Rock Hard

  • Excerpt #1

    “Charlie, did you hear?”

    Put on guard by the awed shock in Tuck’s tone, she said, “What?”

    “Anya,” he whispered, eyes all but popping out of his head and dark blond hair disheveled. “He fired Anya.”

    Charlotte collapsed into her chair, her knees like jelly. “Oh, no.” If Anya was gone, she had to be next. She jumped a foot when her phone rang even as the thought passed through her head.

    “Ms. Baird. In my office.”

    Hanging up with trembling hands, she pushed up her glasses and told herself she could deal with T-Rex and the chopping block. After all, she’d survived far worse. That’s what she had to remember. She’d survived. “I have to go upstairs,” she said to Tuck.

    The nineteen-year-old’s face telegraphed his distress. “God, Charlie.”

    “It’s okay. I’ll come see you afterward.” If she was even allowed back on the floor and not just shown the door.

    People didn’t stare at her this time. She might’ve taken that for a vote of confidence if not for the funereal gloom on their faces when they glanced at her out of the corners of their eyes. Most of them had already been through the gauntlet, come out safe on the other side.

    Most of them weren’t in a redundant position.

    The walk upstairs and down the corridor felt like it took an eon, and then she was entering the T-Rex’s den, his door having been open. He was standing with his back to the glass wall with its incredible view, his cell phone to his ear. Today’s suit was a deep charcoal-gray paired with a steel gray shirt and a charcoal tie. Austere and dark, it threw his features into stark relief.

    Gabriel Bishop was a gorgeous man.

    Charlotte could admit that in the privacy of her own mind. Too big and muscled and dangerous, but gorgeous. Like a tiger was gorgeous. Right before it ate you.

    Walking over to his desk, still involved in a discussion that—from the context—she guessed was with one of their South Island store managers, he picked up a cup of takeout coffee and held it out to her. She took it on a surge of hope. Despite her thoughts when they’d first met, T-Rex didn’t have a policy of offering his victims a last meal—or last drink. Since she wasn’t sure her jelly knees would continue to support her, she took a seat while he paced and talked.

    When she girded herself to sip at his version of coffee, having glimpsed the tar-black stuff in the open takeout cup on his side of the desk, she found her taste buds blooming.  He’d given her a frothy, creamy latte—one of her favorites.

    At this point, Charlotte had given up guessing how he knew things. But surely he wasn’t planning to fire her… unless he got off on being cruel. On raising hopes only to dash them. There were men like that. She knew. God, she knew.

    Stomach a ball of ice between one thought and the next, she held on desperately to the cup as he ended the call and pinned her with his gaze. “Ms. Baird, we need to have a serious discussion about your future.”

     

    Excerpt #2
    Charlie-mouse vs. T-Rex: Round 1

    Gabriel watched Charlotte’s slender fingers tighten around the takeout cup so hard that she dented it.

    Her cheeks had gone pale, but she kept her shoulders up and she found her voice. “Yes, sir?”

    Good, he thought. The fact she was shy and uncomfortable around him was a distinct negative when it came to the position he was about to offer her, but she had guts and she had brains. He could work with that. “I need a new PA.”

    She blinked, her fingers easing their death grip on the takeout cup. “Do you want me to help HR screen applicants?” The faintest hint of a relieved smile. “I have a good idea of what Anya’s job entailed.”

    “No,” he said, taking a seat since he could tell his size intimidated her. Not that he was much smaller sitting down. “There won’t be any applicants. You are going to be my new PA.”

    She just stared at him, her soft pink lips parted in a silent gasp. Bitable lips. That, he told himself, was a highly inappropriate thought, but for some reason, he couldn’t wipe it from his brain. When she wasn’t quivering in terror, Ms. Baird with her agile mind and her sparkling eyes was very, very intriguing. As for the rest of her—her shapeless clothes couldn’t hide the fact she was built like a pocket Venus. Undo her ponytail, take off the glasses—or maybe he’d leave them on—and she’d be a petite, curvy, bitable package.

