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About the author:
My name is Ashley Johnson but I write under the alias A. N. Johnson. My husband and I have been married for eight years and have two beautiful children. Our son is five years old and our daughter is four. I am a stay at home mom who is rarely at home and a proud military spouse. I enjoy reading although most of my spare time is spent writing.
I recently published the first book in my Design Series, Enamored by Design, which is an Erotic Novel. It is a genre i prefer to read, but will read just about anything as long as it catches my attention.
What inspired you to write your book?
My love of reading caught the eye of someone I know and they suggested I write a book. At first I laughed it off but then after speaking with my husband, decided why not give it a chance. I had the time and knowledge so I did it. What keeps me inspired is the joy I get from creating stories of passion, falling in love, and even pain.
Here is a short sample from the book:
“Have you met Mr. Moore yet?” Kaylee asks leaning against my desk.
Kaylee Murphy was one of the first people I met last week and we instantly clicked. She walked in on me cursing the printer gods for making such a complicated contraption. Instead of helping me, she stood back and laughed. Realizing how crazy I must have looked talking to myself and giving the machine a few slaps to cooperate; I joined her with a few giggles of my own. Ever since then she has kind of become my work buddy.
“No.” I continue to look over the sketches I’m presenting to Mr. Moore. I erase a few stray marks then blow away the shavings before continuing, “The receptionist”
“Whitney?” she asks.
Oh, yeah. I really do suck at remembering names. “Yes. She told me he said he would be free around ten, so I will meet with him then.” I look at my watch for the time.
Kaylee is a Junior Interior Designer, like myself, and has been here for a year, which made her helpful, as far as working here goes. She’s big on office gossip and possibly the main carrier for the rumor mill. I make sure to watch what I say around her.
“Cool. Um, are you nervous Quinn?”
Brushing off more eraser fragments, I look up at her. “No, why?”
“Because you have been erasing nothing for the last few minutes.”
“Oh, no. I just want to make a good first impression. I hear Mr. Moore is intense.”
“If by intense you mean stern, demanding, callous, but insanely hot. Then yes, intense is what he is.”
“Aren’t you engaged Kaylee?” I ask doing a final examination of my sketches.
“I am but Mr. Moore is the type of fine you would risk everything for. If you know what I mean.” She grins.
I do not but I don’t bother informing her, instead I shake my head with a small smile. I’ve seen pictures of him and while I agree he is hot, I wouldn’t risk everything for him or any man for that matter.
“Anyway, I have to go,” she continues. “Mr. Bradley will have a fit if I’m late for his brief.” She waves then makes her way upstairs. I return my focus back to my sketches and run over the requirements list again; double checking my design incorporates them all.
Now that Kaylee isn’t here to distract me, my nerves are getting the best of me. I cannot mess this up. Working here is going to help me make a name for myself, putting me one step closer to my end goal of starting my own design business.
I applied for the position back in May, along with a few other places, but I only really wanted to be here.
I graduated from the Art Institute at the top of my class and worked as an assistant to Interior Designers at Kaizen for my last two years of college.
Kaizen is a furniture store who housed its own interior designers, so people could seek a professional if they wanted to do more than just pick furniture.
I would leave class and head straight to work. It was where I spent majority of my evenings. On weekends, I would spend hours perfecting sketches of designs to show to my boss. She allowed me to help her decorate a few customers’ homes and after three months, I was doing it on my own.
My experience, determination, commitment, and eye for design is just a few of the many reasons I was hired to work for one of the most sought after architects; Mr. Connor Avery Moore, CEO of CM Design Studio and Architecture Prodigy.
My first week here, he was in New York so I hadn’t actually met him yet. He emailed me notes from a few initial client meetings and told me to have the designs ready upon his return. Which reminds me, I check the time to see it is 9:55.
Placing my drawings in a manila folder, I rise from my desk, and rush over to the stairs as I straighten the creases in my gray dress. Being late to a meeting with Mr. Moore is not how I want to start our work relationship. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for someone like me and learning from a man like Mr. Moore is unthinkable. His designs are incomparable, exquisite; just timeless.
