THE FLIRTATION by Kayley Loring is now available on Amazon HERE.
Standalone Book Three is coming in early 2018. Thank you so much for reading! There are SO many books out there and I’m grateful for every single reader who takes the time to read the ones I’ve written. xx KL
From CHAPTER 3
I was about to pick up my phone to call Jackie, when I received a FaceTime call from her. Jackie lives in an affordable three-bedroom apartment in Queens, with her husband and my niece and nephew. She has always had a knack for calling me exactly when I needed to talk to her but didn’t want to call and admit that I was freaking out. She was three years older than me, and had for the most part treated me like an annoying little sister while we were growing up, but after our mother died suddenly when I was in my final year of university, she instantly became the kind of big sister I’d always longed for her to be—she gave me all the tough love and sass I needed and then some.
I accepted the video call and bit into a floppy old carrot while being welcomed with a blurry shot of her cleavage, as she looked for something in a cupboard. She got the awesome knockers, and I got the half-off rack. It’s so unfair.
“Hi hang on,” she muttered, then called out to her kids. “You know what just have pudding—one each!”
“Oh that’s healthy.”
She peered into her phone at me. “Oh I’m sorry—this from a grown woman who’s eating a limp carrot?”
I took one last bite of the thing, then tossed it into the waste bin, and went back to my bedroom to pack. “Did your boobs get bigger?”
“I’m retaining water and I accidentally shrunk all of my bras in the dryer. It’s been a great day. Your niece would like to speak with you.” Jackie aimed the phone’s camera at her five year-old daughter Franny. Franny was hugging a stuffed bunny rabbit that was about a foot taller than she was. The rabbit was so big it took up half the width of their kitchen. It would never fit inside Franny’s room. I knew my sister would kill me, but it was available for Same Day Delivery, and I just wanted to buy it. But Franny looked like she was madly in love with it and she was so happy she was jumping up and down and screaming—although to be honest, she was almost always jumping up and down and screaming.
Franny looked up at the phone and screamed directly into it. “THANK YOU AUNT AVERYYYYYY! I love him I love him I love him I love him I love him!”
I would love to love anything as much as that girl claims to love Mr. Bunny, I thought to myself, as I turned the volume down on my phone. “You are so welcome, sweetheart! I saw Mr. Bunny in a store window at lunch today and he waved at me and said ‘take me to Franny’s house, I want to live with her forever!’”
She didn’t stop jumping as she frowned at me and said, “You did not—you got him on Amazon!”
“I love you too, Honey, put your mom back on!”
Franny went back to screaming and Jackie went into the kitchen. “I take it by the size of the gift that you won’t be attending the party on Saturday.”
“I’m so so sorry—something came up.” I removed six pairs of my sexiest undergarments from my panty drawer and placed them in the suitcase.
“Something always comes up.”
“Hey man, I was just there on New Years for three hours!” I removed the sexy undergarments from the suitcase, put them back in the drawer and packed sensible cotton underwear instead.
“Where are you off to this time?”
“The Bahamas. It’s a nightmare.”
“I think that’s their official slogan. Come to the Bahamas—it’s your worst nightmare!”
I replaced the sensible undies with the sexy ones, and added an extra couple of pairs for good measure. “I have no idea how to pack for this.”
“What are you so worked up about?”
“I’m not worked up.”
“It’s nothing, shut up.”
“There’s nothing to tell.”
I sighed. “Luke Mason is going to be there.”
My sister caught her breath and her eyes widened. “Jackson—watch your sister! I’ll be in my office for five minutes!” She retreated to the bathroom and shut the door. “This is so amazing! I mean, you said you were sad because this transatlantic deal was almost wrapped up and you might not have an excuse to Skype with him anymore.”
“When did I say that?”
“During the unbearable three hours you spent here on New Years.”
Damn you, wine! When will you learn not to tell my sister everything?!
“Do you have a slutty bikini?”
I was rifling through my bathroom drawer, looking for a razor, three ounce perfume, and red lipstick. “Why would I have a bikini? I haven’t taken a vacation in ten years.”
