tagAnalYou Bet Your Ass!

You Bet Your Ass!


Author's Note.

This is an ass one. Just warning you if the title didn't already ;-) Hope you enjoy it. If you did then lay a little sugar on me, I love the comments and the ratings.

Tequila shots, mistletoe and the most stupid decision of my life.

It was ten months ago but I still couldn't meet Nathan Reese's eyes.

And it grated.

Not just because of the stupid, stupid Christmas party sex I regretted with all my being, but because after the meeting I'd just endured I really, really wanted to glare at him right now. And I couldn't because every time I looked at him I thought of when he....when I let him....

Oh, what I wouldn't do for a magic brain squeegee.

I risked a brief glance across the table. He was grinning at me. Bastard. I couldn't remember the last time that Nathan met a team target. So why was he grinning across the table at me when he should have been shamefaced?

Because the man had no shame.

It wasn't lack of ability that held him back, no, Nathan was just lazy.

Bone lazy.

He'd floated up the ladder on charm, good looks and zero substance. As someone who'd fought tooth and nail for every promotion and every rung of the corporate ladder, his effortless promotions drove me absolutely insane. The Good ol' Southern Boy act he had going on worked with everyone but me.

It'd sure worked with Lucille Marsden, the new Eastern Division Team Director. Lucille who had just accused me of not being a team player—because of him.

Me. Margot Richards. Not a team player.

Not a team player? I was the dictionary definition of team player. I did everything for the team. Gave my all, blood sweat and tears and every other stupid cliché. All I'd asked was if we should start to take individual targets into account when it came to quarterly figure bonuses. From the look on her face I may as well have suggested the wholesale slaughter of puppies. It wasn't just Lucille who'd reacted badly; they'd all looked at me as if I was Cruella De Ville.

They all thought I had some sort of evil agenda to reconfigure the bonus structure. I wasn't trying to weasel anyone out of a bonus. They'd all completely missed the point.

I loved working for Leyton Resource Recovery. I'd come to the firm straight out of college when it was just a fledgling company in the relatively new field of environmental resource recovery and emission reduction consultation. I lived for the company and its ideals—especially their inclusive management policies. I was all for fostering a cooperative rather than competitive corporate environment. I didn't want to completely buck the ethos of collective targets. I just wanted, I just wanted...wanted...

To punish lazy ass Nathan Reese.

That's what I wanted.

"What is your problem?" I hissed at him across the table, hating the way I sounded, like some sort of demented shrew. I wasn't like this—this angry, bitter person—it was him, just him that made me act this way.

He laughed.

Chuckled softly—as if I were mildly amusing—which only made me hate him more. We were the last ones left in the boardroom. I'd stayed because if I hadn't practically glued my butt to the seat, gripping the arms of the chair, I would've stormed out of the room in a career ending tantrum. I was not getting up from my chair until my legs no longer shook with Nathan Reese induced rage.

But, as if he could sense how close I was to cracking—how much I wanted to knock his stupid grinning block off—Nathan had stayed behind to mock me with his melodic chuckle.

"My problem sweetheart? What's your problem? I'm not the one white knucklin' it through meetings."

"White knuckle it? I am not, I'm...." My righteous indignation fizzled out as I realized my fingers had gone numb from grip induced blood loss. Peeling my fingers from the arms of the chair, I took a deep breath and started an internal chant.

I am calm. I am calm. I am calm.

I was doing a really good job of calming myself—the white dots had faded from my peripheral vision and I could no longer actually feel my elevated heart beat in my forehead—when he started to hum.

That rat bastard.

Santa Baby—the song that had been playing when we...when he...

Oh Lord, I couldn't go there, not right now.

I forced myself to look up meet his wicked pretty boy blue eyes. I spoke slowly, in an effort to keep the shrill rage that sang in my blood from seeping into my voice, "My problem, Nathan, is that you couldn't meet a target to save your lazy worthless life."

"Really?" he drawled.

I'd just called him lazy and worthless and the man didn't even have the decency to sound mildly irritated. He just tilted his head, as if I'd told him something interesting. "Margot, I'll meet those targets. In fact I'll not only meet them darlin', I'll exceed yours."

I couldn't help the loud snort. He had to be kidding. Right? There was no way he was serious. In the last year he'd never even come close to meeting target.

