Announcing my newest release: Cover Up: A Sweet Romance (Manhattan Lights Series – Book 3)
Her career and love life are set…as long as nobody finds out her secret.
After years of hard work, Nicole Robbins finally receives a promotion. The only thing that could screw it up is anyone at the wholesome company finding out that she wrecked a car right after accepting.
Branson, a handsome ex-surfer who trades stocks for a living, moves across the hall. He’s a walking contradiction with a winning smile, and she can’t help but accept his dinner invitations, one after another.
But every time Branson gets close to finding out the story behind her bruises, she comes up with an excuse, and the questions, both from him and people at work, are growing. If she can’t keep her secret hidden, she could lose her job and her budding relationship.
If you enjoy sweet romance stories with happily ever afters, no cliffhangers, and a big city setting, then you’ll love this third installment in Laura Westbrook’s heartwarming series.
You can find it here (free if you have Kindle Unlimited)
$0.99 for a limited time only!
(and all other Amazon websites)
Here’s a sample of the story:
Cover Up: A Sweet Romance
Nicole had seen it happen time and time again. Her boss, Gary Donovan, was renowned for asking employees in and sending them out in tears, or worse. Employees who didn’t pull their weight got fired. And now she’d been summoned.
She took the elevator to the sixth floor, which was only three floors above her own. She never got nervous, but after working with the company for six years, she had some skin in the game. It wasn’t like her position insulated her much. She wasn’t that high up on the food chain. But she’d kept her head down. She’d gotten loads of monthly contracts with good clients. She couldn’t think of a reason to worry, so she let her breathing settle down as the elevator door opened.
It sounded a chime signaling she’d arrived at her fated floor, and the noise half-annoyed her. Still, she made her way to Leila, Gary’s receptionist, an older woman who always seemed to have a sarcastic smile—as though she knew all the behind-the-scenes news, especially the bad news.
“Hello Nicole. Please take a seat. Mr. Donovan will be with you shortly.”
Nicole decided to focus on the painting on the far wall. It showed a lake where two swans were neck-over-neck, doting over one another. She glanced at Leila, who had been eyeing her. The woman quickly lowered her head, pretending to keep her eyes on the appointment book in front of her. For a moment, Nicole wished she’d rethought her A-line skirt and white silk blouse. She’d splashed coffee on it, and the stain still remained just above her waistline.
Of all the days to wear white and get bumped by Harry, the mail delivery guy. It seemed like the universe wanted to play tricks on her that day. She focused on the lake picture again. The swans were happy, and she made a decision that she should be too.
“Mr. Donovan will see you now,” Leila said. She pushed her thick-rimmed glasses up the long stretch of her nose and smiled, but it felt shallow.
Nicole creeped up to the large paneled door. She decided not to make a fuss about her unexpected appointment with her boss. She could hold her breath all she liked, but it wouldn’t help anything.
She knocked on the door and crossed her fingers. It was something her mother had taught her as a girl. She felt better. Then she heard Gary’s voice through the door.
She pushed on the silver handle and took the first step in. Her mind began categorizing the room as it ran on autopilot. She saw his trophies in the glass cabinet, the pictures of famous basketball players, his personal coffee corner, and the large, white walls which needed more color.
“Please take a seat,” he said. He showed no emotion in his voice. He never really had, not even when he’d first been introduced to her and the rest of the staff.
He walked to the coffee machine and made himself a cup. She waited patiently and tried not to let her nerves run away from her.
“Would you like one?” he asked.
“No, thank you. I’m fine,” she said, not sure if she should add anything to that.
The brew took what seemed like a lifetime to make its way into the golden cup. Really, only the outer edges were a gold color, and there was no way to tell if it was actually gold plated or not.
“I’ve had so many appointments today. I appreciate you being patient. Some days the phone rings non-stop, and I need some caffeine.”
She felt herself relax as he spoke like a normal person. She’d never had much to do with him in the entire time she’d worked there. She’d been hired by someone else, who now worked out of the Detroit office. She’d only seen Gary at staff get-togethers, and she’d never taken much notice of him. She was always focused on her work.
