Dream Nights with the CEO
a Secret Desires novel by Kathy Lyons
Hotel chain CEO and millionaire Wyatt Monroe is a stick in the mud. Sure, he’s hot as sin, even with the tie, but free-spirited assistant Megan Bradford refuses to jeopardize their perfect working relationship. Why mess that up with sex? She knows he’s the love ‘em and leave ‘em type, and she’s determined to find a family man.
Wyatt would never cross the line between boss and employee with Megan, no matter how hard it might be to resist the temptation. But when they visit a mysterious B&B in a bid to acquire the property, he starts having erotic dreams about the sexy brunette that make it hard to resist her in daylight.
Soon the line between reality and dreams further blurs when they learn they were sharing the same erotic dreams…
Title: Dream Nights with the CEO (Secret Desires, #1)
Author: Kathy Lyons
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 275 pages
Release Date: May 2013
Praise for Dream Nights with the CEO:
“Sex, fun, and a hot, hot, hot romance. I love this book!”
- two-time RITA Award winner Cindy Dees
© 2013 Kathy Lyons
Megan Bradford was trapped in a boring nightmare. She’d had this particular nightmare so often it had lost its ability to terrify her. Or so she told herself.
Sadly, that did nothing to change the situation. She was the engineer of a runaway train. It was the dead of night, and she (plus all twenty-seven passenger cars filled with people) was about to go over a cliff. None of the controls that she touched, kicked, pushed, or hauled on changed a thing. The train was going over that cliff, and she was powerless to stop it.
It’s a dream, she told herself.
Despite her words, her heart was pounding and her hands were slick. The heat in the little engine room was suffocating, and sweat was dripping into her eyes, making them burn. She jammed her hands down on the controls, pounding on the big red stop button for all she was worth. It didn’t help. Truthfully, she doubted that trains even had a big red stop button, but that didn’t matter.
Seconds away from the cliff. She blistered the air with curse words, but it made no difference. It was going to be a slow-motion dive into the abyss while the air filled with screams.
And then the dream changed. Suddenly someone stood beside her. A man in a mask and a cape.
She had the vague impression of a chiseled jaw and massive height. Wow, this man was tall.
“Help me!” she screamed.
He said something. She didn’t know what. She couldn’t hear over the roar of the engine. Then he abruptly grimaced and grabbed her hands.
She had enough time to notice that his fingers were long and his palms really broad. He easily engulfed her much smaller hand. Something was familiar about that. It dinged in her mind completely outside of the nightmare, but there was no time to think about it.
He grabbed her hands and half pushed, half threw her sideways to a different control. A joystick. A huge stick that thrust up from the floor.
“Turn!” he bellowed. Then he enveloped her in his massive arms and together they hauled sideways on the stick. Not stopping, just turning away from the cliff.
The wheels squealed, the controls seemed to buck before her eyes, but this man was strong—Hercules strong—and she felt the shudder that went through the whole train at his efforts. Their efforts, she realized. She had to be part of this, too, or otherwise it wouldn’t work.
This isn’t going to work anyway, she told herself. This was a nightmare and it always ended the same way. But that little voice was far away. Her body was living the straining heat of pulling the joystick sideways. With a jolt, she discovered she was also aware of the erotic press of the man’s body. And she even felt the hot huff of his breath against her neck and his low grunt of effort.
“Not enough,” she cried. “We’re not enough.”
“We are!” he growled. And it was a growl, pulled up through his entire body. She knew because the rumbling sound seemed to start from his taut thighs where they pressed hard against her bottom. Then she felt the sound roll through his flat belly and even grind in the air beside her ear. “We can do it!”
Just hearing his words made a difference. He was big, he was powerful, and he believed. Which made her believe. So she put everything she had into pulling with him.
But they were out of time. Megan watched in horror as the end of the track appeared, drew closer, closer, and then…they were off the edge in free fall. The train began to plummet into the abyss. In the background, she heard people scream, shrill and piercing. Or maybe that was just her.
