Benath the Surface (Reluctance #1)M.A. Stacie
About the Author
Also by M.A. Stacie
Beneath the Surface
First Published by The Writer’s Coffee Shop, 2013
Copyright © M.A. Stacie, 2013
The right of M.A. Stacie to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her under the Copyright Amendment (Moral Rights) Act 2000.
This work is copyrighted. All rights are reserved. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced, copied, scanned, stored in a retrieval system, recorded or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual people living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
The Writer’s Coffee Shop
(Australia) PO Box 447 Cherrybrook NSW 2126
(USA) PO Box 2116 Waxahachie TX 75168
Paperback ISBN - 978-1-61213-185-6
E-book ISBN - 978-1-61213-186-3
A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the US Congress Library.
Cover images licensed by: © Depositphotos.com / Dmytro Konstantynov,
© Depositphotos.com / Daniel Srogal, © Depositphotos.com / nelka 7812
Cover design by: L.J. Anderson
About the Author
M.A. Stacie is never without a book or her e-reader. A voracious reader, with a love of sexy, yet angst ridden novels, she adores getting lost in new worlds. Her need to write did not grip her until after her second son was born, when her previous rambles became fully fledged stories.
She describes herself as one huge contradiction, and though not the most conventional of hobbies, she counts getting new tattoos as one of hers. Along with knitting, listening to loud music, and playing the Wii with her children. M.A. Stacie lives in the UK with her husband and three sons.
For Denise, Jan, and Molly,
The ladies who lived that David Beckham moment with me.
The moment that sparked it all.
My words wouldn’t be half as legible without the help of two amazing people, Maylin and Janet. Words can’t express exactly how much I appreciate every second you spend on my work. I love you both dearly.
My family always deserves a special acknowledgement because without their understanding and patience there would be no words for you all to read.
Special thanks to Lauren who helped whip Mr. Reese into shape.
Encouragement goes a long way when writing. I am blessed to have such amazing readers who keep my words flowing with their excitement. Thank you.
“Tell Marc tough shit. That’s how this company works, and if he doesn’t like that, he can clean out his desk!” Kyran Reese yelled into the phone.
His head throbbed, his temples pulsing violently. Kyran’s tolerance was low for stupidity, and it was being tested to the limit. Today had gone from somewhat fucked to fully fucked, yet it was just approaching lunchtime.
Slamming the phone down, he swiveled his chair to look out his office’s large window across the city. He had the most amazing view of Sea Pointe from the twenty-fifth floor. Sometimes staring at the glass and metal cityscape would be the only thing that could calm Kyran. Each day seemed to stress him out even more than the last. In fact, he didn’t think it would be long before he developed an ulcer like his father. An ulcer would be the best outcome, he thought. With Kyran’s luck, he would have a brain-popping aneurysm considering the incompetence he dealt with on a daily basis.
Wincing, he smoothed a hand across his shaved head, feeling the short hair on his palm. He needed a diversion, but did he have the time? He’d sworn he wouldn’t step foot in Metro for the next two weeks. Work was hellish, and holding meetings while you had a busted nose or a black eye would not impress clients and shareholders.
The problem was he’d grown to need the pain and pleasure of the fight. Whenever he fought in the makeshift ring at Metro, he burned off the stress of the day. His sole focus, for those violent, bone-crunching minutes, was his fists and winning the match.
Kyran glanced down at his right hand, smoothing his fingers across his knuckles. He’d messed them up on more occasions than he cared to recall. Ice packs and hydrogen peroxide were his friends whenever he got home from the club, along with a decent amount of Scotch.
He longed for the buzz—the sensation that beat within him whenever he saw the lights go out in his opponents’ eyes. The glint of excitement he always saw there would diminish, telling him it would take one good punch to end the match.
His intercom buzzed, startling him. “Mr. Reese?” Lucy, his assistant, spoke. “One of Taylor’s new assistants has arrived, but he is out of the office. I don’t know where he is, or how long he’ll be. I didn’t want her to wait, and sending her home seems rather silly. This is her first day, Mr. Reese. Would you mind talking to her?”
Composing himself, Kyran stood and adjusted his tie. He could see how tired he looked as he focused on his reflection in the glass, and he doubted he would make it through the two weeks without a visit to the club.
He was an addict. It just wasn’t of the chemical kind.
“I’ll see her,” he said with authority. “Although when Taylor does get his ass back here, tell him I want to speak to him. No excuses.”
“Yes, Mr. Reese. I’ll send her in now.”
He didn’t bother to sit back down. Instead, he walked around his large desk and across the room to the wet bar and poured himself a cup of coffee. The door clicked open and Kyran heard a timid breath exhale behind him.
