Announcing my newest romance release: Rough Around the Edges: A Sweet Billionaire Romance (Billionaires of Brighton City – Book 2)
If I knew how rough around the edges my new boss would be, I wouldn’t have lied on my resume to get the job.
You’d think billionaires have better things to do than change the office light bulbs with a beer in hand, but Jackson Hughes is one of those roll-up-the-sleeves types. He’s insufferable to be around, although I can’t help but stare whenever he enters a room.
Since I told him I have three years of accounting experience, he makes me his new bookkeeper, which was his first mistake. But then I overhear him talking to a banker on the phone about what the company is worth, and that can only mean one thing. If he sells the company, my job is toast, and so is my only opportunity to spend time with him, which, as much as I hate to admit, I’m enjoying more and more. But there’s no way I’m falling for this guy.
If you enjoy sweet billionaire romance stories with alpha men, happily ever afters, no cliffhangers, no cheating, a pinch of heat, and a touch over-the-top, then you’ll love Rough Around the Edges.
You can find it here (free if you have Kindle Unlimited):
(and all other Amazon websites)
Here’s a sample portion of the story:
Rough Around the Edges
A Sweet Billionaire Romance
For the second time in the past ten minutes, I tried to sip an empty coffee cup. I needed to calm down, and all that caffeine wasn’t helping. My leg tapped so hard that it bumped against the underside of the steering wheel. It better not leave a bruise, I thought.
Considering my nerves, it was a good thing I’d already parked, although it had taken me a while to find the place. I should’ve checked out the map location last night, but I skipped it all in lieu of a good night’s sleep. Around seven hours was my normal, but having a full eight hours was probably a good idea for a first day on the job.
Of course, using a GPS app on my phone would’ve solved all my problems, but I tried not to use it. I was probably the only twenty-eight-year-old in the country to not use it, but sometimes things were better without technology. Working at the zoo for the past year had reminded me of that, but I knew I had to get used to it again at this job.
I checked my watch. Still another half-hour to go. God, why am I always so early? I was notoriously early for everything—usually the first one of my shift to arrive. My past employers had probably received dozens of hours of free labor because of it. I didn’t mind. It was more for me than for them. Right on time was five minutes late, as my dad often said.
Pulling out my phone, I opened up the recent texts and touched the icon next to the thread at the top. It was probably inconsiderate to call this early, but Faye had to be driving into work around now. It was possible she might pick up.
While it rang, a woman walking past the car glanced up at me and looked away, likely not wanting to look like she’d been staring. It already made me feel self-conscious sitting there in the parking lot like a weirdo stalker or something. It made me want to chase her down and swear none of my ex-boyfriends worked here.
“Hey. It’s me, Chloe.”
“Shouldn’t you be at your new job right now?”
“I’m sitting in the parking lot of it.”
“Get fired already?”
I could tell Faye had just arrived at the zoo entrance because she thanked the gate operator by name. I literally had caught her right as she walked in.
“So, what’s up?”
I shrugged, even though she couldn’t see it. “I’m super early and nervous and just wanted someone to talk to, so you’re the unlucky one.”
“Ha. Well, I’ll keep you company for another two minutes and thirty-five seconds before I clock in, give or take a few seconds. If my card is having trouble swiping again, you can add another few to it.”
“Thanks. I don’t know why I’m so nervous about this job. I’ve had tons of first days before.”
“Maybe because of your resume?”
“Yeah, well, that’ll just stay between you and me.” Of course I wasn’t about to admit to my new employer I’d lied on my resume.
“How many years of accounting experience did you say you have?” she asked.
“I’m shaking my head at you right now. I wish you could see it.”
I rubbed my eyebrows. “I know. It was a dumb idea, and I shouldn’t have done it, but to be honest, I don’t think I would’ve gotten the job otherwise. It’ll be fine. They’ll likely just put me on entry level stuff anyway. I can manage the basics.”
