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Unbuttoning the ceo, p.19

Unbuttoning the CEO, page 19

 part  #1 of  The Suits Undone Series

 

Unbuttoning the CEO
 


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  www.MiaSosa.com

  Twitter: @MiaSosaRomance

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  Look for the next book in Mia Sosa’s The Suits Undone series, available in May 2016!

  A preview follows.

  CHAPTER ONE

  The skin on the back of Karen Ramirez’s neck prickled, warning her of the ambush a second before it happened. Before she could do anything about it, her older sister, Gracie, thrust a tumbler in her hand. “Swallow it.”

  Her sister’s best friend, Mimi, erupted into a high-pitched cackle. “That’s what he said.” The petite blonde donned a coquettish smile and swayed to the music blasting through the club’s speakers.

  Karen gripped the heavy base of the whiskey glass and lifted the drink to her lips, buoyed by the steady beat of the unfamiliar pop song vibrating around her. Having chained herself to the desk in her dorm room for the last four years, she had no clue what to make of the song or the strobe lights flashing through the upscale club in D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood. It all seemed . . . a bit much.

  She pursed her mouth in distaste at the offending liquid and stared at Gracie with pleading eyes. When that didn’t work, she shook her head in tepid refusal.

  “It’s whiskey, not mouthwash,” Mimi pointed out. “Stop swishing it around in your mouth like that.”

  Okay, might as well get this over with. Karen gulped a generous amount of the honey-colored liquid and thumped a fist over her heart as the burn sped down her chest and settled in her stomach. Disgusting. People drank that crap on purpose?

  Gracie, radiant as usual in a sleek black dress, patted Karen’s back and smiled. “C’mon, Karen. Relax. It’s not every day a Ramirez woman graduates from college. The books will be there in the morning.” Gracie swept her arms in the direction of the dance floor. “For tonight, you need to let loose. Throw caution to the wind.”

  “Release your inner hussy and screw a hot man,” Mimi added as she handed Karen more whiskey, this time in a shot glass.

  Gracie’s smile faded and she pinned Mimi with a warning stare. “Whoa there, partner. Rein it in. This is my baby sis you’re talking to.”

  Mimi refused to shrink away. “Your baby sis is an adult. And she’s entitled to sex, too, Ms. Getting-It-Every-Day-and-Making-the-Rest-of-Us-Jealous.”

  Gracie covered her ears. “La, la, la. Next subject, please.”

  Karen waved a hand in front of the dynamic duo. “Hello? I’m here, you know.” She tipped back her head and took another shot. Good lord. Would she grow hair on her chest tonight, too?

  Gracie dropped her hands and gave her sister a sheepish grin. “Sorry, Kar. Anyway, let’s find a spot on the dance floor. I want to dance before Ethan gets here.”

  Karen didn’t know her sister’s boyfriend well; she’d been too busy at school to get to know him. But if he had a possessive streak, she and Gracie would have a talk—and then she’d be calling her male cousins in New York to have a “talk” with him.

  Karen drew her sister to her side. “Why the rush? He doesn’t like you to dance?”

  Gracie shook her head. “No, nothing like that. The man has two left feet. I’m saving myself from the embarrassment.”

  Relieved, Karen took a last shot of whiskey—it went down easier the third time around—and let Gracie lead her to the dance floor, where Mimi had already managed to draw a semicircle of men around her.

  Karen’s heart rate quickened as strangers’ bodies pressed against her. For someone who relished her personal space, this setting was less than ideal. Still, Gracie and Mimi were right. It wouldn’t hurt to celebrate a little before she buckled down for the road ahead. Four years of medical school. Four years during which she’d have no time for distractions. Tonight, though, she could afford to throw caution to the wind. How much trouble could she get into with her sister in tow anyway?

  * * *

  Karen groped the wall and tried not to trip as she made her way to the ladies’ room. Did the hall have to be so freakin’ dark? She pressed her face against the velvet-covered wall, sighing when the soft fabric touched her cheek. Mmmm. Nice.

