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Ambitious

Ambitious

Vorschau lesen

Ambitious

Länge:
371 Seiten
5 Stunden
Freigegeben:
Oct 29, 2018
ISBN:
9781509221295
Format:
Buch

Beschreibung

Administrative Assistant Veronica Shields spent five years working to get over a disastrous marriage and earn the job of her dreams. Then after one perfect night with a handsome stranger, she winds up pregnant. She vows to make a success of her life and a home for her child. And do it alone.

Mechanic Cole Reynolds grew up with the stigma of illegitimacy so that's not happening to his kid. But he must convince Veronica to take a chance on him-- especially since he just discovered he's the secret love child of TV royalty.

When Cole proposes Veronica create a documentary about his life to win her promotion, she can't say no. Now they're tangled up in one another's lives and falling hard. But will the scandal hanging over them tear everything apart?
Freigegeben:
Oct 29, 2018
ISBN:
9781509221295
Format:
Buch

Über den Autor

Lori Sizemore writes sexy and snarky romantic comedy. She adores all things story and geeks out about craft books, writing classes, and how-to blog posts daily. When she’s not writing, she’s spending time with her family, playing video games, or crocheting. Sometimes all three at once, as she’s a master multi-tasker. She loves to read a good book, in any genre, but her favorite is romance. Find her online blogging or on social media through her website, lorisizemore.com.


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Ambitious - Lori Sizemore

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She twisted in his arms until she faced him and they were face to face. Cole… she whispered.

No pressure, sweetheart. Let’s just lay here for a while, let the stars take away your troubles.

She bit her lips for a minute. Right. She placed a hand on his chest. No pressure. But what about want?

What about it? he whispered back.

What if I want to kiss you?

He kissed the corner of her lips, letting his tongue linger for a moment. She tasted so delicious.

Turning into his kiss, she covered his mouth with her own. For a few minutes, they kissed, until their breath grated out. Then she turned over on her back. The stars.

He snuggled into her neck, licking her throat. The stars. She was everything to him. When had she become so crucial? He didn’t know what he’d do without her. She had to accept his proposal. He’d tried so hard to avoid it, but he was falling for her.

Pulling back, he struggled to keep his promise not to pressure her. Technically, she’d started it, but she’d turned away and put a stop to it, too. I want to tell you something about me, my past, without the camera, he said.

She insinuated one leg between his and faced him. Her eyes were wide and she gnawed at her bottom lip. Tell me.

Ambitious

by

Lori Sizemore

Infamous Book 2

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.

Ambitious

COPYRIGHT © 2018 by Lori Sizemore

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or The Wild Rose Press, Inc. except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

Contact Information: info@thewildrosepress.com

Cover Art by Rae Monet Inc Design

The Wild Rose Press, Inc.

PO Box 708

Adams Basin, NY 14410-0708

Visit us at www.thewildrosepress.com

Publishing History

First Champagne Rose Edition, 2018

Print ISBN 978-1-5092-2128-8

Digital ISBN 978-1-5092-2129-5

Infamous Book 2

Published in the United States of America

Dedication

To my husband and daughters,

who inspire me every day.

Chapter One

Veronica Shields rubbed her aching temples as she steeled herself to be the bad guy. Veronica’s two bosses, Justine Montgomery and Sawyer, counted on her to handle issues like this in running a morning talk show so they didn’t have to. Justine didn’t care to be the bad guy and Sawyer was the worst guy—he only got involved if it was serious. As Sawyer’s executive assistant, problems hit her desk first so he could focus on what mattered—making a quality show.

So, we have no one scheduled for the show tomorrow now. I’ve called around, but I haven’t been able to find anyone on such short notice, a panicky Jess said, her voice an octave higher than usual. It was Jess’s job to secure guests for the show and manage the guesting schedule. I guess, I need you to check with Sawyer and see—

Holding up a hand though no one else could see it, Veronica cut Jess off. Here’s what’s going to happen. You will call the agents back and tell them that two guests cancelling is completely unacceptable. We’re sorry Ariel Sommers and David Ryan are going through a rough patch and it’s fine if they don’t feel like they can come together. Let them know that if at least one of them isn’t here tomorrow, and entertaining as hell, not to bother calling us when they need to promote a new movie. Got it?

