Billionaire Bachelors Club - 3
“CAN YOU BECOME addicted to someone’s smell?” My voice is nonchalant, my thoughts turbulent. I keep my gaze locked on the woman I’m talking about. The one I think I’m slowly becoming addicted to though my brain is screaming at me that this particular addiction is a huge mistake. Bad for me. Bad for everyone.
Ivy Emerson turns to look at me, her expression incredulous. My friend’s fiancé and the mother of his future child also happens to be one of the best interior designers in all of the Napa Valley and she’s working for me. “Who exactly are you talking about?”
Hell. I actually said that aloud? I didn’t mean to.
We’re sitting in my office, the door wide open, allowing me the perfect view of the outer lobby, where my assistant’s desk is. Bryn James. Miss James, she of the intoxicating scent that makes my head swim and my cock hard.
Also she of the bland wardrobe and quiet ways, meaning she’s not my usual type. So why the attraction? Why does her scent drive me fucking crazy?
It makes no damn sense.
“No one in particular,” I lie with a shrug. Ivy has stopped by to go over the latest invoice for her services. Combine her astronomical costs with Archer Bancroft’s wealth and these two will end up taking over the entire world. Or they’ll just buy it all.
“You’re such a liar,” she mutters, shaking her head. “And you’re also in denial.”
“About what?” Grabbing a pen, I scribble my initials on the invoice as Ivy settles into the chair across from my desk. “Give this to Bryn and she’ll cut the check for you. Do you want it now or would you like to come by and pick it up later?”
Ivy smiles. “You’re also a classic avoider, aren’t you? Ah, men. You’re all the same.”
I frown at her, wondering what she’s referring to now. I’ve known Ivy since she was a teenager, when I became good friends with her brother Gage and her now fiancé Archer. The problem with knowing Ivy for that long is she constantly crosses professional boundaries when we work together. She has no problem telling me exactly how she feels.
Most of the time, like now, I don’t want to hear it.
“Ivy.” My voice lowers, and I glower at her, but she smiles at me as if she thinks I’m one big joke. The woman is completely oblivious. “When do you want your check?”
She waves a hand, the bracelets clasped around her wrist jangling with the movement. “Just drop it in the mail. Bryn will know what to do and where to send it. She’s so efficient, don’t you think?”
“Extremely.” I push the invoice farther across the desk, closer to where Ivy’s sitting, hoping she gets the hint. I’d like her gone, so I can get back to work. Get back to possibly researching if one really could become addicted to another’s scent. I’ve heard about pheromones before.
“She also smells amazing. I’ve asked her before what perfume she uses, but she won’t tell me. I think she wants it to be her secret.” Ivy’s grinning so widely I bet her cheeks hurt.
Damn it. Why the hell did I ask her that question anyway? It just popped out of my mouth without thought, which I’ve been prone to doing lately when I stare at Miss James for too long.
As in, I stop thinking. My brain just shuts down. All I can do is watch and imagine what she might do if I pushed her onto her desk, grabbed hold of her long, dark hair, tugged her head back and kissed her with all the pent-up intensity that’s been brewing within me since she started working for me.
Which is basically the day I first took over the winery. She came along with it. A built-in assistant, just for me. The previous owner had called her a gift.
Quite the tempting gift. One put on this earth—and right outside of my office—to make me freaking crazy with need.
All because of the way she smells.
Oh, and that sexy little voice of hers. The one she doesn’t use much since she’s so damn quiet. And all that hair—hair she keeps tightly bound in a bun or restrained in a sleek ponytail.
There’s something going on under those bland, downright unflattering clothes too. I can tell. I’m not an idiot. She’s hiding breasts and an ass that are probably pretty damn amazing.
Of course, this could all be wishful thinking since I’m still bothered by the fact that I’m attracted to my assistant—my very plain, yet very tantalizing employee.
It makes no damn sense.
“Forget I ever asked that question,” I growl at Ivy, which only makes her laugh.
God, she’s infuriating. I don’t know how Archer can stand her sometimes.
