Wydawca: J. L Ryan Kategoria: Obyczajowe i romanse Język: angielski Rok wydania: 2017

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Opis ebooka The Billionaire's Heart - J. L. Ryan

My boss controls every move I make, and I love it...Frantic and broke, Shelby Watson scores an interview with billionaire bad boy Michael Jameson for a job as the caregiver to his sick grandmother. During the interview, he's terribly rude, condescending, and an all-around cocky SOB. Had Shelby not been in a financial hole and facing homelessness, she would have told him where to go. Because she doesn't want to live in her car, she accepts his job offer. After a few days, she notices a dramatic change in her bilionaire employer's personality. The once arrogant jerk miraculosuly turns into a sweetheart.Why such a change? Is he falling in love with her, or is he hiding a scandalous secret that could rock her to the core?Buy Now!Keywords: bad boy romance, bad boy romance books, bad boys, bbw romance, plus size romance, billionaire romance, alpha male romance, billionaire bad boys, alpha billionaire romance, bad boy billionaires, billionaire obsession, billionaire bachelors, rubenesque romance, billionaire box sets, alpha bad boys, billionaire series, romance series, romance trilogies, billionaire books, billionaire romance books, bad boy books, bbw romance books, curvy romance, rubenesque romance, curves romance, second chance romance, romantic suspense, romantic comedy, billionaire boys club, contemporary romance, karma, romance books, lawyer romance, vacation romance, coming of age, new adult romance, college romance, sports romance, military romance, sagas, contemporary women romance, dark romance, baby for the billionaire, cozy mysteries, cozy mystery, fantasy romance, bwwm, bwwm interracial romance, interracial romance, inspirational romance, happy ever after, happily ever after, baby for the billionaire, secret baby, secret baby romance, billionaire baby, new releases, menage romance, inspirational romance, clean and wholesome romance, best friends romance, friends to lovers romance, boxed sets, alpha billionaire romance, billionaire series, billionaire books, dark romance, contemporary romance, sagas, single mom romance, billionaire obsession, second chances, billionaire playboy, billionaire wedding, vacation romance, karma, karma romance, office romance, workplace romance, medical romance, doctor romance, ceo romance, billionaires and babies, billionaire unknown, bbw paranormal romance, bbw romantic comedy, bbw shifter romance, bbw bwwm, bbw bwwm interracial romance, bbw romance books, billionaire romance books, romance books, book bundle, inspirational romance, virgin romance, virgin romance books, western romance, cowboy romance, billionaire games, The Billionaire's Heart, the billionaire's secret, May December, May December romance, gay for you, gay for you romance, alpha hero, alpha hero romance, billionaire, billionaire romance, cowboy, cowboy romance, fake engagement, fake engagement romance, forbidden love, forbidden love romance, love triangle, love triangle romance, marriage of convenience, marriage of convenience romance, office romance, playboy romance, protector, protector romance, reunion, reunion romance, return to hometown, return to hometown romance, royalty, royalty romance, alpha billionaire romance, alpha romance, billionaire boys club, billionaire with a twist, billionaire unknown, big beautiful woman, older man younger woman, friends to lovers, omega male, alpha romance, pregnancy, athlete, sweet romance, billionaire love, billionaire love story, alpha billionaire, billionaire alpha, billionaires in love, bad billionaire, bad boy series, billionaire boss, billionaire baby, billionaire boss romance, bbw, fiction anthologies, literature and fiction, bad boy daddy 

Opinie o ebooku The Billionaire's Heart - J. L. Ryan

Fragment ebooka The Billionaire's Heart - J. L. Ryan

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Table of contents

The Billionaire's Caregiver

From Agony To Ecstasy

The Billionaire's Game

The Billionaire Boss

The Billionaire's Bargain

Chapter 1:

Alexander Sweeps Into My Life

CHAPTER 2. New York, New York

CHAPTER 3: All Happy Families Are Alike

Chapter 4: The Garden of Eden

Chapter 5: Precious things, easily lost

Chapter 6: A Family Brought To Order

The Billionaire's Gift

(Billionaire Romance Series)

2 Boxed Sets

Boxed Set #1

Book #1 The Billionaire's Caregiver

Book #2 From Agony To Ecstasy

Book #3 The Billionaire's Wish

Book #4 The Billionaire's Secret

The Billionaire's Caregiver

People often think a new beginning is something that happens when there is a tragedy. Shelby Watson, on the other hand, disagreesentirely. Sometimes, a new beginning can simply happen to someone, and not be some epiphany out of the ashes of what was once a mess.

Simply put, life happens, but starting over is never easy. Shelby sighed and stretched out her legs on the sofa. Tomorrow, she would start again. Never one to be defeated, she knew she could pull herself out of this “new mess” she was in.

There was something about the way her big toe poked through the worn socks that made her rethink that idea entirely.

“ You and me, Dobbs...she scooped up her puppy who had buried its head under the thick blanket. “All we really need is each other.” Dobbs was a Chihuahua mix. Shelby found him by the door of her apartment one day, and when she opened her apartment door, he ran right in, in front of her.

He had been there since. It may have been the forlorn look he had about him that Shelby found endearing, or just the fact that he was standing there soaked to the bone. Whatever it was, Shelby knew she couldn’t leave him out there, so let him stay.

The sound of banging caused Shelby to wince slightly. The pipes in this old building were always making some awful noise whenever someone was taking a shower. Shelby looked around at her efficiency apartment.

Clean and tidy it, was her home. She lived in the 3rd block of town. The lower the number indicated the worse sections of town. This was no exception. Her neighbors all consisted of drug dealers and prostitutes, though none unfriendly. Shelby would work early mornings and try to be home before dark. As long as she kept to herself nothing bad would happen to her…well less likely to, anyway.

All of the details of her life had changed now. The part-time morning job she had been able to find, she had lost. Nothing of her doing, simply a cut in positions at the senior home she was working at. They had pulled her aside that morning and given her the bad news.

