The Darcy Brothers
The Darcy Brothers
By: Alix Nichols
Releasing November 17, 2016
Tour Host: Tasty Book Tours
a swoony bad-boy hero, laugh-out-loud moments and a happily-ever-after.
My name is Mia Stoll and I dream about publishing a monograph on medieval Paris. Problem is, I’m better qualified for writing a handbook on how to go from a budding scholar to a pregnant runaway in three easy steps.
My sister Eva carries a torch for the wrong man. Here’s the gist of my sermons to her: “Drooling over your hunky astronaut boss is a loser’s trek to Calamity with three stops along the way: Heartbreak, Job Loss, and Spinsterhood.”
The thing is, I’m in a terrible—you could even say impossible—position to lecture Eva.
I’m attracted to my own boss.
Raphael d’Arcy is funny, smart, and uber-rich. He’s also smoking hot. That alone should have scared me away, were I not such a dolt, my academic achievements notwithstanding.
But there’s more.
Raphael is France’s most notorious playboy who doesn’t do relationships. He does one-night stands. If sufficiently intrigued, he might do a fling. Which is the most I could ever hope to have with him—a short-lived fling.
So what, right? It’s not the end of the world.
But consider this: Getting my heart broken by Raphael d’Arcy is the least of my worries. Some very serious merde has been piling up in my life lately.
And it’s about to hit the fan.
How did I come to this?
I sigh, smooth my clothes one last time, and head for the cream leather-padded door.
“Mia, wait!” Raphael calls after me.
I halt and turn around.
He opens his chiseled mouth as if to say something, then shuts it, and gives me a tight smile. The smile of a person having second thoughts on the advisability of what he was going to say.
Well, I’m not waiting around for the result of his inner deliberation.
There are two bulky reports on my desk and a few dozen emails I need to go through before I can leave tonight. Ergo, time is of the essence. Ergo, I resume my hike across Raphael’s vast office until I reach the door. It unlocks smoothly and without a sound, bless its high-tech heart. A sneak peek into the hall to check if the coast is clear, and I slip away without saying good-bye to Raphael or Anne-Marie, his faithful PA.
Just like a lawbreaker.
Well, maybe not a lawbreaker, but definitely a reoffending violator of the Workplace Code of Honor. In particular, of Rule #1 which says: “Workers shall not have sexual intercourse with their hierarchical superiors, inferiors, or posteriors.”
While there’s some controversy over the exact meaning of “inferiors” and “posteriors,” everyone knows that a “superior” is more than just your immediate boss. The concept also covers your boss’s boss, your boss’s boss’s boss’s boss and the Boss of Them All, the CEO.
It’s a very sensible provision, by the way, and one which I totally approve of and adhere to.
As I rush down the hallway, my heels clicking on the marble floor, I realize I should’ve put my observation in the past tense. As in “I used to adhere to.”
Having repeatedly broken the Code’s first rule since March makes me a rogue and a hypocrite of the worst kind.
How did I fall so low?
Here’s a clue: it’s Rudolph the Reindeer’s fault.
God knows, I hadn’t planned on this when I landed the world’s most unexceptional job as assistant to the daily bulletin editor at DCA Paris. DCA stands for “D’Arcy Consulting and Audit.” Yup, the “d’Arcy” that’s sandwiched between “Raphael” and the rest of his fancy name on my lover’s official letterhead paper.
Having sexual intercourse with Raphael d’Arcy du Grand-Thouars de Saint-Maurice, a gentleman and a libertine, was the last thing on my mind when I started at DCA. In fact, it was nowhere near my mind.
Despite my murky past, that’s not who I am. Nor does my life need more complications right now.
Pauline Cordier’s familiar silhouette takes shape at the end of the hallway just as I reach the elevator and push the button. My heart skips a beat. If my direct supervisor sees me on this floor, she’ll assume one of the following two things: A. My presence here is work-related, meaning I’m going over her head; B. My presence here has nothing to do with work, meaning I’m sleeping with one of the senior managers.
Needless to say, both alternatives are equally conducive to me getting sidelined, ostracized, and ultimately fired.
I take a deep breath and give the approaching figure a furtive glance.
It isn’t Pauline.
The woman doesn’t even look like her at this distance.
