Final Admission is now available from Noble Romance.
Blurb: James Trenchard is a dick. Everyone in Bingwell, Brock, and Bacon says so, and after Ethan’s first encounter with the man, he agrees. Ethan resolves to avoid James but ends up working closely with him and discovers the lawyer's hiding a secret from the world. Ethan also realizes he's falling too hard too fast. Ethan has to decide if he should help James and risk getting entangled in the mess James has gotten himself into, or move on. But walking away from love is never a simple decision to make.
"Trenchard is a dick. Unless you're a chick. Then he's the only one with a dick. The rest of us might as well not exist."
There was a rumble of agreement around the coffee room at Vince's vehement rhyming declaration.
Ethan looked around at the other assistants, as they nodded in agreement. As the newest employee of Bingwell, Brock, and Bacon, the largest advertising agency in the city, he had no idea who Trenchard was, or what he had done to offend the senior administrator. He noticed the small, secretive smile that curved the lips of several women in the room, as they stared down into their coffee cups. Ethan had the impression she knew a lot more than she was giving away.
Vince curled his fingers around his cup so tightly Ethan feared that it was going to crack. "Do you remember last year with Antonia from the third floor?"
"Heck, yes." Paul chimed in. "He was all over her the second we walked in the building."
"And she went out to dinner with him." Vince's tone was bitter. "When I asked her to go out for a drink, she laughed at me. Then Trenchard raised his eyebrow, and she was dropping her panties before you could say slut."
Paul shrugged. "Yeah, but he's James Trenchard, Vince. If he asked you out, you'd be dropping your panties even faster."
Ethan waited for Vince to explode. He was, as far as Ethan was aware, a full-on heterosexual male, albeit an arrogant douche who had the women running for the hills.
Instead, Vince bit at his fingernail, before saying, "Nah, probably not."
"Who is this dude?" Ethan asked, totally confused.
Vince gave him a look. "He's James Trenchard."
As if that was supposed to explain everything. By the way they all nodded again, maybe it did.
From the way they said James Trenchard, Ethan wasn't sure what he expected. The Messiah, perhaps? In all the years his mom forced him to go to church, no one told him that he'd meet the Messiah at Bingwell, Brock, and Bacon.
* * * * *
In the lobby, as James Trenchard greeted Leanne Cauldwell, the administration director and Ethan's boss, Ethan stared at him, trying to see the attraction. Sure, the guy was good-looking, almost beautiful even, for a guy in his mid-thirties, with sleek, light brown hair that curled over his collar, and ice-blue eyes framed by long lashes. Those lips wouldn't look out of place on a woman, except, on Trenchard, they didn't look effeminate. He was wearing a charcoal gray, pinstripe suit, with a plum-colored shirt and tie. Ethan noticed how well the suit pants showed off Trenchard's ass. The lawyer seemed friendly enough. Ethan wondered what he'd done to warrant the enmity of Vince Lines.
Up until the moment Trenchard let the door bang behind him, right into Ethan's face.
"Told you so." Vince's nasty whisper floated behind Ethan.
The guy was a dick, no doubt about it. Not a word of apology for almost rearranging Ethan's nose, then Trenchard ignored them all as they used the elevator to the tenth floor. Ethan stared at the lawyer's back with dislike, his top lip curling as James Trenchard openly flirted with Ethan's boss.
Ethan felt sickened, the way Trenchard's hand rested on her lower back as he guided her toward the conference room. What was worse, Leanne "Lay-one-finger-on-me-and-I'll-bust-your-balls" Cauldwell was positively blooming under Trenchard's sleazy charm. She had just giggled—giggled—at something he said.
But as the lawyer showed Ms. Cauldwell into the large, airy room, he looked over his shoulder to the men following them, Ethan included.
"Your boys get prettier every year, Lulu," Trenchard said conversationally. "Especially that large one. He's so young."
The large one, of course, had to be Ethan; he cleared most of the men by at least half a foot. And he wasn't fucking pretty. Especially not with a door imprint on his face. Unimpressed at being reduced to the level of a thirteen-year-old girl, Ethan rolled his eyes at Vince and Paul.
He noticed Ms. Cauldwell hadn't even bothered to look at her team. "You batting for the other side this year, James?"
"I bat for everyone," Trenchard said, then showed his perfect, white teeth.
Ethan imagined Trenchard sinking them into Ethan's shoulder, even as he sank his cock into Ethan's body.
Ms. Cauldwell snorted. "I bet you do. Well, my boys are pretty and clever, so don't you forget it. Don't make the mistake of thinking they're just for show."
Trenchard swept a glance appreciatively over the small group of men; his gaze lingered on Ethan's face. "Oh, I won't underestimate them, Lulu; I definitely won't."
And didn't Ethan just know Trenchard was talking to him. He wanted to punch him in the face.
"I don't think your boy likes me very much." James confided to Ms. Cauldwell as they sat down.
"Mr. Williams has good instincts," Ms. Cauldwell said.
Ethan resisted the urge to preen a little.
"I'm sure he does." Trenchard drawled.
The rest of them spread around the table. Ethan didn't know how it happened but somehow he ended up on the opposite side of the table from the lawyer. His temper rising, he avoided looking at the man's smug face; instead, his gaze fell on Trenchard's hand wrapped around a fountain pen. Long fingers tipped with well-manicured hands—strong hands. Ethan wondered what they'd look like around his dick. Flushing guiltily, Ethan looked up, to catch Trenchard smirking. Hastily averting his eyes, Ethan caught Ms. Cauldwell staring at them with a resigned expression.
"For heaven's sake, put him down, James." Ms. Cauldwell sounded more resigned than angry as she tapped her fingers on the table impatiently.
