Authors: Shadonna Richards
Being on the giving end of the camera was
one thing, but Blue couldn’t handle being on the receiving end of the news. How
awful to be captured at any given time for the world to see…in print and
“Thank you,” she responded to his encouragement.
Elliot never championed her, come to think of it. Her ex seemed to take great
pleasure in belittling at the most insignificant of foibles, disguising it as
jest, humor. But many a truth was spoken in jest as the saying went.
Still, she was glad to have been assigned
stories such as the anti-poverty
She was covering the event but she also felt
passionate about the way low-income families could not provide for their
children. She was all for raising the minimum wage. She took nothing for
The thought caused moistness to sting her
eyes. Blue knew how it felt to not have much. But then, she’d learned about
Zack’s background, too. He’d been through humbling impoverished times as a
youngster before he met his famous grandfather. But she was not about to bring
that up. She would allow him to. Since she knew it was a raw spot and it wasn’t
something that the Romero brothers flaunted when they worked within the
Blue learned the Romero brothers were known
for their compassionate work, not for their boastful words.
“You can begin recording,” Zack ordered her,
in his commanding, deep voice. He walked so powerfully and dignified with his
Conscious of her own posture, Blue
straightened up. Her eyes scanned the breathtaking scenery at the estate. It
was a massive sea of greenery with fresh grapes tinting the verdant view as
they dangled from vines. There was a beautiful mini cottage that was the garden
shed but it was more like a beautiful home with its own shrubs, stone pathway
and a double French door like the main house. How marvellous they designed it
that way. It was Zack’s brainchild, apparently.
The scent of his cologne was irresistible
to Blue's nose. Everything about the man was. She felt her nipples getting hard,
straining under her bra and through her knitted summer top. She prayed Zack would
not look directly at them. It would be so embarrassing.
Her skirt was beginning to ride up again.
The fabric was not one she was used to wearing and had a bit of stretching Lycra
material in it to complement her curves. She just wished she’d worn it beforehand
to understand how it would behave. What a day to wear this outfit. Blue tried
to change the direction of her thoughts back to her work.
“Blue’s an intriguing name.”
“Thank you. My mother’s favorite artist was…”
Blue almost choked trying to utter the words. It was so painful to think about
Mom. Even now. “Picasso, so I'm Blue, after his Blue Period.” She finished her
sentence, almost inaudibly.
“Is everything, okay?” Zack asked in a
deep, low voice as if he was in tune with her every word, her every tone. Blue really
had to be careful around him. She had to keep her emotions in check. She
realized that now.
“Yes,” she said softly, trying to bring her
confidence up a notch. “Mother always told me that Blue was synonymous energy
and it also meant calm and relaxation.”
“You don’t seem relaxed,” Zack observed as
he stopped walking after they’d reached the plush garden shed cottage. “If
you’re going to work with me, Blue, as much as I like your aura, you’ll need to
remain focused on what you’re doing. Is that going to be a problem?”
She shook her head. But tears were beginning
to form in her tear ducts. “I just had a really busy morning, sir. But I-"
Zack held up his hand to silence her.
“Firstly, we’ll cut the formalities. Around here, we’re on a first name basis.”
A grin of amusement touched his lips. “I’ll
be the exception when I deem it necessary, Miss Monroe.” His voice was deep and
rich, and so smooth it slid down her spine with a tingle. Was he playing games
with her? Was he saying he didn’t want them to be on a first name basis? Or he
didn’t want use a first name when addressing her? What was with him?
Whatever it was, Zack caused a reaction in
her like she’d never experienced. She was addicted to him with just one taste
of his presence and that was going to be a problem. She knew it. She could feel
it. But she had to get on with the job and focus. She already had a crazy
ex-boyfriend in her personal-life portfolio. She didn’t want or need another
one. She knew of Zack Romero’s reputation with women. He was the
scream-out-loud sexual pleaser who didn’t do seconds! She was not going to be
another notch on his king-sized bedpost. She assumed he would have a giant bed
with silky, expensive fabric and a room with naughty seductive adult toys,
Blue shook her head trying to push the
thought out of her mind. How awful to judge this man based solely on his
reputation and what was said about him. Even having worked in the media, she
knew too well, not every sound bite was captured. There was always more to a
But for now, it seemed as if he were making
it clear. She would only be Miss Monroe to him. A worker. A contractor. And…to
her private disappointment, she could be nothing more to him.
Later that day, after touring the premise,
assisting in the vineyard and doing tons of paperwork, Zack and Blue walked
through the enchanted-looking garden leading to the driveway where her car was
parked. “Are you sure you don’t want me to call a car? It’s been a long day.
You look pretty beat.”
“Oh, no. I can get myself home, thank you.”
“You know, it’s interesting that you left
your job at Channel 31. I thought you were the most annoying reporter there,
but you were gifted. You often got to the heart of a story.”
She turned around looking stunned and surprised,
her folders clutched to her chest. “Annoying?”
He grinned. “In a good way, Miss Monroe.
People in my position never like to see media personnel swimming around their
She laughed. The wind swept her dark,
beautiful strands of hair into her face and he automatically brushed the tresses
away before she could. Her hands, after all, were full. An electric surge
rushed between them. He wanted to touch more than her hair. He wanted to lower
his head to hers and press his mouth to her sweet berry lips.
He realized then that he probably shouldn’t
have done that. Her eyes widened. But a look of amazement flashed in them. Was
“Sorry. Your hands were full.” His voice
came out more authoritative and rigid than he intended.
