From the author of Marrying the CEO comes Ruling the CEO, a new story about the Maslow brothers!
Jenny Layman likes having her life in perfect order. However, Jenny’s organized life turns chaotic when she meets a man who makes her heart sing and her soul shiver. Kieran Maslow is a man who knows what he wants, and when his interest in Jenny is piqued, nothing can stop him from pursuing her…
Age Rating: 18+
Ruling the CEO by Kimi L. Davis is now available to read on the Galatea app! Read the first two chapters below, or download Galatea for the full experience.
Read the full uncensored books on the Galatea iOS app!
Children’s laughter was my favorite sound in the whole world. It was nice to know that kids found happiness in this dark, dismal world. I heard this beautiful sound a lot at my workplace.
“What are you smiling about?” Ellis, my best friend, questioned.
“See that cute girl over there, the one with pigtails?” I stared at the blonde girl who looked no older than five.
“Yeah, so?” Ellis sounded as if she thought I had lost my mind.
“So, isn’t she the most adorable thing ever? Look at how she is eyeing the doll.” I smiled as I saw the girl appraise the toy.
“According to you, every child is the most adorable thing in the world. You need to find a boyfriend, Jen,” Ellis stated. Even though I wasn’t looking at her, I knew she was rolling her eyes.
“I don’t have the time nor the energy for guys, you know that,” I said as I saw the girl approaching with a woman who looked to be the older version of her, probably her mother.
The little girl tried to place the doll on the counter, but her small arms prevented her from doing so. Her mother placed it on the counter. I smiled at the little girl before ringing up the item.
“Do you like my dolly?” the girl asked me.
I gave her another smile. “Your dolly is very pretty, just like you.”
“Mommy, did you hear that? The lady called me pretty.” The girl grinned at her mother who held out the money for me to take.
“Yes, honey, I heard her, and she is absolutely right,” her mother replied. I handed her the change and placed the toy in a bag before handing it to her mother.
“Have a nice day,” I told them as they exited the toy store.
“You have a way with kids. Forget boyfriend, just get married straightaway,” Ellis uttered as soon as the door closed. She had been standing beside me when the lady and her daughter bought the doll.
“Don’t be silly. Marriage is not all that it’s cracked up to be. It brings a lot of complications to one’s life,” I told her as I looked around the store.
“Why don’t you go and fix the shelf from which they picked the doll,” I suggested.
“I don’t want to.” Ellis huffed, causing her blonde bangs to flutter on her forehead.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because it’s no fun. I’m always fixing shelves. Let me handle the counter today, you go fix the shelf,” she replied, her blue eyes gleaming.
“You are so lazy.” I sighed, before stepping out from behind the counter. “Fine, I’ll go and fix the shelf.”
“Yeah, you’ll probably have a panic attack if I fixed it the wrong way,” she responded. I turned to glare at her. Ellis threw me an apologetic glance. “Sorry, that’s not what I meant. I was kidding.”
Shaking my head, I strode over to the shelf that was now minus a doll. Ellis had the tendency to be insensitive at times, or maybe she just forgot who she was speaking to.
I liked to believe it was the latter because she had a habit of saying the wrong things to the wrong people.
Bending down, I began rearranging the shelf, trying not to let Ellis’s words get to me. But it was difficult, especially when I knew they were true.
I liked my life to be in order; being organized meant safety—monotony was safety. I knew what I had to do with the hours of my day, and that kept me safe and sane.
And as long as I was safe, he couldn’t get to me. I was free from him.
Once the shelf was in order, I headed back to the counter. In a few hours, I would have my lunch break. I always had two pieces of bread and a cup of tea for breakfast, but I never felt this hungry.
“You’re back!” Ellis exclaimed, grinning at me.
“I went to fix the shelf not to bake a cake,” I replied.
“I know, I know. By the way, I have a date with Ivan tonight. So you have to help me pick a dress. He is taking me to a fancy restaurant,” she informed me.
“Wow, do you have anything in mind?” I inquired.
“Not really. I have a total of five dresses, I can choose one, but you have to help me choose,” she stated.
I chuckled. “All right. When will he pick you up?”
