A Calculated Seduction
Dulcy Menendez has enough problems dealing with her stepmother and two stepsisters. She doesn’t need her sexy new boss, Ethan MacMillan, watching her every move. Especially since every time she catches his gray eyes studying her, her pulse races and her mind conjures up images of the two of them naked.
Security expert Ethan has taken over his uncle’s company to ferret out an embezzler, and he’s sure Dulcy has something to do with it. He decides, against his better judgment, to seduce the secrets out of her, planning on stopping short of taking her to bed. One limo ride later, and a very determined Dulcy, causes Ethan to decide between work and love. When the sun rises, the truth is revealed, leaving them with one question: What do both of them do when they find themselves in love with a person they can’t trust?
This book is a reissue and has been edited for content.
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A Calculated Seduction
A Calculated Seduction
“Self-centered egotistical jerk,” Dulcy Menendez muttered.
She checked her watch for the fifth time in five minutes, then glanced around her office. Everything was in its place. Every bit of business done for the day. But there she sat, Friday night with nothing to do, just waiting for Ethan MacMillan to grace her with his presence.
Just thinking his name irritated her. Mainly because, even though she was convinced he was the most arrogant man she’d ever met, she was attracted to him. She couldn’t help it. Each time he looked at her with those dark gray eyes, her nipples hardened and her whole body heated with anticipation. It had happened the first day she met him and each time she came in contact with the man, she had the same reaction. Even if he did piss her off every time he opened his mouth.
Within five minutes of meeting her, the newly appointed President and CEO of MacMillan Boots had informed Dulcy he expected her to stay at the office when he was working late. She didn’t mind working late. She did mind sitting in her office with nothing to do. And that’s exactly what she was doing. Staring at her computer, the walls, anything to keep her thoughts off the clock.
She glanced at her watch again and then shot the evil eye at his door. Eight-thirty. Did the man have no concept of time?
Since he had taken the reins from his uncle, Ethan had made her life a living hell. As Executive Assistant to the President, Dulcy expected to work through lunch and past five some days. It was just part of the job. But occupying a chair just so some idiot with a thousand-dollar suit could feel important, well, that just didn’t sit well with her.
Dulcy didn’t have an active social life. Okay, she had no social life. Still, he had no right to insist she wait for him to finish when he didn’t need her. A lot of times, he walked out of his office and acted as though he’d forgotten about her. As if she were office equipment he’d forgotten to turn off.
She’d called her nephew, Richy, to tell him they would have to put off his sleepover at her house until Saturday night. Richy hadn’t complained, but she knew he was disappointed. This job was becoming unbearable. Why, she could probably find a better job in the blink of an eye.
Only thing was, she didn’t want another job. She loved working at MacMillan Boots and for William MacMillan. He’d been one of her father’s best friends and when Jason Menendez had died three years earlier, he’d offered her a job.
The shrill ring of her phone interrupted her thoughts. She groaned out loud when she saw the caller ID.
“Hello, Clarice,” she said to her stepmother.
“Dulcy, darling, I’ve been calling your apartment for hours. What are you still doing at work?”
“Mr. MacMillan’s still working.”
“Well, since you weren’t at home, I finally decided to try you at work. I thought you might be ignoring my phone calls.”
“You didn’t think I might have had a date?”
Her little tinkle of a laugh grated on Dulcy’s nerves. “Darling, I just love your sense of humor.”
“What do you want, Clarice?” Her voice was harsher than she had intended, but she really couldn’t help it. Why was it so funny she would be on a date on a Friday night? Okay, so it’d been three months since she’d had a date, but still, Clarice had no right to laugh.
“There’s no reason to get all bent out of shape, darling.”
She sighed. Clarice wasn’t intentionally mean. She was just shallow. “What do you need?” Silence greeted her question. “Clarice?”
“I have a slight problem.” ” And?”
“I can’t pay my rent.”
“I need an advance on my allowance this month.”
Dulcy didn’t say a word. Irritation inched up her spine. It was only the fifteenth of the month and Clarice had already borrowed against her next month’s allowance.
