Breaching His Defenses

By: Allyson Lindt


What happens in Vegas… Can break hearts and destroy careers.

Years ago, heartbreak corrupted Jared Tippins’s outlook on love. He spun the betrayal into a rapid climb up the corporate ladder, and swore off any relationship with a morning after. Luckily, the playful siren who rescues him from singing a duet alone in a karaoke bar doesn’t want anything long term. If only he could stop fantasizing about ways to make her moan. Sure, she could’ve mentioned he works for the competition. At least she’s not behind the security concerns that have plagued his company for almost six months.

If she were, he’d be screwed on a whole new level.

Mikki Elford is determined to have the fun she missed out on when she fast-tracked her way through college. But school had its upside, too. She’s qualified to legally hack corporate networks. Best job ever. She also gained an appreciation for the legends in computing — Gates, Jobs, and Tippins. When she meets Jared Tippins and realizes he’s sexy and fluent in programming languages older than she is, no consequence will dissuade her from an impromptu fling. Fortunately, he doesn’t mind that six months ago she compromised his network to land her job.

Oh, crap! He doesn't know.

For my eternal dragon

Chapter One

Jared’s fingers twitched toward the slew of jumbled shot glasses on the shelf in front of him. He shouldn’t be browsing the gift shop of the hotel he was staying in; he should be on the same conference call as his best friend and business associate, helping to wrap up the biggest sale they’d had in their sights in months. He could have listened in. Just this once. Kept himself on mute and not said anything.

Compulsion won out, and he turned back to the shelf of shot glasses. His fingers flew across the rims and, within seconds, the entire section was a series of straight, neat lines.

He exhaled loudly. Okay, so maybe he couldn’t have listened quietly on the phone and kept his mouth shut.

And none of this junk would make a good souvenir for his sister. She’d asked for something simple, but everyone brought back tiny trinkets from Las Vegas. He was halfway to the gift shop exit when a tucked-away display caught his attention. The digital photo frames were tacky as hell, trimmed with gaudy, gold Greek temples, and was that supposed to be a crown of leaves? Alyssia’s entire desk was lined with photos. It was perfect.

Great. A line at the checkout. His toes tapped a tuneless beat inside his shoes as he waited for his turn to pay. At least waiting would give him something else to think about for a couple of seconds longer.

He couldn’t help checking his watch as he stepped from the store. He’d killed six minutes and fifty-four seconds.

Tate, Vivian, and he would be heading to dinner as soon as the call was done. His associates were staying in the same hotel. But until then, Jared’s schedule was open. Time to sequester myself in my room and get some work done. He’d get back to the proposal sitting in his briefcase for new call center hardware. Answer the emails with red exclamation points on them that had come in during his flight.

His gaze tripped around the lobby as he pulled out his phone and unlocked it. People came and went. The couple checking in, she with silver hair cropped short, he in jeans and a T-shirt and probably thirty years younger, spent more time gazing at each other than looking at anyone else. Even across the room their adoration was almost tangible.

Too bad it won’t last. People never took the time to figure out their own oddities before they hooked up with another person, but over the years, he’d managed to assemble a solid algorithm of what did and didn’t work for him when considering a personal relationship.

He didn’t expect perfection from a significant other, but there was no reason the relationship couldn’t be flawless. The math was there to support it, as long as the variables were right. In a way it was harsh, but it hadn’t let him down yet.

A twinge of envy echoed in his chest as he pulled his attention away from the loving couple, aka pending heartbreak. His eyes grew wide when his gaze landed on the woman whose black hair—complete with a Kool-Aid red streak down one side—just brushed her jaw.

Back to your hotel room. Work awaits. But the woman had his attention, and his feet refused to move. Even from this distance, she screamed chaos in a way that made his fingers twitch with the need to bring order. And at the same time, he couldn’t stop staring.