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ABOUT THE BOOK

RULE #1: Never apply for a promotion while drunk.

RULE #2: Never spill your margarita on your laptop and accidentally hit send on an email telling your boss to shove his promotion up his…

RULE #3: Never attempt to salvage your career by pretending to be your boss’s wife.

RULE #4: Never, ever fall in love with your boss.

****

I like rules. Games have rules. And that’s what this is, right? A game to see who’s better at what they do?

I write gossip, and I do it well. They don’t call me the Celebrity Whisperer for nothing.

Logan Pierce is well-versed in the art of not-so-hostile takeovers, and he just bought out our gossip magazine.

Despite the scathing articles I’ve written about him — and the drunken email I sent telling him to stuff his promotion where the sun doesn’t shine — he’s just offered me a raise.

There’s just one caveat: I have to pretend to be his wife at a paradise retreat for married couples whose sex lives have gone limp.

This raise is going to cost me.

          

EXCERPT

 

SOPHIE 

Opening up the TextEdit application, I begin typing an apology email as dictated to me by Gail.

Dear Sir,

I am very much humbled to write to you asking forgiveness for my highly inappropriate email. I know there is no excuse for the type of rude and crude language I used, especially in a professional setting.

I have been under enormous stress lately due to rumors around the office of inevitable dismissals and layoffs, as well as my own financial hardships, of which you are probably well aware. Furthermore, I understand I am solely responsible for this temporary lapse in judgment, and I take full responsibility for any consequences resulting from my inappropriate behavior.

Though I understand that my actions may be unforgivable, I want to reiterate my sincerest apology to you and the entire editorial team, whom I may have embarrassed with my actions. I sincerely assure you that no such lapse in judgment will ever happen again as long as I am employed by Kensington Publishing.

Yours truly,

Sophie Bishop, Staff Writer/Editorial Assistant

I stare at the letter for a moment, wondering if maybe I should just save the apology for the 9:35 a.m. meeting with Jasper. Though the possibility of completely avoiding a confrontation with him by sending an email is very tempting, I feel he will be much more likely to accept my apology if I deliver it in person.

I close the program without copying the text or saving the document.

Gail lets out a soft gasp. “What you doing? You have to copy the text into an email.”

I shake my head. “No, I’m not going to send that in an email. I need to apologize in person. Besides, do I really want to defend myself via the same method in which I committed my crime? That would be like showing up graveside wearing nothing but pasties to a funeral for a man who died of a heart attack in a strip club. That doesn’t seem very smart.”

Gail’s eyes widen. “You’re equating a meeting with your boss to a funeral?”

I let out a deep sigh. “Oh, God. I’m so fired.”

Gail gives my shoulders a squeeze. “Well, if Miss Celebrity Whisperer is fired, I can’t be far behind you. I’ll be at my desk if you need me, sweetheart.”

I try to keep myself busy for half an hour, checking email and browsing popular posts on rival mags, but it does nothing to calm my nerves. At a few minutes to 9:35 a.m., I pop up from my chair and make my way toward the editor-in-chief’s office. As I pass by Jen’s old desk, which now stands empty, my anxiety ratchets up a notch. When I arrive at the maple door, with Brady’s nameplate on it, I knock softly.

A deep voice calls out from within. “Come on in!”

My curiosity is piqued as I know Jasper Pierce is in his sixties, but the voice I just heard sounded much younger. Maybe somebody is in there with him? I reach for the steel door handle and turn it slowly, pushing the door inward as I slip inside. The man sitting at Brady’s old desk is definitely not Jasper Pierce or Brady.

Like Brady, this man has dark hair, but his is a tad longer on top, and much more stylish. Even sitting in Brady’s chair, I can tell this guy is much taller than Brady’s five-foot–eleven–inch frame. Nor does he have the soft, kind lines of Brady’s thirty-four-year-old face.

