Red velvet silk stocking.., p.1
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       Red Velvet (Silk Stocking Inn #1), p.1

           Tess Oliver
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Red Velvet (Silk Stocking Inn #1)


  Red Velvet

  Silk Stocking Inn

  Tess Oliver & Anna Hart

  Red Velvet

  Copyright© 2016 by Tess Oliver & Anna Hart

  This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.

  All Rights are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

  Table of Contents

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Salted Caramel

  Delicious Red Velvet Recipe

  About the Authors

  Chapter 1

  I nibbled absently on the rubbery pizza and made the firm decision to stay away from frozen, gluten-free pizza in the future. I dropped the slice back onto the microwaveable dish. The pizza bounced like one of those elementary school pink erasers.

  Squeaky wheels and a towering stack of sodas rolled into the break room as I sat back with my bottle of green tea. A handsome face peered around the tower of boxes to check for obstacles in the path leading to the vending machines.

  With a disappointing lunch in front of me and a long, dull board meeting to follow, I let myself have the luxury of watching the unexpectedly hot delivery man load up the drink machine. He dragged out an impressive collection of keys from his faded jeans, a pair of nicely worn denims that wrapped perfectly around his tight ass.

  He flashed a pearly white smile over his shoulder. “How’s it going?” His voice was even deeper than I’d expected.

  “Well, lunch was a bust, but the entertainment is looking up.”

  The man spun around and leaned casually against the machine. He leaned his dark head to the side to gaze boldly beneath the table. “Nice legs. I bet they’d look even better wrapped around me.”

  I pushed the chair back, stood confidently and sashayed over to him. His scent was a mix of aftershave, man and cola. “What are you suggesting, sir?”

  “Sir? I like that.” Again, he lowered his head to the side to drag his hungry stare down my body. “Lose the panties, beautiful, and let’s see if we can shake up the sodas in this machine.”

  A breath caught in my throat, and a delicious ache pulsed between my legs.

  “What’s your name, baby?”

  “Jessi,” I said on the breath I’d been holding.

  “Jessi” he repeated, but his voice was no longer deep. “Uh, Earth to Jessi.” Long, well-manicured fingers snapped in front of my face. I shook myself out of the daydream.

  The delivery man was bent down into the machine filling it with cans. I wasn’t standing in front of him, breathlessly waiting for him to relieve me of my panties. About the only thing that hadn’t been my imagination was his very fine ass.

  Cara, my assistant, blinked at me. “Jeez, Jess, your face is blushed pink. Something tells me I just interrupted one hell of a daydream.” Her eyes followed my sightline. “Oh my. Well that explains a lot. And it tells me that we have to find you a new man and fast. The last thing we need is the vice president of the company taking her lunch break up against the vending machines with the good looking delivery man between her legs.”

  Cara, whose voice tended to carry as far and wide as dandelion seeds in a brisk wind, caught the attention of the man. He shot me a crooked, conspiratorial smile as if he’d actually taken part in my erotic musings.

  I picked up the pizza and stood from the table. Cara skittered close behind, her heels clacking the slick tile floor of the break room.

  “So, my all powerful and excellent boss, do you think we’ll get to move to that big corner office?”

  I tossed my underwhelming lunch in the trash. “Why would we be moving offices?”

  Cara huffed. “Because of the whole vice president promotion.”

  I’d been so flustered by my sensual daydream, I’d forgotten all about her inane comment. “Vice President? Have you been sniffing the permanent markers again, Cara?”

  We headed down the hallway toward my office.

  “One time,” she protested, “and I thought it would get rid of my headache. Everyone says you’re a shoe in for V.P.. If you’d stick your head out of your office once in awhile, you’d hear the rumors that are making their way around the building and circling the water cooler.”

  We reached my office, and rather than taking a seat at her desk outside, Cara followed me in, sticking to me like a koala on a eucalyptus branch.

  I sat in my chair and pulled my computer monitor toward me. “Rumors? Oh well, why didn’t you say so? I mean everyone knows that rumors around the water cooler are as good as set in stone.”

  She waved off my sarcasm. “Fine, don’t believe me, but I get a lot of pertinent information while I’m filling up my water bottle.”

  “Right. Isn’t the water cooler the source of the conspiracy theory that Mindy the Muffin Lady was actually an undercover boss, taping a reality television show to uncover just how her employees were feeling about the company? Only it turned out she was just a nice, little woman who baked muffins. And incredible ones at that. After that terrible lunch, I could go for a banana walnut.”

  “That’s right, make fun.” Cara turned to leave.

  “How long until the meeting?” I asked.

  “Twenty minutes. I’ll buzz you when it’s time.” She winked at me over her shoulder. “In case you drift back into one of those daydreams.”

