SCORING THE BOSS
Cody Madrid wasn’t born into privilege. He grew up in a crime-infested trailer park and suffered a childhood from hell. The gritty start to life didn’t break him. It fired his determination to make something of himself. With discipline, hard work and some unexpected luck, he founded Starwest Industries and built it into a multimillion-dollar empire.
Ben Jackson grew up in a loving family, enjoyed a picture-perfect childhood and aspires to become a fine artist. He’s vacationing in Greece when he literally falls at Cody’s feet. Their meeting is electric, but forestalled when Ben receives tragic news from home. As a result, he puts his artistic ambitions on hold, and looks for a full-time job to help support his family.
When Ben is hired by Starwest Industries, he has no idea that Cody Madrid owns the company. Their professional relationship means Ben has to work closely with the most compelling man he’s ever met without falling in love with him. Though Cody is still closeted, he finds himself falling hard and fast for the blond, blue-eyed Ben. But Cody has issues to work on, and someone has a hold on Ben. He’s been trapped into living a lie that could ruin any chance of a future with Cody.
Cody winced as he watched the stranger come down hard on his knees sprawling forward onto his belly.
Jumping to his feet, Cody hurried to the edge of the boat. “Hello, are you all right?”
With his gaze still on the sightseeing craft now moving out to sea, the blond waved a hand in Cody’s direction. “Yeah, I’m fine, thanks.”
But he wasn’t. As he pushed back to his feet, he limped, and Cody could see his knees were grazed.
“Hold on, let me help you.” He sprang off the boat, dashing over to put an arm around the stranger’s waist, supporting most of his weight. “Lean on me. You might have broken something.” He steered him toward the boat. “My name’s Cody, by the way.”
“Ben. Nice to meet you. I don’t want to put you to any trouble. I’m sure it’s just a sprain.”
Moments later, Ben was sitting on the cabin’s half-circular seating area, gingerly rotating his ankle to test its movement. Removing the duffle bag slung across his chest, he looked inside and was pleased to see his long-range camera and cell phone still intact.
Across from him, his Good Samaritan was rummaging around in a cupboard.
“I know there’s a first-aid box in here somewhere. It was listed on the inventory…aha.” Cody turned, holding a white metal box with a red cross on it.
Ben glanced up to give him a friendly smile and got his first good look at him. The man was stunning, a carnival of eye candy—tall and broad, with sexily disheveled dark hair, and a day’s growth of stubble on his movie star type square jaw. Ben guessed he was in his late twenties or early thirties.
He crouched down in front of Ben and opened the first aid kit. “Your knees don’t look as bad as I thought. It’s your ankle I’m worried about.” He had a rich, rumbly voice reminiscent of early morning sex.
“I’m sure it’s just a sprain,” Ben repeated, “but it’s kind of you to go to all this trouble.”
“No problem. Glad to help a fellow American.”
Ben looked down as his savior removed his sneaker and sock. Strong fingers moved slowly and gently over his foot and ankle. The way Ben’s body reacted, he was glad he was sitting down. Who knew first aid could be sexy.
“It’s swollen,” Cody said. “Does it hurt when I touch?”
Ben’s voice ratcheted up several notes, “It hurts a little, but I’m sure it’s just a sprain.”
“Okay, stay there. I’ve got an icepack in the galley.”
Since his rescuer was barely covered in a pair of khaki shorts, Ben took the opportunity to study his wide shoulders and tapered back, wondering what his ass looked like. When he felt his body react again, he looked down to see a semi-erection tenting his shorts. Shit. He shifted his dick to the left side of his shorts and draped an arm over it.
When Cody returned and handed Ben the icepack, Ben thanked him and tried to act casual, careful not to stare at the wide, bronzed chest, or swing his gaze downward in the direction of Hottie’s crotch. Usually, he could tell right away if a man was gay, but this guy was hard to read. And if he was straight, better he didn’t get an inkling of the fire he was inadvertently stoking.
Cody crouched down again, using disinfectant wipes to clean the grazes on Ben’s knees. Even though Cody wasn’t looking at him, to Ben, it felt like he was watching, which added to his predicament. He told himself to get a grip, and stop trying to turn this into some farfetched fantasy. The man was merely being kind to a fellow countryman in a foreign country. Even so, as Ben stared down at his host’s glossy dark hair, inhaling his masculine scent, his wayward glands threw up a scene. They were both naked, and the dream man’s arms were sliding around him from behind, catching him in a steel grip while he pushed his cock against Ben’s ass and whispered what he was going to do to him. The image added another inch to Ben’s erection.