This man’s face is all angles: strong jaw, chiseled cheekbones, symmetrical Patrician nose. And he doesn’t have Brady’s green eyes. This man’s eyes are an icy steel-gray that penetrates me as his gaze rakes over my body, from the top of my head down to the toes of my black pumps. And that’s all I need to confirm that he is indeed who I think he is: Logan Pierce.

Logan Pierce looks as polished and cool as he does in every paparazzi photo I’ve ever seen, but his eyes are different in person. They’re focused on mine like a missile. The intense look hints at the man behind the steel-gray eyes, a man coiled too tightly, a snake ready strike.

He leans back in Brady’s chair and smiles, looking very pleased. “You’re Sophie Bishop?”

I don’t answer his question right away. This is partly because I’m a bit stunned by this new and unexpected turn of events. But also because I might actually have a chance at digging myself out of the hole I dug with my “email heard ’round the world.”

Logan Pierce is a notorious playboy in the Manhattan social scene. He’s probably bedded more celebrities than I’ve written about in my entire six-year career at Close-Up. But he’s smarter than the usual celebrity whore, because Logan doesn’t stick around long enough to make headlines. He gets in and out, moving onto a new model or actress or heiress, before the ink has even dried.

I clear my throat as I straighten my spine and pull my shoulders back, just as Gail did a few minutes ago. “Yes, I’m Sophie Bishop.”

“Have a seat, Sophie,” he says, motioning to a chair across from him.

I draw in a deep breath and try to relax as I take a seat across from one of New York City’s most ruthless businessmen and most notorious womanizers. How do I even begin to formulate a plan for this meeting? While this may be a fortuitous turn of events, it’s only an opportunity if I play my cards right.

“Do you know who I am, Sophie?” he asks, a note of mischief in his voice, almost as if he’s daring me to pretend I don’t know who he is.

“Yes, I know you are,” I reply, keeping an even tone. “You’re Logan Pierce. I assume it was you who responded to my application for the managing editor position at Open Sky?”

He nods. “Your assumption is correct,” he replies proudly. “Do you know why I asked you in here this morning?”

I draw in another deep breath, stalling for time as I try to decide whether I should spew the apology Gail dictated to me a few minutes ago. But the longer I look at Logan’s smirk, the less I want to apologize. After all, if he is the one who replied to me, he was the one who was rude to me first.

Talented as you may be, in theory or reality…

“I presume I’m here to be let go,” I respond, keeping my tone professional and authoritative. “I’d appreciate if you could get it over with so I can gather my things and get on with my day.”

Logan let’s out a deep chuckle that’s as rich and sexy as he is. “No, Sophie. You don’t mind if I call you Sophie, do you?” He nods when I shake my head, indicating I don’t mind. “Good. I think it’s important that you and I get off on the right foot. You may call me Logan.” He’s silent for a moment, possibly waiting for me to respond, but when I don’t he continues undaunted. “You’re here today, Sophie, because I have a proposal for you.”

I narrow my eyes at him. “What kind of proposal?” I ask, crossing my arms over my breasts.

He picks up on my body language quickly. “Not that kind of proposal. Well, actually, it is sort of like that, but… Actually, let me start this over.”

He rises from the chair and plucks something off his desk that looks like a brochure. Rounding the desk, he sits down on the front edge, just a couple feet away from me, so now I have to tilt my face up to look him in the eye. If I didn’t know better, I would think this is a power pose, his way of trying to assert physical dominance over me.

I’m not falling for this.

He hands me the brochure. “What do you think of that?”

I stare at the brochure for a moment, uncertain what type of reaction he is trying to get out of me. The brochure is clearly some type of promotional material for a couples retreat. But this is not just any couples retreat. This retreat is for married couples who are seeking to revive their sex lives with tantric intimacy.

I hand the brochure back to him. “Am I supposed to know what this means?”

He looks somewhat confused by my answer. “I was told you’re the best person in the editorial department when it comes to securing celebrity exclusives. Is that not true?”

I uncross my arms and lean back in my chair a bit, wanting to appear more relaxed and confident. “Yes, I have been told I have a certain…way with celebrities.”