“ Shelby, your work here has always been wonderful. I hope you realize this is not a reflection on the quality of your work. It's simply based on the financial needs of the company.” Dr. Brenner sighed and looked over at her as he delivered the news.

“ Many of the seniors are moving into better equipped facilities and they…well they already have staff there. He ran his thin bony fingers through is even thinner hair.

It was obvious to Shelby this wasn’t something he enjoyed doing and decided to help take the pressure off.

“ I understand Dr. Brenner. I really do. I just don’t know how I'm going to make it now.” Life had always been a series of ups and downs for Shelby, and this was just one more set back. She stood to stand and extended her hand to Dr. Brenner.

“ Thank you for helping me get things going here Dr. Brenner. The last three years have been wonderful. I hope you will let me use you for a reference.” He stood and methodically pumped her hand, covering the hands with his other one.

“ I really am sorry, Shelby.”

There was a sense of helplessness that Shelby felt when she headed home. Now, she and her pup gracefully sat on the old worn sofa she had gotten from the thrift store down the street. Shelby decided it was time to start sorting the factors of her life out. She jumped up and grabbed her notebook from the counter.

Determined, she created her spreadsheet, lists of bills, things to do, what not to do, etc. Balancing her checkbook, Shelby calculated that she was ok for the next three weeks, but when the rent was due, she would be in trouble. She walked into her kitchen and pulled some canned spaghetti from the cupboard, methodically putting them in a bowl and then the microwave.

This is not where she envisioned herself a few years ago. She had big plans to go back to college to get her graduate degree in nursing. She was barely scraping by, but she knew that her resilience was powerful and that she would make it through. The one thing she was sure of was that she would not cry about it but would just keep moving on.

The next day things seemed bleak. Shelby walked to the corner store and bought a newspaper and began sifting through the want ads looking for a job. She wasn’t above doing anything and would do whatever necessary to keep things going. Sitting on her foot, she took notice of anything related to her field first.

Under the dark header she saw an ad for a home health nurse. Perfect. She picked up the phone and called, but was greeted by a nasty voice.

“ Kayla I told you I can’t do this with you right now. You will just have to trust me. It's better this way.” Shelby winced at the explosion.

“ I’m sorry Sir. I think I may have the wrong number, I was calling about an ad.” As she began to cradle the phone back into the receiver, she heard him yell.

“ Wait yes, Oh God I'm an idiot. Miss…Miss?” He was obviously flustered.

“ I’m here.”

“ Good. I’m terribly sorry. Your number was just like someone else’s, and well… Ok, so yes, can you come out today? I need to wrap this up before I leave this weekend, and I have only gotten a few responses.”

Encouraged, Shelby shot up out of her chair. “Yes, of course I can, what time?”

“ Um, let me think.” She heard shuffling on the other end. “How about now?”

“ Now?” Shelby looked around mentally, figuring out what to wear." Sure now is good. I just need an address.”

After getting all the necessary information, Shelby changed into a light grey dress and black boots. Shelby pulled her hair back and gathered up all of her references. As she started to walk out, she grabbed her purse and said a silent prayer.

“ Wish me luck Dobbs, this is for dinner tonight.”

Maneuvering her car down the highway was easy. Shelby loved road trips and had been into the town of Fauquier many times. Often considered the “rich” area, she never had much opportunity or reason to come this far out before.

Today was different. She had an interview, and hoped it would fix this mess she was in. Pulling down the long winding road into the countryside, Shelby admired the houses as she passed them. Most of them were old, and laced with gingerbread latticework. They looked warm and cozy. At the end of one street in particular, Shelby found the house she was looking for.

All she could do was stop the car and look up in awe. There is no way, she thought to herself. The magnificent mansion was on top of a ridge high above the roadway. There was a winding back entrance that was gated, and the front lawn was landscaped perfectly. Shelby glanced over at her car with it's rusted out fenders, and wondered if she really knew what she was doing.

With a sigh, she pushed her glasses back up and drove up the driveway. She pulled off to one side, straightening her dress as she stood and shut the door. She mentally prepared herself for whatever was on the other side of the door, took a deep breath, and knocked.

Billionaire, Michael had never been more frustrated in his life. He was handling the merger of two companies, trying to line up a meeting with his partner, and simultaneously trying to find someone who could come sit with his grandmother. At 40, Michael was all business with dark hair and eyes and didn’t have time for anything frivolous. His grandmother was his only soft spot. She had raised him, and her encouragement is what created the man he was now.

Suddenly ill, the doctors believed she had a stroke, and now she was in bed and unwilling to do anything. He glanced over at the clock. Where was this girl anyway? She seemed interested, but was probably another "no show." He started gathering up some paperwork just as there was a knock at the door.

Shelby waited patiently. When the door finally did open, she found herself stunned for a moment as she looked at the most handsome man she had ever met. Tall and dark, he was almost like a sculpture. Trying not to stare, she attempted to recover quickly.

“ Hello, I’m Shelby. We spoke on the phone.” She held out her hand to him.

Michael took her hand, shaking it lightly. He was not without his own reaction to her. Small and petite, she had hair piled on top of her head. It was dark brown and a wonderful accent to her almond-colored eyes. She wore little makeup, and was a natural beauty.

“ I’m glad you’re here, though I thought you would have been here sooner.” Shelby frowned at the gruffness in his voice. He wasn’t as pleasant as she had hoped.

“ I’m sorry, I was coming from Manassas.” She tried not to take offense, as he was obviously very busy.

“ I see. I am looking for someone to care for my grandmother. Full-time and an occasional Saturday. I try to be here on weekends as often as I can, and she has another nurse as well. I need someone who can try to get her to do more, or at least want to. She had a stroke a month ago and the doctors think she should be fine to get out again, but she is simply laying there.” He paused to look her over.

“ You're very small. Are you sure this is something you’d be interested in?”

