Mya Taylor is always in control. On the outside. Inside, is a different story. But she keeps it under control and presents to the world a calm, confident, career woman.
With a little help from Chelsea, the stress cow
Enjoy this excerpt of BEG ME! And don’t forget to grab your copy at minxmalone.com/begme
Excerpt #2 of BEG ME by M. Malone
I can do this. I can do anything I put my mind to.
I am strong.
I am brave.
I repeat the words softly, hoping repetition really is the key. For the past week, the atmosphere at Mirage has been focused on one thing and one thing only. The Vegas meeting. We’ve all been working longer hours, doing research on Lavin Fashions’ last five collections and preparing example dossiers of our work on other fashion brands. It’s been exciting and I’m thrilled to have this opportunity. I will not allow something like a slight fear of flying to ruin this for me. So I buckle my seatbelt and close my eyes all the way through takeoff. There’s a slight bump as the wheels come up and I let out a small squeak.
Oh, screw being brave.
My fist clenches in a death grip around the rubber plastic cow that is the only thing standing between me and a complete nervous breakdown in the middle of this airplane.
Not that these are bad accommodations for a first time trip to the loony bin. I’ve never been on a private plane before but I can’t imagine anything more luxurious than this. The seats are covered in dove-gray leather and the carpet on the floor is more plush than what’s in my apartment. Gleaming gold accents adorn the armrests and the trim overhead. Andre Lavin has the same impeccable taste in personal aviation as he does in everything else.
Unfortunately, it’s all wasted on me. It’s my first time flying like a rock star and I’m two seconds away from curling up in the fetal position in the middle of the aisle.
A toothy flight attendant leans down to offer me a drink, but honestly I’m afraid to even pry my lips apart to turn it down. So I give a tense nod and she continues on her merry way down the aisle, offering drinks to everyone as if we aren’t all in danger of plunging thousands of feet to a fiery death. I squeeze my eyes shut and start counting.
“Nervous flyer, huh?”
My eyes pop open at the deep baritone in my ear. Milo has switched seats with Wallace and is now entirely too close for comfort. The last thing I need is my competition seeing my weakness.
“What makes you say that?” I’m going for nonchalant but my voice sounds about three octaves higher than usual.
Milo inclines his head toward my lap. “The death grip you have on Miss Moo there.”
It takes some effort, but I managed to loosen my fingers so I can show him. “This is Chelsea, the stress cow. Lots of people use them.”
His eyes dance with amusement. “I don’t see anyone else squeezing the life out of a plastic farm animal, do you?”
I sit up straighter, ready to let him have it, but just then the plane hits a pocket of turbulence. My stomach feels like it’s now in my esophagus.
“OH MY FUCKING GOD! THIS PLANE IS GOING DOWN.”
This comes out way louder than I would have hoped. Milo chuckles under his breath as everyone turns around to stare at us. After a few moments, they finally turn around, but James raises his eyebrows as if to say, Are you okay?
I wave and force a smile so he won’t worry. When he finally looks away, the breath I’ve been holding releases in a gasp.
“I’ll be lucky if I still have a job by the time this trip is over,” I mutter under my breath. Obviously not quietly enough because Milo laughs again.
“Imagine that. Spent your entire life on the straight and narrow and it all ends on a private plane sitting next to the devil himself.”
When I glare at him, he shrugs in that nonchalant and completely hot way that totally does not get my panties wet.
“Just saying. I’m a big fan of irony. It just proves what I’ve always known.”
“And what is that, oh wise one?”
“That the universe fucks us all in the end.”
Dirty words coming from his mouth should not be so arousing. Especially when he’s completely right about me. Not that I’ll ever tell him that.
“Well, the joke is on you. You’re assuming I’ve spent my entire life on the straight and narrow. I could have been a real bitch in my past. Maybe this flight from hell is my karma for deeds done wrong.”
“Maybe,” he concedes with that infuriating smirk that means he actually believes the total opposite.
“You think you know so much about me. You think I’m just this boring workaholic who goes home at night and curls up with a million cats. Admit it.”
His eyes focus on me then, like two electric blue lasers. “No, I don’t think that at all. But it sounds like someone else has made you believe that’s true.”
My last argument with William rolls through my head like a movie on repeat. Our relationship was never perfect, not even when things were new and interesting. But I’m not the kind of woman who looks for perfection anyway. I don’t care about socks left on the bathroom floor or who took the trash out last. All I’ve ever wanted is someone who gets me.
Milo is watching me again, this time with something that looks suspiciously like pity in his eyes. He’s intuitive, I’ll give him that. But damn him for using that on me.