Logan’s face beams with curiosity as he stands up to head back and take a seat in Brady’s chair again. “Okay, in case you haven’t caught on yet, Brady Harper no longer works at Close-Up magazine,” he begins, his tone not at all conciliatory. “And, as I’m sure you are aware, his assistant no longer works here, as well. So I’ve been asked, as interim CEO, to take over Brady’s editor-in-chief responsibilities. My first order of business is to hire a new assistant. Starting today, you will assume that role.”

This time I let out a hearty chuckle. “Thank you, but I am really not cut out for administrative work. As you just mentioned, I am much better at my job in the gossip section.”

Logan smiles and the sight of it makes my skin tingle. “Sophie, this is not a promotion that you can reject. You can take the position as my assistant or you can take your things and leave.”

“Well, I think I would rather take my things and leave,” I reply, bracing my hands on the arms of the chair as I prepare to get up and walk out. “Thank you very much for the opportunity. I’m sure someone else in the office would be happy to fill the position of your assistant.”

I rise from the chair, but when I’m halfway to the door he begins to speak again.

“You might want to rethink that,” he says. “You still owe Kensington Publishing $29,000 and some change. And since I just bought Kensington Publishing, that means you owe me that money. And if you leave now, I can file a civil claim. I can sue you and put a lien on any assets of value, whether that’s a car or a house.”

I stand facing the door as I attempt to collect myself. Anger brews inside me as I realize he’s done his research. He knows why I had to borrow the money from Kensington Publishing. He knows the only thing I own in this world is the home my father willed to me after his death. And if he can put a lien on my property, I’ll probably lose my childhood home. The home that both my mother and father died in.

I spin around with a smile on my face. “Okay, let’s say I do take the position as your assistant,” I begin as I make my way back to the chair I just vacated. “What does that have to do with a couples retreat?”

“You mean to tell me Miss Celebrity Whisperer doesn’t already know?”

I fix Logan with a steely gaze. “How about we cut the crap? I know you got the scathing email I accidentally sent to you. And I know you know I’ve written some very critical articles about you. So why don’t you just stop being cryptic and tell me what the brochure means, okay?”

He laughs again. “You could put the salt industry out of business with that mouth. Good God.” He looks me up and down again before he continues. “Well, I’m sure you’re aware that the famous celebrity couple comprised of Kitty Hawthorne and Jason Costello, more commonly referred to as Kitson or Jitty, have been having some marital problems as of late. Jason has been accused of getting a little too friendly with other as-of-yet unknown women. Kitty has been accused of denying him sex.”

I roll my eyes. “Hold on. Let me find my shocked face… So typical. A man cheats and it must be the woman’s fault.”

Logan smiles as he continues. “Well, Kitty has a reputation as being a bit of a prima donna. But that’s not what I brought you in here to discuss. I brought you in here because Kitty and Jason are rumored to be arriving at this resort, this couples retreat, in Honolulu this coming Friday. As I’m sure you’re aware, all the celebrity news rags and tabloids are vying for the scoop on these two. Readers are dying to know if he cheated and with whom. This is where you come in.”

“So you want me to go to this couples retreat and attempt to get an exclusive interview with Kitty Hawthorne and Jason Costello? Or do you want me to contact some of my sources and see if we can get an anonymous exclusive?”

He shrugs. “Well, first of all, I think it would be a bit difficult for a single woman to go to a couples retreat,” he remarks, fixing me with a look that makes me feel naked. “Do you understand what I’m getting at, Sophie?”

I shake my head. “Are you suggesting…I have to take someone with me on this retreat? But you said it yourself? I’m single. I don’t have a boyfriend, much less a husband. What am I supposed to do? Ask someone to pretend to be my husband?” I remark with a chortle.

He nods. “That took you far longer to figure out than I expected it would, but yes, that is what I am implying.”

Jerk.

I roll my eyes. “Who am I supposed to take with me?”

He looks me up and down again for the third time, his gaze lingering on my chest for just a millisecond longer than everywhere else. “Well, I know that you had somewhat of a history with the old editor-in-chief, Brady Harper. Though I wouldn’t expect him to be your type, if I’m being honest.”