Shelby felt the anger rise. “Mr. Jameson, I can assure you that I am very capable, despite your opinion of my small stature. Would it be possible for me to meet your grandmother? I think it’s always important to see how well I click with someone.”

“ Sure that’s fine. She knows you’re coming. We can head upstairs in just a few moments. I’d like to ask a few more questions first, if that’s ok?”

“ Certainly.” Shelby relaxed slightly. The fact that this guy was an ass made the fact that he was gorgeous much easier to look past.

“ Ok so I see you are working with Everest Healthcare. Do you plan to continue to do that as well?”

“ If so, this may be a bad idea. I really need 100% attention for this. My grandmother is very important to me, and multitasking is something most people think they are good at, but sadly…” he looked her over once again, "are not."

Fuming, Shelby responded in clipped tones. “No, I am no longer there. I was let go recently.” Before she could elaborate, Michael interjected quickly.

“ Why? Was there some sort of horseplay or something? I won’t tolerate any of that at all, Miss Watson. I simply won’t. You do seem rather young, and I can understand if this is something that you don't feel you can handle.”

He stood up as if he was dismissing her entirely.

Panic set in but even that wasn’t enough to calm her anger. “Mr. Jameson, I have been working at this for a long time. I am not young, as you so nicely put it, and as a matter of fact, I'm 33. I love this type of work, and the reason I was let go was for budget cuts, not horseplay. Perhaps if you allowed people to answer your questions without simply writing them off, you would have more candidates for this position.”

Shelby stood to leave.

Fire and ice. That was all he could think of. She was absolutely adorable when she was mad. He could see how her nose slightly turned red as she had been giving him a piece of her mind and although not used to being talked to like that, he gained a new kind of respect for her.

“ Point taken, Miss Watson. Shall we go meet my grandmother?” He held the door to the hallway for her and allowed her to pass as he made his way up the stairs motioning for her to follow. Shelby was surprised she had even gotten this far. He was a real piece of work, this guy. Money did that to people, she thought, and could only assume that was it. Along the hallway there was artwork. Some bright, some dull, and some muted. It was a lot to take in. As they rounded the top of the stairs, Shelby looked down and couldn’t help but think that her meager apartment would fit in the foyer below.

Nancy Jameson was in good spirits. She wanted to do more, but her body just wouldn’t allow her to. Besides, when she is here like this, Michael comes around more. He was her only grandson and always had been her favorite.

She had three granddaughters, but they all had their own families, and were too busy to ever visit. Michael had always been special. He had dark coloring like his grandfather and was just as stubborn. She smiled warmly as Michael entered the room with a petite brunette in tow.

Nancy didn’t miss the sparks that flew from the young lady’s eyes as Michael made some comment on how he could show her how to use the elevator if need be.

“ Grandmother this is …I’m sorry what your name was again?” He did look guilty so Shelby took pity on him and extended her hand to Nancy.

“ Hello my name is Shelby, how are you?”

“ Well I’m in this bed deary so not very good, I suppose.” She winked at Shelby and smiled wide.

“ My grandson feels like he needs to find someone to watch over me and make me do things I am not ready to do. I suppose that’s why you’re here my dear. Come over here and let me get a look at you.”

Having taken an immediate liking to Grandmother Nancy, Shelby complied and walked over towards the bed. Nancy noticed how her grandson followed Shelby’s every move. This was interesting indeed and was exactly the distraction she needed!

After a while of discussion and rules, Shelby stood to leave. “It was very nice to meet you Miss Jameson.”

“ Now Dear, if you’re going to be here with me all the time, I insist you call me Nancy or Grandmother, whatever suits you.”

“ Grandmother, no one has offered Miss Watson a job yet. I hardly think she needs to start calling you Grandmother.” Michael chuckled.

“ Michael Dear, it is my money is it not?” Grandmother smiled up at him lovingly and patted his hand on the bed. “So, I say she is hired.”

“ Shelby that is if you will take the job of course.”

Never a person to have nothing to say, it took everything Shelby had not to laugh at the interplay. It would seem that Grandmother Nancy was the only one to bring Michael down a peg or two. If for that reason alone, Shelby would take the job.

“ I would love to Nancy.” Shelby smiled up at Nancy and then at Michael.

There was some mix of being irritated by his grandmother’s words and being floored by the smile that Shelby gave him. He didn’t know what to say. After clearing his throat, he kissed his grandmother on the head and turned to leave.

“ Miss Watson, if you will kindly follow me back down stairs, we can go over pay and hours, and so on.”

Shelby said her goodbyes again and followed Michael down the stairs. He even smelled good, like leather and soap. What was most adorable was the way his hair curled in the back of his neck just slightly. What in the world was wrong with her?

Never suckered in by the connection between men and women, she usually had a fairly good grasp on self-control. Sure she had met a few nice guys and done her share of dating, but that was a long time ago and there had been no one in at least three years. Maybe that was it, she needed to get out more.

Offering her a chair, Michael detailed the terms and pay of the job. More money than she could imagine, Shelby sat stunned while he rambled on.

“ Miss Watson is that acceptable?” She glanced up at him sharply. Oh no, what had she missed.

“ Yes of course, that’s more than fair.”

“ When can you start?” He watched her closely. He could almost watch the play of emotions she was thinking and feeling.

“ Anytime is fine. I don’t live far, even if I was late today. So I am free anytime.”

“ I’m not sure if you realize that this job is more than just being here from one time to another. Obviously, you will have to move in here, as that is part of the deal.” He moved to gather up his things and glanced at his watch. He was already late and was starting to get irritated, as this matter should have been handled over an hour ago.

“ Oh no, I can’t do that Mr. Jameson, I have my own place. I’ll stay there.” He was surprised. He had seen the worn shoes she was wearing, and heard the racket her poor car made as it climbed the hill to the house. He just assumed that she would be more than happy to move in.

