Misti Murphy started out the year releasing a hilarious romcom called TRADEMARKED. And we think you neeeeeed to read it! We promise that you’ll never look at cookies the same again.
Tempted? Here’s an excerpt for even more temptation. Because Parker Kent, well, he’s the definition of temptation.
Can you believe the size of it? It’s just so big, so thick, so out there…
Rumor is it’s named and trademarked. How cocky can the man be?
Parker Kent is the latest craze. He’s stupid hot. Women fall at his feet. Men want to be him. Fourteen-foot-high billboards of him in his Calvin Kleins cause automobile accidents daily.
He’s like Nickelback or the Kardashians. We claim to love to hate them, but secretly… As much as I’m ashamed to admit it, I’m not immune to his… charm.
But that was my guilty pleasure to keep to myself. The closest I figured I’d ever get to him was the billboard near my apartment.
Now he’s asking me to get on my knees and assess his bulge for insurance purposes.
Are the rumors true? I guess I’m about to find out.
For the safety of the general population, Parker Kent ought to be locked up. It’d be a public service, really, if that man were put in solitary.
I scowl at the man who is the bane of my existence. I’m going to be late again thanks to his perfect physique. Fourteenth time this month. I push my glasses firmly onto the bridge of my nose—dropped one of my last set of contact lenses this morning and couldn’t find it—and glare at his pretty face. He smirks back at me, his pearly white teeth denting his full bottom lip. His chocolatey caramel eyes laugh at me.
He’s scoffing at me. He knows he’s hot stuff and he doesn’t give a fuck that he’s ruining my morning. Again.
“You’re mocking me, aren’t you? Of course you are.” Asshole. He’s taunting me with his pretty eyes and his perfect abs and those extremely snug boxer briefs that leave almost nothing to the imagination. The outline of his monster peen is right there for everyone to see. It’s practically visible through those painted on ball huggers.
Eyes on the road, Bree. You’re not one of those women who end up totalling their car because of a pretty man.
Can I help it if I look? It’s right there in front of me.
If he was Chris Hemsworth I might be inclined to do something stupid, but not when it comes to Parker Kent. God’s gift to women? More like colossal pain in my ass!
Traffic slows to a crawl as I pass under the fourteen-foot high billboard of Parker Kent in his underwear. A couple of yards ahead a canary yellow coupe hugs a pole, steam billowing from its crushed hood. Several cars dot the side of the road, their owners gathered around a young woman with a teensy skirt and her arms hugging her waist. Poor girl. Yet another unsuspecting victim of that man’s ridiculous muscle.
Scuffing the ground with an ankle boot, she glances over her shoulder at the billboard. I bet she’s telling them that her eyes were only off the road for a second. She only got distracted for a minute by Parker Kent’s delicious body. Just like all the other women who have crashed since the sign went up earlier this month. Oh, and that one guy. The emergency response team practically had to drag him away from the billboard before he chained himself to it.
I catch flashing lights in my side mirror. First responders on their way. Traffic starts to move again. I’m only fifteen minutes late. Much better than last Friday when it took an hour to pass the three-car pileup stupid Parker Kent caused. How long is it going to take the city to work out that this billboard is why so many accidents occur here?
My phone rings, cutting out my radio and filling my car with a tinny version of the Star Wars theme, which is reserved for my best friend and colleague, Tim Harris.
We both started at Global Insurance on the same day, and had instantly bonded over pop culture and our mutual like of men.
Most people can’t tell Tim has an affection for the erection. Watching women come on to him is the highlight of most of my Friday nights. Especially since he’s such an equal opportunity flirt. It’s fun watching them flutter their eyelashes, flip their hair, and adjust their cleavage in an attempt to pique his interest. Sometimes I wanna pull them aside and say, Honey, unless you’re packing a penis in your handbag you have no chance.
I take the call, and his voice pipes through the speakers in my car. “Hey, Breezy, where are you? Malcolm’s been asking for you.”
“Shit.” Our office manager is a stickler when it comes to punctuality, which normally isn’t a problem, but since Parker Kent’s oversized package was erected on Casey Drive I’ve been late more often than I’ve been on time. Tim’s covered for me as much as possible but looks like I’m plumb out of luck today.
Why couldn’t they have put that billboard out near the airport or something? Actually, planes crashing out of the sky due to Parker Kent would make him a terrorism act, wouldn’t it? Maybe the FBI investigating his dangerous package is a step too far. Hmm. Still, it’s a nice little daydream to get me through this commute.
