Emmett & Leah
“Marie Force brings on the heat, with heart and humor coming along for the ride. ” —5 star review from Isha on Goodreads
She drives him crazy… In more ways than one.
Every time Leah Holt encounters Quantum Production’s chief counsel, Emmett Burke, the only thing she can think of is how much she wants to lick him. Everywhere. She’s never had that kind of reaction to a man, and the fact that he’s a much-older colleague makes her out-of-control attraction to him far more complicated than it should be. Every day, she brings a new legal question to Emmett, hoping to catch his attention and make him see her as a grown woman who wants him desperately. She walks a fine line in trying to remain professional as the assistant to superstar Marlowe Sloane while lusting after Marlowe’s sexy attorney.
To Emmett, Leah is a fly buzzing around his head who can’t be swatted away. She’s always there, looking at him, asking him legal questions that have nothing to do with his specialty in entertainment law and generally driving him mad with her overt sexiness and sassy mouth. He wants to toss her over his desk and run the sass right out of her, which is hardly the way a professional who loves his job should behave in the office—especially with a young, fresh, sexy colleague. As the author of the company’s policy on inter-office dating, he’s painfully aware of all the reasons he should stay far, far away from her and the tantalizing temptation she represents.
Then Leah gets her chance to step up for Emmett, to help him through an unfortunate “accident” and to show him she’s much more than just a smart mouth and a sexy body. When she realizes she has genuine feelings for him—and that those feelings are returned—she wonders if he will take a chance on her or continue to hold her at arm’s length. Slowly but surely, she chips away at his resistance, and he begins to crave more of her. But Emmett knows if he’s going to let her in, he has to let her all the way in. What will she think when he introduces her to his BDSM lifestyle? Will she still want him the way she does now or will she run away in horror? And what will he do if she runs away?
When Leah confronts a dangerous threat from her past, Emmett is forced to acknowledge that his “annoying little fly” has worked her way firmly into his heart—and his bed.
Also, join the entire Quantum team at the company’s vineyard in Napa for Hayden and Addie’s wedding!
(Quantum Series, Book 7)
By Marie Force
I want to lick him. I want to strip him naked and lick every hill and valley of his muscular body. I want to know if all his muscles are as big as the ones on his arms. I want to ride him like a cowgirl. And then I want to ride him like a reverse cowgirl.
My obsession with Emmett Burke began on my first day at Quantum Productions, where I work as assistant to megastar Marlowe Sloane, a Quantum partner and overall amazing, badass woman. On day one, Emmett was charged with reviewing the company’s nondisclosure agreement with me. Even with Flynn Godfrey’s assistant, Addie, sitting with us, I didn’t hear a word Emmett said about the NDA because I was so fixated on his obscenely sexy mouth. Right there in the Quantum office, I had visions of all the places I’d like to feel that mouth.
Then he mentioned how I could be sued for discussing Quantum business or the partners outside of work, and that got my attention off his mouth, for a second or two, long enough to sign the NDA. I would never blow the amazing opportunity my friend Natalie secured for me after she fell in love with Flynn the superstar and ran away to Hollywood to marry him. But I sure would love the opportunity to blow Flynn’s attorney.
At her wedding, Natalie hooked me up with Marlowe, who hired me on the spot and bought out my contract with the charter school I’d worked for in New York—unhappily, I might add. Teaching wasn’t for me. Being the assistant to one of the top movie stars in the world? Hell to the yes, that’s for me. Marlowe paid for my move to LA, and now that I’m here, doing a job I truly love, I’m the envy of everyone I know.
Telling tales out of school—no pun intended—is not going to happen. I’d never do anything to screw up this sweet deal and the amazing opportunity I’ve been given to have a career I couldn’t have dreamed up for myself.
But me and Emmett Burke? That is so going to happen. If I can just figure out a way to break through his uptight, always-professional demeanor to find the hot-blooded man under the three-thousand-dollar suits that have to be handmade for him because no off-the-rack suit would fit those biceps.
In the meantime, I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about licking him and trying to come up with reasons to talk to him. I wish I had the balls to come right out and tell him I want to suck his dick until he explodes down my throat, but something tells me that wouldn’t be the best career move I could make.
