From That Moment
Book 2 in the Promise Me Series
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Carrie Ann Ryan continues her sexy new contemporary stand-alone series with an enemies-to-lovers office romance.
Paris Trissel is in a dating rut. Despite the pact she made with her friends to find someone to share her life with, she’s throwing in the towel after only a few blind dates. Add in the fact that the new hire at the job she used to love happens to be the Brady brother she can’t stand, and Paris is having a terrible year.
Prior Brady’s life seems pretty perfect from the outside. He has a wonderful, caring girlfriend, a family he’s never been closer to, and a new job he can’t wait to sink his teeth and talents into. Too bad the woman he has to work with for hours a day hates him on sight.
Once the two are forced to find the balance between chemistry and temptation, however, they’ll realize they’re stronger together than apart. Except when Paris’s past comes back with a vengeance, bringing terror, pain, and horror with it, both she and Prior will have to lean on each other.
In more ways than one.
**There is a bonus epilogue exclusively in the audio and ebook editions!**
From That Moment
“I think you’re going to like it here, though I still don’t know why you only want to stay for six months. I don’t know, once you meet everybody, you might want to stay for a bit longer. There are some perks.” Benji elbowed me in the ribs, though it wasn’t hard enough to hurt, and then he winked. “If you know what I mean.”
I looked at the other man and kept a pleasant smile on my face. I hoped to hell I had no idea what he meant. Because if this was the start of my new job, then it was going to be a long fucking six months.
I was going to take this job today and be here for the next half a year. The branch wanted me to plug up a hole that people kept revolving through over the past year or so.
I was a software engineer and was damn good at my job. Working on a project usually took longer than six months. However, turnover on this one seemed greater than normal.
I’d always wanted to work for this department of the company, even in a temporary position. When my current branch offered to loan me out, I greedily accepted.
I loved my current job, but I adored the fact that I could work with another team for a little while. It wasn’t that unheard of when both branches were owned by the same conglomerate. The fact that I got bored easily, even with jobs I loved, meant that this was a perfect break for me. It wasn’t the first time I had done it, but it was the first time I’d felt so uneasy about the guy talking to me.
Benji had been working at this particular branch for the past six years and had moved up in the ranks quickly. I had seen his work and appreciated what it did for the company. I hadn’t spoken to him in person before, though. Now, I understood why that had probably been a good thing for both of us.
“So is my office this way?” I asked, changing the subject. I didn’t want to wonder what Benji was talking about for long. Not if I wanted to keep this job.
“Oh, yes. You’re right next door to your software quality engineer.”
“That’ll be helpful, considering she’s going to check all of my work for the next six months.”
Benji rolled his eyes. “She’ll probably give you a hard time about it, too. She loves telling us everything we do wrong.”
I frowned, grateful that no one was around to overhear.
“That’s sort of her job, isn’t it?” I asked. “I mean, I develop it, and she tests it. There’s always going to be kinks in the system that we need to figure out.”
“I think she enjoys telling men that they’re wrong. If you know what I mean.”
I hated that phrase.
I held back a sigh and resisted the urge to pinch the bridge of my nose. Oh, good. It was going to be one of those places. I couldn’t wait.
“So, here’s your office,” Benji said, moving into a nicely sized room with a desk, a couple of tables against the walls, and a bright window.
I was going to love that view and natural light.
At my current place, I shared an office with someone because the rooms were about twice the size of these. And my office mate hated light. Seriously, I was pretty sure he was a vampire. That meant my beautiful window always had its blinds closed. No matter what I did, I resolved myself to the fact that I would never be able to see the outside world again from my office.
At least that’s how it felt. That’s why I did my best to work from home most days.
Considering my job, I was able to do that. I kind of liked this office so far, though. Maybe I would work onsite more often. I’d have to see how things worked. For instance, if Benji continued on his path of freaking me out, maybe I’d telecommute. I guess it all depended on my software quality engineer.
For all I knew, they did have it out for every developer out there and enjoyed telling us what was wrong.
What I didn’t like was the fact that the man sounded fucking sexist when he said it. I would like to see and form my own opinions.