    Of course, his attraction to this pretty mouse wouldn’t have saved her position if she’d been incompetent. Though had the latter been true, he wouldn’t have found her anywhere near as intriguing. Smart women were his catnip.

    Too bad he was her boss. “You’ll take over Anya’s role, effective immediately.”

    Eyes going wide, she squeaked out a protest. “I can’t do Anya’s job!”

    Gabriel raised an eyebrow. “Really? Strange, since it appears you have been doing it for the past three years.” There was nothing he hated more in the business world than people who took credit for the hard work of others. “Anya couldn’t answer the majority of the questions I posed to you yesterday.”

    Worse, unlike Charlotte, the other woman hadn’t known where to go or which files to access to get the information. She’d just smiled serenely and said she’d have the research on his desk first thing in the morning, then had no doubt gone out and e-mailed Charlotte the work requests.

    Gabriel’s suspicions had been roused Monday—by the fact his PA was always available and smiling and put together in spite of the fact he’d thrown an avalanche of work at her. Any other man or woman in her position would’ve snapped at him at least once, and never, never would she have been able to leave the office at a reasonable hour. It had taken him less than five minutes to access the file records of the memos hitting his desk.

    The last access code was always Anya’s—when she’d printed out the document. Everything below that linked back to Charlotte’s workstation. It was to make dead certain of his suspicions that he’d put both women through the same interview yesterday. He didn’t need a polished liar by his side; he needed Charlotte with her intelligence and her deep knowledge of the staff and their skills. Without her, it might’ve taken him weeks to discover Sinclair.

    Anya hadn’t known the Sinclair proposal even existed.

    “But,” Charlotte began on a rush of breath, as if she’d built herself up to get it all out, “I don’t know how to deal with suppliers and management and—”

    “You’ll learn.” Gabriel couldn’t figure out why a woman so damn good at her job was so diffident about her abilities. “There’s really no choice. You accept this position or you pack up and go,” he said, testing how far he could push her. “You’ve done too good a job in your current role—there’s no longer any need for a full-time employee there.” An absolute truth. “It’s be my PA or hand in your access card to the building.”

    She put her coffee on the desk he’d moved in on Sunday, her fingers curling into fists and hot spots of color on her cheeks. So, there was a temper there. Good. She’d need it to deal with him—Gabriel knew full well that he wasn’t the easiest of bosses. When she swallowed without unleashing the temper however, he wanted to growl at her.

    Throttling back an impulse that would only terrify her, he said, “Yes or no?”

    A long, indrawn breath. “Yes,” she said on the exhale.

    ***

    Charlotte decided she must’ve lost her mind as she set herself up at Anya’s former desk, T-Rex having given her fifteen minutes to get herself sorted. A gleeful Tuck helped her move her things.

    “I knew the Bishop was the man,” he said, unadulterated hero worship in his tone as he used T-Rex’s famous on-field moniker.

    The Bishop, Charlotte thought mutinously, was a bully. One who kept her on her toes the entire day.

    Five o’clock came and went with no sign of stopping. At six, unsure of the protocol of being a PA, she looked through his door—which he tended to keep open except when in private meetings—and saw him scowling at the screen of the sleek laptop he preferred over a desktop.

    His tie was gone, the top two buttons of his shirt undone to offer a glimpse of the tanned skin at the vee of his throat. Fine as the fabric of the shirt was, she could make out a hint of his tattoos under the surface, see the flex of muscle as he worked.

    Why did T-Rex have to be so big and gorgeous?

    Throat dry, she nonetheless made herself knock. “Sir.”

    “Do you know how to fix this?”

    Walking over, she realized the problem straightaway. It was something that had happened to her a couple of times and she’d learned the trick of fixing it from their tech support team.

    “I can…” She made to go around his desk.

    He pushed away, thrusting both hands through his hair before he picked up a pen to sign a contract she’d handed him earlier. Relieved at not having to deal with his large, powerful body close to her, she quickly fixed the computer glitch and went back around to the other side of the desk.
    He handed her the contracts. “Get that to the courier for morning delivery. And where’s Merrill? I need to see her.”