“At seven.” Ellis paused. “Are you sure you’ll be all right by yourself?”
“Ellis, this is not the first time I’ve been by myself, and it certainly won’t be the last. You have got to stop worrying about me. I’m a big girl,” I responded.
In reality, I hated the thought of staying alone in my apartment. The constant fear of being caught made it impossible for me not to check the locks every five seconds.
But I could not let Ellis know. Ivan was the best thing to happen to her in a long while, and I wanted her to be happy. Ellis happy made me happy.
“Are you sure? I can ask Ivan to have dinner at our place, we don’t have to go out,” she offered.
“Ellis, stop it. I will not let you ruin your date for me. I’ll be fine, don’t worry. You just worry about your dress for tonight’s date,” I said.
“All right, if you say so.” She paused for a few seconds. “So I was thinking about wearing my green dress…” She trailed off as the door opened and in walked a man.
Ellis’s eyes widened, and her jaw went slack as she shamelessly eyed the man from head to toe. Giving her a quizzical look, I glanced at the man who just entered and could see why Ellis had lost it.
The man looked like he had just stepped off of the cover of a magazine. His curly brown hair was styled to perfection. And his warm brown eyes glittered with kindness.
He was easily six feet tall, maybe taller, and looked like he worked out a lot. I could see the muscles bulging beneath his shirt, and if I were any other normal girl, I would want to lick them.
But as it was, I was not a normal woman, and having fantasies about hot men was not something I could afford.
Beside me, Ellis looked to have gotten herself under control. “Hello, welcome. How may I help you?”
“Well, it’s my nephew’s birthday, and I want to buy the perfect toy for him,” the man replied, his voice deep and exotic, making me wish for things I never otherwise would.
“Of course, now tell me, is your nephew a boy or a girl?” Ellis asked.
I mentally slapped my forehead, so much for getting it under control. The woman had no idea what she was saying.
When I looked at the man, I could see he was thinking the same thing. His eyes shimmered with amusement, and it looked like he was trying really hard not to laugh.
Ellis realized what she said after a full minute. “I-I mean…what I meant to say was, what kind of a toy are you looking for?”
“Of course. Well, I want to see your new toy collection. My nephew said something about a collection of Hot Wheels cars,” the man answered.
“Oh yes, their new collection just arrived.” She touched my arm. “Why don’t you go and show our customer the new collection,” Ellis said, nudging my shoulder, forcing me to go with the man.
“Sure.” I glared at her. She knew how I felt with strange men, and still she forced me to go with him.
“Follow me,” I said softly, before walking toward the aisle that was dedicated to cars.
“Here is the new collection. You can pick the ones you like.” I pointed at the boxes of cars before stepping to the side and allowing the handsome man to have a look.
“Thank you,” he said. Wow, he was such a gentleman.
Was he married?
I immediately crushed the thought as soon as it had come. Marriage wasn’t in my cards. He was a strange man. People were dangerous. No matter how nice they tried to be, in reality, they were monsters.
“You can call me if you need any help, I’ll just be over there.” I turned to leave, but his voice stopped me.
“Actually, I need you to help me decide. There are five types of cars here; I need to pick two,” he said.
“Uh, well, you can take this one.” I pointed at a set of five cars, not really caring about the color or style. “Or you can choose this one.” I pointed at the second set.
“You can decide from these two.” I pointed at the third and fourth sets. “Or you can take this.” I pointed at the fifth set.
The man chuckled beside me. “You’re not very good at suggesting, are you?”
My cheeks burned with shame and embarrassment. I just wanted to get away from this man, but he was making it awfully hard for me to escape.
I didn’t know why my heart was pounding in his presence. I mean, it was normal for my heart to pound in the presence of strange men, but right now, my heart wasn’t drumming with fear.
It was thumping with a foreign emotion.
“I’m sorry. I can call Ellis, she is better at suggesting,” I said, attempting to escape once again only to fail when he called me back.
“You don’t have to call her. I’m sure you can manage without her,” he stated.
“Uh, well, she is better at suggesting,” I replied.
“How long have you been working here? This is the first time I’ve seen you here,” the man said.
