Today’s topic is Beginnings, and what better scene for me to post today than the very start of the Hauberk Protection series. The first book in the series, technically, is Private Property, the tale of how Mark Rodriguez’s plan to surprise his girlfriend Jodi with her fantasy sex list goes slightly awry. But Private Property starts after Mark and Jodi have been having an affair for quite a while and the couple have, unbeknownst to themselves and each other, have fallen in love. (Plus you get a sneak peek intro to Sam, the owner of Hauberk Protection and Mark’s best friend, and why Mark’s company ends up being part of Hauberk.)
After I’d signed the contract for Private Property, Samhain put out a call for short stories that they could post as holiday freebies. That’s when I wrote First Night, the story of how Mark and Jodi’s “no strings attached” affair began….
At the bottom of the post, I’ve included a link so you can read the whole thing, or you can download it as a PDF.
Oh, and Merry Christmas Eve 😉
a short prequel to Private Property
Copyright © 2008 Leah Braemel
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
It might have been the two glasses of champagne that drove Jodi Tyler to consider Terri’s dare. Or maybe, she told herself for the fifth time, she really was concerned her boss was working himself too hard. Or maybe it was just because she was horny.
Though her mouth was moving, Jodi could barely hear a word Terri said over Hector’s attempts at singing and the amps blasting full-power. The music itself wasn’t bad—Juan and Tyrell both played a mean guitar but Hector really needed to be muzzled.
Champagne sloshing over the side of her wine glass, Terri gestured toward their boss who stood in the farthest corner, his cell phone over one ear, and a hand over the other. Terri put her mouth to Jodi’s ear and repeated, “Come on, Jodi. Mark brought his laptop to the party, and when he’s not working on it, he’s been on that damned phone. Someone needs to get him to loosen up.”
Jodi rolled her eyes. “And just how do you propose I do that?”
Terri flattened her free hand over her stomach and waggled her hips. “Take him up to the hospitality suite and do a little mattress rumba with him. There’s no better way to start a New Year than with some hot monkey sex.”
“Jodi,” Terri mimicked Jodi’s exasperation. “He’s not seeing anyone, and neither are you since you finally saw the light about Slimeball Dan. Sex is the perfect way to relax, and honey, you both need to relax. Besides, I’ve seen the way you eye Mark when you think no one’s looking. You’re horny for the man; don’t deny it.”
“I am not!” Yes, I am.
“Coward. It’s time you get back up on the horse and Mark’s the perfect stallion to ride.” Terri shoved the champagne glass into Jodi’s hand. “Here. Give him this. Tell him there’s a private party and he’s invited. I bet he’ll have you seeing fireworks before the ball drops in Times Square.”
Before Jodi could point out that left her less than twenty minutes to saddle up the boss and ride him into the sunset, Terri shoved her in Mark’s direction.
What the heck am I doing? Jodi asked herself as she slowly maneuvered across the dance floor. Wouldn’t it be great to have a partner lead in the mattress rumba for once? What harm can a quickie do? Making up her mind, she pushed through the dancers toward her target. When Mark edged out of the room, she switched directions and followed him into the hall.
“Damn it, where’d he go? He was here a minute ago.” She called to a nearby Celada Security employee chatting up one of the tuxedo-clad waitresses. “Hey, Jake? You see where Mark went?”
Without taking his eyes off the waitress, Jake used his chin to point down the hall. “Try the Hospitality Suite.”
Mark had left the door partially open so she slipped in without knocking and closed the door. She hesitated for a second then threw the deadbolt.
“Yeah, I know, Sam, but Martin’s got me by the short hairs. He’s underbid me on the Huffman Oil contract, and from the sounds of it, he’s going after the Gottfried account as well.” His back to her, Mark Rodriguez sat at the desk, his cell phone still pressed to his ear, two-finger typing something into his laptop.
“I appreciate that but I’ll need some time to think about your offer, okay?” He paused while Sam, whoever that was, replied. The dragon tattoo on his biceps rippled as he stabbed his fingers through his Marine haircut. His shirt pulled tight displaying his shoulder muscles to perfection.
Jodi closed her mouth to stop the drool and glanced around the room. Damn, it wasn’t a bedroom suite, more of a sitting room with only the desk, a couch and a couple of chairs. No mattress rumba. Oh, well, the couch would work just as well.
He barked a short laugh, a deep rumble that had Jodi clenching her thighs together at the sudden ache that developed. Why did the one guy who got her hot have to be her boss? Why couldn’t he just be some guy she’d met at the party and would never have to face again?
“Yeah, Sam, I know there’s a party going on.” Another pause. “Yes. I know sex is a great stress reliever.”
Sheesh, did Terri get to this Sam guy as well? What is with everyone lately?
“Yeah, I’ll think about it. Oh, and Happy New Year, Sam.” He closed his phone then began typing again. He cursed softly in Spanish. “Hey, Terri, what’s the password to the Gottfried account again? I’ve forgotten it.”
“It’s not Terri.” When Mark looked around in surprise, she noticed the dark circles ringing his eyes. Shoot, even if she had a horrible propensity for animal metaphors, Terri was right; Mark was running himself into the ground. She held out the wine glass. “I brought you some champagne. After all, it’s New Year’s Eve, everyone deserves the evening off. Even the boss.”
Mark sighed and gestured to his laptop. “Thanks for the thought, Jodi, but I can’t afford to slack off. I’ve got to get the Gottfried bid in line.”
“I’m not saying,” she said softly, “that you stop work entirely. I’m just suggesting you take a short break. A couple of hours, that’s all.”
He shook his head. “As tempting as that sounds, I can’t.”
“Going to be stubborn, huh?” Jodi set the glass down on the desk. Before he could stop her, she snapped down the lid of his laptop. “Office is closed. You’re done for the day.”
“Hey! What do you think you’re doing?”
“Helping you relax.” After nudging his chair with her knee until he faced away from his laptop, she started massaging his shoulders. Holy cow, the man had muscles to rival an Olympic swimmer and they were tied up in knots. “I’ll make you a bet. If I can get into the Gottfried file, you have to put the work away and celebrate with me.”
Mark groaned as Jodi’s thumbs worked one particularly stubborn knot. “What do I get if you can’t crack the password?”
She leaned down and whispered in his ear, her breath hot on his neck. “Then I’ll be at your command for the night.”
He stilled beneath her fingers. ¡Ay Dios mío! Did she mean that as the come on it implied? Or was she just offering to help him work on the figures for the bid?
“Let me get this straight. If you crack the password, you and I celebrate.” Was that a metaphor for sex or did she just mean he’d go out and mingle with everyone? Please God, let it be a metaphor. “But if you don’t crack the password, you will willingly do whatever I tell you. Even if it’s not work related?”
“You’re assuming I’ll lose the bet. I may not.”
Damn. She had him there. While he should be more concerned about the security of his files, her self-confidence had his cock punching against his zipper.
She moved closer, until her breasts cushioned his head, the massage changing to a caress.
“What do you say, Mark? Do we have a deal? You ready for a little R&R?”
The breathy hitch in her voice told him there was no misunderstanding her intention. Damn, she’s your employee, Rodriguez, this could come back and bite you on the ass.
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