Until the train abruptly veered. She didn’t think it was possible. Right there in midair, the train suddenly took a right turn.
It wasn’t possible, but she wasn’t arguing. This was a dream, after all, and possible or not, she was taking hold of the miracle with both hands. Behind her the entire train followed her lead. A shift to the left and suddenly, the whole massive thing was headed somewhere else. Somewhere with bright lights and happy sounds.
She took a moment to look at where they were going. Then she double blinked. Yup, still there. “An amusement park?” she asked, her mouth gaping open. And then horror abruptly rushed through her. No longer an abyss—now they were going to take out an entire fairground.
She frantically hauled on the joystick again, trying to steer elsewhere. “We’re going to crash!”
His hands covered hers again, gentle and soothing as he pulled her off the stick. “We’re not crashing,” he said. And they weren’t. The train was slowing, slowing, slow…stopped. Right at the front gates of a fifties-style fairground.
She stared, but no matter how long she looked, she still saw roller-coaster rides, a trio of juggling clowns, a zillion booths filled with games and junk food. And of course, off in the distance, the Ferris wheel with all its pretty dancing lights. “Oh my fracking God…” she breathed.
“You don’t like amusement parks?” the man asked. His voice was still low—a gravelly rumble beside her ear that made her shiver, this time in awareness, not fear.
“No. I-I love them. My family used to go to one every year. It was the best part of the summer.” She glanced in her rearview mirror. And yes, some part of her knew that a train didn’t have a rearview mirror, but she wasn’t at the bottom of an abyss so she was going with it. There, she saw zillions of passengers pouring out of the cars. Kids, moms and dads, all of them jumping and laughing as they ran for the park.
She smiled as she watched it. “Everybody’s happy.”
“Really?” he asked. “Everybody?”
She blinked, suddenly hyper-aware of him standing behind her. It didn’t seem possible, but he felt scorching against her skin. In an amazing kind of way. Her skin tingled, her nipples tightened, and her breath caught in sizzling awareness.
He felt it, too, she knew. She heard him drag in a ragged breath while lower down, his thighs tightened as he pressed his erection into her bottom.
Nice, she thought. Really nice, because it had been a while since someone was this happy to see her. He started to pull away, but she grabbed his arms—still locked on the joystick—to keep him close. Again she had that tickle of a memory in her thoughts. His forearms were big, the muscles granite hard.
They stood there, poised with him behind her, his body slowly easing forward. Her nightmare was shifting onto a very different track and she was all kinds of happy about that.
She felt his lips, soft and tentative at her neck. She moaned, letting her head drop to the side and her body melt backward into him. His forearms trembled and though her eyes were closed, she knew he was slowly releasing his grip on the joystick.
Would he touch her? Where? Her nipples were hard and her breasts heavy. Please touch me, she thought. Please.
He didn’t. His hands hovered in the air just in front of her. “Megan,” he said, the sound both a groan and a regret.
“You know me?” she asked breathlessly. Then she nearly rolled her eyes. Of course he knew her—he was a figment of her imagination. But that didn’t stop her from turning around. It was a tight circle there inside his arms, and he was practically dancing to keep from touching her as she turned.
“I want to see your face.”
She wasn’t going to give him a choice, but just as she turned, he whipped his cape up and around them. The world went completely dark.
“That’s some cape,” she said, a little miffed that she was now blind.
She heard him chuckle and the darkness took on a warm, familiar feeling.
“Why can’t I see you?” she asked. “I want to thank you properly.”
Clichéd words, but what she said didn’t matter. She could still sense him in the total darkness. She reached out, connecting with his broad chest. Muscles in a huge expanse. No chest hair. She touched the tight buds of his nipples.
His gasp cut through the darkness like the sound of a massive stone breaking. She was getting to him, she thought with a smile. So she let her hands roam, one slipping lower, down across his flat abs and narrow waist. But she didn’t go where she really wanted. It was too bold, even in this dark place. So she leaned forward, pressing her lips to his chest.
She felt the beat of his heart, steady and hard against her mouth. “Thank you,” she whispered. “Thank you for saving me.”