“I heard about your breakup. Sorry. That sucks.”
I look out the window at the clouds passing by. Normally I don’t do this. Looking at clouds from this angle just reminds me of where I am, in a tin can hurtling through the sky. But contemplating the likelihood of total engine failure is preferable right now to Milo Hamilton looking at me with pity.
“Thank you. But I’m fine. All I want is to focus on why we’re flying to Las Vegas in the first place. To impress this client and snag the hottest ad account in the country right now.”
Milo nods. “I’m not sure if James even went home last night. He was in the office early doing research.”
I’m not surprised by that at all. Andre Lavin is the preferred designer of all of Hollywood’s leading men. Although he’s known for menswear, after designing both the bridal tuxedo and the wedding dress for Hollywood’s reigning power couple he was rumored to be launching an exclusive bridal line. This account could launch the Mirage Agency into the upper echelon of advertising overnight.
And if James is looking for a partner, whoever locks down this account is on the fast track.
“Let me guess, so were you?”
His tight smile confirms it. Milo hates to lose and no doubt he was in the office almost as long as James. But he might as well get ready because I’m going to be the one to lock this account down.
“I wanted to talk to you about something,” Milo leans closer. “What did you mean when you said I stole an account from you?”
My blood freezes in my veins. Had I said that? My thoughts race back to that day when he’d first told me about the Lavin account. Clearly I hadn’t been thinking straight. I’d just been so excited.
Over the past few years, I’ve worked on some extraordinary campaigns. I put my heart and soul into each one, and I know I’ve done great work here. But so far, most of the accounts have been mid-level. Even doing great work on them isn’t enough to show James that I have what it takes to be promoted. I’ve been waiting for the type of project that would really let me show off what I can do.
This is it. Lavin Bridal is what I’ve been waiting for.
So when I’d marched into Milo’s office, my head had been swimming with visions of the future. That’s the only explanation I have for why I’d tell my nemesis that he’d ever gotten the leg up on me.
“Not sure what you mean. You must have misunderstood.”
Milo narrows his eyes, and a beat passes in tense silence. Then he smiles, showing both rows of teeth. Like a barracuda.
“Okay, you want to play it that way. Fine. But I don’t poach accounts and when I convince Andre Lavin to sign on the dotted line, I want it known that I did it fair and square.”
“When? Hah. You really think you’re going to win a bridal account? The king of one-night stands is suddenly an expert on weddings?”
I shouldn’t have said that. Not only because it makes it sound like I’m keeping track of his personal life outside of the office but because it opens the door for him to bring up my own failures. Namely, being dumped six months before my own wedding. He could argue that my personal life makes me a bad candidate to pitch for this account, too.
He looks like he’s thinking about taking the bait but surprisingly, his face softens. “I think that we’re both willing to do whatever it takes to win this client. No matter which one of us gets to the finish line first, in the end Mirage benefits.”
I look to the front of the plane, where Kevin sits next to James. He’s a nice guy but a bit of a suck up. He brings in clients at half the rate Milo or I do, but for some reason, James still promoted him to be a team lead.
“What if Kevin is the one to convince them to sign?”
Milo follows my gaze up front. “Seriously?”
“Okay, I admit that’s unlikely.”
“Look, for the next twenty-four hours, let’s call a truce. We can go back to being sworn enemies when we’re back in the office, but right now, we need to work together to win this. Let’s lock down the account and then we can duke it out later as to who is going to take lead.”
As much as I hate to admit it, it’s a fair plan. This account is a boon for the entire company, and working together, we have a better chance of convincing the Lavin team that we’re the right fit.
“So, truce?” He holds out his hand and we shake quickly.
The plane hits another bout of turbulence, and I squeeze the hell out of his hand.
“Truce,” I manage to say finally.
He carefully extricates his fingers from my death grip. “Seriously, it’s all going to work out. As long as we don’t encounter any other problems, we’ve got this in the bag.”
BEG ME is available now!
★☆★ #NEWRELEASE ★☆★
My c0ck a doodle doo is on strike. Yeah I know, I can’t believe it either. But he’ll only crow for one woman.
Spoiler Alert *she hates me*
➜ iBooks: minxmalone.com/begme-ibooks
➜ Kindle (all countries): minxmalone.com/begme-kindle3
➜ Google: minxmalone.com/begme-google
➜ Nook: minxmalone.com/begme-bn
➜ Kobo: minxmalone.com/begme-kobo
➜ Print: minxmalone.com/begme-print