    “She headed home a few minutes ago to have dinner with her family.” The CFO had stuck her head in to say good night. “She said she’d finish off the financial report once her kids are in bed, e-mail it through. Do you want me to ask her to return to the office instead?”

    “No.” Scowling, he glanced at his watch, as if he’d completely missed the fact it was getting dark outside, the sweeping view of the harbor lost on a man who barely seemed to notice it. “Do you have to be anywhere?”

    Charlotte had intended to meet Ernest for dinner, but that didn’t seem like something she should say to her boss right after a promotion. “No,” she said, consoling herself with the reminder of the considerable pay hike she’d received today.

    “In that case, can you find me these contracts?” He rattled off a list.

    Heading out to Records, she located the originals and gave them to him, then returned to her desk to make a call to Ernest. “We’ll have to reschedule,” she told the kind, gentle man with whom she had no trouble speaking or interacting. They’d been dating for a year, and never had he made her feel in any way threatened or overwhelmed.

    “I’ll miss talking to you,” he said. “But congratulations on the promotion.”

    “Thanks, Ernest.” Hanging up soon afterward, she felt the hairs rise on the back of her neck and glanced back to realize Gabriel had come to his office doorway. “Did you need anything further?”
    Instead of answering, he raised an eyebrow. “Boyfriend?”

    Her cheeks heated. “Yes.”

    “Funny name.”

    “What?” She frowned. “Ernest is a perfectly nice name.”

    “Oh, I thought I heard you call him Ermine.” Passing her a sheaf of paper with that oh-so-offhand comment that had her eyes narrowing, he asked her to input the changes and flick the file back to him so he could finalize a contract with a London-based supplier.

    After that came another task, then another. It was ten by the time she could leave. T-Rex was still in his office and showing no signs that he’d be heading out anytime soon. They’d eaten earlier, after he’d had her order in meals from a top local restaurant. Now, though, she worried he’d get hungry later. It wasn’t as if he was a small man, and his brain probably burned as much fuel per hour as most men did pumping iron.

    Putting down her handbag, she went to the staff break room and hit the vending machine before returning to his office. He was standing in front of an easel on which an architect had earlier that day placed a number of design specs for the renovations of their flagship Auckland, Queenstown, and Sydney locations.

    “Good night, Mr. Bishop.” She drew in a quick breath. “I got you some granola bars.” It had been the healthiest snack she could find in the machine—she’d have to speak to the stockers about filling it with more nutritional items.

    “Thanks.” A frown in her direction. “A cab, Ms. Baird.”

    “I called one.” That was the one company perk she’d never felt bad about using, not when she worked late. It was a matter of safety.

    “I’ll walk you down.” Stretching his shoulders, he came over.

    Charlotte wanted to say there was no need but decided it wasn’t worth using up her small store of courage. She kept herself from hyperventilating during the elevator ride down by silently doing the exercise her therapist had taught her. That was the only useful thing she’d gotten out of therapy.
    Almost tumbling out on the ground floor, the warm, intrinsically male scent of Gabriel Bishop in her every inhalation, she released a relieved breath when she spotted the cab through the glass of the main doors, the bearded and grandfatherly Indian cab driver familiar. Gabriel Bishop walked her down the steps and opened the back door to the sedan.

    “I’ll see you tomorrow,” her boss said and shut the door.

    As the cab pulled away, she saw him stride down toward the waterfront, hands in his pockets, tall and strong and a relentless force.

    ***

    Gabriel rarely second-guessed himself, but he was doing so tonight. Charlotte Baird was highly competent, to the point that he’d blasted through far more work than he’d expected to complete today, so he’d made no mistake there. She was also petrified of him, had once again almost hyperventilated herself into a faint in the elevator. Logically, he should transfer her to a less frontline position within the company, but he hated the idea of all that talent being buried away or taken advantage of by another Anya.

    Striding across the flat paving stones of Auckland’s central public-transport hub, he crossed the street to the ferry terminal and stood watching the evening water traffic as he considered the problem. Not only was Charlotte spectacularly easy to work with, anticipating his requests even after only a single day working together, she had an excellent sense of what was important and what wasn’t. He’d had far fewer interruptions from other staff today as a result.