“Just don’t tell anyone it’s really only four months experience or you’ll be toast.”
“Six months, thank you very much. I learned a lot in those six months too. How are the birds doing?”
“The peafowl exhibit, you mean? Great. Breeding season came and went without a hitch and there’s even a few little ones now. I can’t wait to see when they’re a little bit older. I’ll fall in love with the exhibit all over again. Except some of the older males will get a little territorial when the younger males grow up.”
“Sounds like a handful.”
“It’ll be fine, mostly just the more aggressive birds of the bunch. You’re used to dealing with aggressive people here, anyway.”
“Just too many big personalities. That’s all.”
“I wish you didn’t leave,” Faye said. “I miss our lunch break chats.”
“I do too, but it’s probably for the best this way. Working at the zoo was great while it lasted, but it’s time to spread my wings a little.”
“Nice pun. You should come down and say hi to them sometime soon. I’m sure the animals miss you too.”
“They probably just loved me for the food.”
“There’s something to be said for that. I gave Gavin a handful of berries to feed some of the nearby peafowl, and you’d think he handfed them from birth. They couldn’t get enough of the guy.”
“Sounds like someone I know.” Laughing felt good. It helped me forget the situation for a moment.
“You’re not wrong there. Everyone says the magic wears off a bit after the honeymoon, but honestly, I haven’t felt that at all. Just last week, I took a day off from work just to hang out with him. We didn’t need a reason other than that.”
“Until your boss finds out the real reason you weren’t at work.”
“It was one of my vacation days, and I cleared it ahead of time. I’m not the one who fibs on the job.”
“Rub it in, why don’t you?”
“Oh, I will. When are we going out for margaritas and chips and salsa? We’re overdue.”
“Soon. Depending on how my first day goes, I might need it sooner than later.”
“That means double shots for you from that cute bartender.”
I rolled down the window a bit to let in some cool air. The car felt warm all of a sudden. “I haven’t thought about him for a while. You’re a taken woman—talking about another man like that.”
“I meant for you, silly! One of these days, I’ll set you up. Call me the matchmaker.”
“Okay, matchmaker, I’ve had my fill of men of late, so I think I’m good for now. Glad to hear things are doing well at work.”
“Never a dull moment, girl. Let me know about the margaritas. You know I’m always game.”
“Will do. I suppose I should let you get to work.”
“Yeah, I’m standing here in front of the card reader. Talk to you later.”
It took me an extra few seconds to put my phone back in my purse, as if turning off the backlight was admitting it was time to go in. I gritted my teeth and slung my purse over my shoulder. No use delaying the inevitable. Ten minutes early. That’s not bad at all. The timing actually worked out. Now if everything else today could go equally as smoothly.
The glass on the front doors glistened in the sunlight. They looked like they had been cleaned an hour ago. I watched as my reflection walked up to the door and touched my hand as I reached for the handle. The sound of it closing made me jump, so I paused for a moment to take a deep breath.
Squaring my shoulders, I took on the second door with more confidence than the first. No first day was going to get the better of me.
The inside of the office looked nice, nothing too out of the ordinary for cubicle life. It certainly wasn’t a New York highrise, but everything appeared reasonably updated with lots of outside windows. There were several offices lining the walls with work stations scattered throughout the room. The flow of it could use some improvement, but certainly every bit of the space was being utilized.
I walked up to the front desk before realizing there weren’t any papers on it—or any other indicator someone usually sat there, for that matter. I could see a handful of people at workstations not too far away, but I had no idea what the protocol was, which caused me to wait at the empty receptionist desk for a third of the ten minutes I’d come in early. Finally, a woman walked by and noticed me standing there.
“Have you been helped?” she asked.
“No, I haven’t. I’m here for my first day.”
“You are? Hmm. I haven’t heard about anyone new this week. Are you sure you have the right day?”
I blinked. “I’m pretty sure. The first Monday of the month was how I remembered it. Here, let me check.”