"Right. Yeah." I leant across the table and punctuated each word with a mocking wag of my head. "In. Your. Dreams."

The Good Ol' Boy façade disappeared momentarily and soft blue eyes turned ice cold. "Want. To. Bet. Miss Richards?"

Suddenly I was worried—afraid actually—which made no sense at all because he didn't have a snowball's chance of even catching my figures let alone exceeding them. Targets were due in less than three weeks. But, for some reason I didn't want to bet. I didn't want to risk the intent of whatever was lurking in that glacial gaze.

I didn't answer. Deciding to be the adult, I just got up walked around the table heading calmly for the exit. With each considered step I was making it clear to him that I was far too mature to play games.

I was enjoying playing the maturity card but as I brushed past him he reached out and took my arm. "Afraid?" he dared me in that soft southern accent of his.

I shook his hand off. "Yeah. Right. I'm trembling. Absolutely terrified. Shaking right down to my booty." I turned, tilted my butt at him and shook, crumping it like an extra in a rap music video.

Maturity card revoked.

He laughed. A delicious rumble that no doubt had every female ear within listening distance sighing at the sound—everyone except me. He stood, leaned in close, so close his stubble rough chin brushed my ear, and I had to fight a shudder. Spooning up against my butt he murmured, "How about we bet on that booty?"

I spun around and pushed him away with a two handed shove to his chest. "What?"

"The bet is for your butt Miss Richards. Too hot for you? Do you want to back down?"

I looked at the open conference room doors to check no one had heard his words before hissing, "Goes both ways buddy. You ready to face that loss pretty boy?" I looked pointedly down at his butt which made him laugh again.

"I think I'm pretty safe," he said.

Which made me mad. Ridiculously furious. Stupid enough to hold out my hand and say, "You're on pretty boy."

Stupid, not because I thought he could win, but because it was beneath me to engage him at all.

"Sweetheart I'm going to spank you into next week," he said with a bemused look at my outstretched hand.

"You wish." I glared which only made his smile turn into a grin. I was about to draw back my unshaken hand when he took it and pulled me against him. He leaned in—his mouth against my ear—sandalwood and the hot scent of man wafted with him. "Oh darlin' we both know the truth. Don't we?"

The sound of his voice. The smell of his skin. The heat of his body against me brought it all tumbling back.

Cuervo. Ertha Kitt purring in song. Mistletoe hung in the office doorway. The taste of rum and cake fondant on his lips. The heat of his hand slapping down on my butt. The hard wooden edge of the desk biting into my hip bones. The sound of my voice crying out in orgasm, begging for more.

That night.

That stupid reckless night he'd circled a finger wet with my own cum against my asshole. Round and around he'd teased that secret place, each stroke slightly deeper, until he pushed inside. His deep voice rumbling at my ear telling me the next time me took me it would be there.

I shook off the memory.

There had been no next time. There would be no next time. There was not enough tequila in the world to make me go there again.

"You're so uptight. So highly strung Margot. I can help you with that," he murmured bringing his hand down to rest on the curve of my ass.

A shot of heat rocketed through me at the touch.

I stepped away embarrassed at how wet that the memories had made me. What was it about his man? How could he could make me so angry and still want him? I was about to recant the bet. Tell him it was all a big stupid mistake when he brought a finger up to my lips.

"Shh Margot, no time to talk, I've got to get back to it if I'm going to beat your figures."

And then he left. Not quickly. Still in that 'all the time in the world' Southern way he sauntered out of the conference room and back to his office.

* * * *

Sheena found me at my desk. As I knew she would. I'd deliberately avoided the lunchroom in the vain hope I could avoid this conversation but all it seemed I'd done was delay the inevitable.

"So," she said, leaning over my desk, "Grinchy poo. I hear you're trying to steal away our collective bonuses."

I didn't reply.

She sat down at my guest chair unasked and rolled in close, bringing a waft of tobacco and Opium perfume with her. "You know what the problem is don't you?"

I knew where this was going.

Where it always went with Sheena...

"You need to fuck that man out of your system"

...below the belt.

According to Sheena there wasn't a damn thing in the world that couldn't be fixed by a good fucking. From the crisis in the Middle East to a bad hair day—she always managed to find a way to bring it all down to sex.

I sighed and brought my head down to softly bang it on the desk. "Remind me again why exactly it is that you're my best friend?"