My eyes widen with shock. “Excuse me? How would you know my type?”

A slow smile spreads across his godlike features. “I have a knack for these things.” He pauses to relish the appalled expression on my face. “You and I will be going to the retreat together.”

I cock an eyebrow. “Surely, you must be joking. Everyone in New York knows you’re single. Very single.”

“Not everyone. When was the last time you saw me in the papers?” he asks, waiting a moment until he’s sure I’m not going to reply. “You see, I’ve been keeping a low profile for the past few weeks, and that is so I can pretend I got married recently.”

I look him directly in the eye. “You want to pretend like you just got married within the last few weeks and you’re already having problems in your sex life?”

He shakes his head. “I know it’s a tough sell for someone like me, but there’s no reason why we can’t claim we’ve been married longer. Maybe we got married last year, spur of the moment wedding in Vegas. And my philandering has caused a rift between us.”

“You want me to pretend that I married you and allowed you to have sex with whoever you wanted for the entire first year of our marriage?”

He’s silent for a moment, studying my skeptical face. “Kitty Hawthorne and Jason Costello are not exactly the brightest bulbs. And I have full confidence in your ability to get the scoop on them. But if you doubt your ability, you are free to walk out that door and out of this building forever. Your choice.”

I think about his words, rolling them over in my mind, flipping them, turning them around, trying to figure out how I can possibly use them against him. Has he violated any labor laws with this meeting? Probably not, considering he has every right to let me go. And the company has every right to collect the money I owe them. But the way he is framing this proposal does seem a bit like extortion or bribery.

Either way, I can’t afford to hire a lawyer to fight Kensington Publishing or Logan’s investment firm.

He looks me over again, his eyes lingering on my hair this time. “If you do this, you should dye your hair blonde to hide your identity. Actually…on second thought, maybe I should just get you a stylist.”

I glare at him. “What are you trying to say?”

His eyes widen. “I didn’t mean it as an insult. I just mean that you’ll want to look as different as possible, so no one recognizes you.”

“I’ll skip the stylist, thanks.”

“Like I said, your choice,” he says with a shrug. “So what is your choice, Miss Celebrity Whisperer?”

I heave a deep sigh. “How long is this retreat?”

***end of excerpt***

EXCERPT

 

SOPHIE 

Opening up the TextEdit application, I begin typing an apology email as dictated to me by Gail.

Dear Sir,

I am very much humbled to write to you asking forgiveness for my highly inappropriate email. I know there is no excuse for the type of rude and crude language I used, especially in a professional setting.

I have been under enormous stress lately due to rumors around the office of inevitable dismissals and layoffs, as well as my own financial hardships, of which you are probably well aware. Furthermore, I understand I am solely responsible for this temporary lapse in judgment, and I take full responsibility for any consequences resulting from my inappropriate behavior.

Though I understand that my actions may be unforgivable, I want to reiterate my sincerest apology to you and the entire editorial team, whom I may have embarrassed with my actions. I sincerely assure you that no such lapse in judgment will ever happen again as long as I am employed by Kensington Publishing.

Yours truly,

Sophie Bishop, Staff Writer/Editorial Assistant

I stare at the letter for a moment, wondering if maybe I should just save the apology for the 9:35 a.m. meeting with Jasper. Though the possibility of completely avoiding a confrontation with him by sending an email is very tempting, I feel he will be much more likely to accept my apology if I deliver it in person.

I close the program without copying the text or saving the document.

Gail lets out a soft gasp. “What you doing? You have to copy the text into an email.”

I shake my head. “No, I’m not going to send that in an email. I need to apologize in person. Besides, do I really want to defend myself via the same method in which I committed my crime? That would be like showing up graveside wearing nothing but pasties to a funeral for a man who died of a heart attack in a strip club. That doesn’t seem very smart.”

Gail’s eyes widen. “You’re equating a meeting with your boss to a funeral?”

