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Inappropriate

From New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Bestselling author Vi Keeland comes the sexy stand-alone novel, Inappropriate.

Terminated for inappropriate behavior, all because of a video taken when I was on vacation with my friends—a private video made on my private time. Or so I thought…

Pissed off, I cracked open a bottle of wine and wrote my own letter to the gazillionaire CEO. I didn’t think he’d actually respond. Now I’m back at the company but there was no way I was getting involved with my boss’s boss’s boss. Even if he was ridiculously gorgeous, confident, and charming.

It would be completely wrong, inappropriate even. Sort of like the video that got me into trouble to begin with. Two wrongs don’t make a right. But sometimes it’s twice as fun.

Age Rating: 18+

Note: This story is the author’s original version and does not have sound.

 

Inappropriate by Vi Keeland is now available to read on the Galatea app! Read the first two chapters below, or download Galatea for the full experience.

 


 

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1

Summary

From New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Bestselling author Vi Keeland comes the sexy stand-alone novel, Inappropriate.

Terminated for inappropriate behavior, all because of a video taken when I was on vacation with my friends—a private video made on my private time. Or so I thought…

Pissed off, I cracked open a bottle of wine and wrote my own letter to the gazillionaire CEO. I didn’t think he’d actually respond. Now I'm back at the company but there was no way I was getting involved with my boss’s boss’s boss. Even if he was ridiculously gorgeous, confident, and charming.

It would be completely wrong, inappropriate even. Sort of like the video that got me into trouble to begin with. Two wrongs don’t make a right. But sometimes it’s twice as fun.

Age Rating: 18+

Note: This story is the author’s original version and does not have sound.

Ireland

God, I feel like crap.

I lifted my head from the pillow and winced. This is why I rarely drank. A belligerent hangover and a 3:30 a.m. wakeup time don’t make for good bedfellows.

Reaching over toward the annoying buzzing sound, I patted around my nightstand until I somehow managed to find my phone and silence the alarm.

Ten minutes later, the sound returned. I groaned as I dragged my body out of the comfort of my bed and headed to the kitchen for some much-needed coffee and Motrin.

I’d probably need to ice my eyes, too, in order to look halfway presentable on air this morning.

I was mid-pour, steaming coffee filling my mug, when suddenly the reason for last night’s inebriation and my resulting hangover hit me. How the hell had I forgotten?

The letter.

The damn letter.

“Ouch! Shit! ” Hot coffee spilled over the top of the mug and scalded my hand.

“Shit.”

“Ouch.”

“Shit!”

I ran my hand under cold water and shut my eyes. What the hell had I done? I wanted to crawl back into bed and go back to forgetting.

But instead, all the details from yesterday came flooding back like a tsunami.

An hour after I’d wheeled my luggage through the front door, returning from a week in paradise, a letter had arrived via messenger.

Fired.

In a form letter.

The day before I was scheduled to return to work from vacation.

I felt nauseous. It was the first time I’d been unemployed since I was fourteen years old. Not to mention, the only time my departure wasn’t of my own accord.

I turned off the water and hung my head, trying to recall the exact wording in that damn letter.

Dear Ms. Saint James,

We regret to inform you that your employment at Lexington Industries has been terminated, effective immediately.

Your employment has been terminated for the following reasons:

– Violation of Conduct Policy 3-4. Committing any acts which constitute sexual assault or indecent exposure.

– Violation of Conduct Policy 3-6. Using the Internet and/or other communication media to engage in sexual conduct or lewd behavior.

-Violation of Conduct Policy 3-7. Engaging in other forms of sexually immoral or objectionable conduct.

Severance pay shall not be paid because your termination was for cause. Within thirty days, we will issue a letter to you outlining the status of your benefits.

Insurance coverage will continue for the time required by New York State employment law.

The personnel office will coordinate your final paycheck and work with your supervisor on the collection of your personal items.

We regret this action and wish you the best of luck in your endeavors.