    Quite aside from that, and even disregarding his physical attraction to her when she wasn’t being a mouse, he liked Ms. Baird. He’d heard her talking on the phone with a woman called Molly for a few minutes late this afternoon, caught a glimpse of a dry wit that had made him grin. Yeah, he liked the woman behind the mouse.

    However, that woman tended to go into hiding around him.

    Tapping his fingers on the metal railing, he turned and almost ran into a statuesque blonde in a sparkly dress. “Hi,” she said, the look in her eyes making it clear she’d recognized him, two women who were obviously her friends standing a short distance away. “My friends dared me to ask you out, but I was planning to do it anyway.” Her smile deepened. “Join us for a drink.”

    “Appreciate the offer,” Gabriel said, “but I’ve got to return to the office.”

    “If you change your mind, we’ll be in there.” She pointed out a waterfront bar. “We’re all huge rugby fans, would love to watch tonight’s Argentina-England game with you.” Biting down on her lower lip, she leaned in a little closer. “If you’d rather watch in private, my apartment’s not far.”

    Gabriel could tell from her tone and smile that watching sports wasn’t the only thing on the menu.

    “Thanks.”

    It wasn’t until he was back in the office that he realized he hadn’t even been tempted by the stranger’s offer… because he had another blonde on his mind. That could prove problematic, but it had nothing to do with Charlotte’s suitability for her position. He’d give her a week, see if she stopped quivering in terror. Any longer and he’d probably give in to the urge to snarl.

    That thought in mind, he went over to the design specs again, was trying to figure out why the second-floor design wasn’t working for him, when Charlotte’s office phone rang. Guessing that an international contact who’d e-mailed him earlier to ask if he’d be in had called the wrong line, he walked out to his PA’s desk and picked it up. “Bishop.”

    “Son?”

    His entire body went rigid at that single word, the gravelly voice one he hadn’t heard in over a year, since the last time Gabriel had told him to get lost. “I have a father,” he said, “and it’s not you.”
    Hanging up, he returned to work, shoving aside unwanted reminders of his origins with the habit of long practice. The boy he’d been was long gone. In his place stood a man who knew who he was—and what he wanted. Hauling a certain mouse out of her burrow was high on that list.

     

    Excerpt #3

    Lace Panties and Poor Ernest

    (Please note: If you’ve read Rock Addiction, you’ll have read part of the conversation later on in this chapter between Charlotte and Molly, as the timelines of the two books overlap at the start of Rock Hard. However, this time around, you get to hear things from Charlotte’s point of view. If you haven’t read Rock Addiction, no problem. This entire book stands on its own. Enjoy!)

    Charlotte arrived at work at seven thirty the next morning to find Gabriel Bishop’s office door open, but no carnivorous predator inside. A fresh suit was hanging on the back of his door, however, which meant he’d been in already.

    Deciding to catch up on e-mails that had come in overnight from international suppliers as well as stores involved in a stock take, she was typing a reply when a sweaty Gabriel arrived fifteen minutes later. He was dressed in black running shorts and a faded University of Auckland T-shirt that was currently sticking to his body.

    She’d known he was in shape, but now she realized none of it was an illusion created by his well-cut suits. Okay, she’d already known that, but seeing his muscled body in the flesh was a whole different ball game. He was built like a tank, hard and powerful.

    Each of his thighs was thicker than both of hers put together, his biceps toned, his shoulders appearing even wider than usual. Everything about him was big. Civilized clothing didn’t make him look better, she realized—it toned down his intense masculinity. Out of his suits, with the ink on the upper part of his left arm exposed, as well as that on his opposing thigh and…

    Her skin hot and lower body clenching, she just nodded in response to his “Good morning.”

    Disappearing into his office, he returned with his suit pants and a fresh shirt slung over his arm, along with a sports bag. “Push the meeting with Sales to nine, will you, Ms. Baird? I need to talk to HR about something before then.”

    “Yes, sir,” Charlotte said almost soundlessly, but he was already gone, heading toward the employee shower one floor down.

    The thigh tattoo went all the way around, the design intricate.