  Speaking of which, whiskey was nice. She’d unfairly maligned the drink before experiencing the heady warmth that spiraled in her belly and radiated out to her limbs. Unfortunately, though, the whiskey also affected her in other, less welcome ways. Every step took more effort than she had energy for, like she was swimming in a giant vat of chewing gum. And a sheen of perspiration coated her arms. But she’d convinced Gracie that she was sober enough to get to the restroom, and she was determined to get there. Otherwise, she’d pee on herself in this swank club.

  A few minutes later, after pressing a cool, wet cloth to her forehead and reapplying her lipstick, Karen left the ladies’ room and slammed into a wall. Of chest. She sniffed the dress shirt that covered said chest and grinned. A woodsy scent with a hint of citrus filled her nostrils. Everything was so damn nice in this club.

  She might have hummed her approval. Maybe. And the ensuing silence forced her to realize what she was doing. “You’re going to be a gentleman and pretend I didn’t sniff you, right?”

  Strong hands helped her to remain upright. “Sure. You okay down there?”

  The man with the baritone voice didn’t bother to hide his amusement with her predicament. She lifted her head, wanting desperately to meet the owner of that voice. And sure enough, the owner did not disappoint. What she could see of him, at least.

  Dark hair. Dark eyes. Devilish smile. That smile made her want to run, but she held her ground, because if she didn’t, she’d topple over in the stilettos Gracie had persuaded her to wear.

  She drew back a bit to survey him and experienced an inexplicable urge to snuggle into his massive chest. The shadows across his face highlighted certain traits and hinted at others: strong jaw, angular cheekbones, and hair that flopped carelessly over one eyebrow. He’d asked her a question, but she struggled to remember it. Something about whether she was okay, maybe?

  Regaining her senses, she stepped out of his loose grasp. “Sorry about that. I’m fine. A celebration gone amuck. The uninitiated should never drink whiskey for the first time in a public place.”

  “Congratulations on whatever you’re celebrating. It looks good on you. You’re glowing.”

  Karen’s cheeks warmed. She hoped she wasn’t blushing. That would be embarrassing. Hell. Who was she kidding? This encounter had passed embarrassing and landed directly on awkwardly humiliating when she’d sniffed his shirt. Nevertheless, she managed to thank him, though her voice barely rose above a murmur.

  Of its own volition, her body drifted closer to him.

  His eyes, attentive to her every move, narrowed as she came closer. “Are you here alone?”

  She must have frowned at the question, because he tripped over himself to explain.

  “I’m not trying to pick you up,” he said as he raised both hands in the air. “I promise. I don’t generally cruise clubs for women.”

  Karen focused on the one word that held her interest. “Generally?”

  His head lifted just a fraction, as though he himself were surprised by his use of the word. “No, not generally. I was asking because your . . . celebration might have affected your faculties, and I’d be an asshat if I didn’t make sure you were safe before I left you.”

  She didn’t bother to disagree with his assessment of her faculties, though, in truth, the whiskey hadn’t decimated her senses. “That’s sweet.” She should have stopped there. Really, she should have. But the buzz from the whiskey propelled her to act in ways that were foreign to her, erasing the lines she typically didn’t cross. “It’s also disappointing. I had high hopes for you.”

  Had she said that out loud? Yes. She. Had. Karen laughed to cover her embarrassment, a weak sound that drifted in the air like a deflated balloon. Needing to move, she pressed her hand against the back of her neck and winced when a trickle of sweat made its way down her
back. Whatever. Karen wanted to be daring for a change, sweaty or not. “That didn’t come out right. What I meant is, it’s a shame that you won’t be making a move on me. I’d like you to.”

  There. She’d said it.

  A gaggle of women chose that moment to stumble through the hall on their way to the restroom. He backed up, and when the women had passed, he directed his measured gaze from the top of her head to the toes that peeked out of her abominably painful shoes.