Jess mumbled, I’ll try.

Hoping to rally Jess, Veronica put her upcoming meeting out of her mind and focused on the other woman. Listen, Jess, you’re the best at this. I’ve watched you make contacts with nearly everyone in this business. You’re great at this job. Promise me you’ll do more than try.

I…I promise I will make this problem go away.

Thank you. You’re fantastic. Call and let me know when it’s set. Dismissing Ariel Sommers and her on-again-off-again boyfriend David Ryan from her mind, Veronica put the phone down and continued running down her internal checklist. She’d scheduled an appointment with her boss weeks ago for today to discuss her future in television. At twenty-five, she’d left her job at an Oklahoma affiliate TV station, applied for an administrative position at Montgomery-Chase Productions, promising herself that within five years, she’d be producing her own talk show. She’d worked hard and held her own with a demanding boss. Hopefully, she’d proven to him what she could do.

Her job performance shone. Basically, she planned to go into Sawyer’s office at the appointed time, which was ticking closer and closer, tell him how awesome she was, and get her dream job.

People in this business ascended, clawed and clamored their way up, all the time. But that wasn’t her way. Hard work and integrity was the only way up as far as Veronica was concerned.

Sure, she’d had less to do since Justine was brought on as a co-producer and there was someone else there to shoulder some of the responsibilities. But Veronica still handled anything Sawyer threw her way with ease and took on extra tasks as often as possible.

Like this morning’s guest debacle. Jess hadn’t called her back yet, so Veronica took a second to jot down a note to call her back after the meeting.

Unable to wait any longer, Veronica made her way through the open door to her right which led to Justine and Sawyer’s shared office. It was sleek and beautifully designed. A custom-made cherry desk took up prominence in the center of the room, looking like an apple eaten around the core so that it had both work spaces and a small conference table. A low-slung red couch sat against the wall under a painting with a slash of red on a white canvas.

Do you mind if I come in and wait? It’s almost time. She swallowed down the nerves clamoring for attention.

Justine looked up from her laptop as Veronica seated herself on the couch. Sawyer asked me if I knew the reason for your appointment, but I played dumb.

Veronica nodded. I reminded him about it this morning after we finished taping, but he just went off, muttering to himself.

He’ll be here. He respects you too much to blow you off that way.

Veronica wasn’t so sure of that. She knew Sawyer appreciated her efficiency. If he hadn’t, he’d never have put up with her sarcastic commentary.

Justine had become her closest confidant since she started working here and her friend flat-out glowed since she’d run off to Vegas and married Sawyer. Marriage wasn’t for Veronica, not ever again, but she couldn’t deny that once Justine and Sawyer had worked past the issues keeping them apart, they were the happiest couple she’d ever seen. Her parents loved one another, but there was an overall air of dissatisfaction in her home that didn’t seem to be present in Justine and Sawyer’s marriage.

Okay, Justine said. Where is your head? I said, ‘Good luck.’

My head is everywhere today. A touch of nerves, I guess. But I’m confident that I don’t need luck. Everything I’ve done and gone through has been for this moment. It’s all part of the five-year-plan. I’m so ready for this.

Justine gave her a dazzling smile. She was tall, voluptuous, and model-gorgeous. I wish I had your confidence.

Veronica’s confidence was nothing but discipline. She’d demanded no less than her best for so long, there’s no way Sawyer wouldn’t see how good she’d be at this job. It’s ninety-five percent confidence. The other five percent is just pure refusal to see this going any other way. I can’t let that negativity in my brain.

I’m really proud of you. Justine shut her laptop and looked at the shiny, round clock on the wall. While other people found clocks obsolete in this modern world—a person could just check whatever electronic device was attached to them—Sawyer insisted on an old-fashioned analog wall clock. Veronica had picked one up that synchronized itself by radio transmission.