Finally his hands touched her. Just his fingertips as he gently stroked up and down her back. She raised her face to his. It was still pitch black. She couldn’t see anything at all, but she somehow knew he was bending to kiss her.
Damn, the man was huge, but they still found a way to meet. She stretched up as he bent down, and finally they kissed.
It was the softest of connections—lip to lip, on the very tips of her sensitized skin. He hesitated there and she wanted to curse in frustration, but that would have broken the spell.
“Please,” she whispered.
That worked. He pressed deeper, harder against her, but still so slow.
Her lips were parted, as were his. They breathed the same air. Sweet. Hot.
“Won’t you kiss me?” she asked. She hadn’t even moved her mouth, but the question quivered in the darkness around them.
“Don’t rush this,” he answered. “I’ve wanted it forever.”
She smiled. It wasn’t true, of course. He was a masked man come to save her doomed train. But she loved the fantasy, loved the idea of a man who wanted her. One who’d waited for her and wasn’t going to rush things even when she was already aching for something a lot more graphic.
“Now?” she asked.
His tongue swept inside. Strong, forceful, and so damned commanding. He took her with his tongue with such power that her knees went weak. Her hands gripped his broad shoulders even as his arms tightened around her, lifting her slightly off the ground. Soon he was her only anchor, and she thrilled at the feel of his hard planes and shifting cords of muscles.
His tongue seemed to own her, touching every part of her mouth in a dizzying frenzy. He tickled the roof of her mouth then abruptly nipped at the edges of her lips. This was possible in dreams, and she was extremely grateful for it. The sensations built as his hands shifted to her breasts. Such large hands as they pinched her nipples, creating lightning flashes that made her blood sizzle.
More. She so wanted more.
As if he’d heard her—and in this place, maybe he had—his hands slid to her hips, gripping her tight. Was he holding her in place? Angling her for a better position? He was sucking on her breasts now, making her body shiver and her blood pool in her belly. God, she wanted to be naked with him.
Suddenly, they were naked. All those fabric barriers just disappeared leaving nothing but smooth skin, flexing muscles, and him pressing hard and hot against her.
“Wow,” she breathed. In this dreamscape, her libido clearly had superpowers. Which somehow gave her permission to be as bold as she wanted. She slid her hands lower, taking his cock in her hands. Broad, thick, and so hot.
He groaned at her touch, his hands spasming on her hips. “Megan,” he said. Her name was more of a moan than a word. “Listen to me, Megan. We—”
Ding dong, bing bong. Ding dong, bing bong.
Megan woke with a jerk, a curse on her lips and an ache between her thighs. She gripped the sheets as if she could hold onto her dream by sheer physical strength. It wasn’t possible, of course, and eventually she fell back onto her pillow with a groan.
The dream was gone. Her masked savior was gone. Just when it had really started to get good.
She lay in bed for a long moment, savoring the dream. It took her a while before she admitted to herself that the sexual frustration she felt was much better than the cold sweat she normally faced after her nightmare. Still, couldn’t she have slept just a few moments longer? Long enough to feel his thrust—
Ding dong, bing bong. Ding dong, bing bong.
Megan cursed again as she fumbled with her phone. It took her three tries before she turned off the alarm—snooze function and all. Clearly the universe didn’t want her enjoying her dream even in fantasy. It was time to start her day.
She looked at the clock, even though she already knew exactly what it read. She had thirty-four minutes before she needed to appear dressed and pressed in the hotel breakfast area. But her very first task was to text her boss.
Good morning, Mr. Monroe. Weather forecasts rain today. Temperature in the mid-fifties.
When did she become so perky, professional, and so very colorless? She rolled out of bed with a jaw-popping yawn. But even as she moved, she tapped the recorder app on her phone and spoke somewhat clearly as she shuffled to the bathroom.
“Miranda’s Place B&B, personal notes. Bed, sheets, and duvet are excellent. Interesting headboard.” She absently touched the intricately carved board. On first glance it looked like abstract bumps and swirls, but closer inspection made the flowing lines seem almost sexual. There was nothing explicit, just a vague impression that made her think it belonged in a honeymoon suite. Or a high-end brothel. Or maybe it was just the lingering remnants of her dream.