    Heart rate a rapid stutter, Charlotte got up after he disappeared and decided to go grab him a coffee. He’d bought her one yesterday after all. She was just being nice. “Oh, shut up, Charlotte,” she muttered once she was in the elevator, and slumped her face into an upraised hand.

    The truth was she was running away. Only for a few minutes, but that’s what this was: strategic retreat. Gabriel Bishop was overwhelming. Once, before she’d ever met him and under the influence of cocktails, she’d told Molly she wanted to rip off his shirt and sink her teeth into his pecs.

    That desire hadn’t waned even now that she knew he was a T-Rex. Of course, the desire was all strictly in her imagination. The idea of actually handling him in real life? So impossible as to be laughable. Charlie-mouse was not about to play with a predator who could eat her alive and not even notice the bones. The good news was that she could admire him in relative safety—there was no chance in hell he’d ever notice her as a woman.

    Getting the coffee from a nearby café, she took it back upstairs. He was in his office when she entered, the striped dark gray of his tie hanging around his neck and his damp hair roughly combed. The scent of clean, fresh soap over warm skin permeated the office. Shooting her a smile that turned him from gorgeous to flat-out devastating, he flipped up the collar of his white shirt to get the tie in place. “Thank you, Ms. Baird.”

    Nodding, Charlotte escaped, though she really wanted to stay. She’d never realized how erotic it was to watch a man dress until this precise moment. And she shouldn’t be having these thoughts about her boss—especially since she couldn’t keep from quivering like a rabbit in his presence. Sometimes she just annoyed herself.

    “Get to work,” she muttered and knuckled down.

    Gabriel was fine for the first hour, but then he began barking orders even a six-armed woman with a split personality would have had trouble handling.

    Finally, pushed to the edge, Charlotte snapped. “I’m going as fast as I can!” she yelled when he asked her for something a minute after he’d asked her to complete another task.

    He scowled and held out a file. “This is a priority.”

    Grabbing it from his hand, she said, “Fine,” and slapped it down on her desk.

    It was over an hour later that he disappeared for ten minutes. When he returned, it was to put a small bakery box on her desk. “I think you need something to sweeten your mood today, Ms. Baird.”

    What she needed was for the T-Rex who was her boss to stop snarling and growling, she thought as he returned to his office. Not opening the box until her curiosity had almost killed her, she found it held a slice of decadent chocolate cake with a white-chocolate ganache topped with curls of both white and milk chocolate. “I cannot be bribed with cake,” she muttered, eating a bite nonetheless.

    Cake aside, he didn’t let up. Needing a break lest she give in to her new fantasy—that of dumping a jug of ice-cold water on his aggravating head, she didn’t cancel her lunch date with Molly, the library where her best friend worked only a five-minute walk away. First, she wanted to catch up on what was happening with Molly and Fox. Second, T-Rex needed to know he couldn’t stomp all over her.

    Her conversation with Molly had her smiling in no time. Sandwiches eaten, she dragged her best friend into a fancy lingerie shop where she’d window-shopped more than once. Fine, she might have given in to temptation a couple of times, but no one had to know about her small addiction to pretty lace panties and bras.

    In fact, she thought gloomily, at the rate she was going, no one ever would know.

    “What’s the point of buying lingerie that’ll stay on for five seconds at most?” Molly muttered at one point.

    “Five seconds?” Charlotte put a hand over her heart, her mind suddenly supplying her with images of Gabriel’s big hands tearing off the lace that cupped her breasts. “Wait while I have an orgasm.”

    It came out a little higher than she’d intended, her face flushed.

    “What, you still haven’t jumped T-Rex? Even now that you two are attached at the hip?”

    Charlotte pursed her lips while inside her head, fantasy Charlotte punished the boss for his bad behavior by tying him up naked. “Why would I want to jump a man who yells at me one minute,” she said, deciding she was losing her mind, “and leaves chocolate cake on my desk the next?”

    “What?” Paying for a bra and panty set that would look phenomenal on her knockout curves, Molly pointed a finger at her. “You’ve been holding out on me.”

