Who's The Boss?
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Cade Clenched His Jaw As Kylie Approached Him. She Was Twenty-Seven Years Old And She Was His Boss! Letter to Reader Title Page About the Author Chapter One Chapter Two Chapter Three Chapter Four Chapter Five Chapter Six Chapter Seven Chapter Eight Chapter Nine Chapter Ten Copyright
Cade Clenched His Jaw As Kylie Approached Him. She Was Twenty-Seven Years Old And She Was His Boss!
The situation was ridiculous, but true. And his boss was a knockout. Kylie Brennan was blessed with natural beauty. She appeared both sultry and sweet; wholesome yet enticingly sexy. All in all, a fascinating contrast that evoked an immediate and tangible response from Cade.
He was appalled at his reaction! The last thing he needed was to be turned on by this woman, who could single-handedly wreck his future. Yet here he stood, conjuring up what was definitely a sexual fantasy.
And during office hours, yet!
There’s something for everyone this month! Brides, babies and cowboys...but also humor, sensuality...and delicious love stories (some without a baby in sight!).
There’s nothing as wonderful as a new book from Barbara Boswell, and this month we have a MAN OF THE MONTH written by this talented author. Who’s the Boss? is a very sexy, delightfully funny love story. As always, Barbara not only creates a masterful hero and smart-as-a-whip heroine, she also makes her secondary characters come alive!
When a pregnant woman gets stuck in a traffic jam she does the only thing she can do—talks a handsome hunk into giving her a ride to the hospital on his motorcycle in Leanne Banks’s latest, The Troublemaker Bride.
Have you ever wanted to marry a millionaire? Well, heroine Irish Ellison plans on finding a man with money in One Ticket to Texas by Jan Hudson. A single mom-to-be gets a now life in Paula Detmer Riggs’s emotional and heartwarming Daddy by accident. And a woman with a “bad reputation” finds unexpected romance in Barbara McMahon’s Boss Lady and the Hired Hand.
Going to your high-school reunion is bad enough. But what if you were voted “Most likely to succeed”...but your success at love has been fleeting? Well, that’s just what happens in Susan Connell’s How To Succeed at Love.So read...and enjoy!
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Who’s The Boss?
BARBARA BOSWELL loves writing about families. “I guess family has been a big influence on my writing,” she says. “I particularly enjoy writing about how my characters’ family relationships affect them”
When Barbara isn’t writing and reading, she’s spending time with her own family—her husband, three daughters and three cats, whom she concedes are the true bosses of their home! She has lived in Europe, but now makes her home in Pennsylvania. She collects miniatures and holiday ornaments, tries to avoid exercise and has somehow found the time to write over twenty category romances.
Though he knew they were first cousins and shared the Brennan gene pool, Cade Austin had never seen such a dissimilar pair. From his vantage point at the end of the corridor, he watched Kylie Brennan and her younger cousin Bndget walking toward him. Conversation between the cousins appeared minimal and a bit strained.
He saw Kylie slant a covert glance at Bridget, and a slight smile tilted the corners of Cade’s mouth. He was willing to bet his fifteen percent stock ownership in BrenCo that Kylie had never worn a tight, tiny, belly-button-exposing, black ribbed T-shirt, like the one Bridget was wearing now. Bridget had matched it with a brillant lime-colored faux leather skirt that scarcely covered her behind, black stockings and little girl style shoes with thick black straps and jarring lug soles. Bridget was one of BrenCo’s receptionists, but rarely dressed like one. Cade had seen movie hookers whose outfits were more conservative than some of Bridget’s.
Kylie’s light gray suit, white silk blouse and traditional pumps looked professional and classy. She dressed like the attorney Cade knew she was.
However, as president, Cade enforced no company dress code, though he was somewhat relieved that the rest of the staff chose more traditional attire for the workplace. Employees could wear whatever they liked at BrenCo as long as they showed up on time and got the job done. Which Bridget did. She was both reliable and competent. The old “never judge a book by its cover” adage definitely applied to Bridget Brennan.
Cade reminded himself not to make that mistake with her cousin Kylie, either. She may or may not be what she seemed; he needed time for a thorough assessment.
His eyes focused more intently on her. The last time he’d seen Kylie Brennan had also been the first time, exactly fourteen months ago at her uncle Gene’s funeral, right here in Port McClain, Ohio. She had flown in shortly before the service and been unable to stay for the post-funeral festivities. Her parents explained she was in the middle of a trial and had only that day off before court resumed.
The other Brennans hadn’t been pleased by Kylie’s abrupt arrival and departure. “She inherits controlling interest in the company from Gene and she can’t even stick around long enough to eat some corned beef and cabbage at his wake?” complained Lauretta Brennan.