From reading an article in Forbes Magazine, I gathered people adored the originality of his designs. He was complimented on his work ethics and commended on raising the bar as a designer. In such a short amount of time, he has built his business from the ground up and become the highest paid Architect within the last two years. The number of awards and achievements he has is astounding.
In my Google search, I learned he did four years in the military as Technical Engineer before getting out and starting his own company. He received his Master’s Degree in Architecture from Columbia University when he was twenty-six. He was born here in Houston Texas but his mother died when he was eight, leaving him to be raised by his father.
As soon as I reach the third floor, I glance at my watch again and find I have about two minutes to get to Mr. Moore’s office, then collide into a firm chest, sending coffee flying through the air and onto said chest and the crisp white shirt covering it.
“Fuck!” he shouts looking down, studying the damage I’ve done, prompting me to apologize profusely.
“Oh, God. I’m so sorry.” I say as I squat down to pick up the folder housing my sketches. “I didn’t see you.”
When I look up, I am met with annoyed hazel green eyes and freeze. The wind is sucked from my lungs as I stare into the most beautiful eyes outlined with long lashes. My eyes travel down to his mouth where his beckoning lips are framed with a neatly trimmed goatee. My vision zooms out, taking in his entire face; his strong jawline, perfect caramel skin color, and dark low-cut hair waves deeper than the sea, making my girly parts scream for this man.
Our surrounding becomes a blur and the background office noise grows distant as I am consumed by his hypnotizing stare. I watch as his lips part, sucking in a breath. Does he feel it too? Does he feel as if he can’t breathe because the sight of me has stolen his breath? Does he only see me? Is his heart beating so fast, he feels as if he might pass out? Because I feel all those things and it’s weirdly . . . fascinating.
After a few moments, Mr. Moore shakes his head, breaking eye contact and the trance we both drifted in. “Miss Parker, I presume?” I nod, still squatting before him. “Good. Follow me.” He turns and strides away.
I release a breath I didn’t know I was holding, then stand and scurry after him. What in the heck was that?
“Shut the door.” He orders as I enter his office.
“Mr. Moore, I am so very sorry. I didn’t see you.” He sets his cup on the edge of his desk. “I’ll be happy to replace it.” He looks at me with a raised eyebrow. Wait a minute, I might not be able to afford it. “Better yet, I can pay to have it dry cleaned. I really am so . . . so . . . sorry?”
I didn’t mean for that to come out as a question but Mr. Moore begins to unbutton his shirt, leaving me in awe and confused. Am I sorry? My eyes widen and my jaw drops, as he gracefully shrugs off his shirt.
I watch in a drool worthy fashion as his shoulder muscles tighten, enhancing their erotically inked definition, the way his chest muscles contract and release, making the words on his chest dance with each movement, and when he turns his back to me, I catch sight of the massive tattoo of a lion ripping through flesh occupying it. The lion looks ferocious; untamed, unlike the man before me.
Why would Mr. Moore have a tattoo like that?
“Don’t worry about it.” He says as he drapes a gray button up shirt over his perfect chest and ripped abs.
Mr. Moore begins to button it in slow motion, or so it seems, leaving the image of him shirtless permanently ingrained into my brain.
“Miss Parker. Have a seat so we can get started.” He moves to his chair behind his desk.
I go to move but find that I can’t. Oh, God. Please don’t embarrass yourself any further. I will my legs to move but I’m rooted to this spot. What is happening to me?
I drop my head, take a deep breath and try again. This time I step forward and smile, but it quickly falls when my step falters causing me to stumble.
Oh, good God. I’m going down.
I squeal as I make contact with the floor and Mr. Moore jumps up from his chair. “Are you okay?” He asks lifting me to my feet as if I weigh nothing. I nod, trying not to concentrate on how good his hands feel on me. “You should watch that first step, it’s something.”
I detect a hint of sarcasm but his face remains passive as he picks up my drawings and helps me to the chair. As I sit his office phone rings.
“Just a moment,” he answers his phone. “This is Moore . . .”
Thank God, I need a moment to gather my senses.