  Now that they were separated by a few feet, she rushed to study him in his entirety. The business suit hugged his frame as though it had been tailored for him. And judging from its seemingly expensive fabric, it likely had been. Everything about him screamed serious, broody businessman, from the silk tie he hadn’t bothered to loosen despite his relaxed surroundings, to the crease between his brows. That is, until you considered his hair, which appeared to follow the whim of his fingers, and the ghost of a smile that begged for someone to draw it out completely.

  That smile brightened when she began to smooth her hands over the front of her dress.

  He studied her face. “Nervous, are we?”

  “Out of sorts is all.”

  “Then it’s a good thing I won’t be making a move on you, no?”

  She didn’t detect any censure in his tone, but his words reminded her she knew nothing about this man, and although she wasn’t drunk, she wasn’t one hundred percent lucid, either. “Thanks for the advice. You’re absolutely right.”

  His eyes widened when he realized she planned to leave, and he reached for her hand. “No. Wait. Please.”

  She ignored his hand and moved toward the main area of the club. “I should head back. This isn’t me at all.”

  “I can tell.”

  Karen stopped moving and turned to face him. “That obvious, huh?”

  “It wasn’t meant as an insult, if that’s what you’re thinking. Just an observation.”

  “I’m not a specimen in a petri dish, thank you.”

  His face fascinated her. Right now, it said, I’m intrigued, but I’m not sure if I should engage. She made a mental note to take advantage of that fact if she ever played strip poker with him. Without any prompting from her, his face would reveal the strength of his hand, and she’d have him naked in minutes. Karen fanned herself at the thought and noticed his eyes dart to her jiggling breasts.

  He shook his head, as though he needed to clear it, and then his gaze swept across her face. “No, you’re not a specimen in a petri dish. Far from it.”

  Thank goodness he hadn’t focused on her breasts. Such blatant ogling would have garnered him a scowl and a first-class ticket to Jerklandia. Plus, she worried her nipples would poke his eyes out. And why was she itchy all of a sudden? For goodness’ sake, Karen, focus.

  He held up his hands. “May I approach?”

  She appreciated the question. Would have fled had he moved toward her without gauging her interest. But what was she doing? What did she expect to happen here if he came closer? And when would her sister come looking for her? Karen had been gone more than five minutes, and Gracie had promised to watch for her return. What good was a designated driver without a passenger?

  Unsure of his intentions, she nevertheless nodded. But as he walked toward her, her protective instincts kicked in and she changed her mind. “Stop,” she said as she raised her hand like a crossing guard.

  He stopped mid-stride. “I just want to talk.”

  “Okay. Let’s start with your name.”

  “Mark.”

  “Nice to meet you, Mark. I’m Karen. What do you want to talk about?”

  “The things I’d do to you if I were free to. I find the idea of talking about them just as enticing as actually doing them.”

  She raised a single eyebrow and gave him a dubious look. “Really?”

  He grinned. “No, not really. But under the circumstances, talking will have to do.”

  Spurred by his words alone, Karen’s brain supplied a barrage of images of them “talking” through the night.

  He moved closer, until his breath skated over her ear. “You like that idea, don’t you?”

  On shaky legs, she tried to suppress her laughter. Dammit. She had to be the most ticklish person ever. If it weren’t for that ridiculous fact, the movement of his lips near her ear would have been hot. Instead, though, she struggled not to fall to the ground in a fit of giggles. “Yes, I like that idea a lot.”

  With a hint of a smile that emphasized the dimple in his chin, he reached for her hand. “Come with me?”

  Um. Did he mean that literally? “Too soon, stranger. We just met.”

  This time, he rewarded her with a full-blown grin. “I meant follow me.”

  So she did what any smart woman with too much whiskey in her system would do. She nodded her assent. And then she followed him. Down the hall. Past the emergency exit. Into an alcove with two chairs and a cocktail table nestled between them.

  He pointed to one of the chairs, his long, tan fingers catching her attention. “Join me?”