“Looks great,” I said and turned to Benji. “Thanks. Seriously. I’ll be back tomorrow to start for real, but I’m thankful that you showed me around today.”
“I’m glad you’re going to be here. Even though it’s only six months, maybe you’ll like it. We always like new blood. It gets kind of annoying after a while when everyone just leaves because they’re afraid of the Shark.”
“Excuse me?” I asked, confused and a little weary.
“Yes, Benji. Excuse me?” a very familiar voice said from behind us. I turned and could have cursed under my breath.
Paris. Of course, it was Paris.
The one person in the area that I knew, who legit acted as if she hated me, though I had no idea why.
Paris, the best friend of the woman who was marrying my brother.
Oh, yes, that Paris.
“Hey, didn’t see you there,” Benji said, his hand on his tie, running his fingers down the length as if he hadn’t just been bad-mouthing someone.
And I knew it had to have been about Paris. It had to be given the way the two were acting.
“No, you wouldn’t with your back to me. If you’re going to talk crap about me and call me names like you love to do, I would make sure that the door isn’t open, and you’re not saying it for everybody to hear.” Paris crossed her arms over her chest and glared at me. “You. You’re the new software engineer? Of course, you are. Because why not have more of the boys’ club here?”
My brows went up to my hairline, and I held up my hands. “Hey, what the hell?”
“Don’t what the hell me. If I ever hear you saying the word Shark around here, I will make sure you don’t last another day. I mean, it’s not like you will anyway. Right? No one else has.”
“Wait. You guys know each other?” Benji asked, his gaze darting between us.
“We’re friends,” I said.
“Uh, no, we aren’t.”
I looked at Paris and raised a single brow this time. “We’ve broken bread together. We hang out because your friend is marrying my brother. I would assume we’re friends.”
“And you would assume wrong. We are forced into each other’s proximity because of people we care about. That doesn’t make us friends.”
“Okay, then,” I said softly. “That’s going to make the upcoming wedding and everything else fucking hard, isn’t it?”
“Don’t curse. This is work.”
“You’re right. I’m sorry about that. Also, I wasn’t the one who called you that name.” I turned to Benji. “And Benji isn’t going to be saying it again, will you?”
Benji held up both hands. “No, I promise. I’ll be good.”
“Whatever,” Paris said. “I guess you’re starting tomorrow? Good. Just know you better work hard because I don’t take lackluster work from anyone. I’m good at my job. If you have a problem with that, let me know now so I can deal with it because I’m going to be the one telling you when you do things wrong. If you have a problem hearing that from me, get over it now.”
Benji slid out of the door past Paris, leaving the two of us alone in the office.
I shook my head, wondering what the fuck was going on.
“Can you close the door for a second?”
“Uh, no. Why the hell would I do that?”
“Language,” I said, teasing at first. When her eyes narrowed, I lifted my chin, steadying my gaze. “Let’s talk, okay? I’m as surprised as you. I didn’t know you worked here. Honestly. Let’s get everything out in the open. However, considering that Benji—and God knows who else—probably has his ears pressed against his door trying to listen in, let’s get some privacy.”
Paris narrowed her eyes, then took a few steps into my office, closing the door behind her.
“Fine. I’ll give you two minutes.” She did a show of looking at her watch, and I barely resisted the urge to chuckle.
“Okay, since I’m on a timer, what’s wrong?”
Paris just glared at me. “I don’t know, maybe this hostile work environment.”
“You’re the one sniping at me when we didn’t even get to fully introduce ourselves. I don’t even fucking know your last name.”
Color tinged her cheeks, but she didn’t back down.
“Trissel. Paris Trissel. And I know you’re one of the Brady brothers. Though not the fun bunch, are you?”
“Ha-ha. I’ve never once heard a Brady Bunch joke in my life. Gasp. You were the first person to ever make one. Ever.”
“No. Let’s get this out. I don’t know why you don’t like me. Maybe you don’t like anyone. That’s your prerogative. We’re going to be working together for the next six months, and yes, you’re going to be checking my work. Thank God. I’m going to make some mistakes. Hopefully, not ones that break the whole damn system, but I’m going to make mistakes. I’m going to need help getting the bugs out. And that’s your job.”