She headed for the bathroom, then winced as she caught sight of her reflection. Humidity equaled frizzy hair. Ugh.
“But humidity in St. Louis is annoying. Reminder to check for problems caused by dampness before Mr. Monroe buys this place,” she recorded.
She set down her phone and made an effort to pull herself together. It was unusually hard after that dream, but she had a job to do. Her boss was thinking of buying the B&B, and she needed to be sharp. They only had one day to physically inspect the place before they headed on. There were, in fact, six other B&Bs on the possible acquisition list, but something about this little inn had her rooting for it. She liked it, liked Cherry Moon, the historic northern suburb of St. Louis, and she liked the eclectic air here. The place had character, and so she hoped Mr. Monroe would pick it.
But that wouldn’t happen if she didn’t get her brain and body in gear. So she picked up her phone, steeled her spine, and checked her e-mail. No emergencies from the hotels already in Mr. Monroe’s growing chain of B&Bs. Or at least no new instructions had come from the CEO in the middle of the night. She had no idea when the man slept; she’d gotten e-mails from him at all hours.
Sadly, while her boss had slept, her mother had been wide awake. Megan had no fewer than seventeen e-mails from the woman. Most were dramatic Danger to Your Life!! health scare spam, plus a few funny cartoons and political diatribes. Megan deleted those without even looking at them. The problem came from the two remaining e-mails, long ones about Megan’s middle brother’s newest girlfriend (apparently a bitch of the first order) and the other about her mother’s health.
Megan knew her mother was just longing for attention. The woman’s chest pains, swollen ankles, and even the lump just above her knee were probably nothing, but it was hard to tell. Everything was written in the most dramatic tones, and Megan struggled not to scream as she scanned them. Nothing life threatening—she hoped—and so she closed her phone and headed for the shower.
Sadly, her mother’s last lines haunted her despite her attempts to forget. I know you’re focused on your career, honey, but the best years of my life were with my husband and children. Don’t rush to make a million dollars only to have no one to share it with.
Ugh! Like Megan needed the reminder that her biological clock was ticking? But there just wasn’t time in her life for more than her job. Working as personal assistant to the CEO of a rapidly growing hotel chain was a 24/7 kind of job. Wyatt Monroe absorbed all her attention, all the time. And she liked it that way. So biological clock or not, Megan was 100% dedicated to Mr. Monroe.
Rushing through her morning routine, Megan pulled on her MBA-clone wardrobe. Dark gray business suit, crisp black pumps, and barely there makeup. Then she added her one concession to her wild side: a beaded necklace she’d made herself. She didn’t have an MBA, of course. It had been a stretch to get her college degree. But she knew how to dress the part, and so she grabbed her leather padfolio, tucked two pens and a tiny credit card holder in her inside pocket, then headed out the door. Her heels made precise clicks on the wood floor.
She didn’t descend the stairs but glanced down them, listening closely. She didn’t hear Mr. Monroe’s voice, so she was on time. She looked in the opposite direction to the room next to hers. She’d be waiting when he emerged: a handsome man dressed in some version of gray. Those were the constants. What changed were the words that would come spilling out of his mouth—she never knew from one second to the next what he would say or do. It didn’t matter. It was her job to stand beside him with pen and pad in hand recording every piece of chatter, no matter how irrelevant.
She readied herself, schooling her features to a polite, professional smile. She loved her job, loved the constant variety, loved watching her genius boss at work. He had steadily, carefully built eleven other B&Bs to unique and extremely profitable businesses. And Megan had been right here watching it happen.
But most of all, she loved watching her boss. It wasn’t just his looks, which were He-man gorgeous. Rough cut, broad, and strong. His mind was even more fascinating. Years ago she’d fantasized about a different kind of relationship with him. He was everything she’d ever wanted in a man: smart, brilliant, and gorgeous. But that was before he’d offered her this job. Before he’d given her a chance to become successful in her own right, working at a job she loved.
