Authors: Lea Griffith
Fistful of Roses
What a Woman Wants, Book 1
Published by Liquid Silver Books, imprint of Atlantic Bridge Publishing, 10509 Sedgegrass Dr, Indianapolis, Indiana 46235. Copyright © Published 2013, Lea Griffith. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Liquid Silver Books
This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents and dialogues in this book are of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is completely coincidental.
Sophie wants something she’s never had … his love. Ryan needs something he’s afraid to hold on to… her.
Sophie Hanson has done the unthinkable—she’s fallen in love with her boss. She wasn’t prepared for the punch of his gaze or the feel of his arms around her. The fact that he’s her boss notwithstanding, she wants him with a force that is becoming harder to ignore.
Ryan Locke wants the unthinkable—Sophie Hanson. That she’s his employee is quickly becoming irrelevant. Employer-employee relationships are a landmine but he’s willing to overlook the danger in the face of his overwhelming desire for her.
Sometimes love isn’t enough.
Overcoming that employer-employee barrier isn’t the only issue. A depth of feeling neither have experienced before isn’t the only issue either. Sometimes the hidden things that come to light can ruin a love before it’s had a chance to begin.
To all of you who’ve lost it and earned it back.
So many people to thank, so little space to do it in! A few years ago I was wondering if my words would see the light of day. Now that they have, the list of people to thank grows with every book, but I guess I need to keep it brief. So here’s my effort.
God—without a ton of prayer and blessings none of this would be possible. Daily I seek His counsel and find myself relying on my faith to get me through. So a shout out to the Big Guy Upstairs for always and ever having my back.
My family—bless their hearts. They put up with more than they should when I’m writing. I love them desperately. Seriously, the shiny medal’s coming. Pinky swear.
Alvania Scarborough, Marie Hall, David Bridger, and Team Awesome—without your consistent guidance, knowledge, and support I’d have given up long ago. There just aren’t enough words to express my love for y’all.
The entire LSB family, Georgia Woods, and Jennifer Hassani—I’m pretty sure you’re still hanging the moon and stars. I love it here. It’s nice and warm, cozy. I’mma stay awhile, okay?
Sharis Mayer—I don’t know many times I moved through this story, searching for the right words, or at least
words. I think it had to be a million. Thing is, I moved through it under your direction, never doubting that the end result was going to kick ass. I hope we get the opportunity to move forward in many, many more stories. *And, yes, I ducked when I wrote this.*
Lynne Anderson—Wow, I didn’t think I could hit the jackpot time after time with editors, but I have. Amazing catches that just made the story better and better are obviously your specialty. If Sharis found every instance of “move,” you found every “body,” and you have not only my gratitude but my hope that I get you again in the future.
You both damn well rocketh much and this would’ve never been the book it is without you. Thank you.
Finally, to you, my readers. Your support makes every long mile in writing seem like a cakewalk. I hope you enjoy reading about Ryan and Sophie as much as I enjoyed telling their story.
And as always, thank you for letting me spill my words into your minds. I hope you come back to me for more.
“Hold that elevator, please,” Sophie yelled as she scampered out of the revolving door and headed toward the back of the lobby.
Sunlight streamed in the huge bank of windows at the front of the building, illuminating the gold flecks in the white marble floor. The light was so bright it made her squint, and she barely managed to avoid running headfirst into some chick in sky-high heels and an even higher skirt. As she slid to the side, someone bumped into her from behind.
She struggled and lost the bid to keep hold of her umbrella. It clattered to the floor as her briefcase banged against her leg. Wet heat trickled down her front. She groaned, glanced down, and shook her head mournfully. She’d managed to spill her drink of the gods all over her white silk shirt.
“Oops, sorry,” the insincere, overzealous commuter mumbled and slipped around her.
Fuck a duck.
“Lady, you coming or not? We don’t have all day,” a clipped voice called from the bowels of the elevator car.
She narrowed her eyes and blew a chunk of ebony hair out of her face.
Focus on the lady part of that. Do not cuss the snarky man out.
It was a mantra in her head, a bright shiny beacon of politeness to hold onto in the midst of a suck-ass morning.
“Sophie. What the heck you doing, girlfriend?”
Someone bumped into her again and her coffee, what was left of it anyway, went flying.
“Nah, there’s nobody standing here. That was not a person you just ran into. Nope. Not. A. Person,” she called out to the man who’d jostled her. He kept walking.
“Seriously, Phie, what in hell are you doing standing in the middle of the lobby at go time?” Gigi asked.
Sophie pinned her friend with a rabid stare. Gigi just snickered.
Sophie sighed deeply and grabbed at her flailing temper. All around her people hustled to and fro, entering and exiting the lobby as they tried to start their day. She watched the elevator doors close, leaving her behind in the lobby. A hectic cacophony rang in her ears—the
of heels against the floor, conversations on cell phones, and the ding of elevator cars as they came and departed. Still, the loudest sound was her heart breaking as her liquid gold lay in a burnished puddle at her feet. She lifted an eyebrow as the other woman bent and retrieved Sophie’s bright red umbrella.
“You dropped this.” Gigi glanced out the enormous windows at the front of the building and then down at the oversized umbrella, and the corner of her mouth quirked. “Um, do you watch the weather?”
