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About the author:
Her ‘A Singular Obsession’ series is a combination of romance erotica and suspense that feature intertwining characters in their own stand-alone novels. Three are completed and an additional four books are planned. Cursed, A Spellbound Regency, is the first of many regency novels. Follow her on twitter @lucythenovelist or on facebook.
What inspired you to write your book?
It’s a compulsion at this point. I enjoy books with intense sex scenes, but most of the ones I was reading didn’t have a plot or characters I liked. This is why I started writing my own.
Here is a short sample from the book:
Sergei paused behind his open office door and listened. Ada was chatting with Kelly. It was a normal, everyday conversation…except that they were laughing and joking like they were old friends. A week ago, Kelly had been gunning for Ada, determined to make her look bad in front of him. And now this. But he wasn’t really surprised anymore. That was just Ada. She could turn anyone into a friend.
Marveling silently, he went back to his desk for the latest report Ada had prepared. He could pretend to have a question about it. It gave him an excuse to talk to her. Slightly disgusted with himself, he put the report back down. It was—as usual—an exemplary report. Pretending it was unclear did Ada a disservice. She did her job as his executive assistant far too well.
Sighing, he picked up the coffee cup his other assistant Tim had fetched and took a long sip. It was already a little cold. Cheered by the thought of having a plausible excuse to leave his office, he opened the door wider to make his way to the break room.
Sergei passed by Ada’s desk, this time making an effort to avoid eavesdropping on her conversation. He already felt like a stalker. He listened in on her conversations a little too often. But sometimes he couldn’t help himself. Ada didn’t talk to him the way she talked to everyone else. He was her boss, and she treated him accordingly.
She looked up from her desk and nodded at him with the habitually distant and professional manner she used around him. He gave her a small nod back as he walked past. A few minutes later, he passed her again, checking in with Tim about the time of his next meeting.
“Is everything clear in my report?” Ada asked from her neighboring desk.
She’d whipped together a summary for today’s meeting in little more than an hour. The equivalent amount of work, with the required figures and statistics, would have taken anyone else the better part of a week. She’d been a spectacular hire, one he’d poached from one of his junior personnel. If only she wasn’t such a distraction.
Her report was perfect, as usual.
“It was clear, thank you,” he said stiffly before retreating to his office, berating himself for his awkwardness.
It wasn’t like him at all, but he couldn’t seem to relax around her. He sat at his desk, wondering how things had gotten to the point where he was spying on his executive assistant and making excuses to see her.
Calen and Alexandros would laugh their asses off if they could see him now. Or at least Calen would. Alex was married now. After hearing the story of how Alex had met his wife, Sergei thought he would have some idea of where he was coming from.
What he needed was a distraction. Maybe he wouldn’t be obsessing over his assistant if he got laid more than once every six months. Decision made, he flipped on the intercom.
“Tim, extend an invitation to Mz. Worth for this Saturday night.”
Tim’s perpetually earnest voice came back from the speaker, “You have that charity benefit on Saturday.”
“I don’t think getting a second ticket will be a problem,” he said dryly.
Sergei was one of the children’s charity’s largest donors.
“Of course. I’m on it, Mr. Damov,” Tim replied, getting to work with his usual competence.
Tim had been his social secretary for almost four years, and without him, Sergei’s life would grind to a halt. Ada had only been working for him for seven months, but she had quickly become equally indispensable.
He remembered the first time he met her. One of the senior VPs on the twenty-third floor had pissed him off. Trevor Jones was usually a half-way proficient executive, but his report on one of Damov Industries’ subsidiaries was two days late. It wasn’t the first time, either.
Sergei had swept down to the twenty-third floor to put the fear of god into Mr. Jones, only to find the man in question tearing into a subordinate in the conference room before taking off for lunch a half hour early. A three dimensional model of a new hybrid engine one of his subsidiaries was developing had been destroyed—by Jones himself. But the hapless junior executive had gotten the blame for not informing him that model wasn’t glued together.
Sergei had stayed out of sight, taking the opportunity to see Jones in action. He soon found himself angry enough to contemplate firing the man. His senior VP was one of those executives who blamed everyone else for their mistakes and covered their incompetence with shows of temper.
“This better be fixed by the time I come back or you’re done here,” a balding and sweaty Jones had hissed before he’d stomped off.
The junior executive had looked tearfully at the jigsaw pile of pieces before a petite brunette had placed a comforting hand on his shoulder.
That was the first time he’d ever seen Ada. Her dull, dark brown hair was pinned in a neat bun, a grey wool dress hugged her figure, and thick black, plastic-framed glasses dominated her small face. She was nothing special—not until she’d looked in his direction. Her startling, dark blue eyes were almost purple in the afternoon light. Attention piqued, he’d moved in for a closer look. Neither she nor the junior executive noticed him
“Go clean up, Mark. I’ve got this,” Ada said.
The panicked executive shook his head. “He’ll just tear your head off, too. We’ve got to send this back to R&D for reassembly.”
“No, really. I’ve got this. Go,” she’d asserted with a smile, giving him a little shove.
