First Chapter

Hot, Sexy, Sweet, and Funny

Catelyn Jameson has had a tough year. Her career is in shambles and she decides a change of scenery is just the thing to get her back on track. Running into the hottest hookup of her life wasn't part of the plan. Finding out he works in the same building and his family owns the company makes him hard to avoid. The way he's acting is making him incredibly hard to resist...especially when she finds herself playing the part of his fake fiancee.

Copyright © 2019 Jennifer Woodhull

All Rights Reserved

 

Chapter 1

Catelyn

I barely squeeze into the crowded elevator on the first floor of the elegant skyscraper. As it ascends, people pour off at the fourteenth, twentieth, and thirty-third floors. By the time the doors close again to ascend to my destination on the forty-second, I can sense one other person, a man, in the elevator behind me. As the car begins to move, he speaks, startling me.

“I’m still upset with you, Catelyn,” a deep voice murmurs from behind me. The hairs on the back of my neck stand on end and a chill covers my skin with goosebumps.

 

No way. It’s not possible. It can’t be.

The sleeve of an obscenely expensive custom-fitted suit moves around me, revealing an Omega watch as a long finger extends from a broad palm and presses the button to stop the elevator. My heart races and my breath quickens as I remember the last time I heard that same voice whispering to me from just behind my ear.

 

I close my eyes, turning slowly. I’m half-convinced that the stress of the last few weeks has given me some type of nervous breakdown which is the catalyst for this obvious hallucination. When I open my eyes and look up, deep, dark, chocolate brown eyes stare down at me. He cocks his head slightly to the side and slightly raises one brow. His lips—those full, strong, unreasonably sexy lips—draw up at one side.

 

“You don’t listen very well, do you? I thought I told you to sneak out of the reception and come to my hotel. I wasn’t done with you. There were at least a half dozen other ways I wanted to make you come after that first time.” His smirk grows more pronounced at my nerves as he steps forward, crowding me.

 

“Simon!” A nervous chuckle escapes with his name. “What are you doing here?”

 

“Shouldn’t I be asking you that question? It’s my building after all. When I first saw you, I hoped you might be here to make it up to me for ditching me that night, but the look of surprise on your face tells me otherwise.” He casually deposits his left hand in the pocket of his slacks, placing his right on the wall above my shoulder. His eyes lock on mine.

 

How is he even hotter than I remember him?

“Your building? You work here?” I ask, hoping that’s not true because I desperately need the job for which I’m about to interview. The last thing I need it to risk running into the hottest fling of my life on a daily basis.

 

“My office is upstairs, yes.” He replies. His eyes trail from my eyes to my lips before heading further south, slowly returning to my gaze after lingering on every curve.

 

“I, um, I have an interview. For a job. I have a job interview.” I stammer out.

 

Jesus, woman! Get it together.

“You’re moving to Chicago, I take it?” He asks.

“I am. I did. I moved. To Chicago. Which is here.” I breathe out a short, frustrated sigh.

 

He leans forward, and for a brief, confusing, panty-drenching moment, I think he will kiss me and I feel like I just might die. Instead, he leans forward and presses the button to restart the elevator’s ascent.  

 

“I’m on my way to an important client meeting. I have an hour open at eleven. Why don’t you come by my office so you can apologize properly for ignoring my request the last time we saw each other?” He smirks and stands upright, straightening the cuffs of his shirt from under his jacket sleeves.

 

Smug asshole. Does he honestly think I’m coming to his office for a quickie? What the hell is wrong with this guy?

 

“Um, yeah. No. I don’t think so.” I chuckle, crossing my arms across my chest and stepping backward as far as the close quarters will allow.

“Boyfriend wouldn’t like it?” He asks without even glancing back at me.

 

“No, I don’t have a boyfriend.” He gives me a subtle sideways glance. “I mean, I wouldn’t like it. Myself. Me.”

 

“Oh, sweetheart,” he chuckles. “I think we both know that’s a lie. You’d love it. Just like last time.”

 

“I have a job interview,” I say, growing exasperated with his presumptuousness. “I’m not here to play games with you.”

 

“Who are you interviewing with?” He asks.

 

“Highland Title and Escrow,” I reply.

 

“Oh. I see.” His smug grin returns. “Well, good luck with your interview. I’ll see you soon, Catelyn.”

 

The elevator doors open, and he steps out, turning to the left, and quickly disappearing through a secured door at the end of the hall after swiping his keycard. Stepping out of the elevator, I blow out a deep breath and shake my head, trying to dislodge the unexpected encounter. Looking to my right, I see the reception area and step forward, my stilettos clacking on the marble tile as I make my way toward the tall, burled wood reception desk.