Sincerely,

Joan Marie Bennett

Director of Human Resources

There had been a thumb drive included in the padded envelope, which contained a thirty-second video one of my friends had taken on the beach.

I felt a burn traveling up my throat, for reasons other than the likely alcohol poisoning I’d subjected my body to.

My job. It had been my life for the past nine years. And some stupid, grainy video had made everything I’d worked my ass off for vanish like a puff of smoke.

Poof. Goodbye, career.

I groaned.

“God. What the hell am I going to do?”

Standing upright clearly wasn’t the answer to that question, so I took my pounding headache back to the bedroom and crawled under the covers.

I pulled the comforter up and over my head, hoping the pitch black might swallow me alive.

Eventually I managed to fall back asleep. When I woke up a few hours later, I felt slightly better.

Though, that didn’t last for very long—not once I realized I’d only remembered half the events of last night.

***

My roommate and best friend, Mia, poured me a cup of coffee and heated it up in the microwave. She looked pretty hungover herself.

“How’d you sleep?” she asked.

Elbows propped on the kitchen table, I held my head upright in my hands—sort of. I looked at her through one squinted eye.

“How do you think?”

She sighed. “I still can’t get over the fact that they fired you. You have a contract. Is it even legal to sack someone for something that happened when they weren’t at work?”

I sipped my coffee. “Apparently so. I spoke to Scott about it a few minutes ago.” I’d sucked up my pride and called my ex.

He was an asshole, and the last person I wanted to talk to, but he was also the only lawyer in my contacts. Unfortunately, he’d confirmed that what my employer did was perfectly legal.

“I’m so sorry. I had no idea a day at the beach could turn into something like this. It’s all my fault. I was the one who suggested we go to the topless section.”

“It’s not your fault.”

“What the hell was Olivia thinking, posting it on Instagram and tagging all of us?”

“I’m thinking the piña coladas that cute cabana boy was serving us with an extra shot of rum had her not thinking at all. But I don’t understand how my job knew about it.

“She tagged my private account—the Ireland Saint James one—not my public Ireland Richardson account the station runs for me. Or used to run, I suppose. So how did they even see it?

“I double-checked my settings this morning to make sure I hadn’t somehow changed them to open—and I hadn’t.”

“I don’t know. Maybe someone from your job follows one of us who has a public account.”

I shook my head. “I guess.”

“Did the asshole respond to your email, at least?”

I furrowed my brow. “What email?”

“You don’t remember?”

“Apparently not.”

“The one you sent to the president of your company.”

My eyes widened. Oh shit. Things just kept getting better.

***

Apparently rock bottom has a basement.

Fired.

No severance pay.

One week after I paid the second and biggest payment required on the construction contract for my first home.

The likelihood of getting a good recommendation from my current employer? Zilch after I went on a drunken rampage and told the guy who works in the ivory tower what I thought of him and his company.

Awesome.

Just awesome.

Great job, Ireland!

Between plunking down most of my life savings for the down payment on the land I bought in Agoura Hills, and being a big shot and covering the entire bachelorette party’s alcohol tab for a full week in the Caribbean, I had about a thousand dollars to my name.

Not to mention, soon my roommate would be getting married and moving out, taking half the rent she paid each month with her.

But…don’t worry, Ireland. You’ll get another job.

When hell freezes over.

The news media industry was about as forgiving as my bank account after a day at the mall.

I was screwed.

So screwed.

I’d have to go back to independent contract work, writing magazine articles for pennies per word to make ends meet. That part of my life was supposed to be over.

I’d killed myself—working sixty hours a week for nearly ten years to get where I was now. I couldn’t walk away from that without a fight.

I had to at least attempt to salvage things—enough to get a recommendation that wasn’t scathing.

So I took a deep breath, pulled up my big-girl panties, and opened my laptop to refresh my memory on the specifics of what I’d written to the president of Lexington Industries, since more than half of it was fuzzy.

Maybe it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I clicked into my sent box and opened the message.

