The Rule Book by: Jennifer Blackwood Rule Breakers #1
Publication Date: May 9, 2016
Genre: Adult, New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Entangled Embrace
Starr Media Second-Assistant Survival Guide 1. Don’t call your hot boss the antichrist to his face. 2. Don’t stare at hot boss’s, um, package or his full sleeve of tattoos. (No. Really. Stop!) 3. Don’t get on the malicious first assistant’s bad side. 4. Don’t forget to memorize the 300-page employee manual. 5. If you value your cashmere, steer clear of boss’s dog. 6. Boss’s dimples are lust-inducing. Do. Not. Give. In. 7. “The elevator ate your clothes” is not a valid excuse for showing up to important meetings half dressed. 8. Don’t break seven of the rules within the first week of employment if you, ya know, are in dire need of money to support your sick mom. 9. Whatever you do, don’t fall for the boss. See rule eight about sick mom. 10. Never forget the rules.
The Rule Book by Jennifer Blackwood
I sat down at the table and unwrapped the Panini and frowned. Breadsticks would have hit the spot. Although, no amount of breadsticks was worth giving up a steady income, not even Luigi’s. Still, I gave a spiteful glare to my sandwich.
Just in time to take me out of my garlic grieving, someone walked into the break room. The first thing I noticed was his hair. You could tell a lot about someone based off the length and style. And the clean-cut, lightly-styled golden brown hair that the guy in the plain black tee sported spoke volumes. It said “I look like I’m not trying too hard, but I carefully crafted this look of perfection for at least fifteen minutes this morning.”
The second thing I noticed was this guy should be reamed for violating the dress code policy. Not that I was complaining—because, really, those tatted biceps deserved to be on full display at all times.
I mentally catalogued everyone I’d spotted during Jackson’s drive-by office tour. He most definitely wasn’t part of that whirlwind of name-drops, because I’d remember those high cheekbones. And those tattoos. His arms were covered from each wrist with intricate markings, disappearing under the sleeve of his T-shirt. Some were words, some were pictures I couldn’t quite piece together without creepily staring at him. Decidedly, all were hot as hell.
He smiled at me and walked over to the water cooler. He procured a teabag from his pocket, plopped it into his black coffee mug, and filled it with water. The glug glug glug of the cooler cut through the silence, and I quickly swallowed my bite of turkey sandwich, preparing myself for if this guy wanted to talk—unlike the last five people who took one look into the break room, saw evidence of human life, and booked it to the elevator before I could even manage a hello. For people working at a social media agency, they were oddly…antisocial.
“You’re new here.” It was a statement. One that held the suggestion that this happened more often than my purchases from ShoeBinge.com. I’d deleted the app from my phone the minute I learned Mom’s diagnosis a month ago and was still thinking about those rhinestone heels.
“Second day.” I smiled. Finally. Someone to talk to. Besides Jackson and his awesome ability to give the evil eye over his computer screen.
“How are you liking it so far?” The muscles in his bicep bunched together as he took a sip of his tea. Ovaries, meet arm porn, your new best friend.
I folded the wax paper of my sandwich wrapper in half and creased the seam with my thumb. “It’s been nice. I made it through the employee manual…finally.”
“Learn anything good?”
I looked up from the wrapper and eyed him. “You’re breaking the dress code in at least two ways.”
He looked down at his clothes and then back at me, smiling. Two dimples indented his cheeks, and I realized how incredibly unfair it was that someone could be that gorgeous and not airbrushed by professionals in a magazine.
“Guess I am.”
“You’ve met the boss. What’s he like? Uptight like that rule book?”
His lips tipped up in one corner as he regarded me with his piercing brown eyes. “I don’t know if uptight would be my first choice.”
I chuckled. “Really? I hear he’s called the Antichrist.”
His brows rose. “Oh, really. That one’s new to me.”
“Huh.” I fiddled with the wrapper. “Jackson said it was a pretty well-known nickname around the office.” Maybe the guy worked in a different department than everyone else. Heck, he was a lot nicer than all the other employees I’d (not) talked to yesterday and today.