At the sound of her voice, an odd tingling sensation started at the base of his spine. Already disliking the feeling, he remained silent as he turned and looked her over, no doubt making her feel rather uncomfortable. The dark-haired woman fidgeted awkwardly, reaching up to twist a lock of her hair around a finger. It was such a childish action; Kyran didn’t quite understand why he silently willed her to continue. She met his eyes briefly before scanning the room. It took her a moment to assess the space before she moved forward, holding out her hand to greet him. “Mr. Reese?”
Kyran nodded, lifting the coffee cup to his lips to smother the smile that threatened to appear. She was tiny, reminding him of a mouse caught in a lion’s den. After another quick perusal of her body, he decided he would enjoy playing with her, but circumstances dictated that he should keep his eyes on her face and off her body. He was attracted to her, but he was her boss. Ms. Porter was off limits.
“Your receptionist said I was to see you as the other Mr. Reese—the right
one—wasn’t available. I’m—”
“Dale Porter,” Kyran said.
“Oh, I didn’t know you knew my name.”
“I know everything, Ms. Porter,” he told her.
Kyran didn’t wait for her to acknowledge his statement before walking over and sitting down, gesturing for her to follow suit. She shot him a small scowl and adjusted her purse on her shoulder.
Judging by her actions, he’d confused her with his coldness. It was a reaction he was used to and found it always worked to his advantage. People showed their true selves when under pressure or when angry. He only had to work out which one applied to Ms. Porter.
She tottered forward, amusing Kyran with her inability to walk gracefully in heels. When she stumbled a little, he snorted, receiving a sharp glare in response. This woman was a feisty one and not daunted by his position.
“My brother will be back shortly,” Kyran said smoothly. He took a sip of his coffee. “I’m sure he will show you what is expected of you. For now, I will give you an idea of what the business does, how it works, and how you will fit in.”
“Sure.” She nodded before perching on the edge of the couch. “You must spend most of your day dealing with people like me if you give this talk to all new staff.”
Taken aback by her assertiveness, when he’d assumed the opposite, Kyran bristled but then smiled. It wasn’t often that he got someone wrong.
“My brother and I discuss this with all staff who are hired for the executive level. The office here is small in comparison to others, so there is no issue. However, I do thank you for your concern.”
“You’re welcome,” she said, smirking as she got more comfortable on the couch. She began to toy with her hair, twirling the brunette corkscrews around her finger before letting them bounce around her face. She met his eyes, and now that she was closer, Kyran could see they were almost the same green shade as his own. Ms. Porter’s were far more welcoming, though—all wide-eyed and emanating with honesty—whereas his were guarded. He let very few see beneath the surface.
“Nice place you have. I walk past this building a lot. You lucked out getting the top floor.”
“Not at all. The corporation owns the building, Ms. Porter. I own everything in it.”
Her reply was blunt but delivered with a keen smile. Her cocksure attitude was starting to get to him. It curled in his groin, tightening the flesh each time she shot him a quick-witted retort. The sensation wasn’t entirely welcome.
“Why do you doubt that?” Kyran took another slow sip from his cup, eying her over the rim of the fine china.
“You can’t possibly own everything within this building.”
She rolled her eyes, sighing in exasperation. “Because there are people in here. You cannot own people, Mr. Reese.”
With no other agenda but to see her reaction, he replied, “I beg to differ.”
She shook her head, pursing her lips and waving her hand. “No. No way.”
The flush of her cheeks was enthralling. One he would like to see more often, he decided. This perplexed him. So he continued. “I find money allows you to purchase whatever your heart desires. People included.”
“I don’t think my first day at work is really the time to tell me all about your sexual deviances.” She huffed.
Before Kyran could stop it, he laughed. The sound shocked him. It echoed around the office as if reminding him that the action had truly occurred.
“Touché, Ms. Porter. I think you’re going to be a great addition to the corporation, and maybe even give Taylor a bit of trouble.”
“My brother. The right Mr. Reese,” Kyran said in confirmation, using her earlier statement. “He could do with a little wake-up call.”
“Personally, I think you could use it more.”
Cocking a brow, Kyran asked, “Why, Ms. Porter?”
“You just seem very . . . focused. Rigid. The other Mr. Reese seemed more relaxed when I met him at my interview.” Her smile faltered a little as she answered him, showing Kyran she wasn’t as confident as she wanted him to believe.
Her response was what he’d expected. Taylor was the one people warmed up to. Usually they found Kyran too abrupt. Taylor’s attitude, however, had landed him in a whole heap of shit. Kyran didn’t want to end up with another possible lawsuit on his hands, so as intriguing as the woman was, he couldn’t break the rules. She appeared to be the exact level of feisty he enjoyed in his women. The kind who kept him on his toes and yet never took the situation for more than it was. At least that was what he saw from their short interaction. He had to keep telling himself to keep his hands off.