“Shouldn’t you have paid it on the first?”
“Mr. Warner is very nice man. I convinced him to wait a couple of weeks. Ow! Be careful.”
“Clarice, what the hell are you talking about?”
“This imbecile giving me a pedicure hurt me.”
“Clarice, are you telling me you have someone giving you a pedicure in your apartment? How can you afford that and not your rent?”
“Denny’s paying for it.”
Well, that explained it. Clarice’s latest lover was a man with money to spare and a wife who didn’t care.
“Can’t he pay your rent?”
Clarice gasped. “There’s no way I could ask him to do that.” No, never that. A trip to Cancun, the Mercedes she drove, the
Botox treatment last month and pedicures in her apartment, but never the rent. She leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes. Why did this woman and her daughters think she was their personal keeper?
“I take it you talked to Charles?” Charles Foster was their family attorney and handled all their money. He was the one man Clarice and her two daughters, Barbie and Tori, couldn’t charm.
“Yes, and he told me no.” Of course he did. All three women had no concept of money. “Will you talk to him?”
While Clarice couldn’t charm him, Dulcy could talk him into giving them more money. “Charles is out of town for his daughter’s wedding in Houston, so it will have to wait until Monday.”
“Can you float me some money?”
The woman had some nerve!
“Clarice, you know I have no money. Why do you think I work?”
“I don’t know. Especially with that trust fund of yours.”
“I don’t get any money from the trust fund until I turn
twenty-five. I have eleven more months.” She didn’t mention all three of them forgot her twenty-fourth birthday last month.
“Oh, I always thought you convinced Charles to give you an advance. ”
She gritted her teeth. It never occurred to Dulcy to ask for money. Her parents hadn’t raised her that way. They taught her from an early age to be self-sufficient. Her father probably never imagined he would drop dead of a heart attack three months before her nineteenth birthday, leaving her without funds for six years.
“I don’t know if I can get you the money.”
“Oh, pooh. You can. If you don’t, I’ll be thrown out of my apartment, and then I’d end up in your little studio.”
Visions of Clarice, her yippy Chihuahua and her stepsisters constantly dropping by rose in her mind and Dulcy shuddered.
“Okay, no reason to threaten me. I’ll get you your money.” She slammed down the phone.
“Troubles, Miss Menendez?” Ethan MacMillan’s deep voice rumbled behind her.
She cringed. It figured, after he had ignored her for the last three hours, he’d overhear her conversation with Clarice. Slowly, she turned her chair to face him. Dressed in tailored black suit pants with a red dress shirt, he leaned against the doorjamb, his muscular arms crossed, his gray eyes focused on her. He’d lost his jacket sometime during the day and had rolled his shirtsleeves up, revealing the sinewy length of his tanned forearms.
“No…no. Just family stuff.” She licked her lips and he followed the movement with his eyes. Her face warmed. Since the first day she’d met the man, he made her nervous. He never said much, but the way he watched her, silent and intense, sent a wave of tingles along her nerve endings.
“Family? I thought your parents were deceased.”
She drew a blank. She just didn’t know what to say. It always took at least five minutes for her to gather her senses when she encountered him. Her pulse accelerated and her nipples hardened. What the hell was he talking about? Oh, yeah, her family.
“Yes, but I have my stepfamily.”
She really hated that he repeated her statements as questions.
It always sounded like he was accusing her of something.
“I still have my stepmother and stepsisters.”
He raised his eyebrows. “Your father was married what…nine
months before his death? I can’t think why you would want to bother with them.”
“They’re my family.” She shifted in her seat, completely uncomfortable with him looming over her. He was big and masculine and had a warrior’s body, which he had needed while he served in the Marines. Her nerves jumped and a rush of heat swept through her.
“Is there something you wanted?” she asked, her voice a tad bit huskier than usual.
His eyes bored into her, unblinking, not straying one bit. She licked her lips again. His eyes broke contact to follow the movement again.
“No. You can go now. I’m sorry if you had to cancel any plans for me.” A mocking smile curved his lips.