    “Hah! More like I’ve been protecting you from the madness,” Charlotte said as they walked out into the sunshine. “This is only my second day in the position, but he’s already driving me insane. Yesterday he made me work till ten at night, caused me to miss a date with Ernest—”

    “What you and Ernest are doing isn’t called dating, Charlie.”

    Charlotte folded her arms, trying not to think about the fact she’d been fantasizing about the wrong man ever since Gabriel Bishop walked into her life. “So maybe he hasn’t made a move—”

    “After a year.” Molly’s voice was gentle but firm. “Doesn’t Ernest spend the whole time telling you about his model-airplane collection?”

    Glaring at Molly, Charlotte said, “I admit he’s a bit obsessed with his models, but he’s small like me, kind, and he doesn’t raise his voice at me.”

    “You know I like Ernest; he’s a lovely, sweet man.” Molly shoulder-bumped her. “I understand why you want to be attracted to him, but the truth is you aren’t.”

    Charlotte ducked her head, not wanting to face a fact she’d been happily avoiding for a year. As long as she was “dating” Ernest, she had a safety net, a way to pretend she was normal for at least a fraction of time.

    “You convinced me to be brave,” Molly whispered. “I think you can be too.”

    “I’m not like you, you know that.”

    “Do I?” Her best friend shook her head. “You said you were in awe of me for standing up to Queen Bitchface, but I remember you telling off the worst clique in the school until they crawled off with their tails between their legs.”

    “It’s different when it’s someone I love.” She’d take on anyone who hurt someone who belonged to her. “When it’s me…” Charlotte swallowed, her next words a rasp. “He scares me.” It was a confession torn out of her soul.

    Molly’s expression suddenly somber, she drew Charlotte to a bench in the nearby square, the water fountain to the side creating a gentle background melody. “T-Rex?”

    At Charlotte’s nod, Molly put her hand over Charlotte’s. “Are you afraid to be around him?”

    “No,” Charlotte said, realizing her best friend had taken the wrong meaning from her words. “No, not like that.” Stomach tense and chest tight with the weight of what she was admitting, she glanced at her watch. “We better go—we’ll be late getting back to work.”

    “I’ll make up the time.” Molly squeezed her hand. “And since T-Rex didn’t let you leave till ten last night, I’m sure he can’t argue against a long lunch today.”

    “Yes, he can.” The man was totally unreasonable.

    “Do I need to storm the battlements and steal you away from his clutches?”

    “Ha-ha.” Teeth sinking into her lower lip, Charlotte just blurted out the truth. “He scares me because of the way he makes me react. Sometimes I want to grab that tie of his and—”

    “Do the kind of things I’ve been doing with my rock star?”

    Charlotte blushed. “Only in my more insane moments.” She pushed up her glasses. “Have you seen how big he is?” Even thinking about his body made her breath catch, and it wasn’t in fear.

    “Sexy big.” Molly waggled her eyebrows. “Also, you shouldn’t expect rational advice from me—I brought a man home after meeting him in an elevator.”

    Charlotte laughed, gleeful. “Now you’re about to head off with him for a dirty, dirty weekend.” She was so happy for her friend.

    Dropping her head in her hands, Molly moaned. “What am I doing, Charlie?”

    “I told you, being the brave one.” She jumped as her cell phone rang. “It’s His Carnivorousness,” she muttered after reading the caller display. “Hello,” she said in a far more professional tone. “Charlotte speaking.”

    “Ms. Baird, where the hell are you?” came the growl down the line. “Do you not realize I pay you to be available when I need you?”

    Charlotte’s hands itched for that jug of ice water. “Yes, I realize that,” she said, managing to keep her tone polite. “However, I did work well beyond my contracted hours yesterday.”

    “What? Ermine complaining already?” A snort. “Don’t tell me you’re pacifying your boyfriend when you should be at your desk.”

    Charlotte saw red. “Yes, I am,” she said, her mouth moving ahead of her brain. “In fact, we’re about to check into a hotel.” Stabbing the End key, she turned to find Molly staring at her.

    “Did you just tell your boss you were about to check into a hotel with Ernest?” her best friend asked in an awed whisper.

