Aug 8 2012
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Here’s the blurb:
Only two obstacles block Shelby Donaldson’s path to success at her new job—her sizzling hot supervisor and his freezing cold attitude. Maybe her flirting got a little out of hand at first, but that’s no reason for Mr. Sighs-A-Lot to screw her over in her performance review.
Colin Montoya is not going to fall for Shelby’s sex-in-a-suit brand of temptation. He’s got her number and is not going to dial it, nor is he going to allow Shelby’s philandering brother to marry his baby sister.
After an explosive one-night stand goes awry, battle lines are drawn. But can the warring co-workers negotiate a cease-fire long enough to realize their romantic fortunes might just lie in each other?
Preview (chapter one):
Shelby zoomed straight to the summary section of her performance review on the Galloway audit engagement, as written by one Colin Montoya, demonic supervisor and bane of her existence of late. A three out of five overall. Barely a notch above marginal and not at all what she was used to receiving. His evaluation of her performance would be the lone blotch on an otherwise blemish-free work record. She had been a shoo-in for induction into her CPA firm’s prestigious Leaders’ Club, could already see her name on the plaque and bonus check. Colin’s lukewarm review threatened to ruin her chances.
Shelby sighed and flipped over the evaluation. She started at the beginning, reading the individual narratives on the specific technical aspects of her performance. His detailed remarks didn’t improve at all. If anything, they deteriorated further and made her think the overall rating was generous in comparison. She couldn’t believe some of the remarks he’d written about her work behaviors. “Difficulty staying on task, inconsistent, lacked follow through.”
What stung most was his repeated theme about how she was easily distracted. Easily distracted? Maybe if he hadn’t changed his mind a zillion times about what he wanted her to do, she might have completed her work on time and under budget. Maybe if his masculine presence hadn’t been so overwhelming. Colin Montoya had cornered the market on tall (as in very), dark (except for the ethereal blue eyes) and handsome (no qualifications there.) Early on, he’d made it crystal clear he was not open to friendly or flirtatious banter in the workplace, not with her anyway. So, she’d backed off. Mostly.
Colin strolled toward her desk, and as he passed, he nodded and pointed to the performance evaluation in her hands. “If you want to discuss it, just give me a call, and we can set up a time.” He slowed but did not stop.
Call to set up a time? Sheesh, isn’t he high and mighty?
She gave him enough time to make it to his desk, picked up her phone and dialed.
“Colin Montoya,” he answered after the first ring.
“Shelby Donaldson. I’d like to discuss my evaluation. How about in five minutes?”
“Yes.” A heavy silence descended. She peeked at her watch, noted its display said 4:54 PM and smiled.
“Okay, I’ll meet you in the Mt. Hood conference room.” His voice was crisp and tinged with irritation. The phone made a loud kerklunk as he hung up.
Shelby’s smile grew larger. She enjoyed ruffling his feathers, the feeling of power it gave her, and this was no doubt one reason for her “marginal” performance review. Still, fair was fair because he did an equal amount of feather ruffling.
Four minutes later, she snatched up the offensive review and dawdled her way down to the conference room, detouring in the ladies room to comb her hair and apply a fresh coat of lip gloss.
When she reached the glass-walled space, she saw Colin drumming his fingers. He checked his watch, revealing the dark hairs on his wrist near his monogrammed white cuffs. Doesn’t he own any other color shirt besides white? He had his back to her, his shirt fabric pulled taut across muscles that even a coating of heavy starch couldn’t hide. His shoulders were wide like a swimmer’s, a deep groove chiseled between them. His hair was neatly trimmed and the back of his neck freshly shaved above the line of his collar. A narrow sliver of paler skin gave away the recency of his last haircut. Nice.
As she entered the room, he turned to look at her with a slight frown. “I was beginning to think you’d lost your way in the dense jungle between your cubicle and here.” He tapped his mechanical pencil against his opposite palm.
“Why would you think that?”
“You called ten minutes ago and said you’d be here in five.”
“Whatever.” She flipped her hand as she moved to sit in the chair next to him so they could review the evaluation together.
He scooted his chair slightly away from hers as if she were offensive to his sensibilities. His evasive action irritated her, and she geared up to aggravate him with equal measure. As she took her seat, her leg accidentally grazed his before both of them recoiled. Getting under his skin was one thing; allowing him under hers was a completely different matter.
“So, Shelby, do you want to go over the review line by line, or did you have specific questions?” He was all fake politeness.
“I want to know why you think I’m a goof-off.”
“I don’t think you’re a goof-off, but I do think you need more discipline and focus. You could also use a bit more humility as a first year staff person.” He leaned back, one arm draped over the chair’s armrest.
“Your instructions were vague and contradictory. I don’t see how anyone could have performed well under those conditions.”
“There was a work program. Did you think to consult that?”
“Yes, but I found it just as cryptic as your verbal instructions.”
Colin sighed. “Why didn’t you ask for clarification then?”
Shelby crossed her arms in front of her on the table, then looked at him, searching for an answer that wouldn’t make her sound like a smart-ass. She appraised the face of the man next to her. With ebony hair and olive skin paired with a name like Montoya, she assumed he was at least partly Hispanic, but his navy-ringed, turquoise irises teased of a mixed heritage.