While Emmett isn’t one of the Quantum principals—and let me tell you, the word principal in this business is a whole lot different than it was in the school business—he is best friends and chief legal counsel to Flynn, Hayden, Marlowe, Jasper and Kristian, otherwise known as the bosses. That means I need to tread lightly and keep my drooling and licking to a minimum.
But God help that man if I ever get him alone in a bedroom—or any room that isn’t an office in the building where we both work. I have to laugh at how ridiculous this obsession has become, because it’s truly out of character for me. Before now, before Emmett, my interest in men has been more along the lines of wham-bam-thank-you-sir. I’ve never actually given a shit about any of them. But this one… This one is different, and I knew it right away. Every time I’ve been with him since that first day, and I’m “with him” just about every day, between work and play—these people love to party—I only want him more than I did the day before. It’s insanity. I willingly admit that, but I have no desire to make it stop. No, my desire is entirely focused on making it start.
Sometimes, when I’m home alone at night with my trusty rabbit, I allow my wildest fantasies to take flight. I picture myself with Emmett in every conceivable position, as well as a few that haven’t been invented yet. I’ve begun to anticipate rabbit time a little too eagerly, which is worrisome. I’ve never been the kind of girl to run from a challenge, but I suspect Emmett thinks I’m too young and immature for him.
There’s really no one I can talk to about my “dilemma,” since my closest friends here also work for Quantum or are married or engaged to the partners. Of course, they’re the ones whose opinions I most want because they know him better than I ever will at this frustrating rate.
I’m going to have three whole days with him when we head up to Napa at the end of this coming week for Hayden and Addie’s wedding. I’ve been counting the days with plans to implement Operation Nail Emmett Burke while we’re there. I figure I only need to get Marlowe and Sebastian out of the way, because other than Emmett and me, they’re the only ones who aren’t in relationships. With lovebirds circling all around us, I expect the four of us to end up on our own quite a bit and will fully exploit any opportunities that present themselves without humiliating myself in front of Marlowe.
Fine line that’ll be…
I’ve made up my mind that the weekend in Napa is go time. Enough fantasizing about what I’d do if I had a night with him. It’s time to make those fantasies a reality. The thought of being naked and horizontal with him makes me wish I’d thought to bring my rabbit to work.
I’m supposed to be planning Marlowe’s trip to Paris the week after Napa, but so far, I’ve only managed to accomplish making a list of things that have to be done. My obsession with Emmett is interfering with my dream job, and I can’t let that happen. It’s time to buckle down and plow through my to-do list so I can present Marlowe with a full itinerary when she returns from lunch with her agent.
I’m working on booking first-class plane tickets when the extension on my desk rings with a call from Addie’s number. I take the call on speaker. “What’s up, buttercup?” I adore Addie and aim to be just like her when I grow up into a world-class Hollywood assistant. She’s endlessly generous with advice and counsel as I continue to get comfortable with my new job, and she’s madly in love with Hayden Roth, the sexy, surly Academy Award-winning director who is the heart and soul of Quantum.
“Can you come to the conference room for a quick meeting?”
“Yep. What do I need to bring?”
“Your laptop. Five minutes?”
“I’ll be there.” I’d do anything Addie asked of me. She’s been instrumental in helping me to make the transition from fourth grade teacher in New York to assistant to a movie star in Hollywood. Sometimes I still can’t believe I actually made that transition, but all I have to do is look out the window at the palm trees that line the Quantum parking lot to realize I’m not in the Big Apple anymore, Toto.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved New York. I hated being a teacher, though. I have mad, crazy respect for people who can spend their days in rooms full of kids. I am not one of those people. I thought I was until I actually had to do it every day, and realizing I had made a grave error in my life plan was jarring, to say the least. I worked with some truly amazing teachers, and their passion for the job helped me to see that I lacked what it took to give the kids the dedication they deserved.
I’d already decided I was leaving the job at the end of the school year when Natalie came up with the brilliant idea for Marlowe to hire me. Now that I’ve made the move, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for the people here at Quantum, which is one reason I try to keep my massive crush on Emmett under control at work. I don’t want to cause any trouble or embarrassment for Natalie, who went out on a limb to get me this amazing job, or Marlowe, who took a chance on a total noob for an assistant.
I gather up my laptop, a notebook and my phone and head into the conference room for the meeting. Who do you think is the only other person in the hallway? Yep, you guessed it. The object of my obsession, and oh my, he looks particularly lickable today in a navy pinstripe suit with an ice-blue tie and a white dress shirt that shows off a deep year-round tan that comes from surfing.