While he is occupied, I gaze around his office. It is spacious with his large desk in the center. On one end, there seems to be a seating area furnished with two black leather sofas and a rather large coffee table in between them. A wet bar with crystal decanters filled with copper brown liquids occupies the space along the wall. The other end has a very fancy drafting table connected to a smaller desk which has a laptop resting on it, a rolling chair, and what could be a door to a restroom. The frosted glass walls behind me provide privacy while the remaining walls are cream colored with pictures of different buildings in black and white resting on them. However, directly behind his desk are floor to ceiling windows. It isn’t much of a view being on the third floor, but it’s still spectacular. You can see the people, the Galleria Mall and stores along Westheimer Boulevard. Beyond it, is a clear shot of the downtown buildings against the skyline. I immediately wish it was night so I could see the city lights. I imagine it would be quite fascinating.
“I apologize about the interruption Miss Parker. Shall we get started?” he asks leaning forward on his desk with his forearms.
“Yes.” Please, so I can run out of here before I do anything else embarrassing.
“Alright. First things first, I would like you to be here at eight each morning to go over our day. This is the time we will use to review clients’ objectives and budgets, go over any questions you may have, and go over new assignments and things of that nature. I aim to meet with clients starting at ten o’clock so I can use the few hours to prepare. In rare instances, like today, I may have a conference call before ten to accommodate my over sea clients. I don’t like tardiness and I will not stand for laziness. You were highly praised and I expect you to be professional, efficient and independent. I don’t have time to babysit. Am I going to fast?”
“No . . . uh, I got it.” Great, now he thinks I’m a klutz. Not that I blame him. Ten minutes in my presence and he has had to change his shirt and pick me up off the floor. All there is left for me to do is rip my dress and show him my ass. Okay, I was kidding. Please, please don’t let that happen.
“Good, I will let you sit in on a few meetings to see how I do things. You will get an hour lunch but the time used can vary, based on if you can meet the deadlines I have for you. If I give you a deadline of two in the afternoon, I want to see it on my desk at one forty-five. Do you understand?” he asks.
“Yes, I understand.” Concentrating on his smooth voice, I write down notes making sure to catch everything he expects from me. I’ve done enough to have him questioning if I will be a good fit, so I have to let my work do my talking for me. When I look up, Mr. Moore is staring at me.
He stands and walk around to the front of his desk. Leaning back against it, he crosses his arms over his chest then asks, “Do you have a boyfriend Miss Parker?”
“No, I don’t. May I ask why it is important?” Does he have the habit of asking every new designer this question?
“I will require a lot of your time, for work related issues, and having a boyfriend will distract you when I need you focused. Some days you can be here as late as nine, depending on the project. You should know I don’t tolerate nuisance, especially when it comes to my business and I will only ever have it operate at its finest. Now, do you have any other questions Miss Parker?”
I knew he was doubting my abilities to do this job. Guess I will just have to show him. “No, Mr. Moore.”
“Alright, since we have cleared that up, let’s see what designs you’ve come up with.” He says reaching for my folder before walking back his chair and having a seat; giving me a wonderful view of his ass, which looks perfect in those pants, by the way. I shake my head at my thoughts.
He will definitely be a beautiful distraction. I am in deep trouble.
At six in the evening, I walk through my apartment door to find Jayla sitting on the couch watching television.
Jayla Jones is my best friend and has been since the eighth grade. She had just moved to Texas from Georgia, and down the street from me. What started as a friendship of convenience, quickly turned into a sister-like bond. We have been inseparable ever since, taking the hits of life together.
I walk over and plop down on the sofa next to her.
“How was your first day?” she asks flipping through channels.
“It was good, well, until I drenched my illegally handsome boss in his coffee, then for good measure, fell on my face.” I respond in an even tone. “Oh, and he asked if I had a boyfriend.”
“You did what?” she laughs. “Wait, illegally handsome? Is he like Michael Ealy handsome or Dwayne Johnson handsome?” she asks, her eyes wide with excitement.