Thank you. The rush of worry about what she was about to do crashed over her and she pushed it around, channeling it into adrenaline she could use to get her through the meeting.

Just pitch the job, then sit back and enjoy it. You deserve this.

At exactly eleven-thirty, Sawyer strode into the office, tablet in hand. He was tall—at least a foot taller than Veronica’s five-foot-frame—and had longish dark blonde hair. He was a handsome guy, not that he was her type. He didn’t take his eyes off the tablet, fingers flying over the screen as he walked.

Good, you’re on time. Justine stood up and gave her husband a quick kiss. Veronica has that appointment with you today.

Why do you think I’m up here when I should be downstairs prepping for tomorrow’s taping? He gave Veronica a sidelong glance. "What did you need that you had to make an appointment for it?"

Veronica took a deep breath, crossed her legs, then uncrossed them. A jolt of nervous energy surged through her system. No. Not today, not for this. She refused to let the nerves win, so she stuffed them down and put on her neutral face. I want a promotion.

There’s not a lot of vertical movement as my assistant. You want to be boss-ass assistant in charge of all the other assistants I don’t have, you’re welcome to it. He gave her a wry look that asked, why are you wasting my time with this?

She arched an eyebrow. Can you take this seriously? I made an appointment. Could I have your undivided attention, without the sarcasm, for five minutes?

You thought making an appointment would prevent sarcasm? Because I thought we knew each other pretty well by now.

Five. Minutes. Veronica stood as the adrenaline started to crawl along her nerve endings like little bugs, taking bites of her resolve, and took several steps closer to the desk.

Sawyer, hear her out. She deserves that. Justine moved away from them, settling on the couch where Veronica had been.

When Veronica had told her that she wanted a producer job, had in fact taken a position at Montgomery-Chase to one day work her way up the ladder to producer, Justine had encouraged her to go for the brass ring, but she’d made it clear that she wouldn’t be part of that decision. She didn’t feel she’d been a co-producer long enough to be qualified to do such a thing.

And maybe she was right. Justine’s father had given her the job as a challenge, to get her to settle down. Which, ironically, she’d ended up doing when she married Sawyer. At any rate, Justine had been in no way qualified and Sawyer had held her hand as they fell in love through the process of making a new morning talk show.

With a deliberate gesture, Sawyer sat, put the tablet down, and pushed it away. Fine. Go.

I want a job as a producer. I want to work on my own show. I’ve mentioned before that I have a degree in Film and Video Production. And I’ve worked way past my duties on the show. Sometimes I run a whole episode of filming by myself. Veronica stopped to take a breath. Why aren’t you saying anything?

Five minutes. That’s what you asked for.

She waved that away. I asked for your attention, but I want your input, too. What are you thinking?

He steepled his hands together on the desk and shook his head slowly. You’re not ready.

What? How can you say that? She crossed her arms, realized she was making a defensive posture, and let them drop to her sides. Her fingernails bit into her palms as she struggled to take in what he was saying. He had to give her more than that.

Look, I’m good at my job. I know what I’m doing, he said.

I know you are. That’s why when I’ve had job offers to work with other producers, I stayed here. Because I wanted to work with the best. Someone who would give me the lead at times and see what I could do. How have I not proven myself to you in a million different ways?

You never said you wanted to be a producer, Veronica. I’d have taken a very different tact with teaching you if I’d known.

That might be true. She’d always worried that if she voiced her ambition, he’d find her too high maintenance for an assistant and send her packing. I’m saying it now.

"And I’m prepared to start mentoring you, now. You’ll be good at the job some day. You’ve got great instincts and I’ve never seen a situation you couldn’t master. But you’re not there yet."

Her chest hurt like it might explode. She wanted to throw things, to rant at him, but she couldn’t do that. She had to keep the professional mask on. I have a five-year-plan. College was…a challenge. I had some difficult times when I was younger, but I came through them.

