An Executive Decision
Sex in the contract – it’s the only way super-focused, over-worked CEO, Ellison Thorne, is ever going to get laid. That’s what his retiring business partner and secret match-maker, Beverly Neumann, thinks. She’s convinced no-strings, stress-free sex in certain employee contracts would raise productivity and minimize stress — perfect for a busy executive like Ellis. But she’s joking, right?
Enter her hand-picked replacement, Dee Henning. Young, hungry, gifted, Dee is the queen of no time for sex. When negotiations on a major project break down, and Dee and Ellis end up in each other’s arms, the Executive Sex Clause suddenly becomes more than a joke. In fact hot executive sex just might be the ultimate secret weapon for success. But secrets seldom remain secret, and Dee and Ellis soon learn there’s no such thing as no-strings where the heart is concerned.
At last Ellis pushed his chair back and looked up at her. ‘Marston refused the proposal.’
‘I’m sorry,’ Dee said again.
‘Not that it was a huge surprise, but I could have done nicely without him berating me for hiring someone incompetent and irresponsible to take Beverly’s place. That didn’t exactly make my day. What the hell happened?’
She felt the heat rising up her spine and onto her ears. ‘I overslept.’ She forced the words out into the chilled room.
‘Yes.’ She nodded imperceptibly, feeling the scrutiny of his glare.
For a long moment he just stared at her. She forced herself to meet his gaze and held her tongue, afraid if she tried to say anything she’d burst into tears, and she despised women who cried.
‘That’s it, then? You overslept.’
She nodded again, swallowing hard.
‘Well that’s a relief.’ He leaned forward in his chair and rose almost as though he were going to leap over the desk and pounce. The tension in his body was palpable. ‘I was afraid you were lying on the freeway somewhere in a pool of blood. I’m so relieved that it was nothing so dire, and that you simply overslept.’ With each word, his voice grew louder until he wasn’t exactly yelling, but neither was there any way she could miss his message as each word drove her deeper into her chair until she felt as trapped as if she had been tied there.
‘I’m sorry,’ she forced a whisper through the roadblock in her throat, but the stinging behind her eyes warned that a swift exit would be necessary if she were to avoid the flood.
‘Sorry? You’re sorry? Tally had to pick up the slack. Do you have any idea how that looked? Just when I was starting to make progress with Marston, just when the man was beginning to listen to reason, you oversleep. You made Jamison’s deal seem all the sweeter, that’s what you did. Now, tell me what the hell’s going on.’
He moved from behind his desk and paced the carpet in front of her like a bull ready to charge. ‘You’re supposed to be working to shore up the situation with Scribal. I told you up front that’s your major concern at the moment, then not only do you oversleep and miss an important meeting, but I find out you’ve been working on something else behind my back.’ Before she could respond, he turned on her. ‘Is Trouvères what you’ve been staying up half the night and missing meetings for? When I hired you, I never thought you, of all people, would neglect your responsibilities.’
‘I’m not neglecting anything. If you would just –’
He interrupted her. ‘Don’t think just because I gave you this job, you suddenly know it all. I took a big risk hiring you.’ He stopped pacing and rooted himself in front of her, close enough that she had to strain her neck to look up at him. ‘You want to do something; you bring it to me first. You’re not ready to make that kind of decision on your own. You don’t have the experience it takes to…to… You’re not Beverly.’
His words were a hard slap, felt more than heard above the roar in her ears. She wasn’t sure the ragged breathing her brain finally registered in the chasm of silence that followed his tirade was his or her own.
The phone rang into the charged atmosphere and Ellis jerked it from its cradle in a strangle hold. ‘This had better be good, Lynn. Wade? What the hell does he want? Can’t it wait? We’re not finished yet. I can what?’ He heaved a sigh of resignation and slammed the receiver back down. ‘Wade wants to see you right now. He says I can get back to you on this, and believe me, I intend to.’ He nodded toward the door. ‘Well, go on, at least don’t keep him waiting. Pick up the notes on the meeting from Sandra.’
She stood on trembling legs and turned to go. As she reached for the door, he called to her. ‘Dee, I strongly suggest you make no more attempts to prove Marston right about you.’
Sandra joined her in the hall. ‘I have the meeting notes for you.’
‘Just put them on my desk. Wade wants to see me.’
