Meet the men of Oxford magazine! In the first captivating spin-off of Lauren Layne’s Sex, Love & Stiletto series, a not-so-friendly battle of the sexes turns into a scorching office romance.
Hotshot sports editor Cole Sharpe has been freelancing for Oxford for years, so when he hears about a staff position opening up, he figures he’s got the inside track. Then his boss drops a bombshell: Cole has competition. Female competition, in the form of a fresh-faced tomboy who can hang with the dudes—and write circles around them, too. Cole usually likes his women flirty and curvy, but he takes a special interest in his skinny, sassy rival, if only to keep an eye on her. And soon, he can’t take his eyes off her.
Penelope Pope knows all too well that she comes off as just one of the guys. Since she’s learned that wanting more usually leads to disappointment, Penelope’s resigned to sitting on the sidelines when it comes to love. So why does Cole make her want to get back in the game? The man is as arrogant as he is handsome. He probably sees her as nothing more than a barrier to his dream job. But when an unexpected kiss turns into a night of irresistible passion, Penelope has to figure out whether they’re just fooling around—or starting something real.
Releasing Oct 6th, 2015
Oxford was the country’s top selling men’s magazine where Lincoln—and most of Cole’s other closest friends—worked.
But more important, it was also where Cole worked.
Well, sort of.
He would work there. Just as soon as he found the asshole who was after his job.
Cole wasn’t going to pretend that he didn’t have a competitive streak. It was a prerequisite for someone whose bread and butter came from knowing the nuances of professional sports.
And it was rare that Cole felt a personal investment in a competition. But tonight? Tonight, it was definitely personal. Cole was the competitor.
The title of Senior Sports Editor at Oxford.
The magazine was finally getting a real sports section. Their token two-page spread on fantasy football squeezed in between cologne reviews and the proper way to wear a tie clip was being expanded to a multipage, multitopic sports section.
A section that needed an editor.
Cole was the right man for the job. The only man for the job. Not only had he been writing for Oxford as a freelancer for years, but the editor in chief, Alex Cassidy, was one of his closest friends.
When Cassidy had come to Cole and explained that he wanted to make Oxford a serious contender for the Sports Illustrated readers, Cole had been damn sure that Cassidy was offering him the job.
Hell, Cassidy had been begging him for months to join the team, and Cole was finally ready—ready for a steady paycheck.
Ready to belong to something.
Because, although Cole wasn’t exactly dying to buy a house in the ’burbs and settle down with a nice girl, it wasn’t just about Cole.
It was about Bobby, and the fact that Bobby’s care was getting more and more expensive. His brother needed more than Cole’s occasional freelance checks could provide.
Cole wasn’t just ready for this job. He needed it.
And that’s when Alex Cassidy had dropped his bomb.
The job wasn’t Cole’s for the taking.
So, goodbye to Easygoing Cole. Hello, Gladiator Cole.
Because, really, what the fuck?
Cole hadn’t minded that they’d had to publicly post the position. He understood there were HR boxes that had to be checked. But never had Cole thought there’d actually be competition. Not only were the Oxford guys practically his family, but Cole was the best damn sportswriter in the city.
His application should have been a formality. Their request that he update his résumé and submit a portfolio should have been just a matter of documentation.
The position was his, damn it. Cole was the Oxford sports section.
Except he wasn’t. Not yet anyway.
Cassidy had called him yesterday to inform Cole that he was a finalist. A fucking finalist.
Pissing Cole off even further, Cassidy wouldn’t tell him who his competition was. Cole had named every worthwhile sportswriter in the city, but Cassidy wouldn’t so much as grunt in confirmation.
Damn Cassidy and his unshakable professionalism.
His friend hadn’t left him completely in the lurch, though.
Cassidy had pointedly mentioned to Lincoln that the other candidate had been invited to the suite reserved by Berkin’s Hospitality Group for tonight’s Yankees game.
Lincoln had, of course, told Cole.
So here they were, trying to sniff out the competition.
It was the only reason Cole would be caught dead in the luxury suite. Cole hated luxury suites.
This wasn’t what baseball—or any game—was about. Baseball was about the peanuts, the rowdy crowds, the overpriced beer. It was about the sound of a fastball smacking against the catcher’s glove, the satisfying crack of a wooden bat when a rookie pinch hitter really got hold of one.
For Cole, watching baseball was about sitting with his brother in the stands, watching Bobby’s face go positively ecstatic every time they did the wave, and the way his brother never, ever got tired of the seventh-inning stretch.
That was baseball.
And Cole wanted nothing more than to be an anonymous part of the rowdy crowd, preferably on the third baseline, watching the Yankees hopefully trounce the Blue Jays.
Instead, he was stuck here with a bunch of fools who wouldn’t recognize a line drive if it hit them in the ass.
Adding insult to injury, it was all for nothing. There was no sign of his competition. Cole knew every decent sportswriter in the city, and none were here tonight.
It was possible, he supposed, that Cassidy was considering some out-of-town jock for the position, but a quick scan of the room showed only familiar faces, all corporate bigwigs.
“Let’s get out of here,” Cole said to Lincoln, downing the rest of his beer in three gulps.
“You don’t want to wait for Cassidy?”
“Nah, I’ll catch him tomorrow.”
Marrying her high school sweetheart was a good start. *cue Disney soundtrack.* But Lauren wanted all romance, all the time.
Now she writes fictional happy endings, and considers her job done well if you swoon while reading her books. Don’t worry. You will.
Once upon a time she lived in a Manhattan high-rise, but now she’s on the laid-back train in the Seattle area. If you ever find yourself in Issaquah, she’ll probably buy you a drink. Maybe.