Title: Conflict of Interest
Author: Allyson Lindt
Genre: Contemporary Romance (Heat level sexy/spicy. Explicit but not erotic)
Release date: April 29, 2013
Kenzie propositions a sexy stranger in a coffee shop to prove to herself she’s capable of taking a risk. She doesn’t expect him to be sitting across from her the following Monday as her newest client. Even worse, she can’t stop thinking about what might have happened between them on a personal level if it weren’t for their professional relationship. He knows how to push her buttons, and she doesn’t want him to stop.
Scott has built his software company from the ground up to escape things like stuffy old men telling him how to behave, so he loathes his board of directors ordering him to make the public forget he doesn’t have a verbal filter. When his new publicity manager is the almost-fling he never expected to see again, he seizes the opportunity to have fun and still pretend he’s complying with the board’s edict.
Giving in to desire could mean both their jobs, but each “one last time” always leads to another. Now they have to decide what they’re willing to sacrifice to indulge this conflict of interest.
“Why are you always so direct?” She had asked him the question once before, but she wanted more of an answer.
His gaze raked over her face as if he was trying to peer into her thoughts. “Chicks dig honesty, right?”
“No,” she corrected him. “Chicks only think they dig honesty until it includes something they don’t want to hear.”
“It worked on you.”
Arrogant ass. The thought didn’t have any malice in it. “You got lucky.”
He snorted. “Damn straight. And I wouldn’t mind getting lucky again.”
She rolled her eyes and shook her head, but couldn’t lose her smile. “Seriously, it has to be counterproductive most the time.”
“I’ll answer your question if you tell me something. Where do you usually meet guys?”
She stared back, confused about the gentle curve in the conversation. “Why?”
He pushed his barely touched plate aside. “Let’s see … probably not business meetings, that would be inappropriate. And I can’t see you spending much time in bars. We can add coffee shops to the list.”
“You were the only one.”
His grin spread. “I knew it.”
She slapped his hand playfully. “Yes, fine. You were a first. Happy?”
“Immensely.” He meant it. “Where did you meet your last boyfriend? The bookstore or something?”
Heat flooded her cheeks, and she ducked her head. It had been a lucky guess, that was all.
He laughed. “I was kidding. I’m right, seriously?”
“Yes, I met my last boyfriend at the bookstore.”
“The relationship section?”
She twisted her mouth in irritation and just glared at him. “Fiction and literature.”
“Bronte?” he asked.
He raised an eyebrow. “So what was the first thing he said to you?”
Why were they having this conversation? Not that she minded, but she was still trying to figure out his random tangents. “I don’t remember.”
“You’re lying.” There was no accusation in the words, it was a simple statement.
She looked at him, eyes wide. How had he known that? “It was something about how Vonnegut had nothing on William Gibson when it came to the cynical but not completely fatalistic future of the planet. And I told him that wasn’t a fair comparison because Kurt Vonnegut was absolutely a fatalistic literary genius and William Gibson was some sciency guy.”
His jaw dropped. “You called the father of cyber punk a sciency guy? I mean, I guess technically you’re right, but you said that?”
Finally she had caught him off-guard. “And his reaction was a lot like yours. Don’t get me wrong, William Gibson is fantastic, but it’s still like comparing Apples and Windows.”
She wasn’t sure why she’d tossed the reference in to mangle the cliché. It wasn’t like she cared if he knew she had any sort of geek cred.
“Nice.” His shock faded back into amusement. “And you went out with him after that.”
“For a while.” She didn’t want to get into the details. She was over the guy, but there was no reason to divulge she’d dumped him because he was boring in bed.
“So, last guy you didn’t go out with—the most recent one you’ve turned down. What was the first thing he said to you?”
“Like I remember. Maybe, do those legs go all the way up?” The background noise had faded as the lunchtime crowd thinned, and she was grateful she didn’t have anywhere else to be.
“But you let the guy who asked you about your honeyed walls give you a lift home.”
And she realized what he was doing—trying to point out to her why it was wrong to try and change him for the sake of appearance. He seemed fond of the object lesson rather than the direct answer. “Yes. Because you were sincere, and the guy in the bookstore was sincere—both of you inflammatory—but still sincere, and those assholes with the lines were just saying what they thought I wanted to hear.”
“I’ve made my point?” He didn’t look smug.
“Yes.” She took another drink. “But I’m still going to teach you to behave in public. You’re not learning to pick up women. You’re learning to keep your investors happy.”
He leaned in, voice low. “I already know the legs go all the way because how awkward would that be if they didn’t?” An underlying current ran through his words. “But if I told you that you had a beautiful body, would you forget this mission of yours?”
“You mean my job?” The way he’d twisted the otherwise horrid line added to her enjoyment, and the underlying compliment warmed her more than the wine had. “No. But don’t let that stop you from trying.”
“You’ve really read William Gibson.” He switched gears without pause.
“I prefer Philip K. Dick, but Neuromancer has a special place on my bookshelf. I was in a really weird frame of mind the first time I read it, it kind of screwed with my head, and I haven’t been able to forget it since.”
The rough canvas of a High Top traced up the back of her calf, sending a pleasant chill through her. His expression softened, eyes pulling up at the corners. “I know the feeling.”