“I know that look. How do you put those two in a category together?” Shaking my head at her choices, I decide to indulge in her excitement. “I’d say he has the mischievous look of Michael Ealy. Oh, and the green eyes, but has a slightly less hulking body build of Dwayne Johnson. He is a little over six feet tall and his voice deep and sexy.” I manage to say without salivating. “He definitely tops any man I ever seen before.”
“Damn Gina! You just described my dream man. Is he married?”
I chuckle. “No, I don’t think so. I didn’t see a ring.”
“Please, please introduce me to him.” She begs.
“No! He is my boss. What about Malachi? Aren’t you guys serious or something like that?” I get up and stroll to the kitchen to get a glass of water as Jayla follows me.
“We are but only because I haven’t met your boss.” She smiles. “Besides it seems like maybe I’d be getting in the way of your office fling.”
I gulp down my water. “Don’t even go there.”
“What? You said he asked if you had a boyfriend. I think he might be trying to tap that if you ask me. I mean you do have a pretty nice ass.”
“Okay, first off, he is my boss and I am not risking my job for any man, no matter how hot he is. Secondly, he only asked because of the timeline it takes to get certain jobs done and some days I’ll have to work late. It actually makes sense he would ask, I mean you wouldn’t want someone who doesn’t want to work to be working for you.” I speak quickly unsure of whom I am trying to convince more, Jayla or myself.
Jayla eyes me for a second. “Sure, if you say so.”
Dropping the subject, I ask, “Hey, how was the job hunt? Find anything?”
“No, I haven’t. Not yet anyway, but no worries. I told you my parents are going to cover my half of the rent until I find something.”
“Oh, yea I forget you’re spoiled. But that’s not why I asked. I just didn’t want you sitting around the apartment all day. You moved out here because of me and”
“Yes. I did,” she says. “And the least you could do is invite your boss over for dinner to thank me.”
I roll my eyes with a chuckle. “You’re killin’ me smalls.”
“What do you want to order for dinner? I’m starving.” she says laughing.
“Let’s do Chinese.”
“Okay, I was thinking we could watch ‘Bride Wars’.” She says holding up the DVD and doing a little dance with it. “I know how much you like watching people making a fool of themselves. Although, your morning probably tops everything in this movie. Damn, I wish I was a fly on that wall.”
“Yeah, I think you might be right.” I let out a soft laugh. “Let me bathe really quick.” I walk off to my room in need of a nice cold shower. Seeing Mr. Moore in person did serious things to me and my panties. Just because he is my boss doesn’t mean I can turn off my attraction to him. If anything, it means I need to keep a safe distance from him. Mr. Moore is an arousing man in every sense and I need to keep my thoughts, as well as my body, at bay.
The next morning, I find myself trying on every outfit in my closet. Nothing seems right. When I realize nothing works because I am trying to impress Mr. Moore, I settle on black slacks, a black sleeveless blouse and put my yellow blazer on top. The sleeves stop at my elbow so I will be able to stay cool in this summer heat.
My indecisiveness takes up the time I would normally use to eat breakfast, so I have to go to work with an empty stomach. In the car, I make a note to stop by the break room to grab something. However, it’s ten minutes to eight when I arrive at work, not leaving time to grab a coffee or snack.
It was an interesting start to my day as Mr. Moore kept being interrupted by my growling stomach.
I will never miss breakfast again.
As soon as my meeting with Mr. Moore is over, I head downstairs to the first floor where the break room is located. I find it a bit inconvenient but then again, most people have enough time to stop there before heading upstairs to their desk.
It’s empty when I enter, so I head straight for the vending machine. I eye a cinnamon bun and look no further. It’s not a healthy start to my day but it will have to do. I grab my breakfast and begin fixing me a cup of coffee when a man enters and smiles widely at me. I give him a small smile because right now, I want to eat and drink my coffee in peace. He doesn’t take the hint and introduces himself.
“Hi, I’m Mark.” he says smiling as he rakes his eyes over my body.
Mark is a cute guy. His skin is a nice tan color, blonde hair combed back, and blue eyes. He is in good shape and seems to be in his mid-thirties. He is wearing tan slacks and a short-sleeved baby blue-collar shirt.
I shake his outstretched hand. “Nice to meet you Mark. I’m Quinn, the new Junior Interior Designer.”