“Right. So you’re the star of the day, apparently,” he said. He took a large slurp. “Chocolate Pennies just signed with us. And Marny Davis couldn’t sing your praises enough.”
She tried not to let her surprise show. She wasn’t going to be fired after all. Even better, it seemed she’d landed the dream account. One from which she’d get a tidy commission. She’d been wooing them for about six months, so she’d earned every penny.
“That’s fantastic news,” she said, realizing she was expected to say something.
“It is. But that’s only part of why I asked you up here. I’d like to promote you.”
She felt the lump in her throat turn into a gasp. “Really?”
“You’ll be up here on the sixth floor with us. You’ll have your own personal assistant and be in charge of a team of eight.” He paused to take another sip of coffee. “You’ll certainly earn more than you’re making now. Plus a bonus commission on top of your normal income, depending on how well your team does. It’ll go in tiers.”
Her jaw nearly dropped to the floor. She already made the most she’d ever have, so this was icing on the cake. And on top of that, it sounded like her dream job. She loved advertising, and she knew she could run a team.
She sat there, stunned. It had been her dream to become an executive. She figured it would have to take until her late thirties, if not later. This was completely unexpected. “Thank you so much.”
An uncharacteristic smile crossed his face. “Don’t thank me. You earned it. Now, we’d both better get back to work. I have a meeting with my boss in about ten minutes, so Leila will sort you out. She already knows about it, and your office is being prepared as we speak.”
There were some details to hash out, but she made to leave, and she nearly tripped on the lush carpet as she exited the office. Luckily, no one saw. She straightened herself up and made her way to Leila, who gave her another semi-smile while handing her a manila folder.
“You’ll be expected to be here next week at eight-thirty a.m. The rest of the information has been added to your file. Nancy Jenkins will be your secretary and assistant. She knows more than most, and she’ll be your right-hand woman.”
Now that Nicole would be working around Leila more, she decided to give her another chance, mentally speaking.
“Thank you. I’m excited to be moving up here.”
“You should be. But don’t let the promotion go to your head. You’ll need to stay dedicated. Gary hates it if employees are late, and he doesn’t like liars.” As almost an afterthought, she added, “I’m just giving you a head’s up,” as though to explain that she didn’t personally think Nicole would cause either problem. “Oh, and your private life. I know down on your old floor, everyone loves gossip, but among our executives, we expect more discreet behavior. Everyone here walks on eggshells with their reputation.”
Nicole nodded, taking the warning to heart. Clearly, her keeping her head down had been more important than she’d imagined. She thanked Leila again before walking over to the elevator. She had to return to her third-floor desk and clean it out before officially claiming her new place on the corporate ladder. She felt as if she had helium in her high heels. She was going to have to call Amy as soon as she got home. It was Friday night, and a celebration was in order.
* * *
“You can’t go to the Star looking like that,” Amy said.
“Fine,” Nicole said. “I’ll find something spectacular. The blue dress with the sleeves that have rhinestones on them.”
“Yes. That’s more like it.”
After work, Amy had come over to her apartment to celebrate. She and Nicole had a quick bite to eat, and Nicole was now looking for something she could wear to the hottest nightclub in Manhattan. The DJ was a friend of hers and always let her choose a few songs.
“Are you dressed yet?” Amy asked, calling loudly down the hallway.
Nicole walked out, looking half ready, only to find Amy still wearing the mask they’d both put on earlier as preparation for their big night out. “You’re still wearing that stuff? Go wash it off. I’ll do your makeup when you get back. Hurry up. We’ll have to stand in line if we don’t get there before nine.”
“Oops. Knew I’d forgotten something.”
“That does it. I’m driving.”
“Yeah, real sober all right.” Nicole laughed at the tipsy version of Amy. She’d set out a bottle of wine earlier, before they’d settled on the plan to go to the club, and she suspected that Amy hadn’t been able to resist. It had been a long day, and there was nothing like a glass of wine to settle the nerves. She wanted a glass, too, but one of them had to be the responsible one.