“ Suit yourself, but I may need you sleep over on occasion. Is that fair?” He caught her eye again and reached out to shake her hand.

He was all business and it suited him. She reached out and felt the warmth as he took her hand in his. She felt like he lingered perhaps just a second longer than normal; but it was probably just her imagination. There was something powerful about the way he carried himself. Like right now, just staring at her. Closing her eyes for a moment, she managed to get out “Of course.”

After saying their goodbyes, Shelby made her way to the car and headed home. What was it about Michael Jameson that made her crazy? He was arrogant, stubborn and bossy. He was also handsome, loving to his grandmother, and made her feel safe. All of that from one visit. Thankfully, he didn’t live in the house year round, or she would be in trouble for sure.

The next few months were a flurry of activity. Shelby commuted every day to her job with Nancy which she loved, and had enough money to pay up her rent for a while. Michael and she spoke on the phone almost every day discussing Grandmother's day and how things were going. He typically had a joke to tell, but on some days, he was distant and moody.

Either way, they had come a long way and she considered him a friend. Gone was the canned spaghetti, and Shelby was actually able to cook food for herself. Even Dobbs was happier. She had just settled down to watch TV for a bit before turning in when the phone rang. It was a frantic Michael.

“ Watson, my grandmother seems to have had a heart situation of some kind. I am in town and headed to the hospital and she has asked to see you.” He was obviously in pain as he choked it out. Despite their differences, Michael had been nothing but nice with her and she didn’t want to see him hurt. Worry was a motivator for Shelby and she immediately started to change clothes as he talked.

“ ..wanted to know if she had been acting differently lately or anything?”

“ NO no she’s been fine, and we have actually been walking a few times and…”

He cut her off immediately. “You had her walking? What in the world, Watson were you thinking? She wasn’t ready for that. Just come to the hospital as soon as you can.” He hung up leaving Shelby stunned.

She was frustrated herself wondering if he was right. She gathered up her purse and headed downstairs. Trying to avoid the people in the halls, she made it to her car safely and let out a deep sigh. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. As she turned the key nothing happened. Slowly, she laid her head on the steering wheel. What now? She jumped out to look under the hood. Apparently, sometime during the night, someone had stolen her battery… now she was stuck. Knowing she could never forgive herself if she didn’t see Nancy, Shelby made her way back to her apartment and called him.

“ Yes What!” He yelled into the phone.

“ Michael, please don’t yell at me.”

“ Oh it’s you. I’m sorry, Watson. The number thing again. Yes what’s up?”

After much explaining, it was settled that Michael would come by and pick Shelby up on his way. She wasn’t too far from the hospital herself but at night it was better to ride with someone. A few minutes later Shelby heard the knock on her door and opened it to a disheveled Michael. He was a mess, worry etched on his face, but handsome as ever.

Michael took in the apartment, if that’s what you call it. Small but tidy, he imagined she could do just about everything. His issue was with her neighbors.

“ This..is where you live, Shelby?” He gestured to the occupants sitting in the halls and the loud music.

“ Yes why?” Shelby had her pride. This was her place and it wouldn’t sit well if he was insulting.

“ I’m terrified for my safety out there. I can’t imagine how you’ve made it all this time. You’re so small and there are at least 20 people just hanging outside.”

“ I am not so small and I am just fine. Let’s go.” She crammed her gloves into her purse and yanked open the door leaving it open so he could follow.

In the car Michael looked over at her. She had her signature bun in place and there was a pained look on her face. Obviously, he had hurt her feelings.

“ Look Watson, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean anything by it. I just worry. I mean grandmother worries about you is all.” She had noticed the slip he made and smiled inwardly. He cared.

They arrived at the hospital and Nancy looked tired, but was noticeably happy to see her two favorite people. These two sure move slowly and I’m not getting any younger, she thought. She smiled at them both. What a striking couple they make. This little heart “issue” was just what was needed to bring them together for a while.

“ Oh my dears, I’m so happy to see you both. They say I’m ok but are keeping me for a few days for observation. Can you imagine two whole days? I’ll be bored out of my mind.” Truthfully, she was glad. She had been feeling uncomfortable today but she knew Michael was coming to town and wanted he and Shelby to spend some time together.

“ I’m just glad you’re ok.” Shelby was concerned at how pale she was. “This is my fault. We shouldn’t have been walking this week.”

“ Oh pish posh. It’s probably just gas or something.” Michael rolled his eyes at his grandmother.

It was at that time that the nurse came in.

“ I’m sorry, but you’ll both have to get going Mrs. Jameson need to rest...”

They said their goodbyes and headed out front. Michael was very quiet, brooding again over some business merger gone wrong or something. She glanced over at him and he was caught up in thought, so she let the ride continue on in silence.

They pulled into her apartment complex and Shelby began to open the door.

“ Wait, Watson I’m going up with you. I need to make sure you get in there in one piece.”

“ You don’t have to do that Michael, I’m fine.” She started walking and he followed anyway.

As they reached the top stairs of the building, a man reached over and touched Shelby on her leg making her jump. Michael immediately jumped.

“ Don’t touch her!” he moved between Shelby and the man.

“ Michael it's fine. He is harmless.” Secretly, she was touched that he jumped to her rescue.

Opening the door, they went inside. Michael was again impressed by the simple charm of her place. He sat down on the sofa and was greeted by a flying ball of fur. “Oh my, what is this?” He scruffed the dog on the back of the head and it bounced off.

“ You once told me you had a dog but I hardly think that little thing qualifies, Watson.” He smiled up at her.

Shelby had moved to the other end of the couch. “He is something, that’s for sure.” She giggled as they watched him get into a fight with a dog toy.

“ You should just move into the house with us, Shelby.” Hearing these words, Shelby caught her breath. She even noticed he had used her first name.

“ Why would I do that? I’m perfectly fine here.” What she didn’t say was that she couldn’t handle watching him with the various women he dated. She cared too much about Grandmother Nancy to ruin her relationship by being too close to him.”

