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We Shouldn’t

From New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Bestselling author Vi Keeland comes the sexy stand-alone novel, We Shouldn’t.

Bennett Fox walked into my life on one hell of a crappy Monday morning. While I lugged my belongings up to my new office, a meter maid wrote me a parking summons. She’d ticketed a long line of cars–except for the Audi parked in front of me, which happened to be the same make and model as mine. Annoyed, I decided to regift my ticket to the car that had evaded a fine… and accidentally broke the windshield wiper while slipping the ticket onto the car’s window.

Seriously, my day couldn’t get any worse. Things started to perk up when I ran into a gorgeous man in the elevator. His heated stare left me flush when I stepped off. Maybe things here wouldn’t be so bad after all. Or so I thought. Until I walked into my new boss’s office and met my competition. The gorgeous man from the elevator was now my nemesis. He’d seen me vandalize his car, and now he couldn’t wait to annihilate his rival. There’s a fine line between love and hate–and we shouldn’t cross it. We shouldn’t–but straddling that line could be so much fun.

Age Rating: 18+

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

 

We Shouldn’t 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, We Shouldn't.

Bennett Fox walked into my life on one hell of a crappy Monday morning. While I lugged my belongings up to my new office, a meter maid wrote me a parking summons. She'd ticketed a long line of cars–except for the Audi parked in front of me, which happened to be the same make and model as mine. Annoyed, I decided to regift my ticket to the car that had evaded a fine… and accidentally broke the windshield wiper while slipping the ticket onto the car's window.

Seriously, my day couldn't get any worse. Things started to perk up when I ran into a gorgeous man in the elevator. His heated stare left me flush when I stepped off. Maybe things here wouldn't be so bad after all. Or so I thought. Until I walked into my new boss's office and met my competition. The gorgeous man from the elevator was now my nemesis. He'd seen me vandalize his car, and now he couldn't wait to annihilate his rival. There's a fine line between love and hate–and we shouldn't cross it. We shouldn't–but straddling that line could be so much fun.

Age Rating: 18+

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

Bennett

“What the hell is she doing?”

When the light turned green, I kept jogging in place rather than crossing. The scene unfolding across the street was just too entertaining to interrupt.

My car was parked in front of the office, and a curly-haired blonde with killer legs was leaning over the windshield—her hair apparently somehow stuck in my wiper blade.

Why? I had no fucking idea. But she seemed pretty pissed off, and the sight was comical to watch, so I kept my distance, curious to see how this would play out.

It was a typical breezy day in the Bay Area, and a gust of wind kicked up, causing her long hair to fly all over the place as she struggled with my car. That seemed to upset her even more.

Frustrated, she yanked on her hair, but the clump wrapped around the wiper was too big, and it didn’t come loose.

Rather than trying to unwind it gently, she yanked harder, this time standing up as she tugged at her hair with both hands.

That did the trick. Her hair came loose. Unfortunately, my wiper blade was still attached to it, dangling.

She grumbled what I suspected was a string of curses and then made a last, futile attempt to remove the tangled mess.

The people who had crossed the street when I should’ve now began to approach where she stood, and blondie suddenly seemed to realize someone might take notice of her.

Instead of being angry that this crazy woman had damaged my one-week-old Audi, I couldn’t help but laugh when she glanced around, then opened her raincoat and tucked the dangling wiper inside.

She smoothed down her hair, cinched her belt, and turned to walk away as if nothing had happened.

I thought that was the end of the show, but apparently she thought better of what she’d done. Or so it seemed. Turning back, she returned to my car.

She then proceeded to dig into her pocket for something and stick it under the remaining windshield wiper before scurrying off.

When the light turned green again, I crossed and jogged to my car, curious as to what her note would say.

She must’ve been stuck there for a while and written it before I saw her, because she hadn’t taken out a pen while I watched.

Lifting the remaining wiper, I slipped out the note and turned it over, only to find what she’d left behind wasn’t an apology note at all. The blonde had left me a damn parking ticket.

***

What a morning. My car vandalized, no hot water at the gym next to the office, and now one of the elevators was out of service again.

The morning rush crammed into the only functioning elevator car like sardines in a can. I looked down at my watch. Shit. My meeting with Jonas was supposed to start five minutes ago.

And we were stopping at every damn floor.

The doors slid open on the seventh floor, one floor below mine.

“Excuse me,” a woman behind me said.

I stepped to the side to let people out, and the woman caught my attention as she passed. She smelled good, like suntan lotion and the beach. I watched her step off.

Just as the elevator doors began to close, she turned back, and our gazes locked for a brief second.

Gorgeous blue eyes smiled at me.

I started to smile back…then stopped, blinking and taking in her whole face—and her hair—just as the doors slid shut.

Holy shit. The woman from this morning.

