Hate to Love You Excerpt Reveal!
January 3, 2020
We have two weeks until Hate to Love You will be here and I can’t wait for everyone to meet Grady and Syd, along with Grady’s three brothers. I really loved getting to know his family and learning more about Syd, Travis, and Nancy. Take a look at the excerpt below and make sure to add it to your Goodreads shelf!
The moment my alarm sounds on my phone Monday morning, I reach for it and promptly fall off my bed face first. Said face hits the carpet hard, leaving my nose stinging and my head already throbbing. The only consolation is that I’m alone. Wait, that’s not a good thing, right? Before I can answer myself—and I’m still lying with my face planted in the carpet—my phone rings. The sun is still rising, I’m lying on the carpet with nothing but a t-shirt and panties on, and I know without a doubt, it’s my boss Grady Hawthorne.
I take a moment to pull my head up, resting my weight on my elbows in a sphinx pose. Only I know I don’t look as cool as Jasmine my yoga instructor does when she performs this pose. I probably look more like a cranky calico cat with bad morning breath. My nose stings from the hit it took, and my head is pounding slightly. I really hate freaking Mondays.
My phone stops ringing but I don’t worry. Grady Fucking Hawthorne will call back. He always does because he is convinced the only reason I wouldn’t answer the phone is that I am dead. And it’s not because he cares. He probably just wants to know if he needs to hire a new executive assistant. So, I know he’ll call me back. I’m proven right a minute later when my phone starts ringing again.
I answer it this time.
There’s a pause. Since Grady took over the position of CEO eighteen months ago, I’ve been irritated. His father Pete would have never called me at the asscrack of dawn on a Monday morning. I work fifty to sixty hours a week as it is. Pete was a sweetie and had hired me “for his son” since Pete had already announced his retirement. I thought his son would be like him. I was wrong. Oh…so…wrong.
“Good morning to you, Ms. Fillmore,” he says, his tenor slipping over my name. He’s a Texas boy born and raised, and he has that sexy, slow-talking tone. And this is where I get to admit that I have a big old lady-crush on Grady. Or at least my lady parts do. I don’t particularly like him. He’s the type of guy I avoid. He’s kind of bossy—mainly because he is my boss—and considered a bit of a manwhore, or he was until he was named CEO. Before then, he lived in New York and the tabloids loved him. You know the ones who tend to treat women like they are part of a smorgasbord. It’s embarrassing for my gender how many of us have slept with him. But he has one of those faces the camera loves and women like to sit on. So, there’s that. Worse, all I have to do is hear his voice and I’m gushing like Niagara Falls.
“It’s not even dawn yet, Grady. What’s so important?”
Another pause. He never calls me by my first name, but I always call him by his. It’s weird, but then, so am I, and all my interactions with him are awkward. But, when Pete introduced me to Grady, he used his first name.
“And I see that you woke up on the wrong side of the bed.”
“More like the wrong side of the carpet.”
There’s a pause and then I realize what that sounds like. Not that I have anything against ladies who like ladies, but…Jesus. I’ve been embarrassing myself since I met him two years ago when his father hired me.
“What I mean is that I fell off my bed, face first.”
“Were you drinking last night?”
“No. Why? Wait, that’s not any of your business.” But still. “I wasn’t drinking last night.”
“Did you set up the meeting with Patterson this morning?”
Oh, for freak’s sake. If he were here, I would throw a pen at him. It’s not like I haven’t done that before. “I texted you about it last night.”
What the fuck does that mean? I wait, because I hear him click clacking on his computer keyboard. I lay my head down on the carpet as I calculate the hours until Allison Brady’s bachelorette party. I haven’t been out to party in months and I need this. My best friend Nancy had wanted to go out this past Saturday night, but I decided to stay home and catch up on Hawaii Five-O. And you can judge me all you want, but I like some man candy while I watch shows, and McGarrett fills that bill nicely—even if he doesn’t wear khaki pants anymore. It has nothing to do with my nine-month long dry spell. Okay it does, as does my disappointment in my Friday night date. I actually skipped watching 5-0 live because of it. Jason had been nice enough, gorgeous, but I had been bored to tears. My one-sided date with McGarrett was more stimulating than dinner with Jason.
“Oh, there it is.”
I grit my teeth, then force myself to unclench my jaw before speaking. “So, can I go, or do you need to confirm more crap that’s in your calendar?”
“One of these days, I might fire you.”
And one of these days, I might just set him on fire and roast marshmallows. I blink. That escalated quickly. I tend to get a little violent in my thoughts when I go a long time without getting any.
