Nolan Carmichael is getting a fresh start—new career, new company, new life. The only problem is, he liked his old life just fine . . . until an accident robbed him of his health, his job, his self-confidence, and his ability to go out in public without having anxiety attacks.
Zack Anderson has scared away his last four executive assistants. So when he hires Nolan on a whim, he’s not too worried, since Nolan will be gone within the week anyway. Two weeks later, Nolan has made himself indispensable, completely reforming Zack’s schedule, life . . . and libido.
But in a company already torn by internal politics, one wrong step could ruin both their careers. And not only are they working to reopen Ringside Gym, Zack’s retreat when he was a troubled teen, but they also can’t help themselves falling for each other. If only the rest of their lives could go as smoothly as things do when they’re alone together.
"D’Abo tightly controls the narrative, using the friction of the office setting to lend heat to the development of the relationship. Treading a comfortably familiar path, d’Abo creates distinctive characters to take on the traditional forbidden romance across class lines. The pleasure is in the anticipation rather than the resolution; each story beat is delivered deliberately, building expertly to a satisfying conclusion." - Publishers Weekly
"This book has everything one looks for in a romance. The heat level is high and the relationship works. Nolan was getting over a tragedy and is just getting back on his feet when he meets Zack. This book was really hard to put down; the reader will continually want to know what happens next. Working it is a great read." RT Magazine
Nolan hated mirrors. They were an unfortunate necessity for his morning routine—shaving, tying his tie, doing what he needed to fix his hair—but it was still strange to see himself, even after nearly two years of adjusting to the changes.
His sister, Tina, said nothing was different about him, he was the same old Nolan. She was sweet to say so, but he knew the truth.
Come on, get your act together.
He gave himself a moment and went through his anxiety checklist, ensuring he’d be able to keep himself in one piece. He hated having to do that, almost as much as he hated mirrors. Still, his therapist had been right about so many other things, he’d come to accept she knew what she was doing. He closed his eyes and tried to focus on his emotions. Yeah, he was nervous, worried about what people would think of him. It was a job interview, and he was underqualified for the position; that would raise questions he didn’t want to answer. Only an idiot wouldn’t be worried. He was also angry his life had taken such a horrible turn that he was forced to be in this position in the first place.
Nothing new, then.
Opening his eyes, he looked directly at himself as he turned on the water and let it flow over his hands, grounding him in the here and now. He took a deep breath, held it for a three count before letting it go.
“The water is warm from when I shaved a few moments ago. The running water sounds relax me and make me think of a river. The mirror needs cleaning. I need to remind Tina that I want to get a small water feature for the living room. It will help settle my mind in the morning . . .” He shook his head and gently directed his thoughts back to the present, to what his five senses told him. “I can smell the shaving cream, and maybe the fabric softener on this shirt. I can taste the mint from my toothpaste.”
He held his hands there until his fingers started to prune. He took extra time to dry his hands, enjoying the feel and smell of the fresh towel. It hadn’t been hard to convince Tina to switch fabric softeners, especially since he was paying for it. There was something to be said for the finer things.
Okay, the tie looked good, mostly straight. He adjusted it again and debated changing it one more time. No, damn it, he’d already wasted the better part of ten minutes picking this one out. It was fine.
Hair? He’d been growing it out in front since the accident, but still wasn’t entirely used to it. A necessary evil. Knowing exactly what he would find, he lifted up the long fringe that covered the left side of his forehead. The scar had faded to a light pink, a jagged road running just below his hairline. It was the least horrific of his injuries, and yet he couldn’t help but hate it the most. Nolan had never considered himself a particularly vain man, but he despised how the scar on his face opened him up to questions and comments, as if everyone felt entitled to information about his body now that it was so visibly flawed.
Oh my God, what happened?
Did it hurt?
You’re lucky you didn’t lose an eye.
Do you have other scars?
Not the sort of conversation he wanted to have with his family and friends, let alone complete strangers who didn’t know the first thing about him.
The hair fell back into place, and he took another moment to ensure nothing looked off. If the people at Compass Technologies noticed, he’d have a polite response ready to go; he’d memorized quite a few. It helped with the stress and prevented his anxiety from overwhelming him.
In theory at least.
He hated interviews. Even before the accident, he’d sucked at them on a good day, and he had a feeling that today would be anything but good. Nerves and doubts were more his enemy than the other applicants. At least he assumed he was the only neurotic, panic-prone candidate they were meeting with this afternoon. His résumé spoke for itself, as did his references; none of that would matter, though, if he broke out into a full-blown anxiety attack the moment he walked into the office.
No, he wasn’t going to let that happen today. Not this time.
Yes, his life had been challenging over the past two years, but that didn’t mean he had to let what had happened control his future. He’d fought through physiotherapy, got his broken body working again, and that alone proved how strong he was. Didn’t it?