I let out a deep sigh. “Oh, God. I’m so fired.”

Gail gives my shoulders a squeeze. “Well, if Miss Celebrity Whisperer is fired, I can’t be far behind you. I’ll be at my desk if you need me, sweetheart.”

I try to keep myself busy for half an hour, checking email and browsing popular posts on rival mags, but it does nothing to calm my nerves. At a few minutes to 9:35 a.m., I pop up from my chair and make my way toward the editor-in-chief’s office. As I pass by Jen’s old desk, which now stands empty, my anxiety ratchets up a notch. When I arrive at the maple door, with Brady’s nameplate on it, I knock softly.

A deep voice calls out from within. “Come on in!”

My curiosity is piqued as I know Jasper Pierce is in his sixties, but the voice I just heard sounded much younger. Maybe somebody is in there with him? I reach for the steel door handle and turn it slowly, pushing the door inward as I slip inside. The man sitting at Brady’s old desk is definitely not Jasper Pierce or Brady.

Like Brady, this man has dark hair, but his is a tad longer on top, and much more stylish. Even sitting in Brady’s chair, I can tell this guy is much taller than Brady’s five-foot–eleven–inch frame. Nor does he have the soft, kind lines of Brady’s thirty-four-year-old face.

This man’s face is all angles: strong jaw, chiseled cheekbones, symmetrical Patrician nose. And he doesn’t have Brady’s green eyes. This man’s eyes are an icy steel-gray that penetrates me as his gaze rakes over my body, from the top of my head down to the toes of my black pumps. And that’s all I need to confirm that he is indeed who I think he is: Logan Pierce.

Logan Pierce looks as polished and cool as he does in every paparazzi photo I’ve ever seen, but his eyes are different in person. They’re focused on mine like a missile. The intense look hints at the man behind the steel-gray eyes, a man coiled too tightly, a snake ready strike.

He leans back in Brady’s chair and smiles, looking very pleased. “You’re Sophie Bishop?”

I don’t answer his question right away. This is partly because I’m a bit stunned by this new and unexpected turn of events. But also because I might actually have a chance at digging myself out of the hole I dug with my “email heard ’round the world.”

Logan Pierce is a notorious playboy in the Manhattan social scene. He’s probably bedded more celebrities than I’ve written about in my entire six-year career at Close-Up. But he’s smarter than the usual celebrity whore, because Logan doesn’t stick around long enough to make headlines. He gets in and out, moving onto a new model or actress or heiress, before the ink has even dried.

I clear my throat as I straighten my spine and pull my shoulders back, just as Gail did a few minutes ago. “Yes, I’m Sophie Bishop.”

“Have a seat, Sophie,” he says, motioning to a chair across from him.

I draw in a deep breath and try to relax as I take a seat across from one of New York City’s most ruthless businessmen and most notorious womanizers. How do I even begin to formulate a plan for this meeting? While this may be a fortuitous turn of events, it’s only an opportunity if I play my cards right.

“Do you know who I am, Sophie?” he asks, a note of mischief in his voice, almost as if he’s daring me to pretend I don’t know who he is.

“Yes, I know you are,” I reply, keeping an even tone. “You’re Logan Pierce. I assume it was you who responded to my application for the managing editor position at Open Sky?”

He nods. “Your assumption is correct,” he replies proudly. “Do you know why I asked you in here this morning?”

I draw in another deep breath, stalling for time as I try to decide whether I should spew the apology Gail dictated to me a few minutes ago. But the longer I look at Logan’s smirk, the less I want to apologize. After all, if he is the one who replied to me, he was the one who was rude to me first.

Talented as you may be, in theory or reality…

“I presume I’m here to be let go,” I respond, keeping my tone professional and authoritative. “I’d appreciate if you could get it over with so I can gather my things and get on with my day.”

Logan let’s out a deep chuckle that’s as rich and sexy as he is. “No, Sophie. You don’t mind if I call you Sophie, do you?” He nods when I shake my head, indicating I don’t mind. “Good. I think it’s important that you and I get off on the right foot. You may call me Logan.” He’s silent for a moment, possibly waiting for me to respond, but when I don’t he continues undaunted. “You’re here today, Sophie, because I have a proposal for you.”