“Is there anything else?”
“No. I’ll see you when you finally make it into the office.”
Then the line goes dead. I drop my phone and grind my teeth. Finally make it into the office? Fucker. I work a lot of hours, more now that he’s in charge of Hawthorne Enterprises. I get it. He wants to prove to his father that he’s dedicated to the business. I just didn’t know how much longer I could take this schedule. I thrive on challenges, and I get why this is so important to Grady, but a girl needs a break every now and then. Thankfully, Thursday will give me a chance to let loose. I only have to hold out until then.
After a quick run and a long shower, I slap on some makeup and get dressed. I would rather put on my rattiest yoga pants and one of my brother’s old shirts and slip back into bed. Instead, I step up to my closet and peruse my offerings. I like clothes. Like…a lot. My brother Travis and I didn’t have the easiest childhood. Our father disappeared around the time I was ten and Travis eight, leaving us with a mother who had mental health issues and a taste for the cheapest liquor. We went hungry more often than not, and I never had the chance to come into San Antonio to shop. Most of our clothes were second hand—which I don’t look down on—but it wasn’t easy growing up like that when your mother was known as the town loon.
Because of that, I have a hard-on for clothes. That’s what my best friend Nancy calls it, and it’s true. I get more excited by a well-cut blouse than I do over any of my recent dates. Okay, most of that might have been that they were all duds, but still. My love of clothes isn’t anything compared to my obsession with shoes. Like I would probably cut a bitch if she touched any of my favorite stilettos. From the moment I had my first decent check, I started collecting them. I have at least one pair from each of my favorite designers. I went a whole two months eating nothing but peanut butter sandwiches so I could afford my first Louboutin. Now I have five pair, including my favorite black boots.
I glance at them, and in an instant, I decide on my outfit for the day. I need to kick Monday’s ass, especially the way it started out. I grab a long black pencil skirt, a red blouse—it is the power color for a reason—and those boots. After a trip to the bathroom to contain my hair into a tight chignon, I get dressed, enjoying the power it gives me. Yeah, I know it makes me kind of materialistic, but I don’t care. Clothes are my drug of choice. One last look in the mirror and I smile. This buoys my spirits more than anything.
I walk in fifteen minutes early to work, a travel mug of coffee in one hand and my phone in the other. I scan through my emails, ignoring the three texts Grady sent me in the last ninety minutes.
“Good morning, Ms. Fillmore.”
I set my phone on my desk and toss a smile at the office manager Jared. That’s right. Grady has an executive assistant slash slave and an office manager. I tend to travel with him everywhere he goes for work because…well, for no other reason than he’s anal. Jared runs everything while we’re out and about and handles any issues dealing with the office at large. I am just the slave that has to deal with Grady up close and personal.
“Morning, Jared. How was your weekend?”
“Great. Went to see the new superhero movie.”
Oh, God, I miss movies. I used to go with Travis all the time, but in the last few months, he’s been out of town—which also means my bestie Nancy has been gone too since she’s his co-host— and, also, I’ve been busy.
He nods. “Mr. Hawthorne has been looking for you.”
“Yes, I have been,” Grady says from the doorway. I look over at him and want to roll my eyes at the same time my lady parts are cheering. The man is as beautiful as he is irritating.
He’s dressed in his usual outfit of dress slacks, tailored to give his ass the best possible look, and a dress shirt. Today the combination of slate grey pants and ivory dress shirt—complete with a red tie—makes him especially attractive. But the one thing that always gets me and my ovaries cheering is that freaking vest. He doesn’t always wear them but when he does…GAWD. I know. It’s weird, but a well-dressed man in a vest makes my pussy tingle. His light brown hair has that mussed look that would probably take a normal man hours to achieve. His dark green gaze studies me as if he’s trying to come up with another complaint. Butthead.
“And here I am, early as usual.”
His eyes narrow, and he knows I just challenged him in front of Jared. “You didn’t answer my texts.”
I fight the urge to tell him to stick a rusted fork up his ass. “I was driving in. I thought maybe it was more important that I arrive alive.” Kind of a lie. The last two came after I had parked my car, but he doesn’t know that. “But, yes, I did get those contracts for the new facility outside of Denver. Oh, and I did contact the staff at the Denver house for the trip to inspect the facilities next week.”
Grady’s first real move as CEO is the creation of the Adventure Network, an offshoot from the At Home Network. It’s a big deal and I understand he wants to cross the t’s and dot the i’s. I just wish he would give us all a break. I also understand the importance of this move but give a girl a break here.
