The time has come. *Sniff* The last book of the Winter Falls series has arrived. Lilac, the final sister of the West family, is ready to find love.
Psych! Just kidding. Lilac isn’t ready to find love. *Snort* And certainly not with her grumpasaurus boss. Talk about asking for drama. And we all know one thing Lilac does not do is drama. Want to find out if Lilac can resist her grumpy boss, Beckett? And whether Beckett can convince Lilac to give him a chance?
P.S. There’s no need to worry about leaving Winter Falls. A spin-off series is already in the works. You’ll read all about it in Only Forever.
Need some more convincing? No worries. Read the first chapter of Only Forever below.
Patience – the capacity to tolerate a grumpy boss without wanting to throw him in a steaming pile of burning biomass
At the sound of my boss, Beckett, bellowing my name throughout the office, I close my eyes and search for patience.
The second bellow of my name makes it clear today will not be the day I discover the ability to accept my boss’ interruptions without becoming annoyed, although no one will notice my annoyance. On the outside, I’m completely composed.
I’m always composed. My sisters believe I have no emotions. Just because I don’t fling my emotions at random passers-by the way they do doesn’t mean I don’t have any. There’s no reason to inflict my emotional baggage on other people. I don’t want theirs, why would they want mine?
I inhale a deep breath and let it out slowly before I rise from my chair. I run a hand down my skirt to smooth away the wrinkles caused by hours of sitting before exiting my office and walking to Beckett’s.
I frown when I notice the empty desk in front of his office. His personal assistant should be sitting here. If she were at her desk, he wouldn’t feel the need to yell my name throughout the building.
“Where’s Brandi?” I ask upon entering my boss’ office.
“How should I know?”
Is he serious?
“Because she’s your PA and she could summon people into your office using this handy device known as a telephone allowing you to save your yelling and screaming for your private life.”
A hint of humor flares in his eyes before he blinks, and it’s gone. I wish I could say the hint doesn’t make my belly feel warm and tingly, but I do not lie. It’s not that I don’t have the ability to lie. Nearly everyone has the ability to lie. I simply choose not to.
Beckett clears his throat and despite knowing the likelihood of whatever he’s planning to say angering me, I can’t help myself from anticipating the sound of his voice. His voice is deep and gravely. It’s on the top of the long list detailing the reasons why the man is the sexiest person I’ve ever met.
Next on the list is his face. Combine his deep blue eyes, high cheekbones, and square jaw and all the standard requirements for sexy have been not only met but exceeded. It would be a perfect face except his nose is a bit too straight and there’s a small bump in the middle of it as if it’s been broken in the past. If he didn’t spend all his time barking at me, I’d ask him what happened.
I mustn’t forget to mention his hair, which also makes the top ten of the list. It’s thick and dark except when the sun shines and streaks of blond become visible. Those streaks along with the curl at his neck give him a careless, youthful appearance despite his age of thirty-eight.
If his sexy voice and almost perfect face weren’t enough to cause flutters in my belly, his body could do the job all on its own. I’m quite tall for a woman at five-foot-nine and Beckett at an even six-foot is the perfect size for me. Not too tall, but not too short either.
He also spends a great deal of time working out causing his biceps to strain at the sleeves of his button-down tops. Men who work out a great deal can quickly become disproportional with overdeveloped neck muscles and underdeveloped quadriceps, but Beckett’s body is the perfect balance.
“I don’t scream,” he protests, and my contemplation of his sexiness comes to a complete halt.
I raise an eyebrow and cross my arms over my chest. There’s no need to speak. He knows very well he was screaming since my office is down the hall from his and yet I heard him perfectly.
“How did your meeting with the White Bridge city administrators go? Are they interested in our firm helping to improve their recycling?”
At his question, I enjoy a moment of imagining myself strangling him. Not to death. Just enough to cause him to lose the ability to speak for a while.
I’m not a violent person. I would never actually strangle him, but I read an article suggesting imagining the act as a way to cope with frustration with a person. An article I only read because Beckett is the most frustrating person I’ve ever met.
Although his question seems appropriate enough – I did meet with the city administrators today to discuss their recycling program – it’s not. Before Beckett arrived and took over the CEO position at Clean Mountain Environment last year, I had complete autonomy over my work.
“I’m nearly finished with the report. I’ll have it on your desk by tomorrow morning.”
He growls in annoyance, and my stomach dips at the sound. Beckett Dempsey may be the most frustrating man on the planet, but his sexy growls make me want to do wicked things to him and with him.