“Kylie must have been Uncle Gene’s favorite, and I don’t understand why.” Ian Brennan sulked. “She didn’t grow up in Port McClain, and she saw the old man only once a year at most.”
“Ever hear the one about familiarity and contempt? Mystery solved, Ian,” replied his cousin Bridget.
Ian had shot her a killing glance, the one he reserved for most of his relatives.
Cade smiled at the memory. Twenty-two-year-old Bridget often said what he was thinking himself but was too polite to share. At least some of the time he was too polite. Other times he, too, just said what he thought, a trait that hadn’t endeared him to most Brennans.
He didn’t care because he’d had the approval, confidence and full backing of the one Brennan who counted, Gene Brennan. Gene, the man who had hired him eight years ago and eventually made him president of BrenCo, who had given him the job opportunity of a lifetime and all the challenges and privileges that went with it.
Until fourteen months ago, he’d had only to answer to Gene Brennan, but the older man’s sudden death had changed everything. Gene had left fifty-one percent of BrenCo stock—controlling interest—to his niece Kylie, the daughter of his favorite brother Wayne. Since Cade already owned fifteen percent due to the generous stock options afforded him as CEO of BrenCo, the remaining thirty-four percent of the company’s stock had been equally divided between Gene’s two younger brothers, Artie and Guy, lifelong residents of Port McClain. Gene’s house and personal effects had been willed to brother Wayne, a retired navy captain.
The local Brennans—Artie and his ex-wife Bobbie and their kids Brenda, Brent and Bridget; Guy and his wife Lauretta and their kids Ian, Todd and Polly—hadn’t been shy about vocalizing their displeasure with the terms of the will. It was one of the very few things they all agreed upon.
The out-of-town Brennans—Wayne, wife Connie, son Devlin and daughter Kylie—remained apart from the grousing and the grumbling, separated from the rest of the clan by more than mere geographical distance. Of course, one could argue that branch of the family had done very well by Gene Brennan’s last will and testament. The other Brennans often argued that point.
For the past fourteen months, Cade had continued to run BrenCo as before, the only difference being the absence of Gene Brennan himself. Cade sometimes wondered if he were the only one to miss the man. Certainly, Gene’s relatives here in Port McClain didn’t even pretend to. As for his niece heiress, financial statements were regularly sent to Kylie Brennan at her address in Philadelphia along with Cade’s written offers to discuss company business with her at any time, but she’d displayed no interest in either his offer or the business.
Until two weeks ago. Two weeks ago, Cade had received a note from Kylie Brennan stating her intent to come to Port McClain. She would be staying in her uncle Gene’s house for the duration of her visit, but she hadn’t specified why she was coming or how long she intended to stay. That bothered Cade. An open-ended visit? He didn’t like the sound of it.
Even more ominous was Artie Brennan’s phone call, announcing that he and Guy had already talked with Kylie about the possibility of selling the company. “Kylie is the majority stockholder and that makes her the boss, your boss, Cade.” Artie had reminded him with gleeful malice. “If she votes to sell BrenCo, it gets solid.”
His boss. Cade clenched his jaw as his boss approached him. She was twenty-seven years old and she was his boss! The situation was ridiculous, it was unthinkable, untenable. But true.
Gene, how could you do this to me? Cade’s eyes flicked heavenward as he silently invoked his departed mentor. Of course, Gene’s death at sixty-two had been completely unexpected. Given his parents’ longevity—Ma and Pa Brennan had lived well into their eighties—Gene had probably intended to alter his will at some later date, after Cade had bought enough stock to own controlling interest in BrenCo as planned.
But time had run out and they were stuck with the one and only will he’d written, naming Kylie Marie Brennan his major heir. Making her Cade Austin’s boss.
“Hey, Cade!” Bridget greeted the company president the same way she greeted her peers at Club Reek, her favorite night spot along the banks of McClain Creek.
“Hey, Bridget,” he replied gamely. He saw the glimmer of humor in Kylie’s eyes, saw the sudden smile cross her face. Cade inhaled sharply.
Kylie Brennan was blessed with natural beauty: high cheekbones, wide-set china blue eyes, and a heart-shaped face framed by her thick, dark slightly-below-the-chin-length bob. But that smile of hers transformed her classic good looks into something more compelling, more intriguing. She had a wide, generous mouth and a dimple on her left cheek, and when she smiled she appeared both sultry and sweet, wholesome yet enticingly sexy. All in all, a fascinating contrast that evoked an immediate and tangible response from Cade.
He felt the stirrings deep in his groin and was appalled. The woman was his boss! The last thing he—or BrenCo—needed was for him to be turned on by this alluring young woman who had the power to sell the company out from under him. Who could single-handedly wreck his future plans and take BrenCo from him with one crucial decision. Sell.