Dear Mr. Jong-un,

I shut my eyes. Shit. Well, there goes that wishful thought. But maybe he won’t get my humor; he’ll just think I got his name wrong. That’s possible, right?

I reluctantly went back to reading while holding my breath.

I’d like to formally apologize for my minor indiscretion.

Okay…not a bad start. This is good. This is good.

If only I’d stopped reading there.

You see, I hadn’t realized I worked for a dictator.

Ugh.

God, I’m such an asshole when I drink too much. I blew out a loud stream of shaky breath and ripped the Band-Aid off.

I was under the impression that I had the right to do what I pleased while on my own time. Unlike your silver-spoon ass, I work hard. Therefore, I deserve to blow off some steam once in a while.

If that entails getting a little sun on my ta-tas while on a girls-only private vacation, then that’s what I’ll do. I wasn’t breaking any laws. It was a nude beach.

I could have gone fully nude, but I just chose to go topless. Because, let’s be real—I have great tits.

If you’ve watched the “offending video,” which your uptight human resources director saw fit to provide me on a thumb drive along with a bullshit termination letter, you should consider yourself lucky you got a glimpse of them.

You might even consider adding it to your spank bank, perv.

I’ve spent more than nine years working my ass off for you and your stupid company. You can both go to hell.

Bite me,

Ireland Saint James

Okay. I had a steeper uphill battle to smooth things over than I’d hoped. But I couldn’t let that deter me.

Maybe el presidente hadn’t even read my first email yet, and I could start my next attempt by asking him to ignore the original one.

If I wanted any shot of finding a job within the industry, I couldn’t have a bad recommendation. Since they’d violated my privacy, the least they could do was be neutral.

I broke out in a panicky sweat and chewed on my fingernail. I wasn’t above begging. So I copied and pasted the president’s email address and opened a new message. Time was of the essence here.

But just as I started to type, my laptop pinged, letting me know a new email had arrived. I clicked on it, and my heart nearly stopped as I read the email address:

Oh God.

No.

I tried to swallow, but my mouth was suddenly dry. This was not good. I just wasn’t sure how bad it was yet.

Dear Ms. Saint James,

Thank you for your email…which this silver spoon read at two in the morning, because I was still at the office working.

From the tone of your letter—one littered with grammatical errors from a woman with a journalism degree—I’m assuming you wrote it while drunk.

If that’s the case, at least you no longer need to get up in the morning. You’re welcome.

For your information, I have not viewed the video you referred to.

But if my spank bank ever runs a little low, perhaps I’ll dig it out of my trash folder—along with the standard letter of recommendation your superior had planned to give you.

Sincerely yours,

Richie Rich

I let out the breath I’d been holding. Oh fuck.

 

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2

Grant

“Mr. Lexington, would you like me to order you some lunch? Your two o’clock just called and is running a half hour late, so you have a little break.”

“Why can’t people ever be on damn time?” I grumbled and pushed the button to the intercom to speak to my assistant. “Can you please order me Boar’s Head turkey and Alpine lacy swiss on whole wheat?

“And tell them one slice of swiss. The last time we ordered from the deli, the guy who made my sandwich must’ve been from Wisconsin.”

“Yes, Mr. Lexington.”

I opened my laptop to catch up on emails since my back-to-back meetings had turned into back-to-wait yet again.

Scanning for anything important, my eyes stopped on one particular name in my inbox:Ireland Saint James.

The woman was obviously a drunk, or nuts, possibly even both. Though her email had been more amusing than half the mundane shit waiting for me. So I clicked.

Dear Mr. Lexington,

Would you believe my email was hacked and someone else wrote that ridiculous letter?

I’m guessing probably not. Considering how well educated, intelligent, hardworking, and successful you are.

Am I pouring it on too thick?

Sorry. But I have a lot of shoveling to do.

Is there any chance we can start over? You see, contrary to what you probably think, I don’t drink that often.