 

“Good morning. May I help you?” One of the most stunning women I’ve ever laid eyes on asks. As I scan her enviably impeccable sheath dress, I half expect to see a Miss Universe sash draped across it.

 

“Hi. I’m looking for Highland Title and Escrow. I’m Catelyn Jameson. I’m here for an interview.” I smile, desperately hoping I look less nervous than I feel.

 

“Of course. Please have a seat and I’ll call someone for you,” she replies, graciously gesturing towards an array of sumptuous leather chairs in the waiting area.

 

A moment later, another stunning woman emerges from the glass doors behind Miss Universe. “Hi, Catelyn?” The woman asks, beaming as she strides up to where I’m seated.

 

“Yes,” I reply, standing. Even in my heels, she towers over me. Her black hair cascading in perfect waves over her narrow shoulders, perfectly framing her sculpted features.

What is this? A breeding ground for supermodels?

“I’m Monica Sanchez. We spoke on the phone. Welcome to Chicago.” She puts her perfectly manicured hand out to shake mine.

“Thank you. It’s so nice to meet you.” I muster all my professionalism as I shake her hand.

 

“Mr. Kincaid is ready for you. Would you like to come on back?” Her toothpaste commercial smile glows as she gestures toward the doors.

 

As we enter the doors, we bear to the right and walk through another set of glass doors with a castle tower in a circle etched on them. Walking down the long hall, I can see a few small conference rooms and offices whose doors are propped open. The space is both elegant and warm. It has an air of affluence but feels modern, without being too stuffy.

 

“We’re right in here this morning,” she says, gesturing toward the open door of a medium-sized conference room.

 

I enter to find an older man, probably in his early fifties but attractive and well-built, at one end of the table, and a pretty, red-headed woman about my age sitting to his right. Monica grabs a couple of bottles of water from the credenza, putting one down in front of my place as I put down my portfolio and bag.

 

“Catelyn, this is Greg Fischer, head of the title division,” I shake the man’s hand as he stands, smiling warmly at me.

 

“And this is Samantha Doyle. She has been heading up the research and title team. She’s transitioning to a new role.” I shake her hand as well, and we all sit down.

 

I hand each of them copies of my resume, and after some small talk and a quick rundown of the role, we begin the interview.

 

“So, Catelyn,” Greg begins, “Tell us, what brings you to Chicago?”

 

Samantha chuckles. “Aside from the perks of it not being Indianapolis,” she says, taking a clear dig at my hometown. It may not be a big, world-class city, but people from Indiana are the best. Well, most of them are, anyway.

I smile dutifully. “Please, everyone calls me Cate. I decided it was time for a change. I’ve lived in Indianapolis my whole life. A friend of a friend was looking for someone to take over her half of the place she was renting because of a job move, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to pursue something new.”

 

Damn, that lie sounded almost believable. I’m pretty good at this. Maybe I should go into sales, instead.

“Your experience at The Dunfield Group included extensive title research, I see here, and you also assisted with closings when attorneys weren’t required, is that right?” Greg smiles, and his warmth puts me at ease.

 

“Yes, sir. I’ve probably done hundreds of loan closings on my own. I’ve done both residential and commercial title research. I’ve also authored escrow agreements, packaged closing documents, and written preliminary sale contracts.” I smile, looking from a very pleased Greg to a decidedly unimpressed Samantha.

 

“Sounds like you were quite the dabbler,” Samantha chuckles, but there’s no warmth in her voice. She taps her fingernail down my resume, then returns her gaze to me. “With such varied experience it’s a wonder you could build much expertise in any one area.” She smirks and I feel heat rise in my chest.

 

Come on, Cate. Get it together. You need this job.

“Well…the great thing about working for TDG was the sheer volume of work they do. They process more than half of the commercial real estate closings in Indy.” I pause, remembering Samantha’s dig from earlier. “So that’s probably, what, five percent of what a firm this size must do, right?” I force a disingenuous chuckle.

 

Samantha flashes a satisfied smirk and looks at Greg. “I think we should have a short discussion. Monica, why don’t you give Cate a tour? We should be ready for you by the time you get back.”

 

“Of course. Cate, you’re welcome to leave your things here while I give you the grand tour.” Monica grins and stands, gesturing toward the door.

 

Once we’re out in the hall, I feel a little more at ease. “So, since you’re giving me the tour, I hope that’s a good sign?”

 

She laughs softly at my question. “I’m sure it is. We’ve been interviewing candidates for this role for quite some time. I know that Greg was impressed with your qualifications, and Samantha made sure your resume was at the top of the stack. I’m sure they’re just talking through some final details to talk with you more about the role.”