“You’re coming, right?”
Not that I want to go, but I know it’s important that I be there. Grady sometimes gets a little too focused on the details. If I’m there, I can keep him from pissing everyone off. I’m the buffer.
“Yes. We’re flying out early Monday morning. Carter and Gavin are coming with us.”
This is a family business and his brothers are as excited about this new network as Grady. The only brother who doesn’t have anything to do Hawthorne Enterprises is Quinn, who is a graphic novelist. Gavin splits his time between New York and San Antonio, and Carter is always flitting around opening clubs and drumming up publicity. Grady is always here. Like ALWAYS. There is no taking a week off and giving your staff a break.
“Good. And the car?”
“Yes, the car will pick all of us up.” Thankfully, the company has a Learjet to use. We didn’t until about three years ago from what I understand. His father had crunched the numbers and realized they would save money by using their own jet.
He nods and then turns on his heel and leaves Jared and I alone.
“Well, that was nice,” Jared says with a smile.
“You know what he’s like. Plus, this Adventure Network is a big deal.”
“Syd, my love,” Carter, the youngest and by far the sluttiest of the Hawthornes, says as he walks into the room. All of the Hawthorne brothers are attractive. They’re all tall, but there is no mistaking any of them as their personalities are different. Where Grady is rigid in his schedule, Carter is the opposite. He plays it fast and loose, knows just how to charm the panties off any woman—except me—and he’s always smiling. His hair is brown with auburn highlights, and his eyes are a shade greener than Grady’s.
“Good morning, Carter.”
“How is the mon frère this morning?”
“Same as usual.”
I laugh at his constipated expression. The two brothers are on the opposite ends of the spectrum and it shows when they have to deal with each other.
“I got those reservations taken care of at Stallions for Thursday night.”
“Oh, thank you.” One of the things that keeps the Hawthornes as solvent as they are is diversification. Their main focus is their home improvement network, but they also have several clubs and a couple of restaurant chains. The newest club is Stallions, an elitist kind of place in downtown San Antonio that caters to the wealthy and infamous. I totally used my connection to the family to get Allison Brady’s bachelorette party into the VIP section of the club. I might not be wealthy, but I know rich people.
“So, is this the kind of bachelorette party that needs some help from a young, attractive man?”
“Yeah. Do you know one?”
He gasps, completely over the top but nothing new. “You wound me, Syd.”
“Yeah, sure. I think it would take a lot to wound the ego of a Hawthorne.”
“Good to know you have such a high opinion of us,” Grady says from behind me.
Normally, this would make me nervous, but for some reason, I’m all about poking the bear this morning. I glance over my shoulder. “What? You know it’s true.”
Yeah, I am in a bit of a mood but remember, it’s been NINE FREAKING MONTHS. I’m not someone who jumps into bed easily, so I can normally go a long time between men with the help of batteries. My dry spell has my temper frayed and when I have to deal with Grady Hawthorne and his stupid pretty face and his ability to make women lose their inhibitions with just a smile, I get agitated. I don’t want to even think about what that means, so I push the thought aside. I just need to have sex at some point.
“Patterson will be calling in soon, Carter. We better go over some of the figures to make sure we are on point.”
“Of course,” he says just as Gavin, Grady’s fraternal twin and head of legal for Hawthorne Enterprises, strides into the outer office.
“Morning, everyone,” he says. He looks a lot like Grady—they are twins—but his hair is light blond and his eyes are green like Carter’s. He’s a bit leaner more like a swimmer, and the only married one of out the bunch. He and Oliver have been married three years.
“Let’s get ready for that meeting,” Grady says, turning and walking back into his office. He doesn’t even hesitate to make sure his brothers will follow.
Once we’re alone, Jared laughs. “I love when you come in cranky.”
I shake my head and settle behind my desk and get to work. We have a full week of work before we head out to Denver, including the bachelorette party. I also need to make sure I contact my doctor today. I need some more migraine meds. A trip with Grady will definitely give me a headache. Add in that it’s in Denver and I always get altitude sickness, this is going to be so much fun.
Before I can get very far, my phone buzzes with a text from Nancy.
Nancy: Is everything set for Thursday night?
She barely knows Allison but for some reason she was really keen on this night out.
Me: Yeah. Carter just confirmed we will be able to get into the VIP section.
I mentally make a note to ask him if we have a table.
Nancy: *dancing emoji*
I roll my eyes and set my phone down. I have fifty million things to get done before Thursday, half of them need to be taken care of today.
Monday can suck my lady balls.