At that moment there was an obvious gunshot. Michael jumped up, and in his demanding voice she had grown to love he simply stated, “Get some things, Watson you’re going with me.”

The ride to the house was uneventful. Shelby knew he was mad, but to be honest, she wasn’t sure why. He parked his car in front of the house and they went inside together. "You can have the room down here. I'll sleep upstairs and you know your way around. I’m getting a drink, I certainly need it.”

She could use one herself, she thought as she went into the spare room downstairs. Changing into pajamas, letting her hair down, and tucking Dobbs into the bed, Shelby decided to go into the den where Michael was and get that drink. If, for any other reason but to calm her nerves. Knowing they were here alone was setting her on edge.

He was sitting in the leather-bound chair by the fireplace. He already had a drink, or was it two? Nothing could prepare him for her entrance. It felt like someone had punched him in the stomach. She was in all pink and her hair was flowing down her back. This casual image of her was one he had played out in his mind during one of their conversations on the phone. He had thought about it …and now here it was.

He watched her walk over to the bar, pour a drink for herself, and tip it back. Impressive he thought. He stood up and moved closer to her. He could see all the shades of auburn in her hair when he was up close like this, she smelled like honeysuckle.

“ You’re moving in here, Watson.” He said it with a finality that only made her angry.

“ You can’t tell me what to do, Michael. I work for you, but you don’t own me.” She was flushed with anger as he turned towards her.

“ You could be killed, Watson. That place is dangerous, men groping you in the halls and gunshot…real actual gunshot, Watson.” He ran his hand though his hair.

“ My grandmother would kill me if anything happened to you and I didn’t try and stop it.” She couldn’t help but feel some disappointment at the words. She had hoped he would say something about how he cared.

“ I’m not moving in Michael. Let it go.” She put her glass down and turned to leave. He grabbed her left arm and spun her around. It could have been the alcohol or the stress of the day, but something made him lose himself in that moment.

He gripped her wrist tighter than he meant to and put his right hand into the waves of her hair, pulling her towards him. The kiss had meant to be angry. He needed her to listen to reason but what started out hard, became softer, deeper, and more meaningful. Slowly, he dropped her other wrist and cupped her face in his hands, nipping at her lips and taking in the smell of her skin. When the kiss broke, he looked up at her.

“ Watson, you’re driving me crazy.” He dropped his hands back down and watched the emotions play out on her face. Rocked to her core, Shelby could only stand and wait. Wait for the fluttering to subside, wait for her heart to stop racing, and wait for him to stop looking at her so intently. Not knowing what to say, she turned and walked stiffly back into her room. He followed her.

“ Talk to me Watson. Why are you running from me? I know you feel this craziness just like I do.”

“ Yes I do Michael and that’s why I won’t live here.” She turned to look at him. “I am a mess inside and I need you to go and leave me be so I can think straight.” She saw the pained look on his face but heard him leave the room.

Shelby laid in bed thinking about that kiss. His kiss only intensified the connection they had. It wasn’t all her. That was comforting, but what wasn’t, was that she couldn’t stop the fluttering she felt deep down. The way he moved towards her and the way he kissed deeply and without thought.

Laying here was obviously not going to figure it all out. She decided to go get a drink of water. They came from such different worlds. He always had someone worldly on his arm, some debutante. She had even met a few of them when he was there and she had been working.

The one thing they all had in common was that they were beautiful. Always regal and gorgeous, she always found something to do to keep away from them. After they would leave, Grandmother Nancy always had some snide comment about each one that made Shelby giggle.

“ He will never find the right one unless he shops from a different field," she would say. Smiling now, Shelby opened the refrigerator door and started sifting through things until she found exactly what she wanted. Cake, it was the best cake around and had been left over from a party Grandmother Nancy had earlier that week. She stood there eating quietly, not hearing him until he spoke.

“ You have quite the "strictly business" thing going on here, Watson.”

She slammed the door shut on impulse, having been caught red handed.

“ Yeah I try.” She smiled slightly. He walked over to her and with one finger, wiped the chocolate off her bottom lip.

Feeling the heat begin to creep up again, Shelby took a step back.

“ We need to talk Watson, and now.” He walked until she had backed up to the bar. He moved his face closer to hers.

“ I think it’s obvious that I want you. I don’t know how else to put it.” The bluntness of the statement made Shelby gasp.

“ The only way I’m going to stop trying is if you tell me you don’t feel the same way.” She was pinned between him and the bar and he was watching her face.

“ Michael let me go,” she tried to squirm but it was no use. She was stuck.

“ Just tell me you don’t want me to touch you and I'll leave you alone Watson. Just say it.”

Knowing full well she felt the same way he did she, Shelby did the only thing she thought was right. She looked up at him and ran her finger down the right side of his face.

“ I can’t tell you any of that, Michael because I want the same thing.” Before she could finish the words, he crushed his mouth to hers. He put his hands in her hair tilting her head back more. She kissed him back more fervently, having let go now. He lifted her up off the floor and put her on the bar top. Running his hands along her legs, all the while teasing and nipping her bottom lip.

“ We should stop Michael.” It was more of a pant than a statement.

“ You're right, Watson, we should, but I can’t. Not anymore.” Pulling her to him, he lifted and carried her into the bedroom and kicked the door shut behind him. Sitting her down, she stood motionless, watching him take his shirt off and move towards her. She was frozen to the spot she stood on, not knowing what to do next.

He walked to her and started slowly unbuttoning the front of her pajamas. Each button exposed new skin that he had to kiss. He loved the way she smelled of sunshine and honeysuckle. He looked up at her.

Needing no words, she walked backwards towards the bed, pulling him with her as they went. Sliding back onto the comforter, he followed, pressing the length of him against her body. He looked down and knew in that moment, he was lost. Her hair spilled across the pillow, her lips were parted slightly from being thoroughly kissed, and her eyes were shining up at him. He could tell she was scared and excited. He ran his finger along her bottom lip.

