My Forbidden Boss
Blue Sky Empire Book 1
A billionaire forbidden age gap office romance
David Chandler. Billionaire. Focussed. Forty three.
Luck plays no part in the business I grew from the ground up.
Nor has luck played a part in my relationships.
Women can’t see past my bed or my bank account. I’ve given up expecting them to.
That’s until Adeline walks through the door of Blue Sky.
Out of her depth, young, gorgeous, tempting Adeline.
I want to kiss her, touch her, taste her. Take her innocence.
I should let her go.
But I can’t.
Adeline Rayner. Poor. Overlooked. Twenty-One.
I’m blackmailed by my sperm donor — my father.
But I’m desperate for help so I have no choice.
My mom and I will be homeless if I fail.
Industrial espionage. Corporate spying. Stealing secrets.
Call it what you will, the truth is I’m set up to take the fall.
I work for David Chandler as his PA.
The man who makes me wish for a different life, a different me.
The man who would never want an inexperienced virgin.
He’s off limits.
But I can’t say no.
My Forbidden Boss is a billionaire age-gap forbidden romance for those who like steam, heart-wrenching drama and all the feels.
The alarm blares, shattering me from a miserable dream and shooting me into the same reality. Weak light diffuses through the crusted filth on the only window of my bite-sized apartment; dirty not through intention, but apathy.
I throw off the blankets and wince as the frigid air strikes my flesh. The crack in the window bleeds in snow-laced air and steals any body heat that might have warmed my meager room during the night. I ignore the shiver and force myself to stand, swiping my cell phone from the edge of the sink next to my bed and shutting the noise off as the person living next door thumps on the wall.
The walls are made from tissue paper and despair.
The room my father rented for me in Hell’s Kitchen is smaller than the room in the apartment in Moss Creek, where I live in with my mother. You’d think they’d be perks with blackmail.
You’d think my father wouldn’t be an asshole either.
But life gave me an asshole blackmailer who just happens to be my father. Biologically speaking. He may have played a tiny part in creating my life, but the eighty-year-old corner store alcoholic back in Moss Creek gives me more dad vibes than my own dubious flesh and blood.
I take two steps across the floor space, open the shower stall door next to the kitchen bench and turn on the water, hopping from foot to foot to avoid ice building on the bottom of my feet while I wait for the hot water to kick in. It runs like it doesn’t want to be here, and like me, has no choice.
There is no bathroom in this apartment. Or kitchen. Or bedroom. Bed, closet, sink, toilet, shower and my doom are conveniently stuffed into one small room. I measured ten paces from wall to wall yesterday when I first arrived. I’d give anything to be back with mom, but she’s the reason I’m freezing my butt off in New York in a dingy apartment more suited to be a storage room than living area. Who knew? Maybe in a past life it was, and some greedy asshole resurrected the space to rent to the poor and abused.
Score none for me.
Steam fills the air. I test the water. Tepid, but warmer than the air. I throw off my pajamas, the ones with the unicorns that mom gave to me for my sixteenth birthday, and dash under the water. Goosebumps break out over my skin in the small moment it takes me to go from freezing to maybe warm.
Five years later, I still wear the same pajamas, but everything else in my life has changed.
At least the unicorns still smile.
The water pressure wilts from the shower head and I do my best to scrub the suds from my hair. The floor, and everything around me, vibrates when a train trundles past. It rattles my empty mug on the sink drainer, along with the foundations of the building.
If I could see out of the window, I’d be able to catch sight of the people on that train. I could reach out and touch the tracks should I need to. I could get on the train and let it take me to the end of the line and the end of my predicament. But the grime on the window keeps me in.
My mom’s future keeps me in.
I finish with the last of the conditioner. It’s cheap and makes my hair wiry, but it’s all I can afford. Dad might pay the rent, but he didn’t help me get here. I dug into the meager money I’d managed to save from waitressing at Bob’s Burgers, shelled out for the bus ticket to bring me here and for a new wardrobe from the local charity store. All on false pretenses.
All because I want to do the right thing by my mother.
All because there’s no one to help her but me.
All because life chews up the vulnerable and those who can’t afford better.
I’ve spent a lifetime with an invisible sign tacked to my back that says kick the poor puppy. She has no one to stand up for her and no way to pay for respect. Someone like me does something to people who get a twisted kick out of beating the downtrodden. Makes them feel bigger and better about themselves.
