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Hotwired for each other… When Ross Dixon is kidnapped from his office, along with the sexy lawyer who’d been busting his balls over a deal that should have been a walk in the park, he wakes to find a devotion chip surgically implanted in his brain. If that isn’t bad enough, the chip, designed to trigger emotional reactions between him and the woman lying next to him, is working overtime on his libido.
Mistaken for Ross’s flavor of the month, Kayla Michaels, a 22nd-century lawyer, doesn’t have a problem spending time in Ross’s bed–or over his desk–but she wants no part in the romantic feelings the chip is provoking. She’s been down that road before and ended up burned.
Kayla and Ross struggle to find answers while coming to terms with the constant lust sizzling between them, but along the way each wonders if the emotions are real or just a side effect of being hotwired.Read Chapter Excerpt
June 5, 2104
Kayla Michaels tugged at the skirt of her red business suit. But unlike her twentieth -century style jeans, the fabric didn’t caress her skin with comfort. Nor did her high heels massage her feet like her worn calf-leather biker boots. She wished longingly for a beer at the bar with the old gang. The boys could always help her to relax.
“Damn, I hate dealing with pricks like Ross Dixon,” she grumbled and opened the door to his office. A large desk with a plaque embossed with the name “Mrs. Pretty” in gold occupied the other end of the waiting area.
What an awful name.
A petite woman with gray-peppered brown hair glanced up. “Can I help you?”
“Yes, I’m here to see Mr. Dixon.”
“You must be Ms. Michaels. Mr. Dixon agreed to rearrange your appointment because of your early arrival in town, but he doesn’t have a lot of time. He’s due to attend a gathering at the art museum tonight.” Mrs. Pretty stood to her full height of five-foot-nothing and then slipped through a large oak door.
Unmoved by the woman’s cold manner, Kayla turned to view the large screen on the adjacent wall. The calming force of nature, mountains tall and strong, wild flowers blowing in the wind, and water flowing through a field of green helped ease the tight ache of her muscles. She drew in a deep breath and loosened her grip on her briefcase. I can do this.
“ Ms. Michaels. Mr. Dixon will see you now.” Mrs. Pretty waved a hand for Kayla to proceed into the inner office.
Kayla entered Mr. Dixon’s private domain and paused. The high-rise view beckoned her. Steel and glass glowed with the golden hue of the setting sun, and a sense of power engulfed her by simply entering the room.
Her gaze slipped to the organic sculpture by the window, and she realized the plant formed a chair. Tiny green leaves meandered along the arms and base to add color to the piece. A matching couch lined the bordering wall. At the far end of the oversized space, a large oak desk blocked Dixon’s handsome form.
The door clicked closed.
She squared her shoulders and walked forward. No matter how much the unique furnishing might awe her, she couldn ’t show weakness. Otherwise, Ross Dixon would eat her alive.
Speaking into his PEEP, he didn’t glance at her but stared out the window. She stepped to the two chairs in front of his desk and settled into the soft leather. Seeing him with his Personal Electronic Ear-Piece, she started to reach for her own device but paused. The tool connected her to every electronic device in her briefcase, but she wanted to conduct this meeting in the old-fashioned way, face to face with no computer interruptions.
She leaned back in her chair and studied the man, homing in on the small details that revealed his personality. His curly dark hair stood on end each time he combed his hands through it, a strong sign of his restless spirit. The small lines around his eyes displayed a zeal to succeed, and his spoon-shaped fingers indicated a destiny to rise to the top of the business world. In a formal black suit, the
man reeked of wealth and power. But the pulsating energy surrounding him struck with a force Kayla hadn’t expected.
“I don’t understand. If your brother is already at the hospital, why are you staying?” He worked a computer stick through his fingers like a baton. Kayla read his disapproval in the rigid set of his shoulders.
“But Lindsey, you’re the one who wanted to attend this event at the art museum.” He shook his head and turned. His intense glare nailed Kayla.