Sawyer nodded for her to go on, but he was just humoring her. It didn’t matter. She had to say it anyway, out loud. I figured I would take any job I could with one of the best companies out there. People climb the ladder, and I had the background for it.

You’re an excellent assistant, Veronica. He glanced at the tablet then back at her. Her time was coming to an end.

No, I’m not. I’m terribly efficient at whatever job I do. I will make a good producer. She shook her hands out in front of her. Why were her fingers tingling?

Look, I trust two things in this business. They’ve never steered me wrong. I listen to my gut and I put stock in what I see with my own two eyes. My gut says you’re not ready and you haven’t shown me anything else. He held a hand out to her, a peace offering she’d rather die than accept right now.

So, what does that mean for me? How do I change your gut?

He stood up, snatching the tablet from the desk. You show me something. Go out, create, produce. Make something and show it to me. Let me see your skills.

Her breath shook as she looked at his impatient expression. He was done, and she didn’t have the job. Wouldn’t get the job, ever, unless she found a way to show him she could do it differently than the ways she thought she’d been proving herself before.

Okay? he asked.

I guess it has to be. She shrugged and turned away as he made his way out of the office.

With wide eyes Justine looked up at her from the couch. I’m so sorry.

Veronica slashed a hand through the air. Don’t. Not right now. I just need to think.

Storming out of the office, she threw herself into her chair. How had that gone so sideways? She’d been so sure Sawyer would give her the job. He wanted her to produce something. When? In all her spare time? With who? The limitless talent willing to work for free on her speed dial?

She’d spent so much time feeling helpless when she was younger, before she finished college. So many things had happened, spinning out of her control, until she’d been a wreck. Nothing like the person she was today. I’m not going to be that person again. I will find a way.

Veronica licked her lips and tried to analyze the conversation, piece by piece. Maybe she could figure out where it went wrong. At worst, she could decide what her next move should be. How, exactly, she could show Sawyer her skills as a filmmaker and producer.

Her cell phone chirruped to life. She checked the screen in annoyance. It was a New York number, but not one she recognized. Still, it could be important. She jabbed the green accept call icon and snarled, What?

Ms. Shields? Veronica Shields? This is the number we have down as your secondary contact.

She rolled her eyes, already put off by the incompetent manner this conversation was starting. Who is we?

Oh, I’m sorry. It’s Joann Richmond, your apartment complex manager.

Massaging her temple, Veronica asked, What can I do for you, Ms. Richmond? I’m at work and this isn’t really a good time.

Well, I thought it best to contact you right away. Though there’s nothing to be done about the situation, I wanted you to be able to get a start on making some form of accommodations.

Excuse me, but what on Earth are you talking about? Could you tell me what the situation is and maybe we could go from there? She gripped the phone tighter. What else could go wrong today? This day, the one that was supposed to be her big day, the day she accomplished her dream a few months shy of thirty-years-old.

There was a massive hot water tank burst on the floor above you and it has leaked all over your apartment.

For the first time since she’d answered the call, she gave Ms. Richmond her full attention. Do I need to come home?

A belabored sigh came over the line. I don’t think you understand. Your things are ruined and your apartment is no longer habitable. It will take us some time to clear out the damage, replace everything so there’s no mold or water damage, and get the apartment in condition to be lived in again.

So, you’re saying…what? I’m homeless and I have only the clothes on my back? A thread of panic wove itself into a heavy ball in the pit of her stomach.

I’m saying that, yes. The damage was mainly in the bedroom and living area of the apartment. I’m sure your renter’s insurance will cover your losses. You can call me back when you’re ready to file the paperwork or if they need to view the apartment. But you’ll need to hurry. We’ll have to get all the destroyed, soggy stuff out before the damage spreads.

By ‘destroyed, soggy stuff,’ you realize you’re talking about my life, right?

I’m very sorry, Ms. Shields. The woman’s tone became clipped.

Veronica had used that same tone with people when she grew impatient with their endless questions. It sucked to be on the other end of that tone and she would never use it again.

The damage is done now, so I suggest you file a claim with your insurance and take it up with them. Goodbye.

