Naughty Santa, страница 1
Copyright © Janelle Denison, December 2016
Photograph and eBook Cover Design by Sara Eirew Photography
eBook Formatting by BB eBooks
All right reserved. No part of this may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved. No part of this publication can be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without permission in writing from Author.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
About the Author
Go ahead. Do it. No one will ever find out.
This gleeful goad came from the little devil sitting on Amanda Creighton’s left shoulder. Of course Devilish Desiree—the name Amanda had given the more daring part of her conscience—was a figment of her own imagination. Still, the little female devil always seemed to pop up whenever the tiniest glimmer of a naughty thought happened to cross Amanda’s mind. With her red sparkly halter top, short miniskirt and matching four-inch heels, Desiree was ready and willing to lead Amanda straight into all sorts of temptation.
Thank God she had Angelic Angie, the prim and proper angel who sat on her right shoulder, to counter Desiree’s wicked suggestions. Even now, Angie was fighting to preserve Amanda’s integrity.
Don’t do it, Amanda, Angie said in that reproachful tone she normally used when Desiree was involved. You know it’s wrong.
Desiree rolled her eyes and crossed one long red silk-stocking leg over the other. Don’t listen to her, she whispered in Amanda’s ear. She’s such a Goody Two-Shoes, and that halo above her head is just way too straight and shiny, if you ask me. She’s the reason why you never have any fun.
Amanda leaned back in her office chair and rubbed her temples with the pads of her fingers. She found it hard to argue Desiree’s point because when it came to any indecision Amanda might have about right or wrong, or the merest thought about doing something mischievous, Angie’s logic and rationale always won out. And that meant Amanda usually did the honorable thing, which made her way too uptight and boring, in Desiree’s estimation.
It had been that way since Amanda was twelve. Desiree and Angie had arrived shortly after her mother had died, and they’d been with her ever since, playing tug-of-war with her psyche. After the loss of her mother, and as the only child of her workaholic father, she’d spent a lot of time alone, trying to make decisions for herself—which was what had undoubtedly prompted Desiree and Angie’s initial appearance. As a young girl, they’d kept her from making bad choices, or succumbing to peer pressure at school.
Even now that Amanda was twenty-seven, they both still believed that they each knew what was best for her and had no qualms about stating their opinions on various matters—from family issues, to the clothes she bought—even the men she chose to date.
Today, it had been a brief “what if” scenario with the office’s bad boy, Christian Miller—whom she had a major crush on—that had prompted a visit from Desiree. The impish she-devil had been enthusiastic about encouraging the inappropriate ideas dancing in Amanda’s mind, which was quickly followed by Angie and her attempts at damage control.
With a shake of her head, Amanda picked up the neat, handwritten list of names she’d been reviewing before being interrupted by the voices of her conscience. When she’d volunteered to organize this year’s Secret Santa list for the executive floor’s holiday party, she’d figured it would be a relatively easy and simple task.
Connoisseur, a food and travel magazine that was owned by her father, was a large publishing company that was made up of many different departments and levels—each of which were having their holiday parties on whatever day suited their group the best. The executive floor, which also included accounting, human resources and sales, had taken a vote, and the Friday before Christmas had won out for their get-together and Secret Santa exchange.
As executive editor of Connoisseur, and her father’s right-hand woman, Amanda had developed a reputation for being well-organized, efficient and dependable, so everyone seemed perfectly happy when she’d offered to be the keeper of the list.
For the most part, coordinating the Secret Santa gift exchange had been just a matter of putting all of the office employees’ names into a paper bag, then letting each person draw a piece of paper to find out who they’d be purchasing a gift for. Amanda kept a master list of who picked whom, and went ahead and randomly drew names for the employees who were out for the day. Everything had been going smoothly, until she’d opened the piece of paper she’d picked for Stacey Roberts, the office bimbo, and had read the name Christian Miller, the top sales executive for the magazine.
Amanda’s pulse had raced, as it always did when it came to Christian. With his pitch-black hair, dark blue eyes and a body made for sin, he was the stuff that made up most of her deepest, fondest fantasies. Adding to his good looks was a charming, flirtatious personality and a smile that had the ability to melt polar ice caps. It was no wonder most of the women in the office had a secret crush on him. Herself included.
As much as she knew that Stacey would love to be paired up with Christian—preferably horizontally if the busty blonde had her way—Amanda couldn’t bring herself to give Stacey that kind of satisfaction, which the other woman would undoubtedly exploit to her advantage.
That was when Amanda’s thoughts had drifted and she’d fantasized about keeping Christian for herself, and giving Stacey her office archrival slut, Melissa Wintz, instead. The thought of pairing up those two she-cats held a whole lot of appeal and would no doubt add some fun to the gift exchange.