The hypnotic blue of his eyes captured her, and the burning heat in their depth lit a flame of need. Every nerve ending hummed, and a spark ignited in her libido. Sweat dampened her palms, and she rubbed her hands over the rough fabric of her skirt.
He blinked and lowered his gaze to the data screens embedded in his desk.
Wowza. She allowed the pent-up air in her lungs to seep out, and after a brief moment, she forced herself to inhale again. The woodsy scent of his cologne filled her nasal passages, and seductive images formed in her mind. To get a hold of her wayward thoughts, she tightened her grip on her bag.
“Fine, we’ll just blow off tonight’s gala, and I’ll talk to you tomorrow.” He waited a half second, then jerked off the ear-piece and threw it on the desk.
The calm expression on his face when he looked up startled Kayla almost as much as his earlier glare. To mask his emotions so quickly required a skill she didn’t possess.
“So Ms. Michaels, I understand your parents authorized you to handle the sale of their business.” He jumped right to the point of their meeting.
“Mr. Dixon, I—”
“Since we ’ll be working together, why don’t you call me, Ross, Kayla?”
She narrowed her focus onto the strong cut of his jaw and avoided his alluring smile. No way, I’m not falling for your charm like every other woman you’ve ever met. She drew in a calming breath.
“Mr. Dixon, my parents have been down this road before with your company. This time, I plan to iron out any problems before they even see the contract.” Unwilling to play around, she used her best lawyer voice to drive home her point. “They’re still not certain they want to sell. So don’t waste my time with anything less than your best offer.”
“ Kayla, this proposal isn’t like any of the others. Your parents will make enough money to retire and never have to work again.” Ross leaned back in his chair as if she couldn’t find a single issue with the contract.
She pulled out her minicomputer. “ Mr. Dixon, money isn’t the only issue. Several other items need to be clarified.”
“Okay, Kayla, where do you want to start?”
His compliance to her demand didn’t ease her anxieties. As a shark in the business world, he didn’t enter into a contract unless he hoped to recoup his cost. So why did he want her parents’ property?
An hour later, Ross stood and paced around the corner of his desk. Kayla Michaels wasn’t the pushover he’d expected. She had a real stubborn streak. She fought him on every term and continued to hold the upper hand. It didn ’t help that she had a face and body that wrecked his concentration.
Average in looks, her short brown hair danced around her face with the slightest movement, repeatedly drawing his attention to her full lips. Red, and oh, so tempting. Yet, her sharp mind had him dancing for answers to her questions, while her eyes held him captive. One blue, one green, they added a level of mystery that would have attracted him if he’d been in the mood to pursue a new lover.
Cousin to his best friend, she held a degree in law and started her career as a trial lawyer. He learned about all her escapades as a high profile lawyer from the local news and every juicy tidbit about her private life from his friend. Even if she was hot in bed, she didn’t have the guts to succeed in her chosen field. Hell, after six months, she’d walked away from her career to run back to a job at her
parents’ farm. Then why dabble in contract law?
Maybe she was a spoiled brat like Lindsey. She had arranged for them to attend an event at the art museum tonight. Now without any warning, she’d bailed. And her excuse to stay at the hospital with her brother? Hell, half the time she wouldn’t even speak to the man.
What was her problem? If she didn’t want to see him anymore, why not just tell him? They both knew it wouldn’t last forever, not with her father pushing her to marry someone else.
His gaze fell on Kayla’s long legs. Her red skirt highlighted her smooth creamy thighs. If only…
He leaned against the edge of his desk and crossed his ankles. The possibility of spending another couple of hours hashing out this contract turned his stomach. He had his own lawyers to hammer out the fine print. He’d much rather be doing something else with the lady like sampling her luscious lips.
But no, the little spitfire demanded she talk to him first, before she’d discuss terms.
“Kayla, I believe we’ve been over every point. If you—”
The door to his office opened. Three men entered wearing teal uniforms of a transport team from a medical facility.
“What the hell?