No, Lilac. Those thoughts are highly inappropriate. Beckett Dempsey is your boss. You do not want to do wicked things with him. It’s the sexual frustration speaking. Ever since Beckett showed up, I haven’t had any time to meet with a sexual partner.
I frown. Sexual partner? Considering it’s been months since I had sex, I think it’s safe to say I no longer have any sexual partners. Damn Beckett.
“I don’t want to wait for the report. I want to know what the city administrators said from you. Now,” he grits out between clenched teeth.
I don’t know why he’s angry. He has no right to be angry. I’m the one who should be angry. He’s questioning my work. No one questions my work.
“I’ll get my report,” I say and pivot on my heel to march out of the room.
I ignore the rest of whatever he says. If I don’t get out of his office as soon as possible, I’m going to kill him. I know killing’s wrong, but if anyone can get away with murder, it’s me. I know numerous ways to make his death appear to be an accident.
Alternatively, I can dispose of the body in such a way as to ensure it’s never found again. The biomass project I’m working on in my hometown of Winter Falls would be a perfect place. No. I shut those thoughts down. I can’t corrupt the project with a human body. Besides, the project isn’t ready yet.
The mere fact I’m contemplating corrupting my project is an indication of how strong my anger is. How dare Beckett question my work? Who does he think he is?
I am aware he is the CEO of Clean Mountain Environment and technically my ‘boss’, but I maintain I don’t need a boss. I’ve been working at the environmental engineering firmever since I completed my master’s degree eight years ago. I’ve proven myself to be an independent worker who finishes her projects on time – if not ahead of time – with hardly any complaint from customers.
I print the report – in triplicate as you never know how many copies you’ll need – and save it on an external device as well before returning to Beckett’s office.
I place the items on his desk. “Here you are. If there’s nothing else…,” I trail off as I make my way to the door.
“Hold up,” he says, and I stop a mere footstep away from the door. “I want to discuss your recommendations to the city.”
He wants to discuss my recommendations? Is he questioning my work? How dare he!
I should quit. I don’t need the aggravation this man causes in my life. He telephones and messages me at all times of the day and night as if it’s his right and interrupts my personal life with questions that could easily be answered during working hours. Ever since he became the CEO, my work-life balance has disappeared.
Do not misunderstand me. I love my job. I love my chosen field of work. I don’t mind working extra hours. I have no problem with the work portion of my work-life balance being on the heavier side. I do have a problem with not having control of how the balance is maintained.
Unfortunately, quitting isn’t my best option. Clean Mountain Environment is the only environmental engineering firm within driving distance of my hometown of Winter Falls. Unless I want to relocate – and I don’t – I have to persevere with Beckett as my boss.
“Perhaps it would be more helpful if you read my report and my recommendations first,” I suggest to the door since I can’t turn around without it being perfectly clear to my boss how pissed off I am at this moment.
“Come sit down,” he orders. “You can explain your recommendations to me in person instead of me having to read a boring report.”
I bristle. My report is anything but boring. It outlines the numerous avenues White Bridge can pursue to improve their recycling program and how we can assist them with this endeavor.
While I realize this type of work sounds boring to the majority of people, I maintain it’s fascinating. Growing up in Winter Falls – the first carbon neutral town in the world – gave me an appreciation of the environment and how important it is. Inventing creative ways to save it is invigorating.
I inhale a deep breath and count to ten before letting it out. The action doesn’t calm me – at least, not completely – but it is enough to smooth out the anger in my face.
“I didn’t realize you needed my help understanding recycling,” I say as I sit down across from him.
He chuckles and his blue eyes sparkle. “Good thing you’re here to help me then.”
I frown. He isn’t supposed to be amused. He should be offended.
“If you don’t understand recycling methods, you shouldn’t be the CEO,” I tell him.
The humor disappears. “Do not question my competency,” he growls.
My core trembles at his growl and I cross my legs to relieve some of the growing tension. Beckett’s eyes drop to my legs. When his gaze returns to my face, heat is evident in his eyes. I want to run away before I lose control of my sexual desire for him, but I quash the impulse. Running away won’t improve the situation.
I must continue to maintain strict control over my emotions. My sexual desire is immaterial as he believes I’m incompetent. I will never spend time on a man who thinks I don’t know how to do my job. Besides, he’s my boss. Work relationships are statistically doomed to fail.
Even if such a relationship weren’t doomed from the start, working with someone you’re personally involved in is complicated, and I don’t do complicated.