Home > O Magnet (Titans of Tech Book 2)

O Magnet (Titans of Tech Book 2)
Author: Tessa Layne

 

Foreword

 

 

Stockton

As the CTO of Steele Conglomerate, I work hard, and play harder, if you catch my meaning. I – and the ladies – like it that way.

My mother has other ideas.

For the last six years, she’s been trying to marry me off – because it’s time for grandchildren. She’s even started dropping by my office with prospects — on a daily basis.

But I’m going to beat her at her own game. Not only am I going to convince her I’m getting married, I’m going to pick the last woman my mother would ever choose for me… my crazy, inappropriate-for-me-in-every-way assistant, Penelope Fischer — Penny.

What could possibly go wrong?

 

Penny

I am So. Over. Stockton Ford. Just because he’s the hottest bachelor in Kansas City with the biggest wallet does not make him all that. I should know. Not only do I spend night and day helping him fight cyber bad guys and generally being his Girl Friday, I’m tasked with managing his personal life – his mother, his girlfriends... you get the picture. So yeah, I’m done. Done giving into that megawatt smile, the mischievous twinkle in his eye, and the pleading tone in his voice that somehow I can’t resist.

I’m quitting.

Today.

Until he makes me an offer I can’t refuse, and I say yes for all the wrong reasons.

 

A billionaire workplace fake-engagement with plenty of snark, steamy sex, and an epic HEA!

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

Stockton

 

 

"PENNY," I bellow from my office, ready to throw my laptop out the seventeenth-story window. She's done it again, and I don't have time for this shit. Not with Tokyo breathing down our throats for a new security update, Amsterdam yelling amended satellite specs, and a stack of reports from my top baseball scouts. All I'm seeing on my screen is a goddamned animated laughing emoji.

"PENNY," I holler again, louder, because she is taking god's sweet time, and I have five minutes before I'm supposed to be on a conference call.

When she finally appears in the doorway, her black and pink-streaked hair is piled high in a messy bun, and she's wearing her favorite Ramones tee. The same one from last night, and the one she was wearing the day we met. Her black skinny jeans are strategically torn, and she's wearing a pair of chucks the same shade as her pink streak. Even now, four years later, she could still pass for a high schooler. Her eye makeup is smudged and her eyelids are a little puffy. Looking at her, you'd think she'd stayed out all night tying one on instead of staying up all night checking and rechecking the security update we're about to deliver.

But what catches my attention is the shiny pink skin on her right forearm and a brand-new tattoo that wasn't there when I left the office after midnight last night. I eye it - a delicate pattern of vines and flowers that is at odds with the snarky brash young woman who's irritated me incessantly for the last four years. But I put up with it because Penny's brain is my kryptonite, and Steele Conglomerate would be sunk without her skills.

I scowl. "That's new," I bark. I shouldn't be bothered about the tattoo - I'm not Penny's minder. I made sure of that the day she came to work for us. But a big decision like a tattoo? It feels like a slap in the face. Especially when we've been working around the clock on this project for Tokyo.

Her green eyes sharpen and the barest hint of a smile pulls at the corner of her mouth. She saunters to my desk and swipes my coffee mug, draining the contents before releasing the rim with a big smack of her pretty pink lips. She lifts an eyebrow, as if daring me to comment. But we've played this game before, and I bite my tongue. "So's your flavor of the week," she sasses back, referring to the latest in a revolving door of women my mother keeps trying to set me up with.

"Did you order a side of brat with your breakfast?" I retort.

Wisely, she ignores me. "Sloane seems very personable. She's waiting for you in the foyer. I told her she'd outlasted the previous candidate by three days."

Sloane Harwig is nice enough, and her bod is slammin', but the fact she's been around long enough for Penny to remember her name tells me it's time to let her down gently. Even though I just spent four hours with her late last night and she's loosely affiliated with the baseball team we own. Work hard, play hard and all that. I have no intention of settling down. A fact my mother patently refuses to believe as evidenced by the string of women she brings by the office for "lunch".

"Is she bothering you?" I ask sharply. Penny rolls her eyes. Hard. Most people bother Penny. It's part of her charm. "Okay, let me rephrase. Is she preventing you from working?"

Penny lifts her brows and smirks.

Of course not. Hence the laughing emoji locking up my screen. "So this is what it's come to?"

She lifts a slender shoulder. "You should at least benefit from my babysitting skills in some way."

"I've got a meeting in five minutes," I growl. "And I'm paying you good money to run interference."

"Sleep deprivation was not part of our agreement."

Fair enough. "But you know late night's the only time things are quiet enough we can work without interruption."

Her eyes narrow. "And whose fault is that? I practically live here, and I run interference with your mother's Find My Son a Wife campaign." She air quotes. "I think I'm going to polish my resignation letter."

She's one-hundred-percent right. Steele Conglomerate has been growing exponentially, in large part because of Penny's mind. And even with a good team in place, I can barely keep up with the technological demands the growth is placing on our organization. Having Penny has been a blessing and a curse, in more ways than one. And if I thought she was remotely serious about quitting, I'd move heaven and earth to keep her here.

I look at my watch. I'm supposed to be in the conference room in three minutes. "Penny," I say sharply. "We can't afford for this deal to go south. Not after we've worked so hard on it." I turn my screen around so she can see it. "Do not make this the thing that gets you sacked."

She snorts, trying but failing to keep a grin off her face. "Fire me. I'm begging you. I was planning to quit at four. If you do it now, I can avoid your mother and go take a nap."

It's an ongoing joke between us. She knows I'd never fire her. Not in a million years. Not if I want to keep my balls and my friendship with Harrison intact. Harrison Steele is my oldest friend and CEO of Steele Conglomerate, a company we began in our senior year at Stanford.

As if on cue, Andrew Crawford, Steele's executive assistant shows up behind Penny, laptop in hand. "Mr. Steele's in the conference room. Penny mentioned you were having technical difficulties?"

I cover a smile because he's not being sarcastic at all. Andrew's indispensable, and while he sees and knows far more than he admits, he's a consummate gentleman. I pull my laptop back around and push back from my desk. "Thanks, Andrew. I'll be right in." I come around and accept the offered laptop. If I were anything less than the asshole I am, I'd invite Penny to walk with me. I'd pull her into the meeting to demonstrate the new security updates she's worked so hard on. But it's the Tokyo Stock Exchange we're talking with, and so while I won't take credit for her work, I'll be the one handling the questions. "Penny, do your best to get rid of Sloane? Tell her my calendar's booked until late next week or something." I turn back and lean in so that Andrew doesn't catch what I say next. "And for fuck's sake, get that goddamn emoji off my screen."

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