“I told him I thought you were in the bathroom. Please tell me you’re already in the elevator. I have your favorite coffee on your desk ready to go.”
My mouth waters at the mention of a vanilla latte from The Caffeinator. The server there knows me so well he has my order ready by the time I get to the counter. And he always sneaks me a little chocolate heart with it. I’m not sure which one of us is crushing here. Probably me. On the coffee. I almost weep as I realize it’ll be lukewarm by the time I can wrap my hand around it. “I’m still ten minutes away. There was another accident at the billboard.”
“Parker Kent strikes again?” he asks, no longer incredulous like he was the first few times we had this conversation. There are only so many times a man’s hunk of junk can be used as an excuse for being late without someone having to investigate to see whether you’re lying, or the truth really is as crazy as it sounds.
“Yep.” I pop the P like it’s bubble gum. “Return of the gargantuan terror.”
Tim snorts as my phone beeps, alerting me to a secondary call coming through. It’ll be Malcolm, checking to make sure I’m at work like Tim said, and not as I actually am, hurtling toward the office at the speed of a sloth. I roll my eyes and move lanes as the one over shows promise of moving faster. “I have an incoming call.”
“Malcolm?” he asks.
“No, MacGyver. He’s going to get me out of this mess with nothing more than a paperclip.”
“Funny,” he tells me. “See you when I’m looking at you.”
With Tim’s call disconnected, I consider letting Malcolm’s go to voicemail, but it’s better to face this type of thing head on. While I’m out of the office, instead of on the other side of his desk trying not to be blinded by the light bouncing off his bald head. “Good morning, Malcolm.”
“Bree-Anna. You’re late. Again.”
I cringe. Malcolm always uses my full name, his voice gruff and proper. I’m not a fan of my given name, preferring to go by Bree, but my boss refuses to get the memo. Literally. I sent a memo to the entire office within weeks of starting there.
I grip the steering wheel tighter and take my exit. “Sorry. There was a traffic accident.”
He barks a sharp laugh, making me jump in my seat. “Seventh time this month. I suppose we should all be glad that you didn’t go with a death in the family the first time.”
Wow. That’s dark. Even for Malcolm, whose humor always swings to the far left. Buildings close in around me, growing taller as I maneuver through the traffic toward Global’s offices. “Sorry, Malcolm. This will be the last time.” It won’t. “I guarantee it.” I can’t. As long as that billboard is there I can’t guarantee that I won’t be late. In fact, I can probably guarantee that I will be.
“Good to hear it,” he says. “But that doesn’t help me now. I needed you at your desk ten minutes ago.”
“I’m almost there.” The Global Insurance building comes into sight. The huge bronze Globe attached to its roof is visible from a block away. “Five minutes max.”
“No. Don’t come in.”
What? Oh shit. Is he re-evaluating my position with the company? I can’t afford to lose this job.
“I need you in River North to assess a new client. I’ll text you the address and get Marissa to email you the information we have on file.”
But my coffee is in the office. I almost sob at that thought as I change direction, the bronze globe growing smaller in my rearview mirror. Bye, caffeination. Sayonara, vanilla latte. Arrivederci, all ability to function like a human being. I’ll see you again soon. “Who’s the client?”
“Parker Kent,” Malcolm says.
“Holy fu…” ck balls. No way. No. Just no. Not him. How does a terrorist get insurance anyway?
“What was that?”
I cough. Sputter. I almost cussed in front of my boss. Shit. “Parker Kent?”
“Yes. That’s correct. He requested we send someone to his residence to make the assessment.” He clears his throat. “This is a high-profile client, Bree-Anna. It’s important we accommodate him.”
I want to ask him why he couldn’t send Tim. Marissa. Anyone other than me. Come on, I have a picture of Parker Kent in my cubicle. I push thumb tacks into it when I’m riled up. Surely Malcolm must know I’m not the right case manager for this particular client. At least not if he wants the man’s business.
Maybe he doesn’t. That has to be it. Otherwise he’s a sadistic spawn of Satan. Also possible. He is keeping me from my coffee, after all. Christ, I’m going to have to stop somewhere for java if I’m going to deal with Parker Kent. And yes, I know I’m a teensy bit judgemental, considering I’ve never met the guy. But that’s what you get when your first impression is a fourteen-foot high motherfucking billboard that gets you into shit with your boss.