“You don’t know me. A wake-up call is not what I need.”
“You’re right,” she replied, her vibrancy fading right before his eyes. “The corporation needed an assistant. So here I am. Where’s my desk?”
The speed at which she changed demeanor caused Kyran to reassess his next move. She’d gone from playful to stoic in seconds.
He cleared his throat and placed the coffee cup on the glass table in front of them before standing. He needed to gain his composure and standing up helped that advantage.
It also allowed a perfect view down the front of Ms. Porter’s top, the swell of her breasts causing interesting reactions within his groin.
“I have no idea where your desk is. You are not my assistant, and truthfully, I doubt I could afford the distraction.”
Waving his hand in dismissal, he muttered, “Nothing. Ignore me.”
“It’s a little difficult to do that. You’re my boss.”
Kyran’s grin faded. “I am, aren’t I?”
An awkward silence followed. He was enjoying this interaction but worried about how far he could take it. Ms. Porter had reminded him of his place and that he should not be overstepping the mark. Taylor would also do that if he saw the way he was interacting with her. His brother would know exactly what was going on in his head and how much she interested him. Annoyed at his internal confusion, he stalked across the room to the windows. Kyran took a few deep breaths, calming the tingling on his palms and the tightness of his crotch. He shouldn’t have this response or feel this attraction. No woman had given him such a buzz within minutes of meeting.
Kyran didn’t like it. Without question, the need to feel the sting of Metro was stronger than ever.
“So, as I’m the boss—the CEO—I think it’s time to return to business,” he stated, his tone cold. “The Reese Corporation was started many years ago by our father, Jacob. We basically buy failing companies and make new ones out of them.”
“I know.” She interrupted him as he turned to face her. “You’re Edward Lewis.”
Racking his brain, Kyran tried to place who the hell was Edward Lewis. It could be the mail boy—he was fairly sure his name was Edward—but then why would she be comparing him to someone who delivered the mail from floor to floor? He was lost. The woman was driving him crazy with her silly talk and interruptions. With anyone else, Kyran would have called a halt to the meeting, or at least put them in their place, but Ms. Porter had him fumbling for a grip on the situation. He didn’t like it one bit.
“Okay, I’m confused. Who’s Edward Lewis? Does he work here?”
Ms. Porter tossed her head back and laughed. He watched her, transfixed by her long, creamy neck and the way each inhalation of breath made her breasts heave. They swelled against the taut blue fabric, the lacy bra underneath popping above the neckline.
Kyran’s mouth grew dry, his tongue danced against the back of his teeth as he longed for a taste of her flesh. He wanted to take the lace bra cup between his teeth and tug it hard until it tore . . .
“Hello? Are you all right?”
Ms. Porter interrupted his thoughts, dousing his dirty mind with cold water. She was certainly wearing more clothes in reality than she had been in his little daydream.r />
“I’m fine. What were we discussing?” he asked, disgusted for losing his train of thought again.
“Edward Lewis. I was explaining that he doesn’t work here. Not unless your employee is Richard Gere.”
Kyran stared at her, mouth agape. For the first time in forever, he had no idea what to say. This stunning female spoke in tongues. He couldn’t follow a single sentence, and it was getting rather frustrating. A small part of him was pleased Ms. Porter would be working for Taylor rather than him. He’d need to stock up on antacids and pain meds because she’d drive him insane.
Needing some space from her, Kyran stood and walked over to the large windows near his desk. He took a deep breath, stared out across the landscape and tried to regroup.
“Pretty Woman? You know, Julia Roberts? Richard Gere? The prostitute and the businessman.”
“Still no idea.”
Ms. Porter stood up and pushed her skirt down, hiding the view of her thighs. She wobbled on her heels walking across to his desk, and shocked him when she sat in his chair and began typing on his keyboard.
“What are you—”
“Here,” she said, pointing to the computer screen. “Pretty Woman. Richard Gere played the role of Edward Lewis. His job was just like yours. So you’re Edward Lewis.”
Understanding that she was referring to a movie, he exhaled, his impatience obvious. He couldn’t recall the last time he had watched a movie, or even sat in front of the television for a while.
Leaning over her, he went to switch the computer off but stalled. Her scent floated in the air, enveloping him in the sweetness of vanilla.
He wanted to lick her.
The Neanderthal within him raged. Taking a bite out of the fragrant skin of her neck would be divine. Sheer nectar, he knew it.
Inhaling, he closed his eyes. His heart began to pound, the tingling in his palms returning. Where seconds earlier his mouth was dry, it now began to water, desperate for a small taste of her.