“You should keep it elevated for a while.”
Ben blinked owlishly. “What?”
“Your ankle.” Cody pulled two cushions off the seating area, and placed them on the low table in front of Ben to support his foot.
Afraid his erotic thoughts were visible in his eyes, Ben looked down at his knees and saw the neatly taped dressings on them. The cool efficiency with which Cody had tended to him, prompted Ben to ask, “Are you medical?”
Cody laughed. “I took a first aid course in college. It comes in handy on certain occasions.” He stood. “I’ll get us a drink? I’ve got beer, wine and soft drinks.”
“Beer would be great, thanks.”
Cody returned moments later, carrying two frosted bottles. Handing one to Ben, he pulled out a fold-down seat, and sat across from him, flashing a white smile.
Ben hadn’t gotten around to focusing on Cody’s eyes. Now, he saw they were extraordinary like the rest of the man. If he was asked to describe them, he’d say they resembled discs of molten gold. A sharp contrast to his tanned skin and straight dark brows.
“How does the ankle feel?”
Ben snapped back to the present. “Uh, better. It’s not hurting at the moment. The ice seems to be helping.”
“Good, we’ll leave it there for a while, then I’ll wrap it with an elastic bandage.”
Ben nodded and took a swig of beer. He was getting some kind of vibe, but he wasn’t sure it was the one he was hoping for.
“It looked like you were heading for the sightseeing boat when you tripped.”
Ben grimaced. “I was, yes. Stupidly, I climbed the hill to get some shots of the harbor, and didn’t tell the tour guide. My group moved on without me, and as you saw, I missed the boat. I’ll have to make it back to the Athens hotel on my own.” On the up side, he thought, I got to meet you. And because he was dying to know his story, Ben had to ask, “So, are you vacationing, or do you live in Greece?” He looked around the cabin again, at the varnished wood and blue furnishings. “This is a beautiful boat.” Not that Ben knew anything about sailing yachts. The only boat he’d operated was his father’s small outboard when they went fishing in their local lake.
“The boat’s rented,” Cody told him. “I came here on a business trip and added a few days to cruise around the Islands. In everyday life, I’m based in California.”
Ben sat up straighter. “No kidding. I live in California…in Basilden.”
Cody smiled, his eyes glittering. “Small world. How long will you be in Athens?”
“Five more days.”
Cody took a swig from his bottle, keeping his gaze on Ben. “Are you still in school or working?”
Ben knew he looked younger than his age, and wondered if Cody was asking to see if he was legal—an exciting thought. “I’m twenty-four, and still in school. Just a few credits short of a Masters in fine art.”
“An artist, huh?” His gaze moved up and down Ben’s body. “Yep, I can see that. You’ve got a dreamy wistful look about you.”
Ben’s heart skipped a beat at Cody’s flirty action. At least he hoped it was flirty.
“Why don’t you stay and have dinner with me. I’ll drive you back to your hotel afterward.”
Okay, now there was a definite telling spark in those laser beam eyes. The impossible had suddenly become possible. “That’d be great.” He wondered if Kismet made him miss the boat.
“There’s a good family restaurant close to the docks,” Cody continued, “but parking’s a problem. I usually walk.” He glanced at Ben’s ankle. “Since you’re not up to a hike, I’ll ask them to do a take away for us.” He glanced at his watch. “They won’t be open for another hour. I’ll get us a couple more beers while we wait.”
When he returned with the bottles, Cody sat down on the opposite end of the seating section. Facing Ben with his arm resting along the back and one leg bent on the cushion. “So, what do you do plan to do with your art degree?”
With just a few feet between them, Ben could feel the heat from Cody’s bare chest, and smell his clean sweat. His dick moved again, and he struggled for words. “Uh, my first choice is visual art, but I’ll probably branch out to graphic design to make extra money.”
The magnetic pull of Cody’s masculinity redoubled the throbbing in Ben’s dick. He started to count backward from one hundred, trying to take his mind off the physical, afraid he might come all over himself. He couldn’t take his eyes off Cody’s sensually curved mouth, imagining it coming down hard on his. Forgetting about his elevated leg, he swayed forward, anticipating the hot weight of Cody’s body on his all too willing flesh—
Ben jolted at a sharp jingling sound, and swung his gaze to his duffle bag. Shit. He had to take the call. It was a pay-as-you-go phone he’d picked up at the airport, to keep in touch with the family. Now, he felt like a dork, having to explain to his dream man.
“It’s probably my mother calling. If I don’t pick up, she might panic and contact the local police.”