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Authors: Natalie Anderson

Dating and Other Dangers

BOOK: Dating and Other Dangers
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Praise for Natalie Anderson

‘This wonderful tale is a terrific mix of
spark, sizzle and passion.’
—RT Book Reviews on
Ruthless Boss, Royal Mistress

‘Sizzling chemistry in the boardroom and
well-developed characters make this a winner.’
—RT Book Reviews on
Hot Boss, Boardroom Mistress

‘You can always rely on Natalie Anderson
to deliver a fun and feel-good read …
The Millionaire’s Mistletoe Mistress
is another
fabulous read by this amazing rising star of M&B!’
—PHS Reviews on
The Millionaire’s Mistletoe Mistress

About the Author
About Natalie Anderson

Possibly the only librarian who got told off herself for talking too much,
decided writing books might be more fun than shelving them—and boy, is it that! Especially writing romance—it’s the realisation of a lifetime dream kick-started by many an afternoon spent devouring Grandma’s Mills & Boon
novels …

She lives in New Zealand, with her husband and four gorgeous-but-exhausting children. Swing by her website any time—she’d love to hear from you:

Also by Natalie Anderson

The End of Faking It
Walk on the Wild Side
Unbuttoned by Her Maverick Boss*
Caught on Camera with the CEO*
To Love, Honour and Disobey

*Part of the
Hot Under the Collar

Did you know these are also available as eBooks?

Dating and
Other Dangers

Natalie Anderson

To all the fabulous staff at Coffee Culture, Timaru –
who never mind when I sit in my favourite booth for
hours (and hours and hours), and who know not to
give me wifi access until I’ve done a decent amount of
work… You guys are always so patient and friendly—
thanks heaps for giving my ‘office’ such great service!



Don’t be a Doormat!

Sick of bad dates and being taken advantage of? Check the facts on him here first—and don’t forget to tune into our latest tips to survive the dating jungle …

thread #1862: Mr 3 Dates and You’re Out!

—posted 15:49

Ethan Rush might narrowly avoid screwing someone else at the same time, but he’ll screw you over in a way that’s worse. He’s hot but he knows it—and totally fakes the charm. He’ll take you somewhere flash a couple of times, flatter you ’til you can’t think, give you the best sex ever. You’re so dazzled. But
before you know it he’s saying goodbye. No explanation—just an “it was fun” note. He has to be setting up the next date while he’s kissing off the last because next day he’s out with her. He goes from the next to the next to the next. Don’t fall for the irresistible act or try to catch because he’ll never commit—3 dates and you’re out.

—posted 18:23

OMG, I dated him 2 and u r so right—he’ll make u feel incredible but he’ll never want more than 2 or 3 dates. Then u don’t feel incredible. U feel like ur heart’s been conned out of u. He’s a total usr.

—posted 21:38

He took me to this incredible restaurant. It was the most amazing night of my life. But for him? Who knows? All of a sudden it’s over. I think he’s just after numbers. I was so into him. Now I just feel like an idiot.

—posted 07:31

He had what he wanted and he went on his way. The fact that it was so good
made it worse. You’re left hanging, thinking you’re half in love with him. And that there’s something really wrong with you.

—posted 09:46

I still don’t know why he stopped calling. I thought it was going gr8 but no warning and is all over. Got amazing flowers but that really didn’t help.

—posted 10:22

You got a bunch of flowers too? So did I. Definitely his standard MO. Bet there are heaps of others he’s done it to. He’s the one with the problem, ladies, not us. Avoid at all costs—don’t let him get away with the playboy-rat routine any more!

his jeans and tee Ethan’s skin burned hot one second and snap-froze the next as he read the website. He’d thought the link embedded in the e-mail his sister had sent would lead to the latest hilarious viral vid.

This wasn’t hilarious. This was a horrorfest—all about him.

Mr 3 Dates and You’re Out picked up the phone.

‘Polly, you made this up,’ he rapped, as soon as his sister answered.

‘Sadly, no.’ Polly sounded half-apologetic, half-teasing. ‘You’re

‘But I don’t use women.’ The defensive instinct was impossible to suppress. ‘No more than they use me,’ he added when she didn’t answer. ‘I’m a generous date.’ Good restaurant. Good company. Good time—for both parties.

‘Generous in what way?’ Polly asked. ‘They’re right. You never go on more than three dates with one woman. And you constantly date.

‘And that’s a problem because …?’

‘You’re only after one thing.’

‘No, I’m not.’ He enjoyed the company of women, but he didn’t sleep around. ‘I don’t even go to bed with all of them.’

