Twelfth Floor by Monica Corwin
Publication date: July 3rd 2018
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
This isn’t your high school Shakespeare.
Violet Cesario fled the shipwreck of her father’s company to Illyria Pharmaceuticals. As the newly appointed, and untried CFO, the board gave her thirty days to prove her worth. Thirty days to bring up the numbers. Thirty days to fend off the advances of her secretary, Olivia. Thirty days of hiding her submissiveness inside a dominant’s shell.
Thirty days gets complicated when Duke Orsino, the CEO, offers her a deal. Help him win over Olivia and he will sway the board in Violet’s favor. If she agrees to teach him the games behind dominance and submission Violet’s career will be made. As the play turns more and more true to life, the lines blur between fantasy and reality. Can Violet hide her desire for Duke long enough for him to woo Olivia? And if he succeeds can Violet endure it for the sake of her career?
Chief Financial Officers didn’t last long at Illyria. Handling billions of dollars seemed to weigh on even those who chose the profession as a career. The appointment of Violet Cesario had gone against the board’s request. I was the one who selected her, despite the impressive and complete collapse of her last company.
However, the research I conducted on the matter showed more than gross negligence on the part of the company’s owner. I wasn’t going to hold that against her, but the board did, and would, if she didn’t survive her first thirty days. They’d try to hold it against me too. Until I’d not so subtly remind them of the last time they went to war with me.
My question, or goading, didn’t cause even a flicker of anxiety to cross her features. When purposefully hiring new executives, I pushed them, pounded them into the ground, and walked across the ashes of who they were before they came to my company. All this in preparation to make them the best at their job. And yet, my usual tactics didn’t seem to faze her. Not the show I put on as she entered the building, not my goading…which made her more than interesting to me. I’d met far weaker men than the woman sitting across from me with the ice in her eyes.
The board controlled my CFO position, until their last incompetent choice lost us a quarter-million-dollar asset. Now, the board submitted to my selection. And I would prove my choices were irrefutable. If not God damn impeccable. “You’re aware of the thirty-day mandate the board put on your employment?”
She shifted her legs, carefully sliding one long lean calf over her other knee. Not even stockings in the way of her smooth skin’s passage. In any one else, I would have considered it a seduction technique, but not this woman. As if her body language screamed two different things at once: ‘come closer’ and ‘back the hell off’. Or maybe that was the point. Draw them in only to crush them under her four inch heels.
“I’m not sure if that was a question or a statement.” She paused briefly before continuing. “The probationary period is a clause in the contract I signed.” Her tone called me a bastard in the nicest way I’d ever heard it. I loved a little fire in a woman. Even more so in a woman forging an intimate relationship with my money. By the second Violet was accruing more respect than I’d been preparing to dole out.
“Of course,” I said, mimicking her caustic tone. Why did I need a reaction from her so badly?
She gave me nothing but a careful blink.
Maybe working with Violet might prove more fun than I originally estimated. I didn’t interview her personally, and there were no pictures with her file, so when I arrived, I expected a thirty-something powerlifting champion in a pinstriped suit. Violet had almost a delicacy about her inviting wariness. Meeting her in person, I wanted her to do well, for her benefit—not only mine. “I’m here to tell you how you will succeed in your goal.”
A line formed in the middle of her forehead as she considered my words. “And why would you do that? Isn’t it in your best interest to choose the right person for the job, not the make the person fit the job?”
“Usually, but I went to bat to hire you. Challenging the board with my choice. If you succeed, it looks good for me, and it keeps me from having to vet and hire yet another CFO.” I didn’t reveal my ongoing clash with the board about new executive hires. Or that the probationary period resulted from my pushing them about bringing her specifically.
She forced out a controlled sigh, and I watched her for any other outward reactions to me, the conversation, the thirty-day time limit on her employment. Absolutely nothing. Incredible.
“I can see the logic in that.”
I glanced over at Olivia to see if she got a reading on Violet that I missed. Olivia was better than most when it came to insight about other women.
Or maybe I just wanted a stolen moment to watch her. The only woman who eluded me. To be fair, I’d never put in much of the chase to catch her.
Even dressed for work, without the skintight dresses and sky-high heels, she looked like an idea.
Something yet for me to discover.
At the club we both attended, secretly on my part, of course, she always looked even better, more like a revelation.
Something I knew all along.
With her head bent over the notepad she held in one hand, she scribbled in quick, precise strokes. I realized Violet had been talking while I’d been gawking. I glanced up to find a silent Violet studying me with her head cocked to the side.
Between seconds, between heartbeats, between her look and my silence…she knew.