“And you don’t mind the fact that I’m going to be the one scrutinizing your work?”
“Paris. You’re good at what you do.”
“And how do you know that?”
“Because Hazel and the other girls constantly say that you’re brilliant and tell me about what you do. I just didn’t think you worked here. I never asked.”
She blinked at me. “The girls said that?”
“Of course. You are all smart, talented women.” I purposely didn’t say beautiful because we were at work, but Paris was fucking hot.
Long, dark hair and a slender body with curves in all the right places. I had taken note before, of course, and I was kicking myself that I had noticed in the way I had.
Today, she even wore glasses, big square ones that were in fashion these days, and that only made her look hotter.
In fact, she had worn these glasses before, and I’d had a fantasy of her bent over my desk as I…okay, enough of that.
We were working together now, and I had Allison, my girlfriend. So not the images I should have in my mind.
“I need your help here, Paris.”
“So you say. But you were in here with Benji when he was talking how he usually does.” She blew her bangs from her face, kind of fogging up her glasses a bit as she did, and I held back a smile.
She was so damn cute. I shouldn’t be thinking that at all. Only, it was the friend part of my brain that did so. And I had to keep that thought from my mind because it would be rude as fuck to say something like that about a coworker. I needed to change the way I thought about Paris.
I could do it. At least for six months. Right?
“I thought that Benji was a jerk, and I was going to call him out on it, but then you walked in.?
“So you say,” she said. And once again, I resisted the urge to roll my eyes.
“It’s the truth, Paris. You don’t have to believe me, but hopefully, you’ll see it eventually. I’m not the asshole you think I am.” I paused. “I know…language.”
She turned away from me, letting out a long breath. “They call me the Shark. You heard that?”
“I did. I thought it was a good thing in our line of work. I don’t think it is from your tone or his.”
“They call me Shark because I smell blood in the water when it comes to mistakes, and they like making fun of my period.”
“Excuse me?” I asked, my hands fisting at my sides. “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”
“Oh, they haven’t said it out loud to me, but I heard one of the guys whispering about it once. So, I’m going to assume that’s what he meant.”
“Fucking assholes. Why do you put up with it?”
“You’re serious? I put up with it because I love what I do, I make damn good money, it has a fantastic health insurance plan, and…as I said, I’m damn good at my job. I’d have to deal with this no matter where I went. So, they can all be leery of me and just watch me do my best work, or I can whine about it to the boss constantly and never get anywhere.”
“Jesus,” I grumbled. “You don’t have to worry about that from me. I’m not one of those guys.”
“I guess we’ll have to see, won’t we?” she asked, lifting her chin. “Because you’re only here for six months. I’ve been here for a long damn time. This is where I want to stay. So don’t fuck this up for me. And yes, language. See what you made me do? I’ve become Paris in the streets, rather than Paris at work.”
The fact that my mind went to Paris and the sheets was something I’d have to deal with.
“Remember, we work together. You aren’t my boss, and I’m not yours. So, don’t even think about trying to order me around.”
Now I was getting pissed off. “I wasn’t thinking that. Did you not hear me when I said that I like quality assurance? I mean, hell, I told you I’m going to make mistakes. I need someone to help me clean them up. If you’re going to be a jerk about it, then I might get angry.”
“Well, I guess we’ll have to see, won’t we?”
“Are you ever going to tell me why you hate me so much?”
“I just said—”
I cut her off. “No, not right now. From before. You’ve always grumbled about me and around me. At every dinner or event that we do as a group, you always growl at me. It’s the same way Myra growls at Nate, and Dakota practically hides from Macon. I don’t know what’s going on with all of you guys, but I’m sick of it. Unless you stop being friends with Hazel, we’ll be stuck in the vicinity of each other for a long damn time. And now that I’m working here for the next six months? We’re going to be working closely. So, stop hating me and start working with me.”
“I don’t hate you. I just don’t like you.”
This time, I laughed. “You don’t even know me.”
“No, I don’t, but you’re like all the guys here. And I’ve had to fight to get where I am. And I’m tired of it. I like my job, and people like Benji make it harder and harder for me to continue liking it. Maybe I’m a bitch, but people can fuck right off.”