I dug around in my purse until I found my phone. The woman glanced around once or twice while I did so as if looking for backup. Maybe for the HR representative.
“Yes, the third,” I said. “Today. Monday.”
She sighed. “Okay then. Sorry for the confusion, but I’m pretty sure Jackson isn’t expecting you today. Or he forgot you were coming in.”
She glanced to the side office, the largest one I could see, anchored against the middle of the far wall on the side of the open room itself. “I wouldn’t say common.”
I waited for the word she’d use instead, but she motioned for me to follow her.
“Tell you what, I’ll put you in the conference room. He usually does orientations in there, so it wouldn’t be that far of a guess. I’ll let him know you’re here.”
“Thank you. I appreciate it.” An interesting start to my first day, but I was determined not to let it affect me. I stood a little straighter as I followed her. Today is the beginning of my tomorrow. Isn’t that the line from the self-help book I’m reading? Reading was a strong word. More like sitting on my nightstand for the past two months with the bookmark stuck on the fifth page.
“My name’s Savannah, by the way. What’s yours?”
“Chloe. Nice to meet you.”
We wove around the room and passed by a worker wearing one of those yellow vests carrying a rather heavy looking box of small rocks. Not exactly normal in the office experience I knew.
Savannah must have caught me staring, because she said, “He’s one of the warehouse workers. They come and go through here all the time. Something to get used to.”
“There’s a warehouse here? I had no idea looking from the outside.”
She nodded. “It’s all in the back. Sometimes I think Jackson likes the warehouse better than the office. He spends a lot of time out there.”
“Does he usually prefer we call him by his first name?”
She made a small sound, like a chuckle but not quite. “His first name is fine. You’ll understand when you meet him.”
“Okay.” I wasn’t quite sure what to say to that.
The conference room was pretty spacious with chairs lining either end of the long table. There weren’t any conference call phones sprouting out of the middle, so it must just be used for meetings. And orientations, apparently.
“I’ll be right back,” she said and disappeared around the corner.
While I waited, I explored the room around me. Just like the windows out front, I could tell someone took pride in this room. A fresh coat of paint lined the walls and even the baseboards were free of scuff marks, which looked a little strange next to the haphazard assembly of chairs around the conference table. They all matched, of course, but they were randomly pushed out at odd angles. It had always been my habit to push them all in. Heck, I’d probably do it to all these once the orientation finished.
I was tempted to pull out my phone and do something, anything while I waited, but I refrained by shoving my hands in my lap and keeping them there. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to entertain myself, but I felt unproductive doing nothing.
“I’m sorry, but I haven’t been able to find him yet,” Savannah said, popping her head back in. “In the meantime, I brought over your tax paperwork and all that. If you get started on this, then by the time I spot him, I’ll send him in here.”
It didn’t bother me any. It was all stuff I’d have to fill out anyway. I made myself comfortable in the chair and pressed the tip of my pen to the page. Halfway through the first form, a loud noise came from the other side of the wall. I glanced down and noticed I’d pressed too hard on the paper and made the ink bleed a little. I tried to blend the blemish into the next letter, but it still stood out. Nobody would notice something small like that, but it bothered me.
Two lines down, it happened again. It must be one of those hand drills or something, where it made a grinding sound when the screw had nowhere else to go—a handyman’s definition of overkill. I had no idea what construction project could be going on inside the office, but it was getting hard to concentrate.
I had the last form finished when Savannah came back in.
“I’m sorry about this, but I still can’t find him. He must be holed up somewhere on a project.”
“That’s all right,” I said. “Does he have an HR person who can do the orientation instead?”
She started to shake her head even before I finished. “No. Jackson has a thing about delegating. He likes to do a lot of things himself, for better or worse. He’s pretty hands on.”
Her chest rose and fell. “Tell you what. Why don’t I take you to your office, and that way you’ll at least have a home until Jackson comes back in. You can arrange your desk items how you want and get settled in.”