Damn, why did she have to be so attractive? He studied her soft full lips and imagined...
“So I guess you two know each other, huh?” Bridget’s voice jerked him from the erotic fantasy he’d been drifting into.
Cade was grateful for the reality check. What was happening to him? He never daydreamed while he was working, not unless the subject had to do with environmental engineering, and then it was called brainstorming. Nor was he prone to sexual fantasizing in his spare time; he’d outgrown that puerile pastime long ago. Yet here he stood, conjuring up what was definitely a sexual fantasy. During office hours. Starring his could-be-trouble beautiful young boss! Was he losing his mind?
“Cade Austin,” he said, briskly extending his hand to Kylie. Hopefully, his inner turmoil wasn’t evident. “We haven’t been formally introduced but I saw you at Gene’s funeral.”
“Kylie Brennan.” She put her hand in Cade’s and was immediately struck by the size of it. His fingers were long and strong and closed around hers. “I’m sorry I haven’t kept in touch. I received all your company updates but I’ve been very busy...” Her voice trailed off.
It was a lame excuse and she knew it. Cade Austin was a busy man, but he had taken the time and effort to send those business communiqu?s to her. Reflexively, she lifted her eyes to his. Their gazes met and he raised his dark brows in a gesture she couldn’t quite interpret. Was he merely acknowedging her explanation? Or silently berating or mocking her for it? She couldn’t tell.
And then it occurred to her that he was still holding her hand, that their handshake had lasted longer than the conventional introductory shake, which elevated it to an altogether different realm. When she felt his thumb glide lazily over her knuckles, she felt a sharp thrust in her abdomen, stunning and swift, as if she’d been kicked. Except the sensations jolting through her were pleasurable not painful. Alarmingly pleasurable.
Kylie felt a hot flush of color spread upward, heating a path from her belly to her suddenly very pink cheeks. She quickly removed her hand from his.
What on earth was the matter with her? she wondered, a little frantically. She was twenty-seven years old, not a schoolgirl who hadn’t yet tamed the swirling rush of hormones in her system. Yet she was reacting to Cade with a wild surge of awareness, appallingly similar to her teenage crushes on certain cute boys all those years ago.
There was nothing cute or boyish about Cade Austin, far from it. He was thirty-five years old and six feet four inches of solid masculinity, with a muscular frame and well-defined features. Kylie’s gaze took in his strong jaw and square chin, the sharp blade of a nose and firm, hard mouth.
She was standing close enough to see that his eyes were hazel, flecked with green, and watched her with an alert, assessing intelligence. What if he knew the turmoil he was so effortlessly evoking within her? The possibility made her cringe.
Her mouth felt dry, and Kylie quickly flicked the tip of her tongue over her lips. She felt Cade’s eyes follow the small movement. Kylie took a step backward, then another. Hopefully, putting some physical distance between them would enable her to put an end to her distraction and his domination.
And he was dominating her, with his greater height and strength and sheer virility. Kylie understood body language; she’d made good use of it in court but never before had she been so personally affected by it.
“What brings you to Port McClain at this particular time, Miss Brennan?” Cade asked, his tone impeccably polite.
And yet...Kylie swore she heard a mocking note in his tone, subtle enough to be indiscernible if one wasn’t paying close attention. She met Cade’s eyes again and set her mouth in a determined line. She always paid attention.
“I wanted to visit my relatives and to be brought up-to-date on BrenCo. This month seemed like the perfect time to come here to—”
“The perfect time to come here,” Cade echoed. There was no mistaking the taunt in his tone this time. “Yeah, sure. March in Ohio is a veritable paradise, especially when a place is as close to Lake Erie as Port McClain. We’ve got the notorious take-effect winds, temperature and record snowfalls. Port McClam, the perfect place, the perfect time. Wonder if the Chamber of Commerce could pitch the town as the newest winter vacation destination?”
“We get enough snow in Port McClain to be a ski resort,” Bridget stated. “Except it’s totally flat here. We don’t even have a hill. But it would be cool to have a ski lodge anyway, wouldn’t it, Cade?” She completely ignored Kylie.
“What’s the point of a ski lodge without any skring?” Cade was clearly not taken with Bridget’s idea.
“It could be like a Club Reek with a fireplace,” Bridget explained. “Sort of an antiski lodge.”
“An antiski lodge, hmm?” Cade echoed, smiling.
Or was he grimacing? Kylie found it difficult to differentiate. “Let me rephrase from a perfect time to visit to a convenient time to visit,” she suggested quickly, before Bridget went off on another tangent.
“And has your visit been convenient so far?” Cade asked.