I tried to get the person standing in front of the elevator panel on the other side of the car to press the open button, but we’d started moving before she even figured out I was talking to her.

Perfect. Just perfect. Goes with the rest of the damn day.

I arrived in Jonas’s office almost ten minutes behind schedule.

“Sorry I’m late. Crappy morning.”

“No problem. Things are a little hectic here today with the move.”

I sat down in one of the visitor’s chairs across from the boss and let out a deep breath.

“How’s your team doing with everything going on today?” he asked.

“As well as can be expected. Would go over much better if I could tell everyone their jobs were safe.”

“No one is losing any job at the moment.”

“If you could stop that sentence after the word job, that would be great.”

Jonas sat back in his chair and sighed. “I know it’s not easy. But this merger will be good for the company in the end. Wren may be the smaller player, but they have a nice portfolio of clients.”

Two weeks ago, the company I’d been working for since straight out of college had merged with another large ad agency.

Everyone had been on edge ever since, nervous about what the acquisition of Wren Media meant for their position at Foster Burnett.

For the last two weeks, I’d spent half my mornings reassuring my team, even though I had no fucking idea what the future of two major ad houses consolidating might look like.

We were the bigger company, so that’s what I’d been reminding people. Today was the physical consolidation into the San Francisco office where I worked.

People carrying boxes had infiltrated our space, and we were supposed to smile and greet them. It wasn’t fucking easy—especially when my own job could be at stake.

This company didn’t need two creative directors, and Wren had its own marketing team, which was moving into our space right at this very moment.

While Jonas had assured me my job with the company was safe, he hadn’t yet said that any of us wouldn’t be transferred.

The Dallas office was larger, and a recent rumor had floated around that more transfers were in the cards.

I had no plans on moving anywhere.

“So, tell me about the woman I’m going to crush. I asked around. Jim Falcon worked at Wren for a few years and said she was pretty close to retirement anyway.

“Hope I’m not going to make some blue-haired woman cry.”

Jonas’s brows drew down. “Retirement? Annalise?”

“Jim told me she uses a walker sometimes—trouble with her knees or some shit. I had to get maintenance to widen the aisle between the cubicles where the staff sits so she can get through.

“But I refuse to feel guilty for whipping the ass of this woman just because she’s older and has some health problems. I’m sending her packing to Texas, if it comes down to it.”

“Bennett…I think maybe Jim is confused. Annalise doesn’t have a walker.”

I shook my head. “ Are you kidding? Don’t even tell me that. It cost me a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue Label to get my work order moved up to the top of the list with the maintenance department.”

Jonas shook his head. “Annalise isn’t—” He stopped mid-sentence and looked up over my head toward the door. “Good timing. Here she is now. Come on in, Annalise. I want you to meet Bennett Fox.”

I turned in my chair to see my new competition—the old biddy I was about to annihilate—and nearly fell over. My head swung back to Jonas.

“Who is this?”

“This is Annalise O’Neil, your counterpart over at Wren. I guess Jim Falcon confused her with someone else.”

I turned back to the woman walking toward me. Annalise O’Neil certainly wasn’t the old woman I had pictured in my head. Not in the fucking slightest. She was late twenties, at best.

And gorgeous—drop-dead gorgeous. Killer long, tanned legs, curves that could cause a man to drive off a cliff, and a wild mane of wavy blonde hair that framed a seriously model-worthy face.

Without warning, my body reacted—my dick, which had been floundering around disinterested for the last month since news of the merger broke, suddenly perked up.

Testosterone squared my shoulders and lifted my chin. If I were a peacock, my colorful feathers would’ve fanned wide.

My competition was a fucking knockout.

I shook my head and laughed. Jim Falcon hadn’t made any mistake. The fucker did it to screw with me. The guy was a wiseass. I should’ve known.

He must’ve been laughing his ass off when I had the guys from maintenance disassembling and reassembling the cubicles to make room for her walker.

What a dick. Although it was pretty funny. He got me, that’s for sure.

But that wasn’t what had me smiling from ear to ear.

Nope. Not at all.

Shit was about to get interesting, and it had nothing to do with my kicking the ass of a woman who walked just fine.

My competition—Annalise O’Neil, the beautiful woman standing right in front of me inside my boss’s office, the woman I was about to go head to head with…

…was also the woman from this morning, the one who had ripped my wiper blade off and left me a damn parking ticket in its place, the smiling woman from the elevator.

“Annalise, is it?” I stood, straightening my tie with a nod. “Bennett Fox.”

“Nice to meet you, Bennett.”

“Oh, trust me, the pleasure is all mine.”

 

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2

Annalise

Figures.

It was the gorgeous guy I’d seen in the elevator. And here I thought we’d had a little spark.

Bennett Fox grinned like he’d already been named my boss and extended his hand. “Welcome to Foster Burnett.”