How do I know that? What don’t I know about him? I’m obsessed, remember? Right now, I require all my wits to conduct an actual conversation with the man of my dreams.
“Emmett.” Excellent opening salvo. I love the way his name sounds as it rolls off my tongue. Did someone say tongue? No licking at work, Leah.
Sigh. He said my name. “How are you today?”
“Very, very good.” Does he notice the suggestive way I say that or how my new two-hundred-dollar bra from La Perla makes my small boobs look a little more spectacular than they actually are? Never let it be said that I don’t know how to properly invest my much larger LA salary.
“No legal dilemmas today?” he asks, his lips forming an expression that might be amusement. Dare I hope?
“Not yet, but you’ll be the first to know if that should change.”
“Oh goody,” he says, his sarcasm making him even more attractive to me.
I absolutely adore sarcastic people. I wrote the book on sarcasm, and a sarcastic sense of humor is right at the top of my list of attractive qualities. With Emmett, sarcasm is number five on my list after sexy lips, sexy ass, sexy biceps and sexy, cut abs. You can see how sarcasm might take a distant fifth place to those things.
Ask him out after work.
I’m not sure where that thought comes from, but the words are falling from my mouth before I can decide if I should say them. “Do you want to get a drink after work? I’m buying to thank you for the legal advice.”
“Oh, um, I can’t, but thanks anyway.” He moves past without so much as brushing against me. I mourn the missed opportunity for body contact. “Got to get back to it. Talk to you later.”
“Bye.” Okay, so that didn’t go as well as it could have, but I didn’t give him much advance notice. And he said he couldn’t, not that he didn’t want to. I take this as a positive sign and continue on my way to the conference room where Addie is waiting for me along with Ellie Godfrey’s assistant, Dax, Kristian’s assistant, Lori, and Aileen, our receptionist-slash-administrative assistant who also happens to be engaged to Kristian.
I take a seat across from Aileen, who offers a warm, welcoming smile. She’s the sweetest person, always happy and willing to lend a hand where needed. We all love her, but no one more so than Kristian, who is positively gone over her—and her kids. The love circulating in the air around here has given me hope that it might happen for me someday. Hopefully, long after I get to take a spin or two around the bedroom of a hot-as-fuck lawyer who doesn’t realize yet that I’m exactly what he needs to lighten up a bit.
“Thanks for coming in, you guys,” Addie says.
I immediately notice that the always-unflappable Addie seems seriously flapped.
“What’s wrong?” Dax asks.
“I’m freaking out,” Addie confesses. “I told Hayden I didn’t want a wedding planner overseeing our big day, and I’ve seen to everything myself, but I keep waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat and riddled with anxiety that I’ve missed something critical, like food or booze or something. I was hoping you guys could go over everything and double-check me.”
The most organized human being on the planet—hell, in the universe—wants my help? I’m in.
She hands out packets that contain detailed plans for the wedding that will take place at the Napa Valley winery owned by the Quantum partners. Pushing aside all thoughts of Emmett and licking, I focus exclusively on the information on the page, reading every word as the others do the same.
While we read, Addie paces.
Food, check. Booze, check. Flowers, check. Tent, check. Arbor built from grapevines for the ceremony, check. Tables and chairs and linens and centerpieces, check, check, check and check. Lodging for the entire Quantum group, check, including room assignments that I don’t look at too closely, but I will later. You can bet on that.
“Music,” I say, breaking the long silence. “Where’s the music?”
Addie stops pacing to stare at me. “It’s in there.”
She comes to me, leans over my shoulder and sifts through the papers twice before letting out a shriek. “I forgot the fucking music?”
My first impulse is to try to calm her, but she’s already around the bend from freaked out and is heading toward nuclear meltdown. The others realize it, too, and immediately spring into action.
“Who do we know?” Lori asks.
“Um, everyone?” Aileen says, her tone calm and controlled, which is what we need. “Who do you want, Addie? We are rather well-connected around here.”
Addie is like a deer in high beams. “I, um, I don’t even know who to ask.”
“Let us take care of it,” I say, as the others nod in agreement. “Tell us what kind of music you want, we’ll figure it out for you and get someone great.”
“It’s next weekend.”