He sounded so unctuously solicitous that Kylie guessed he was aware that so far her visit had been anything but convenient. “No,” she admitted grimly. “No, it hasn’t.”
“You arrived in Port McClain last night, I believe? And planned to stay in Gene’s house,” Cade prompted.
“Uncle Gene’s house is currently uninhabitable.” Kylie was sure she wasn’t telling him anything he didn’t already know. “I’d written to both Uncle Guy and Uncle Artie two weeks ago and asked them to have the electricity, water, gas and phone service turned on in the house and to hire a cleaning service to prepare the place for occupancy.”
“Let me guess, nothing had been done,” Cade surmised. “Your first mistake was asking both Artie and Guy, and then letting them know you’d asked them both. You unwittingly set up a Brennan double play. Artie and Guy could each claim that he thought the other was taking care of the house, while each did nothing. Meanwhile, both your uncles could enjoy a hearty laugh imagining you showing up at Gene’s place, which has been vacant since his funeral.”
Kylie thought of her phone calls last night to her two uncles who had each claimed he thought the other was handling her requests. It had seemed a logical, albeit annoying, slipup. But to think it was premeditated, that they’d relished the idea of her standing in the creepily dark, cold, damp and musty old house...
“That’s an awful thing to say,” Kylie scolded, rejecting his premise.
She glanced at Bridget, expecting her to second the objection. After all, Cade had insulted her father and their mutual uncle Guy.
Bridget merely shrugged. “So where’d you stay last night? Not at Uncle Gene’s Haunted Mansion, I’m sure.”
“I stayed at the Port McClain Hotel.”
Cade and Bridget looked at each other and laughed.
“That place has all the ambience of the House of Usher. And you must’ve been one of the few guests who rented a room for the night, instead of by the hour.” Cade’s eyes gleamed. “You’d have done better to stay at one of the motels off the interstate exit.”
Kylie thought of the sounds she’d heard last night in the room above her, the steady traffic through the halls. Cade’s remarks explained a lot. She shuddered. “When I talked to Aunt Lauretta last night and asked her where to stay, she said the Port McClain Hotel.”
“Wow! She deliberately sent you there?” Bridget laughed harder. “Chalk one up for Aunt Lauretta.”
“You should have contacted me about the house,” said Cade. “I would’ve taken care of all the arrangements and the place would have been ready for you. I suggest that you rely upon me, not the Brennans, while you’re here in Port McClain. Now, would you like me to have my secretary Donna make those calls to the utilities and a cleaning service for you?”
“I’ve already done all that from my hotel room this morning.” Kylie was irked by his condescending, paternalistic attitude. Did he think she was incapable of making a few phone calls? “And I intend to rely on myself while I’m here in Port McClain,” she added coolly.
“Is it true you lost your job, Kylie?” Bridget suddenly interjected. “That’s what my brother, Brent, heard from my dad who heard it from Uncle Guy. They all think you’ll be glad to sell the company ’cause if you’re out of work, you’ll need money, right? That’s what they’re hoping for. They want to sell real bad and get big bucks for their shares. Aunt Lauretta and Ian are really pushing for it, too, and—”
“Bridget, this is company time and you’re wasting it.” Cade interrupted her, his tone stern, all signs of friendliness gone. “Get back to work right now.”
Bridget smoothed her hands over her short, spiky black hair. “I didn’t say anything that everybody doesn’t already know,” she said defensively. “Why would Kylie be here if she didn’t want to—”
“Bridget, if you’re not gone by the time I count to three, your pay will be docked, one hour for each number I reach.” Cade’s voice was calm but steely enough to send Bridget heading down the corridor before he even uttered “one.”
Kylie shifted uncomfortably. “I’ve never found bullying to be an effective tactic to use in dealing with—”
“You’ve obviously never had to deal with your relatives. I’ve found it effective in dealing with some Brennans, at times the only effective method of dealing with them.” He folded his arms in front of his chest and stared down at her.
It was as if he were looming over her, a most unfamiliar sensation. Kylie felt her stomach tighten. At five foot eight, she wasn’t used to feeling small and powerless in a man’s presence, but Cade Austin’s big muscular frame seemed to dwarf her. It was a disconcerting sensation. No wonder Bridget had taken off. At a petite five-two, she was like a mouse facing a lion.
Cade’s face was hard and still, and his hazel eyes watched Kylie with the same concentration said lion might focus on his intended prey. She swallowed and willed herself to maintain her composure. She was no scurrying little mouse.
“I know what you’re doing and it’s not going to work,” she said, summoning up the necessary bravado. A useful trick of the legal trade. How many times had she faked a bold confidence she was far from feeling in the courtroom?
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