If I could have afforded it, I would have paid for a psychologist to work that out for them.
Low self-esteem hurt. Me. Not them. Not when they worked out their aggression in the school hallways and later when they ordered their shakes and fries from Bob’s Burgers.
I should thank them. Nothing anyone said or did surprised me anymore.
Not even when I reached out for the first time to speak to the man whose genes my body is built from.
The water runs cold and I wipe the last of the soap from my body as it turns frigid. I turn off the faucet and grab for my towel, make quick work of drying myself., Then I reach for my skirt and blouse instead of my waitress uniform. Thank you, thrift store.
I feel strange; like another person as I zip up my pencil skirt and tuck in my blouse. This isn’t me. I’m used to wearing the pink striped uniform of Bob’s Burgers, slinging my hair into a quick ponytail and slipping on my sneakers. I got the routine of getting ready down to five minutes. Enough time for me to check mom had all she needed for the day before I headed out.
I pause to look at myself in the mirror. I have a lot more to do today, and I can only hope mom can look out for herself for a few days. I’ve set her up with enough food and supplies she should be okay until I return from my ‘break’.
Hopefully, what my father wants me to do won’t take long. I’ve never left her before. Not even for a night. Maddie, my best and only friend, normally stays over with us so we can have a sleepover every so often. Never the other way round. Those are the nights I feel halfway like a normal person. I can do things people my age do as well as the things the people my age would never have to do.
Maddie doesn’t mind when I help mom to bed and make sure she’s comfortable. She helps me with the dishes and comes with me to the laundromat. She even helps carry bags back from the grocery store. She said she would check in with mom and let me know how she is.
My gut sinks, filled with thousands of sharp-sided stones. I clench my fist over my stomach and lean against the sink. I take a deep breath, as though that will stop the stones digging into my gut.
I can do this.
I don’t have a choice.
At least the thrift store hair dryer works. I do my best. I’ve never had to get ready like this before. School socials? Didn’t turn up. Prom? Not on your life. Dates? Non existent. Guys at Moss Creek think poverty is a disease.
When I’m finished I look at my straightened hair falling to my shoulders. I pat down the blond flyaways and reach for the mascara. It’s all the makeup I own. I apply, blinking at my darkened lashes. They’ve always been long, but now they stand out, making my blue eyes pop.
I’ll keep the noodles for dinner tonight, so there’s nothing stopping me from sliding my feet into second hand pumps and grabbing my purse. I hope it doesn’t look too scratched and worn. I head for the door, hoping my belongings, such as they are, will still be here when I return. With a building like this, I’m not sure. At least the bed is bolted to the floor, so I’ll have the frame to sleep on at the very least.
My cell rings inside my purse as I step onto the sidewalk. The air slices through my clothing and I silently curse that I couldn’t find a coat at the Moss Creek thrift shop, but the voice on the other end of the phone makes my blood boil enough to ward off the chill.
“Don’t be late for your first day.”
I bustle along the sidewalk to keep warm and bite my tongue to stop myself from spewing words I want to say. “I’m on my way now.”
Max, my father, grunts. “I pulled a lot of strings for you.”
He pulled strings for himself. If it were up to me, I’d be back in Moss Creek looking after mom and flipping burgers. It’s not a flash life, but I never pretended to be anything I wasn’t.
“I told you I know nothing about working in an office,” I say. Part of me hopes he’ll stop this level of stupidity, that he’ll laugh off the past week, tell me this is all a joke and actually help us the way he always should have.
He presses on. The joke continues but I’m not laughing. “The only job you have is to get me what I want, then you get what you want.”
He makes it out like I’m some sort of gold-digger, that I’m challenging him for his immense fortune, none of which I’ve seen. All I want is for mom to be pain free and have a roof over our heads. Maybe even a decent meal now and then. Basic things. Things he’s using against me.
“I don’t know where to look.” Or what I should look for. I’ve never stepped foot in an office, let alone one the likes of One Vanderbilt. I don’t assume the wood-paneled wood office at Bob’s is anything like where I’m headed.
“Work it out. Don’t make me wait.” The dial tone sounds in my ear.
I curse him. I curse the angels and I curse god in heaven for allowing men like that the ability to breed.
