Contemporary Erotic Romance/63,000 Words
Elite Doms of Washington (Book 2)
With fiery exchanges in the workplace, public relations princess, London Chantelle, intrigues and provokes the alpha male in wealthy attorney Carson Drake. He’d like to bend her over his knees—among other things. Outside the office, an unexpected meeting at a local BDSM club suggests she is the ideal candidate for a weekend of sensual submissive pleasure.
Mistrustful yet fascinated, London agrees to his proposal of forty-eight hours with him. Finally, she can satisfy her unwanted, darker longings.
Their passionate weekend stuns them both and London wants more of Carson Drake and his firm handling. But their assumptions about love threaten their budding relationship—even more than a blackmailing co-worker and London’s long-buried secrets.
Other Books by Elizabeth
My future will be made in the next thirty minutes. Okay, perhaps she was being a tad theatrical. But the thought wasn’t too far from the truth. London Chantelle took in a sobering, deep breath. Drama wouldn’t help her. Carson Drake sat on the other side of that door. She had to focus on business today—and only business.
She smoothed her pencil skirt down for the twentieth time, pulled her shoulders back and marched her Kate Spade pumps into Whitestone International’s boardroom.
The men around the table stood as she entered. Carson was conspicuously absent. Good. She’d dubbed the company’s contentious head of legal and public affairs the “Gladiator.” All too often she’d felt like the weaker opponent in the arena of his boardroom.
After the pleasantries of handshakes and good-to-see-yous were over, London launched into her pitch. It took under twenty minutes to explain why she believed Whitestone required a full-scale rebranding.
Isolated at the other end of the vast conference table, CEO Stan Whitestone and his CFO leafed through the thick packet she’d slaved over for two weeks. She sat still and silent in the enormous leather chair, taking the moment to assess his mood. You could tell a lot about someone by watching their face as they read. So far, so good.
Mr. Whitestone pushed his copy of her proposal forward on the table. He leaned back in his chair and smiled. Oh, thank God. He doesn’t hate it.
Her promotion to vice president at Yost and Brennan Communications rode on his acceptance. She desperately wanted that VP title and all that went with it. As vice president, she’d slave over her ideas rather than other people’s. And the money? For once in her life, she might live in a place with a separate bedroom instead of a studio apartment.
“So, Miss Chantelle, only $500,000?” Mr. Whitestone asked. His CFO stared at him as if gauging his tone. London had learned over the years that clients didn’t often tease, and certainly not the head of a multibillion dollar contracting firm.
She cleared her throat. “Spending less would be a waste of money. If we can’t do it right, then we shouldn’t do it at all.” Oh, no. She led with the punch line. She meant to save that last line until she needed a clincher.
“Well said.” A familiar voice filled the room, and the air seemed to shift, along with her luck. The Gladiator had arrived. On cue, her belly flipped at the sound of Carson Drake’s confident tone. “Carson, so glad you could join us,” Mr. Whitestone said. “London was just talking about recasting our image.”
“So I hear.” Carson strode over to the credenza and poured himself a cup of coffee. The air crackled with the addition of his dominant energy. It was as if he, not Mr. Whitestone, were the CEO.
Carson took the seat across from London. He fit the oversized chair. Another subtle reminder she was a small player in this big man’s world. His dark eyes raked over her body as if assessing her reaction to his presence. She’d fought so hard to hide the illicit, secret thoughts she’d had about him since they met months ago, but his gaze seemed to penetrate her mind. Hearing my inappropriate thoughts.
During their first meeting, she’d had trouble tearing her eyes from his face. She’d spent every meeting since avoiding his dark eyes, as if that would hide her scandalous thoughts. He, on the other hand, watched her every move.
Of course he’d kept a professional tone with her at all times. Albeit combative. It was just as well. London’s life didn’t allow for illusions that Carson elicited with a single, knowing smile. She’d seen how other the women in her office grew all swoon-y over men like Carson. Men who were accomplished, good looking and oh, so arrogant, and who would turn a woman’s focus from herself to him with a wink.
“My apologies, Miss Chantelle. I didn’t mean to interrupt.” Carson looked at Mr. Whitestone. “Carter cancelled. I recommend to abort. Effective immediately.”
“Now where were you?” Carson’s brown eyes returned to settle on London. A shock of dark hair had fallen over his forehead like he’d finger-combed it all day.
When did the room grow so hot? She casually pulled her blouse a little from her skirt to ease the straining fabric from her clammy chest. Focus, London.
She had no time for flirtations. She had responsibilities and a brother who counted on her. Unlike her mother, she would not abandon those dependent on her at the first charming thing out of a man’s mouth. Whomever she got involved with—if she ever got involved—would not be like any swarthy Casanova her mother had brought home. Good looks always came with a price.
London straightened her portfolio on the table, opened it and pretended to glance through her notes. Carson isn’t going to affect me. Not today. She straightened in her chair and squared her shoulders.
“Go on, Miss Chantelle,” Carson urged.
“Thank you, Mr. Drake.” She pushed a copy of her proposal across the table to him, which he ignored as he casually sipped his coffee. His fingers wrapped around the entire coffee mug. She hadn’t noticed how large his hands were before.
She addressed the person who really mattered, Mr. Whitestone. The man who will sign an acceptance agreement, she told herself.
“Mr. Whitestone, I understand that discussing your business dealings in the press has been… difficult.”
