Title: No Excuses
Genre: Contemporary romance, romantic comedy
Maddie’s rules for attending a work retreat:
1. Pack the right clothes. Especially extra underwear.
2. Don’t try to school your insanely hot boss on acceptable trust exercises.
3. Be prepared for the extracurricular ropes course.
4. Make sure there is a safety net when you fall, because you will fall hard.
Gage doesn’t appreciate how hard it is to be his right hand woman—especially when I’m spending so much time with my own right hand, fantasizing about him. My demanding, control freak boss is testing all my limits, and I don’t know how long I can stay professional.
No Excuses is a hot, full-length contemporary romance, featuring blindfolds, rope play, food fights, and sexy architectural features like wainscoting. As in all Nikky Kaye books, cheating is not allowed, but a little angst, some funny business, and a HEA are non-negotiable.
He moved close to me, our bodies nearly touching. I kept my eyes on his chest as he gently draped one of the ties around me, cool and soft on the nape of my neck. The tiny hairs under my ears stood up at the feel of the silk sliding across my skin. Every sense I had was on high alert.
He smelled like fresh laundry, and a trace of something else lingered on his skin. It was almost like the scent of paper, or an overworked photocopier. I felt the heat from his hands close to my throat, and the hairs on his forearms tickled my collarbone for an infinitesimal moment.
My attention remained focused on the buttons of his shirt. I was very worried that if I met his gaze, my hyperawareness of him would shine out of my eyes like a flashlight.
“We’ll just leave this here for now,” he murmured, flicking one end of the tie against the underside of my chin. “Are you ready?”
I nodded mutely, but I let out a little gasp when his fingers touched my chin and tilted my face up. It was so tempting to screw my eyes shut, like a little girl trying to pretend that something didn’t exist if she couldn’t see it. I’d had plenty of practice with that before.
But he wouldn’t let me retreat. He looked at me directly and without guile, as usual. What was a little different this time, however, was the way his eyes darkened into stormy seas.
“Trust me.” His simple words wormed into my heart as his warm breath landed on my lips.
My voice cracked as I said, “Mister Gage.” It wasn’t an answer or a question, a protest or a plea. I honestly didn’t know what I wanted to say, and whatever was building in me halted as he lifted the other piece of fabric to my eyes.
He smoothed his thumbs across the strip of silk over my eyes, spreading out from the bridge of my nose to my temples. The tie was held firm between his fingers—those nimble fingers that paused in my hair briefly before they met again at the back of my head.
“Is that too tight?” he asked as he pulled the half-knot.
The sound of the silk rubbing against itself whispered in my ear. I shook my head. His hands clutched my hair and held me still.
“I’m not done.” His fingers tangled in my hair as he finished tying, pulling a few strands just enough to make me suck in a breath.
He froze. “Did I hurt you?”
“No.” My nipples hardened into tight buds as his breath washed over my forehead. “I, uh, no,” I repeated.
Gage had never touched me this much in the whole time I’d been working with him. Just the memory of his hands in my hair was enough to make me wobbly in the knees.
He dragged his thumbs across my covered eyes again, like a parent wiping away their child’s tears. Tracing his index fingers lightly over my eyebrows, he made an indistinct but satisfied noise.
“I can’t see anything,” I complained.
I was so blind that I flinched when his mouth dipped to my ear. “Good,” he chuckled.
Reflexively I swayed toward him, like a flower toward the sun. He pressed his thumbs gently into my cheekbones, then his fingertips left a trail of fire down my jaw and neck. On the journey he slipped the other tie from where it dangled around my neck, and pressed it into my trembling hands.
“Tie me up,” he ordered in a low voice.
Yeah, those were words I definitely never expected to hear from my boss’s mouth.
When he took my hand, he pressed his open mouth first to my palm, then the pulse point on my wrist. I was sure it was fluttering like a freaking butterfly.
“I want to show you my playroom. It’s important to me.”
Oh god. “Um, okay.” I could do this. I could totally do this.
He led me down the hallway in his little dollhouse. Another time I would have run my hand along the banister at the top of the stairs, its patina velvety with age. Or I would have probably noticed the vintage glass doorknobs at each room. But all I could see was the bright white of his shirt like a truce flag as I trailed behind him.
He stopped us in front of a door at the back of the house, and I hesitated. Actually, we both did. Gage rubbed the back of his neck. The direct, motivated, successful billionaire was nervous—and that made my knees close to knocking together.
“This is probably the most… personal, private part of me,” he explained haltingly, his gaze penetrating me. “Someday I would like very much for you to join me in here.”
Do not hyperventilate, I told myself. You are a mature, sexually active adult with an open mind—and past rope burns to prove it. You just role-played in the office, for god’s sakes. Do not embarrass yourself.
Instinctively, I squeezed my eyes shut as he reached for the knob, and the door creaked open. When I opened my eyes to slits, it was first to look up at the exultant look on Gage’s face. Then I faced the playroom. I hadn’t realized I’d been holding my breath until it whooshed out of me.
“Gage, you are sick and wrong. Just no. No.”
“How can you have Pac-Man but not Ms. Pac-Man?” I pointed to the array of arcade games lined up against the far wall. “That was clearly the better game!”
“I beg to differ.” With his arms crossed over his chest like that and his jaw looking like it had been set in concrete, there would be no persuading him.
At least he had Mortal Kombat and… was that a Dance Dance Revolution platform? It was covered in Japanese writing.
“Please tell me you have an Xbox.”
“Baby, I have everything.” He pointed to the giant beanbag and large—but not huge—television in one corner. Gage was almost glowing as brightly as the screens on the old consoles. Their sound had been muted, but the lights blinked in the background like dozens of little disco lights.
I wanted to laugh at myself for my idiotic fear. Whips and chains? Come on. I began giggling as I imagined myself bent over and tied to a bubble hockey table.
Boys and their toys. It gave a whole new meaning to “joystick.” At that ridiculous thought I bent over a little, my hands on my thighs, trying to cork up the laughter.
He stiffened, probably unused to being seen as a source of comedy. Well, it was past time to change that. Finally I managed to control my giggle fit, which was probably half due to relief.
His annoyance came out in a strange sound from deep in his throat. When I flung my arms around his waist, he felt as though made of steel. I wanted to melt him down in a fiery forge and bend him into sinuous shapes. Cradling his carved jaw in my hands, I pulled him down for a tender, apologetic kiss.
“I would love to play with you, Gage. But you should know that I take no prisoners in Mario Kart.”
He sighed against my lips, multi-tasking while devouring me. “That is one… of… the sexiest… things… I’ve ever… heard… come out… of your mouth.”
Nikky Kaye likes to read and write sassy, sexy, smart (and sometimes silly) stories. Once her books were referred to as “fuction” in a typo, but it sounds pretty appropriate.
After a 15-year hiatus from romance writing, she began self-publishing in the summer of 2016. Her first new adult erotic romance novella, Once Should Be Enough, became a bestseller in “Humorous Erotica”—which she found to be a hilarious accolade.
She has a horrible addiction to diet cola (known in her house as “Mummy sip”) and an impressive collection of power tools. Her half-finished home projects keep taunting her while she writes. In her diverse career as a college professor, working in the film
industry or with the United Nations, she never got to go to work in her PJs—until now.