“ I need to hear you say it, Shelby. I need us to be real in this moment and together.”

He gazed at her. “I can stop if you want, but you need to tell me now before I can’t anymore.” His honestly made her want him even more. She slowly pulled her shirt off and tossed it to the floor.

“ I want you Michael, I always have.” Needing no further encouragement, Michael stood and took off the rest of his clothes looking down. He stood back for a moment, letting himself take in her naked form. She was perfect.

Once, he thought her tiny, but looking at her now, he could see every curve she was given. Almost scared to touch her, she made the move first.

“ I’m getting a little self-conscious Michael. What’s wrong with me?” She started to cover up again.

“ No don’t “...he grabbed her hand. “You're beautiful, Watson, absolutely beautiful.” He laid down on the bed again, taking a moment to calm his racing heart. He was acting like a teenage school boy, wondering why in the world was so nervous.

This was different. He knew it and probably always had, but he needed her to feel loved, wanted, and cherished.

The night progressed, and the two made love into the early hours of dawn. Before falling asleep, the last thing she heard was him saying her name and draping one arm across her body. Sometime during the night, Shelby got cold, having been woken up by something, only to find herself naked as the day she was born. She tried to keep from moving, but right before she almost fell asleep, she felt Michael's arm grasp her stomach and pull her into him. He kissed her ear and they drifted back to sleep for a few more hours.

Never a late sleeper, Michael woke up to greet the day with a smile on his face. Shelby was amazing. She was not just beautiful, she was the type of woman men dream of. She gave as much as she received, and never held back. This was something Michael couldn’t help but admire. He looked at her lying among the sheets as he headed upstairs to shower and get ready for the day. He just didn’t have the heart to wake her up.

Shelby woke up to the smells of coffee and the clink of pans. She rolled over to snuggle in more and her eyes flew open as she remembered…everything. Oh wow she had never been so careless in her life. She scrambled to jump in the shower before he found her. Before she was soaped up she heard him come into the bathroom.

“ Watson, I see you’re joining me today finally.” He chuckled.

“ Michael really, I am in the shower, I’ll be right out.” She could only smile as she heard him hum a tune as he left.

What would she do now? It had happened and there was no going back, but she could stop it now. Now that they had gotten it out of their system, she could put Michael Jameson out of her mind altogether.

She entered the kitchen, dressed for the day and ready to go to the hospital. Michael was cheery and leaned towards her as if to get a kiss. She managed to avoid it discretely.

Frowning, Michael went back to cooking. Something was wrong. Breakfast passed with no mishaps and they set off for the hospital.

Grandmother was overjoyed to see them. They each took a side and listened to her tell them about how awful the night had been and the bed situation. She moved on to complain about the food and how happy she would be at home. She could tell something was amiss between the couple, but it would sort itself out.

Michael was having a hard time understanding what Shelby was thinking. The night had been something people only dream about and yet when he got close to her, she ran. Something wasn’t right, but he would find out soon enough.

The doctors came in and discussed the grandmother's situation. They equated it to a chemical reaction to something she ate, at which grandmother smiled. They passed the morning laughing with her, planning the next event. At lunch, the doctors ordered them out, saying she needed her rest, so the couple decided to go to a nearby restaurant for something to eat.

It was a beautiful café, overlooking a pond and situated amongst lush landscaping. They dined on wine and oysters, which were new to Shelby. Michael was about to broach the subject plaguing him, when a woman came up to the table.

“ Michael darling, where have you been?” The woman was like something from the cover of a magazine. She had on long flowing pants and a silk shirt complete with a huge brimmed hat.

“ Baby, I have missed you so much. How nice of you to bring the maid to lunch.” She smiled over at Shelby, who immediately excused herself and went outside.

Angry Michael pushed the woman back away from him. “I told you to leave me alone. Why are you here? Stop calling me and stop following me.”

Without waiting for an answer, he stormed out onto the street and to his car. Shelby was standing by the passenger side and he opened the door, then went to his side and got in.

“ I’m sorry, Watson that was ...the number...” at her confused look he added “remember when you would call and I thought it was her?”

“ Aha that is her.” Shelby still felt awful about the exchange and self-conscious as well. The maid, really?

When they arrived at the house, Shelby went to her room. Thinking she would have some time to think, she was surprised when Michael stormed in behind her.

“ What the hell Shelby, after last night I thought,”

“ What...you thought we would just act like nothing happened? You think I would go away? Well I’m not. I love Grandmother Nancy and I’m not going anywhere.”

“ What are you talking about Shelby? I don’t want you to go anywhere. I want you here. With me.” He said it with such finality, Shelby could do no more than look up at him.

“ What?”

“ I love you Shelby. I have since the day we met and you came here. But when I was at your place and heard that gunshot it was all I could do to not kidnap you myself and tie you up here so I could keep you safe.”

“ But I’m not like you Michael. She called me "the maid" for goodness sake.” She looked down for a moment.

“ Shelby do you really think I care one moment about what people think?” I want you and I choose you.”

Tears were flowing freely now as Shelby looked up at him.

“ Well,” He asked impatiently.

“ Well what? “ She was confused.

“ Damn it Shelby, you're killing me. Do you or do you not feel anything for me?”

Laughing, she ran into his arms and kissed him. “Michael I have loved you from the moment you opened that door.”

He let out an audible sigh. Happy and content, he pulled her close to him and kissed her deeply.

Hand in hand they headed back to the hospital. Grandmother had taken a nap and was refreshed as she looked out the windows to the parking lot. Seeing Michael, she smiled. He really was a good boy. But what made her happiest was seeing him hand in hand with Shelby.

Perhaps her plan had worked after all, and if she played it just right, she could somehow start planning a Fall wedding at the house. She may be getting old, but this was enough to keep her busy for at least a good many years to come.

