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Hurt So Good: A Break So Soft Novel by Black, Stasia (1)

Chapter One

DYLAN

I stare over the rim of my glass of bourbon, watching the bombshell in the red dress work the room.

She’s good, I’ll give her that.

She flirts just enough with the men—only the important ones, I note—a touch of her hand on their shoulder, the brush of her hip, the flash of her smile. She’s making them feel like they’ve gotten something from her but then she moves on before they can really get a taste.

And the more I watch her, a taste is exactly what I want of the woman.

I don’t even know her name but my cock has been stiff for the last half hour as I’ve nursed my bourbon and watched her.

This is a bullshit mixer the Silicon Valley Robotics Symposium puts on every year, and it’s made exactly for this kind of shit. To encourage the greasing of wheels that actually gets deals done. An open bar. A tight red dress. A word or two in the right ear.

The hotel ballroom is dimly lit while a band plays soft, unremarkable jazz on a small stage up front. Meanwhile, middle-aged men with flushed faces laugh too loudly at jokes and are a little too obvious about their hopes for getting laid. Because it’s a tech conference though, there are about two guys to every woman, so their chances aren’t good.

And then there’s her. The woman in red.

I wonder what company the woman represents.

It doesn’t matter. You aren’t going to find out and you sure as fuck aren’t getting a taste of her.

I frown and tip my glass back, draining the last of the bourbon. Don’t know why the fuck I even stopped by here after my presentation. My brother, Darren, kept saying I needed to at least show my face or it would look rude after I gave the keynote speech. Considering he’s also my business partner, I thought, fine, I’ll drop in for a few minutes and then get the hell out of here.

Until I saw her.

Trouble is what she is. Trouble I don’t need.

Which is why you’re leaving. Right now.

I stand up and put the glass down on the bartop, then turn and—

Almost run straight into her. Her.

“Where you off to in such a hurry?” She flashes the same mega-watt smile she gave every other guy in the room and my eyes narrow. She thinks she’s gonna run her game on me? It’s insulting. Do I look like all the other desperate fucks in here?

I ignore her and reach for my coat and umbrella, then I move again to leave. I don’t step around her, though. I step into her and our bodies do more than brush. We collide and I hear her quick intake of air as she rocks back on her heels.

I expect her to get pissed at the dick move. Which is for the best because I just need to get the hell out of here. Discipline has been my watchword for the last six years and I’m not about to blow it now.

But when I glance her way, her posture is completely different.

Her eyes have dropped to the floor and her head is bowed. Submissively. Her brunette hair shines in the dim light of the wall sconces and now that she’s here up close I can see that she’s younger than I first thought. Maybe only twenty-five? Twenty-six?

And then I see her tongue swipe out to lick her lips at the same time her chest heaves, ample cleavage rising and falling dramatically.

I’m captured by the sight and when a moment later she glances back up at me, the lust is clear in her eyes.

Who the fuck is this woman?

“Who are you?” I’m not a man who beats around the bush.

“Miranda Rose. With ProDynamics. And you’re Dylan Lennox of The Lennox Brothers Corporation.”

My eyebrow lifts. ProDynamics, huh? Rod Serrano, the CEO, has already put in his bid to have their Pro processors in our newest robotics motherboards we’re pushing out. He keeps calling to get updates about his bid but I’ve been ignoring his inquiries.

Is putting this siren in my path his latest attempt to sway me into taking a meeting with him?

“Wow. Rod really does go all out,” I sneer. Rod will find out along with everyone else when we make the announcement of which processing chip we’re going with. But I already know I’m not interested in his processor. Processors like Intel has capitalized on—and like ProDynamics keeps producing—are the past. I’m more interested in the future.

The woman’s eyes flare but she doesn’t say anything. Fuck. She doesn’t look pissed by my asshole attitude. She looks turned on. And her lust seems genuine.

Or she’s just one hell of an actress.

Either way, no fucking way I’m letting my dick have any say in my business dealings. Jesus but I learned that the hard way, didn’t I? I barely survived the scandal last time and only because I had the money to pay to make it go away quickly.

Never again.

So no matter how luscious Miranda Rose looks in that red dress and those fuck me heels, I continue pushing past her. My eyes shut briefly as I inhale her seductive scent but then I’m finally away from her.

I stride for the door and almost make it.

A red-faced Ken Kobayashi stops me feet from the door, clapping me on the back. “Dylan! Good to see you! Loved your talk. Come, have a drink with us.” He gestures toward his table of big wigs from the Japanese tech sector who flew in for the conference.

I force a smile and shake him off. “Sorry, I’m heading out.”

“No, man, you gotta come hang.” Ken grew up in the states and we briefly knew each other in college. He’s the opposite of every Asian stereotype—he always loved partying instead of studying, barely got by in his classes and only managed to get the position he has now because his daddy pulled strings for him in the family company.

Over his shoulder, I see Miranda heading out of the hotel ballroom, ass swaying sinfully in the red dress.

My cock stiffens again. Fuck, I need to get out of here and get home where I can take myself in hand and give in to all the fantasies crowding my brain before I embarrass myself in public.

“Great seeing you, Ken,” I cut him off mid-sentence. I clap him on the back and then head out the same door she just left through. She’s only about twenty feet ahead of me, strolling with those hips still swaying through the lobby and out a side exit to the garage.

I’m not intentionally following her.

… I don’t think.

I’m just making sure she gets to her car safely. She’ll never even know I’m here. It’s the gentlemanly thing to do.

As if I could ever be accused of being gentlemanly. I know what this really is.

Just more fuel for tonight’s fantasies.

For once, I’m giving in to the rush of what it feels like to stalk my prey.

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