She laughed, the sound like honey over gravel—the product of a lifetime affection for the flavors of Malboro Country. "Because you'd need to leave work to find someone else and ..."

I cut in, finishing her sentence, "....I know all about you but like you anyway."

"Uh huh."

She stroked a hand along my downturned head. "You need a haircut honey. Why don't you take off early today? Lord knows you've got time owing."

I sat up and ran a hand through my hair brushing back my long bangs. "I can't I need to..."

"You need get fucked. You need to get a haircut. You need to get a life. That's what you need. The earth is not going to fall into carbon chaos because you leave Leyton a little early to get a trim."

I sighed. My bangs yet again falling across my face. I blew them back with huff of air. Maybe she had a point, but she knew I was too stubborn to admit it.

We stared at each other, me frowning through a curtain of hair and her smiling that perfect fake beauty queen smile at me. I cracked first. If it hadn't been for that meeting and stupid Nathan Reese maybe I would've had the stamina to keep up the stare off, but I folded. It was his fault. Everything was his fault.

"All right," I said.

Sheena stood up. "I know I'm right," she said as her beauty queen smile grew into a big shit eating grin.

"I didn't say you were right."

She cupped a hand over her ear, "What was that? Didn't hear anything after you said I was right."

I muttered a futile, "Bitch," to her retreating form. She paused at the doorway and called back at me over her shoulder, "Oh I booked your appointment for four o'clock with Pierre at Chez Belle. Don't be late. Do as you're told."

"What? I only want a cut. Nothing else," I yelled, but she was already around the corner.

I returned the next day trimmed, dyed, buffed, waxed, polished and almost four hundred dollars poorer. Despite the unexpected outlay of cash I was feeling pretty good about myself—until I saw him.

He was leaning against the doorjamb of the office looking just like one of the big cats I'd seen on National Geographic last night. With his tawny blonde hair and predatory smile it was easy to imagine him as the head of a lion pride. He raked his eyes from my head to toe and then slowly back up again. It made me nervous the way he looked at me. I stopped. Stood right in the middle of the hall. I hadn't realized that I'd frozen like stunned prey until someone brushed past my arm and I jumped.

He laughed.

Furious, I stalked over to him and slapped a hand against his chest. He caught it, holding it tight. "What?" he said with annoying faux innocence.

I snorted, wrenched my hand from his and pushed past him into my office throwing my bag down on the desk.

Marlie, the woman I'd shared with for the last two years, was on maternity leave so I had the office all to myself. I liked it that way. I wasn't really a shared space kind of girl. In a perfect world I'd have a corner office.

Nathan entered unasked and perched his tight butt on Marlie's desk. I ignored him, booted up the computer and checked my emails as if he didn't exist.

He cleared his throat.

I kept my eyes fixed on the screen.

He laughed and I felt an angry beat start to throb in my forehead.

"You look gorgeous darlin'."

I turned to look at him. So he'd complimented me, was I expected to thank him now? Unlikely.

"I know," I said with a snarl.

Chuckling, he stepped forward to lean down on my desk. He pushed aside the paperwork and rested on his elbows. Arrogant prick. I glared. He leaned in closer.

"Sheena told me you left early yesterday for a Salon visit."

I nodded.

He brought a hand up and tugged at a curling lock of my hair. "You had your hair done."

I nodded again.

"Anything else?"

I pushed away from the desk, rolling my chair back to get away from him. From his smell. His presence.

His eyes slid down my body and paused deliberately at the juncture of my legs. His gaze a searing heat that I felt throb between my tense thighs.

I'd been waxed. More than I'd expected, apparently Sheena had gotten to Pierre with some special requests. I'd balked at the full Brazilian as I preferred my playing field to be at least slightly grassed.

How did he know?

"Sheena," I muttered.

He laughed, pushed back from the desk to stand, and nodded.

"She told you? She told you about my waxing?" I couldn't believe she'd do that! Why would she do that?

He laughed again, louder. When he finished he said, "Oh darlin' she told me you'd been to the Salon. You told me you'd gotten all waxed."

My face flushed fire engine red.

"Did you do it for me?" he asked, cocking his head.

"Did I? Did I?" I stuttered, "Are you serious? Are you seriously asking me that?"