Trenchard leaned back in his chair. "I haven't touched him, Lulu."
Ethan wondered if he was the only one who could hear the yet.
"He's off-limits. Mr. Williams, if you could actually concentrate on our meeting?" Her tone made it clear that it wasn't a question.
His cheeks grew even hotter. Ethan muttered his apologies. He could feel the amused stares of all his colleagues except for Vince, who glared at him from farther down the table. Ethan looked up to see Trenchard still gazing at him, as if he were a succulent piece of prime rib.
Ethan was grateful when the meeting actually started, which diverted attention away from him. As the meeting progressed, he was unwillingly impressed. Trenchard knew his business. Nothing got past him as he went through each file. Ethan managed to acquit himself adequately when it came to his turn, answering all of the lawyer's questions competently. Some of his colleagues didn't fare so well. Ethan winced as Trenchard shredded Vince for a mistake that cost the agency thousands of dollars.
By the end of the meeting, he was feeling more relaxed and able to handle himself. That complacent feeling lasted until he felt a warm foot travel up his calf. From the angle of the foot, it could only be Trenchard. Ethan was pinned like a butterfly on a board as the silk-clad foot tiptoed its way higher, until it rested neatly in his groin.
Trenchard's mouth moved as skillfully in his detailed discussion on why the agency would get screwed by Disney if they used a phrase in a technical manual as his foot did in its detailed exploration of Ethan's groin.
Unable to move, unable to say anything, Ethan bit his lip as his traitorous cock sat up and begged for attention. He couldn't even shove Trenchard off without drawing attention to himself. There was absolutely nothing he could do, as slowly, inexorably, he drew closer to climax. Just as his balls drew up tight, screaming for their release, the foot disappeared.
In shock at his denied orgasm, Ethan watched in horror as the lawyer pushed back his chair and stood.
"I think we're done for the day, Lulu. Good work, everyone." Trenchard's gaze swept around the room. He gave a brief smile. "I believe there is lunch in the boardroom. I'm sure the sandwiches aren't too stale."
Everyone stood, except Ethan; he clutched his pen so tightly it was in danger of snapping. So close to coming, a puff of wind could've set him off.
"Mr. Williams, are you coming?" Ms. Cauldwell raised an eyebrow at her associate's lack of motion.
Most likely, he thought desperately, as he gave her a wild-eyed, "Yes, ma'am."
"I'll leave you to collect the files, then you can join us in the boardroom." She pushed back her chair, not giving a hint that she knew of his predicament.
"Yes, ma'am." He repeated himself, not moving a muscle. Trenchard, the bastard, left without even a backward glance at Ethan.
Paul gave him a puzzled look but obediently handed over his file, the others following suit.
Angry as fuck, Ethan grumbled, alone in the conference room with a pile of files in front of him, his erection hardly subsided since that bastard left him hanging. He wanted to get his cock out and jack off. Get it over and done with. Only he couldn't do that, so he had to wait until his boner had gone down enough for him to walk without a limp. He'd be lucky if there was any food left by the time he got there. Ethan ground his teeth in frustration.
When he finally could show himself in public and walk into the boardroom, his prediction proved accurate. The food platters were empty, the only things left a few pieces of limp watercress. Ethan groaned inwardly. It would be late evening before he had a chance to eat again.
Someone thrust a plate into his hand. Not expecting it, Ethan dropped the pile of files in his arms. The sandwiches miraculously stayed on the plate. The room went silent for a moment, then everyone burst into laughter.
"Dear me, Lulu, you really picked a good one this time."
Ethan could hear Trenchard's mocking tone over the laughter. He sank to his knees to pick up the files, but not before putting a sandwich in his mouth, just in case they got taken away. Paul immediately joined him, reaching out for a file that had slipped farther away.
"I'm so sorry, Ethan."
"I saved you some food. I should have waited until you'd put the files down."
"So you should, Mr. Vicini. It seems Mr. Williams can't manage two things at once. Multitasking is obviously not one of his skills."
Ethan looked up to see Trenchard standing over him, that stupid, mocking smile still on his handsome face. Glaring at the lawyer, he got to his feet, files in hand.
Throwing caution to the wind, Ethan leaned forward and lowered his voice. "I am perfectly capable of managing two things at once, Mr. Trenchard, just as you seem to be. It's really a shame you'll never have a chance to discover that for yourself."
He took satisfaction in the fleeting look of disappointment that crossed the lawyer's face.
His boss watched them from the sidelines, wearing a peculiarly satisfied expression.
"I think I'll take the files back to the office, Ms. Cauldwell." He didn't really care if this was against protocol.
She nodded, that odd look still on her face. "Good idea, Mr. Williams."
He took another sandwich from the plate Paul still held; he was hungry, after all, then left the room, thankfully without tripping, a shred of his dignity still intact.
As he left, he heard his boss say quietly, "One for my team this year, I think."
James gave a short laugh. "Not on your life, Lulu. This is just the opening salvo. Williams is just a kid. He could never stand to play with the big boys."
And didn't Ethan just hear the emphasis.
Ethan was a short hop from dropping the files and walking back in to plant his fist in James' face.
"Honestly, Lulu, you're going have to up your game if you think you're going to beat me."
"James, one day you might just get what's coming to you."
"Never gonna happen."
Humiliated and furious, Ethan stabbed at the elevator button. The guy was a lawsuit waiting to happen. Who the fuck did he think he was? If Ethan didn't need his job so much, he might have called the bastard's bluff. Except he wouldn't have, because God, that foot had felt good on his cock.
Yes, Mr. Trenchard, you are a total dick.