  Chapter 2

  I shooed Cara out of my office and clicked the mouse to wake up my computer. As it sprang to life, a scent drifted off the tiny static charges. It wasn’t a fragrance I could pinpoint like grilled onions or peppermint. Instead, it was a mix of things—fresh cut wood, cinnamon mixed with something indistinguishable—sweat, maybe. But a good manly sweat, not a trapped in the elevator on a sweltering hot day with the neighbor who doesn’t believe in deodorant kind of sweat. It was the kind of rugged scent that made that same blush from earlier warm my cheeks.

  Daydreaming about sex in the lunch room and breathing in imaginary man scents—coming from my computer, no less. Cara was right. I needed a man in my life. It had been two months since I’d asked Randy to pack up his stuff and move out. I hadn’t thought once about him, mostly because there just wasn’t anything about the man that was memorable. Even the sex had been so vanilla and mundane that I’d found myself thinking about work and shopping while he was on top of me.

  I needed to focus back on my work day. I set about pulling up the current sales reports for the meeting. As my hand covered the mouse and the cursor flew across the monitor, a website popped up. Silk Stocking Inn was emblazoned across the top of the site. A picture of a somewhat dilapidated Victorian house that was being nearly overrun by climbing roses popped up in the corner of the page along with a prompt that said ‘click here to make y
our match’. A pink and gold banner across the top of the page read ‘Silk Stocking Inn—where every heart’s desire is filled . . . and then some’.

  I picked up the phone and pressed the button for Cara.

  “Yes?”

  “Cara, have you been on my computer?”

  “Why would I be on your computer?”

  The prompt started blinking at me. It was an obvious spam site. “Never mind.” I hung up and clicked the X to close the window. The site stayed. Five minutes later, after trying every trick in my limited technology knowledge tool belt, I was still staring at the Silk Stocking Inn. And the prompt was nagging at me like my mom did whenever she was in the mood to call and lecture me about my life mistakes, like going after a career instead of a husband.

  I had to finally resort to drastic measures. I reached around and held the power button until the computer wound down and went dark. I waited the obligatory five seconds to turn it back on.

  As my computer powered up, I thought about the V.P. rumors. I was sure Cara was completely delusional. The current vice president, a grumpy old guy with a comical hairpiece, had been in the position for years, never making it to the top spot, which had only made him more grumpy. Once his retirement had been announced, a short list of possible replacements had been floated around, and I was on it—with four other managers, all men. I just couldn’t see an all male board voting in a female vice president.

  I shook the notion from my head and returned my attention to the computer. “There’s no damn way. What the hell?” The mysterious website was back.

  The prompt returned, taunting me with its tempting message. This time the message changed. “What are you waiting for, Jessica? You’re not getting any younger.”

  I could see my open-mouthed reflection in the monitor. My mom knew three things about computers, how to turn them on, how to turn them off and how to infect them with viruses. Unless her skills had improved considerably, there was no way she’d designed a website on her own, particularly a tenacious one like this. Tenacious wasn’t even the word for it. Silk Stocking Inn seemed to have a life of its own, and now, it was addressing me personally.

  “In fact,” more text appeared, “I’m not getting any younger either. So let’s get this started. You need a man, and I’m here to help.” The website was talking to me as if we were having a one on one conversation.

  I sat back and smiled. Someone was playing a brilliant joke on me. But who? I sat forward and decided to go along with it. I had a few minutes to kill before the meeting. My fingers flew over the keyboard. “Fine then. I’m ready and willing. How does this work? Should I put in a few names, like Chris Hemsworth or Jake Gyllenhaal and then wait for them to appear at my office door? Oh, hey, do you have one of those 3-D printers? In that case, I’d like a combination of the aforementioned prospects.”

  A light pitter patter sound like fingers drumming a table top floated through my computer.

  “That tapping sound you hear is me waiting for you to finish with your silly wish list so we can get to the real thing. Besides, I don’t really think Thor and the Prince of Persia would make a pleasing combination. Might look really weird. Now, down to business. I understand you’re a high-powered, big shot who has quickly climbed her way close to the top of the corporate ladder. I suppose you want a man who you can control and boss around in bed?”

  “And we’re done here.” I hit the X, forgetting that it would be a waste of time. The site stayed stuck to my monitor as if it had been glued there with cement.

  “Wow. Guess you’re a little sensitive.”

  “Look, I don’t know who you are or who put you up to this, but I’ve got a meeting to attend.”

  “Yes, I know. You’re right. Maybe that vice president title will be enough to keep you happy. Who needs love when you’ve got Chanel suits, a Porsche and a corner office with a view?”

  I blinked at the last line of the message. Something about it saddened me. I’d already gotten past the shock that the person I was chatting with knew everything about me, but now that person had hit a nerve.

  My fingers were slower this time. “Everyone needs love.”

  I waited for a response. There was none. They were waiting for me.