"No. Not really. I just like playing with you. I better get back to it. So should you considering how early you left yesterday you'll have a lot of catching up to do."

I was still gaping open mouthed long after he'd gone. Sheena found me that way.

"Oh babe the hair looks great. What? What?" She looked over her shoulder. "What are you looking at?"

I shook my head.

She nodded and took a seat on Marlie's desk. "Aaah, Nate was here wasn't he?"

"Yes he was. Asshole."

"Why do you hate that man so much?"

"He's lazy. He hasn't done a thing since he got here. He just swans around looking perfect and getting what he wants."

"Really? Hmmmm." Sheena cocked a brow and tilted her head.

"What's that supposed to mean?" I snapped.

"The world is all black and white to you isn't it? Good and bad. No shades of gray."

"There's no gray here," I said pushing forward the last quarter report I'd been reading yesterday afternoon, "It's here in black and white who works and who doesn't. Nate doesn't. He hasn't since he transferred from New York last year."

Sheena shook her head. "Sometimes honey the real story isn't in the paperwork. It's in the person."

"I know the person," I said, "He's a smarmy arrogant prick. That's the person. Look I've got to work. If all you've got are cryptic statements about Nathan Reese can we reschedule this conversation for lunch...or maybe never?"

Sheena shook her head again before nodding quickly and walking to the door to leave. She paused at the doorway, turned and said, "Work. Margot, honey, there's more to life than just doing a good job. Nathan Reese is the only thing I've seen you passionate about other than carbon emission reduction or the Obama campaign. I want you to think about that. Surely that means something."

"It means nothing. He means nothing."

She shrugged and said over her shoulder as she left, "I'm not telling you to marry the guy. Just fuck him a little."

As angry as she'd made me with all her cryptic comments about Nathan I couldn't help but laugh at her departing retort.

Fuck him a little.

I'd already done that. On this very desk in fact. My traitorous nipples hardened at the memory. I shut down the flashback before it took hold of my whole body and turned back to my computer screen. I had work to do, I didn't have time for Nathan Reese.

I worked right through lunch. Sheena popped her head in briefly to scold me but I ignored her and kept on. It wasn't until I looked up from the computer screen to stretch my aching back that I realized the hallway lights were off. It was dark. I looked down to my watch and saw that it was almost eight o'clock. My stomach growled in protest. I pushed back from my desk, stood up and went in search of the nearest vending machine.

I was standing in front of the vending machine trying to justify the combination of Cheetos and Resse's Peanut Butter cups as a nutritious dinner when the elevator doors slid open. I smelt him before I saw him. Thai food. The aroma of spicy lime and garlic wafted through the air almost making me swoon.

"Cheetos for dinner?"

"And Peanut Butter Cups," I retorted.

Nathan laughed. "Right, because that makes all the difference."

"Of course it does." Holding up the Cheetos I said, "Grain," and then the Peanut Butter Cups, "Dairy."

He lifted up the plastic bag of food he held in his left hand, "Reese's Thai. Enough for two. Want some?"

I shook my head as my stomach screamed out an embarrassing growling yes. Nathan pointedly looked down at my still grumbling stomach the corner of his mouth twitching in an amused smirk.

"All right," I said reaching out to grab the bag from his hand, "Let's do this then."

"With such a gracious acceptance I'm more than happy to comply." He swept his hand out in front of him and gave a little bow. "Please lead the way."

I scowled, turned on my heel and strode off towards the break room. He grabbed my arm, his fingers clasping around my wrist. "Uh uh," he said, "my office."


"Because it's my food and I get to say where we eat it."

I wanted to tell him where to shove his food but the thought of going back to a Cheeto and chocolate dinner made me bite back the words.

"Fine," I said jerking my arm from his hand.

He released my wrist and with a slight smile he brought his hand up to my face. He stroked one finger from my forehead to jaw and then tucked a loose strand of hair behind my ear. I sucked in a breath that would not release. He stepped closer. I sighed, closed my eyes, tilted my chin and waited—ready for a kiss that did not come.

He stepped away. I felt the loss of his closeness as a cold shudder down my body. What a fool! What was I thinking waiting for him to kiss me? I looked up, expecting to see him smirking at me, but instead...

The air sucked from my lungs again as I met his eyes.

Blue fire. Heat swept across me. A wave of wanting that almost buckled my knees.

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