Just because Kate ‘Middleton’ McGrath, wants a man to call ‘daddy’ in bed doesn’t mean—
Oh, you stopped reading. Cool.
Kate gets it. Kinks aren’t for everyone. Hell, they’re probably not for Mr. Henderson, her grumpaholic boss. She really shouldn’t have crush on him, but the man is just so goddamn stern. Sure, a lot of that comes down to ‘being her boss,’ but still, it feels like there might be something there.
Tyler Henderson is a golden boy who’s lost his shine. He’s old, his dream career is over, his fiancée’s left him. Now all the former firefighter is to try and bury his troubles in paperwork and hard liquor. He says ‘try’ because he can’t get Middleton out of his head long enough to wallow properly. He’s not going anywhere near the girl. HR issues aside, he’s done with sweetness and things doesn’t come sweeter than a cupcake-baking engineer who knits her own hats.
A case of mistaken identity causes Kate and Ty’s attraction to give way to blistering sex. They have more in common—and more to lose—than either of them realized. When it comes to unreasonable attraction, you can rarely change your mind but can you act your age?
Eve Dangerfield has loved romance novels since she first started swiping her grandmother’s paperbacks. Now she writes her own sexy tales about complex women and gorgeous-but-slightly-tortured men. Her work has been described as ‘the defibrillator contemporary romance needs right now,’ and not by herself, or even her mum, but by OTHER PEOPLE. Eve lives in Melbourne with her boy, a bunch of semi-dead plants and a rabbit named Billy. When she’s not writing she can usually be found making a big ol’ mess. Act Your Age is her seventh novel.
Relevant Author links
There was less than five minutes until she was due to see Ty. Needing something to do with her hands, she pulled out the folded piece of paper she intended to give him.
It was a bit high school, but she’d decided a note was the best way to proposition him. She would walk into Ty’s office, say hello, place the note on his desk and then leave. She would not linger saying things like ‘obsessed with you,’ ‘can’t stop thinking about you,’ and ‘would literally stab someone in a non-essential organ to hook up with you again, Mr Henderson. Please have sex with me, or I will die.’
The note was short, sweet and to the point; I know you told me to forget what happened in your hotel room, but I can’t. I want more. If you’re interested, look up my profile on Kinkworld. My user name is @LolaJones.
She felt silly even writing the word ‘Kinkworld’ to Ty, much less directing him to her profile, but it would explain everything so much better than she could. The alarm she’d set on her phone began to chime, soft bells increasing in volume. Kate turned it off and tucked her note into a tiny side pocket on her skirt. There it was perfectly positioned so she could pull it out and hand it smoothly to Ty, like a flight attendant giving a passenger a microwaved omelet.
“Now or never,” she told herself. “It’s now or never.”
Kate knew exactly how many strides it took to get to Ty’s office—two hundred and nine—but today there seemed to be half that. A quarter of that. She was near him in record time, hearing strains of what she knew was blues music came through his open doorway. Ty loved the blues. It was one of the many arbitrary, stalkerish things she knew about him. She felt the sickening lurch of dizziness and slapped herself as quietly as she could. Her vision immediately sharpened. Kate straightened her lace headband and forced her legs to carry her into Ty’s office. For a panicky moment she wondered why he wasn’t there, then realised he was hidden by his huge computer monitor. The top of his blond head was visible, so was a big hand drumming the top of his cordless mouse. He gave no indication he’d heard her come in.
Kate opened her mouth then closed it, her heart fluttering against her ribs like a panicky hummingbird.
I can’t do this, she thought and took a huge step backward.
“Middleton,” Ty’s computer said. “What are you doing?”
He didn’t sound angry, just mildly inconvenienced, as though she were a door-to-door salesperson trying to sell him cleaning products. Kate swallowed. “I just…”
Her voice was a thing of ridicule, so girly and crackly it was embarrassing. She swallowed again, trying to wet her throat and sound more like a grown up and less like a Disney mouse. “I wanted to ask you something?”
“And that is?”
