She was beautiful, and cold, and blonde. And she most definitely was not Mr. Winters.
I don’t know what it was I was expecting, really, freezing my ass off on that unseasonably cold morning. But as I stood on the front stoop of the massive, opulent home—my Monday morning assignment—encountering an ice queen with a jutting bosom and sparkling glacier blue eyes was not anywhere on that list of possibilities.
“Lola… interesting name. You’ve come with adequate references.” The woman’s voice was smooth, a tiny bit of rasp to it. Cultured. She flipped over the paper she held in her long, delicate fingers, giving it a cursory glance. Her gleaming nail polish was the color of a January night, just before the sunrise. “But so did the last girl we had cleaning for him.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. I’m… not like her though.” I hugged my utterly inadequate jacket about my frame, trying not to visibly shiver, the ends of my hair flapping in the wind. “You can trust me.”
Kara, the ‘last girl,’ had been a disaster. I’d already heard the story. My boss, Craig, had reassigned her, too soft-hearted to fire the flaky as hell woman on the spot. Though she definitely deserved just that. Slacking at any jobsite was never the brightest idea. Being caught jilling off in a client’s master bathroom while on the phone with one’s boyfriend was positively idiotic.
Which was precisely the reason why I was currently being turned into a Lola-sicle that very chilly morning.
Was she a girlfriend? Probably. She was certainly pretty enough for the job. She fit the part of a woman someone like Mr. Winters might like on his arm. Or in his bed.
The woman—she’d informed me that Alicia was her name—checked her watch, the polished silver catching the gray morning light. “I’ve got to get to the office.” Her azure gaze settled upon me, her plump crimson lips pursed for a moment. The platinum blonde of her ponytail stirred in the chill breeze. She was tall, far taller than me. Though I suppose her jet heels were part of the reason for that. The fitted business suit she wore was an onyx black so dark it seemed to soak up the surrounding light, perfectly showcasing the sweep of her hips, the nip of her slender waist—and those tits I could tell she was inordinately proud of. The woman was beautiful, and she knew it, and she seemed the sort who wasn’t above making sure everyone around her knew it, too.
Alicia folded the paper, stuffing it into the leather bag slung from her shoulder. “I was supposed to show you around, tell you where everything is, but I don’t have time.” She tilted her head slightly. “You’ve got the key, yes?”
I nodded, holding up the crumpled envelope Craig had pressed into my hand a half hour earlier.
“Then you’ll have to do the best you can.” Alicia shouldered by me, her heels a muted clacking on the stone walkway leading down to the street, the sway of her ass in her snug slacks eye-catching in a way that made me grind my teeth in irritation. She looked back over her shoulder, one hand on the wrought-iron gate leading out through the impenetrable, emerald hedge lining the expansive front lawn. “He sometimes comes home early. I don’t expect you’re going to have a short day of it. The previous girl made a hash of the place, so you’ve got your work cut out for you.” The woman’s mouth thinned, her chin lowering just the slightest. “Don’t be surprised when he arrives. And for God’s sake, don’t try to talk to him. Understand?”
“Yes, ma’am.” I forced a smile. “He won’t even know I’m here.”
Alicia sneered. “That’s all I can hope for, I suppose.”
Then she was gone, the iron gate slamming shut behind her.
“Bitch,” I murmured, turning and unlocking the door. It swung open, letting in a surprisingly pleasing rush of warm air, scented with just a hint of something resembling cedar. The foyer was all pale marble and brass, and positively dripped money.
That morning as I’d stood rubbing my eyes—sleeping in bucket seats didn’t exactly afford one the best quality rest—Craig had been very clear, blunt even.
“Ellis Winters is one of our oldest—and best tipping—clients. He’s also an unreformed asshole. Keep your head down, do the very best work you know how—believe me, I’ll hear about it if you don’t—and then get out. I’ll work on getting a new girl for his account. If you’re lucky, this will be a one and done for you, and you’ll never have to clean there again.”
“Well, here goes nothing.”
Then I walked inside and began my daily toil.
“I don’t care if Logistics says it’s not part of the GSA contract. It’s a ten-year guaranteed lock-in, minimum, once we’re on the preferred vendor list. So, make it happen. If I have to call undersecretary Hanlon myself, I will—but it’s going to be your fucking ass if I do. You reading me on this, Jack?”