She chuckled sheepishly. “Thank you. And to
answer your question, I didn’t leave Channel 31. They fired me.”
“Fired you? Oh. Because of that debacle
with your cell phone?”
“Yes. My crazy ex.”
“Your crazy ex?” So there was a man in the
picture. An ex-boyfriend.
Zack opened the car door for her after she
squeezed her starter and remote key from her keychain.
“Thank you.” Blue placed the folders and
her recorder on the passenger seat of her car. She turned to face Zack. “It’s
nothing really. Like I said before, he was trying to get back at me for…ending
our relationship and…well…”
“The man sounds like a real lowlife.”
Zack’s tone was harsh. His lips curled in disgust. “What kind of man would do
that to a woman?”
“Clearly not a gentleman.” Blue smiled,
though Zack could see the pain in her eyes.
“You deserve better, Miss Monroe.”
She seemed surprised at his response. And a
smile of appreciation graced her face.
“What is his name?”
“What? Oh, no. It doesn’t matter. Leave him
be. I’m not like that.”
“Like what? Allowing people to walk all
“No. I’m not about revenge. I have better
things to do with my time.”
Now it was Zack’s turn to be taken aback.
His eyes widened with amusement and surprise. He’d met a lot of women in his
time but many of them who were wronged had a whole lot of bitterness and
revenge seeping through them, so much that it was unattractive. His stomach
clenched at the audacity of his ex-girlfriend, Selina! She was a winner in that
category for sure. He still had to deal with the ramifications if that sex tape
ever got out! God help him.
But Blue? Heck, she was all heart. Here was
a man who ruined her reputation and career and she wasn’t even the least bit
interested in seeing him suffer. The very thought of Blue’s delicate, forgiving
nature caused more desire to burn through Zack's body.
“You can tell a lot about a person by the
way they treat their enemies, Miss Monroe.”
“Well, I guess, it’s the way I was raised.
Revenge is a time waster. Time is better spent trying to get ahead in life.”
“Not to mention, harboring resentment is
like sipping on a glass of poison and expecting it to lead to the demise of
She grinned. “You’re a man of many words,
“I’ve been there before, Miss Monroe. You
get to meet all kinds of people in my line of work.
And in my
Besides, our experiences of the past are what shapes us into
who were are today.”
“That’s so true,” she echoed.
“Still, it’s the ones who make the best of
their experiences instead of taking the bad, who will go further in life.”
“You’re so right. There’s always two ways
of dealing with the past.”
“Yes. You can become bitter or strive to
“Hey, I like that! I’m going to write that
down and add that to the documentary notes.”
Zack grinned. “I’m glad you decided to set
up business for yourself, Miss Monroe. I like to support anyone bettering him-
and creating his own path in life. Outside
of this documentary that you’re filming here at the vineyard, you must let me
know if there is anything I can do to help you.”
“Oh, my. Thank you. I…don’t know what to
say.” Blue swallowed so hard that he could see the lump in her throat move.
The sun in the sky was beaming, a vibrant
orange hue amongst the clouds. The breathtaking scenery made it hard to want to
go indoors. Zack felt as if he could stay talking with this woman until the sun
He was actually enjoying her
company. Enjoying her aura. Her mannerisms. Her thoughts.
He couldn’t remember the last time he was
so entertained in the company of a beautiful woman before.
In the past, women often flirted with him
and were after his body and his wallet, not about conversations about daily
life, living, politics, socializing.
Nothing like that.
This was…refreshing. For Pete's sake, he’d been saying goodbye to this woman
for what? The last twenty minutes? And she didn’t seem to want to get to where
she was going any time soon either.
“I’m really glad to leave the media. Trust
“Well, I’ve made one too many enemies,” she
“Enemies? You? I find that hard to
“Well, unfortunately, I got assigned some
dirty stories to dig up on dishonest businessmen and ex-politicians. Sort of an
expose segment on our other TV show at the station.”
“Oh, right,” he groaned. Zack knew the show
and hated it with a burning passion. “Thirty-Minutes!”
“Yes, The Thirty-Minutes Show. I was
working on this one story about a former senator who was caught cheating on his
wife and …well, that’s the past now. I’ve handed over my research to my
colleague over there. That’s their problem now. Not mine. Well…”
“What is it?” he asked in a low voice. She
was holding back again. What was with this woman and her secretive demeanor?
“Blue? Are you okay?” She seemed to stare off into space for a moment. That
caused a ripple of concern to shoot through his body. What was going on? Zack
was often good at reading people. As nice as this young lady was, he could sure
as hell tell she had life that was more complicated than what was seen on the
“Thank you for everything Mr…I mean, Zack.
I’ll be in first thing in the morning.”
“Good. Be sure let Venus know if you need
anything at all.”
“I will,” she said but Zack could see a
shred of disappointment in her lovely face.
“I’ll be off site periodically on meetings
and other engagements. But if there is anything critical, she knows how to
“I’ll be sure to do that.” Blue gazed into
his eyes. Then she started the ignition. He saw that she got off safely before
heading back to the main house.
There was something mysterious about Blue
Monroe, and one way or
he was going to
uncover it. Ordinarily, Zack would be inside a woman’s heart and ultimately her
bed within twenty-four hours of meeting her. But thank God, he was going to
rise to the occasion for this abstinence challenge. Maybe it was a blessing in
disguise and not some curse as he originally thought. He would get a chance, as
hard as that would be, to know Blue intimately without getting into her bed,
but inside her mind and soul first. If he could do that and still hold interest
in her, that would mean a hell of a lot. It could mean, that she could be "the