Amber Reid is a twenty-something New Yorker with a heartbroken sister living on her couch, a job she loves and a boss she’s in love with. Her problem? Half the women in the city seem to be in love with him too. There was a time not too long ago where he showed up in the gossip pages with a different one on his arm every night, and Amber’s sister is a stark reminder that the Reid women are unlucky in love. She can’t let herself go there.
Chase Jennings is rich, handsome, and in one of the biggest messes of his professional life. Amber’s the only one who can help him out of it. All he needs is her company for a long weekend at a country estate to charm a reluctant CEO into a partnership that will make his troubles disappear. His problem? A weekend away with the assistant he’s insanely attracted to and falling in love with will test his resolve to not cross that line.
At the retreat, Chase and Amber are treated like a couple and start to feel like one, too. As they get closer, their resistance crumbles. Can they let go of their fears when the line between business and pleasure gets blurred?
Chase Jennings walks into his office at 8:55 A.M. on the dot. He has a meeting at nine that he doesn’t want to be late for, but he cuts it close mostly to annoy his assistant. She’s a gorgeous, redheaded spitfire and he loves the way her eyes light up with exasperation whenever he pushes her buttons.
Naturally, he does this as often as he can.
Amber Reid teases him with confidence, isn’t a social climber or an ass-kisser, and isn’t afraid to offer her opinion. For a man like Chase who’s spent most of his life surrounded by yes men, having a woman around who tells it like it is? That’s an increasingly valuable commodity in his life.
He knows he can count on her to have thought of every possible thing he might ask for before it even occurs to him to ask. He needs a report? It’s already on his desk. He remembers to RSVP to a gala? She did it weeks ago. He forgets a birthday on his calendar? She has a gift wrapped and ready for him. She even somehow manages to have a cup of coffee waiting on his desk that’s hotter than the one he brings with him when he stops in the lobby Starbucks and gets it himself.
The give and take has become a game between the two of them, one Chase looks forward to playing every morning. He’s grown to like the satisfied look she has when she surprises him.
Only today, he’s the one who’s surprised when he turns down the hallway that leads to his office and finds her desk empty. The sweater she usually wears is neatly draped across the back of her chair. She always complains that the office is too cold in the morning, but by the time the sun makes its way over to their side of the building in the late afternoon, the sweater is ancient history. If she’s not wearing it, she’s not here.
Chase pulls his phone out of his pocket. There’s a flurry of missed texts on his home screen.
Taking leave today. Family emergency. Sorry for short notice.
9 A.M. meeting info is in red folder, 11 A.M. meeting info in purple, 1 P.M. is green, 3 P.M. Blue
Only call me under threat of alien invasion or if the building is on fire. If latter, please save my fern.
Chase smiles as he fires off a text asking if everything is okay. He walks into his office and red, purple, green and blue folders are neatly stacked next to his keyboard. There are two piping hot cups of coffee as well, one for him and one for his 9 A.M. guest.
She somehow manages to be on top of things even when she isn’t here, and he can’t help but smile.
His phone lights up with another text:
It’s not okay, but it will be. See you tmrw.
Now worry tops the disappointment that he’s not going to see her today. The disappointment is a new feeling, something that he doesn’t like examining too closely. There’s always been a thing between the two of them—this crackling awareness and flirtatiousness—ever since she started working for him five years ago. Chase always figured that it was the natural result of them both being young and attractive. They’d tease each other, flirt, and go on about their business.
He’d go out with a different woman almost every night, and Amber moved on with her life outside of the office. Chase doesn’t know if Amber’s had any boyfriends over the years, he always made it a point not to ask. He never wanted to know, and never gave much thought to the reason why he didn’t want to know. As he grows out of his playboy phase, he’s beginning to understand now what he didn’t want to understand then: Amber has a special place in his life, and it scares the living hell out of him.
Chase sits down at his desk, pulls his laptop out of his bag and turns it on. He flips through the papers in the red folder as he waits for his login to process, and realizes that he needs a copy of last quarter’s earnings report, which is definitely not in there. He grins, because that’s something he’s definitely going to tease Amber about later.
Of course, that’s when there’s a knock on his door. It’s Jesse, one of the finance guys. He steps forward and hands over a red folder.
“Amber called and told me to drop this off as soon as you arrived.”
Chase takes it, already knowing what’s inside. Sure enough, last quarter’s earnings report.
