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Summer Wager:Romancing Wisconsin Book 16

By:Stacey Joy Netzel

Summer Wager:Romancing Wisconsin Book 16
Stacey Joy Netzel

Romancing Wisconsin Book 16


Chapter 1





Jaw set as stiff as her spine, Shanna Rogers sat across from her CEO boss and friend, Nash Riley, but refused to acknowledge the other man lounging to her right. Of course Kevin Cain wouldn't sit in a chair like a normal person. Instead, the arrogant ass leaned against the windowsill in the late afternoon August sunshine, thumbs hooked all casual in his jeans pockets, as if he didn't have a care in the world.

As if he had the right to hijack another one of her meetings.

She clenched her jaw against the urge to scream. He'd done the same damn thing earlier in the week in Atlanta. His undermining of her abilities in front of a client had been the last straw. He hadn't seen it that way, but after years of his egotistical, self-centered bullshit, she was done.

The new office administrator had left for the day, and the outside lobby area was quiet, as expected for a Friday at five p.m. It was why she'd chosen this time, to have privacy for her one-on-one meeting with her boss.

She shifted in her chair, stiffly crossing her right leg over her left before smoothing the hem of her pale pink, sleeveless blazer dress from Neiman Marcus. The move gave Kevin more of her cold shoulder while she fumed over the fact he'd followed her from Atlanta to Wisconsin. Because clearly, ruining things in Georgia wasn't enough.

How the hell did I end up here?

It was a rhetorical question. She knew how, it was just that certain events that brought her here weren't part of the plan.

The plan being, skipping a year in high school in order to graduate early and at the top of her class, four years of college for her finance degree, and another two for her MBA. And finally, seven years of employment with NWR Investments while earning said degree, which gave her the opportunity to step into a senior executive role at age twenty-seven when Nash decided to move back to Wisconsin for "the one who got away."

She'd busted her butt to ensure herself the independence and financial security her mother never managed to achieve. But now, two years after her promotion, here she sat, because one night of foolish, romantic, hopeful stupidity flushed years of dedication and hard work straight down the damn toilet.

"Is this really what it's come to?" Nash tapped his pen on the desk as he shifted his gray-blue gaze between her and his vice president. "How have you two not figured out a way to work together without a mediator?"

Shanna bobbed her light gray, Manolo Blahnik stiletto with annoyance. "He's an insufferable jackass."

"And you've got a stick up your ass," Kevin countered. "Explains how you can sit so straight."

She balled her hands into fists on her lap. "Screw you."

The moment the words left her mouth, heat flushed her face. Still staring straight ahead, she imagined a cocky smirk curving the lips she'd simultaneously hated and fantasized about for years.

Since her foolhardy screw-up a month ago, she still hated and fantasized about the jerk's mouth.

The heat in her face spread through her body, making her fight the urge to squirm in her seat as she thought of the places his mouth had been.

Everywhere.

Damn it-stop!

"I came up to Wisconsin to meet with you," she told Nash, determined to ignore the idiot in the room. "I don't even know why he's here, so I'd rather he leave."

"I came up here to meet with him," Kevin stated.

"You followed me," she retorted before she could help herself.

He gave a rude snort. "Hardly. I wanted to get away from you."

Pain stabbed in her chest, but she shoved the familiar emotion away with bitter resolve. Easier to summon her angry snark than give in to the ache in her heart. "Well, which is it? Did you want to meet with Nash, or get away from me?"

"Both."

She tilted her head toward their boss, raising her eyebrows to silently ask, See what I'm dealing with?

He watched them both from behind his desk, his mouth pressed into a displeased line. The years she'd spent as his personal assistant told her his patience was wearing thin. It usually did when he had to deal with Kevin being a jackass.

"Clearly, we can't work together anymore," she explained.

"Anymore?" the jackass muttered. "Never could in the first place."

Ignore him.

Shanna took a fortifying breath as she kept her attention focused on Nash. "I'd like to propose that I move up here and expand the Wisconsin office with you. You and I have always worked well together, so it's a win all the way around."

