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    Prologue

    “Hi, Jaded, how’s tricks?” The words popped up on the computer screen, drawing an amused smile to Tally’s lips.

    “Slow, Wicked. Very slow,” she typed back, snorting at the understatement.

    The online life she led was the complete opposite of the real life she escaped each evening. The same men, the same parties, the same crap. She had grown bored with the endless round months ago. Why she had grown bored she had yet to figure out.

    “Your boss still doing his own files?” It was a running joke in the online chat rooms she inhabited. She had told the story the first day it had occurred. Everyone had seemed awed by her accomplishment. She had personally hoped for at least a good argument out of Jesse Wyman at the time. She hadn’t expected him to actually do his own f**king files.

    “Hell if I know,” she finally typed in. “I think he fired me today.”

    Repositioning, firing, it was the same thing. She liked working with Wyman. It wasn’t exactly challenging but it left her plenty of time for shopping.

    “Fired?” The words popped back. “He wouldn’t dare fire you.”

    She laughed to herself. There were days Wyman had wanted to kill her, but he had resisted the urge with more self-control than she had given him credit for. Of course, the wedding Terrie was planning was keeping him pretty tired. That or her afternoon visits to his office.

    “He says it’s repositioning. He sent me to hell, Wicked.” She sighed at the thought.

    The merger between Conover’s and Delacourte’s had been more than a surprise last month. Even bigger was the surprise that she would now be the personal assistant for Lucian Conover.

    “Repositioning?” The short question was so typical of Wicked. She could almost feel his impatience. “In Hell?”

    “In Hell.” She sighed. “My new boss is Lucifer. This is not going to be fun. There goes all my playtime. (pout)” She typed in the expression huffily. Lucian Conover was not her idea of the perfect boss. “Let’s hope he’s at least hiding a sense of humor under that scowl he wears. I bet he doesn’t even know the difference between a ménage and a margarita. Who will I tell all my dirty jokes to?”

    * * * * *

    Lucian scowled. Son of a bitch. Lucifer, was he? Didn’t know a ménage from a margarita? He bit off a series of volatile curses as he jumped up from the computer and paced the den furiously. Smart-mouthed, viperous little termagant. He would show her a f**king ménage she’d still remember into her next life if she kept this shit up. She had no sense of decorum and had shown him zero respect each time he showed up at Jesse’s office.

    She stung him with that waspish tongue of hers, smirked every chance she had and showed in a hundred different ways that she expected him to grovel at the perfection of her tiny feet. Son of a bitch. For a taste of that sweet little body he just might do it, too, and that was what really rankled.

    “You still breathing?” Her tart question came over the instant message with a soft ring.

    “Yeah, just wondering what the connection was between the ménage and the margarita,” he typed in, damning himself a thousand different ways. He was insane to have demanded her as his personal assistant. He had lost his ever lovin’ mind.

    “No connection.” He paused at her answer, frowning. Jaded always had a reason for damned near everything she said. Unless she was unhappy. Unless she was lonely. He had learned that over the past year. Had made it his business to learn everything he could about her.

    “You okay, Jaded?” He really shouldn’t care, but he did.

    “Oh yes, I’m fine.” Her words rang hollow, even through the impersonal communication box. “Maybe I’ll go shopping tomorrow. I hear there’s a sale on shoes…”

    “Uh oh. Poor cows, sacrificing their lives to support your addiction.” He shook his head, yet still he worried. She wasn’t acting normal.

    “Cows, alligators, whatever.” Nope, that wasn’t his Jaded.

    “Hey, babe, you can talk to me, you know.” He needed her to.

    There was a long silence.

    “She’s my friend.” The words finally came through with a sense of sadness. “I can’t believe she has such horrid taste in men.”

    “Yeah?” He didn’t even pretend to understand that one.

    “I love her like a sister.” She had to be talking about Terrie.

    He waited to see what else she said.

    “I can’t believe she actually f**ked Lucifer! Was she insane? Has she lost her mind? The man is an outcast. He has no style, no class, and I doubt he has a c**k over five inches long. He probably only needs a finger or two to jack off with.”

    He sat back slowly in his chair. His cock, all five inches and several more, pulsed in outrage. His eyes narrowed.

    “The man scowls. He sneers. Stomps around like a bull in a china shop. He is such a bore. Geez. I need a new job.”

    His fists clenched, his teeth ground together as he saw red. The viperous little witch. A bull in a china shop? Five-inch cock? Five-inch cock?? Ohh, he would show her a hell of a lot f**king more than five inches. Damn her. The woman had a bite that would do a rabid dog proud.

    “If you quit, just think of all the shoes that would cry.” It was lame. Real lame, but he’d be damned if he could type his outrage to her over the Internet. She would probably save the f**king message to show all her chat room buddies. He sneered. Oh, was she in for a surprise.

    “Well, this is true. But I’m definitely looking.”

    He stilled. Looking, was she? He’d see about that one.

    “Well, good luck, darlin’. Now I’m off. Hot date tonight.”

    Nothing came back for long moments.

    “All right. Goodnight.”

    “Night, darlin’. Cheer up, maybe you’ll get lucky and he’ll at least have more than five inches.” He growled.

    “As though that can help him.” He could almost hear the haughty vibration of the words. “Where, oh, where have all the alphas gone? Your mothers must have breastfed you overly long.”

    “Or yours fed you venom and spice rather than sweet milk,” he typed back furiously. And he meant it.

    “LOL. Good one, Wicked. Have fun for me while you’re out. Talk to you later.”

    He clicked the box away. He shut down the program, damn near shaking with rage and arousal. He came to his feet, pushing his fingers ruthlessly through his hair as he clenched his teeth against his anger. Damn her. Lucifer, was he? Five inches, was he? He snarled as he stomped through the house, jerking his leather jacket from the staircase post as he headed for the door.

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