“A tankini? A burqini?”
“I have no ini wear of any kind.”
She waved her hand, dismissively. “You can get something at the airport. This is thrilling. Why are you so freaked out about seeing him?! He’s basically your best friend.”
“You’re my best friend.”
“I’m your sister, I have to put up with you. He answers the phone when you call him at four a.m. and sends you your favorite kind of marmalade for your birthday even though you haven’t had sex with him.”
It was true—I had once mentioned that my local British grocery store stopped carrying my favorite brand of marmalade, and a month later I came to my office on my birthday and found a beautiful gift basket filled with jars of marmalade and crumpets and English muffins. I was able to convince myself that it was a classy business gift and a tax write-off for him, but Jackie instantly proclaimed that he was in love with me or at the very least expected and deserved a picture of my boobs. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to believe, but regardless, it was incredibly sweet and thoughtful of him.
“You communicate with him every day.”
“Not on weekends or holidays.”
“He’s your best friend,” she went on. “Why are you so afraid of being in the same room as him?”
“Well, it’s complicated. We just get along so well.”
“Uh huh.” I was acutely aware that my sister was urinating while we discussed this, and that she was simultaneously tidying up the magazines and books around the toilet with her free hand.
“And he’s ridiculously handsome and funny and he has an English accent.”
“And you’re desperately in love with him.”
“Obviously I am not in love—it’s strictly business.” I grabbed the small, unopened box of condoms from my bedside table—the one on the other side of the bed from where I kept Mr. Potter. They expired in a month. I figured I might as well pack them, in case somebody else on the island needed them, so they wouldn’t go to waste.
“You’re packing condoms right now, aren’t you?”
I gasped. “You witch!”
She flushed the toilet and put the phone down on top of the vanity while she washed her hands, then took a moment to gargle with mouthwash, wipe down the tiles and tidy up around the sink. The Davis women are natural born multi-taskers.
“You don’t know me!” I sighed very dramatically. “This is the biggest contract of my career, we’re still in the post-integration phase, which is critical. I have to stay focused. I can’t get sidetracked.”
She spits out the mouthwash. “Honey, you need to get sidetracked—hard—multiple times. You need to get snogged and shagged and buggered senseless. You gotta seal that transatlantic deal. You need to ride the ol’ Union Jack flagpole if you know what I’m saying. You need to integrate with his post!”
I had to sit down, I was laughing so hard. “Stop! Oh my God! Seriously, this is not part of the plan. I need to become a manager when I’m twenty-nine so I’m on track to make partner by the time I’m thirty-five, marry a nice, un-ambitious but totally respectable and responsible man when I’m thirty-six and adopt an Asian baby that my husband can stay at home to take care of while I start my own firm.”
“Also he’ll be a really good cook and excellent lover and have a trust fund while still being very down-to-earth. Also I will magically maintain the same weight throughout my whole life without ever having to exercise!”
“I know you’re saying a bunch of words that mean a lot to you, but all I’m hearing is ‘blah blah blah I need to have sexual intercourse with an Englishman and also get a life.’”
“Yeah you know, one day I do hope to shag an Englishman, one in particular, well two in particular, including 2003 Jude Law, but I don’t have the time or the emotional bandwidth to deal with it at this particular point in my life. Maybe I can have a hot fling with Luke after I’ve made partner, right before I meet the man I will marry! Yes, I can definitely squeeze that in.”
“I am so sad for you right now. You should take that red dress you wore to that fundraiser last summer!”
I sucked in my breath. “I can’t take that! I look way too good in it! It’s way too sexy!” I went to the closet, pulled out the red dress and packed it into the suitcase, along with some strappy heels to go with them. “My body hasn’t been exposed to sunshine since we went to Florida with Mom. My skin is practically transparent.”
“Well, Luke’s from England, he’s used to pale skin.”
“Yeah, he doesn’t look all that pale to me, but maybe it’s just good lighting.”
“He probably goes to Greece for the weekend or something.”