Come on, Amanda, Desiree cajoled. You know you want to switch those names so you can be Christian’s Secret Santa. And why not? You’ve been attracted to him for the past year. Besides, he’s gorgeous, single and hotter than Hades.
Amanda grinned at Desiree’s amusing play on words, until Angie jumped in with her side of things.
He’s all wrong for you, she said with a disapproving shake of her head. He doesn’t do relationships and he has a reputation for being a player. Don’t you remember when he got caught in the boardroom in a very compromising position with that hussy from production?
Amanda remembered the scandalous incident very well, which had caused a flurry of office speculation and gossip to run rampant about Christian’s sexual prowess. Those juicy, titillating rumors had served to add plenty of spice to the personal fantasies she’d had about the man, and also made her wish she had the nerve to be as bold and brazen as the woman he’d been with.
Unfortunately, she also recalled her father’s disappointment when he’d summoned the pair into his office the very next day to deliver a reprimand, along with a warning to keep their hands, and other body parts, to themselves during work hours. Luckily for Christian, the issue had become a moot point when the production assistant had quit two weeks later.
He’s a ladies’ man and a philanderer, Angie went on with determination. He has more notches on his bedpost than you have designer shoes in your closet.
Gorgeous stilettos that rarely see the light of day, I might add, Desiree said as she admired
Leave it to Angie to use her one guilty pleasure to press her point home, and Desiree to mourn the fact that Amanda’s huge shoe collection went unappreciated. Amanda definitely had a weakness for sexy shoes, with Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik topping as her favorite designers. They were all openly displayed in her walk-in closet for her to look at, touch and even slip on her feet occasionally.
But Desiree was right—she didn’t wear them outside of her house. Four-inch heels weren’t practical for everyday wear, and those fun, sexy shoes didn’t exactly go with the business suits and modest outfits she wore at the office. At least not without attracting a whole lot of attention, including her father’s scrutiny. Amanda had long ago decided that as some women collected porcelain dolls or rare figurines that they displayed for their viewing pleasure, she did the same with designer shoes.
Your shoe fetish aside, being a womanizer isn’t necessarily a bad thing, Desiree stated, bringing the conversation back to Christian and all the reasons why Amanda ought to consider having a fling with him. And so what if he doesn’t do relationships? What more could a girl want for Christmas than a holiday dalliance with someone who is built like a God and knows what he’s doing in the sack?
Amanda winced at that last remark. Desiree was obviously referring to her last steady boyfriend, whom she’d referred to as the one-minute wonder because of his lack of stamina when it came down to doing the deed. Once in, once out, and he was done for the night, leaving Amanda to her own devices if she wanted an orgasm.
But it hadn’t been just the bad sex that had brought their relationship to an end. Like most of the men who wanted to date Amanda, he’d been more attracted to her name, wealth, and what her very powerful publisher-father could do for him and his own career.
Lips pursed, Angie smoothed a hand down her immaculate white gown. Christian is all wrong for you, and after that fiasco in the boardroom, your father would hardly approve of him as a suitor.
Suitor? It’s not like she’s going to marry the guy. Besides, Daddy wouldn’t ever have to find out that she’s getting some on the side from the office stud. A sly grin curved the corners of Desiree’s lips. Don’t forget, he’s been quite respectable the past eight months or so. He’s cleaned up his act and been quite focused lately.
Only because there’s a promotion on the line, Angie argued pointedly. He has his eye on that promotion to sales director. He wants to impress Amanda’s father by proving that he’s a responsible, reliable team player now instead of the cad he was back in the boardroom.
True, Desiree agreed as she glanced at her fire-engine red painted fingernails. But he can’t remain a monk forever, and that could certainly work to Amanda’s advantage.
The banter in her head was making Amanda crazy. “Arghhh! Stop already,” she ordered the two of them in a firm tone, grateful that her office door was closed so no one could hear this bizarre conversation she seemed to be having with herself. “I never said I wanted to have an affair with him.”
Desiree leaned close and whispered in her ear. You might not have said it out loud, but you’ve thought about it plenty. I would know since I spend a lot of time in that head of yours.
Way too much time, Amanda was beginning to realize. And when had this discussion gotten so out of hand? She’d only pondered the idea of switching names to be Christian’s Secret Santa—secret being the operative word—and it had blown into a full-fledged attack on her lack of a love life.
Amanda inhaled a deep, calming breath. “I’m not going to have a fling with him.”
The halo above Angie’s head shone brightly as she cast the red devil on Amanda’s shoulder a triumphant smile. Good girl.
Desiree shook her head in disappointment. You’re going to die without ever experiencing true passion and mind-blowing sex.
Amanda couldn’t take it anymore. “Go away, both of you,” she muttered.
“Go. Now.” Amanda shut her eyes and forced the two troublemakers out of her head with a deliberate mental block. When blessed quiet reigned for a good long minute, she slowly opened her eyes and thanked a higher power for the silence.