She didn't want to move from where she'd established roots for the first time in her life, but seeing Kevin every day was making her miserable. More miserable than usual, actually. If she got away from him, maybe she could get over him.         

     



 

"Except there's no position for you up here," Nash said. "I'm still getting established in the area."

"And that's exactly what I would be here to help you with."

He shook his head.

"Then I'll take a demotion. I don't mind being your assistant again." She did her best not to wince at the desperate concession. It went against every personal goal she'd fought to achieve, but she was confident she'd work her way back up to the senior position in no time. And better with him than some other company. All she had to do was bring in a couple of big accounts.

"You met Raelyn Scott when you came in. I just hired her this morning to be the office administrator, which includes assistant duties. I'm not going to rescind the job offer after she bailed me out with the Wisteria presentation earlier."

Hope crumbled with each blow he delivered, but in this case, he was right. Raelyn had been nice, and seemed competent and efficient. Even in her desperation, Shanna could admit it would be super shitty to hire and fire a new employee all in one day. It would be shitty of her to even ask, so she switched direction.

"I'll drum up new business and work on commission instead of a salary so you won't be losing anything," she offered. She had a decent savings, and with the cost of living in small town Wisconsin way less than downtown Atlanta, she could deal with the cut in pay if need be. "Let me come up here, Nash. I promise you won't regret it."

Another snort came from her right.

This time, she couldn't stop from turning to glare at the reason her life was so messed up at the moment. Sunlight through the window highlighted dark brown hair, throwing Kevin's face into shadow, making his thick-lashed, hazel eyes unreadable beneath the furrow of his dark eyebrows.

Then again, she didn't have to see his eyes to know how he felt-he'd made it clear he regretted that night as much as she did, from the moment he'd woken up the next morning.

His navy, button-up shirt fit his chest and shoulders perfectly, but she refused to let her traitorous gaze linger. Forbid her disloyal mind from remembering the feel of his rock-solid muscles beneath her exploring fingertips. Cursed her treacherous senses for reviving the memory of his sensual, musky scent and the slightly salty, highly addictive taste of his skin.

She abruptly turned away. Okay, so, yeah. If she had to be fair, he wasn't solely to blame-though those broad shoulders of his could certainly handle the weight.

"I need you in Atlanta, Shanna." Nash's firm tone dashed the last of her waning hope.

She met his gaze, still determined to argue, but he lifted both hands palms out, clearly not wanting to hear any more from either of them.

"I'll move up here," Kevin said.

And as usual, the man beside her did whatever the hell he wanted to anyway.

Shanna cut her gaze back to the right with a frown. "That's stupid. Why would you get to move up here if I can't? You're the vice president."

He gestured toward their boss. "And he is the CEO."

"Right. Which means he gets to do what he wants."

"Oh my God, enough," Nash groaned. "You two sound like bickering little kids instead of professional adults. You're nearly thirty years old, for God's sake. Act like it."

Shanna crossed her arms over her chest and clamped her mouth shut-for the moment.

He then turned his displeasure to his vice president as he tossed his pen on the desk and leaned back in his leather executive chair. "You're needed down there just as much as she is, and you know it. The only reason I can be here with my wife and son is because you two are taking care of everything down there. Like you agreed to do."

"Well, something's got to give," Kevin groused. "I'm done dealing with crazy."

"I'm crazy?" Her voice rose an octave. "You-"

"No," Nash interrupted. "I said that's enough. From both of you." He shot Kevin a warning look. "I know you're both my friends, but right now, I'm your boss, and this shit is getting old. For years, I've been listening to you two snipe at each other because neither of you actually makes an attempt to work with the other."

Because Mr. Jackass Know-it-all thinks he's smarter than everyone else.

But no way in hell was she going to sit down and shut up like her mother had done in every single relationship she'd been in. Her brain was equally as capable and valuable as any man's-including Kevin's-as she'd been proving since the day she'd started.         

     



 

Nash planted his hands on his desk and stood. "All you do is try to one-up each other with work and the comebacks, and I'm done waiting for you two to sort it out between you. Butch Walsh gave me an idea this morning, and I'm gonna run with it. Next week, the two of you are going to go to a team building seminar and you're-"

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