She thought of her eight-year-old nephew and smiled. “He’ll wait. ”
His lips flattened and his eyes lost their sparkle. “Be here early, Monday.” He turned and left her gaping at him, slamming the door behind him.
“Have a nice weekend, Dulcy,” she muttered as she shut off her computer.
Ethan let loose an aggravated sigh and shoved his hand through his hair. Every day he inched a step closer to embarrassing himself.
He didn’t believe in fraternization with secretaries. Especially those under investigation.
And even though he knew it was a bad idea, he’d come close to asking Miss Menendez to dinner, to his bed. His dick jerked.
“And that’d be really sharp, MacMillan. Screwing your main suspect. ”
Never in his life had he felt this need to conquer a woman, to own her body and soul. He didn’t know what inspired such a reaction. Dulcy Menendez was a little mouse of a woman. She wasn’t small but she had dull brown hair, usually worn in a braid, dark brown eyes and glasses too big for her face. He couldn’t comprehend why his blood heated when she smiled her crooked smile.
He walked to his window and studied the landscape outside when he noticed Miss Menendez rushing out the door to her car. In three months, he’ d never detected a man in her life. Other than the man he suspected she was helping embezzle from MacMillan Boots.
After meeting her, with her innocent eyes and her quiet nature, he’d pegged her for a goody two shoes. He’d been so convinced she was a “nice girl”. Then Bill had taken him aside and told him she was a suspect. And Ethan, after years of investigating people when shown the things she did, was stunned. Completely flabbergasted she would do something like that. To make matters worse, he was attracted to her.
God, she was built just like he preferred his women. A decent amount on top but a nice round bottom, shaped like a pear. What he wouldn’t do to take that rear end in his hands.
He shifted his feet to ease the tightness in his pants while he watched her taillights as she drove out of the parking lot. At first, he thought his attraction stemmed from going without a woman for so long. It had been over a year since he broke off his engagement with Fiona. There hadn’t been a steady woman in his life since then. But he knew better. If that were the problem, he’d jump the first available woman. Other women didn’t interest him. Dulcinea Menendez did.
All he had to do was find out who she was working for. And he needed to do it before he jumped Miss Menendez’s bones. He shut down his computer and headed out for the evening. Long days of running figures and resisting that cute little body of hers were stressing him out. As he turned to lock the door, he noticed her briefcase sitting on the floor beside her desk.
He picked it up and placed it on the desk. Deciding he couldn’t let the opportunity pass him by, he compressed the buttons and was pleased to find it unlocked. He rifled through the few papers she had, but most of it had to do with her family. A snapshot was hung on one of the pockets with a paperclip. Miss Menendez stood next to a blonde-headed boy in a baseball uniform. Both wore huge grins. He flipped it over.
Richy and me, followed by a date last spring.
He recognized the boy from the photograph on her desk. Hmm, must be the stepsister’ s kid. He closed it up and bent to place it on the floor. He could take it to her. It was Friday evening and she might need something in the briefcase. Stopping by her apartment on the way home would be easy. It was on his way and he needed to check on her. It was just part of the job.
Dulcy sighed when she pulled her sedan into her designate parking space after nine that night. She was tired, hot and starving. Gathering her purse, she turned to open her door. A slight movement caught her attention. She screamed before she recognized her downstairs neighbor. Her heart beat against her chest and she drew in a breath to slow it down.
“Maude!” Dulcy opened the door and got out. “What on earth are you doing here?”
“I was worried about you, sweetie. Getting home so late and all. ”
Dulcy smiled at the older woman. She’d been the first person to welcome Dulcy to their North Richland Hill apartment complex. Somewhere in her early sixties with short curly gray hair and bright blue eyes, Maude had moved in several years earlier after the death of her husband. With her children scattered across the country, she mothered Dulcy.
“You scared me half to death.” She headed for her studio apartment, which was directly above Maude’s bedroom. “I had to work late because Mr. MacMillan stayed late.”