If I could afford a cab, I’d grab one. As that’s something to be wished for, along with owning a Californian bungalow, wearing Jimmy Choos, and eating meat that hasn’t been ground or processed to the point of being plastic, I set it aside. It takes me a while to walk the New York city blocks, and by the time I reach the foyer of One Vanderbilt I’m warm enough despite my red nose and frozen fingers and toes. I make a mental note to visit some more thrift stores over the weekend as I walk to the elevators and make myself look like I belong.
I step inside, alongside office workers buried in calf length coats and sturdy shoes, and press floor forty nine. My stomach growls and I stare at the wall, pretending it isn’t me. I smooth my hair, hoping the damp won’t make it too frizzy now it’s gotten wet, and brush it off my shoulders. Hopefully, the building will be warm inside and it won’t take me long to dry off. Now I’ve stopped walking the cold is seeping into my bones.
Hopefully, when my father said he’d ‘worked everything out,’ it meant that this lie was believable. Hopefully, David Chandler won’t take one look at me and call the employment agency for the person he actually hired. Hopefully, he won’t take one look at me and ring the police, because I was well aware what I was doing was illegal. Hopefully, my guilt isn’t plastered across my forehead.
The elevator pings open and I step onto plush carpet and an interior that screams wealth and what-the-hell-are-you-doing-here. On my left, a large floor to ceiling window frames New York, stretched below and filled with possibilities and places to disappear.
A long reception desk made from natural materials and hidden lighting looms before me, behind which a brunette with perfect red lips sits, turning her mouth down at me. Her gaze flits across me from head to toe and I know she sees me. Sees the small town girl way out of her depth.
“May I help you?” Her voice remains professional. Stretched, but warm enough not to contain icicles. I give her two minutes for frozen blades to appear.
Big Sky is etched into the wall in large blue letters with electric blue lighting behind her. The sign is a statement, and, in those words, I read my doom.
This is all wrong. I don’t belong here. The woman is years older than me. She looks like she should be here. She looks like she knows what she’s doing. As though she deserves her employment, to look good, to wear those clothes and to be behind that desk. I’m a fake. And she knows it.
What was I thinking? That I could waltz in, strut my stuff and do a job I know nothing about? That the second someone sees me, they won’t do what everyone else has done and kick me to the curb because there’s no freaking way I look anything like this woman?
I should not be here. I’ll find another way to help mom. I just haven’t found it yet.
“I’m sorry, I should go. I, uh…” I step back, wishing I’d also found lipstick with the mascara at the very least and my back collides with something broad, warm and hard.
I stagger forward to move away from the person I’ve walked into, and like my world, I’m off kilter. Warm hands close over my biceps, holding me, searing me with their heat. Fingers and long and lean hold me securely. A delicious scent of smoke and whiskey floats around me. Tantalizing. Teasing. Male.
I’ve never smelled anything quite like this before. My pulse skates and my heart flutters as though there’s not enough blood in my body to keep it filled. I spin to see who’s holding me, to move away, to stop being an inconvenience. Dizziness swamps me. I sway. My vision hazes and I curse that I skipped breakfast. I skipped yesterday’s meals too.
That smooth honeyed gravel voice sets fire to my stomach, the concern I hear like rocket fuel to my affection-starved cells. My vision clears and I look up into dark eyes that hold promises I never knew existed. Warm and worried. Curious and concerned, then his gaze travels over my face and his eyes pinch, his brow creases and his full lips thin as he stares down at me, his steady, gentle hands never leaving my arms.
His hair is clipped short. Dark. Silver peppers the strands at his temples. Faint lines fan from the corner of his eyes and bracket his mouth. His cheeks are slightly hollowed, his jaw cutting. He’s a silver fox with none of the dad vibes.
This man is pure sex. Searing masculinity. Temptation made from sin. The place between my legs throbs and it’s all I can do not to roll over and show him my soft underbelly, whispering ‘take me’ like a prayer.
The woman moves from behind the desk to stand next to us, cracking my bubble with the soft whisper of clothing and the smell of Chanel Number 5.
“Mr Chandler? May I do anything?” she asks.
Mr Chandler. David Chandler. The owner, CEO and sex-god of Blue Sky. The air rushes out of my lungs as a cord made of barbed wire wraps around my stomach and twists around my organs.
David Chandler. The man my father is blackmailing me to target.