Work hard, play hard. That's Candy Calder's motto. Even so, she never thought impressing her boss--hottie Matt Rockwell--would mean playing harder than ever! Instead of wowing him by working at the beach, they're hitting a sexy festival exploring the subtleties of networking.
Worse, Matt's steamy looks are so tempting she can't keep her hands off him! Sex with the boss is not the way to get promoted, so she makes him swear their fun in the sun will end with the holiday. But come Monday, will she be able to put this wild fling behind them?
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August 31, 2007
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Excerpt from Swept Away by Dawn Atkins
"How did you ever talk me into this?" Candy asked Ellie as they crossed the last few yards to Matt's beach house. "Mixing work and play is like chasing a tequila shot with a pi�a colada--guaranteed puke-fest."
"Trust me," Ellie said. "It'll be fine."
"And this thing weighs a ton." She shifted the antique laptop she'd borrowed from the SyncUp IT department to her other shoulder and wiggled her toes in her sandals to relieve the irritation of grinding sand. The beach was meant for bare feet, not shoes, for God's sake.
"You should have swiped Sara's computer so she'd have no excuse not to be in a bikini this minute," Ellie said.
"I can't believe she sneaked that little printer into her bag."
"Fighting your nature is not easy," Ellie said.
"No kidding." That was as clear to Candy as the Malibu sky overhead, where no cloud troubled the computer onto the nearest porch, grab a tiki drink and frolic in the foam. "This will work," Ellie said again, squeezing Candy's upper arm. "I know it will."
Candy blinked against the sunlight glancing off the sparkling water. It was all so tempting--the gently swooshing waves, the kids shrieking as they dashed into the water, the spectacular hunks jogging by--tan and muscular and ready to play.
But this was no time for Candy's inner girl-gone-wild to lift her pale face to the sun. She had a mission, dammit, and her future at SyncUp hung in the balance.
On the other hand, she'd worn her yellow bikini beneath the white capris and white blouse she'd knotted at her waist, and her straw beach bag held a towel, sunscreen and flip-flops--just in case she squeezed in some beach time. She was prepared to seize whatever pleasure she could out of this trip.
She fished her cell phone out of the tight pocket of her capris to be sure it was on loud ring. Sara was due to fake a work call after they reached Matt's place.
A big dog wearing a red bandanna galloped up and snuffled Candy's hand, then back-stepped away, inviting her to toss something--her phone?
"Wish I could, Bucko," she said, "but I need it." With a little yelp, the dog galloped off in search of someone who understood what the beach was for. Candy sighed. Maybe later she'd catch up with the cheerful guy. For now, she stood at the bottom of Matt's stairs.
"Ready to dazzle my brother with your work ethic?" Ellie asked.
Candy rubbed the top of her nose. "Yep. All raw from the grindstone." "Showtime, then." Ellie started upward.
Candy grabbed her arm. "No ad-libbing, now. No hints, no winks, no nudges. Matt and I will never be a notch on your matchmaker's belt."
"Whatever you say." Ellie's cheerful concession was too easy, Candy knew, vowing to watch her friend closely.
Ellie bounded up the stairs and Candy followed, her heart pounding as loudly in her ears as Ellie's knock.
When Matt opened the door, Candy's heart took a header into her stomach. The way it had before that mortifying kiss gone wrong, when she'd landed on her back--legs in the air, tiger thong on display, dignity out the window.
"Hello," Matt said to Ellie, then caught sight of her.
"And Candy?" His eyes grabbed her, a piercing blue, even through his glasses. When Matt looked at her, he really looked. As though she were a tangled computer code he must decipher or die.
Read me, baby, she wanted to say. Read me all night long.
His intense focus appealed to her. Also, his calm restraint, beneath which he was probably hotter than hot. Like the mild-mannered alter ego of the all-powerful man of steel.
Steel...hmm. The thought of his steeliest part made her insides melt like a frozen daiquiri in the sun.
Stop that. Work, not play. "In the flesh," she said. Flesh? Did you have to say flesh? She rushed on. "When Ellie told me you'd be here, I was relieved someone would understand how to work on vacation." She patted the laptop. Something tinkled and dropped inside the bag. Nothing vital, she hoped.
"You're working? On vacation?" The emphasis on you're wounded her, but Matt blinked. He didn't seem to have intended to insult her. She knew him to be a straightforward guy who stuck to the facts. He wasn't into the nuances of diplomacy.
"I practically had to drag her here," Ellie said. "She wanted to cancel because of her project."
"What project?" He gave Candy another shot of his blue zingers.