A grateful Mark took off. Once the little brunette was alone, she paced around the conference table. She examined the pieces from all sides and closed her eyes as if she was comparing it to a mental image of the model before disaster had struck. Then she’d dived in and started putting the thing back together.
Sergei was prepared to help when she inevitably failed. The model was too complex for someone without an engineering background to reassemble without directions, a copy of which were on his phone. But, miraculously, the scattered pieces started to coalesce into a coherent whole under her small hands. Soon, the pile of parts resembled the schematic he’d been sent the week before.
Fascinated, Sergei walked into conference room to watch her finish. She was done before she finally noticed she had company. He’d introduced himself, impressed as hell with the level of concentration that would lead someone to completely ignore the CEO of the company they worked for, not to mention the memory and attention to detail she had to possess to put the complex model back together in a matter of minutes.
Ada hadn’t even realized who he was at first. She’d been caught off guard when he introduced himself, hesitating for a second and flushing a rosy pink before her usual unflappable confidence had returned. She shook his hand and cleared the table, offering him the use of the conference room without mentioning the scene that had led to the broken model in the first place.
The next day, he promoted her to a position created specifically for her. She had started as one of three assistants, but his most senior PA, Edith, had retired soon after. Now Ada and Tim were his only assistants. Ada oversaw all of his corporate accounts and research, while Tim organized his daily schedule and any social events he needed to throw as the head of a multi-billion dollar enterprise.
Noting the time, Sergei turned off the speaker on his desk. A few minutes later, Ada knocked, announcing the arrival of his four o’clock meeting. She sat unobtrusively in the corner, taking notes and feeding him information whenever he asked it of her. When the meeting ended, he focused on his departing guests, forcing himself not to watch his assistant leave.
But the image of her blue eyes and delicate features stayed in his head anyway. These days, he even saw them in his sleep.
Ada sat at her desk with a little exhalation. Back to back meetings made her days long, but she appreciated the work. It kept her busy, and generally that was a very good thing.
Sergei Damov was the best boss she’d ever had. He had recognized her innate intelligence and had promoted her from the relative obscurity of the twenty-third floor after their first meeting. Working for him was exhausting, but Ada usually rose to the occasion. And Mr. Damov’s appreciation extended to her paycheck. She was finally building a little nest egg on her own…or at least padding her emergency fund.
“I understand, Mrs. Worth, I’ll send the car for you on Saturday,” Tim was saying into his headset.
Ada smiled sympathetically. Neither of them much liked the divorced socialite that Mr. Damov used as a backup escort when he was between girlfriends. When Ada thought about Mrs. Worth resuming her visits to the office, it almost made her miss Ivanka, the bitchy supermodel he’d been dating when she’d started working for him. At least Ivanka had ignored her and Tim, but Fiona Worth thought of Sergei’s assistants as her own. She had expected Ada to drop everything she was doing to run errands for her. Mr. Damov had to intervene once when the overly groomed woman had thrown a fit the time Ada refused to stop working to go pick up her dry-cleaning.
“I don’t see why she always insists on Sergei picking her up. She has her own driver. She got him in the divorce,” Tim grumbled when he hung up.
“If she used her own driver, Mr. Damov might be inclined to ditch her should he run into another supermodel at one of those events,” she murmured quietly.
Tim snickered and offered to refill her coffee.
“I’ve had enough for today,” Ada said easily, avoiding eye contact.
She liked Tim, but she didn’t want to encourage another dinner invitation. In the last few weeks, she’d already turned him down twice and was hoping not to have to do it a third time. Under other circumstances, she would have liked to say yes, but keeping people at arm’s length was necessary.
Turning to watch his tall form as he left, she smiled wistfully. It would have been nice to be able to spend time with him after work. Tim Moss was one of the nicest people she’d ever met. And he was cute.
Hours passed as she prepared for Sergei’s upcoming business trip. She wouldn’t have to attend this one, which was just as well. Ada had finally convinced him to hire back a third assistant, and she was going to be conducting some preliminary interviews while he was away. However, Tim still had to go; Sergei never went anywhere without him.
Dinner was delivered to their office at eight that night, just as Tim was getting ready to leave. He lingered for a while and was still talking to her when Sergei stuck his head out of his office door and ordered him to go home. When their boss retreated to his desk, leaving the heavy wood ajar, Tim looked at Ada and frowned.
“You know, he never used to leave the door open,” he said as he reluctantly put on his coat.
Ada was too tired to pay his comment any attention. She stretched in her chair. “Go home. I would be out the door if I was done.”
Her sleepless night was catching up with her. And she didn’t like to talk with Tim when she was tired and her defenses were down. Which made his habit of trying to coordinate their departure times so they could share a cab a little annoying. Especially lately. Time alone might mean another dinner invitation she couldn’t accept.
Tim finally left, and Ada ate her solitary meal at her desk and went to the break room afterwards for her fourth cup of coffee of the day. Lingering at the window that afforded a partially obstructed view of the Manhattan skyline, she stood there lost in thought.
