He"s a powerful billionaire CEO who built the family business into an empire. The money doesn"t matter to him, but the company is his life. And then his eccentric mother wills it all to her tiny dog.
I"m Vicky, the dog whisperer. (Not really, but that"s what my elderly neighbor always says.) When she dies, she surprises everybody by leaving a corporation worth billions to her dog, Smuckers. With me as his spokesperson.
Suddenly I go from running my Etsy store to sitting in an elegant Wall Street boardroom with Smuckers in my lap. And my neighbor"s son, Henry Locke, aka New York"s most eligible bachelor, glaring across the table at me.
Rumor has it Henry"s a business genius who"s as talented in the bedroom as he is in the boardroom. Sure, he"s gorgeous. Sex-in-a-seven-thousand dollar suit. But"
He"s arrogant and infuriating.
He refuses to listen to me when I insist I didn"t con his mother.
He thinks he can bully me, buy me off, control me, even seduce me.
Henry may have the women of Manhattan eating out of the palm of his hand, but I’m so over entitled rich guys who think they own the world.
No way will his wicked smile be charming ME out of my panties.
His wicked…devastating…impossible-to-resist smile.
Oh well, who needs panties anyway"
A sexy enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy standalone!Books by Author:Annika Martin Books
I"m smuggling a tiny white dog named Smuckers into a Manhattan hospital to see his owner, Bernadette Locke. Thanks to a standing appointment at a chandelier-draped dog salon on Fifth Avenue owned by a woman who ostensibly loves dogs but might secretly hate them, Smuckers"s facial fur is blow-dried into such an intense puff of white that his eager black eyes and wee raisin of a nose seem to float in a cloud.
There are three things to know about Bernadette: She"s the meanest woman I ever met. She believes I"m some kind of dog whisperer who can read Smuckers"s mind. (I can"t.) And she"s dying. Alone.
The people in her condo building will probably be glad to hear of her passing. I don"t know what she did to earn their hatred. That"s probably for the best.
Bernadette has a son out there somewhere, but even he seems to have washed his hands of her. There is a photo of the son on Bernadette"s cracked fireplace mantel, a toddler with a scowly little dent between fierce blue eyes. Surrounded by people, the little boy manages somehow to look utterly alone.
Back when Bernadette got her terminal diagnosis, I asked her if she"d told her son and whether he might finally come to visit. She brushed off the question with a contemptuous wave of her hand"Bernadette"s favorite way of responding to pretty much anything you say is a contemptuous hand wave. He won"t be coming, I assure you.
I can"t believe he wouldn"t visit her, even now. It"s the ultimate dick move. Your mother is dying alone, jackass!
Anyway, put all of that in a pot and stir it and you have the strange soup of me clicking past a guard, smiling brightly"and hopefully dazzlingly"enough that he doesn"t notice the squirmy bulge in my oversized purse.
Smuckers is a Maltese, which is a toy dog that"s outrageously cute. And Smuckers is the cutest of the cute.
Smuckers and Bernadette Locke made a notorious pair out on the sidewalk in the Upper West Side neighborhood where my little sister and I have our very sweet apartment-sitting gig.
I remember them well. Smuckers would attract people with his insane fluff-ball cuteness, but as the hapless victim drew near Bernadette would say something insulting. Kind of like the human equivalent of a Venus flytrap, where the fly is attracted to the beauty of the flower only to be mercilessly crushed.
Locals learned to stay away from the two of them. I tried"I really did.
Yet here I am, slipping down another chillingly bright hospital hallway, smuggling the little dog in for the third time in two weeks. It"s not on my top ten list of things I want to do with my day. Not even on my top hundred, but Smuckers is Bernadette"s only true friend. And I know what it"s like to be hated and alone.
I know that when you"re hated, you sometimes act like you don"t care as a survival method.
And that makes people hate you more, because they feel like you should look at least a little beaten down.
Bernadette"s hatred was real-life neighborhood hatred; mine was real life plus a fun national online component, but it works the same way, and heaven forbid you should have a cute dog. Or that a picture of you smiling should ever appear on Facebook or Huffpo or People.com.
I know, too, how being hated can build on itself, how sometimes you do things to make people hate you more because it"s better in a certain perverse way. I think only people who have been hated in their life can truly understand that.
I push into the room. "We"re here," I say brightly, relieved no medical personnel are around. While Smuckers enjoys being in a purse, he prefers to ride with his head out, like the fierce captain of a pleather airship. Needless to say, he"s achieved maximum squirminess. I take him out. "Look, Smuckers"your mom!"
Bernadette is half propped up on pillows. Her skin is sallow and her hair sparse, but what hair she has is energetically white. Her eyes flutter open. "Finally."
She has a tube in her arm, but that"s all. They"ve taken Bernadette off everything except morphine. They"ve given up on her.
"Smuckers is so excited to see you." I go over to her bed and set Smuckers next to her. Smuckers licks Bernadette"s fingers, and the love that comes over Bernadette"s face makes her look soft for a moment. Like a nice woman.
"Smuckers," she whispers. She moves her lips, talking to him. I can"t hear, but I know from past conversations that she"s saying she loves him. Sometimes she confesses she doesn"t want to leave him, doesn"t want to be alone. She"s frightened about being alone.
Feebly she scratches Smuckers"s fur, but she"s focusing hard on me, whispering something fervently. I draw near. Eggplant, she seems to be saying.