We stared each other down, Olivia completely oblivious to the growing tension stretched taut between Violet and me. A tension built precariously on a shared secret.
Violet repeated what I’d missed. “And what did you suggest, Duke, to preserve my place here?”
My name thrown in a gauntlet was not something I could ignore. I narrowed my eyes at her. I didn’t enjoy puzzles. And the five minutes I’d spent with Violet told me she’d be far more difficult to decipher than most.
“Olivia,” I said, not even looking at her, still grappling in the strangest battle of wills with Violet. “Will you give Ms. Cesario and me a moment?”
I followed Violet into an empty room decorated in black. No bed, just a chaise, and a selection of toys for those who wanted to experiment. I closed the door behind me. No one would enter with it shut. House rules.
“So what did you have planned for this evening?” I asked, inspecting the crops arranged artfully from hooks on the wall. A long, thin black one called to me. I could already hear the snap of it across Violet’s thighs.
I faced her and blinked a few times, because she’d shimmied out of her dress and stood in the middle of the room wearing nothing but her underwear and high heels. I forgot the world for a second as I scanned every bare inch of her skin. It took a minute for me to catch my bearings. “Any hints here? I know what I want to do to you, but I don’t know what you want from me.”
She met my eyes and sank to her knees. My cock hardened instantly, painfully straining against my zipper and belt. There was something almost disquieted about this Violet. The woman had more faces than I had suits. Whom did I deal with tonight?
She presented her wrists. “I’m going to show you what you need to do when you get to the next level in order to keep her.”
“Keep her?” I stared down at Violet, trying to fit everything together. Like looking at a photograph and not seeing the actual image.
“Olivia,” she snapped. “Once you succeed. After all this work, I assume you want to be with her, at least for a little while.”
I kept straying to the swell of her breasts barely contained by peek-a-boo black lace, distracted by the way they rose and fell with each breath.
Everything caught up, and I snagged a rope off the counter top. Not even sure which, it didn’t matter. I wanted to be closer to her, and if it meant restraining her, I could do that.
I shrugged out of my suit jacket and tossed it on the chaise, still watching her. Thankful at least my mouth hadn’t been hanging open that entire time. My throat went dry and scratchy, but the drink sat on the other side of the room, and the rope and Violet were here, right now. I knelt in front of her and folded her wrists together like closing a book before wrapping the thin black silk around her delicate joints. “Any other requests?”
Her eyes went liquid. The very same way they did when I curved my fingers around her throat. The memory of it washed through me, building.
She shook her head. “Use your instincts. Feel it. The air has an energy. You have an energy. I have an energy. She will have an energy too.”
Thank fuck she didn’t say her name. I didn’t want anyone else between us right now. I shifted forward on the carpet and tightened the knot with a jerk. Her hands descended with it, and I moved closer, not much distance left now. With my free hand, I tilted her chin and teased my thumb across her bottom lip. I didn’t care about anything in that second other than her lips on mine. Craving the taste of Violet and vodka on my tongue.
I leaned in, millimeters between us, while I yanked the rope back. She tilted and fell into me while I closed the distance on my side.
The door burst open, the moment fractured, and I broke. With some wit’s left, I shifted to hide Violet’s nudity from the intruder, anger flooding me to replace everything else.
“Here is the playlist for Twelfth Floor. When I sit down and write I usually have one song in mind that sort of captures my hero and heroine through the book.”
That song is this one: Hate to See Your Heart Break by Paramore I prefer the one she sings with her sister you can find here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZweyIKNwX4
There are other songs I listened to while writing Twelfth Floor. Here they are:
We are Young cover by Hozier: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rX7opUCPT6M
Too Good at Goodbyes by Sam Smith
The Fall of Rome by The Airborne Toxic Event
You Don’t Own Me by Grace ft. G-Easy
This is Gospel (acoustic) by Panic at the Disco
The Heart Wants What It Wants by Selena Gomez
Jolene (backyard sessions) by Miley Cyrus
Let It All Go by Birdie and Rhodes
“This is in the most part my usual playlist for writing but there were a few things thrown in here I don’t usually listen to. I hope you like it. And I hope you hear Duke and Violet in the music. To be fair though I usually listen to some of them on Vinyl so they sound a little different to me than here on Youtube. But, I hope you enjoy.”
Monica Corwin is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author. She is an outspoken writer attempting to make romance accessible to everyone, no matter their preferences. As a Northern Ohioian, Monica enjoys snow drifts, three seasons of weather, and a dislike of Michigan football. Monica owns more books about King Arthur than should be strictly necessary. Also typewriters…lots and lots of typewriters.