Better than sitting in here. “Sure. I can do that. Do you want me to leave these here?” I asked, pointing to the paperwork.
“I’ll go ahead and take these to Martha after showing you to your desk. She’s our in-house bookkeeper. She’ll process your tax papers and all that.”
Savannah made for the door, so I got up to follow her. There wasn’t time to arrange any of the chairs, but I could at least do my part and put mine back where it should be, as opposed to where I’d found it. She moved quicker than she looked.
When I turned the corner outside the door, I saw her down the hall reaching for a nearby desk phone. Within four seconds, she waved her hand at me.
“You can go ahead,” she said in a hushed voice. “I need to take this. Get settled in and I’ll check on you in a bit.”
“Which office?” I asked. I didn’t know why I also spoke in the same hushed tones. I wasn’t the one on the phone.
“Head down the hall that way. Third door on the right once you round the corner.” Then she turned her head and said something else into the phone I couldn’t quite make out. Something about a crane operator.
I made my way down the hall, passing by a few open doors along the way. Each person I passed was also on the phone in various stages of conversation. One sounded like a mild disagreement, and the other stared at an inspirational poster on the wall as if that held all the answers.
I approached what I figured was my office. There weren’t any signs next to the door to know the difference, but gauging by the view I could see just inside the half-closed door, it looked available. Nothing hung on the walls—no inspirational posters for me, apparently.
Easing the door open, the face of the desk looked just as desolate. There were a few bits and pieces, a pen cup here and a stapler there. Nothing to write home about. I didn’t want to be that person to bring in a box of stuff on my first day, but I planned on personalizing at least a little bit. No major decorations, but I wanted to make it my own, especially since I hadn’t had a desk to call my own in a while. There weren’t exactly a lot of them at the zoo.
Come to think of it, a lot of people had work stations at this office, versus an actual office like I had. I wondered why that was. Maybe because they’re sales people who don’t need a full desk? I decided I wouldn’t feel guilty about it. It wasn’t up to me who sat where, and I didn’t plan on being the person to rock the boat on my first day.
Just as I was about to push the door open all the way, a voice came from the other side of it. “This might get a little loud.”
I couldn’t hear what he said next, if he said anything at all, because the noise of his drill filled the space completely. Now that I could see around the door, I saw his…setup. On the file cabinet in the corner sat a pile of screws, some twist ties, a plastic tube, and a few other small items. He stood on a step stool to reach up through the ceiling tiles, although with the man’s height, he didn’t need much help in that department.
“Did I come at a bad time?” I asked. I didn’t mean it to be sarcastic. I just had no idea if he was supposed to be in there, or even if I was.
He waved a hand in my direction but didn’t take his eyes off whatever he drilled up there. “You’re fine.”
I scrunched my nose. I wasn’t exactly used to being…waved off. “Okay.”
He didn’t say anything else, so I started again, “I don’t know if—”
His drill started up again. Louder this time, if such a thing were possible. I thought he’d look over at me and ask what I was about to say, as clearly he had to hear me talking, but he didn’t. Just continued on his merry drilling way.
I cleared my throat. “I don’t know if I have the right office or not. I’m new here. Today’s my first day.”
“Is that right?” he said in a way that screamed he didn’t care. Or maybe because what he focused on was simply more interesting.
“Do you know if I’m in the right office? I guess I should ask before assuming.”
Glancing at his clothes, I wasn’t sure if he was the best person to ask. He wore a button-up flannel shirt with a classic pattern. The wrinkles weren’t a surprise if he worked with his hands while wearing it. He looked right at home doing maintenance or construction work, handy for him with the company being in that industry. The part I couldn’t figure out was his employment status. Was he a warehouse employee or an outside contractor? If the former, I wanted to make nice with him. The last thing I wanted was to piss off a co-worker, no matter how low on the totem pole.
“Someone new is supposed to be in here, so unless there’s two of you, that’s you.”
(end of sample)
Read the conclusion here (free if you have Kindle Unlimited):
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