Polly’s disbelieving silence echoed. Great. His own sister didn’t believe him. Irritated, he glared at the computer, angered all the more by the petty words some bitter ex-dates had written about him. ‘You cannot agree with this. Anyone can say anything they want on the internet. Where’s the verification?’

‘Well, I know the flowers thing is true.’

Because she was the florist he just about
single-handedly kept in business. ‘So that makes the rest of it true?’

His sister remained silent. Stupidly, it hurt more than it should—the way a paper cut made your eyes water despite being the smallest of incisions. He grimaced at the stupid cute logo with its blinding bright colours. ‘Who does this, anyway? What kind of person sets up a website devoted to letting bitter and twisted women vent their vitriol?’

Hell had no fury, and the scorned woman behind this website must be one manipulative wench. She even had awful tee shirts for sale, so she could make money off the vulnerable and vindictive.

‘Forget it, Ethan.’ Polly tried to switch topic. ‘I shouldn’t have sent it to you. You’re coming to the christening, right? Alone?’

‘Yeah,’ Ethan growled. ‘So I can shield Mum from Dad’s latest. And you were right to send it this to me, but off to believe it.’ Eyes glued to the screen, he clicked on another couple of entries and seethed even more. He was on there with all the cheats and creeps—though that assumed that what these women claimed was actually true. He knew for sure
thread was fabrication, so he was sceptical. And increasingly furious.

‘This is defamation.’ The injustice burned.
‘The internet might be all about free speech, but this is wrong.’

It was completely wrong. Damaging and dangerous. A site like this shouldn’t be allowed. Someone had to do something about it before some guy’s life or job was derailed by a bad online reputation.

Ethan Rush never shied from a challenge. And he didn’t take
lying down.

Nadia’s eyes hurt as she squinted at her inbox. Staying up all night to moderate and update the forum had been such a dumb idea. And she’d had to come up with two new blog topics—which at three in the morning had been next to impossible. Her site had gotten so much bigger than she’d ever dreamed it would—truly fabulous—but it made focusing on the day job difficult. Unfortunately it was the day job that paid the bills. And it was the day job that was going to buy her the life and respect she’d fought for for ever. So she wasn’t going to screw it up.

She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Despite exercising on her way to work, there’d been no endorphin high, and she was going to need something more to get through the next eight hours. But before she could raid the snack machine for an assortment of fatty,
sugary, salty, fifty-times-processed, plastic-wrapped rubbish, her phone rang.

‘Nadia, I have a gentleman in reception asking for you,’ Steffi the receptionist informed her, with an incredibly sparkly intonation.

‘Really?’ Nadia checked her calendar, but her first appointment wasn’t scheduled for an hour. ‘Me?’

‘You. Apparently no one else will do.’

Nadia didn’t think so. He was probably a relentless wannabe recruit and Stef was fobbing him off on her. Millions wanted to work at Hammond Insurance. She knew. She’d fought like a wildcat to get her foot in the door.

‘He’s pretty insistent. Shall I send him through?’

Oh, yeah—Steffi was totally fobbing off some weirdo on her. ‘Okay.’ Nadia caved. ‘Meeting room five, in three minutes.’

‘Fantastic,’ Steffi gushed.

Nadia frowned and lowered her voice to whisper into the phone. ‘Stef, is everything okay?’

‘Sure. Why?’

‘You sound a little…puffed.’

‘Oh, no.’ Steffi laughed too loudly, all her breath seeming to blast down the phone. ‘I’m

Uh-huh. Nadia hung up and swivelled her chair. She needed some screen-free time anyway. She picked up one of the recruitment packs and walked to the meeting room.

If he was a wannabe recruit Steffi could have given him an info pack, but some of them were determined to talk to someone beyond Reception. Ah, well, it was a relief to delay starting properly, and she could raid the vending machine on her way back. She got to the meeting room and took up her position behind the desk. She flicked open the pack and prepared herself to deliver the bright smile and the spiel outlining the benefits of this amazing, ancient company, but not allowing too much hope to build in the guy. Hammond only took the best of the best. It took a hell of a lot of hard work to cut it here, and ninety-nine percent of people who applied never got over the threshold.

She looked up as a figure appeared in the doorway. She blinked at the brightness of Steffi’s smile. The receptionist was flushed and sparkling, as if she’d had three too many glasses of champagne. She loudly told the person following her, ‘Here’s meeting room five!’ then stepped to the side and Nadia saw the guy himself.