Ugh. He wasn’t just good looking; he knew it, too.

“That would be Foster, Burnett andWren,as of a few weeks ago, right?” I iced my subtle reminder that this was nowourplace of employment with a smile, suddenly thankful my parents had made me wear braces until I was nearly sixteen.

“Of course.” My new nemesis smiled just as brightly. Apparently his parents had sprung for orthodontic care, too.

Bennett Fox was also tall. I once read an article that said the average height of a man in the US was five-foot-nine-and-a-half inches; less than fifteen percent of men stood taller than six feet.

Yet the average height of more than sixty-eight percent of Fortune 500 CEOs was over six feet. Subconsciously, we related size to power in more ways than just brawn.

Andrew was six foot two. I’d guess this guy was about the same.

Bennett pulled out the guest chair next to him. “Please, have a seat.”

Tall and with gentlemanly manners. I disliked him already.

During the ensuing twenty-minute pep talk given by Jonas Stern—in which he attempted to convince us we weren’t vying for the same position, but instead forging the way as leaders of the now-largest ad agency in the United States—I stole glances at Bennett Fox.

Shoes: definitely expensive. Conservative, oxford in style, but with a modern edge of topstitching. Ferragamo would be my guess. Big feet, too.

Suit: dark navy, tailored to fit his tall, broad frame. The kind of understated luxury that said he had money, but didn’t need to flaunt it to impress you.

He had one long leg casually crossed over the other knee, as if we were discussing the weather rather than being told everything we’d worked twelve hours a day, six days a week for was suddenly at risk of being in vain.

At one point, Jonas had said something we both agreed with, and we looked at each other, nodding. Given the opportunity for a closer inspection, my eyes roamed his handsome face.

Strong jaw, daringly straight, perfect nose—the type of bone structure passed down from generation to generation that was better and more useful than any monetary inheritance.

But his eyes were the showstopper: a deep, penetrating green that popped from his smooth, tanned skin. Those were currently staring right at me.

I looked away, returning my attention to Jonas. “So what happens at the end of the ninety-day integration period? Will there be two Creative Directors of West Coast Marketing?”

Jonas looked back and forth between us and sighed. “No. But no one is going to lose his or her job. I was just about to tell Bennett the news. Rob Gatts announced he’ll be retiring in a few months.

“So there will be a position opening up for a creative director to replace him.”

I had no idea what that meant. But apparently Bennett did.

“So one of us gets shipped off to Dallas to replace Rob in the southwest region?” he asked.

Jonas’s face told me Bennett wouldn’t be happy about the prospect of heading to Texas. “Yes.”

All three of us let that sink in for a moment. The possibility of having to relocate to Texas shifted my mind back into gear, though.

“Who will make the decision?” I asked. “Because obviously you’ve been working with Bennett…”

Jonas shook his head and waved off what I was beginning to question.

“Decisions like this—where two senior management positions are being merged into one office—the board will oversee and make the final determination of who gets first pick.”

Bennett was just as confused as me. “The board members don’t work with us on a daily basis.”

“No, they don’t. So they’ve come up with a method of making their decision.”

“Which is?”

“It’ll be based on three major client pitches. You’ll both come up with campaigns on your own and present them. The clients will pick which they like best.”

Bennett looked rattled for the first time. His perfect composure and self-assuredness took a hit as he leaned forward and raked long fingers through his hair.

“You’ve got to be kidding me. More than ten years, and my job here comes down to a few pitches? I’ve landed half-a-billion dollars of ad accounts for this company.”

“I’m sorry, Bennett. I really am. But one of the conditions of the Wren merger was that due consideration be given to the Wren employees in positions that might be eliminated because of duplicity.

“The deal almost didn’t go through because Mrs. Wren was so insistent that she not sell her husband’s company, only to have the new organization strip away all of Wren’s hard-working employees.”

That made me smile. Mr. Wren was taking care of his employees even after he was gone.

“I’m up for the challenge.” I looked at Bennett, who was clearly pissed off. “May the best woman win.”

He scowled. “You mean man.”

We sat for another hour, going through all of our current accounts and discussing which would be reassigned so we could focus on integrating our teams and the pitches that would decide our fate.

When we got to the Bianchi Winery account, Bennett said, “That’s in two days. I’m ready for that pitch.”

I had known there were two competitors other than me presenting to the account.

Hell, I’d been the one to suggest the work go out for pitches to make sure they were getting the best advertising out there.

But I hadn’t been aware that Foster Burnett was one of the other firms involved. And, of course, the merger changed everything.

I couldn’t afford to let the new management think I could possibly lose an existing account.

“I don’t think it’s necessary for us both to pitch. Bianchi has been my account for years. In fact, because of my relationship with them, I was the one who suggested—”

The jerk interrupted me. “Mrs. Bianchi was very interested in my early ideas. I have no doubt she’ll go with one of my concepts.”

