Monique Mackenzie has everything a modern woman could dream of—a fabulous career, great clothes, a lovely home and wonderful friends. She could have anyone she wants. But one man doesn’t seem to notice her at all—her boss.
Confident and stoic, Jerome Fontaine is so guarded at work that Monique suspects him of leading a secret life. When she takes to following him, she learns that she is right. Jerome is so much more than he presents to the corporate world they share and he has no intention of opening up about himself. But Jerome has never encountered the tenacious force that is Monique on a mission.
As Monique unravels the mysteries that keep Jerome locked in a role that no longer suits him, she also finds herself changing. The playful Monique Mackenzie who’s spent her whole life toying with men must confront the very frightening prospect of falling completely for one. Once she unleashes Jerome’s passions, she can no longer deny her own.
Reader Advisory: This book contains characters who appear in All I Ever Wanted, also by Destiny Moon.
General Release Date: 3rd April 2015
Jerome was insufferable today. He looked way too good in his suit, like a pastry that tormented you by calling your name all the way from the bakery. In his navy blue and gray pinstripes with a crisp purple shirt underneath, he looked like he’d stepped out of the pages of GQ. He even had on those sexy glasses. He either had a gay best friend or a savvy girlfriend who dressed him. He was like no other straight guy I’d ever met… And I’d met a lot. I knew men. And Jerome was in a category all on his own.
At four, he sidled up to my desk and asked me if I had a moment.
For him? Of course!
“I’d like your analysis report of the Murdoch file before you leave,” he said. He knew I couldn’t do it in an hour.
“Okay,” I responded.
That saucy flirt had basically invited me to stay late with him. Classic. So I did what any hot-blooded girl with an out-of-control libido would do. I took a quick coffee break, went down to the mall below our office tower and bought myself some lucky panties. You just never know. I had to cling to the hope that he had ulterior motives.
* * * *
At six o’clock, he asked what I wanted for dinner. On him, he said, since he was forcing me to work late. I told him we should have sushi. That was better than something greasy, I figured. Keep it light. After all, who knew what we’d get up to later?
I figured that tonight was the night he was going to tell me he felt the same way about me that I did about him. I pictured him coming over to my desk, telling me he couldn’t stand how sexy I was, that I was a terrible distraction for him. I would be so glad I had gone to L’Atmosphere to pick up a frilly little number. It occurred to me that I should really keep a pair at work for just such an emergency.
By quarter after six, there was no one left but us. The lights in the other areas were all turned off for the evening. It was much dimmer in here than usual. Mood lighting. He was going to find a way to finally turn business into pleasure and all I had to do was bide my time until he came over, swept everything off my desk and took me in a passionate embrace.
* * * *
No such luck. By the time I got home, I was shaking my head. That guy! Seriously. Nothing. Nada. He’d got me to stay late to…work? Who did that? When dinner had arrived, I’d suggested that we eat together and he’d said he’d rather just keep on working and asked me if I wouldn’t rather eat at my desk and get home at a decent hour. Well, I’d got home later than usual, twenty bucks poorer because of my panty-splurge.
He really had some nerve. I would have loved to tell him off, tell him that no other guy would ever treat me that way. But I guessed that was just it. He was not like other guys.
I called Claudia. At least she’d understand.
“Men suck,” I huffed.
“Yeah,” she said. “They can be slobs. Pete’s laundry is spread all over again and I can’t stand it. He treats our place like a hotel.”
That was true. I wanted to tell her I thought she was settling, but I couldn’t do it. It was a bigger discussion and it’d have to wait. She provided more proof that men are hate-worthy and that shacking up with one just made him lazy and gross. I told her about Jerome’s infuriating behavior.
“Maybe he’s hiding something,” Claudia suggested.
“He is, right?” Her theory felt accurate to me. “But what?”
I ran my gay theory by her, but she didn’t think that was it. “Nobody hides that anymore. There’s no reason to.”
“You’re right, but you should see how he dresses. He’s definitely metrosexual. I mean the guy looks like he stepped right out of GQ.”
“Maybe so, but no need to stereotype, right? I mean, straight guys are capable of choosing their own clothes. Well, not Pete, but other guys. Guys who work in offices.”
“Well, if that’s not it, what could it be?”
“Maybe he’s married,” she said. “But that doesn’t really make sense. That’s not something people hide either.”
“There’s something, for sure. He keeps everyone at work at arm’s length.” I was really getting gossipy now. “Check this out. Normally, on the first of each month we get a cake at coffee time for all the birthday babies of that month.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know… Office culture is weird. Anyway, so there’s this enforced cake ritual and get this. He’s been there for over a year now and not once has it been his birthday.”
“Maybe he just doesn’t want to participate in the enforced cake ritual. Do you guys have to sing Happy Birthday?”
“That’s super weird.”
“Focus, Claudia. Why wouldn’t he want people to know?”
“Jehovah’s Witness?” she offered.
“Nah,” I said. “I’ve seen him drinking at office functions and he wished people Happy Hanukkah and Christmas last December.”
“Maybe he’s just private.”
“Yeah, but why?” I was desperate. There had to be some reason.
“Some people are.”
“I’m going to figure it out, mark my words.”
“You do that, Super Sleuth. I have to get going. I have to read a whole other boring academic article tonight just so I can understand a footnote from the one I just finished. This PhD is going to kill me, I swear.”
“You have to come out one of these weekends and blow off some steam. You must be going crazy.”
“I am, but I don’t have time.”
“You and me both. I really ought to be focused on my career right now instead of dreaming about shagging my boss. I can’t help myself.”
* * * *
Later that night, I even went to our work website just to look at his face. His bio impressed me so much, I couldn’t help but read it every time I clicked on his profile. He’d started a small business in his early twenties, got an impressive scholarship, graduated from Stanford business school, and entered the corporate world. Sitting in bed with my crush’s face on my iPad, I realized just how pathetic my obsession had become.
The TV was on and there was an infomercial for a seminar on visualization. I got sucked in. Everyone in the audience wanted all kinds of ridiculous stuff—big cars, fancy houses, great vacations. Sure, all that stuff would be great, but the only thing I really wanted—the only thing that mattered—was true love. Great friends, too. I already had those. Claudia and Kristen were like sisters to me. And our other girlfriends were cool, too. I’d already achieved the big goal of my twenties—a beautiful home that I owned. I didn’t need a car because I was right on the subway line and so was work. Besides, I didn’t want anything I had to take care of. I had got a plant. That was good enough for me. Clothes—check. Awesome lifestyle—check. The only thing missing was Jerome.
The host of the show was talking about the law of attraction and how you needed to see something in your mind’s eye before it could come true in reality. I propped the iPad up on the pillow next to mine and lay down beside it. Jerome’s face was locked on a professional smile at me as I gazed into his eyes. I felt like a stalker. This wasn’t working at all. What a scam.
Romance heroines have saved my sanity numerous times through break-ups and life changes. I find escaping into a romance both soothing and revitalizing—and even better when there are some steamy scenes to tantalize the imagination.
For most of my adult life, I’ve concentrated on carving out a serious career, but a number of love-hungry, sassy characters keep taking over my mind, insisting that I daydream, live vicariously through them and tell their stories. Watching these women emerge on the page gives me a different sort of satisfaction than I get from my day job. It is a joy to share them with readers.
I live in a tiny apartment in a crowded city and I like to think there is something romantic about this. I did manage to find my soul mate here.