“Do you come here often?” Bloody hell, what was I doing? I shouldn’t be making conversation with this man, but it was like my mouth had no control.
“I’ve spoiled my sister’s kids, and now I have to pay the price. So yes, I do come here often. Now you have to answer my question. How long have you been working here?” he questioned.
“Last time I checked, you’re a stranger, and I’m not obligated to answer any of your questions.” I bit my lip as regret washed over me. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to sound rude.”
“No, you’re cautious, that’s a good thing. How about we change that. I’m Kieran, Kieran Maslow,” he responded.
“I don’t remember asking your name.”
Curse my existence! What was wrong with me? This was no time for my defense mechanism to be kicking in. If I was rude to a customer, I could get fired, and that was something I didn’t want.
“Are you always this rude to customers or am I someone special?” He sounded amused, but I could hear the hard edge his voice had taken.
“You’re not special; you never will be,” I blurted out, before biting my lip as hard as I could. I was so going to lose my job.
The man, Kieran, didn’t say anything for a while. We both stood there in the cars aisle in silence.
If leaving a customer wasn’t considered rude, I would’ve left him a long time ago, but no, I had to abide by the rules.
“We’ll see,” Kieran finally said, before he grabbed two boxes of Hot Wheels cars. I frowned in puzzlement. What was he talking about?
“Wrap these up for me,” he ordered, placing the boxes in my arms a little too roughly.
“You can choose the wrapping paper, and I’ll wrap them up,” I told him, before heading over to the checkout counter, leaving Kieran to look for the wrapping paper.
“Ring these up,” I told Ellis, throwing her another glare.
“What’s got your panties in a twist?” she asked, before ringing up the items.
“Don’t act like you don’t know.” I seethed.
“What? The man is delicious, and you can use a delicious man in your life, Jen,” Ellis replied.
“No, and you know why,” I hissed, then composed myself as I saw Kieran approaching with a sheet of wrapping paper.
“Here.” He handed me the sheet without sparing me a glance. I took it without saying anything and quickly began wrapping up the boxes.
I could tell Kieran was trying to act all relaxed, but he was simmering underneath. If I wasn’t so rude to him, he wouldn’t be so angry right now.
But I couldn’t stop myself. Every time a man tried to make conversation with me, my inner bitch came out to play. I’ve pushed away seven men, which was good because I could not do commitment.
“All done.” I pushed the wrapped boxes toward Ellis who put them in a bag and handed it to Kieran, who took the bag without a word.
“Thanks for wrapping the boxes, Jen,” Ellis said with a smile.
“Is that her name?” Kieran asked Ellis.
“Her name’s Jenny, I just call her Jen. Why do you ask?” Ellis answered. Now who was being rude? He was asking her instead of me when I was standing right there.
You probably would’ve said something rude to him.
“No reason, I just like knowing about the employees who work here,” Kieran answered, before throwing me a sharp glare. Boy, he was really mad.
“Why?” Ellis inquired.
“It’s nice to have knowledge, don’t you think?” Kieran responded.
In that moment, he couldn’t have looked scarier if he tried. From a laid-back guy, Kieran looked like someone who owned the world and wielded power with ease. And I knew he was going to get me fired.
“Knowledge is nice,” Ellis agreed.
“Knowledge is not just nice.” Kieran bent a little toward Ellis as if he was going to tell her a secret. “Knowledge is power,” he said, then threw me another menacing glare and strode out of the shop.
“What did you say to him?” Ellis asked as soon as Kieran left.
I shrugged. “What makes you think I said something to him?”
“He came in all happy and sexy, and he left all brooding and sexy. You were the only one with him. Your track record of pushing men away tells me all I need to know. So, spill, what did you do?” Ellis said.
I sighed. “I might’ve been rude to him…” I trailed off.
“Jenny!” Ellis admonished. “One day this is going to get you killed.”
“Don’t start,” I warned her.
“I’m just saying. You can’t keep this up. And he is angry,” she stated.
“Whatever, he’ll get over it,” I mumbled.
“Uh no, he won’t. Did you not see the look he gave you before he walked out?” She eyed me like I was crazy and oblivious.
