Bride – Sara Fields

A C H A P T E R 1 s the elevator started to rise, I took a deep breath. My palms were annoyingly sweaty. I hated that they did that. Trying to be nonchalant about it, I moved my left hand to the side of my hip and casually pressed it against my black pinstriped skirt. I did the same with the right after I passed my coffee into my other hand. The attendant didn’t seem to notice at least. I smirked a little, feeling a bit proud of myself despite the boiling anxiety that was twisting my stomach up in knots. I’m not sure why I was so nervous about this particular meeting, but ever since I’d walked in the door of Asher Enterprises this morning things had felt off in some way. I couldn’t quite put a finger on why. The service here was impeccable. When I’d first arrived, there was a woman waiting for me with a cup of coffee, and not just any coffee, my personal favorite latte from a boutique shop in the Gaslamp district complete with a healthy dose of salted caramel whipped cream. How they knew it was my favorite was beyond me, but I’d appreciated the treat nonetheless. Now I was in a private elevator heading up to the top floor to meet with an executive from the corporation. I knew the basics of what they would ask from me. They wanted to buy my company.

Out of sheer curiosity, I’d taken the meeting even though I had no intention of selling. I hadn’t worked this hard for this many years to have my work bought out by someone simply because they had a much larger bank account than me. An MBA. Years of grad school. A PhD thesis that had gotten attention from every major pharmaceutical company in the United States. Getting a job working for someone else would have been simple, but I hadn’t wanted that. I’d wanted to take my research and bring it to the world. Myself. I’d poured blood, sweat, and tears into creating my own company and I hadn’t needed anyone else to do it. Just two years ago, I’d finally broken down and hired a team of scientists as well as a medical science liaison to communicate with the general public and generate funding to expediate our research. I’d been successful. Incredibly so. We were on the cusp of a major breakthrough. The type of breakthrough that would put my compound on the map with companies like Pfizer and Roche and Johnson & Johnson and help people throughout the world. This elevator was taking fucking forever.

The woman escorting me stood in front of me staring at the elevator doors. Occasionally, she’d look back at me and smile. I couldn’t shake the feeling that she knew something I didn’t, but I didn’t comment on it. Finally, the elevator stopped at the fortieth floor and the door slid open in silence. I was ushered into a small sitting room where there was a single very well-dressed woman sitting at a rather ostentatious mahogany wood desk. She looked up at me and smiled before she walked around the desk to greet me. She reached out to take my hand and I shook it, not missing the way her eyes dipped just slightly to take in the outfit I was wearing. My black pencil skirt fell just past my knees and my black kitten heels were cute, but more important, comfortable. My purple button-up blouse was soft, yet simple. I wasn’t here to impress anyone with my looks, but she most certainly was. Every inch of her body was perfect. Perfectly curved with perfectly tailored clothes that obviously spoke to an incredibly expensive fabric that covered her perfectly toned body. I did my best to ignore the small twinge of jealousy inside. “Mr. Asher is ready for you,” she said, and I hated how musically perfect her voice was too.

“Mr. Asher,” I echoed. “As in Grayson Asher?” “Yes. Right this way,” she answered. The name Grayson Asher was a household one. He was the most famous eligible bachelor in the country and the one that most frustrated gossip blogs too. He didn’t date publicly. He didn’t even go out on the town much either. Magazines constantly featured him, trying to get at the crux of his type of woman, but they never really got anywhere. He was extremely rich, the owner of multiple Fortune 500 companies, and to the world’s knowledge he went to bed alone every night. He was gorgeous. He had the kind of face that every woman dreamed about at night when she was lonely with only her own hand between her thighs. My face heated. Keep it together, Zoe. Be professional.

This wasn’t going to amount to anything more than a business meeting. I followed the perfect blonde to the door on the right and it slid open. She moved to the side and motioned for me to walk in, and I sucked in a breath and nodded my thanks. She grinned and I could have sworn her eyes had glinted with some sort of devious intention. I tried to ignore it. The door closed, effectively hiding her judgment or whatever it was from me, and I turned around. I was in a hallway of some kind. I took a step forward onto the plush cream-colored carpet and lifted my head, pushing away the oddness of the morning and focusing on the matter at hand. This wasn’t my first rodeo dealing with business execs with ridiculously big egos. I’d hear what he had to say, nod my head at the right times, glance over whatever contract he’d put together in an effort to pull the wool over my eyes, and thank him for his time. I’d throw out the paperwork once I got home. In a week, I’d call back and politely reject his offer. I would take no counters. I turned the corner to see a very tall man standing in front of a set of floor-to-ceiling windows. He was wearing a well-tailored suit, solid black and just as perfect as the secretary outside his office wore.

His hands were folded together behind his back as he looked out on the whole of San Diego from his office on the top floor. I could see the ocean from here. I had no doubt that it was probably the best view in the whole city. In spite of its beauty, I couldn’t stop myself from staring at the man right in front of me. His shoulders were wide, and I absentmindedly found myself wondering what they might feel like underneath my fingers. His shoulders tapered into a narrow waist, and for a second my gaze lingered on the perfectly round globes of his ass. Yeah. That’s fucking nice. He was a tall drink of water, for sure. Without warning, he turned around and those dreamy dark chocolate eyes found my boring blue ones. The pictures in the magazines had hardly done him justice. If anything, he was even more handsomely gorgeous in person. The lines of his chin were hard and sharp, softened a bit by the dark hue of a few days’ worth of stubble. His cheekbones were angular and just as flawless, but it was his eyes that captured me the most. Their depths seemed endless.

Within those dark irises, there were hints of yellow and green that sparkled amongst the coffee-colored hue. After a few moments, I forced myself to look away, afraid that he might think I was staring at him for too long. “Miss Parker,” he murmured in greeting. “Dr. Parker,” I corrected, and he smirked in a way that felt salacious and deviant rather than polite. “That’s right. I apologize. It’s nice to meet you, Dr. Zoe Parker,” he answered. In some ways, it felt like he was chiding me, and it annoyed me. It was probably just the way he was. He was rich and used to being on the top of the world in every room he walked into. I may not have the dollars behind my name that he did, but I would. Eventually. “It’s an honor to meet you, Mr.

Asher,” I continued. “Please. Call me Grayson,” he smiled, and this time it was warmer. I licked my lips. “Grayson,” I echoed. For some reason his name on my tongue felt wrong, like I was whispering sweet nothings in his ear just by saying his first name. I was being ridiculous. I offered my hand in greeting and he took several steps toward me. His handshake was firm and sure, and I noticed at this proximity that he was so much taller than me. He was probably six foot three, or even six foot five. I tried not to be intimidated, but I was about a foot shorter than him and that made me feel tiny. His skin against mine felt like fire, like I’d shoved my hand into a vat of molten lava, and I did my best not to pull away before he ended the handshake. I swallowed my sigh of relief when he released my fingers, trying not to focus on the way his touch lingered long after he let me go. “Why don’t you take a seat?” he asked, proffering the comfortable-looking brown leather armchair situated in front of the grand wooden desk in the center of the room. “Thank you,” I replied and moved toward it, glancing over my shoulder to see that his gaze lingered.

He’d been checking out my ass. I was one hundred percent certain of it. Maybe he did have a type.


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Updated: 15 September 2021 — 03:08

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