“Mr. Winters, with respect, sir, it’s not that simple. We can’t just tell them to add us as a preferred vendor. We’ve got to win the bid first—and that installation is not in our existing contract. Which means we’re already on the outside looking in this close to the termination of the bidding window. Then we’ve got to hope we don’t get undercut on the back end once Waverly—or even Baker/Taggart—get wind of what we’re offering…”
I pulled my Audi into the driveway entrance, leaning out to punch in the gate code, while my DoD accounts chief sputtered excuses into my ear. I pulled the phone away as I waited for the heavy barrier to swing open. I yelled into the receiver. “Just get it done! I don’t care what arms you have to twist. I don’t care whose ass you have to kiss. Take them to fucking dinner and strippers afterward for all I care. Close the deal. Get us in.” I ended the call, throwing the phone onto my passenger seat, cursing under my breath.
My head was pounding. I hadn’t been originally intending to do more than come home for lunch, for a tiny bit of peace and quiet, but after the dumpster fire of a morning I’d had thus far, an afternoon in the home office seemed just about the only thing I could stand at the moment.
The contract with the Department of Defense for servicing of the standing forces in the Western Pacific wasn’t the most lucrative of the contracts outstanding, but it was close. And unlike the other theaters, save perhaps Germany, it was easily the most stable. We would be stupid not to do anything we could to get it.
A dirty, off-white Honda Accord with a dent in the rear bumper on the passenger side was parked along the street right at the end of my property line. I’d never seen it before. It was the same place the first twit the cleaning company had sent to me had decided to park—and the same girl whom I’d caught, of all things, spanking the muffin on the job, rather than actually cleaning anything. Was the girl named Kate? Kara? Something like that.
An idiot, whatever her name was.
Easing my car into the garage, I decided to walk around and enter through the front door, using the little detour as an opportunity to make sure there wasn’t anyone on the grounds.
Loosening my tie as I reached the front porch, I stretched for a moment. The day was still gray and dreary, but not as ridiculously cold as it had been earlier. Fall was definitely on the way, the huge maple dominating one half of the front yard already displaying numerous leaves bleeding into pinks and oranges.
Putting my key in, I found the deadbolt was already retracted. “Lot of good that does,” I muttered, shaking my head. I wondered if the silly twit from yesterday had shown up for round two today. Leaving the front door to my house unlocked would be something she was stupid enough to do.
Might be time for a call in to Craig.
If only people would just do their goddamned jobs, my life would be… well, a little easier, anyway.
Not for the first time, the thought that I might be working too much of late crossed my mind.
Since Mari, I had been putting in insane hours. Yes, it was my company, built from scratch, but there was such a thing as trying to pour from an empty cup.
I generally hated them, as the whole time all I could usually think about was the opportunity cost of sitting on my ass doing not much of anything.
That’s not what Mari would have thought.
I grumbled under my breath as I pushed the front door open… only to find one of the sweetest, roundest asses I’d ever seen.
Well, the owner of said round ass was wearing jeans, threadbare and snug, especially where it counted, her wide hips straining the denim pleasingly.
The woman, dark-haired and wearing a gray sweatshirt—that was most definitely a clothing choice I never approved of—was bent over at the foot of the stairway, vacuuming, the deafening sound of the motor clearly masking the noise of my entry, as the woman seemed entirely unaware I was standing behind her.
Turning, I quietly closed the door, then leaned against it, my arms crossed, enjoying the view until such time as she realized she was no longer alone. Whoever this was, it most definitely was not that dipshit from yesterday. Where that girl had been skinny as a rail—to the point of wan—this female was anything but, her figure lush and shapely.
No, this one was built the way I’d always preferred—like a real woman. My nephew, Jason, would have called her stacked, or thick, or whatever the fuck else college kids called hot women now.
She straightened, flipping the off switch, the vacuum’s motor winding down quickly, and it was at that moment, as she turned partially, profile facing me, that it became clear she was… not much older than my goddamned nephew.