“Don’t be so cranky. It’s okay to admit you have a thing for Bryn.” Ivy leans forward in her chair, a secretive smile curling her lips. “I have a feeling she has a thing for you too, you know.”
I do know. And I can’t act on it. Bryn James works for me. She’s my assistant. She’s by my side constantly; we spend more time with each other than probably anyone else in our lives, especially lately what with the winery’s grand reopening approaching. She’s a representative of my business. If I were to fuck around with the help and the relationship fell apart, I’d be in huge trouble. She could screw me over financially every which way by suing me for sexual harassment and I’d be left with a limp dick in my hand and a ruined business.
Yeah. Not going to take the chance. Saw it happen with my father. Not going to let it happen to me.
“It doesn’t matter. Nothing can happen.” I send Ivy a stern look. “And this conversation can never leave this office.” Glancing over her shoulder, I try to see if Bryn is at her desk but the chair is empty.
Ivy’s expression goes solemn and she holds up three fingers. “This conversation stays here. Scout’s honor.”
“You were never a scout,” I mutter, afraid she’s making a promise on an untruth. She’ll probably just blab to everyone. Or specifically Archer and Gage. I don’t need to hear their shit.
And I am worrying way too much over this.
She laughs again. “I won’t say a word, I promise. But I need to tell you something, Matt.” She leans in close, her voice dropping. “She’s got a major crush on you. You might not see it but it’s there—sounding in her voice, shining in her eyes, every time she looks at you, talks about you. The way her body turns into yours every time the two of you are together . . . it’s pretty obvious. A body language expert would have a field day with you two.”
Body language expert? What the hell is Ivy talking about? “I have no idea what you’re referring to, but office crushes are just that. Crushes. Harmless attractions no one ever acts on. Period. End of story.”
This is what I keep telling myself. I can’t pursue anything with Bryn, no matter how much I’m tempted to. Not only would it be wildly inappropriate, dating my assistant, but we come from two different worlds. She seems nice and normal, quiet and unobtrusive, and I am anything but. My life has been a circus sideshow for years.
“I get it. You’re trying to do the right thing, and I admire that. So, of course you don’t see anything beyond an efficient assistant in Miss James.”
Well. Ivy’s not too far off the mark. When I first met Bryn, she hardly said two words, kept her head bent when I spoke to her and offered lots of yes-sir and no-sir answers. She had this way of almost blending in with the walls, like she didn’t want anyone to notice her.
So I didn’t.
As we got comfortable working together though, something happened. I’m thinking Ivy had a hand in Bryn’s slow transformation. She actually makes eye contact when she speaks to me, and she’s become somewhat animated. Started to wear bolder colors as well, drawing my attention to her chest though I keep my eyes averted as best I can.
These subtle changes made me notice all of the little things—like the color of her eyes (blue), how her hair looks (like silk and I want to touch it), and the tempting fullness of her lips (they’re fucking spectacular).
Her gaze lingers when she looks at me and sometimes so does mine. Her smile softens, her voice drops lower when she speaks, sparking my imagination. Would she sound like that right before I kissed her? Took off her clothes? Took her to my bed?
Yeah. All of those are dangerous thoughts. I almost prefer the old Miss James. The one who was like the wallpaper—boring and nondescript. Mean to say, but hell, the last thing I need is a distraction.
And she’s become the biggest distraction I’m currently facing. The very last one I need.
“She’s a great assistant. That’s it. Stop trying to make something out of it that it’s not,” I say, sounding like an irritable old man.
“Oh, come on. You can admit you’re attracted to her. You won the bet, Matt—fair and square.” Her eyes sparkle. “Give in now and Gage and Archer can’t give you any grief over it.”
“I think you just like giving me shit,” I tell her.
The million-dollar bet—like I’ve collected anything from either of those asshole friends of mine who owe me five hundred thousand each. When we were at a friend’s wedding reception almost a year ago, they’d readily agreed to my suggestion, like fools. I’d proposed that the last single man standing would win one million bucks. It had started out as a joke. I figured Archer and Gage would be the last guys to fall in love, especially Archer. I never believed they’d take me or the bet seriously.
But surprisingly enough, they did. And I started to realize that I had them.