God, this guy is arrogant. “I’m sure your ideas are great.

“But what I was going to say is that I have a relationship with the winery, and I’m certain they’ll work with me exclusively if I suggest that because—”

He interrupted me again. “If you’re so certain, why not let the client decide? Sounds to me like you’re more afraid of a little competition than certain of your relationship.” Bennett looked at Jonas.

“The client should see both.”

“Alright. Alright,” Jonas said. “We’re one company now. I’d rather say one pitch for an existing client, but since you’re both done already, I don’t see any harm in showing both.

“As long as you two are capable of putting on a united front for Foster, Burnett and Wren, we should let the client be the judge on this one.”

An obnoxious smile slid across Bennett’s face. “Fine with me. I’m not afraid of a little competition…unlike some people.”

“We’re not competition anymore.

“Perhaps that hasn’t sunk into your head yet.” I sighed and mumbled under my breath, “It does look like the information would have to penetrate a lot of hair gel to get there.”

Bennett ran his fingers through his lush mane. “You noticed my great hair, huh?”

I rolled my eyes.

Jonas shook his head. “Okay, you two. I can see this isn’t going to be easy. And I’m sorry to do this to you both.” He turned to Bennett. “We’ve worked together a long time. I know this must sting.

“But you’re a professional, and I know you’ll do your best to get through this.” Then he turned to me. “And we may have just met, Annalise, but I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about you, too.”

After that, Jonas asked Bennett to see if he could find a spare office for me to set up in for now.

Apparently, people were still being moved around, and my permanent office wasn’t ready yet—well, as permanent as it might be under the circumstances.

I stayed behind to discuss some of my accounts with Jonas until early afternoon.

When we were done, he walked me to Bennett’s office. Foster Burnett’s space was definitely nicer than what I was used to at Wren.

Bennett’s office was sleek and modern, not to mention twice the size of my old one. He was on the phone but motioned for us to come in.

“Yes, I can do that. How about Friday at around three?” Bennett looked at me, but spoke into the phone.

While we waited for him to finish his call, Jonas’s phone rang. He excused himself and stepped out of the office to speak. Jonas returned just as Bennett hung up.

“I need to run upstairs for a meeting,” Jonas said. “Were you able to find a place for Annalise?”

“I found the perfect spot for her.”

Something about the way Bennett responded seemed sarcastic, but I didn’t know the man well, and it didn’t seem to bother Jonas at all.

“Great. It’s been a long day with a lot for you both to take in. Don’t stay too late tonight.”

“Thanks, Jonas,” I said.

“Have a good night.”

I watched him depart and then turned my attention back to Bennett. Both of us must’ve been waiting for the other to speak first.

I finally broke the silence. “So…this whole situation is awkward.”

Bennett came out from behind his desk. “Jonas is right. It’s been a long day. Why don’t I show you where I set you up? I think I’m gonna call it an early night for a change.”

“That would be great. Thank you.”

I followed him down the long hall until we came to a closed door. There was one of those nameplate holders on the door, but the name had been slipped out.

Bennett nodded his head toward it. “I’ll call down to purchasing and get them to order you a new sign for your office before I go tonight.”

Well, that was nice of him. Maybe it wouldn’t be so awkward between us after all.

“Thank you.”

He smiled and opened the door, stepping aside for me to enter first. “No problem. Here you go. Home sweet home.”

I took a step in, just as Bennett flicked on the lights.

What the hell?

The room had a folding table and a chair set up, but it was definitely not an office.

It was a small supply closet at best—and not even the nice kind with organized chrome shelves where office supplies were stored.

This was a janitor’s closet, one that smelled like bathroom cleaner and day-old, musty water, most likely because of the yellow bucket and wet mop sitting beside my new makeshift desk.

I turned to Bennett. “You expect me to work in here? Like this?”

A flicker of amusement danced in his eyes. “Well, you’ll also be needing paper, of course.”

My brow furrowed. Is he joking?

Reaching into his pocket, he walked to the folding table and slapped a lone piece of paper down at the center of it. Turning to exit, he stopped directly in front of me and winked.

“You have a good night. I’m going to go get my car fixed now.”

Stunned, I was still standing just inside the closet when the door slammed behind him. The whoosh of air from its closing caused the paper he’d left to fly into the air.

It floated for a few seconds, then settled at my feet.

I stared at it blankly at first.

Squinting as it came into focus, I realized something was written on it.

He left me a note? I bent and picked it up for a closer look.

What the hell?

The paper Bennett had left wasn’t a note at all—it was a parking ticket.

And not any parking ticket.

My parking ticket.

The same damn one I’d left on someone’s windshield this morning.

 

Read the full uncensored books on the Galatea iOS app!

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