Nevaeh Harris muted the resident dickweed‟s voice from her section. From the moment she
set foot into the conference room, Jed‟s under-his-breath barbs about her weight and the snickers
from his group of lackeys set her teeth on edge. Whoever dubbed the phrase, „Sticks and stones
may break your bones, but words will never hurt you,‟ was a damn liar or suffered from a heavy
dose of denial. For years she swallowed the hurt caused by close-minded individuals, who knew
nothing of genetics. Their unprovoked lack of professionalism reminded her, she was the better
Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall…on down helped her to maintain a semblance of
composure—not letting them know they got to her. Perhaps that‟s what his kind got off on. Not
the actual cruelty spewed from their mouths or the hate they perpetuated, but the response
garnered from their victims.
But they were of little consequence now. A master‟s degree in art and minor in marketing,
plus a little maneuvering to get her resume seen by the right people landed her a job that granted
her access to Wade.
Wade Garrick Stevens, known as „Wade Stevens‟ in the music industry. The young genius
guitarist for Crimson Rage possessed all the attributes she loved in a man. Charm, warm eyes,
humor and for someone in the limelight, an unnatural but appreciated humility. His lean
physique made her stomach flop whenever he commanded a room. At times, when he sat near
her, his knee just barely bumping hers, she wished she could gather the nerve to really speak to
him. She‟d worked on the last two album covers and promotional art for his band and hoped to
stay on for the long haul.
Lustful thoughts turned to dust. A man like him, she‟d never have a chance. Four or five
sizes smaller, sure. The media always had him paired up with some model or last she‟d heard
heiress to a racing team. In these times she envied her siblings. How her two younger sisters
ended up being size petite zeros and she a solid size ten—at the bottom half of her hips and all—
she‟d never understand. By some screwed twist of fate she ended up last in the gene pool.
Better a fat-ass than a fucktard. Biting back the aggravated snark on the tip of her tongue
sucked. Nevaeh clicked her teeth and slid none too gracefully past her co-workers to an open seat
at the conference table.
Opening her portfolio, she set the new designs on top of the leather casing. This time she
had the foresight to slip them into plastic sleeves, in case of an „accident‟. Years of hard work
taught her mistakes such as liquid sloshed over her drawings were intentional. The last fake
apology out of Alishia‟s mouth didn‟t contain an ounce of sincerity or a grain of remorse.
Instead, after Wade left, the whispers of Nevaeh fawning over him grew into a huge joke. Starstruck,
she‟d lost her ability to speak and when she could all that came out were stammers, and
knocking his drink into his lap had certainly not helped any. In her attempt to make things right,
she vigorously blotted the wet area of his crotch with napkins. In the end the discomfort caused
her to leave the room.
“Sorry I‟m late.”
There he was in the flesh. With his designer shades and that cologne that made her want to
daydream even more about just sniffing him.
“We haven‟t started yet.” Jed spoke up and passed down the paperwork needing his
“It‟s all good. I don‟t expect this meeting to be a long one. Nevaeh.”
Jasmine kicked her under the table. “What?”
“Over here. Hey how are you today doll?”
“Uh.” God you‟d think the enamored nitwit in her would‟ve took a hike after the second
time working together. Turning bright red she slammed her mouth shut and just gawked.
“What a wannabe.”
The whispered barb reached Garrick‟s ears. She could tell from the scowl that came across
his face. Wonders would never cease, apparently he had good hearing—loud rock music and all.
“Do you have something to add Jed?”
“Sorry. It was a joke is all.”
“Frankly I don‟t give a damn. Keep your jokes to yourself.”
He said again and this time she actually smiled at him.
“Garrick or did you forget?” He smiled openly at her. Surreptitiously she glanced around to
see if he was smiling at someone else.
“Garrick.” The sound of his middle name used by precious few rolled off her tongue. When
she looked back at him a flicker of something crossed his face, so faint it was gone before she
could tell if the flash was of desire or a figment of her imagination.
“Did you bring me the printed designs?”
“Yes. They‟re right here.” She leaned over and handed the sleeves to him. “I hope they‟re
what you want.”
“You‟ve never let me down before doll.” He winked and leaned back in the leather wing
back chair to glance over them.
“What about the new backdrops? The new special effects for the upcoming tour? The
roadies want an update.” Wade leaned forward and put the cover art designs on the table.
Nevaeh knew the design team was behind because they couldn‟t retrieve their heads from
their asses and do their job. She reached inside her portfolio and withdrew staging designs made
to scale on her graphics software and a DVD of how she envisioned their new tour. “I have some
extra samples for you. It‟s nothing really I was just playing around with some thoughts.”