Her mother might have found fulfillment in her family, but Megan was not going to sacrifice her career for her mother’s dream. At least not yet. And not when she got to stand right beside Mr. Monroe and help him build an empire.
She grinned. She couldn’t wait for her day to begin.
Good morning, Mr. Monroe. Weather forecasts rain today. Temperature in the mid-fifties.
Wyatt Monroe cursed as he set aside his phone. Then he fell back into bed with a groan, his body throbbing in a way it hadn’t since he was an adolescent. He flung a thick forearm over his eyes. It was bad enough that he’d nearly released on the pristine hotel sheets, but to have a wet dream about his own assistant was well beyond the bounds of decency.
He couldn’t do this. He couldn’t dream about kissing Megan in the dark confines of a superhero cape. He couldn’t bring her into his adolescent fantasies of rescuing a sexy damsel in distress. Except, of course, evidence suggested that he absolutely could do that. He could dream about wrapping his arms around her curvaceous body and thrusting his tongue down her throat while she made hot, mewling sounds of need.
His dick jerked at the thought and he cursed again. She was his administrative assistant, for God’s sake. His employee and his friend. He couldn’t want her. Not like this. And he sure as hell couldn’t be lingering in bed remembering the feel of her hands gripping him.
He closed his eyes and sighed. He should have known this was coming—no pun intended. From the moment he’d seen the petite brunette, he’d wanted to bed her. She’d still been in college then, working in housekeeping at the first B&B he’d ever purchased. Uninterested in wearing the optional maid’s uniform, she’d shown up every day in tattered jeans and any of a dozen different tie-dyed tanks. Since the B&B had a sixties vibe, he hadn’t minded. Truthfully, he’d adored seeing her arrive every day, her rippling swimmer’s body a splash of dynamic color in his very gray, workaholic life.
It had taken him two weeks to see past her gorgeous looks to realize that she got twice as much work done in half the time. Another week was spent analyzing exactly how she did it. Then it had been ten minutes before he’d offered her a job as his assistant, and he’d never once regretted it.
Well, his brain had never regretted it. His little brain, even now bobbing for attention, had always hated him for that decision. He couldn’t sleep with an employee, no matter how many times he’d woken up with a boner throbbing for her.
Sadly, tonight’s dream had taken his lust to a whole new level. Not just a sex dream, but one where he was a caped crusader to boot. He glanced to the night table where he’d set the stack of DC comics he’d been reading before bed. Well that explained the superhero costume in his dream. No more fun reading before sleep.
Memories of the dream consumed him for ten more minutes, but then the thought of seeing her in her prim business suit got him moving out of bed. He was halfway through his cold shower before he could manage to think of something other than hot kisses, dark engine rooms, and pressing Megan up against a really big joystick.
Fortunately, the financial news diverted him for a few minutes, though the fog in this poorly ventilated bathroom made it nearly impossible to read, even on his iPad. He was still reading as he pulled on his shirt, then his suit pants before padding barefoot to his laptop. A few keystrokes later and he had an exact figure for how much he could spend on the next B&B in the WM Enterprises Hotel Empire. Sadly, he didn’t think this place would qualify.
Sure, he could probably get it cheap, but the repair costs alone would be exorbitant. Sagging roof, water damage on a couple walls, and abysmal decor had him cringing. Certainly this Cherry Moon area north of St. Louis had its charm, but that could only go so far, especially if the roof were about to collapse.
He pulled on his glasses—a funky designer pair his sister said gave him style—then headed for the door, barely remembering to grab a tie as he went. A moment later, he hauled open his hotel door, then stopped short at the sight of a ripple on the hallway wall opposite. The morning light slanted across it at the perfect angle to make it stand out. He finished adjusting his tie, then popped off his glasses as he went nose to nose with the wall. Definitely a flaw of some kind. He ran his hand along it, following it down until he was kneeling on the floor, half his body wedged underneath a hall table. Was this an indication of a major structural flaw? Or just a bad wallpapering job? He couldn’t tell without ripping off the paper, so he rocked back on his heels, peering into the shadow beneath the table.
