Home > Bossed

Bossed
Author: Sloane Howell

Chapter 1


Jenny Jackson


Who is Ethan Mason?

I strode down the busy sidewalk like a lost child at the mall, conspicuous amidst a crowd of pedestrians who seemed to move with purpose, all knowing exactly where they were headed. Suits blew past me in every direction, all oblivious to my presence as I craned my head up, looking for any glimpse of a street sign.

Where the hell am I?

Used to living half an hour—with no traffic—outside of the large Texas city, I didn’t venture downtown much, and it certainly showed by the agitated looks of everyone who passed me. It had all happened so fast. I’d applied for a staff accounting position—one of many around town—but this was at a sports agency, Mason and Associates. Usually, I would’ve researched the firm and done some form of due diligence, but they called me back the same day and scheduled an interview for the next morning. Today.

I rounded a corner and a park came into view across the street. In front of the park sat a mobile coffee cart, just off the main thoroughfare at the edge of the sidewalk. Thank God. The strong aroma from the roasted beans cut through the bevy of exhaust fumes and blaring horns sounding all around me.

A cab approached, seemingly out of nowhere, and slammed on its brakes as I attempted to cross the street. I skidded on the heels I hadn’t worn in over a year, teetering for balance as my hands shot up in defense. “Sorry.”

I cringed at the string of expletives hurled by the cabbie as I gathered my wits and continued toward the heavenly scent coming from the tree-lined sidewalk just half a block down. After I crossed the street I checked my bag and confirmed my resume was still safely inside my portfolio along with two pens and enough paper to transcribe the entire interview if needed.

Thinking about my resume sent me into a dark thunderstorm of self-doubt. Three years of bookkeeping for small businesses was hardly impressive, and last I had checked, I couldn’t list “almost a CPA if my father hadn’t become sick” as a credential.

I cleared the thought from my mind and attempted to focus. The coffee cart was calling my name and I started up the sidewalk. Large, bright-pink azalea bushes bloomed throughout and a few children squealed while their father chased after them. I halted in my tracks and smiled, remembering days like that with my dad, which now seemed a distant memory.

When I turned back to the cart, a suit and tie slammed into me, knocking my bag to the ground. I stumbled around in a momentary daze, trying to process what had just occurred.

“Oh my God. I’m so sorry. Please excuse me.” I crouched down and quickly gathered all the papers that had spilled out of my bag and shoved them back in. Finally, I turned my head to meet a perfectly creased pair of black slacks, then lifted my gaze up to the guy’s face. He had to be mid-to-late twenties. He glared down at me with a pair of warm brown eyes, holding his phone to his ear. His hair was dark and combed back like the models who graced the covers of GQ or Style. His lips curled into a devilish smile as my face flushed with heat at the sight of such a handsome man. It was like seeing a lion on the Discovery Channel, only live and in the flesh. Predatory men like him weren’t supposed to actually exist in everyday life.

His brows pinched together and he scoffed, “You’re excused.”

I was at fault. I knew this. Standing in the middle of a busy sidewalk and staring out into the park was just asking for trouble. But something about his cocky attitude and the way he spoke to me crept under my skin in the worst possible way. Pulling myself to my feet, I propped my hands on my hips, and glared at the back of his jacket as he started to walk away. “Excuse me?”

He froze in his tracks as I eyed him from head to toe. His suit hugged him perfectly, as if it were specifically tailored to every dimension of what I imagined was the body of a Greek god. But being attractive wasn’t an excuse for being a dick, no matter how fast my heart sped up when he turned around, and his gorgeous eyes found mine again.

“Hang on a moment,” he said to whoever was on the other end of the phone.

He took a few steps that seemed to last an eternity as he neared me. “Sorry. I thought I’d said you were excused already.” He paused for a quick moment, then his eyes widened. “Oh my. You’re deaf.”

He held out his hands and flawlessly signed, You’re excused. I knew because I’d minored in ASL in college.

Before thinking, I signed back, You’re a fucking prick, coupled with a smile that matched my sentiment.

He stared at me like I was an alien for another brief moment, before raking his gaze up and down my body. I clenched my fists at the shiver it sent crawling up my spine, and the heat it sent between my thighs.

“Well, aren’t you a clever one? Never would’ve guessed you had an attitude, judging by that outfit.” He smirked.

I folded my arms across my chest and stared lasers into his eyes. The same eyes that sent nerves skittering through my body. “Well, aren’t you—”

His hand shot out and his index finger was against my lips. “Shh.” He slid his finger down my mouth slowly before pulling it away and pointing to his phone. “Important phone call.”

He stared out at the park as my chest rose and fell in huge waves. My face heated to an alarming degree.

“Yeah, well, don’t let them fuck up my sandwich this time. I want the condiments on the side. They get the bread all soggy.” He cupped his hand over the phone and whispered, “So sorry. This will only be a second. Then we can get back to”—he wagged his index finger back and forth between the two of us—“this little thing we have going on here.”

I should bite his damn finger off. Or lick it. What the hell, Jenny?

“Yeah, see that it’s right before you bring it back to the office. Bye.” He tapped the screen on his phone and shoved it into his jacket pocket, then grinned at me. “Are we finished here?”

“I bet you hear that a lot from the ladies.” I tapped my foot on the ground. He picked the wrong woman to be an asshole to. I didn’t care how expensive his Armani whatever suit cost, being a jerk wasn’t acceptable. Who did he think he was?

“It’s usually more like, ‘I want you to finish here.’ ” He pointed at my chest and smiled a toothy grin.

I remained unmoved by his misogynistic sarcasm. His smile widened.

“No?” He drew out the syllable. “Here?” He canted his head sideways and pointed at my mouth, then chuckled. “What’s wrong? You can dish it out but can’t take it?”

I sighed and gave him an obviously fake laugh. “Oh, I can take it. I just prefer an entree. Not an appetizer.” I shot a glance to his crotch.

He leaned down next to me, his breath warm in my ear. “I can assure you, there’s plenty to eat down there.” He rose back up and examined me once more, as people made their way around us. “And it looks like you’ve been starving yourself for a while. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have important things to do.”

“Oh, I’m sure you do. There’s a special on mani-pedis around the corner. Don’t forget your Us Weekly.”

Fucker.

“You can bet I won’t. I love the style columns. You should check them out.” His voice carried to my ears from over his shoulder. He didn’t turn around again.

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