“I wouldn’t really know, we don’t talk about specifics when it comes to our personal lives.”
“Oh good that means you’ll have something new to talk about while you’re shagging.”
“Please. It is a work trip. Besides, we might not even get along in person—and also it doesn’t even matter because it’s a work trip.”
“Your sex life needs work.”
“Stop. I shouldn’t even be discussing this with you.”
“You should discuss how his penis works! It’s time for him to FaceTime with your vagina.”
I snort-laughed, and then suddenly froze up.
“What is happening? Did FaceTime freeze or did you?”
“Nothing. No. I’m fine. I just don’t think I’m emotionally prepared to deal with him in a tropical non-business environment.”
“Because you’re afraid you’ll fall in love with him and you aren’t capable of making a real commitment?”
“Excuse me, I am the most committed person I know—besides Luke.”
“Sounds like a match to me! Why can’t you let yourself be happy?”
THE FLIRTATION (Work Less, Play More Book Two) is a standalone romantic comedy. No cheating, no cliffhanger, HEA! Available for pre-order now and in Kindle Unlimited on November 13 2017 HERE
Excerpted from THE FLIRTATION Chapter 5
Dammit, he’s gorgeous. This is terrible. Deep breaths. Be professional. Be friendly. Don’t be weird. Let’s just get this over with. Shit, slow down, you’re going to crash into him.
I stopped just short of Luke Mason’s firm chest, like a robot. I didn’t want him to say “Hello darling” to me in person, I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle it, so I extended my hand, very formally, and said “Hello Luke Mason,” barely looking at him.
“Why hello, Avery Davis,” he said, possibly mocking me, and shook my hand. “So nice to meet you in person.”
Hot. He was hot. I had a strong feeling that life, as I’d known it, was over. Future Me would divide my timeline into BIMLIP (Before I Met Luke In Person) and AMPMFSHH (After My Panties Melted From Shaking His Hand—also the sound my mouth made instead of “nice to meet you in person too.”)
I turned to the local man next to him. “You must be Samson!”
“Welcome, Miss Davis, please let me take your bags.”
“No, it’s fine really. Okay, just that one.” I let him take my rolling suitcase and gave him a quick hug, surprising him. I was showing him all the great American warmth and verve that I was trying so hard to withhold from this gorgeous British specimen, who was taller than I’d been expecting him to be.
He’s going to think I’m autistic, but I can’t handle looking at his dimpled smiling face up close. So I stared at his watch. He was wearing the most beautiful sexy watch I’d ever seen. Or maybe it was his wrist that was sexy and beautiful. Or his hand. Definitely his hand. It was big and capable and just looked so good with the rest of his arm, which was connected to his broad shoulders. I mean, his entire body was perfect. It was ridiculously fucking perfect. His shoes were magnificent and tasteful and his feet were big—exactly as big as they needed to be to support his frame, which was about six feet three inches tall, if I had to guess. Just kill me now. This is torture. I’ll never feel those hands on me or his arms around me or his perfect body on top of me, so I just need to take a deep breath, and when I exhale I will be in work mode and I will stay there for five days straight and for the rest of my life probably.
“Are you alright?”
“Sorry—you looked like—it looked like you were holding your breath.”
“Nope. I’m fine,” I said as I exhaled. “Just, um, breathless with anticipation about going over a strategy for the debriefing…Of Bucket. Regarding the —”
“Right, exactly, can’t wait.”
“Shall we? The car is this way.” Samson gestured towards the exit.
Luke and I followed him. Make small talk, dummy! “How was your flight?”
“Fine, actually. Slept a bit. Decent food. Can’t complain.”
“That bad, huh?”
“Sorry. Long haul.”
“Feel a bit of an ass, though, complaining about an all expenses paid trip to the Bahamas.”