“Anyone else do their job around here?” Of all the band members to piss off, Garrick was
the worst. His family came from money. Not old money. No, his father built their brand brick by
brick with hard work and sweat, attaining status and prestige in a way that the born rich envied.
The next generation, he and his siblings, all learned the trade at his elbow. And while rumors ran
amok of his father‟s disappointment in how his first born quote „dabbled‟ in music instead of
heading up one of their offices, no one could discount that Wade took after his father.
Exposure to the ruthless and iron clad way his pops ran his business rubbed off on Garrick,
in more ways than one way. His intelligence and the way he ran a tight ship for his label gave
him credence where due and respect from many in the music industry. He always meant what he
said and the innuendo, well that went without saying. Nevaeh couldn‟t help but to smile at their
“We‟re almost done tweaking our concept for you.” Jed motioned for the disc.
“We‟re all one team right? Does it matter where the ideas originate from? Or the end
result?” Nevaeh rounded on them. Their attitudes needed changing and it was high time someone
called them on it—or fired them and hired individuals who wanted to do their damn jobs without
being babysat. She knew how much he disliked unfinished deadlines. If she hadn‟t known the
software, she‟d have bought a new program and spent all her spare time learning—to please
Wade if no one else.
“Thanks doll. Would you mind stepping outside for a moment? I‟d like to speak to the tech
team in private.”
Garrick moved from her ass to her top. With a flick of his fingers he popped open the
buttons on her shirt, running his hands up her sides, to glide over her water bra. A solid B cup
embarrassed her and added to her feelings of inadequacy. Blushing, she met his curious gaze and
hint of smile. On bated breath she waited for him to divest her of her shirt completely. How did
he make love? Was it the same way he played music. In any event she wasn‟t far from finding
out the answer. His unhurried pace agitated her though.
“You‟re like opening a favorite Christmas toy.” He bent and bit the curve of her nape, his
hands skimmed down her arms sending her top to float to the floor and slid up her back, freeing
the hooks on her bra. Garrick hooked his fingers in the straps and drew them down. Nevaeh‟s
cunt clenched, her nipples hardened under his scrutinized appraisal.
“So perfect and I still have your sexy ass to see. Are you wet for me?” He cupped her
breasts and squeezed. “I hope you‟re drenched.”
“Are you going to get undressed?”
“Eventually.” He winked and flicked open the button on her jeans. “Take them off nice and
slow for me.”
Garrick made wiggling out of her jeans easier. Her hands quaked so much she wasn‟t sure
she‟d have been able to undo her own button. Heat flushed to her face. With him she felt sexy.
Under her lashes, she watched him take off his shirt and toss it on the floor. Ever had that
feeling to just get something over with? Nerves overcame her arousal and she fumbled, unsure of
herself. If just seeing him shirtless had the effect on her senses, how would she fare seeing him
nude. “Oh God. Oh God.”
“That‟s usually reserved for later.” Garrick‟s response hit her. She‟d said it out loud.
“I‟m sorry.” Nevaeh bent over to unbuckle her wedges and kicked them off her feet and
whipped her head around to catch his response.
“What did we say about that phrase?”
Flushed red she turned to him clad in lace hipsters, she covered her breasts with her hands.
Underneath his pants, the evidence of his arousal jerked. Nevaeh forced herself to bring her head
level to his.
“Do you tease every woman you bed?” Instantly she regretted bringing up his past lovers.
Garrick moved fast. He gripped her chin and glared at her.
“I‟m—” He cut her off fusing his mouth to hers. Attraction mixed with a sudden surge of
irritation and power left her breathless. He ran his hands to her lace and ripped each side in half.
A slap on her ass propelled her to guess at his bidding. She spread her legs a few inches and the
material brushed against her leg, fluttering to the floor. He plundered her mouth ruthlessly to the
point where pain and pleasure mixed, the nips of his teeth and sweeps of his tongue turned her
body into mush. Nevaeh slid her palms up his heated skin, noting no tattoos or pierced nipples.
Using her fingernails, she grazed his nipples. Rigid muscle tensed under her touch. Pleased, she
lowered her head and took his nipple into her mouth, tweaking it with her teeth. A hard slap
landed on her bare ass, warming it. The burn elicited a moan from her lips.
Garrick pushed her toward the couch with gentle dominance, directing her to the front. “I‟m
in the mood for a snack first.” He shoved her down roughly. In her life, no one had ever looked
at her with such raw hunger before.