“You’re not a bitch,” I grumbled. I didn’t even like saying the word.
“Far from it. You just like things done right. As you should. You may hate me on sight, but I’m not going to use that word.”
“Whatever.” And then she froze, cursing herself.
“Great, I’ve been in here longer than two minutes, and now everyone’s going to think I’m fucking the new employee.”
“If I hear anything, I’ll put those rumors to rest. Because no matter where I work, I don’t take kindly to assholes putting women down. Putting anyone down for that matter.”
“You say that, and yet they’re going to be high-fiving you while calling me a whore.”
I counted to ten so I wouldn’t say something I’d regret later. “Why do you love this place so much if that’s how you automatically think?”
“Because it hasn’t happened here yet. It happened at the last place I worked. I’m used to it. I’m a woman in a man’s world. It’s what happens. However, I’m done playing nice about it.”
Her phone buzzed, and she looked down at it as if she weren’t even thinking and then paled.
“What is it?”
“Nothing. Just stupid pact stuff.”
That made me smile. I knew about the pact. The four women—Hazel, Paris, Myra, and Dakota—had decided to make a pact to set each other up on dates. Blind dates, friend dates, dates of some sort. So they could all find their happily ever afters, or at least a good time. Somehow, my brother had ended up in the middle of it, although Cross had been an accidental blind date. It seemed to have worked for him and Hazel, though, because they were happy and talking about marriage.”
I knew Paris was up next, but it had been a good six months since they’d started this. I didn’t realize that she was still on the chopping block.
“Do you have a date?”
She cursed under her breath, and I held back a smile. “Apparently, they’re setting me up again.”
“Okay, this is the friendship zone. Once I leave here, we’re going back to being coworkers. Okay?”
“You said friendship. I’m going to take that as a win.”
She glared at me, but I saw her mouth twitching. “I think this is my fifth blind date. I suck at it.”
I shook my head, not even bothering to wince. “You don’t suck at it. People all over the world suck at dating. I don’t understand blind dates at all.”
“Meeting up with a stranger and then forcing yourself to parade around on a date when you’re starting from scratch? No, that doesn’t sound like a cup of tea to me. And statistics are going to show that there’s not a high success rate.”
“My statistics show there is no success rate,” she said dryly.
“Perhaps, but you’re trying. Though you did pale a bit there. What’s wrong with your date?”
“Oh, they just helped me set it up. It’s tonight. Yay.”
This time, I did wince at her tone. “It can’t be that bad.”
She snorted. “Oh, honey. You have no idea.”
And then I smiled, and she smiled back, and something inside me warmed a bit.
Okay, that was interesting. However, it meant nothing.
After all, we were working together, though I was pretty sure Paris didn’t like me at all. She may be friends with my group, but she was going on a blind date, and I was in a semi-serious relationship.
And Allison wouldn’t like the fact that I had images of Paris in my head. Oh, she wouldn’t have minded in the past, but now that Paris and I were working together? No, that wasn’t about to happen.
“We’ll make this work, Paris.”
“My dating, or what?”
“We’ll make this whole work thing work. I want this job, and you say you’re the best, so let’s prove those who think otherwise wrong.”
“Maybe,” she said softly. “Or perhaps it’s only going to get worse.”
“We’ll make this work,” I repeated.
“I sure hope so. Because I love my job. It’s pretty much the only thing I have.” And with that comment, she walked away, leaving the door open and me standing there wondering what the hell had just happened.
The only thing she had? No, she had more than that. Like I did.
At least, I thought so.
As I looked around my empty office, I wondered what the hell we were going to do. Because I still had a feeling that Paris didn’t like me. Not because I was me, but maybe because I represented everything that sucked in this industry. Or perhaps she really didn’t like me. I didn’t know. But in the end, it wouldn’t matter. Because I was going to prove that I was the best at my job. We were going to finish a fucking amazing project. Then, I was going to leave and go back to my previous position and another project that I loved.
And Paris would just have to deal with that.
I had a contract that I was pretty much going to love as long as I could make this work, a woman that I could maybe see myself with someday, and a family I cared for and loved being with.
My life was on the right track, finally.
What could go wrong?