“I wanted to drink a proper toast to your new job,” Amy called from the bathroom.
“Thank you for not putting any in my glass,” she said as she cleaned up the dining room table. Sure enough, hers had been juice, but Amy’s glass smelled a bit more fun. I’ll have some tonight when I get home, she thought as she put the bottle away.
“Just remember, you’re not drinking much more tonight,” Nicole said. “I’m not going to hunt you down, kissing some stranger in the red section.”
“You’re just jealous because you haven’t kissed anyone in ages. Was the last guy the one from the office party?”
“Oh yeah. I remember that.”
“Did you hear he’s going out with the redhead from accounting?”
“No, but that’s all right. He was a bad kisser. I need a guy who won’t try to reach my tonsils. But he seemed nice enough.”
“I think all nice guys are bad kissers. Oh, I didn’t tell you yet. I had a date with Roger Steinem on Wednesday. We went to a housewarming party, and when he dropped me off at home, he kissed me.”
“No way. He’s good looking.”
“On the outside. But he grabbed my head like he was doing a wrestling move. And I put all my hopes on a good kiss as soon as he picked me up. I don’t think he’s kissed anyone in a long time either.”
“I think so. After we kissed, he began to stutter.”
“He didn’t,” Nicole said. “He’s so confident. I thought he was an advertising model when I first saw him on our floor.”
“I know. Me too. But he’s definitely not.”
Amy came out and took a seat next to the dining room table while Nicole put on her makeup. Amy was hardly an expert in marketing. She worked in the graphic design department, quite different from Nicole’s. She was Nicole’s go-to for campaigns, though.
“By the way,” Nicole said. “I’m planning to use you as my prime designer in my new position. I wanted to ask you first. I was going to send you a long and boring email.”
Amy gave her a sly look. “Would you be my boss?”
“No way. Well, maybe a little bit. Mostly I’d just be in charge of your sorry self. You know, so different than usual.”
“I’ll have to think about it. I know how bossy you get when you’re working on a project.”
“I am not.” Nicole put the finishing touches on Amy’s makeup, then grabbed her purse and Amy’s keys. “Let’s go!”
The road could use some work. Whenever she thought she had all the potholes memorized, there seemed to grow another handful. Just as she narrowly missed another one, a cat ran across the road. Nicole saw it just in time, turning the wheel hard to the right. Her shoulder hit the door as the weight of the car completely shifted to one side.
Amy yelped and, at the same time, grabbed the dashboard. The cat was safe, but the same thing couldn’t be said for her car. The front tire hit the curb and bounced high enough where they caught some air before slamming down on the ground and crashing into a light post.
Smoke rose from the hood, but Nicole barely even realized what had happened. She felt rattled and dizzy. She tried to unfasten her seatbelt, but it didn’t seem to work and everything felt a little hazy. Her shoulder hurt.
At some point later, a pair of hands pressed into her shoulder. “You’re all right. We’re here to help.”
Nicole blinked, and things seemed to finally come into focus. “What happened?”
“You’re both lucky,” said an old woman who wore red slippers and a fluffy, white dressing gown. She seemed to have come from one of the nearby houses to check on the accident. “If you’d been going much faster, it could’ve been another story.”
Even though it didn’t feel like anything was broken, nobody would let them move until the ambulance came. Normally she’d say going to the hospital for tests would be too much, but even she couldn’t protest this time. They needed to be checked just to make sure there weren’t any hidden injuries, and Nicole would need to be tested for drugs and alcohol, as the insurance company would want to know all about who was driving and how the accident had occurred. Nicole knew they should be grateful they were both alive, but this was hardly the night she’d hoped for when she’d first heard about her promotion.
(end of sample)
Read the conclusion here (free if you have Kindle Unlimited):
$0.99 for a limited time only!
(and all other Amazon websites)