Contemporary Adult Romance
Orginally published March 2012
35,397 words, 122 pages
3-Flame Sensuality Rating
Her biggest mistake might be the best thing to ever happen to him.
Deri "The Mistake" Crandall wants nothing more than the love and acceptance from a family. After her mother dies, she finally discovers who her father is--except he and his family aren't exactly everything she's dreamed of. Not about to let a little thing like that bother her, she strives her hardest to fit in. Though honest to a fault, she even lies to gain their affection. But who could have predicted the one man with whom she immediately clicks is the very millionaire her grandfather orders her to betray?
Cole Harrety's life is all about work and ignoring play, until a petite, curvy bundle of quirky woman literally tumbles into his lap. From the moment he loses a staring contest with her, he knows Deri is exactly what's been missing from his mundane life and no other woman will ever compete with her.
With a web of deception already woven, can their new bond survive a shattered trust?
(Only available in ebook)
She'd go down in the history books for this, she was sure.
She could see the headlines now: Deri Crandall, first woman to be squashed to death by printer paper. A noteworthy event indeed.
Deri cringed as the six-tiered metal shelf swayed and groaned after she hauled another three reams onto the second-to-top rung. On an average, the entire building of Harrety International used two hundred packages of paper each month. And it all sat right here, stored on this shelf in this tiny supply closet.
Figuring as she worked, she concluded at five pounds per ream, two hundred of these suckers would put her up there at a thousand pounds. The rickety old shelf she stocked didn't look as if it could hold ten pounds, much less a whole thousand.
A thousand pounds of paper. That'd be like having a half-ton truck fall on her if this baby went down. Deri lurched back and eyed the support beams anew. No way could this rusted hunk of metal sustain an entire truck. She glanced at the five full boxes sitting on the floor, waiting to be shelved.
Patrick hadn't warned her about over-piling when he'd told her to put the new shipment of paper away. Still, she had her doubts. Glancing at the doorway leading from the supply closet, she bit her lip. Temptation to flee seized her, but she remained rooted in her cheap flats, determined to proceed.
Careful to bend at the knees instead of the waist because the seams in her skirt had screeched in protest the first time she'd tried bending the other way, she scooped another armful of paper into her grasp, sneezing when cardboard dust fluttered up her nose.
The entire Beecham clan might think she was the family screw-up, but she was by no means a quitter. She'd see this through, just as she'd successfully find her way into her family's acceptance. And if gaining their respect started in this tiny, airless room, risking life and limb by monotonously hauling stack after stack of paper onto a shelf, then by God, she'd do it.
If nothing else, maybe it'd prompt her father into attending her graveside service.
Half an hour later, the muscles in her arms wept while sweat made her cheeks glow an unhealthy puce, plastering her dark bangs flush against her forehead. But every ream lay in neat order on the shelves. And fortunately, she hadn't needed to become a human pancake in the process.
After breaking down all the now-empty boxes that had held the paper reams and lugging them to the recycling room, she hunted up her supervisor, wondering what new and unique torture he wanted to afflict on her next.
"Patrick," she wheezed when she found him sitting in his cubicle. She paused to gasp for more air and slumped against his desk, resting her damp palms on the corner. "I'm finished. What do you need done now?"
Swiping his organizer off the tabletop and holding it in front of his chest as if warding her away as if she contained some deadly, contagious disease, he wrinkled his face into a grimace. "Sweet mercy, you look like you're going to pass out any second."
Kind of felt like it too. In fact, now that he had to go and mention it, her head went light and yet heavy at the same time. And her vision kept wavering from foggy to gray and back again.
So she wasn't used to manual labor, okay. Sue her. No one had told her the job requirements included lugging around a thousand pounds of freaking paper.
"I'm good," she huffed, sucking in sweet, ventilating air.
"You really shouldn't have overdone it, Deri," Patrick scolded, looking like the geek he no doubt was, as he frowned down at her hand resting on his desk. "Why don't you take a break, and then you can check all the printers and copy machines to see if any of their cartridges are low on ink."
Deri nodded. "'Kay," she panted. When she removed her hand from his desk and straightened, it took every nerve she had not to bulge her eyeballs when she spotted a sweat mark in the perfect shape of her handprint on the laminated surface.
Oops. No wonder he hadn't wanted her to touch his desk. Sweat marks were just plain icky.
Too bad she didn't have time to take a nice, luxurious dip in a steaming bubble bath during her break. Actually, if she'd had any energy left, she would've bypassed the whole break idea and gone straight to work on cartridge-checking. B
Oh well, she'd do it with a fake smile tacked on her cheeks because she was willing to do anything, absolutely anything, to get herself promoted from intern to regular staff.