I narrow my eyes at him. “What kind of proposal?” I ask, crossing my arms over my breasts.

He picks up on my body language quickly. “Not that kind of proposal. Well, actually, it is sort of like that, but… Actually, let me start this over.”

He rises from the chair and plucks something off his desk that looks like a brochure. Rounding the desk, he sits down on the front edge, just a couple feet away from me, so now I have to tilt my face up to look him in the eye. If I didn’t know better, I would think this is a power pose, his way of trying to assert physical dominance over me.

I’m not falling for this.

He hands me the brochure. “What do you think of that?”

I stare at the brochure for a moment, uncertain what type of reaction he is trying to get out of me. The brochure is clearly some type of promotional material for a couples retreat. But this is not just any couples retreat. This retreat is for married couples who are seeking to revive their sex lives with tantric intimacy.

I hand the brochure back to him. “Am I supposed to know what this means?”

He looks somewhat confused by my answer. “I was told you’re the best person in the editorial department when it comes to securing celebrity exclusives. Is that not true?”

I uncross my arms and lean back in my chair a bit, wanting to appear more relaxed and confident. “Yes, I have been told I have a certain…way with celebrities.”

Logan’s face beams with curiosity as he stands up to head back and take a seat in Brady’s chair again. “Okay, in case you haven’t caught on yet, Brady Harper no longer works at Close-Up magazine,” he begins, his tone not at all conciliatory. “And, as I’m sure you are aware, his assistant no longer works here, as well. So I’ve been asked, as interim CEO, to take over Brady’s editor-in-chief responsibilities. My first order of business is to hire a new assistant. Starting today, you will assume that role.”

This time I let out a hearty chuckle. “Thank you, but I am really not cut out for administrative work. As you just mentioned, I am much better at my job in the gossip section.”

Logan smiles and the sight of it makes my skin tingle. “Sophie, this is not a promotion that you can reject. You can take the position as my assistant or you can take your things and leave.”

“Well, I think I would rather take my things and leave,” I reply, bracing my hands on the arms of the chair as I prepare to get up and walk out. “Thank you very much for the opportunity. I’m sure someone else in the office would be happy to fill the position of your assistant.”

I rise from the chair, but when I’m halfway to the door he begins to speak again.

“You might want to rethink that,” he says. “You still owe Kensington Publishing $29,000 and some change. And since I just bought Kensington Publishing, that means you owe me that money. And if you leave now, I can file a civil claim. I can sue you and put a lien on any assets of value, whether that’s a car or a house.”

I stand facing the door as I attempt to collect myself. Anger brews inside me as I realize he’s done his research. He knows why I had to borrow the money from Kensington Publishing. He knows the only thing I own in this world is the home my father willed to me after his death. And if he can put a lien on my property, I’ll probably lose my childhood home. The home that both my mother and father died in.

I spin around with a smile on my face. “Okay, let’s say I do take the position as your assistant,” I begin as I make my way back to the chair I just vacated. “What does that have to do with a couples retreat?”

“You mean to tell me Miss Celebrity Whisperer doesn’t already know?”

I fix Logan with a steely gaze. “How about we cut the crap? I know you got the scathing email I accidentally sent to you. And I know you know I’ve written some very critical articles about you. So why don’t you just stop being cryptic and tell me what the brochure means, okay?”

He laughs again. “You could put the salt industry out of business with that mouth. Good God.” He looks me up and down again before he continues. “Well, I’m sure you’re aware that the famous celebrity couple comprised of Kitty Hawthorne and Jason Costello, more commonly referred to as Kitson or Jitty, have been having some marital problems as of late. Jason has been accused of getting a little too friendly with other as-of-yet unknown women. Kitty has been accused of denying him sex.”

I roll my eyes. “Hold on. Let me find my shocked face… So typical. A man cheats and it must be the woman’s fault.”