This is a restricted area.” Something was wrong. They couldn’t be on this floor of the building after hours unless they had access to his private lift.
The lanky man in the middle stepped forward. “Mr. Dixon, we’re here to escort you and the lady to the Special Health Care Center.”
“I haven’t arranged for any type of medical procedure.”
The lanky man on the end flashed a tranquilizer pistol. “We were told you might put up a fight and to use whatever means necessary to bring you in.”
The other two raised theirs. A foreign emotion tickled the back of his throat. Ross choked down the bitter saliva in his mouth.
The tall mountain of a man in the middle shuffled forward. “Come with us, please.”
“And if we don’t want to go?” Still in her chair, Kayla appeared ready to jump into action if any of them stepped closer. To fight three men might be foolhardy, but he couldn’t
help but respect her courage.
“You don’t have a choice, ” the leader said and led the way forward. “Our job is to get you there on time.”
Kayla laid the minicomputer in her lap on the floor and stood. “I’m not going anywhere with anyone.”
Ross straightened. “Wait a minute. There’s been a mistake.”
“No, mistake, Mr. Dixon.” The third man pulled out restraints. “We’ve been paid to bring you in and that’s what we’re going to do. Let’s not make this harder than it is.”
Ross gripped the edge of his desk. Transport teams were often hired out to private parties. “Who paid you?”
“Enough talk. ” The leader motioned with his weapon. “Let’s go.”
“Wait. Let’s negotiate a deal. Someone is paying you to do this? Tell me who, and I’ll double your fee. The job done, you guys are free to head home happy with a little extra
money in your pockets.”
A brief chuckle escaped the leader. “Yes, and we’ll be dead before we spend the money.”
Shaking his head, Ross pushed away from the desk. This was no mistake. And these men weren’t a transportation team. Not one used by a medical facility. “No, we can—”
“They’re not going to negotiate, Dixon.” Kayla stepped forward. “CROWs don’t go back on their word without deadly consequences.”
The leader nodded to show his respect. “Are you part of the Core?”
She shook her head. “At one time, I wore the colors.”
With them unwilling to bargain, Ross altered his course of action and eased around the corner of his desk. He’d fought a number of battles with the Co-op of Ruck Organized Workers union. They encompassed all his hourly employees in their ranks and played tough. They also didn ’t pull any punches. But why did they feel the need to silence him now?
He edged closer to the alarm under his desk, his sweaty palms gliding over the smooth surface.
“So why are you consorting with the enemy?” The larger man drew nearer and stood right in front of her. The other two stalked along the outer walls.
“Money is money. ” Kayla kicked off her high-heels and sprang into a defensive stance. “If you’re dealing with the big boys, you’re bound to earn more.”
The big man grinned. “And even sweeter when it’s taken from an upper.”
Ross pushed his desk chair out of the way and stepped a few paces closer to the alarm. He didn’t like using her as a distraction, but if she could detain them for a few seconds. He might be able to activate the device to send in help.
“True, but I don’t want to get stuck in a vengeance fight. ” Kayla tilted her head over her left shoulder. “Take my advice. Dixon isn’t the kind of mark whose death will go unnoticed.”
Half listening, Ross gained another two inches. Sweat raced down his back.
“Oh, we’re not going to kill him. Or you either. Our specs say to drive you both to a sex clinic for a little fun between the sheets.”
The statement stopped Ross in his tracks. Kayla balked. “What the—”
The man in front of her lunged. She threw a kick, a direct hit to the knee. He yelled in pain and crumbled to the floor.
A tranquilizer needle pierced Kayla’s neck. She yelped and collapsed beside the chair.
Alarm forgotten, Ross rushed around the desk. The other two thugs scurried forward. One
Fighting the man’s grip, Ross landed a blow to the chin and turned.
A hot stale breath hit him in the face and the prick of needles stung his neck. He jerked away from the man.
“You fucking bastard, I’ll…” The spinning effects of the drug streaming through his system stopped his tirade. His knees buckled, and his world turned pitch black.