 

I feel a little more confident as Monica shows me around the office, a miracle given my surprise encounter with Simon on my way in. I knew he lived in Chicago, of course, but I had no idea he worked in this building.

 

We go down to the forty-first floor and Monica shows me the cubicles where most of the entry level team sit, the conference rooms, and break room. The space seems much busier than where we started, with every conference room full of people staring at PowerPoint presentations and writing on whiteboards. After descending to the second floor to the café and gym, we return to where we started. As we turn to go back down the hallway toward the conference room, my curiosity gets the better of me.

 

“So, it looks like there are other offices on this floor. Does Highland Title share the space with another business?” I try to come across as nonchalant but doubt I’m successful.

 

“Oh, we don’t actually have any offices on this floor. We’re just borrowing the conference room. This entire floor is the law firm, Thomas MacCallum and Son. They own the building,” she turns and gives me a mischievous grin, “And just about everything else they want, actually.”

 

Shit. Simon wasn’t kidding when he said it was his building.

Back in the conference room, Greg stands as we enter, and we all sit down.

 

“Well, we’ve had a little talk about everything, and I think we’ve come to some decisions,” he offers, looking thoughtful, but still friendly.

 

“The job you applied for, the title research clerk, is just all wrong for you,” Samantha says flatly, crossing her arms.

 

“Oh, I see. Well, I’m sorry to have wasted your time, I guess.” I try to choke down the emotion threatening to escape my throat. Of all the jobs I applied for, this one was by far the highest-paid, and only the second to call me for an interview.

I gather up my notebook and purse, but Greg stops me. “I don’t think Samantha was clear,” he glances over his shoulder at her then makes a downward motion with his palm, indicating I should sit back down, so I do. “You have such an array of experience we’d like to offer you a different role. We have a manager position open. You’d be supervising a team of a dozen research and closing clerks working primarily on commercial real estate transactions.”

 

My heart pounds and my hands go clammy as I process what he’s saying.

 

“So, does that sound like something you’d be interested in?” He leans back in his chair to wait for my response.

I swallow hard, taking a drink from the bottle of water in front of me before I speak. “Yes. That sounds like something I’d be very interested in.”

 

Greg looks at Samantha, whose poker face is incredibly frustrating. “Great! Monica, can you grab this off the printer?”

 

He taps something out on his phone and Monica disappears down the hall, returning a few minutes later.

Greg slides the paper across the glossy wooden conference table toward me. “This is our offer. How much time do you need to consider it?”

 

I look down at the piece of paper, blink, then pick it up to examine it more closely.

 

When I do, it’s clear that the numbers are just what they appeared to be when I first saw them. The figure is twenty thousand more than the job I originally applied for, and it’s money I can sure use right now.

 

I nod slowly, then pull my eyes from the page to glance up at Samantha and Greg. “I don’t think I need time. It’s a fair offer, and I like everything I’ve seen today. I’d love the opportunity to join the Highland team.”

 

“That’s great news,” Greg claps his hands together and smiles. “Isn’t it, Samantha?”

 

“It’s perfect,” Samantha replies coolly. “Just sign at the bottom and we’ll get you a copy and get your paperwork going.”

 

She stands, walking around to my side of the table.

 

I sign the piece of paper and stand, facing Samantha. She extends her hand, which I take. “Welcome aboard, Cate. I’m sure you will be just what we need around here.”

 

After shaking hands and filling out several pages of new hire paperwork, I walk back down the hall, out to the elevators, and descend to the lobby. Before I get to the main lobby floor, my phone dings with text message. When I pull my phone from my purse, I don’t recognize the number, but the message can only be from one person.

 

Congratulations. We’ll talk soon. – S

Perfect. Just freaking perfect.

I’ve managed to get a decent job—better than I expected, even if it pays slightly less than I was making before. Unfortunately, it will also put me in the same building with the guy I spent the hottest night of my life with every damn day.

 

Maybe I can avoid him. Maybe he’ll lose interest in toying with me. Maybe my fairy godmother will show up with a bunch of talking animals to help me unravel this mess I’ve found myself in. All these are equally likely scenarios at this point.

 

Still, I have a place to stay, and I have a job. That’s the important thing. New city, fresh start. I can’t let a sexy mistake like Simon get me off track. All I have to do is stay away from him.

 

That and avoid sleeping with him again.

 

As insanely hot as he looked earlier, though, that last part, might be easier said than done.

Coming Autumn 2019

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© 2019 by Jennifer Woodhull.