“You know what, Gigi; now’s not a good time to talk to me about the weather. Why don’t you take that umbrella and—”
Gigi’s gaze was trained over her shoulder and her eyes widened as alarm slashed through their honey-brown depths. That look cut off what Sophie’d been about to say. Gigi stepped up to her suddenly and took her arm, prying the briefcase away from her hand as she steered them toward the bathrooms near the back of the lobby. Sophie almost tripped as her friend practically dragged her away from the scene of disaster.
“What the hell? I’m gonna break my neck.” She slipped and then muttered, “Or yours.” She put on the brakes and huffed as she pulled her arm away from Gigi’s tight grip.
“No need to be ugly, Phie.” She sighed. “Let’s get you cleaned up before—”
“Excuse me,” a sinfully deep, dark-chocolate voice interrupted from behind them.
Her nerves tingled and her scalp tightened as excitement flowed through her, so potent it was a sweet taste on her tongue. Sophie knew that voice. Oh, damn, she knew that voice. Her nipples peaked, her heart sped up, and the baritone richness of it hit her right between her thighs. She stood stock-still for a few seconds, took a deep breath, womaned-up, and turned around.
“Mr. Locke, how are you this morning?” Damn that breathless quality he inspired in her voice. Damn it to a fiery hell.
Everything in her surroundings faded as she stood face to, well,
, with him. He towered over her, larger than life, bigger than her dreams, broad shoulders blocking out the sun streaming into the lobby and giving him a halo appearance. Surely angels wept. Deep brown hair, windswept and curling slightly at the ends, framed a face that was hard, weathered, and so damn sexy it made her hands clench. Strong jaw, aquiline nose with a tiny bump in the bridge, and lips that begged to be suckled completed the picture. He was her Waterloo. God help her if he discovered that fact.
Gigi cleared her throat, gaze darting from Sophie to Mr. Locke before she tipped her head in his direction. Sophie looked back at him. His gaze was leveled on her. More precisely, riveted to the area below her chin but above her waist—and yeah, he was staring at her breasts.
The flush started at her feet and slowly worked its way up her entire body, settling in her cheeks. The groan she’d been barely holding on to most of the morning released. His gaze flew up to her face and hardened before it blanked and went unreadable.
But that look before he’d gone blank? Sweet mother of little baby ducks—so damn smoldering it should be against some law, somewhere. The heat in his eyes sucker punched her.
Gigi snickered again. He straightened then, and his face, if possible, went harder. He threw Gigi an indecipherable look, which miraculously cut her off midsnicker, before he turned back to Sophie and lifted an eyebrow.
It was another quick jab to her midsection because that eyebrow thing did her in every damn time. She inhaled and did her best to appear nonchalant. With stiff nipples playing peekaboo from a coffee-drenched, white silk shirt, it was hard, but she did her best. Grabbing hold of some fortitude, she crossed her arms over her chest and popped out a hip.
He’d yet to respond to her question. She decided to ask him again, but he cut her off before she could open her mouth.
“Ms. Hanson, do you have the Defence Council report completed yet?”
“What?” She was slow on the draw. Insight was swift. “Oh, I mean yes. The report’s right here.” She lifted the hand which had held her briefcase and turned to it in surprise when she found it empty.
She ventured a look at his face and saw amusement in the cerulean depths. Where the hell was her briefcase?
Gigi coughed and held up the case. “Here you go, Phie.”
She was close to giving up and telling him she was calling out for the day. Her entire week had only needed this to complete the suck trifecta. Monday she’d overslept and been late for the office meeting, walking in long after everyone had been seated and waiting … for
. Wednesday she’d broken a heel at lunch and limped around the rest of the day. This had ultimately been eclipsed when she’d gotten a speeding ticket on the Perimeter heading home. And today? Well, suck wasn’t nearly bad enough to describe this situation, and now her boss, the single most attractive man in history in her opinion, wanted to know about a report she’d completed a mere three hours ago.
She couldn’t recall a word of it because he was staring at her. Hard.
Sophie swallowed and offered a tentative smile. She lowered her hand and snatched her case from Gigi, who laughed outright this time. She shot her a nasty look and chanced glancing up at Mr. Locke again.
, he was her boss for cripes’ sake.
Get it together, Hanson.
He cocked his head, a tiny curve of his lips the only hint of emotion on his chiseled face.
“So you have it?” The sound of his voice caressed her from the inside, a velvet feather against her heart.
“Have what?” She stumbled over her words and Gigi nudged her with an elbow. She looked over at her,
what the hell
all but ready to trip from her lips. Her friend just shook her head mournfully.
“The report, Ms. Hanson. You
have the report? We have a conference call in about,” he looked at his large MTM Spec Ops watch, “half an hour.”
He cleared his throat, and her gaze shot up to his. She blushed, again, because clearly he was getting exasperated with her, and all she could do was stare at the golden muscled beauty of his exposed wrist.
His wrist. She wanted to shake her head and barely refrained. She had it so bad. She’d been lusting over his
. Who the hell even knew wrists could be sexy? She blew out a breath, ruffling the hair that had slipped over her face. Bad didn’t cover the case she had going on for this man.
Sophie straightened her shoulders, lowered her arms, and raised them again when his gaze strayed back down. She took a deep breath. She had this.
“I’ve completed the report, Mr. Locke.” She opened the side pocket of her briefcase and pulled out the thick report folder. “Here it is.” She handed it to him. “I’ll be up in a few minutes after I, um—” She glanced down at her chest and back up, heat sweeping through her as she begged him with her eyes to understand her predicament.
He nodded. She breathed a sigh of relief.
“I’ll expect you in a few then.” He set his own briefcase down and shrugged off his suit jacket.