“Please. Over ten hours without phone or internet? I totally get it. You’ll never get that time back.” There. I can manage a normal conversation with him as long as we’re walking side-by-side and looking straight ahead. “Were you able to get in touch with the tax attorney about post-closing?” He looked at me quizzically for a moment, and I realized I’d just darted back into the business talk lane, in order to avoid accidentally blurting out that I thought he smelled divine and could he please turn around so I could see what his butt looked like in those tailored trousers?
“Yes, I typed up my notes on that during the flight,” he said.
“Fantastic. Good flight?” Shit.
He laughed. “You’d think you were the one with the jet lag.”
“Yeah, I’m a mess no matter where I travel to. I mean, people don’t talk about anymore, but it’s really weird to just get in a plane one place and then get off in a completely different part of the world.” Oh God I said the words ‘get off.’ “But anyway, I’m sure the villa will be nice, right Samson?” Good save, Davis. He’s totally not thinking about what a weirdo pervert you are now!
“The villa does not disappoint, mademoiselle. Right this way to the car.”
I didn’t look over at Luke, but I could tell he was looking at me, shaking his head and smiling. When we stepped out through the sliding doors and into the open air, a warm breeze caressed my face and I suddenly stopped in my tracks and realized—really realized that I was on a tropical island. I suppose I hadn’t really noticed how warm it was when I stepped off the plane onto the tarmac, because I was so focused on how I should handle those first few minutes of interaction with Luke (nailed it!), but now it was hitting me how strange it was that I had been so cold when I’d rushed into the terminal at JFK and how pleasant it was to be walking out of this one. It had been too long since I’d had that sensation. Much too long.
It wasn’t until we were both seated and buckled up in the back of the Land Rover that I gathered up my strength to look Luke straight in the eyes. Sapphire blue. Gorgeous. Stunning. Big mistake. Huge. Now I couldn’t come up with some excuse to run away and get my shit together. I was stuck there, inches from him, sharing the same air as him, smelling his subtle cologne, hearing him breathe, and all I could do was clear my throat and look down at my phone, pretending that I had just remembered there was an important email I had to read.
We both seemed to have the same idea—keep asking Samson run-of-the-mill touristy questions as he drove, so we didn’t have to talk to each other. His hand accidentally brushed against mine at one point, and I felt tingly all over my body. How was I supposed to get through five days of this?
There wasn’t much of a town that we drove through, it was mostly residential. It was quiet and bucolic but still colorful, and there was just so much nature. My eyes weren’t used to so much sunlight or color. It was all brick and concrete and glass where I lived and worked, and ninety-eight percent of Manhattanites wear black, grey or navy most of the time. Here, I was seeing hints of pinks and yellows and aqua blues that were somehow vibrant yet subdued at the same time—tropical island culture tamed by English culture. People were driving on the left side of the road like in England, but the steering wheel was also on the left, like in America. It was all very odd, and did nothing to ease the sensation of butterflies in my stomach.
As we drove down the lazy highway to our remote destination, I finally stopped yammering about touristy and businessy stuff long enough to notice the ocean to one side of us, and a long stretch of sandy beach that appeared to be deserted for miles. On the other side, there was nothing but trees.
The gates to the estate opened slowly, and before proceeding, Samson smiled broadly as he looked back at us and said in a weird fake accent: “Welcome, to Jurassic Park!” and laughed maniacally. We stared at him, dumbfounded. He shrugged then drove ahead. “Sometimes people get the joke.”
“I got the joke!” I exclaimed. I didn’t want Samson to think I was lame, it’s just that I wasn’t expecting him to be hilarious.
“I got the joke too, Samson, well done.”
He waved at us, dismissively. We had let him down, but we were both suddenly too gobsmacked to worry about Samson’s feelings or anyone’s perceptions of our lack of sense of humor—because the property we were pulling up to was completely fucking ripped-from-the-pages-of-Architectural-Digest-sensational. It wasn’t just a villa, it was a compound. Chandra Villa was a Southeast Asian-inspired luxury beachfront estate.