Only it wasn’t, really. Possessed of a world-class ass though she may have been—shown off well in her rather tight jeans—I had none, zero, nada interest in anything to do with someone who appeared to be practically half my age. It wasn’t that I was old, per se, but a man of forty was past the time for playing around with stupid young women, who didn’t have much else to bring to a relationship other than being young, dumb, and full of cum.
I cursed softly, pushing off the door, unbuttoning my suitcoat.
The girl spun around, crying out and clapping a hand to her mouth, her dark brown eyes wide, blinking rapidly. She was far prettier than I’d realized, with pale pink lips, blushing cheeks, and long dark eyelashes. Her figure was just like her ass—lush, generous, and curvy in every way a man could want. Her breasts were heavy, and though the somewhat baggy sweatshirt—I really hated such clothing—did well to hide her bountiful charms, even with that I could tell she was very pleasingly proportioned indeed.
She’s a college girl, you dipshit.
“Who are you?” I said, putting a touch of growl in my voice, advancing a step toward her.
“I-I’m sorry, I… Lola.” She attempted a smile, her lower lip trembling ever so slightly as she held out a hand. “Lola Grant, sir.”
Sir. Yes, that’s correct, isn’t it?
I really hadn’t seen it since the first time I’d laid eyes on Mari. It had been… a yielding energy to both her body and her spirit. But this Lola, she had it in spades.
And part of me wanted much, much more of it. Now.
Don’t be stupid.
Stupid or not, my cock was already getting hard. Her scent came to me and I inhaled it, something floral and spicy both. I wanted to ask her what it was, but that would send entirely the wrong message.
“Why are you in my house, Lola Grant?” I drew still closer. We were just barely more than an arm’s length apart. I gave her offered hand a scowl, and she dropped it, blushing fiercely. I found I quite liked that on her.
“I’m… Craig sent me. In Kara’s place?” She fished inside the front pocket of her jeans, the tip of her tongue peeking between her lips. Drawing out a badge, she held it up for me. I barely looked at it though.
“Tell me something, Ms. Grant. When you’re at home alone, do you make a habit of leaving the door unlocked? Do you think it’s safe to do that?”
“I don’t know. Maybe?” She stuffed her badge back in her jeans. “Probably not.”
I nodded slowly, advancing another step, close enough now that I could feel the air pressure change at the proximity of her body next to mine. “Sensible, really. Which mystifies me, because you seem so casual about leaving the door to my house unlocked. Do you think that’s a good idea?”
“I didn’t, did I?” She blushed once more. “If I did… I must have forgotten. I was in a rush to get started and—”
“Save it,” I barked, holding up a hand. “I’m going to my office”—I nodded toward the top of the stairs—“to get some work done. I would appreciate it if you’d make sure the door is locked, whenever you’re here. It’s common courtesy. Even if this isn’t your home. I’m sure you understand.”
“I… okay. I’m sorry.” She glanced away, wrapping her arms about her torso, then letting them drop, as if she were unsure where to put her hands.
Clearly nervous. Good.
I moved toward the staircase, but she remained rooted in her spot. I inclined my head toward her. “Lots of other parts of the house you could be working in. Go find one of them.”
She gasped, her mouth dropping open, revealing pretty and very white teeth. “Uh, okay.”
Then she gathered up the cord for the vacuum cleaner, and fled into the living room, directly opposite the staircase.
I watched her go, trying and failing not to be entranced by the roll and sway of her plump, round buttocks so lovingly encased—and displayed—in those jeans. If I were the man in possession of a bottom like that…
I made my way upstairs, trying to put the image of one luscious Lola Grant—and her equally luscious ass—entirely out of my mind.
What a fucking asshole.
But it was far more galling that such an asshole had to look so very good.
I’d never seen Mr. Winters before. I’d never even thought to ask. I suppose I just assumed he fit the profile of so many other wealthy clients.
Overfed. Well dressed, yet somehow nondescript, bland. And vaguely irritated that I was even in their presence.
Mr. Winters was certainly the latter, but the rest? No way.
I made my way to the kitchen, marveling at the massive dark quartz of the island and the countertops. He had more cabinets in his kitchen than one could possibly need, but that wasn’t my concern. Mine was only to make sure they were clean.