*********

From Agony To Ecstasy

Marisa stared down at the eviction notice, reading it a second time as her eyes skimmed over the letter. “You are hereby ordered to leave the premises in one week,” she read out loud. She could feel the tears stinging the back of her eyes.

She knew that it was only a matter of time, being two months behind rent and no sign of when she could catch up, she was just thankful that they waited this long. She put the letter in her purse and got out of the car. She could only hope that hours at her waitress job would begin to pick up.

She entered the restaurant, passing through the dining area to get to the time clock. She nodded to the occasional regular customer, giving them her best smile. She didn’t want to show the outside world just how much she was struggling.

When she got in the break room, she headed to the table that always held the new schedule. She looked around and saw that her friend, Chad, was there. “Hey, Marisa, the schedule isn’t out yet.”

“ Oh…” her face fell, then went to the hallway where her boss’ door was wide open. “Is Frank in a good mood?” she asked, with a lighthearted laugh.

Chad shrugged, “Haven’t really had to talk to him.” He stood up from the table and smiled her way. “See ya around.”

She nodded, “Bye, Chad.”

She headed down the hallway and peeked inside to find that he was looking down at some papers and she wondered if it was the schedule. She knocked and he looked up briefly, then his head went back down. “Hello,” he mumbled.

“ Hello,” she nervously looked around the office. “May I talk to you for just a minute?”

He seemed to groan, as he looked back up. “Sure.”

“ Well…I don’t exactly know how to approach the subject.”

He rolled his eyes, “Just say it.”

She sat down in the chair that was facing him. His expectant stare was nerve wracking. “See, I was hoping that maybe next week I could have some extra hours, anything that you can give me.” She was pleading, but she was desperate. She didn’t want to tell him about the eviction notice, so she hoped that it wouldn’t come to that.”

He looked away from her. She saw a pained expression in his eyes. “Marisa, we need to talk.” She didn’t like the sound of that, but she just nodded. “I was going to tell everyone this in a couple of days, but there really is no reason dragging it on. You have been a valuable employee for the last five years and I owe you that much.”

Her jaw dropped, it didn’t sound like happy news that he was about to share. “What are you trying to say, Frank?”

His eyes feel to the stack of papers on his desk. He leaned forward, ruffling through the stack. When his hand landed on a paper, he removed it and handed it to her. She looked down at the pink slip. She skimmed through the notice stating that she was being fired. She looked up at him, but couldn’t find the words. “I’m sorry, Marisa. If I had any other way…I would take it.”

“ You’re firing me?”

“ I’m closing the restaurant,” he slowly spoke. “It hasn’t been good for us. You know the lack of hours and I don’t foresee it getting better.”

“ When?” she asked, hoping that the tears wouldn’t start falling.

“ The buyer wants us out in two weeks.”

She covered her face. She was at a loss for words. “So, you have already sold it?”

He nodded, “I didn’t want to spring it on you guys.”

She stood up from the chair, angry that her world was spinning out of control. She couldn’t fight back the tears much longer. “Spring it on us? Frank, we all have to look for jobs. Did you think of that?”

“ I know, but…”

She brushed away a tear that had fallen down her cheek. “I’m sorry, but you don’t know.” She looked away, “I have to clock in.” She turned from him.

“ Marisa, wait…” he began.

She just shook her head and glanced back toward him. “I need time to think.”

“ Please don’t tell anyone.”

She turned around and sighed heavily. “Really? You want the rest of the staff to be shocked by the news more than they already will be?”

“ I need to tell them and I will tell them.”

She nodded, “Fine. I’ll give you twenty four hours,” she headed out of the office and slid her badge through the time clock. She let out a slow breath, to calm down her nerves, before pushing through the break room door. She needed to figure out what she was going to do and she had no time to waste.

***

Marisa walked in her apartment and headed for the kitchen. She reached for the bottle of wine to pour herself a glass. She needed something to unwind with. When she poured the glass and lifted it to her lips, she found herself thinking about what she was going to do. She put the glass down and left the kitchen.

She went to her room and grabbed her laptop and then took it back to the kitchen. She took a drink and then turned the computer on.

She punched in a website to search for a job. As she narrowed it down to places that were based on location, she gradually looked down the list. She sipped her wine, taking in the positions. Many of the places she wasn’t qualified for, but then her eyes fell on a few positions that were in search of secretaries, assistants, or receptionists.

She jotted down their information, then closed her laptop. She figured it was too late to do anything about the eviction, but she needed to find a job. She downed the rest of the wine and put the dish in the sink.

She headed upstairs and turned on the water in the bath, pouring in his some bubbles. She pulled her clothes off and got into the bath, sinking down so that the bubbles were covering her completely. She could feel the tears falling down her face and she sniffled.

She hated feeling this way. She was alone and losing everything that was important to her. As she wiped a tear from her eye, she heard her cellphone ringing. She grabbed a towel, wiping her arms off and then reached across to her pants, where she removed the phone. She saw on the caller ID that it was her mother. She groaned, but quickly answered the call. “Hey, Mom.”

“ How’s it going?” She asked. Her voice was cheerful, causing Marisa to try to push away her worries.

“ Oh…same ol’ same ol’,” she lied. “How have you guys been?”

“ We have been good. We were hoping you would come home for the Independence Day Barbeque this year.”

When she was living at home, she loved the barbeque. However, she was now twenty-five and had moved away nearly seven years ago. She only went home for the occasional Christmas when she didn’t have to work. “I think I’ll have to work that day and won’t be able to come back.” Again, she stated a lie.

There was a long pause on the other end, before her mother spoke up. “Please try. Your sister has some news and we would love to see you.”

News? Marisa thought. “I’ll see what I can do. I have two weeks to see if I can work it out.”

“ So, you are going to try?” Her mother sounded hopeful.

“ I said I would, but I can’t make any promises,” she snapped, then felt bad that it came across that way. “I’m sorry Mom. It’s just things have been busy.”