“Okay.” It’s not like I can say anything else. I need this job. “I’m on my way.”
“Good. And Bree-Anna?”
“Yes, Malcolm,” I respond sugar-sweet, glad he can’t see the waspishness I’m sure is adorning my face.
“Don’t stick thumb tacks in the man.” He hangs up.
Sadistic prick for the win, apparently. My phone beeps a few seconds later with an incoming message. Parker Kent’s address. I could arrange a hitman. Kidding. Only sort of kidding. It’s okay if that thought crosses my mind, isn’t it? As long as I dismiss it. I don’t really mean it. I blame it on my under-caffeinated state. I’m bitchy without coffee. Hardly fit for human contact. That and I don’t have the patience to deal with smug men who think they’re God’s gift to women.
The building Parker Kent’s apartment is located in is nice. Situated close to restaurants and the club scene, but far enough away that the street itself is quiet. I chug the last of my coffee before climbing out of my car and shoving the door closed with my hip. A wrought iron and brick fence proudly surround the brownstone building. A secondary line of box hedges provide privacy from passers-by.
The gate doesn’t squeak as I close it behind me. Someone must take great care on the upkeep. My heels click on the concrete path that divides to perfect halves of a lawn so well-manicured it could pass for a bowling green.
Huge terracotta pots full to the brim with African violets sit on alternate steps that lead up to the glass panelled door. I study the addresses and names on the intercom before depressing the one for Parker Kent’s apartment. A moment later it buzzes and the door latch clicks, allowing me into the building before I can even manage to open my mouth to introduce myself.
It’s a quick ride up in the elevator and before I know it I’m knocking on his apartment door.
There’s movement and then voices. A woman opens the door. She’s wearing a man’s dress shirt, her lavender colored hair rumpled and loose around her slender face. “Oh. I thought you were food.”
They say you are what you eat. And if that’s the case then I guess I’m food, whereas she’d be toothpicks. But since I’ve managed to imbibe my favorite beverage before showing up to this meeting, I don’t tell her that. I plaster a smile on my face instead. “My name’s Bree Jackson from Global Insurance. I’m looking for Mister Kent.”
“Parker?” She uses her foot to scratch the back of a calf the size of a ten-year-old boy’s.
Her eyes widen. Perhaps she didn’t know his last name, but considering his image is gracing more than one billboard in the city, she’d have to live under a rock or in a convent for that to be true. Besides, the man is everywhere at the moment. Magazines, television, on the side of every Chicago bus. The only place he doesn’t seem to feature is on the side of a milk carton. He has a movie coming out soon too.
“We have a meeting.” I glance at my watch. I’m not early; I’m barely on time.
“Come in,” she says, moving out of the doorway so I can pass through. The interior of Parker’s apartment is even nicer than what I’ve seen of the building so far. Exposed brick, high beams, and polished floorboards shine in the sunlight filtering in through tall windows.
A gourmet kitchen and airy living space filled with metal and leather furniture makes me sigh. It’s a little masculine, but considering I’m currently living in a one-bedroom shoebox above a Chinese restaurant, I feel like I’m in the waiting room for Heaven.
“I’ll tell him you’re here,” Parker’s whatever-she-is says, walking out of the room. Girlfriend maybe? No. I’ve read enough articles and seen enough photos of the man attached to various women to find that hard to believe. Plus you don’t get nominated for the title of Sexiest Bad Boy of The Year by being in a relationship. Their only requirements are the guys are hot, single, and rough.
Huge black and white portraits decorate the walls, and I walk over to study one of them. Parker Kent stares back at me. The depth in his chocolate eyes isn’t diminished by the lack of color in the photograph. Neither is the cockiness of his half smile.
Someone giggles, and I turn as Parker Kent enters the room in his boxers with two women draped over him. The violet haired coat hanger has managed to find her pants, and her… sister? The blonde cuddled up to Parker’s left side is almost a dead ringer for the other. He grins and whispers something that makes her giggle all over again.
Twins? Oh puh-lease. I roll my gaze to the ceiling. God, let me get through this assessment without stabbing Parker Kent in the dick with a thumb tack.
He doesn’t even look up as he drags Violet—let’s call her Violet. It suits her— close to his right side and the trio saunter to the door.
“Sorry we had to cut this short, ladies.” He leans against the door, both women trapped between his body and the hand currently palming wood. And not the wood in his boxers; the very prominent wood that’s evident even from where I’m standing on the other side of the room. No, the door. His hand is on the door while he seductively bites his lip. “I was hoping we’d have time for a repeat of last night.”
