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His Secretary:Undone

By:Melanie Marchande

Chapter One


I'm going to throw an ashtray at his head.

Okay, okay. Back up. Let me explain.

My boss is insufferable. I mean, grade-A, self-obsessed,  Lamborghini-driving, top one percent of the one percent, completely out  of touch asshole. His butler has a butler. He's rich enough to buy  several politicians, and believes strongly in the value of hard work, a  concept with which he's only passingly acquainted. His days are full of  glad-handing and pouring drinks and turning on that oh-so-dazzling,  oh-so-fake smile that everybody falls for. Except me.

Oh yeah, and did I mention he looks like an underwear model?

So, that's my life. I sit at this depressingly tiny desk outside Adrian  Risinger's office, sorting his mail, making his phone calls, organizing  his calendar. On the good days, he mostly ignores me. But most of the  time, I get called into his Fortress of Solitude for a good  tongue-lashing at least four or five times a day, during which he  manages to work in several barbs about nearly every aspect of my life.

It took years before I realized I was allowed to dish it back. When I  get in a particularly good one, he favors me with a smile - razor-sharp,  completely unlike the one he uses to charm his business associates.  It's a predator's smile. It's a smile that haunts my dreams.

I hate it.

There are two reasons I don't leave. First of all, in this economy, I  can't afford to be picky. Nobody can. Secondly, I actually feel bad.  That's how sick I am. I feel guilty that this affluenza piece of shit  might have a hard time replacing me. Nobody else can put up with him;  before me, he had a string of administrative assistants about a mile  long, not one of them lasting longer than a few weeks. It's sick, but I  feel like I can't leave him in a lurch.

I guess I've been here long enough to develop Stockholm syndrome. Who knew?

So that's my work life. And everything else? It's not much better. My  parents are as cold and sarcastic as my boss, which probably goes a long  way in explaining my current predicament. But however you psychoanalyze  me, the point is that I can't exactly turn to them for loving kindness.  My friends all drifted away after college, or stopped returning my  calls when all I could do was bitterly complain about a situation I  half-created myself. Not merely content with making my job hell, Mr.  Risinger has managed to ruin my personal life, too.

There was just one thing in my life that really made me happy. One thing that he couldn't reach.

Or so I thought.

The whole thing started because I was browsing Amazon while drunk. I was  looking for advice books on dealing with a difficult boss, because my  situation with Mr. Risinger could totally be summed up in a trite  self-help book, right? Give me a break, I was desperate.

Anyway, so I'm clicking around, and I see this book that catches my eye.  It's obviously not at all what I'm looking for - the cover has a  close-up of a man buttoning his cufflinks, and somehow, with the whiskey  swirling in my belly, it's the sexiest thing I've ever seen in my life.

The title says:

HIS SECRETARY

So, I one-click it. Why the fuck not?

It's a romance novel. And, I quickly realize, as I page through it - not  one of those chaste ones about mail-order brides, or even a classic  bodice-ripper. This is beyond steamy. This is practically porn.

This is the best thing I've ever read.

Before I know it, I've got my hand halfway down my panties and I don't  even remember the last time I touched myself. But something about the  plight of this girl and her sexy, sexy billionaire boss is just  irresistible. Five pages in, and I'm gasping and panting in my armchair,  my whole body buzzing with pleasure that I haven't felt in God knows  how long.

That night, I sleep like a baby for the first time in years.

The next night, I finish the book - and I finish, too. Several times.  It's spectacular, but I'm a little bit sad it's over. Then, I discover  that the author - Natalie McBride is her name - has a whole series out.  His Secretary: Bound. His Secretary: Bared. His Secretary: Released. I  devour them all in the space of a week, and it's the best week of my  life.

If Mr. Risinger notices, he doesn't say anything. It's his busy season  anyway, so he's certainly not going to take the time to notice if his  assistant has a little extra spring in her step. Even if he didn't know  the reason why, he'd certainly find a reason to criticize. So, it's  better this way.         