“Well, that’s annoying,” he said.
“What is?” Megan asked as she stepped up beside him. From his position on the floor, he got a good look at her sweet legs revealed so beautifully beneath her pencil skirt. And that, of course, brought back his dream with a vengeance.
He shoved it away with equal vehemence, but his voice still came out rough as he gestured irritably at the wall. “That irregularity.”
“I’m sorry. I don’t…” She stepped toward the wall to touch it. She had to stretch up on her toes to reach across the hall table, and he couldn’t resist watching the way her calves rippled and tightened as she moved. So damned beautiful. “I can feel it. Right here,” she said. “But it’s so subtle.”
Long fingers, soft pink nail polish, so elegant on the cream-colored wall. Wyatt swallowed as he watched her stroke up and down, his lust kicking into overdrive. If only she’d touch him that way.
He forced his mind back to the matter at hand: the possible wall crack. He pushed up onto his feet and Megan quickly stepped out of his way. Too bad. One part of his anatomy had hoped he’d be able to slip up behind her, just like in his dream. But she was quick, moving away with athletic—and very professional—ease. So he stretched out to touch the exact same place her hand had been.
Yup. Small, infinitesimal crack, more like a ripple in the plaster. “Huh.”
“I’ll make a note of it,” she said. Then she abruptly grinned. “Maybe it was done by the ghost.”
He barely refrained from rolling his eyes. “What ghost?” he asked, though he really didn’t care. He knew Megan was a devotee of all things horror. If the movie went bump in the night, she’d seen it at least twice. But lately, he’d caught her reading “real life” ghost stories. “According to some sources,” she said, “this is a nexus of ghostly—”
“What sources?” he interrupted.
She sighed. “Internet sources.”
“Because they’re so reliable,” he drawled.
She shot him a look, then immediately caught herself. In her world view, an assistant never expressed annoyance with her boss. It was a belief he very much encouraged. So she smoothed her expression, even as her straight gaze dared him to criticize her. “I was looking at the history of the area, learning about its character. It’s not supposed to be factual. It’s supposed to be colorful.”
He winced, knowing she was right. Regional flavor was exactly the type of information he needed when evaluating a hotel. In truth, he valued what she’d discovered; he just wished she didn’t embrace it so readily. “I’m sorry, Megan. Please, tell me about the ghost.”
She nodded, starting to speak in a factual tone, but quickly warming to her topic as it clearly caught her imagination. “Being so close to the Kincaid mounds, there are the usual Native American tales, but this house in particular has ghost stories all its own. Typical stuff mostly. An escaped slave murdered on his way north, a TB patient gone crazy, even a pulp fiction writer who lived here for decades before dying alone and unloved. But the most enduring tale is about the sea captain who built this house for his bride in the late 1800s. A doomed love story, apparently, so the ghost tries to bring couples together from the afterlife.”
Does she believe this bunk? he wondered. Her tone said “no,” but the sparkle in her eyes said “yes.” She wanted to believe and he counted that as a romantic aberration in her otherwise very organized mind.
“Interesting,” he lied. Then he glanced at the wall. “But I don’t see how it tells me if that’s a ripple in the wallpaper or a structural flaw.”
“It doesn’t. It just makes this place more interesting, that’s all.”
Maybe to her. He wanted to know about construction defects. But he didn’t say that aloud, instead turning toward the smell wafting up from the main floor. “I need coffee.”
Megan straightened, all trace of ghostly wishful thinking gone. “Black coffee? Or would you like to try their espresso?”
He grinned, momentarily diverted. “Give me the espresso. Something complicated. We’ll see if they can do it right. Then give me a surprise for breakfast.”
“Of course,” she said with a grin. “I’ll get it ordered while you put on your shoes.”
He blinked then abruptly felt the cold wood floor on his bare feet. Had he seriously forgotten his socks and shoes?
Lord, this was going to be a very off-kilter day.