“I was wondering…I was thinking…”
She let out a soft wheezy breath. Maria hadn’t prepared her for this. Nothing had prepared her for this. The top of Ty’s head was more intimidating than a gang of youths loitering around a train station at night. She couldn’t just hand him a folded up note like they were in primary school. Why had she ever thought that was a good idea? As of now, her mission was over. She stared around Ty’s office for something she could talk about instead. Desks? Lamps? A big swirly painting by some abstract artist Ty had probably had sex with? Then her gaze fell on the only thing in the room more disturbing than a sex-painting, a fancy crystal tumbler full of brown liquid. Jackpot. “I just wanted to say, you shouldn’t be drinking at work. It’s really unprofessional.”
That got Ty to move out from behind his monitor. “What?”
Dear lord what was wrong with her?
“Erm, nothing,” Kate stammered. “Except…except you’re not supposed to drink at work. It’s a violation of our HR policy, you know, like why we can’t have beer at the Friday barbecue?”
Ty stared at her as though he’d never seen something quite so ridiculous in all his life and now that he had he needed time to process it. Despite her terror, Kate couldn’t help noticing he’d had a haircut. The shorter style brought out the hard planes of his face to perfection and emphasised his eyes. For someone who could glare better than Clint Eastwood, they were a surprisingly warm shade of blue, like a favourite pair of jeans, faded and so comfy she could sleep in them.
“You came here,” he said slowly. “To tell me off about drinking at work?”
“Erm, yeah,” Kate said, figuring it was too late to back down now.
“I see.” Ty raised his tumbler to his mouth and took a slow, deliberate swig.
That’s just mean, Kate thought. “Okay, now that we’ve talked I should probably head home. See you tomorrow!”
Ty bared his teeth in something that definitely wasn’t a smile. “Before you go, Middleton, I want you to tell me something.”
“Yes?” she asked nervously.
“If you’re so concerned with workplace practices, why is it every time I turn around, I’m looking at you bent over in a skirt so tight you couldn’t slide a piece of paper between the fabric and your ass?”
Kate’s legs got that watery I’m-going-to-collapse-underneath-you feeling. God, what was happening? She was supposed to slink in, drop the note on Ty’s desk and slink away, leaving him with nothing but a great view of her butt and the uncontrollable urge to check out her Kinkworld profile. How in the hell had it come to this? “I don’t…this isn’t about me doing that to you. Not that I’m doing that to you, I’m not doing anything to you. Or anyone.”
Ty sighed, picked up his tumbler and drained the whole thing before putting it down with a clunk. “Shut my door.”
Kate stared at him. “Do you mean…with me on the other side of it?”
Another, even more cumbersome, sigh. “I mean, shut that door so that you and I are alone in the same fucking room and hurry up about it because I’m getting impatient.”
Without thinking, Kate turned and shut the door. The latch clicked neatly into place, sealing her in a confined area with Tyler Henderson.
“Middleton.” His voice was rough and smooth, smoke and raw honey. “Walk your ass over here.”
Kate’s body prickled all over and again she obeyed his words before her brain could even process them, taking small, neat steps towards him the way she had when she was the flower girl at her sister’s wedding. The air between her and Ty seemed to surge with an energy that grew stronger with each forward pace. Music poured from his computer, mingling with the electric air, a woman with a throaty voice singing about the devil in a way that felt both prophetic and highly appropriate.
“So…” Tyler Henderson said, tugging his black silk tie so that the knot loosened around his neck. “Here we are again.”
“And that’s…where, exactly?”
“You know exactly where. Look at me.”
She looked at him, or rather his chin, which was as far up as her line of vision could go.
“You came waltzing in here to ask me to turn you out,” Ty said quietly. “The least you can do is look me in the eyes.”
Kate inhaled, and with all her remaining strength, managed to meet his gaze.
Ty’s irises weren’t the colour of lived-in denim anymore, they were the bright blue of an electrical fire. As their eyes locked she felt a surge arc through her body, excitement so all-encompassing she could barely breathe. He was giving her a look no boss would give their employee unless they wanted a one-way ticket to sexual-harrassmentville. It said she’d been a bad girl and he wanted to punish her for it. Kate’s nipples went stiff against her bra, dampness saturated the cotton between her legs. Ever since Bendigo she hadn’t been able to get herself off and yet now, without Ty doing or saying anything, Kate knew she could have shoved her hands into her panties and been there inside a couple of strokes. It was black magic. Evil magic. “W-What now?” she asked.