“It’s Hayden Roth,” I remind her, as if she needs a reminder of who she’s marrying or that he’s the most celebrated director of his generation. I’m counting on the fact that just about anyone would kill to play at his wedding.
“Um, I’m almost afraid to ask,” Aileen says, “but you do have a dress, right?”
“Yes, Tenley has taken care of that,” she says, referring to her maid of honor, a top stylist to the stars.
“Oh phew,” Aileen says, smiling. “Hayden already owns a tux and so do his groomsmen, so you’re good there. What about gifts for the wedding party?”
Addie’s eyes bug again, and I realize it’s going to be a long day.
She’s driving me crazy. Does she think I don’t notice her staring at me or how she has a different legal question every day, none of which have anything to do with her job as Marlowe’s assistant? Two days ago, she wanted lease advice for a “friend” in New York with a landlord from hell. I’m an entertainment and corporate lawyer. What the hell do I know about leases in New York? Of course, she knows what my specialty is, but that doesn’t stop her from finding a reason to ask me some stupid daily legal question.
It doesn’t help that I want to toss her across my desk and fuck the sass right out of her. Maybe if I do that, she’ll leave me alone.
But that can’t and won’t happen for many reasons, not the least of which is the ten-year age difference between us. We celebrated her twenty-fourth birthday with a cake in the office last week, and I swear she looked right at me as she licked frosting off her finger, completely oblivious to the fact that we were in the fucking office surrounded by our fucking coworkers, including the partners who fucking employ me to keep them out of the kind of trouble I want to get into with her.
She’s twenty-four. I keep telling myself that puts her firmly off limits. She’s young, naïve, inexperienced, vanilla and thoroughly out of her league with the likes of me.
Her best salvo yet came yesterday when she brought in the company handbook and asked for a clarification on the fraternization policy. Does she think I can’t see right through her game? She came around my desk and leaned over me to point out the area that had her confused: Employees must seek the written approval of their supervisor before embarking on a romantic relationship with a fellow employee, and no employee shall date or otherwise fraternize with an employee under their direct supervision.
“Does that mean I need Marlowe’s approval before I date someone from the office?”
“Yes,” I’d said through gritted teeth, trying to ignore the press of her breast into my shoulder. “That’s what it means. And your potential date needs to do the same. Now can I get back to work?” Who the hell is she thinking about dating anyway? And why the fuck do I care? Whoever it is, I pity the fool. She’d be a handful for the most patient of men.
“Is there a form or something we have to fill out before we embark on our relationship?”
“An email will suffice,” I told her, my patience nonexistent where she’s concerned. I had fourteen million things to see to on behalf of the five people who pay me a king’s ransom to oversee their legal matters, and all I wanted to do was strip Marlowe’s assistant naked and have my wicked way with her right there on my desk.
That’s not how I roll. I’m a consummate professional. I value my job and friendships with my employers, both of which are the most important things in my life.
In this era of enhanced scrutiny on workplace behavior, I have no time or tolerance for a twenty-four-year-old troublemaker who wants to walk on the wild side. She can find someone else to go wild with.
Except… I no sooner have that thought than I’m filled with unreasonable rage at the idea of any other man’s hands on her sweet, lithe body. When I first met her, I wasn’t immediately attracted. No, that special treat came later, when I saw her in a bikini at Flynn’s house and realized she was hiding a smoking body under conservative work clothes that don’t begin to do her justice. Since then, I’ve made an effort to keep my mind—and my eyes—from wandering in directions they shouldn’t go.
But when she was leaning over me, pressing a small but plump breast to my shoulder as she pointed out “inconsistencies” in the policy I drafted myself, it was damned hard to ignore her.
She’s baiting me intentionally. I get it. She’s set her sights on me because I’m one of two guys in our group who’re still single after the love bug set off an epidemic of happily ever afters among our friends. Sebastian would squash her like a proverbial bug, so she probably sees me as the “safer” alternative to big, dark, broody Sebastian.
Little does she know that I have a wild side of my own, and if I ever let it loose on her, she’d run screaming for her young life. Part of me would enjoy that. A lot. But it’s not going to happen.
Yesterday, it was the fraternization policy. Today, it was an invite for after-work drinks. What will tomorrow bring? As much as I wish she’d go away and leave me alone, I find myself wondering what she’s got planned for me next.
Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
~ Calvin Coolidge