“You could say that,” Carson said.
Dammit, she wasn’t talking to him.
“Refreshing your image will bring a desirable type of attention to your company. We will sidetrack sensitive information about what you do and how you do it. Instead we will focus on the expertise of your executive team.”
“A new brand based on our executives will invite questions,” Carson said. “Questions we might not want to answer.”
“We can deal with them as they come.”
“Is that so?” Carson arched his brow as if he didn’t believe her. She’d noticed the question was one of his intimidation techniques. Well, she wouldn’t let Carson frighten her. So what if he’d negotiated six multimillion dollar acquisitions in the last three years, testified before Congress, and been on every “most successful list” in Washington for the last three years? So what if I paid that much attention to your credentials. She knew what she was doing when it came to counseling her clients.
“Mr. Whitestone, we have been working with your firm for over a year. Your competition is getting more ink and more play on social media than you. Media attention requires giving us some news. You need more transparency about your firm.” She could feel Carson’s regard burn through her blouse, now damp from nerves. Or lust? “I recognize Mr. Drake may not appreciate the process, but—”
“I know all about news generation, Miss Chantelle.” Carson’s words pierced the air. He was probably annoyed she’d dare challenge him. But she’d also learned over the last four months of handling his company’s public relations, he enjoyed verbal jousting. She had hoped today wasn’t one of those days.
“Tell me something I don’t know.” He leaned back in his chair.
“You have twice the business of any other firm in your field, yet a quarter of its visibility.” “Based on what calculation?”
“Page fifteen of my proposal. Charts and everything.” A thin surge of victory filled her at the surprise on his face. But the pursed mouths around the table told her the snippy tone wasn’t appreciated. “We just want to bring Whitestone into the twenty-first century,” she added. Okay, probably not the best comeback. But Whitestone International needed a full image makeover, stat.
Carson sat motionless. “I fail to see how changing the colors of our corporate logo will be entering the new century.”
“Rebranding is more than a logo, Mr. Drake. What I meant to say—”
“We know what you meant, Miss Chantelle,” Mr. Whitestone said.
“I’m not sure I understand.” Carson leaned back in his chair. “Continue. Enlighten us with your wisdom.”
“I apologize if I offended. I meant we want your audiences to see you for who you really are.
Your current branding does not do you justice.” There. That was a vice presidential thing to say, right?
“I understand you’ve worked hard on this proposal.” Carson tapped her packet. “But I have serious reservations about spending this money right now. I move we wait a few months.”
“Agreed.” Of course, the CFO agreed. She’d labeled him the “Miser.” He’d rub two nickels together to see if they’d mate before spending either of them.
She gripped her notes tighter. “You have two acquisitions coming up, and launching the news under the new brand would be wise.”
In her peripheral vision she caught the other two members of the executive team watching Carson. She’d been in many meetings with this group. As usual, all eyes turned to him when a decision was at hand.
Carson didn’t seem to notice as his unsmiling face focused on hers. A muscle in his jaw twitched. No man should have such perfect cheekbones. Mustering as much fierceness as she could, she matched his gaze. She imagined few people could hold his alpha stare for very long. She wanted to drop her eyes to her lap. She saw him surrounded by a bevy of women dropping before him in supplication. This man had to have women parading through his bedroom every night. Anyone that looked like him would.
Mr. Whitestone’s voice cut through her ridiculous musings. “Carson, I agree. But the idea has merit. Miss Chantelle. Tell Mr. Brennan we need more time. You may not get the full budget you’ve proposed. But we’ll consider the effort.”
“Thank you.” Thank God. She really needed $300,000. If she bagged at least that amount, she’d have scored a touchdown for her firm.
She closed her portfolio. “I’ll give you a call on Monday to see if you’ve rethought your position over the weekend. We’d want to get started right away.”
“We’ll call you.” Mr. Whitestone stood.
Carson glared at her. He looks like he wants to spank me. She flushed. Stop it. You are Y&B’s next rising star.
As London gathered her things, she took a deep inhale of the warm scent of tobacco and expensive leather that Carson left in his wake. Her female parts clenched in a very un-executive way. She hoped Carson couldn’t hear the thumping knocks of her heartbeat. Clearly her heart hadn’t gotten the I-won’t-be-affected memo.
“Mr. Drake,” she said before her courage fled. “Did you even read my proposal?”
He turned to her in the doorway. “What do you think?”
She had no idea what to think. The searing smile he gave her held intense dislike. Only Carson Drake could put someone in their place with a grin.
Carson walked her to the lobby in silence. Her legs rubbed together, the friction heating her thighs. Those foolish, foolish suggestive thoughts returned.
“Miss Chantelle.” He held the glass door open for her. His gentlemanly move surprised her. Someone important must be watching.
She skirted outside to join the taxi line before she said something she’d regret.
She checked her watch. It was almost five o’clock. She had two hours until she met Michael— a man with who never should have been more than a coworker. He was the last loose end to tie up before approaching Mr. Brennan with the idea of her promotion. And finally advance her life.
As she eased herself into the cab, she noticed that Carson Drake still stood behind the lobby’s windows. She turned her back on his curious stare. Perhaps she’d gotten to him. Nah. She doubted Carson gave her a second thought out of the office. She wished she could say the same.
Well, today was a new day. Vice presidents weren’t overcome by erotic daydreams. They kicked ass.