“Maybe we could do it again,” Blondie says breathlessly, her body arching toward him.
“Yes, call us, Parker,” Violet croons. “We’re down for whatever you want.”
“Maybe I will.” He rubs his thumb over his lower lip and leans in to kiss Violet’s mouth. “You two really are sensational.” He cups Blondie’s jaw and nibbles her lip. “Thanks for a great night.”
“No. Thank you,” they reply in breathy unison.
Ugh. I turn on my heel and glare out the window. I’m losing brain cells watching the man operate. I can feel them dying. No amount of coffee is going to bring them back. He’s so despicably transparent.
The door clicks shut on their final goodbyes, and I school my features into something friendlier. Or at least professional. Can’t give Malcolm any more reason to consider my suitability at Global. Not that it’s my dream job, but I’m good at it. Normally. I will not allow Parker Kent to be the exception. I will not leave this apartment without securing his business.
A deep breath in, and I turn to face Parker Kent. Billboard Terrorist. Womanizer. Hottest man on the planet. Other than Thor.
“Hey there, I’m Parker.” He stretches out a hand, the muscles in his arm flexing as his gaze does a circuit of my body. His molten chocolate eyes widen and stutter when they hit my chest and again at the hem of my skirt before finally coming to a stop on my face. And hey, at least he takes a second to look me in the eye before he dips down to my breasts again. “You must be the assessor Malcolm promised me.”
“That’s correct. I’m Bree Jackson.” I slide my hand into his. Funny. I expected it to be slimy, but much like a snake his handshake is warm and dry. His eyes on the other hand are anything but beady as his gaze finally settles on my own.
“Nice to meet you.” He smiles openly. Charm oozes from his almost invisible pores. Like a forcefield. Or a tractor beam. One that’s attached to my nipples and making them point straight toward him.
Dropping my hand to my side, I step back. “If you need a moment to get dressed, I can start on the paperwork.”
“Dressed?” Parker says the word slowly as though it’s a fresh new concept.
I nod enthusiastically. For the love of all things sane, put some clothes on. Don’t you know that body causes women to lose their minds and their transportation? Christ, his wide shoulders and thick pectoral muscles look like they’re carved out of marble. Flat brown nipples take up prime real estate. There are ridges in his abdomen that I could fit my fingers into, and those lines that lead down, down, down… Hewn from freaking diamond.
Oh shit. I’m looking at him. Staring. I may as well open my mouth and let my tongue roll out like a red carpet. Swallowing, I focus on his face. He smirks as he rubs his hand through his bed tussled hair.
“I take it you haven’t been filled in on the details,” he says.
“No.” I adjust my grip on my leather case, suddenly wishing I’d taken the few minutes I’d used to buy coffee to read the email Marissa sent as well. I’d just assumed, considering the clients I usually deal with for Global have extensive art collections, or billion-dollar homes, or luxury vehicles. Apparently I’m an ass, but really it was his fault. If it wasn’t for that stupid billboard I would have been at my desk on time and I would have had a chance to go over the notes before starting this meeting.
A deep burly laugh rumbles through the man. His shoulders shake and his chest vibrates. Damn, those are the whitest teeth I’ve ever seen. Blinding. His laughter cuts off but his enjoyment of the situation shines from his eyes. “Make yourself comfortable. I’ll grab a shirt,” he says. “Then we can discuss the pussy assassin.”
I gape. I know I’m gaping as he walks away because I’m pretty sure I manage to catch a fly with how wide my mouth is hanging open.
Did he say pussy assassin?
As in his penis?
I’d heard he’d named it. Even had the name trademarked. But I figured that was one of those ridiculous rumors some gossip columnist perpetuated in order to sell magazines. Who the hell nicknames their penis anyway?
Especially something that sounds like he’s planning on murdering vaginas. My own vagina lets out a shriek as I watch his taut backside disappear out of sight. No. No. No. He has to be talking about some weird artwork, doesn’t he? A cat with a spear or something. A priceless statue or painting. I drop onto his leather couch and pull my tablet out of my briefcase, click on the email from Marissa and speed-read it. Oh God. It really is his penis.
I’m here to insure his penis.
What am I supposed to do? Get down on my knees with my measuring tape? Take it for a joy ride to check out its performance? I cross my legs as a hot flush starts in my nether regions.
Could he be any cockier?
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