Cue several blinks in quick succession.

not what she’d expected. She’d been thinking recent graduate—nervous, but bright. Sometimes they were youthfully brash, but they were never this smoothly confident, never this coolly controlled, never this kind of three thousand percent full-grown, red-blooded
. Sharp tailored suit, even sharper eyes, and a smile on the face that went with the prime male body. Nadia had never seen anyone with such perfect features in real life—that kind of symmetry was the domain of airbrushed aftershave ads. Only this guy had an edge that was
in those ads. No wonder Steffi had morphed into a breathless bimbo. Nadia’s lungs squeezed helplessly in sympathy and she couldn’t even manage an answering smile, let alone a hello. But the minute Steffi disappeared so did his smile.

A ripple skittered down Nadia’s spine and her brain sharpened. She blinked away the blinding effect of his beauty. He didn’t look as if he hoped to score a job at the most prestigious insurance firm in the city. He looked as if he had the world and its riches at his feet already, and could take or leave anything at his leisure. But that edge was there—
—and something raw was a scant centimetre below his incredibly smooth surface.
Something she wasn’t sure she wanted to identify.

He paused another moment just inside the doorway, then carefully closed the door behind him. All the while he stared as hard at her as she belatedly realised she was staring at him. Finally he spoke. ‘
Nadia Keenan?’

She swallowed. ‘That surprises you?’ she asked, with a coolness that surprised her. She gestured to the seat across the table, because she was going to get a crick in her neck if she had to look that far up for another moment. Yeah, she should have stood, but her legs were as supportive as soggy tissue paper, and somehow she knew revealing weakness in front of this guy wouldn’t be a smart idea.

He took the seat, moving his all-muscle, no-fat frame in a too controlled kind of way that made the ripples run even faster across her skin. Apprehension…and something else she
didn’t want to identify. Instead her brain tracked down another avenue. Exactly how had he known to ask for her specifically? Because she was sure now he had—it wasn’t Steffi fobbing anyone off. This guy was here for some very precise reason. But she was merely an HR assistant. It wasn’t as if her
name was listed on the company website. So why her?

Silence sharpened another second. She glanced past him, relieving her strained wide eyes and trying to regulate her pulse back to normal. Two of the walls were windows—the lower half frosted, but the upper part clear. Her clenched muscles eased a smidge. Anyone walking past could see in. There was no reason to feel isolated—no reason to feel as if the room had been sucked of all its oxygen. There was no reason for those ripples to relentlessly slither back and forth across her skin. And it wasn’t exactly fear…it was that something else.

She swallowed again and drew another cooling breath. ‘How can I help—?’

‘What’s the policy on internet use here at Hammond?’ he interrupted.

Pressing her lips together, she nudged the recruitment pack on the table between them, avoiding looking at him as she pulled her scattered thoughts together.

‘I should imagine it’s pretty conservative,’ he continued, before she’d collated her answer. ‘Pretty conservative establishment all round, is Hammond.’

‘Do you have a point, Mr …?’ She paused deliberately, still not looking him in the eyes.

‘Rush. Ethan Rush,’ he said, as smoothly and unselfconsciously as if he were James Bond himself. ‘Do you recognise my name?’

‘Should I?’

‘Yes, I think you should.’

She blinked and pushed the pack again, to buy another moment of thinking time. Except she couldn’t really think—she could barely breathe—and her pulse was
. ‘Well, I’m sorry, Mr Rush, you’ll have to explain.’

‘But you’ve been warned about me.’

‘I have?’ Startled, she looked up—and found herself snared in the reddish tint of his brown eyes—the
of those eyes.

‘Yes, on WomanBWarned. Do you know that website, Nadia?’

In less than the micro-second it took for her to gasp, shock had covered her body in goosebumps. Every inch of her skin screamed with sensitivity; every cell was shot with adrenalin. She let another second slide, and as it did she decided to avoid—then feign ignorance. And if that failed she’d deny, deny, deny.

‘Was there something you needed today, Mr Rush?’

‘Yes, I wanted to be sure about the internet policy here at Hammond, and apparently you’re the HR expert on it.’ He didn’t seem to move, but he was somehow even bigger,
filling the room with ferocious energy. ‘Tell me,’ he said drily, ‘does your employer know you run one of the bitchiest, most defamatory sites on the internet?’

Nadia’s throat tightened as if a hangman’s noose had just been jerked, rendering speech impossible.

‘It wouldn’t do your little HR role much good if your bosses found out about your hobby, would it? Not when you’re sending out these little edicts to all their employees about online protocol. Not in a great position to give advice, are you?’

Nadia firmed her jaw—she resented the “hobby” description.

He pulled a paper from his pocket and unfolded it, placing it in the table. She glanced at the heading, and then back up to his simmering countenance. She didn’t need to read more because she’d written most of it. The internal memo on internet access and computer use, explicitly detailing that social networking sites, forums and such, were forbidden. She’d drafted the updated policy before getting it approved by Legal and her supervisors.

BOOK: Dating and Other Dangers
6.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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