Which is why when a very unexpected termination letter showed up at my door, it didn’t take much to bury my sorrow. And apparently my sanity.

Anyway, if you’re still reading, thank you. Here’s the letter I should’ve written:

Dear Mr. Lexington,

I’m writing to request your assistance in what I believe was a wrongful termination of my employment. As background, I’ve been a dedicated employee of Lexington Industries for nine and a half years.

I started as an intern, received promotions through various news-writing positions, and eventually reached my goal of on-air reporter.

Recently, I went on a much-needed vacation to Aruba with eight women for a bachelorette party. Our hotel had a private section of the beach reserved for nude sunbathing.

Though not generally an exhibitionist, I joined my friends for a few hours of topless tanning. A few innocent photos were taken, none of which were posted by me, and my on-air name was not tagged.

Yet somehow, I returned home to a letter of termination for violating company policy regarding lewd behavior.

While I understand the reason for having an inappropriate-behavior policy, I adamantly believe my conduct while on a private vacation, on a private beach, was not what it was meant to protect Lexington Industries from.

As such, I respectfully request that you review the policy and the termination of my employment.

Respectfully yours,

Ireland Saint James (Ireland Richardson, on air)

Saint James. Why do I know that name? It had sounded familiar when the first email arrived, so I’d looked her up in the company directory.

But she was in the news division, which my sister ran and I’d avoided like the plague since I took over as president when my dad died eighteen months ago.

Politics, propaganda, and bureaucracy weren’t my thing. Though I was president in name, I generally stuck to the financial side of Lexington Industries.

I dug out the first email I’d received from Ms. Saint James and reread it. While the newest one was certainly more appropriate, the first amused me more.

She’d signed the letter with the closing,Bite me…which had actually made me chuckle. No one talked to me like that. Oddly, I found it a bit refreshing.

I had the strangest urge to have a conversation with Ms. Richardson after a few drinks. She’d certainly piqued my curiosity. I pressed the button of the intercom on my phone again.

“Millie, could you call down to the Broadcast Media division—the morning news segment producer? I think it might be Harrison Bickman or Harold Milton…something along those lines.”

“Of course. Would you like me to set up a meeting for you?”

“No. Tell him I’d like to see the personnel file for one of his employees—Ireland Saint James. Her stage name is Ireland Richardson.”

“I’ll get it taken care of.”

“Thank you.”

My afternoon meeting only lasted fifteen minutes. Not only did the guy show up an hour and a half late, he was also completely unprepared.

I had no patience for people who didn’t value my time, so I’d called it quits and walked out of the conference room after telling him to lose my number.

“Is everything okay?” Millie looked up at me as I strode past her desk. “Do you need something from your office for your meeting?”

“My meeting is over. Hang up on anyone who calls from Bayside Investments, if they ever call again.”

“Uh…yes, Mr. Lexington.” Millie got up and followed me into my office, holding a notepad. “Your grandmother called.

“She said to tell you they don’t need a security system and she sent the installer home.”

I rounded my desk and shook my head. “Great. Just great.”

“I retrieved Ms. Saint James’s file for you and printed it out. It’s on your desk in a folder. There’s also a video of some sort that was on file in Human Resources, which I emailed to you.”

“Thank you, Millie.” I sat down at my desk. “Would you mind closing the door on your way out?”

***

Jesus Christ. Now I remembered her. It was a long time ago, but her story wasn’t one you’d forget too easily. Back when Ireland Saint James was hired, my father was still running things.

I’d been sitting in his office when Millie had brought him the file on her. He’d used her story as a teaching example—an example of decisions you sometimes have to make to protect the company image.

I leaned back in my chair. Every employee gets a background check—the extensiveness of it depends on the position.

The more visibility someone has, the more their name and face can affect the brand of the company, so the deeper we delve. Human Resources and an outside investigation company usually do the vetting.

When a person comes back clean, a manager does the hire with a signoff from the division’s director.