You may not believe me, but I wasn’t sure what Raphael d’Arcy looked like when DCA hired me. Having scanned his official bio in preparation for my job interview, I had formed a vague image which boiled down to “young, well-born and well-dressed.” The specifics of the Founding CEO’s background and appearance hadn’t lingered in my mind. I doubt they’d even entered it.
Because they were not important.
All I wanted from Monsieur d’Arcy was a job at his firm that gave me a monthly paycheck to complement the pittance my school calls a scholarship. That way, I could finish my doctoral program without having to sleep under bridges or borrow money.
Parisian bridges can be drafty, you see. And damp. As for the stench courtesy of well-groomed dogs and ill-groomed humans, don’t even get me started! On top of all that, bridges offer no suitable storage space for research notes, photocopies, and books.
In short, they suck as accommodations.
As for the borrowing, my parents taught Eva and me that debt must be avoided at all costs. Their “debt is bad” precept proved stronger than the knowledge that everyone lives on credit in Western societies today.
Except my parents, that is.
Then again, they live in rural Alsace. Life’s a lot cheaper there than in la capitale, so they were able to make it into their fifties without a single loan to cloud their horizon.
My phone rings as I step off the elevator on the second floor, relieved that no one saw me in Top Management’s heavenly quarters. Considering that I’ve been sneaking out like this for two months already, the probability that someone will see me and that it’ll reach Pauline’s ears is growing by the day.
And it freaks me out more than I care to admit.
As I answer the phone, Raphael’s deep, sexy timbre breaks me from my worries.
“You left your panties here,” he says, sounding amused and smug at the same time. In short, his usual self.
“No, I didn’t—”
Oh crap. I did.
“I got five minutes before the managerial,” he says, “so if you want to come back and collect—”
“No!” I look around and lower my voice, “It’s OK. I’m sure I can make it through the afternoon without them.”
“Oh, I don’t doubt that. The question is whether I can make it through the afternoon with the knowledge you’re without them.” He pauses, as if pondering the question and then adds, “And with them in my pocket.”
My stomach flips.
Something achingly—yet delightfully—heavy gathers in my low abdomen, reminding me of what Raphael and I were up to a mere half hour ago. Suddenly, every step I take makes me aware of my pantyless condition. The friction of my skirt’s silky lining against my bare skin makes it prickle. My breathing becomes strained, and my heart thumps in my chest.
As I struggle to calm myself before entering the office I share with two other assistants, I picture myself in Strasbourg in our family physician’s immaculate office.
“What’s my diagnosis, doctor?” I’d ask after he’s examined me.
“Not to worry, mon petit! You’ll live.” He’d push his regular glasses to his forehead and put on his reading glasses. “You have a textbook case of lustium irresistiblum.”
“Please, can you make it go away?”
He’d smile and shake his head, updating my file on his computer. “It’s like a viral cold, mon petit. It’ll clear up on it’s own, eventually.”
And that, my friends, is the second clue to the mystery of how I got here.
It appears I have caught a virulent strain of lustium irresistiblum for lady-killer Raphael d’Arcy. And with my luck, we’ll likely get caught before it clears.
“Got to go,” I whisper into the phone and hang up.
I take a few long breaths to chase my arousal away before I enter the office.
Easier said than done.
The things Raphael says, the things he does to me… They don’t just excite—they break into my brain and muddle it up on a deep, molecular level. Throwing ethical norms against that kind of invasion has been as effective as attempting to shoot down the Death Star with foam darts.
But I’ll keep on trying.
Till the bitter end.
Alix Nichols is an unapologetic caffeine addict and a longtime fan of Mr. Darcy, especially in his Colin Firth incarnation. She is a Kindle Scout and Dante Rossetti Award winning author of critically acclaimed romantic comedies.
At the age of six, she released her first rom com. It featured highly creative spelling on a dozen pages stitched together and bound in velvet paper.
Decades later, she still loves the romance genre. Her spelling has improved (somewhat), and her books have made Amazon bestseller lists, climbing as high as #1. She lives in France with her family and their almost-human dog.
For exclusive content, giveaways and special offers, including a bonus book, subscribe to the monthly newsletter on her author website: www.alixnichols.com.