Sunday, October 26, 2008

Imperative: Always You by Belinda McBride

Imperative: Always You
by Belinda McBride

cover art by ReneƩ George
ISBN (13): 978-1-60521-090-2
Genre(s): Futuristic
Theme(s): Bisexual and More
Series: Imperative
Length: Novella


In the future, we don't choose our mates; Nature chooses for us. Nature doesn't make mistakes. And if you don't pay attention to Nature's Imperative, you suffer.

She could always get under his skin. He could always send her spinning into fury. Marilyn and Neil aren’t like oil and water, they’re like dynamite and a fuse! Not only do these co-workers hate each other, but Mari’s still in love with her ex-husband, and Neil? Well, Neil is gay.
Nature’s got some explaining to do.


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“I really could kill you right now.”
Marilyn stood, arms crossed, glaring as the high-tech printing unit choked and then froze. Anxiously, she glanced at the clock. She had a good hour before the office began to wake up for the day. This early morning privacy was her most creative time. No staff, no bosses, and most important: no Neil.
She could sit at her drafting unit and touch up the art she’d started the day before, edit the copy, get everything prepped for the critical eye of her design partner. The bane of her existence. She had no idea whose bright idea it had been to pair the two. They weren’t like oil and water. More like dynamite and a match. And Marilyn had a short fuse.
“You break it again?”
Marilyn jumped as a hand dropped on her shoulder. She turned to glare at the handsome man invading her space. Not that he did it out of interest. It was simple arrogance. Just for her benefit. He knew she hated to be touched. Specifically, by him.
“What…” She took a deep breath, remembering her last round of anger management. “Neil. You’re early.” A smile just wasn’t there for him. It never had been. When she stopped to think about it, she wondered why on Earth this man got under her skin so easily. She sometimes felt as though her world revolved around being angry at Neil. Her husband had said that she loved hating Neil more than she loved her own husband.
Well, they’d certainly put that to the test. She still hated Neil, and the jury was out on Dale.
She resumed glaring at the machine. Surely, it would do something sometime? Besides, it was better than looking at Neil in his crisp summer suit and shower damp hair. She really didn’t want him standing here when the print spit out. It was just a raw idea, far from ready for production. But he wouldn’t care, all he’d see was disproportion and rough edges. His work was never rough.
His shit probably didn’t stink either.
“Thought I’d see how this early bird thing works out.” He shrugged out of his caramel colored linen jacket and headed for their shared office. In moments he was back, pushing up his sleeves, popping the machine open at the side. For long moments, he made typical male sounds, “mmhhhmmm” and “ahhhh.” Finally, he scooted back on that fine ass of his, crossing his arms over his knees. “Going to have to wait for IT.”
He gave her a grin and rose a bit stiffly, wincing as he stood.
“You okay?” She didn’t want to be concerned, but the guy was usually pretty spry. In fact, for a pretty boy he was damned athletic. She frowned at a purple bruise that circled his wrist. It matched a larger one on his forearm. Carefully, Neil pushed his sleeves down, buttoning the cuffs.
“What happened to your arms?” Now that she was looking, she saw a slight abrasion on his neck, running up to his jaw. Hopefully, she sounded curious rather than concerned.
“Not really your concern, Marilyn.” He ran a hand through his carefully cut hair, natural gold highlights catching the office light. His usual arrogant mask settled over his features.
Shut her down cold and lit her short fuse in a single stroke.
Marilyn spun on her high heels and stalked away, barely restraining the urge to slam the office door in her wake. She so did not need this! Not now. Fucking prima donna…
He headed off to the break room and coffee pot, while she fumed in front of her graphic screen. They’d be here alone for the next hour, no clerks to buffer their tension, no bosses telling them to play nice. But it was Thursday, and she was leaving early, taking Friday off. Things to do, bridges to burn, that sort of thing. She breathed deeply, forcing her anger into submission.
Marilyn opened a new screen and started on the copy for a new article.

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