of power over her new supervisor.
Her breath caressed his ear as she leaned in and whispered, “Thank you for the dance. I hope to see you soon.” She truly hoped that she would be seeing him soon, just outside of the office, maybe in the bedroom in fact. The promotion was now a distant memory. Her mind was occupied with imagining what it would be like to have those sinful lips exploring the rest of her body.
Nicca turned on wobbly legs to head for the exit. She paused and shot Channing a scorching glance over her shoulder. Reaching the door, she couldn’t help the wide grin that now was plastered on her face, so much for not falling for the boss.
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Denise Wyant is a fledging author who makes her home in Maryland with her Himalayan cat, Willow. When not crafting works of fiction or writing technically for work, she enjoys caramel lattes, dark beer, and lazy Saturday mornings.