Man Candy: A Fake Marriage Romance (Fire & Ice Romance Series Book 3)



With one last glance in the mirror, I declare myself perfectly frumpy. I know, I know, not exactly how most women get ready for a big meeting with some fat cat client, but I want this dude to notice by brain, not my boobs. Some people feel blessed by their looks and of course I do most of the time, but when you are trying to be taken seriously, beautify can be a real bitch.

Grabbing the glasses I can only compare to something straight out of Sally Jesse Raphael's closet, I slide them on my face to complete my look. The lenses are clear. It's all about hiding. The beige skirt and too-big green button-up top hide the curves that have not worked to my advantage in the past. Well, advantage yes, but I am not the kind of girl who wants to use her body to get ahead. I had learned a hard lesson long ago about mixing sex with my career. Been there, done that and am not going back down that very dangerous road.

Once I put on the shoes that look like they came from my grandmother's closet, I'm ready. It's only a short walk to the coffee shop and then I can walk to work. One day if I make partner or even manage to have more than three bucks in my bank account on payday, I'll buy a car. Goodbye public transportation and walking in the hot sun.

I shove open the door to the coffee shop, rushing in and praying there isn't a long line. The thought of not having coffee is far too terrifying. I will all out run to work if there is a line before I skip it.

“Good morning, Alexa!” my favorite barista greets me. “I had a feeling you would be late. I have your coffee ready to go.”

“Thank you, Anna. You are a Godsend. One of these days I'm going to surprise you and show up early,” I joke.

Anna laughs. We both know the odds of me being early are slim to not a chance in hell. As I walk to the register to pay, the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. This is that sense that self-defense instructor told all of us women never to ignore.

I spin around, scanning the room, trying to figure out what had set my spidey senses off. There's a man in the corner by the window wearing what has to be a very expensive suit, staring at me. His eyes are practically tearing my clothes away. I can feel him sizing me up. Not creepy at all, dude. I stare back into those dark chocolate eyes, hoping he will look away now that he's been caught. While I defiantly stare, I take advantage of the act to really get a good look at the man who is panty-dropper gorgeous. Tall, dark and handsome doesn't even come close to describing him. I dare him to keep looking at me, leveling my gaze and doing my best to appear angry and aloof.

It doesn't work. Instead, he looks directly at me—challenging me. Telling me with his eyes that he doesn't care I caught him ogling. I put a hand on my hip, turn up my nose and turn my focus back on Anna. I feel as if I have jumped off a merry-go-round and the room is spinning after my little stare down with the mystery man.

I start a running dialogue in my head about the man who has made my morning a little more interesting. Oh my God. Creepy but hot, I think to myself.

“I'd do him,” Anna whispers, handing me my drink.

I gasp, feigning shock, then lean in, “Me too,” I whisper back. “I'd use that expensive tie to secure him to my bed, rip that fancy suit off him and then ride him he until he couldn't see straight.”

Anna was looking at me with horror. I took it too far. Dammit. We had joked around in the past, but maybe it was TMI for her.

“I'm sorry, Anna. I didn't mean to embarrass you,” I quickly apologize, feeling my face turn twelve shades of red.

She squeaked, but didn't say a word. I grab my drink spin around and the damn thing explodes when I smash it into the chest of the man I had just been fantasizing about.

“Swallow me whole,” I silently scream to the universe. “I'm sorry,” I manage to murmur. “I didn't know you were there.” It is then I realize what had Anna so completely horrified. “You've been there?” I manage to get out, trying my best to will the floor to open up and swallow me.

He looked at me, slowly nodding, never breaking eye contact.

I turn back to Anna, who had covered her open mouth with a hand, her eyes wide.

“I, uh, I, I...”

Seriously, what could I possibly say to this man. I grabbed a stack of napkins, push them into his chest and run out the door. Never going back there again. I'll have to find somewhere else to get my morning latte. I don't think I have ever made such a complete fool of myself. Sure, I've done some pretty stupid things, but that little display takes the cake.

It was then I remembered the latte explosion and look down, “Crap!” My blouse was covered in brown liquid. I scan the street, see a secondhand store and quickly go in. It was slim pickings, but I manage to find a pretty pink blouse that is my size. I am going to have to break my rule and wear a top that actually flattered my figure. Hopefully, no one would notice.

I glance down at my phone to discover I have about fifteen minutes to get to my meeting. I pay for the shirt, grimacing at the extra money spent and run down the block to the building where my firm holds the top three floors of space. One day, I was going to have an office on the top floor. For now, I was one of the little guys working my way up—very slowly.

“Hi, Earl,” I say to the security guard before darting into the bathroom on the bottom floor. I was unbuttoning my shirt before I closed the door behind me. Yanking the tag off the pink shirt, I slide it on. It's actually a very pretty blouse and one I could see myself wearing once I officially make it and can reveal the fact I do have breasts. Plus, it only cost me five bucks, which is not all that bad.

Tucking it in my skirt, I check my reflection in the mirror, “No!” The shirt fit a little too perfect. Oh, did I mention I was wearing my black lacy bra? The pale pink shirt made it very obvious I was wearing a dark bra. I stretch my arms up and then to the side.

Okay, as long as I don't move my arms, the shirt wouldn't stretch and become sheer enough to reveal my guilty pleasure—expensive bras and panties. I had to hide my body and looks everyday I was at work to be taken seriously, but, I'm still a girl who likes to feel sexy. I want to feel good, even if I have to look like a frumpy old woman.

One last check in the mirror and I have to call it good. I have exactly eight minutes to get upstairs. I make it to the elevator just as the doors are sealing closed.

“Dammit. Really? What did I do?” I grumble under my breath. I tap my foot, waiting for the second elevator to spread its doors, inviting me in. Nothing. I check my phone and realize I am now down to five minutes. I can't wait. It's the stairs for me. Call it my cardio workout for the day.

Twelve flights later, I burst through the door of my floor. Who was I fooling? There wasn't a chance in hell I was going to make it in time. My ass is on fire, my quads feel like jelly and I am sweating like a pig.

“Alexa!” one of the junior partners hisses at me. “You're late. Get in here, now!”

I open my mouth to ask for a minute to visit the ladies room, but the jerk had already disappeared into the conference room. Taking a very brief moment to smooth back the little wisps of hair that had fallen loose from the bun I had pulled my blonde hair into. I probably look as rough as I feel. I can feel the sweat pooling between my breasts, which means I would be all dewy—not a good look.

I remind myself looking like a hot mess is okay. I don't want to impress the client with my looks. I smile. I was certainly not going to have the men falling at my feet in my current state. I think it is safe to say my dishevelment will actually work to my advantage.