The phone call ended and Veronica pulled the device away to stare at the blank screen, her mouth agape. What had just happened? Her professional dream had been shot down, and now everything she owned was gone, just like that?

Justine tiptoed out of the office and put a hand on Veronica’s shoulder. I’m sorry. That could have gone better.

This whole day is in dire need of a do-over. I’ve lost everything. She dropped her head in her hands as Justine took the seat across from her.

"I don’t think it’s that bad."

No, Justine. I legit just lost everything. There’s been a water…incident? My apartment got into a fight with a massive hot water tank and got its ass beat. That was the manager at my apartment complex. I’ve literally lost everything. I don’t even own another pair of shoes.

They both glanced down at her only pair of expensive, but impractical, shoes bought secondhand at a thrift shop.

At least you were wearing the best pair. Justine bit her lip, her eyes wide. Listen, you have insurance, right? That will at least replace your things.

It will. But, I don’t have anywhere to go. Home doesn’t exist anymore. Or, it does, but it’s basically a swampland at this point. The buzzing in her head grew louder, reminding her of those times when things had happened to her, instead of following along on their designated course.

That’s a problem I can solve. Hang on. Justine hopped up, strode into her office, and returned to dangle a key on an expensive crystal keychain. Here.

Veronica stared at it as if she’d never seen a key before. It was like part of her brain had disengaged. Life did not compute. Reboot the system. Call tech support. What’s this?

The key to my old apartment. I’m not using it and I love it too much to sell it. I just mainly go by a couple of times a week to water the plants.

Veronica shook her head. She’d been to Justine’s apartment for girls’ nights before. They’d drink wine, microwave popcorn, and watch old movies. Justine adored any black and white film and Veronica just loved movies in general. It was far outside her pay grade, an apartment that nice. She couldn’t possibly accept the very generous offer. I don’t think that’s a good idea.

Oh, don’t be silly. This is what friends do for each other. I have a thing I’m not using, you need a thing—it’s simple sharing. Don’t they teach you that in the Midwest? Justine gave her a cautious grin.

Veronica literally couldn’t think of another thing that could go wrong today. They teach us not to take advantage of people and not to accept gifts we have no way to repay.

But it’s not a gift. It’s a loan of something I’m not even using. I won’t notice except Sawyer won’t gripe about fighting traffic to get there so we can water the plants. It’s like you’re doing me a favor, really.

A wave of weariness washed over Veronica as she thought about the minutiae of life she’d have to replace. Mascara, panties, soap. Presumably they’d pack up her jewelry for her. She’d have to call and make sure it got done. That and the fireproof and waterproof safe in her closet which held her important documents and the ruby ring her grandmother had left her. So much to do and Justine’s apartment seemed like such an easy, logical solution. You’re right. Not that I’m doing you a favor, but you’re right that this will be much easier than trying to find a hotel. I already have to go buy clothes for a few days, new makeup, and a hair dryer. Plus, wine. The biggest bottle of wine that I can find.

That’s the spirit, honey. Get those priorities straight. Justine placed the key on Veronica’s desk. Why don’t you take off now? You have a lot to do and your mind is going to be on all that for the rest of today anyway.

Veronica thought it over. There really was so much to get done. She could run by the apartment, see if they’d let her in to get her valuables and try to rescue some of her clothes. In theory, they could be laundered and saved. Maybe she would leave early because she was just going to be sending Sawyer death glares for the rest of the day anyway. She needed to get her head around this, figure out how to take control of her life again. You’re right. I’m going to take you up on both generous offers. I don’t know how to thank you.

I haven’t had a lot of friends. Lots of people knew who I was, but very few people ever took the time to get to know me. I know you hate sappiness, so I’m just going to say that you being one of those people makes this the very least I could do. Okay?

Veronica was touched by the outpouring. As much as everything had reached massive levels of suckitude right now, Justine was her friend. A very good one. If she had to start counting her blessings, one-by-one, to get out of this headspace of helplessness, then that’s what she’d do. At the risk of sounding like a big emotional dork, same.