We stepped out of the SUV and into an architectural oasis of honey-colored hardwood floors and wood-paneled walls and ceilings. Décor was sparse, focusing on the exquisite design of the building and views out the floor-to-ceiling windows. Towards the end of the patio was an infinity pool that looked out over a private white sand beach and the most beautiful blue ocean I had ever seen. I swear I nearly fainted. The combination of this place and Luke Mason was almost too much for me. Bucket must have used his private account to pay for this place, because I could find no record of the charges on the credit cards or checking accounts that we managed for him. I would have to remember to tell the accountant to deduct part of the cost for business expenses, since Luke and I were there for business reasons only. Was this why Bucket had invited us? Clever boy.
“Here we are in the main house,” said Samson, as he placed our suitcases in the center of the foyer, in what he described as “the great hall.” “Here we have the dining area, kitchen where our chef prepares delicious food, living room, bar and wine room.”
“And is there —”
Before I’d finished my sentence, he said, “Yes there is very strong wireless internet throughout the compound, miss. Our business center offers satellite internet, so you can stay connected with anyone.”
Was it that obvious that I was a borderline workaholic? I glanced over at Luke and saw how relieved he was to hear this news as well.
“There are five villas off of the main house. Each villa is a private bedroom with en suite bath. You may choose which room you’d like to stay in.” He looked at us and winked.
Luke and I both practically shouted out that we’d need separate rooms.
“Oh yes of course, that’s what I meant,” he said, I swear there was a twinkle in his eye. “You may each choose your own separate pavilion, with the exception of the canopy suite, which is the large safari-style tent in the center of the compound. Very romantic—Mr. Buck is staying in that one and…” his voice trailed off.
“And where is Mr. Buck? I should let him know we’re here.”
“Mr. Buck is playing golf. Mr. Buck would like you both to join him on the patio at five-thirty for cocktails before dinner. If either of you have any food allergies would you please let me know so I can alert the chef.”
I shake my head. “Not that I’m aware of.”
“Nor I. Thank you, Samson.”
“I am, however, mildly allergic to enforced casual patio dining on tropical islands. I hope my cell phone signal is strong out there. In case I need to make some business calls on behalf of Mr. Buck during dinner.”
“You will have all that you desire out there, mademoiselle.” He laughed.
I felt my cheeks flush and inadvertently glanced over at Luke, who seemed to be just as amused by me as Samson was. “Right, well then. Better get to my room so I can catch up on my emails.” I grabbed the slate grey carry-on luggage by my feet and settled into the pavilion that was furthest away from the main house, hoping that Luke would choose one in the exact opposite direction. I looked back to check. He was indeed striding towards the bedroom villa on the opposite side of the compound, on the other side of the pool. Great, we’re on the same page then. We both think I’m a freak and want him to stay away from me so I don’t make any more of a fool of myself than I already have.
At least it made it easier for me, knowing that I had blown it with Luke upfront, so we wouldn’t have to struggle with sexual tension for our entire stay here. I lay the luggage on the crisp white king size bed and looked around at the suite. It was stunning. The vaulted ceilings must have been forty feet high. The slowly-spinning wood ceiling fan contributed to the sultry environment. I needed to take a shower and change out of my New York clothes.
I unzipped the suitcase and stared down at the jars of marmalade and box of premium extra large size condoms atop perfectly-folded clothes that were definitely not my own. Once I had realized that I had mistakenly grabbed Luke’s suitcase I thought: Ding ding ding jackpot!
Excerpted from Chapter 13
I got a text. It was from Luke’s personal phone.
Sailor: Certainly is quiet around here.
Me: Certainly is.
Sailor: So this is…awkward.
Me: Ya think?
Sailor: I’ve been thinking about what you said earlier…About Mr. Potter.
Sailor: You’re a little bit crazy, I take it?
Me: Little bit.
Sailor: It’s charming. Sort of.
Me: Generous of you.
Sailor: I’m a generous fellow. Popping over to the kitchen for a late night snack. Care to join?
I wanted to join him. I wanted to be conjoined with him. But my stomach was doing somersaults. I was terrified. It was all so real and I didn’t know if it was a good idea or if I could handle it.