    Charlotte froze, suddenly realizing what she’d said. “Oh God!” It was a mortified wail, her breath stuck in her lungs. “I told you he was driving me insane.”

    Molly nudged Charlotte’s head between her knees. “Breathe, Charlie.”

    Charlotte tried, but she could tell her face was still bright red when she sat up. “I can’t go back to the office now.” How would she even face Gabriel Bishop? “I’ll have to quit.” Interviewing for a new position couldn’t be any harder than trying to explain to the boss that she hadn’t in fact been about to check into a hotel with her boyfriend who wasn’t really her boyfriend.

    “No, you don’t.” Hooking her arm through Charlotte’s, Molly dragged her to her feet and escorted her to the Saxon & Archer offices.

    “Be brave,” Molly mouthed when Charlotte paused in the doorway, breathing choppy again and her heart thumping.

    Charlotte had never been brave, but she couldn’t let Molly down, especially when her best friend was trying to aim for her own dreams. Be brave, she mouthed back, and forced herself to the elevator.

    The walk down the corridor to her office was as bad as the day she’d thought she was about to be fired. Even when Brent Sinclair caught her in passing to say a heartfelt thank-you for her part in getting his idea in front of the boss, it didn’t stop the sick feeling in her gut.

    Not only had she thrown a stapler at the boss’s head, she’d hung up on him after saying she was heading out for some afternoon delight.

    Wanting to whimper, she walked through the doors to her office and took off her coat while placing her handbag aside. Then she cleared the messages on her phone and sat down to finish up work she’d left half-complete when she’d gone out for lunch. Taking it into T-Rex’s office, she placed it on his desk.

    He looked up, a gleam in his eye. “Nice lunch?”

    Feeling her cheeks turn tomato red, she managed to say, “Yes.”

    The T-Rex didn’t bite, his attention back on his work. “I need you to set up a conference call at four with Sydney and Queenstown. Make sure it’s attended by the entire management team at both locations.”

    Stunned at having been let off so easily, she said, “I’ll get started now.”

    She’d almost made it to the door when Gabriel Bishop said, “Looks like Egor is a quick draw, Ms. Baird. There are pills for that, you know.”

    Goddamn it, where was that jug of ice water?

  • Rock Hard is one of those classic romance stories that will remind you why you love romance.”

    ~ Kristen (Goodreads)

    “Refusing to be a victim ever again, Charlotte must face her demons if she is ever going to build a relationship — let alone a romance — with the elemental force that is Gabriel. Singh establishes yet again why she is the best!”

    ~ RT Book Reviews (Top Pick)

    “And Gabriel Bishop – oh, be still my beating heart. I think I fell deeply in love with him right along with Charlotte. I think he has to be my favourite book boyfriend of 2015 to date…He’s in a position of power, he’s growly, demanding yet very protective and hot as hell and he’s decided that he wants Charlotte Baird pretty much from the first moment he sets eyes on her and plays a long game to get her.  I smiled goofily and often at the things that he said and did, even when Charlotte didn’t realise what he was up to.”

    ~ Becs (Goodreads)

    “Holy hotness, Batman! Rock Hard is the most deliciously slow-building romance I’ve had the pleasure to read in a very long time. Six stars!!”

    ~ (Un)Conventional Book Views

    Rock Hard is emotional, sensual and packed full of witty dialogue, making for darn good fun! (The chapter titles are a hoot!)”

    ~ USA Today HEA Blog

    “Adorable, sweet, steamy and just fantastic!”

    ~ Maxine Levine (NetGalley)

    “I ABSOLUTELY LOVED this book! This has got to be one of the best contemporary romance books that I have ever read and Nalini Singh has literally ruined other men for me with Gabriel Bishop aka: T-Rex! I’ve found my book husband for life, I’m done. Game over, no need to look further…Rock Hard is the perfect example of what a romance should be, emotion filled, passionate and yet tender.”

    ~ Angel’s Addiction

    “To say that my expectations were quite high would be a major understatement. But Nalini Singh delivered and I couldn’t be happier.”

    ~ Geri, the HEA junkie (Goodreads)

    “The book was so good I could not put it down till I had finished it all in one greedy gulp.”