     



 

I start checking for a new book every day. I know I could look at the  author's website for a release schedule or join her mailing list, but I  almost prefer it being a mystery. I want to be surprised, I tell myself.

This resolve lasts all of one day.

Soon, I'm biting my nails, counting down until the release of the next  book. Just one more month! She posts teasers and updates on Facebook,  and I'm practically panting with impatience. I quickly learn that there  are a lot of people out there, voracious readers, who spend basically  their entire lives in this state of feverish anticipation. I wonder how  they survive.

And now, I'm one of them.

Finally, finally, the glorious day comes. I wait and wait for the  notification email that my pre-order has landed, but it doesn't come.  Finally, exhausted and defeated, I refresh my email one last time before  bed.

And there it is.

Cursing softly, I pick up my e-reader and curl up in bed. Just a few  pages, I tell myself, because it's only seven hours until work.

Just a few pages.

The sun is up by the time I finish, bleary-eyed and shivering from sleep  deprivation. After a scalding shower, I'm pretty sure I can get through  the day, but I know it's going to be a rough one.

Boy. Understatement of the century.

Mr. Risinger is on the warpath - not against me, fortunately, but I'm  still expected to be right there with him. He snaps at me for being  distracted, and even in my delirious state, I notice that he's got dark  circles under his eyes too. I almost feel bad, until he tells me to stop  staying up all night watching soap operas.

Fucking sexist dickhead.

He doesn't need to know that I actually was up all night reading a romance novel. That's my fucking business.

By the time I get home, I'm so over-tired that I can't wind down. I pace  my apartment, picking up my e-reader to glance over choice passages  again and then throwing it back down when I realize my eyes can't focus.  Finally, I pick up my laptop and do the unthinkable.

I write an email to Natalie McBride.

I bare my soul. I tell her how much her books have meant to me, how they  offer a much-needed escape from the hell that is my life. How I feel  ashamed because I know we're not supposed to like these kinds of books,  but of course no offense to her, because she's brilliant, it's just  like, social expectations, you know? I've got this misogynist boss who  would just have a field day if he knew how much I was devouring these  books. He's nothing at all like the hero from the books, the bad boy  with a heart of gold. But I wish he was.

I tell her how much I wish I could find a guy like that. How lonely I  am. How I feel like a failure, letting myself get walked all over. This  isn't how it's supposed to be. We're supposed to be strong, capable,  modern women. We're not supposed to take any shit.

I write all of this, and then, for some fucking reason, I actually press "send."

I immediately pass out in my armchair.

The next morning, I wake up just in time to throw on some clothes and  catch the train. Forgoing my usual beauty regimen, I know I'm going to  deal with some complete crap from Mr. Risinger, but that thought doesn't  mortify me as much as the memory of what I wrote to Natalie McBride  last night.

I force myself not to check my email.

I make it until lunch.

"Meghan," Mr. Risinger intones, as he brushes past my desk. Always with  his hip so close to me, trying his damnedest to be unnerving. Besides my  mother, he's the only one who calls me by my full name, and I fucking  hate the sound of it.

"Mr. Risinger," I say, in as neutral a tone as I can manage. I can feel  his eyes raking over me, and I begin to formulate a comeback.

"Rough night?" He's resting his fingers on my desk, just slightly, just  enough to make his presence impossible to ignore. "I noticed you didn't  ride your broomstick today, but you certainly look the part."

"Yeah, the rest of the coven had me up all hours," I say, slamming the  heel of my hand down on my stapler. "Speaking of which, how's that  plague of frogs coming?" I clap my hand to my mouth in mock chagrin.  "Oh, shit, have you not been out to your car yet today? Did I ruin the  surprise?"

"Really? Frogs? That's amateur hour. An experienced crone like yourself  should at least be able to turn my drinking water into blood." He  smirks, snatching a sheaf of papers and letting his slate-blue eyes dart  over the text.         

     



 

"Wouldn't that be redundant, Count?" I stand up, pushing my chair away  from my desk. "Now if you'll excuse me, it's lunch time. Want me to  swing by the Red Cross for you?"

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