A steady job was a double-edged sword. It meant money and security, but she couldn’t socialize at all or let anyone close. She was actually lonelier now than in those jobs where she’d only stayed a few weeks or months.
Behind her, someone cleared their throat. Ada whirled around. Her boss was standing behind her, his tall muscular form still immaculate in a crisp suit and perfectly tied tie. In the beginning, she had wondered if he kept a duplicate suit in his office, which was equipped with its own closet, shower, and a long leather couch for the really late nights that turned into early mornings. She soon realized that Mr. Damov just never got messy or sweaty. Tim had nicknamed him the iceman. Since he never showed much emotion, Ada found the nickname fitting.
“I’m sorry I finished the coffee, Mr. Damov,” she said, mentally cursing to herself. “Would you like me to make more?”
She didn’t know why he liked the coffee in the break room. He had one of those fancy pod machines in his office, but he preferred the drip coffee from the machine the staff used.
“How many times do I have to tell you to call me Sergei?”
“Just one more,” she answered, as she always did.
Calling him by his first name seemed too relaxed for the image she was trying to maintain. She did use Sergei in her head, but insisted on using Mr. Damov when addressing him.
“I can make it,” he said, shaking his head as she reached for the coffee pot.
His rough, deep voice skittered along her nerves. Ada nodded and got out of the way as she sipped the lukewarm coffee from the previous pot. She didn’t know why she was on edge. They had spent plenty of time alone together. But usually someone else was still around in the background: Tim or Niko. Tonight the office was completely deserted, and she felt unaccountably nervous.
“He has a crush on you, you know,” he said suddenly.
Ada choked on her coffee. “What?”
Sergei came up behind her and gave her several hard whacks on the back.
“I’m okay, I’m okay,” she said holding up her hands.
Her back was stinging from the forceful blows.
“Are you sure?” he asked attentively.
She nodded and smiled awkwardly, itching to step away, but she was already trapped in the corner of the room.
“I meant Tim. He has a crush on you. Before you started to work here, he was out the door at the earliest opportunity. Now I have to order him to go home. He always tries to leave when you leave. And I heard he asked you to dinner.”
Startled, Ada stared at her boss. Niko must have told him all that stuff. The craggy-faced older Russian never missed a thing. Niko Zotov was another mixed blessing to working here. He was Damov Industries’ head of security. He and his team kept close tabs on Sergei, accompanying him wherever he went.
She had initially thought the four man security team was a little excessive, but then Tim had told her that about a failed kidnapping attempt a few years ago. Niko had singlehandedly foiled the attack, shooting one of the would-be kidnappers in the chest. After that, Sergei had expanded Niko’s team to its current number, all ex-military from Russia. Though Tim was English and she was actually Canadian, Sergei preferred men from the motherland when it came to his personal security.
Sergei was still waiting for an answer. “He did ask, but I don’t think it’s because of a crush. He’s just friendly,” Ada lied, a little too aware of how close her boss was standing to her.
Sergei raised a brow. “I think you know that’s not true. And he’s not the only one. Half the men on this floor flirt with you. You always shut them down. Why is that?”
“Um,” Ada said, almost swallowing her tongue.
Sergei never talked about personal matters. It was one of her favorite things about her boss. And it definitely was not half the men. In fact, Tim was the only one she was sure about. The rest of the floor was just friendly. They had welcomed her with open arms. After the first week anyway.
“Hey, more than half the men on this floor are married,” she said, frowning.
It was more like three out of four. Sergei just smiled at her sardonically and ignored her comment the way he did all things he didn’t think worthy of discussing.
“Maybe you prefer the company of women? Although you also turn them down when they invite you to socialize after work.”
It was said with no judgment. Just open curiosity. Ada laughed. “When work ends routinely after nine, all I want to do is go home and sleep.”
“So you aren’t a lesbian?” he pressed.
“No,” Ada said, her smile growing fixed and brittle.
She was starting to get annoyed but tried not to let it show. After all, Sergei was her boss.
“Good,” he whispered back.
He leaned closer, and all of a sudden, she was in his arms, his warm lips against hers.
Shocked to her core, Ada froze. Dizzily, she groped for the counter behind her, expecting him to let her go. But he didn’t. Instead, his lips grew softer against hers, and his body pressed her farther into the corner of the break room. A moment of indecision turned into three and then four as her body was flooded with heat.
“Angel,” he murmured while momentarily breaking the kiss.
Her whole body suddenly tensed, and she snapped back to attention. She pushed her boss away with a nervous laugh. “Um, definitely not a lesbian. But also not interested in an affair or a fling with the man who signs my paychecks,” she said honestly with a shaky breath.
For a long moment, Sergei didn’t move. He straightened up and backed away as if she’d just told him she was a man.
He cleared his throat again and said very formally, “My apologies. I forgot myself for a moment.” Then he was gone, leaving Ada staring after him.
That night, sleep was impossible. Tossing and turning, she couldn’t stop replaying the scene in the break room, fixating like a broken record on the moment when he called her Angel.
It had been a long time since anyone had called her that.