“Yeah, I saw. He wanted to kill me,” I answered.
“Uh no. He walked out with a purpose,” Ellis stated.
“So?” Where was she going with this?
“So, it means he is going to come back…”
Read the full uncensored books on the Galatea iOS app!
Ellis was right, Kieran did come back, sooner than I expected him to. And the worst part was, I was all alone in the toy store with no one to save me from that handsome man.
It was during Ellis’s break that Kieran entered the toy store. And to say I tried to hide would be an understatement.
But there was no place in the toy store where I could hide, not that it would’ve mattered because I had to attend to Kieran as it was the store’s policy to attend to the customer.
Today he looked particularly handsome in his dark blue shirt and jeans. His muscles were prominent and were stretching the elastic material of his shirt, giving me a nice view of his muscular body.
“Hi, Jenny, right?” Kieran said, flashing me a smile that had my heart hopping with excitement.
I frowned upon seeing that beautiful smile. It had been twenty-four hours since I last saw him, and I distinctly remembered the glare he threw my way when he left the store yesterday.
So why was he smiling now? Had his anger evaporated? Did he not hate me anymore?
“Uh yes,” I said after I realized I was staring at him for the past five minutes. “Is there something I can help you with?” I asked.
“As a matter of fact, you can. I need the perfect toy for my niece this time,” he replied.
“Is it your niece’s birthday?” I should slap myself, I really should.
Why was I standing here, talking to a stranger, knowing all the danger that came with strange men? It was like I was blatantly telling trouble to come find me. I was an idiot.
“No, but since I’ve spoiled her rotten, she expects me to bring her a gift every time I visit her. You have no idea how difficult it is for me to buy her something that she doesn’t already own. This is why I need your help.”
Kieran smiled at me again. He smiled a lot, which meant he was happy in his life. Which was a good thing; everybody deserved to be happy, and I was glad this beautiful man was content with his life.
“I see.” I took a deep breath, willing my heart to relax. “What kind of a toy are you looking for?” I questioned.
Kieran was the kind of man whom you could spend hours looking at. Every angle of his face, each curve of his muscles was perfect.
And right now, he was being incredibly nice to me, even after how I treated him yesterday. I liked sweet men; there were so few of them these days.
“She likes stuffed animals, but no bears,” Kieran answered.
“Stuffed animals. They are in aisle three. I’ll take you to them,” I stated.
If he was going to be nice to me, I could push my reservations regarding strange men aside and be nice to him as well. After all, I promised my mother on her deathbed that I would be kind to everyone.
Stepping out from behind the counter, I led Kieran toward the aisle containing all sorts of stuffed animals. It was my favorite section in the whole toy store.
There was something so sweet about the stuffed animals, it made me feel at peace.
“Here you go. Pick any you like,” I said to him, gesturing to the hundreds of stuffed animals sitting proudly on the shelves.
“I don’t suppose you’re going to help me select one, are you?” There was amusement in his tone, and despite the way I felt toward him, I couldn’t help the smile that curved my lips.
“I’m sure you can select one,” I responded, before looking away.
“Right.” Kieran fell silent for a moment, probably looking at the stuffed toys and wondering which one he needed to buy for his niece.
I glanced around the aisle, making sure not to look at Kieran.
“You like strawberries?”
I jumped at his question. “What makes you say that?”
“Maybe because there is a giant strawberry on your shirt, and the fact that you were wearing a shirt with strawberries printed on it yesterday as well,” he answered.
I was surprised by his observation. I didn’t realize he noticed my clothes, much less remembered it.
“I just find them cute, that’s all.” I shrugged.
“I agree, they are cute,” he said.
“H-have you selected a toy?” I inquired.
I couldn’t let this get out of hand. I couldn’t afford to get close to anyone or have someone get close to me. I needed to keep this professional. Kieran didn’t need problems; he was happy in his life.
“Yes.” He plucked a giant stuffed strawberry from the aisle and handed it to me before grabbing a stuffed duck from the shelf below. “These two.”
Nodding, I led him back to the counter. “Would you like me to wrap these up for you?”
“Yes, that will be great,” he replied, fingering a couple of keychains dangling from the stand. “So, where is your friend today?” he asked as I pulled out a couple of boxes to put the stuffed toys in.