Biting her lower lip, she glanced at the gift-exchange list again, this time contemplating her idea without any extraneous input from the distracting duo. All she wanted was to feel like a seductive, sexy woman and a bit of a bad girl—and know that she was capable of attracting the interest of a man like Christian, even if it was in a secret way.
With confidentiality working in her favor, she could be a little reckless and purchase him a gift that would seduce his mind and body. She could watch his reaction as he opened the present without fear of him ever finding out that she was the one who’d given him something so provocative. It would be like having her own private, sexual interlude with Christian, but without any emotional or physical involvement.
Being his Secret Santa would be safe and fun, for both of them, she thought with a smile. He’d no doubt enjoy the attention and thrill of temptation that came with the present he opened, but like all of his previous relationships, she had no doubt the initial intrigue would eventually fade and he’d forget all about who might have sent him the suggestive holiday gift. And ultimately, no one would ever have to know what she’d done.
Excitement and anticipation blossomed within her, and she had to admit that she liked the sensation that came with being impulsive and adventurous. Before she could change her mind, or Angie and Desiree could reappear with their opinions on the matter, Amanda picked up her pen and jotted Christian’s name down on the Secret Santa list.
Right next to her own.
Christian hustled down the corridor toward the office of Douglas Creighton, the owner and publisher of Connoisseur magazine. He’d been summoned by the big boss, and since there was a promotion dangling on the horizon, he wasn’t about to keep him waiting any longer than necessary.
Christian had spent the past eight months trying to repair his tarnished reputation after the disastrous incident with Maureen Bowen in the boardroom, and that meant dodging advances from other women in the company who believed he was an easy catch, especially Stacey Roberts, who’d made it her mission to end his oath of celibacy.
He’d worked hard ever since Maureen’s departure from the company, dedicating long hours at the office coming up with new and innovative sales strategies that had catapulted him to the number-one sales executive for the past six months in a row. He’d instantly turned down invitations to join his buddies at the local hot spot for a few drinks and an evening of hitting on willing women. He no longer took two-hour pleasure lunches, and the only phone calls he received at work were strictly business. Even his friends were calling him a monk because it had been months since he’d gotten laid.
No doubt about it, he’d cleaned up his act and kept his focus on the job and the possibility of snagging the sales director promotion he wanted so badly. In a few weeks, after Christmas and the first of the year, he’d finally find out if his drive, dedication and respectable way of living had paid off.
As he made his way through the executive floor toward Creighton’s wing of offices, he passed a maze of cubicles dominating the center of the twenty-seventh floor of the Jackman Butler Building in New York City, where employees were busy at work. The outer offices flanking the cubicles had amazing views of Manhattan and were reserved for the higher-ups in the company. It was Christian’s ultimate goal to earn one of those coveted offices for himself, with floor-to-ceiling windows, paneled walls to hang pictures, and a cherry wood desk large enough to spread out his work without feeling cramped.
He returned his gaze back to where he was going just as Stacey stepped out from her cubicle and deliberately into his path. Her sudden appearance in front of him forced Christian to come to an abrupt halt or collide into her Double Ds, which were one breath away from spilling ou
Unfortunately, Stacey had her sights set on him, and he wasn’t interested. He’d thwarted her advances more times than he could count, but she gave the words determination and persistence new meaning. She was just too easy, and despite his own bad-boy reputation, he realized that he’d changed over the past eight months. He’d become more particular and discriminating, and less promiscuous. Somewhere along the way, he’d developed standards and overly assertive women like Stacey no longer appealed to him.
Still, he smiled at her because there was no sense in making an enemy out of the woman by outright telling her how he felt. He did, after all, have to work with her every day. “Cute outfit, Stace. I’m sure you’ll be a big hit at the party today.”
“I’m glad you like it,” she said as her fingers toyed with the white furry ball hanging from the tip of her red velvet Santa hat. “Care to jingle my bells?” She jiggled her breasts, and the two little silver bells attached to the bow barely securing the front of her dress made a light tinkling sound.
He wasn’t about to touch that double entendre. “Uh, sorry, but I’ll have to pass. If I don’t hustle, I’m going to be late for my meeting with Douglas.”
“You’re no fun anymore, Christian,” she said, her cherry-red lips forming a sultry pout. “You know what they say about all work and no play…”
Yeah, it would hopefully give him the promotion he was after. “I’m sure I’ll have fun at the holiday party this afternoon.”
She brightened considerably at the mention of the department’s get-together. “That’s right. We’re exchanging Secret Santa gifts.” She ran her index finger down the front of his tie and leaned in close. “If you’ll let me be your secret Santa Claus, I promise to give you a gift guaranteed to blow your mind, among other things,” she added suggestively.