Me: Not too hungry right now…You go ahead. I’ve got some client emails to catch up on.
Sailor: Saturday night. Makes sense. Later, then.
I shut my laptop. What was my problem? It was Saturday night. I was in paradise, alone with Luke. We’d already made out and my hand had touched his crotch. Would it make any difference to our ability to work together if we closed the deal? I mean, it would just be an English penis inside an American vagina. What could be more symbolic of the successful transatlantic merger he and I had just overseen? I could spend the rest of the night or the rest of my life coming up with excuses for not having sex with that man, or I could get real and admit to myself and him that I wanted to have sex with him. Now. It was now or never.
I looked down at my camisole and panties. I could play it safe and get dressed, just in case Luke really was interested in making pancakes in the kitchen, or I could change into the La Perla lingerie I’d brought along for emergency sexy times, or I could hedge my bets and throw the villa-provided robe on over what I was wearing. I didn’t want to waste any more time, I needed to get out the door before I changed my mind. I grabbed the robe and went to the door.
I opened the door and saw Luke standing there, a few feet from my door, his shirt completely unbuttoned, his hands in his pockets. He was trying to decide whether or not to knock. I dropped the robe to the floor. We stood there staring at each other, for what felt like several minutes, but was probably only a few seconds, and then he wordlessly stepped inside, shut the door behind him, and put his arms around me. He drew me close to him, as close as we could be. I held him tight and felt his warm breath on my neck, his heartbeat quickening. His hands traveled up and down the back of me and then slowly and confidently explored my front, cupping my breasts, and gazing down at them, admiring them, in a way that he seemed to have been longing to for quite a while.
“Promise me this won’t ruin everything,” I whispered.
“I can’t,” he said. “It will absolutely ruin everything.”
He ran his fingers along the lace top of my camisole and then along the bottom, his fingertips grazing my belly, my waist, and up under my camisole to my breasts again. I was surprised by how comfortable I was at letting him touch me and look at me like that–my body wanted it too–but soon I needed to be more involved. I touched his chin with one hand, leading his mouth towards mine, as my other hand sought out the impressive bulge at the front of his pants. I gasped as I took hold of it and he let out an audible sigh. I looked up at him and saw that his eyes had clouded over, and I knew that he needed to be inside of me now, as much as I needed to feel him inside of me. There was nothing we needed to say to each other now that our bodies couldn’t say for us. In one swift motion he lifted me up into his arms and carried me to the bed, pressing down on me as he kissed my lips and my neck, and I loved how it felt–the weight of him on me, loved the smell and the taste of him–he was every bit as delicious as his voice had promised.
THE FLIRTATION (Work Less, Play More Book Two) by Kayley Loring is available for pre-order on Amazon HERE and will be available for Kindle Unlimited on November 13th.
Cover Reveal! Book Two of the Work Less, Play More series.
Coming to Kindle Unlimited in November.
Avery Davis loves her job at a fancy Manhattan wealth management firm—the busier she is helping to make her clients’ financial dreams come true, the easier it is to ignore the shocking reality that there’s no one in town she’s even remotely interested in dating and that her sister is convinced her overused vibrator is going to destroy her lady parts.
Better yet—she has been tasked with handling her firm’s transatlantic business affairs, which means she gets paid to Skype with Luke Mason, an impossibly handsome and charming British business consultant in London. She could never consider actually falling for him, but every girl needs a harmless work crush to get her through the day.
Over the past year, Avery has somehow become one of the most important people in Luke’s life, and thank God there’s an ocean separating them or he’d be obsessing about getting this unavailable, beautiful, stressed-out, work-obsessed woman into bed instead of focusing on his career.
But when their wealthy client insists that Avery and Luke cross the Atlantic to join him for a face-to-face meeting at an amazing villa in the Bahamas, their international merger heats up in ways that neither of them were expecting to deal with.
THE FLIRTATION is a standalone, the second book in the Work Less, Play More series.
It’s a transatlantic romantic comedy that works!
Stay tuned for excerpts. I have really loved writing this one!