“Ellis is on her break. She will come back in a short while,” I answered, putting the duck in the box and wrapping it with a glossy paper.
“I see.” He paused. “I want to ask you something.”
“Yes?” My stomach twisted in knots as I wondered what he wanted to ask me.
“Would you like to go out on a date with me, on Saturday?” Kieran asked.
My fingers froze on the tape dispenser as my eyes flew to meet his soft brown ones. Date? He was asking me out on a date? Was he insane? Did he not realize what a disaster it would be to date me?
No, no, I couldn’t do this. I could not bring Kieran into my world.
“Uh, well, you see, I have plans on Saturday,” I told him.
“Okay, what about Sunday then? I’m sure you’ll be free on Sunday,” he queried.
“I have to go visit my mother on Sunday.” That was not a lie. I did go to visit my mother every Sunday…at the graveyard.
“Maybe we can visit her together,” he suggested.
Why couldn’t he take the hint? I didn’t want to go with him. And I didn’t want to hurt his feelings by rejecting him outright. But it looked like this was what I would have to do.
“No, we can’t. Sunday is like mother-daughter bonding day, no third person allowed,” I stated.
“All right. Not Sunday then. How about tomorrow. It’s Friday, and we can spend the evening together, maybe a nice dinner and a movie?” God, he was persistent.
I sighed. It looked as if I would have to hurt his feelings. “Look, Mr. Maslow—”
“Oh wow, you remember my name, but please, call me Kieran.”
“Kieran, I am flattered that you want to take me out on a date, but—”
“Hold it, don’t finish that sentence. I understand.” He gave me another smile.
Why did he keep gracing me with those beautiful smiles? I just rejected him, and he was still smiling at me? I didn’t deserve those smiles, not after refusing his offer.
“Y-you do?” I was glad I didn’t have to tell him no. I hated hurting people’s feelings, even if it was the right thing to do.
“Yes. I will just pay for my purchases now,” he replied.
“Right, of course.” I quickly checked out the items and handed Kieran back his credit card. “Have a nice day,” I told him.
“You too, Strawberry.” With a wink and that ever-present smile on his face, Kieran walked out of the store. Strawberry, he called me Strawberry? The man gave weird nicknames.
Once Kieran was gone and silence reigned in the store once more, I sat down on a cushioned chair and looked out the window, making sure I was safe and he was not there.
It had been six years since I ran away from him, with nothing but a little money and a lifetime worth of scars on my body and soul. The years did not pass by so easily for me.
But it was better now, at least I hoped it was. Ellis was a blessing in my life. Without her, I would still be existing in that hell—barely breathing.
I knew I wasn’t completely out of the woods yet. He could still come for me; I had no doubt that he would. And I would have to leave once he decided to show himself, but for now, maybe I could relax.
Even so, I couldn’t afford luxuries like Kieran Maslow in my life. He was nothing but a fantasy, a fantasy I yearned would morph into reality.
However, this would never happen, so it was best if I just kept my distance from him. It was better for both of us.
Even though I wanted to forget about Kieran, I couldn’t. There was something so alluring about him, something that forced me to think about him, to visualize that gorgeous smile.
I was going crazy. But I was sure every girl who came across such a drool-worthy man would spend hours thinking about him.
It was unbelievable how he just asked me out on a date. He didn’t sound like a creep, like other men sounded whenever they asked me out. Just because I was skinny, they thought they could touch me, control me.
But Kieran didn’t do anything like that. He didn’t come eerily close to me or try to touch me.
“Hey, what are you thinking about?” My heart nearly jumped out of my ribcage when I heard Ellis.
“You nearly gave me a heart attack!” I glared at my best friend as she dropped her purse right beside my chair.
“Not my fault you were so busy in your thoughts. What were you thinking about?” Ellis asked again.
“Nothing, just stuff,” I answered.
“Wow, that tells me all I need to know,” she replied, every word saturated with sarcasm.
I rolled my eyes. “Nothing special, Ellis. Drop it.”
“You’re not thinking about him, are you?” Ellis inquired.