“But we’re getting off track here, Shelby. Why don’t we start at the beginning with your application of your accounting knowledge. Very strong, but you should have…”
She knew his middle name was Johannes. Johannes? What the hell kind of name was that, and who would put it with Montoya? She hadn’t been able to pry any personal information out of him because he shut her down every time she tried. Knowledge of his unusual middle name was a recent discovery she’d tucked away for future use.
“For client service, you did an excellent job winning the client’s trust, had great rapport with all of them, especially the President. However, I noticed a tendency to…”
His fingers were long and his nails neatly trimmed. She wondered if he had them professionally done or if he clipped and trimmed them whenever he showered. Colin in the shower. She scolded herself for going there.
“Now let’s talk about your documentation. Boy. Like most new staff, this is where you really struggled…”
She watched his profile as he droned on. This was not the first time she’d noticed his resemblance to the man on the cover of her latest romance novel. Why couldn’t real life men be more like the men in her books?
“I did spend time explaining it in thorough detail, but…Shelby?”
“Yes? What?” She snapped back into the moment, his scowl like a splash of ice water. Her cheeks warmed, and her thoughts struggled to coalesce and emerge from the sludge. What had she wanted to say? Damn him. “Actually, I think I’ve heard all I need to hear.” She whipped out her pen from behind her ear, signed the review and slid it over to him. “Here.”
“See, this is what I’m talking about. Your attention span is shorter than a gnat’s.” He paused, but she neither moved nor responded. “Fine. I guess we’re done. I’ll make you a copy for your files.”
Shelby slipped on the shoes she had kicked off under the table and stood. She had to get out of there. She’d had another one of those déjà vu moments that seemed to take over whenever she was around Colin. The dreams were equally disturbing, and she knew without a doubt that she’d be having one tonight. A dream about him. A dream in which they…well, were much friendlier than they had ever been in real life.
“I have to go,” she said and bolted from the room.
Colin watched Shelby leave, baffled as usual by her flighty behavior. She was the most frustrating woman he had ever met, in more ways than one. Having to work with her for three weeks had stretched his tolerance to the limit. He was grateful to finally be rid of her, the signed performance review in his hot little hands. If only his body felt the same way about her as his head.
He rose from his chair and followed her out. He checked his watch. Nearly five-thirty. Since it was also a Friday, happy hour at the usual location awaited. Good thing, too, because he always felt like a stiff drink after an exchange with Shelby Donaldson.
Shelby sashayed around the corner to her cubicle. Colin couldn’t help but track her hips as they swayed. Exasperated with his unbidden reaction, he made a hard right into his own cubicle and collapsed into his chair. After lingering over a few last minute client details, he organized and stowed his work, then headed out.
At Roscoe’s Sports Bar and Grill in the heart of downtown Portland, Oregon, Colin zeroed in on the tiny table a couple of his buddies had staked out near the foosball tables. Pulling up a bar stool, he ordered a beer then dove into the order of nachos that claimed nearly the entire surface of the table. He and his friends caught up with each other, and he shared the reason for his tardiness.
“Isn’t that her over there?” His friend and colleague Allan pointed to a table of giggly women near the bar.
Colin turned and saw several women from his firm, including Shelby.
“Yeah.” He spun back around, hoping she hadn’t spotted him.
“Which one is she?” his other friend, Christian, asked.
“She’s the one in the red sweater with long dark hair parted on the side, big hoop earrings with these stupid cats hanging from the bottom, sinister blood red talons for fingernails. You can’t miss her if you look for the pall of obstinacy that surrounds her, sort of like Pigpen from Peanuts with his cloud of dirt.”
“The one with the nice rack?”
“I hadn’t noticed.” Colin feigned disinterest, struggling to keep all inflection from his voice.
“I guess you were too preoccupied with her pus – kitties.” Allen slapped him on the back, and both friends guffawed.
If Colin were being honest, he’d have to admit that not much about Shelby escaped his attention – hazel eyes that danced with amusement at the oddest things, a laugh that contrasted sharply with her delicate features in its bawdiness. And yes, she had a nice rack, as well as nice legs and a tight little body she obviously pampered. Every square inch of her was designed to distract and lure a man to his doom. Even her infectious laughter, which cut through the din of the bar, got to him. It always had, but that lethal package was marred by a personality made of piss and vinegar when she didn’t get her way. Given the inappropriateness of dating a co-worker, especially a subordinate, he was almost grateful for the fatal flaw.
Colin escaped to the bathrooms to shut out the mirthful sounds. On his return, he met Shelby in the narrow hallway. They did the obstacle dance with each other before he stopped and stood to one side. As she nodded then passed, he got a whiff of her perfume, the same scent she wore every day. Over his shoulder, he watched her walk away before he continued back to his table, shaking his head. He absolutely hated how she turned him upside down.
If only he could get her off the Mason Freight and Storage job. Through a cruel twist of fate, the staffing coordinators had assigned Shelby to work with him on it. He’d learned about the last minute schedule change from the staffing coordinator on his way out that evening. The job was to start the following week, and he’d have to call Shelby Sunday night to go over the logistics and other preliminaries for Monday.
He’d begged for another staff member to no avail; he was stuck with her. If her contrariness didn’t kill him, the war between his head and his body surely would.
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