“How did you know that I was here?”
“She told me to have security call me when you walked through the door.”
Chase smiles. “Thanks for this.”
As soon as Jesse leaves, Chase’s longtime best friend and occasional business partner Jason Turner walks in.
“Hey buddy,” Jason says as Chase stands and gives his friend a hug.
“It’s been so long since I’ve seen you, I almost didn’t recognize you,” Chase replies.
“I haven’t been gone that long.”
“Two weeks buried in wedding details, three weeks in San Francisco, another two weeks buried in wedding details.”
Jason laughs as Chase hands over his cup of coffee. “You’re better at keeping up with my calendar than my assistant is.” He glances back at Amber’s desk. “Speaking of…”
“She’s out this morning. Family emergency.” Chase tries and fails to keep his grumpiness at her absence out of his voice.
Jason bites back a smile. “Just trying to assess how pissy you’re going to be today since she’s gone.”
“She somehow managed to get all of my meeting materials ready and got us both coffee despite not being here. How pissy can I be?”
Jason hums. Chase can’t tell if he’s agreeing or disagreeing.
“You have a social-event-of-the-year wedding coming up in a couple weeks. Focus on that instead of my love life.”
“You’re gonna be a married man soon,” Chase continues, desperately trying to change the subject. “Who would’ve thought?”
“Kaia made it easy to want to settle down. Seems like you’re getting a taste of that yourself.”
Changing of subject? Failed.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
Jason shrugs. “I had dinner with some friends the other night, they said they hadn’t seen you out lately. No news on Page Six.”
Chase rolls his eyes. “You keep up with Page Six?”
“It’s been so long since we’ve seen each other, gossip was the only way I could keep up with you. But there’s nothing lately.”
“Between the smart wearables rollout disaster and some other things I’ve had going on, I just haven’t had the time to go out much.”
In reality, Chase doesn’t want to make time to go out with anyone but Amber, but he’s not sure how to cross that professional line between them. He’s not sure he even wants to. She’s invaluable to him. If he fucks things up and winds up losing her, he doesn’t know what he’d do.
“Speaking of the smart wearables rollout disaster…” Jason says, finally getting them back on topic. “What are we going to do about this Pearson deal?”
A month ago, Chase’s company—Jentech—released a cutting-edge fitness-focused smart watch that stood out in the already flooded market. They were riding high on early reviews of their proprietary features, until last week when a thirteen year-old at an international hacking competition discovered a glitch that left user data exposed.
Chase’s idea to mitigate the disaster was to partner with Pearson, the industry’s leading cyber security company. The partnership makes complete sense for Jentech and would be Pearson’s first leap into the consumer electronics market, but persuading Pearson’s CEO has been a tough sell thus far.
It’s a family-owned company, and the patriarch doesn’t much care for Chase. His main sticking point seems to be Chase’s rich and varied dating history that was spelled out in details across the tabloid pages. But he didn’t get to where he is by giving up, and Chase Jennings is nothing if not persistent.
He refuses to give up on this partnership.
“He’s a tough nut to crack,” Chase confesses. “But I’m not taking no for an answer. He has that tech meetup at his place in Connecticut next week. I have no idea how I managed to get invited, but I figure approaching him at home when his defenses are down is my best plan of attack.”
“Personal feelings aside, you’re a major player in the industry. Even if he doesn’t want to partner up, such a public snub isn’t a good look. He’s a smart businessman if nothing else.” Jason takes a sip of his coffee. “Meeting with him on his own turf when his guard is down isn’t the worst idea.”
Chase smiles. “That’s exactly what I was thinking. We’d be in a casual setting, I could lay on the charm…”
“I think laying on the charm is where you’re failing. He doesn’t fall for bullshit.” Jason straightens up in his chair as a new idea hits. “You do have someone on your team that is naturally charming, someone he has a lot of respect for, someone both Pearson and his wife adore.”
They both look at each other at the same time and say, “Amber.”
He doesn’t know why he didn’t think of this before. Of course she could be the one to open this door.
“Think you can get her to do it?”
Chase debates on whether he should wait until tomorrow, or text her now. If he does it now, he can also check in to see if there’s anything he can do to help with her family emergency. He’s surprised to find that the second reason compels him to pick up his phone more than the first.
He starts typing. “Only one way to find out.”