“Duh, you know who,” she said.
Realization dawned like the rays of a toxic sun. “No, not him. It’s someone else.”
“Oh wow, that’s the first time in six years you’ve told me that you are not thinking about that tosser,” she stated, her voice holding a mixture of awe and relief.
“That’s because I’m not.” It was not easy for me to forget about that monster, which was why it surprised me just how intensely Kieran occupied my thoughts.
“That’s wonderful. Are you thinking about your mum?” she queried.
“No, Ellis, I’m not thinking about my mother either,” I responded.
“All right, now I’m stumped. Tell me what or who are you thinking about?” she demanded.
“Why?” I arched my eyebrow in question.
“Because you thinking is a dangerous thing. The last time you were lost in your thoughts, I had to pull you out of the bathtub that you were planning to drown yourself in,” she answered.
I winced as I recalled that horrible day. If Ellis hadn’t been there to pull me out of the water, I would’ve died, I would’ve never met Kieran, and Ellis would’ve been all alone in this world.
That was a selfish and a cowardly thing to do; and that day was a particularly dark day in my life. It was the time when I found myself at an all-time low.
“Well, I was thinking about Kieran,” I told her.
“Kieran Maslow, that man who came in yesterday,” I explained.
“You mean that delicious man? Oh wow, why are you thinking about him?” Ellis asked.
“Because he came in again. He bought two stuffed toys. He left a few minutes before you came in,” I informed her.
“Man! Why didn’t you call me? I missed seeing that delicious man,” Ellis whined.
“Well, in that case, what I’m about to tell you will have you exploding,” I stated.
“What? What is it?” Ellis came awfully close, closer than I was comfortable with. Seeing this, she flashed me an apologetic smile before taking a step back. “Tell me.”
“Promise me you won’t freak out,” I said.
“Just tell me,” she urged.
“Okay.” I took a deep breath. “He asked me out on a date, and I said no.” I clenched my eyes shut and waited for the explosion that I knew would be coming.
“What?” And it was here. “Are you trying to take a crack at me? Please tell me you did not reject him.”
“I did, I just told you that. I told him I was busy and didn’t want to go on a date with him,” I replied.
“Did you hit your head on the wall? Why would you do that? You missed such a good opportunity!” she admonished.
“Ellis, you know I can’t date men,” I argued.
“No, you just choose not to. Happiness comes knocking at your door, and you send it away. That’s stupidity, Jenny. How can you expect to live a happy life when you don’t embrace such opportunities?”
Ellis slapped a hand on her forehead in frustration.
“Ellis, stop it. You know why I rejected him. I can’t bring Kieran into my life. I can’t ruin his life like that,” I defended.
Grabbing her purse, Ellis dug her cell phone out and handed it to me. “Call him, right now and tell him you want to go on a date with him.”
“No, and I can’t call him because I don’t have his number.” I handed the phone back to her.
Ellis sighed, her forehead creasing in a frown. She was annoyed.
“I don’t even know if he will come tomorrow or not. And even if he did, there is no guarantee he will ask you out again. Men like him do not do well with rejection; they take it personally.”
She banged her fist against her forehead. “I knew I shouldn’t have left you alone. You always choose the wrong thing. Next time, I am spending my break right here with you.”
“Would you cut it out. It’s not a big deal. I’ve rejected other men before, what’s one more?” This girl knew how to make a mountain out of a molehill.
“Those men were creepy; they deserved to be rejected. But Kieran is a good man. You get one good man, and you push him away,” she chastised.
I took a deep breath. I’ve had enough of this.
“Ellis, I would appreciate it if you’d cut me some slack. I have much more important things to worry about than a potential husband, and you know that. So stop it, please.”
Ellis sighed. “I’m sorry. You’re right, Jenny. I just want you to be happy.”
“I can be happy without a man,” I argued.
“I know, but still. I want to see you happy and married with a couple of cute kids running around. I want you to have a happily ever after,” she stated.
But that’s the thing. I wasn’t destined for a happy ever after. My life was not a fairytale, and it never would be. And if Kieran continued to pursue me…
Then he would know this too.
Read the full uncensored books on the Galatea iOS app!