  “I didn’t step on people and boss them around on my way up the ladder. I worked my butt off to get here.”

  “Well then, happily ever after achieved. Just no kiss involved.”

  “No, I need the kiss. I’ve got everything else but that.”

  “Then, I’m waiting. Describe your perfect man.”

  I had no idea why I was continuing this, but my fingers lowered over the keyboard. “My perfect man list.” They’d done it. They’d broken me down, and suddenly, I was spilling my guts out to an unidentified person on the other end of the website. “I want to be treated as an equal in business. But in bed, I want him to take complete control. I’m in charge all day. Between the sheets, I want to be his plaything, his love toy.” I sat back and stared at my words. “Holy shit, I’ve wasted thousands of dollars on a therapist and there you are, whoever the hell you are, typing rather obnoxious prompts on a computer, and it all comes out. My bottled up feelings. That’s why I haven’t found anyone. And now I’m even talking to my computer.”

  “See. Now we’re getting somewhere. What else?” Somehow they’d heard me. I looked around my computer for a camera or tiny bugging device. It was my same old computer. No extra technology or unusual additions.

  I stared at the last question. Once again, my fingers covered the keyboard. “I don’t want a man who fusses over his hair or clothes. And no manicured men. Gawd, I hate a man whose hands look better than mine. In fact, a little grit under the nails wouldn’t be a bad thing. Oh, and, of course, there’s tall, dark and—”

  “Handsome?” the text box interrupted. “Didn’t figure you as the cliché type.”

  “I’m not, but you didn’t let me finish. Tall, dark and a pleasure in bed and out. If that includes a pleasure to look at, then I guess I’m a little cliché. Not going to lie—expressive eyes, a cool, confident smile and a chiseled jaw go a long way when you’re looking at someone over a pillow.”

  Cara knocked on the door and poked in her head. Instinctively, I hit the X to close the site. This time, much to my disappointment, it disappeared. My usual desktop splashed open. “It’s time, and some of the really important big wigs are here.” She winked conspiratorially at me.

  “Yes, well don’t start packing up your desk supplies just yet. I’ll be there in a second. I just need to print my reports.”

  “Still? Thought that’s what you’ve been doing.” She stuck her hands on her hips. “Are you still daydreaming about that vending machine hottie? You know, I could get his number for you.”

  “Yes, that’s what I need. The woman who jumps from man to man as if her feet were on fire to set me up on a date with the soda man.”

  She lifted her finger. “The hot soda man.” Her mouth twisted in consideration. “That didn’t come out quite right. Anyhow, they’re waiting for you in the board room.” She walked out.

  I stared at the desktop, wondering if I had been just daydreaming again. I needed to get more sleep. I moved the mouse to get the reports. With the same whiff of fragrance as before, the Silk Stocking Inn web page popped open.

  “We’re almost finished here. One last question. What is your favorite flavor of cupcake?”

  I blinked at the question before laughing out loud. “See, I knew this was a joke. Hope you enjoyed yourself.”

  “There’s nothing comical about cupcakes. Just answer the question.”

  “Red velvet,” I typed, hitting the keys far harder than I needed to.

  “I might have guessed that. We’ll be in touch.” With that, the website vanished as suddenly and mysteriously as it had appeared.

>   I brushed the whole thing off as a comical diversion, even if it was somewhat eye opening for me. I quickly printed and collected my reports and headed down the hallway to the board room.

  Chapter 3

  Cara was waiting in my office with an airline sized bottle of wine. She held it between her thumb and forefinger. “It’s all I could come up with on such short notice. Although, technically, it wasn’t all that short because I predicted your promotion to vice president this morning.”

  We hugged. “Still can’t believe it. I was sure they’d give it to Gregory.”

  Cara opened the wine and dribbled it into our coffee mugs. She handed me mine. “How are you feeling?”

  I thought about her question. I was still coming out of the stunned haze that had swept over me when Harold Taylor, the owner of the company, announced my name. Everyone had looked at me, some with angry scowls—most especially Gregory—and some with smiles. I’d sat frozen to my chair like the proverbial deer in headlights wondering if I was back in one of my weird daydreams.

  “I’m not sure how I feel. Surprised . . . I guess. A little nervous. Anxious, that’s another good adjective to throw in there.” I drank the shot of wine in one gulp. “I’m sure I’m still just getting over the shock. I’ll feel more excited once that wears off.”

  “I’m sure of it. Well, it’s quittin’ time. Guess I better go buy myself some new clothes. I’ve got to look the part of the vice president’s assistant. I’ll let you sit and contemplate for awhile. You look a little dazed.” She hugged me again and walked out.

  I sat down at my desk. My scenic meadow desktop wallpaper stared back at me. No more strange pop-up windows. Just the well-organized array of report folders dotting the field of wildflowers behind it.

 
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