“The pleasure is all mine.” He smiles then shove his hands into his front pockets. “So, how are you liking it so far? Is Connor giving you a lot of shit?” He moves to pour him a cup of coffee.
“No, he’s been great actually. As a matter of fact, I should be getting back to my desk.” I pick up my coffee and cinnamon bun before leaving the break room.
“See you around Quinn.”
I smile then hurry back to my desk. Something about Mark made me apprehensive. His eyes are a gorgeous shade of blue but untrustworthy. It is the same eyes I had seen on Jamal time and time again but disregarded. I won’t make that mistake again.
My desk phone rings and Mrs. Rachel Allen from HR asks me to come down to her office. When I reach the first floor, it takes me a minute to figure out where I am. Although, I have been here a week, I still get turned around.
The foyer is a large open area with a large semi-circular glass top reception desk in the center. It allows Whitney to work from all sides since there are two entrances into CM Design Studio. This is what confuses me. If there was one entrance, I could simply base the layout off of it, but then again that would be ordinary and Mr. Moore is anything but with his designs.
I gently knock on the door and enter when I am acknowledged.
“Good Morning Miss Parker. How are you doing?” she asks with a big smile on her face. She stands and holds her hand out to me. If I had to guess, I’d say she is in her mid-thirties and very pretty. Her auburn colored hair pulled into a bun and her slim figure is clothed in a fitted black pantsuit.
“I’m good, thanks for asking.” I say while shaking her hand. She motions for me to have a seat and as I do, she hands me my badge and pin code.
“You will only need to use these outside of office hours, so be sure to keep up with it.”
“I will. Thank you, Mrs. Allen.”
“How did your first week go?” she asks.
“Good. I finally figured out the printer.”
“Good. Most of our new employees have the same issue so don’t be afraid to ask for help. The people working on your floor will be your best option for help but you can ask anyone. Okay?”
“Okay. Thanks again.” I say as exit her office.
Later, as I am trying to figure out the new software design program we are required to use, I spot Kaylee walking towards me with a big smile on her face.
“Hey Quinn. Is it true you spilled Mr. Moore’s coffee all over him?”
Oh great, I’m in the rumor mill. “Yes. You were right, I was nervous. So much for making a good first impression.”
“I think you made an impression alright.” She laughs and I join her. I guess it is pretty funny. Now.
“Hey, sorry about lunch yesterday. I didn’t know Mr. Bradley had set up a lunch meeting with one of my clients. The old bat keeps changing her mind and now we are pressured to still meet the deadline.”
“It’s no problem, I ended up working through my lunch anyway. I felt I needed to make up for ruining Mr. Moore’s shirt.”
“I’m sure it’s fine. He probably has plenty of them. Well, I’m headed out. Bret is taking me out to dinner tonight and I have to stop for a manicure and pedicure. Are you leaving soon?”
“Maybe. I’m trying to figure out how to import more textures for my design.”
“Oh, here.” She leans beside me and shows me the necessary steps. “Then just go here to retrieve them.”
“Awesome, thanks Kaylee.”
“No problem, chick. I’ll see you tomorrow. Don’t work too hard.”
“I will.” I say to myself. I can’t help it.
My dad made sure to remind me of how important it is to come here and succeed. ‘I know you are going to go out there and do great work.’ Like I had any other choice.
My relationship with my dad is. . . complicated. I mean, I know he loves me. He’s a good man, a hard worker, and the only parent I have left. Which makes letting him down not an option. My dad has always pushed me to do better and that wouldn’t have been a bad thing, if there was something better than getting all A’s in high school, earning an academic scholarship to ten universities, and then maintaining a 4.0 GPA while working. Instead of praises, I usually got suggestions on how to do better.
To say the lack of praises has made me push harder to do more is an understatement. It has made me a perfectionist who second guesses everything she does, leaving no room for anything except success. So, working hard is all I do, trying to find something that will make him say ‘Good job’ or ‘I’m proud of you’. And this job is a step towards that something. I’m hoping becoming a well-known Interior Designer with my own firm will be just the thing to make that dream a reality.
I need it to be.