Maude followed her up the stairs. “That doesn’t sound like Bill. ”
“Not Bill, Ethan. You know I’m working for him now. ” She jangled her key ring until she found her apartment key.
“Ohhh…yes. The dark and handsome Ethan.”
She unlocked her door and turned to face Maude. “How did you know he’s handsome?”
Maude’s eyes widened. “Why, you just told me. Besides, he’s Bill’s nephew.”
“Well, I’m going to eat whatever isn’t a biology project in my refrigerator and then soak in the tub.”
“So, nothing to do tomorrow?”
“Richy’s spending the night.”
“But nothing during the day?”
“No…nothing that I…oh no. I’m not going shopping and I’m not having a makeover.” Maude, a former beautician, was adamant about cutting off her long hair and lightening it. She’d even made noises about waxing. Dulcy really didn’t want anyone pouring hot wax on her body.
Maude pouted and crossed her arms. “But I have nothing to do and sometimes I get lonely.”
Dulcy groaned. Guilt always worked, even when she knew Maude was lying. “What about Bill?”
She’d introduced the two a few months back and they’d hit it off.
“Busy with his nephew.” She sighed and looked down at the ground. There was no way Dulcy could fight that dejected look.
Maude looked like she would argue, but relented. “Okay, but you will let me give you a bob and we will go shopping for clothes. Oh, and those blonde highlights.”
Dulcy cringed thinking about it. “We’ll see.”
Maude said she’d drop by with some brownies later and happily bounced down the stairs. Dulcy unlocked her door, shutting it behind her with a kick of her foot. Her muscles, stiff from sitting at her desk for close to eleven hours, ached with each step. She walked through her tiny apartment, shedding her clothes as fast as she could on her way to the bathroom.
To save money, Dulcy had moved out to North Richland Hills a year ago. The apartment, a one-room studio, was modern and trendy. She hated it. But until she inherited her trust fund when she turned twenty-five, she had to economize.
The tension from the long day, and even longer week, began to drain. She unbraided her hair, rubbing her scalp. She needed to remember that at the end of the day, she was a day closer to her inheritance, a day closer to starting her cancer research charity.
In nothing but her red panties, she wandered over to her dresser and pulled out a nightshirt and donned it.
She padded over to her kitchen and pulled out the makings of a ham and cheese sandwich. As she assembled her meal, she thought about Ethan MacMillan. There was something about him that just wasn’t right. After years of ignoring Bill’s requests to join the business, he suddenly shows up and takes over his office. What was he after?
Stupid question. MacMillan Boots was a multimillion-dollar business. Bill had no children to inherit and Ethan thought he would just move in, after years of neglecting a relationship with his uncle, and take everything.
Indignation on Bill’s behalf rolled through Dulcy. He’d been the one person who’ d offered her work when her father died. Most of the people from her father’s circle of friends didn’t see the use of hiring a nineteen-year-old with only a year of college under her belt. The thought that Ethan had callously disregarded every attempt Bill had made to reach out to him, angered her.
She took an angry bite out of her sandwich and moseyed over to her answering machine. Two hang-ups and three pleading calls from Clarice. She sat down in front of her television and flipped through the channels, finally settling on an old movie. After finishing her sandwich, she decided a good hot bath was all she needed. She retrieved her bath oil from the cabinet, drew water for a bath and lit several candles. She pulled off her nightshirt and was about to tug down her panties when her phone rang. She hesitated, listening to see who it was.
“Dulcy, this is Barbie. I need you.”
Knowing her stepsister would just keep calling until she got a hold of her, she grabbed a towel, covered her breasts and went to answer the call.
As she listened to Barbie go on about her latest crisis, which involved her latest lover, her gardener, a knock sounded at the door. Thinking it was Maude with her brownies, Dulcy opened the door without looking out the peephole.
Ethan MacMillan stood on her doorstep, larger than life. Immediately, her pulse skittered and her nipples hardened. Her brain melted and she couldn’t form a word. She froze and lost her grip on the towel.
End of Excerpt
A Calculated Seduction
is available in the following formats:
Mar 13, 2015