The phone on her desk buzzed and she held a finger up to Justine. It was main reception. Justine had a visitor. Veronica moved the phone to her shoulder and spoke up. There’s a Cole Reynolds downstairs to see you?

With a shrug, Justine nodded. Sounds familiar. Tell them to send him up. I’m going to track Sawyer down and tell him to get back here in case it’s important.

She headed back into her office. Veronica turned her attention back to the phone sandwiched between her shoulder and ear. Issue him a guest pass and send him up.

Hands shaky, she pulled her purse out of her desk and dropped her cell inside. Needing to do something to make her feel normal again, she pulled out a mirror and some red lip balm and used a pinky to spread it over her lips. When she looked up, there was a strikingly hot guy standing in her office with an uncertain look on his face. He seemed to stretch, all broad shoulders and closely shorn black hair, so tall. His eyes were dark, inky black pools and they bore into her.

Cole Reynolds, right? She’s expecting you. Just go on in. Veronica waved a hand at the open doorway then took her purse and left. She could only hope that she could get into her old apartment—already in her head it was a place she no longer wanted to live—and salvage something. Anything.

Chapter Two

For a moment, Cole Reynolds forgot the whole reason he stormed into the Montgomery-Chase Productions building in the first place. The gorgeous blonde sitting in front of Justine Montgomery’s office, with medium-length hair just above her shoulders and dark blue eyes that sparkled, distracted him from his original purpose.

Then the self-righteous anger slammed back into him. Damn right, he was self-righteous after what they did to Lynn, a woman more like a sister than a mother to him. It didn’t matter much that the world knew her as a famed actress or that these people, who’d pulled her back into the limelight and cost her the sobriety she’d fought for, would only recognize her stage name—Liann Linell. Determined to locate the culprit who put Lynn in a facility to sober her up, to defend her from the bad press and her own actions caught on video, Cole stepped farther inside and cleared his throat.

The blonde was busy lining her pert mouth with red lipstick. Makeup drew attention to her vivid blue eyes, but she didn't need it. What would she look like without all that? What would she look like without anything on?

When she looked up and met his gaze, a shock passed through his system, like he’d grabbed onto a live wire. In this moment, he was grateful he’d never see her again. A woman like this could undo him. He’d had enough of that back home to last a lifetime.

Cole Reynolds, right? The breathless way she said his name made his whole body tense.

He took a couple of faltering steps forward. Shit, he needed to get a hold of himself. He was like a horny teenager all over again, losing his head for a woman with no invitation on her part. She seemed, at best, distracted.

She gestured at an open door to her right. She’s expecting you. Just go on in.

With that, she picked up her red purse and left him alone.

He strolled up to the open doorway of the inner office. Everything was red—the desk had been stained red, a sofa, and the paintings on the wall. A woman sat on the couch, running her finger over a tablet on her lap. Cole lifted his hand and knocked on the door frame.

The woman stood and turned with a quizzical smile. Cole Reynolds? How can I help you?

Cole took her measurement. She was tall, with long legs and curly, dark brown hair. Her eyes were nearly black. Justine Montgomery. The hint of anger bubbled inside him, thinking of how she had treated Lynn. We met before, in Greasy Ridge.

Greasy Ridge. I knew your name sounded familiar. You’re here about Liann, right?

Excuse me. A man entered behind him and crossed to stand beside her, placing a protective hand at the small of her back.

It’s Lynn. Her name isn’t Liann, not back home, anyway. Cole looked past her for a minute, at the spectacular skyline of New York City, because he’d been pissed when he walked in the building, and he didn’t want to lose it before he found out what had happened. I’m her son.

The words were foreign as they left his mouth. He’d never said that out loud to anyone. Everyone back home knew, but it just wasn’t something anyone talked about. At least, not anymore. He’d heard enough gossip when he was a kid about his mom the drunk, and his absent father.

I had no idea she had a son. I’m sorry, we would’ve called, when everything happened, but we didn’t have any contact information for anyone.

"It’s private.

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