Title: Nothing Ventured
Author: Kristen Luciani
Series: The Venture Series
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Blue Tulip Publishing
It was still a bit early, and under no circumstances did she want to crash Chris’s party. Any impure thoughts needed to be fully eradicated. Tonight was the official beginning of their working relationship, and no matter what kind of fantasies she may have harbored, it all ended here. Mia Bradshaw always played it safe. It was easier to control situations if they weren’t fraught with risk.
The bartender caught her eye and walked over with an appraising glance. “What can I get for you?”
“The lady looks like she’s had a rough day. Maybe a martini?”
Mia’s head snapped in the direction of the intruding voice, but not before she noticed the bartender’s crestfallen look. She returned the smile of her newest business partner, feeling her skin tingle deliciously under his gaze. “A martini was exactly what I had in mind.”
“I could tell you needed something stronger than a Gatorade. Did that boss of yours rake you over the coals today?”
“No, but speaking of coals, my feet are burning as if I’ve been running over them for hours.”
“So that’s why you practically steamrolled everyone in your path to grab this barstool.”
“Basically. I’m not really a fan of this type of self-torture, but it’s a necessary evil in my line of work.”
“Other types of torture are preferable?” Chris raised his glass with a playful wink.
Mia clinked her glass with his. Oh sweet Jesus, she was as bad as those dippy blondes. His suggestive gaze stirred every last nerve ending. “Of course, the more painful the better. By the way, how’s your nose?”
“Good as new. It wasn’t one of my finer moments.” He held up a Victoria’s Secret bag. “Here’s your new sweatshirt.”
“Thanks, but you really didn’t have to—”
“Yes, I did. It’s the least I could do. I hope you like it.”
Mia nodded toward the girls at the end of the bar. “I think your fan club is disappointed you ended the party so early. If looks could kill, I’d be six feet under by now, in a very wet grave.”
“Oh, those are our new intern candidates. We were just having an informal interview before you barreled into the bar. They probably think you’re the competition.”
“Do you share cocktails with all your prospective employees? Or just the pretty ones?”
“I’m not sure I like that implication. It makes me sound seedy.”
Another gulp of the martini left her feeling bolder, and the clear liquid burned a determined path to her stomach. She never could control her tongue when vodka was involved, but he didn’t look too bothered. Amused? Definitely. Offended? Hardly. Maybe that was because her observation was completely on target. “No need to get defensive. It was an honest question. If we’re going to work together, I need to get a feel for how you operate.”
The corners of his mouth curled into a mischievous smile. “And vice versa.”
All control was lost. The fluttering sensation in the pit of her belly erupted again… and she hadn’t even drained the glass. Something about Chris broke through her well-constructed barriers. Seductive charm oozed from his pores. Any more alcohol, and she just might evaporate under his hazel-eyed stare.
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