Fortunately, Kara had seemed to have already done most of the kitchen already, the place looking immaculate. Craig had told me before I’d left to only concentrate on those areas Kara hadn’t yet gotten to, which meant really only the living room, the stairs, and one of the downstairs bathrooms. Not too much work.
The living room was stunning, frankly. With soaring ceilings that went all the way to the roofline, and a massive bank of built-in cabinetry dominating the entirety of one wall, the man’s living room reminded me of a central gathering room in a ski chalet, the decor accented by deeply stained wood notes, brass and silver trim, and a dazzling array of recessed lighting that must have lit up the place like a cathedral at night. I’d never get the chance to see that, of course, as this was, with luck, a ‘one and done’ as Craig had put it.
Considering my visceral reaction to the appearance of Mr. Winters—and his dismissive, insulting manner—one and done was going to be just fine with me.
Sure, tell yourself that.
I shook my head as I wiped down the first of the many shelves in the living room, careful not to disrupt any of the statuary, trophies, and awards dotted throughout the place, including one rather large, ornate one with a plaque at the base with the Department of Defense logo embossed on its golden surface. I didn’t even try to decipher all the words on it, but ‘selfless and valorous service’ was enough to get the gist. I wasn’t sure if he was military, though he definitely did have a ‘martial bearing.’ He definitely had something to do with the armed forces though.
I kept picturing his eyes as I worked, and I really didn’t want to do that. They were the eyes of a hunter, perhaps even a predator. Well, not an actual killer—perhaps—but instead they were those of a man who could command a woman, by force of personal magnetism alone, to do… just about anything he liked.
A striking blue-gray that drew my eye regardless of how hard I tried not to stare, they were both attractive and a little unsettling at the same time. Mr. Winters being—just as Craig warned—an asshole, only enhanced that effect, much as I might want to deny it.
His hair was cut quite short to his scalp, and clearly beginning to gray. Where it wasn’t, it was the deepest black, so dark it had an almost cobalt hint to it. His facial hair had that thick five o’clock shadow that I’d never been able to resist, whether it was affected or not. Either way, it made me want to stroke it—and not just with my hands, either.
His shoulders were so wide they filled a doorway, his imposing height—at least six foot four—only enhancing the intimidating and alluring effect. No matter how much I might not want it to be so.
His ass, compact, but pleasingly round, was perfectly highlighted and showcased in his slacks, the suit fitting him exquisitely well in a way only custom tailoring can achieve. His clothes looked to be worth more than my car.
Why do the gorgeous ones have to be such grade A pricks?
Most of all though was how he looked at me. It was something between curiosity and the cold, calm, absolute certainty of control an entomologist has when spiking his bug specimen just right upon its display pin.
Once the living room was done—surprisingly fast, mercifully—all that was really left was the last bathroom downstairs that hadn’t been cleaned. I couldn’t help but wonder about what Kara had been caught doing upstairs. I’d even peeked into that bathroom when I’d first begun working, just to have a look, and was stunned at the size and the welcoming feel of the place; stone everywhere, perfect, warm lighting, and a level of luxury to the smallest detail, even the towel hooks, something I’d never seen before. It felt more like a spa than a bathroom! And it was sized accordingly. Hell, the showers, all four of them put together, had to be bigger than my last apartment!
Which would be quite the upgrade from your current accommodations.
Mr. Winters, asshole or not, definitely liked the finer things in life.
I was about to slip out the front door—making sure to lock it this time, of course—but the muted sound of a cough reminded me he was still up there in his office.
Did I leave quietly, as if I weren’t even there? Or did I have a modicum of manners and at least let him know I was finished?
You need to get the fuck out of here. If he wants to be an asshole about you not saying goodbye, he can be an asshole to the next girl. Not your problem.
The vehemence of the thought had me wondering though. Maybe I’d just caught him at a bad moment? I really would like to leave on a tiny bit of a positive note, if it was possible.
It was just… a thing with me. My need to make people happy made it almost impossible for me to leave things with anyone on a bad note. Perhaps that was a weakness, or a betrayal of my lack of self-esteem? I didn’t know, and stopped caring a long time ago—because it had served me well thus far.
At least I thought so.
With that, I headed up the stairs, for what—I hoped—would be the last time I’d ever speak to one grumpy asshole, Mr. Ellis Winters.