    ~ Sassy_Sykes

    “[Charlotte’s] history was heartbreaking. I didn’t see her as weak, I saw her as a survivor just trying to learn how to deal. She made me laugh out loud at so many points in the book with her quick wit.”

    ~ Christie for the Smokin’ Hot Book Blog (Goodreads)

    “I’m really in love with Gabriel and I really really loved Charlie. They’re perfect together…it’s a sexy, romantic, possesive, full of awesome hot man behavior.”

    ~ Reader Chronicles

    “…Gabriel stole the show. Ex rugby player turned star CEO with a heart of gold (if you’re on his good side)…what’s not to like?”

    ~Sharon, is an emotional book junkie (Goodreads)

    Rock Hard…packed a powerful punch.”

    ~ Bodice Rippers

    “I swooned over T-Rex (Gabriel Bishop)…I also loved how Charlotte grew throughout the book…The strong and funny banter will keep you in stitches as you zoom through the book. The combination of heart-wrenching moments and laugh out loud moments will keep you turning the pages.”

    ~ Alanna Yee (NetGalley)

    “Nalini Singh has built a bewitching story…about the healing power of love and the stubbornness of a certain T-Rex to never give up on what’s his.”

    ~ Confessions from Romaholics

    “Simply put, this was a hell of a book.”

    ~ Dana Maggs (NetGalley)

    “This is my favourite kind of romance when you’re left thoroughly hooked and entertained by two engaging and memorable characters who are fully fleshed out and with true depth. Nalini Singh, I salute and thank you for producing one of the best romances this year!”

    ~ Has @ Bookpushers

    “I devoured this! If you love contemporary romance this is not to be missed!”

    ~ Gena Showalter

    Rock Hard is everything I look for in a romance; beautifully sweet and sexy, perfectly balanced with the right amount of tension and drama.”

    – Mischievous Reads 

    “I hope you will give this fabulous romance a try. Don’t be dissuaded by the office romance trope. That archetype gets a complete makeover with Nalini Singh at its helm. Rock Hard is well worth your time and money.”

    ~ Treat Yourself With Books

    “Singh blends in two strong characters, wonderful chemistry, sexy and witty banter, and most importantly, a compelling slow-burn romance that stems from more than just lust and attraction; it grows from respect.”

    ~ Ami @ The Blogger Girls

    “How could I not love this?! The dialogue is snappy, the tension fairly constant, and the sexual tension is swoon-worthy. Brava for Rock Hard, Ms. Singh!”

    ~ Make Kay @ Fresh Fiction

    “This second entry in Nalini Singh’s Rock Kiss series is a completely delightful experience in audio. While both the hero and heroine have major issues from the past, this is my “favorite funny” romance of 2015. Ms. Singh deftly intertwines the true grief and trauma experienced by the characters with sparkling wit. She never downplays what they’ve experienced, but the result is an enjoyable, completely satisfying listen.”

    ~ All About Romance

  • 1. Rock Addiction
    1.5. Rock Courtship
    2. Rock Hard
    3. Rock Redemption
    4. Rock Wedding

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  • German edition
    Audio edition

 


Book 2: the Rock Kiss series


In New York Times Bestselling author Nalini Singh’s newest contemporary romance, passion ignites between a gorgeous, sinfully sexy man who built himself up from nothing and a shy woman who has a terrible secret in her past…

Wealthy businessman Gabriel Bishop rules the boardroom with the same determination and ruthlessness that made him a rock star on the rugby field. He knows what he wants, and he’ll go after it no-holds-barred.

And what he wants is Charlotte Baird.

Charlotte knows she’s a mouse. Emotionally scarred and painfully shy, she just wants to do her job and remain as invisible as possible. But the new CEO—a brilliant, broad-shouldered T-Rex of a man who growls and storms through the office, leaving carnage in his wake—clearly has other plans. Plans that may be equal parts business and bedroom.

If Charlotte intends to survive this battle of wits and hearts, the mouse will have to learn to wrangle the T-Rex. Game on.


The Rock Kiss series


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