For the most part, senior management isn’t involved—unless someone poses a possible threat to our name and a department head still wants to make an offer. Then the file gets sent up the flagpole.

Ireland Saint James. I rubbed at the stubble already forming on my chin. Her first name was a bit unusual, so that was probably what rang a bell. Though I blocked out a lot of shit from ten years ago.

I flipped through the pages of her personnel file—her background summary was barely a page. Yet the file had to be two inches thick.

UCLA undergraduate with a major in communications and minor in English. Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism with a postgraduate fellowship in investigative reporting. Not too shabby.

Never arrested, and only one parking ticket. We’d done an update to her background eighteen months ago, when she’d gotten the position she was in now. It seemed she was dating a lawyer.

All in all, her investigation was unremarkable—she was an ideal employee and an upstanding citizen. But her father was a different story…

The next fifty pages were mostly about him.

He’d been some sort of low-level security guard in an apartment complex here in the city—though it was the time after his departure that was the focus of all of the news articles.

Flipping through, I scanned the pages, letting them fan slowly one at a time until I got to one with a photo of a little girl in it.

When I lifted it closer, the name in the caption confirmed it was Ireland. She had to be about nine or ten in the picture. For some reason, I stared at it like a bad car accident.

She was crying, and a female police officer had a hand wrapped around her shoulder as they walked out of her house.

Good for you.

Good for you, Ireland—getting where you are today after that start.

As fucked up as it was, I smiled at the picture. Things could have very easily gone the other way for her. It made sense that she’d written me a second time now—she was a fighter.

I hit the intercom on my desk phone, and Millie answered.

“Yes, Mr. Lexington.”

“Would you get me some recent segments of the morning news with Ms. Saint James? She’s Ireland Richardson on air. Have them email up a link from the archives.”

“Of course.”

***

I might’ve paid more attention to the Broadcast Media division if I’d known it looked like this. Or I could have at least watched the morning news.

Ireland Saint James was a damn knockout—big blue eyes, sandy blond hair, full lips, white teeth that showed often because she smiled a lot.

She reminded me of a younger version of that tall actress from the last Mad Max movie.

I watched three full segments before clicking back to the email Millie sent me earlier—the one from Ireland’s HR file. Three sets of tits greeted me when the video opened. I pulled my head back.

Definitely not the news. The women were on a beach, wearing nothing but skimpy bikini bottoms and sipping drinks from coconuts with a straw.

I forced my eyes up to examine their faces—none of them was Ireland. But a few seconds before the end of the short video, a woman walked up from the beach.

Her hair was slicked back from the water and looked darker wet, but the smile was unmistakably Ireland’s.

With the other women, I’d noticed their bodies first, yet it took me until the video ended and froze on Ireland to even look down—and it wasn’t because her body wasn’t impressive.

Her breasts were full and natural. They went with the rest of her luscious curves. But it was the curve of her smile that made me feel like I should suit up in armor.

I shifted in my seat and toggled to the X at the corner of the video to close it. Though she’d suggested I add it to my spank bank, I wasn’t going to be disrespectful.

Now, if she’d sent me the video herself, that might be a different story.

But I certainly wasn’t going to work up a stiffy in my office replaying the video a dozen times—no matter how tempted the asshole part of me was.

I turned in my chair to look out the window. Ireland Saint James. You seem like a real handful. A woman I should steer clear of, that was for damn sure. Yet I felt compelled to learn more.

For a few minutes, I debated digging further, maybe listening to more of her side of the story. But why would I be doing that?

Because I was curious about Ireland Saint James, that’s why.

Though was it because I wanted to ensure fairness at my company?

Or because she had a mesmerizing smile, a killer rack, and a fucked-up history that made me curious?

After a few minutes of deliberating, I knew the answer. Every warning sensor in my brain told me to delete the emails and run the personnel file through the shredder.

That was the smart thing to do…definitely the right business decision to make. Yet…

I hit the space bar to power my laptop back up and opened a new email.

Dear Ms. Richardson,

After further review…

 

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