“ I understand,” her mother replied and Marisa knew that she really had no idea. “We just really miss you.”

“ Yes, I know. I miss you guys, too.” When she lived at home, her best friend was her sister, who just happened to be only five years younger than her. It was tough on all of them when she decided to take off right out of high school. “Hey, I better go. I hear the doorbell.” She spoke, just wanting to get off the phone.

“ Goodbye, Mom.”

“ Goodbye, Honey. I’ll talk to you soon.”

“ Okay,” she quickly hung up the call and pushed her phone away from her. She didn’t have time to worry about her parents, too. She sighed, closing her eyes. She prayed that she would find a job quickly and all of this could be put behind her.

She unplugged the bath and stepped out of the tub. She would get some much needed rest and then spend all day job searching, if necessary, until she had the perfect one.

***

She crossed off the second job on her list and glanced over the openings. She wasn’t having the best luck, but she still had several positions open that she could apply for. She drove a few blocks and turned a corner, where a large law office stood in front of her. She parked the car and crossed her fingers, heading up to the door.

When she entered, she looked around until she saw a wall that had several names on it. She walked over and glanced down at the listing. “Martz, Tucker, and Bradley Law Firm,” she whispered and then glanced up at the wall and noticed the name in gold letters.

She headed in the direction the arrow pointed, to where she was brought to a narrow hallway.

She saw the glass door with the name of the law firm and she went inside. She looked around to find a lot of bustling going on and people on the phone, talking over copy machines. She noticed a blonde woman, staring at her computer, but she didn’t seem too distracted by other things going on. So, she approached her.

When she didn’t look up, she cleared her throat. Finally the woman looked up, clearly annoyed. “May I help you?” She snapped.

“ Uh…” Marisa looked down at her chicken scratch on the notepad. “I am interested in applying for the job.”

The woman rolled her eyes, “You and every other teeny bopper.”

“ I’m not teeny bopper. I’m twenty-five and…” she began, but that made the woman appear even more annoyed.

“ Yeah, did I ask?” She replied, rolling her eyes.

Marisa felt awkward in that moment, nearly stepping back, apologizing for wasting her time, and leaving. “Um, I—“

“ Go through that door,” she interrupted, “until you will find a large desk and you can ask about the position there. This is a mail room only and we don’t handle such things. If you would have come through the other door, you would have clearly noticed that.” She laughed with sarcasm and then went back to her work.

Marisa wanted to say, did I ask? However, she refrained from being sarcastic and headed toward the door. She opened the door to find a much more reserved area. She walked up to the desk and a middle-aged redhead looked up and smiled. “Hello, may I help you?”

“ Yes, I would like to apply for the position that I saw online.”

The girl nodded, “Of course. The way interviews are being handled is by being interviewed on the spot. It usually lasts about a half an hour. Are you free to stay?”

Marisa’s eyes got big and she nodded, “Of course.”

“ Great. I will see if the boss is available. Please, have a seat over there,” she pointed to the chairs and Marisa went and took a seat. She found herself extremely nervous, as she scrunched the paper in her hands and waited for a response. It was about five minutes later, when she was walking back to her. “You may follow me.”

Marisa attempted several short breaths, to gain her composure. When they reached a door, she noted that she was still as nervous as ever. The woman opened the door, allowing her to walk into an office. The moment she got inside, she saw a tall, dark, and gorgeous guy sitting at his computer.

Her voice escaped her, as he looked up. He had the most magnetizing blue eyes, with brown wavy hair. His smile was charismatic and she was completely gone. “Hello. Please have a seat.” He motioned to the chair in front of his desk.

She sat down, unable to function while looking at him. He smiled, cocking an eyebrow and giving her a peculiar look. “Why don’t you start off with something about yourself.”

She searched for the words, realizing that she had to say something. “Um…my…my name is Marisa Jamison.”

“ Ms. Jamison, it is a pleasure meeting you.” Again he smiled and she was caught off guard. “My name is Jeffrey Bradley, one of the lawyers here.” She smiled, still unable to speak. “Why don’t you tell me about your experience.”

She looked down at her hands, then slowly her eyes went back to him. “Well, I don’t really have much experience. I currently work at a restaurant.”

“ For how long?” He asked, taking down notes.

“ Five years,” she replied, hoping to soon start breathing regularly again.

“ It is true that this is different from a restaurant, but you have to have customer service skills.”

“ I definitely have that,” she spoke, suddenly feeling a bit better.

He smiled, “Tell me why you would want to work in a place like this?”

“ Well, the restaurant I work in is getting ready to close and a lot of positions that I was looking at require more experience. I think this would be an interesting job.” She shrugged, “I am a quick learner.”

He took down some more notes and then looked up. “Well, there have been several applicants. Some more qualified than others. The pay is competitive and we offer a strong benefits package. You would start at $55,000 a year.”

She nearly fell off her chair. “Are…are you serious?”

He nodded, “Did I stutter?” His face was blank, like he had flipped a switch and joined the dark side, but then quietly laughed and she shook off the strange feeling she had.

“ No, but just a bit taken aback.”

He nodded, regaining his smile. He then stood up and she figured that the interview was over. She was bummed to realize that it was only about fifteen minutes and she figured that that was not a good sign. She stood up and shook his outstretched hand. “When can you start?”

Her jaw dropped, “I’m sorry?”

He shot another glare in her direction. “When….can…you…start? My assistant quit last minute and I need a replacement.” He stated, slowly easing out the words.

“ As soon as you need me.” She conceded, knowing that she would have to work around her work schedule. She just was elated by the turn of events.

“ Okay, then I will see you tomorrow.” He sat down and went back to his computer.

She processed the words in her mind, but before leaving she glanced back in his direction. “Tomorrow is Saturday.”

He nodded, “I’m aware, Ms. Jamison.” She paused at his door, but he looked up. “Is working a Saturday not a possibility for you?”