Logan smiles as he continues. “Well, Kitty has a reputation as being a bit of a prima donna. But that’s not what I brought you in here to discuss. I brought you in here because Kitty and Jason are rumored to be arriving at this resort, this couples retreat, in Honolulu this coming Friday. As I’m sure you’re aware, all the celebrity news rags and tabloids are vying for the scoop on these two. Readers are dying to know if he cheated and with whom. This is where you come in.”

“So you want me to go to this couples retreat and attempt to get an exclusive interview with Kitty Hawthorne and Jason Costello? Or do you want me to contact some of my sources and see if we can get an anonymous exclusive?”

He shrugs. “Well, first of all, I think it would be a bit difficult for a single woman to go to a couples retreat,” he remarks, fixing me with a look that makes me feel naked. “Do you understand what I’m getting at, Sophie?”

I shake my head. “Are you suggesting…I have to take someone with me on this retreat? But you said it yourself? I’m single. I don’t have a boyfriend, much less a husband. What am I supposed to do? Ask someone to pretend to be my husband?” I remark with a chortle.

He nods. “That took you far longer to figure out than I expected it would, but yes, that is what I am implying.”

Jerk.

I roll my eyes. “Who am I supposed to take with me?”

He looks me up and down again for the third time, his gaze lingering on my chest for just a millisecond longer than everywhere else. “Well, I know that you had somewhat of a history with the old editor-in-chief, Brady Harper. Though I wouldn’t expect him to be your type, if I’m being honest.”

My eyes widen with shock. “Excuse me? How would you know my type?”

A slow smile spreads across his godlike features. “I have a knack for these things.” He pauses to relish the appalled expression on my face. “You and I will be going to the retreat together.”

I cock an eyebrow. “Surely, you must be joking. Everyone in New York knows you’re single. Very single.”

“Not everyone. When was the last time you saw me in the papers?” he asks, waiting a moment until he’s sure I’m not going to reply. “You see, I’ve been keeping a low profile for the past few weeks, and that is so I can pretend I got married recently.”

I look him directly in the eye. “You want to pretend like you just got married within the last few weeks and you’re already having problems in your sex life?”

He shakes his head. “I know it’s a tough sell for someone like me, but there’s no reason why we can’t claim we’ve been married longer. Maybe we got married last year, spur of the moment wedding in Vegas. And my philandering has caused a rift between us.”

“You want me to pretend that I married you and allowed you to have sex with whoever you wanted for the entire first year of our marriage?”

He’s silent for a moment, studying my skeptical face. “Kitty Hawthorne and Jason Costello are not exactly the brightest bulbs. And I have full confidence in your ability to get the scoop on them. But if you doubt your ability, you are free to walk out that door and out of this building forever. Your choice.”

I think about his words, rolling them over in my mind, flipping them, turning them around, trying to figure out how I can possibly use them against him. Has he violated any labor laws with this meeting? Probably not, considering he has every right to let me go. And the company has every right to collect the money I owe them. But the way he is framing this proposal does seem a bit like extortion or bribery.

Either way, I can’t afford to hire a lawyer to fight Kensington Publishing or Logan’s investment firm.

He looks me over again, his eyes lingering on my hair this time. “If you do this, you should dye your hair blonde to hide your identity. Actually…on second thought, maybe I should just get you a stylist.”

I glare at him. “What are you trying to say?”

His eyes widen. “I didn’t mean it as an insult. I just mean that you’ll want to look as different as possible, so no one recognizes you.”

“I’ll skip the stylist, thanks.”

“Like I said, your choice,” he says with a shrug. “So what is your choice, Miss Celebrity Whisperer?”

I heave a deep sigh. “How long is this retreat?”

***end of excerpt***

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ABOUT CASSIA

New York Times bestselling author Cassia Leo loves her coffee, chocolate, and margaritas with salt. When she’s not writing, she spends way too much time reading and re-watching Game of Thrones. She lives in Oregon with her two German shepherds, Bentley and Pippa.

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