I speak. “Hey Aiden, I hear you took an unscheduled break this morning? Gonna write yourself up for that?”
I can hear Shannon snigger, but the tablet is facing Aiden. I take time to assess him. On a purely medical basis. He has a grey pallor, and seems to have lost weight since I last saw him. There is a tightness around his deep green eyes and sensual mouth, a permanent measure of his constant control. I feel bad for teasing him when he has zero sense of humor.
“Sorry Aiden, I can’t help myself.” I grin at him.
“You could try Cassandra, you could try.” And that, right there, is what gets my hackles up every time. He calls me Cassandra in that same patronizingly dismissive way that I have heard from my father’s lips since I could crawl.
“Oh I doubt you would recognize me if I took life too seriously. Though from what Shannon has been telling me, you have your orders to loosen up StickMan.” I really should stop needling him. “Maybe I could give you a few pointers on how to relax and have a little fun?”
“Hey that’s a great idea, if anyone knows how to relax and have fun Cassie does! She'll show you how to chill. A week or so in the San Diegan sunshine would do you the world of good Aiden.” Shannon’s bubbly excitement send a chill down my spine, thank god no one will take her seriously.
"Doubt she'd want me around cramping her style.” Aiden’s diplomatic refusal should fill me with relief, instead I feel a little disappointed. I file that away for later reflection, in the thickening mental folder labelled Confusing emotional and physical responses to Stick-Up-His-Ass Doolan.
“Actually I am quite busy just now with my clinic, I wouldn’t have time to show you around or anything. But I've plenty of room.” Why? Why did I say that?
He tilts his head. “I guess I could check on the work Sam did on your clinics security system? He mentioned the software might need upgrading.” Seriously? Aiden is actually considering taking a time out and coming to San Diego?
"A colleague was asking just last week who I got to do my security.” Yes, okay she did ask in passing. But I didn’t have to go spitting it out like I’m on truth serum! Can he see the panic in my eyes? Will that just make him fuck with me more?
"Ha-ha Aiden” chuckles Shannon in the background, “maybe you should look at expanding Doolan Securities.” Someone shoot my ex-best friend. Now.
“That's not the dumbest idea you've ever had Shannon.” Please God no, Aiden is taking it seriously?
“It f****** is Butch! He's meant to be relaxing not looking to increase his responsibilities.” Ah, Clay, the voice of reason. Or in this case, underlying panic. Of course! He will be the one carrying the can while Aiden is out of action.
"You're just worried you'll be left in charge for longer Cupcake.” Shannon is dangerously poking the sleeping bear that is her tall, dark and brooding.
“Fuckin right! Who's gonna bale me out if Aiden keels over in San Diego?”
“Woah, slow down guys. As Shannon said it was only a joke!” I try to prevent World War Three and hope the combatants don’t realize they can just close my lid. I look up at Aiden, trying to figure what is in his mind. Crap! I can see he is thinking about it.
“Hmm. Cassandra I might just take you up on your kind offer.”
What fucking offer? I never actually remembered offering. I remember being shoehorned into a position where I couldn’t refuse… “Okay Aidie. I have a couple of conditions though. First off, you spend no more than 2 hours a day working. Secondly Aidie you call me Cassie."
"Point made and noted Cassie.” He is actually grinning at me. Oh hell. What have I done? I get the feeling I am going to need my personal therapist on speed dial.
EXCERPT FROM LAYERS BENEATH.....
Continuing the story of the Doolan family, in the second book of the series, we follow Aiden and Cass.
This is A HEA that can be read out of sequence, but is all the more enjoyable when it is read after
'A Second Chance'
When Aiden Doolan wakes up in hospital having collapsed while giving a verbal warning to his brother, (Okay, so he was reaming Danny a new one for screwing up a contract) he is warned by his Doctor; "Learn to relax... Or die before you're forty". Aiden has no clue how to relax. He has never had the opportunity!
Cue Cassie who - as far as Aiden can tell - has turned chilling out into an art form.
The problem is Cassie cannot stand her best friend Shannon's 'Stick-Up-His-Ass' humorless big brother; and Aiden thinks Cassandra is a flighty trust fund brat with no responsibilities.
So when Shannon decides big brother Aiden needs to stay with Cassie in San Diego until he learns to relax, it seems it will only be a matter of time before one of them kills, dismembers and buries the other.
Or is it? After a shaky start, the pair begin to see the layers of personality beneath those that they judged each other by, and a grudging respect begins to develop into a deepening friendship. Could two such different people find a middle ground?
As Aiden realizes that he is more than the person who built up Doolan security with a single minded obsession, more than the judgmental ass he has become, more than the coward he believed himself to be, he wonders whether he could risk his family's -most especially Shannon's - wrath and seek a closer relationship with Cass.
Cass has always felt she couldn't risk her heart ,and dived into short term relationships with a f*** by date. Aiden shows her that she deserves more from herself and from a relationship. Can she ever believe she could find long term happiness with one man? And why does a certain Control Freak from Boston make her wonder what she might have been missing?
This, the second book in the Doolan family series is as much about how we judge each other on what aspects are revealed in the early days of meeting someone, as it is a modern romance.
The book contains bad language, scenes of a sexual nature, a bridezilla in the making, and plenty of humor, and is therefore aimed at 18+ readers.
Annie Campbell, Author Annie Campbell, Author