“Now, we discuss why you’re here.” Ty reached beneath his desk and pulled out a bottle with red wax around the rim. He filled his tumbler slowly, as though he had all the time in the world. The thin trickle of liquid sounded as loud as a waterfall. A white spot burst in front of her eyes and if she could have gotten away with slapping herself, she would have.
Ty took a swig of what she assumed was whiskey, wincing slightly, as though it was a strong but necessary medicine. “So,” he said again. “I tell you it’s a bad idea for us to fuck each other and you decide a good way to respect that decision would be to wear fuck-me clothes to work and show me your ass at every given opportunity. Walk me through that reasoning, Middleton.”
Kate said nothing. Heat was prickled all over her, as though her blood was trying to force its way through her skin like sweat.
“Gone shy, have you?” Ty asked. “Weren’t so shy when you bent over the printer without any panties on.”
And she’d been silly enough to wonder if he’d noticed. She licked her upper lip. “I’m sorry.”
“Oh yeah?” Ty put his hands behind his head and reclined in his chair. “I don’t believe you. I think you enjoyed getting me all cranked up, knowing I couldn’t do anything about it.”
Kate could barely believe her ears. He’d given no indication, none, that he’d so much as noticed her new wardrobe, let alone that it had gotten him hot and bothered. “I promise I wasn’t—”
“Don’t play dumb.”
Kate remembered they were alone, that the entire floor—maybe the whole building—was empty. Her heartbeat thumped inside her ears. “I’m not playing dumb, I don’t know what you mean.”
“So you didn’t come here tonight to ask me to screw you? And you haven’t been wearing sexy clothes to work because you want me to change my mind about the two of us and plant my dick between your legs?”
Kate opened her mouth, then closed it again.
Ty gave another world-weary sigh. “What am I gonna do with you, girl?”
The words were uttered in the same dark tone men spoke in Kate’s mind when they announced she was going to be spanked. She extended a foot backward.
“Don’t move,” Ty said calmly and she froze. “I—”
“Don’t speak either.”
She pulled her lower lip into her mouth, everything inside her was suddenly very still.
Ty tossed back his drink, reached under his desk for the bottle and refilled his tumbler. Dimly, Kate tried to memorise the shape, the colours on the label. She didn’t like any hard liquor but rum, but she’d go to Dan Murphy’s and buy a bottle just to taste the way he tasted right now.
Ty took another swallow from his tumbler and swiped a hand over his mouth. “You came here tonight looking to get your little off-limits pussy played with, is that right?”
“Don’t lie.” Ty’s blue eyes were hard as stone. “Don’t lie to me and don’t try and explain what I already know. Just answer the question.”
Kate licked her lips again. She’d done this so many times in the past hour, they were starting to grow puffy. The lips between her legs felt exactly the same way only wetter. Her fear of disobeying him was melding into the excitement of knowing this was all in his hands, that he could use her as he wished, command her to do anything he wanted.
“Yes,” she heard herself say. “I came here for that.”
“I know.” Ty tapped the rim of his tumbler in time with the music, clink, clink, clink. He was looking through her into nothingness, weighing something up in his mind. Kate wanted to argue her case but she just stood there, still and silent. Waiting.
Ty ran a hand through his hair, the gold strands falling like waves of wheat. “When you decided to experiment with clothes that get my dick hard, you know what you did, Middleton?”
Kate shook her head.
“You went from being the office sweetheart to the girl everyone pictures getting dressed in the morning. If I broke up one conversation about your legs, I did it a million times.”
Kate inhaled. Surely that wasn’t right? Not only had she not caught anyone perving but you’d think that response would have inspired some of the guys to be nice to her, not act like she was carrying blood-borne pathogens.
“Wasn’t enjoyable,” Ty said, unaware of her confusion. “Wasn’t fun watching every other fucker in this office pant after you. I didn’t appreciate it one bit. Don’t appreciate much of anything you’ve done since I told you weren’t getting my cock. So here’s what I’m thinking…”
He rapped a knuckle on the desk, the sound sharp as a starter’s pistol. “Take off that ridiculous skirt, lie your ass across my lap and we’ll see what I can teach you about obeying orders.”