Sandra nodded. ‘Yes, I know. I told him he did. And I told him to give you a few minutes in the ladies to freshen up first.’ She offered a reassuring smile and turned on her heels.
Still breathing like a freight train, Ellis watched Dee disappear shutting the door behind her. He grabbed up the phone and called his secretary. ‘Lynn, hold all my calls. I don’t want to be disturbed. How long? Until I say otherwise, that’s how long.’ He slammed the receiver down, snapped his laptop shut and stormed down the hall to the lounge.
He shoved his way out of his jacket and tossed it across the wingback chair, then practically strangled himself in his efforts to loosen his tie. From the coffee table he grabbed up the remote and plunged the room into the wild raucous ride of the third movement of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. Then he dropped onto the sofa struggling to breath, struggling to regain control, struggling to figure out what the hell had just happened. All through the meeting, when Dee didn’t show up, he was terrified that something horrible had happened, terrified that he would lose Dee the same way he had lost Beverly. And the relief he felt at seeing her. Jesus, the relief was like nothing he’s ever felt before.
If Lynn hadn’t called, if Wade hadn’t demanded Dee’s presence … If Ellis had had one more second with her, he would have yanked her up from the chair and fucked her senseless right there in the middle of the day with all of Pneuma Inc just outside his door, fucked her as though he might never get another chance, fucked her as though his life depended on it, and that’s exactly how it felt. He wiped cold sweat from his forehead and struggled to breathe. If he’d lost her, Jesus! He couldn’t even bear the thought.
Christ, he couldn’t go on like this. It felt like he was always either avoiding her or jerking off thinking about her. And damn if he wasn’t thinking about her all the time; the shape of her, the feel of her, the sass of her. He’d never wanted anything so badly. And then … and then she screws up so royally that all he wanted to do was punish her, to turn her over his knee for giving him such a scare, to … to … to fuck her until she couldn’t walk.
“If you like a really good romance, with a plot that twists and turns, with tension and sizzling sex scenes, then An Executive Decision is a must read.” Kay Jaybee
“This new trilogy is slightly more romantic and vanilla than our erotic KD Grace but believe me you get carried along by such a great storyline you will not even notice; sex can be just as hot even in vanilla standards. This is a brilliant read and fantastic 1st book as Grace Marshall. I can’t wait for the next two.” Midnight Boudoir
“Lots of conflicts, emotions, and differing goals that need to come together, but it is well done. Pretty good sex, too!” 4 out of 5, Manic Readers
“I absolutely loved the storyline, thought it was very original and well-developed. If you are looking for a HOT romance that you won’t be able to put down, look no further, An Executive Decision is your next read!” 5 out of 5, Flirty and Dirty Book Blog
“I enjoyed this fast-paced, action and emotion-filled book from cover to cover… The author wrote an intriguing story with a concept I am sure more than one executive would be willing to put into action. Beware! The law of attraction grabs fast and it grabs hard, so grab a glass of good wine and hang on for the ride. Better grab the bottle while you’re at it.” My Life. One Story at a Time
“I had high expectations for Grace Marshall and I am pleased to report that she met them. I can see why she is popular; her writing is just that good!” 4 out of 5, Thoughts of a Growing Sub
“An Executive Decision is a brilliant first novel from Grace Marshall. The storyline has a great blend between the romance and the other plot elements, and each of the elements combines to make this a real page-turner. Despite its whopping word count, I whizzed through this in a couple of days, and am looking forward to the next book.” Erotica For All
“I really like this book. Once I started reading, it was hard to put down. The story-line was intriguing and I wanted to find out what was going to happen next. There are more than a few steamy scenes, so have some ice on hand. If you want a steamy office romance this is just the book for you.” 4 out of 5, The Jeep Diva
“I couldn’t put this book down, I read through it in one day… I’ve already purchased the next book in the three book series “Identity Crisis” and can’t wait to dive in head first to Garrett and Kendra’s story, and I can only guess at what the last book in the saga will bring… but I’ll be chomping at the bit to get to that one too.” 4 out of 5, Rom Fan Reviews
“This is a must read romance novel. Ms. Marshall is an excellent writer who infuses her stories with strong emotions. This sexy sweet romance novel is highly recommended to those who enjoy a good plot and great characters.” 4 out of 5, La Crimson Femme