He let out a loud laugh that echoed throughout the break room. “Very interesting. Thanks for the heads up.” He grabbed the string to the tea bag and absentmindedly dunked it in the water. Veins corded deliciously up his arms and my brain went into zombie mode. Except instead of my inner monologue chanting must eat brains, it was must touch veeeeeeeins. “What’s your name?” he asked, bringing me out of my stupor.
I cleared my throat, heat tingeing my cheeks. “Lainey Taylor. Newly appointed second assistant to the Antichrist.”
Mr. Dimples mashed his lips together, and I couldn’t tell if the glint in his eyes was because he was amused or slightly annoyed. Maybe a bit of both. Great, I guess I was back to square one with making friends here. He backed toward the door and leaned against the frame. Really odd. Where I came from, people tended to give their name after someone else introduced themselves. This guy? Nada. I doubted 200 exits up the I-5 corridor were enough to see a shift in social customs.
He bit down on his full bottom lip and looked like he was really enjoying this awkward silence that had me squirming in my seat. I balled up the sandwich wrapper just to give my hands something to do. Really, these people needed to work on their social skills. Where was the welcoming committee? Mental note: start welcome committee if one doesn’t exist.
“It’s really nice meeting you, Lainey,” he said.
He put his hand on the doorframe, and just before he left the room, I called, “Do I get your name?”
“You can call me the Antichrist.” And with that, he breezed out into the hallway and disappeared into his office.
My heart screeched to a halt, and that turkey Panini turned to a solid brick in the bottom of my stomach.
“We meet again,” I said, and cringed at how stupid I kept sounding in front of him. Seriously, a Master’s degree, and that was the best I could come up with. Cheesy chitchat usually only made an appearance with red wine and too many shots of tequila. The guy had hired me to help with the basics, and this wasn’t exactly showcasing my competence.
“Yep. Just out for a quick walk.” He nodded and picked at an invisible piece of lint on his sleeve.
Did he pass by me in the park on his walk? Oh God, had he seen me chewing? My mom’s chiding about my eating habits suddenly didn’t seem so stupid.
I chanced a quick glance his direction. Since that awful encounter in the break room the other week, his hair had been neatly trimmed into a stylish cut that accentuated his face. Brogan was all strong angles and broad shoulders. Normally my reaction to forced proximity with a hot guy in an elevator was that of a) glee b) praying I didn’t have horrible coffee breath, and c) the obvious hope of said hot guy jamming the big red stop button and proceeding to give a mind-blowing elevator romp.
A completely irrational, unfair thought process since he was really the only person I was not allowed to go for. Besides the thirty other men that worked for Starr Media. As the old adage went, the person you embarrass yourself in front of the worst is the person you want the most. And Mr. (anti)Antichrist was looking particularly appealing today.
He shifted and took his hands out of his pockets as I stared straight ahead, trying not to make eye contact in the mirrored doors. Oh, this was going to be a very long ride in silence.
I stared at the little red numbers climbing, each one taking its time. Should I say something else? It’d be rude not to, but then again, I was the one that made an ass out of myself and insulted him. Maybe I should just keep my mouth shut like Jackson instructed.
“Nice day, huh?” Okay, so I failed at taking my own advice. Awkward silence gave me hives, and I always felt the need to fill it.
He clasped his hands in front of him and looked down at me. “Yep. Enjoy it while it lasts—supposed to be a rough winter.”
“I don’t mind rough,” popped out of my mouth even as Noooooo don’t you dare say that! tried to lasso my tongue.
If I wasn’t carrying coffee, I’d be pulling the hood of my cardigan over my head and pretending I’d melted into the elevator.
The dimples made an appearance, and I could tell he was using every bit of restraint not to laugh. “Is that so?”
“That was way too far down the ‘that’s what she said’ rabbit hole to even begin to redeem myself. Can we let that slide?”
This book had me from Rule #1: Don't call your hot boss the antichrist to his face. With an opener like that, I knew I had to read this story. And I'm glad I did. It was a cute, clever romp through the pitfalls of trying to find your way in life while also finding an unexpected love. The characters were interesting and fully drawn and if I have one complaint, it's how young Lainey comes off sometimes and the fact that she didnt seem to be a good match for Brogan. Their encounters were funny and all, but most of the time, I didn't really get his attraction to her - she seemed way too immature for him. That aside, I really enjoyed this story and would recommend it to anyone looking for a fun, light-hearted romp.