Taming Her Billionaire BossBy: Maxine Sullivan
“What are you doing in here?”
Samantha Thompson almost dropped her pen as her head snapped up, the desk lamp shedding enough light for her to see the handsome man standing in the doorway. “Blake, you scared me!”Her heart didn’t settle down once she knew who it was, it only increased pace as she looked at him in a dinner suit that fitted his well-toned body flawlessly. His commanding presence was of a man born to lead. This was Blake Jarrod, owner of Blake Jarrod Enterprises’ Las Vegas hotels, and now the new CEO of Jarrod Ridge, his family’s renowned resort in Aspen, Colorado.
And as his assistant of two years there was nothing unusual about her being in his office at ten at night. Just because they were now in Aspen at the Jarrod Manor and she was using the desk in his late father’s office didn’t change a thing. She had her reasons for being here.
And they concerned her boss.
Or soon-to-be-ex boss.
“It’s late,” he said, cutting across her thoughts in the way he usually did.
She took a steadying breath and looked down at the letter in front of her, giving herself one last chance to change her mind. Then she remembered this evening. The final straw had been watching a famous blonde actress flirt outrageously with Blake, and him sitting there enjoying it, taking it as his due.
Samantha couldn’t blame him for wanting to sample what was on offer if he so chose. It was just that she wanted a little taste of him herself. She usually dressed sedately in finely tailored clothes whether she was in Vegas with Blake or here in Aspen, but tonight she’d outdone herself. She’d worn this slinky cream evening dress designed to grab his attention, putting her long, brunette hair up in a chignon when she usually wore it pulled back at the nape with a barrette, but it was clear now that nothing was going to happen between her and Blake.
It was never going to happen.
She’d realized that when he’d caught her eye and she’d smiled for all she was worth, looked the best she could be, and he’d turned back to the actress without a second glance, rejecting her just like Carl had rejected her. Her moment of epiphany had been that simple. She’d come to a decision then. The right decision for her. The only one for her.
She lifted her gaze. “Yes, it’s late, Blake.”
He walked toward the desk, almost as if he sensed something wasn’t quite right. “I thought you said you were going back to Pine Lodge.”
That had been her intention. She’d even stood in the lobby of the manor, her coat resting on her shoulders, waiting beside the doorman for the valet to bring the SUV around. She’d been determined to go back to their private lodge at the resort—she in her own room and Blake in the master suite.
Then someone had entered the hotel and the doors had slid open, and the cold night breeze from a midfall wind had slapped her in the face and chilled her to the bone, reminding her that it didn’t matter what she wore or what she did, her boss would never take any notice of her except as his assistant. She’d spun around and headed for the private elevator, coming up here to the office in the family section of the manor.
“I needed to do something first,” she said now.
There was an alert look to his eyes. “It’s Friday night. Work can wait until tomorrow.”
They’d been working every Saturday, trying to keep on top of things until they moved here permanently. And now that wasn’t going to happen. Not for her anyway. “This can’t wait.”
He paused, those blue eyes narrowing in on her. “What can’t?”
She swallowed hard. “My resignation.”
Shock flashed in his eyes then went out like it had never been. “What are you talking about?” he said, his voice quiet. In control. He was always in control, especially where she was concerned.
“It’s time for me to move on, Blake. That’s all.”
The question shot at her like a pellet but she managed to shrug. “It just is.”
He put his hands on the desk and leaned toward her. “What’s this about, Samantha? What’s the real reason you want to leave?”
She’d faced him down over business issues occasionally but this…this was personal. Cautiously, she pushed the leather chair back and rose on her stilettos, then went to look out the large arched window behind her.
The scene below at the luxurious resort was surprisingly charming in October. Tonight, pocketed in amongst the tall peaks, the sleepy hamlet twinkled like fairy lights in the alpine breeze, a tapestry of winding streets, lodges, and village square. To a southern California girl who now lived in Vegas, this place had something nowhere else seemed to have.
It had heart.
“It’s time for me to go,” she said, keeping her back to him.
“You’re unhappy here?”
“No!” she blurted out, swinging around, then winced inwardly, knowing she sounded contradictory and that he’d have to wonder why.
To be truthful, she’d been feeling slightly down ever since Blake’s sister Melissa had announced her pregnancy a few weeks ago. She’d been happy for Melissa, so why it had bothered her she didn’t know. Yet since then she hadn’t been able to shake a feeling of being slightly depressed.
He’d straightened away from the desk. “So what’s the problem?”
I want you to notice me.
Dammit, I just want you.
But how did you say that to a man who didn’t even notice you as a woman? She was his trusted assistant and that was about it. She’d never acted overtly female around him. She kept everything businesslike between them. Looking back, perhaps occasionally she should have let her feminine side show. If she had, then perhaps now she might not be in this predicament.
Yet it wasn’t that she was in love with him either. She was intensely attracted to him. He was an exciting, charismatic man who effortlessly charmed women like they were going out of fashion, but he was still discerning in whom he took to his bed.
She wanted to be charmed by him.
She wanted to be in his bed and in his arms.
Oh, God, it truly was hitting home that she’d never be in his spotlight. Until now a glimmer of hope had kept her going, but after his subconscious rejection of her tonight, she’d realized that if he knew her feelings about wanting him, then everything would change. She’d be totally embarrassed and so would he. She couldn’t work like that. She’d be humiliated just like she’d been with Carl. It was better to leave with some dignity.
Hearing her name on his lips struck her like never before. She tilted her head at him. “Do you know something, Blake? You’ve never called me Sam. Not once. It’s always Samantha.”
His brows drew together. “What’s that got to do with it?”
She wanted to be Sam once in a while. Sam the woman who’d left her ordinary upbringing in Pasadena to embrace the excitement of Vegas after a one-sided love affair gone wrong. The woman who wanted to have a purely physical affair with a man she admired, without ever risking her heart again. Not Samantha the personal assistant who helped run his office and his life and who kept the whole lot in check for him, all nice and neat and tidy, just the way he liked it. She couldn’t believe she’d actually thought she’d had a chance with him.
And he was waiting for an answer.
“I have my reasons for resigning and I think that’s all you need to know.”
“Is someone giving you a hard time?” he asked sharply. “Someone from my family? I’ll talk to them if they are. Tell me.”
She shook her head. “Your family’s great. It’s…” She hesitated, wishing she’d given herself time to come up with a suitable explanation. Needless to say, she hadn’t expected to be here tonight writing out her resignation, or that he’d even come upon her. She’d assumed he’d probably go off nightclubbing with Miss Hollywood. “I simply want something more, okay? It’s nothing against you or your family. This is about me.”
One eyebrow rose. “You want something more than first-class travel and a world-class place to live?”