  Karen checked the chair bottom for suspicious substances. Finding none, she dropped into it, and the ensuing relief to her feet reached orgasmic levels.

  Mark waited until she was seated before he took the chair across from her. “Are your feet hurting?”

  Ack. That moan hadn’t just been in her head. “That’s an understatement.”

  He shifted closer to the edge of his seat and held out his hands. “Let me see.”

  She wanted to accede to his request, but first she had to address her litany of concerns. Three weeks into her pedicure, her feet had seen better days. She was sure they were clean. But she’d been sweating. And what about her heels? She’d been known to do a wicked impression of a woman who kicked flour all day.

  He chuckled. “Where did you go?”

  “Go?”

  “In your head. It’s like I lost you for a minute.”

  Karen tilted her head and sighed. “You did. It’s what I do. You could be the most fascinating person in the world, but I tend not to focus on any one thing for long.”

  “Must do wonders for a man’s ego.”

  He didn’t mean any harm. To do that, he would have to know about her past relationships with men—which of course, he didn’t. Still, the remark stung, and even though she owed him nothing, she regretted the loss of concentration. She dropped her chin. “Sorry about that.”

  He reached over and lifted her chin. “Nothing to be sorry for. And if my comment hurt you, I’m the one who should apologize.”

  This was all getting a little too . . . deep. Fun. She was supposed to be having fun. “It’s okay. I’m fine.” To prove the truth of that statement, she edged closer to him and lifted her legs. “May I?”

  “Yes, set them on my lap.”

  As she did so, he unbuttoned his suit jacket. She couldn’t resist asking him about his choice of attire. “Do you always wear business suits when you’re trolling for women?”

  He flashed his killer grin. “First, as I said before, I don’t troll.”

  “Generally.”

  With a quirk of his lips, he nodded and slipped off her shoes. “Yes, generally. And second, the answer to your question is no. I was dragged here by a friend, and before that I was at a business meeting.”

  He slid her bare feet along his lap, causing her ankles to press against his muscled thighs. That would have been enough to short-circuit her brain, but he had more in store for her. He ran his fingers down her lower legs and cupped her calves, squeezing them lightly before trailing his fingers down her shins. Next, he circled the tops of her feet with the tips of his fingers, their warmth relaxing her and making her go limp. He possessed magic hands. Smooth. Strong. He kneaded her soles with them, attending to her feet with a deliberateness that led her to envision his hands in more intimate places.

  “Tell me what you like,” he said.

  Karen forced herself not to stutter. “Like?”

  H
e continued to massage her toes. “Sexually.”

  She opened her mouth, but nothing came out.

  “Don’t stress. We’re just talking. Titillating discussion without having to do the walk of shame in the morning. You liked that idea, remember?”

  Yes, she liked the idea, but what could she say? Hell if she knew what she liked. No one had ever bothered to worry about her pleasure, and she’d been too chicken shit to tell them what turned her on. “I’m not sure.”

  His face blanched, and his hands stopped moving. “You’ve had sex before, right?”

  Pfft. Of course she had. But the experiences hadn’t been enough to shut off her brain and stop her from blurting out ill-conceived observations. “Yes, I have.”

  “Tell me. I know there’s something you want to say.”

  “How can you tell?”

  “You dip your head to one side and rest your chin on your shoulder, like you want to bury your head in your own neck. You did it before.”

  Would it be so bad to share her tics with a complete stranger? One she’d never see again? “Well, the thing is, I tend to lose my concentration during sex, too.” She shook her head, knowing she wasn’t explaining herself well. “No. It’s more like I tend to concentrate on the wrong things.”

  He adjusted his body in the armchair. “Give me an example.”

  Karen shifted her torso away from him and covered her face with her hands. “It’s too embarrassing.” She peeked through her fingers. “Wait. Are you a therapist or something?”

  He lifted a dark brow and shook his head no. “Hardly. We’re just talking. And then you’ll go off to your life, and I’ll go off to mine.”

 
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