Hot Asset

Hot Asset

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Featured on Inside Edition.

A sexy agent hounds Wall Street’s hottest new wolf in an exhilarating novel from New York Timesbestselling author Lauren Layne.

Ian Bradley is the definition of a Wall Street hotshot: seven-figure salary, designer suits, and a corner office. His drive off the floor is just as potent. Every woman who knows him has felt the rush. But now he’s met his match in Lara McKenzie—a woman with the power to bring Ian to his knees.

An ambitious, whip-smart daughter of FBI agents, Lara is a rising star in fighting white-collar crime. Her latest case—the investigation of Ian Bradley for insider trading—could make her career. She knows a scoundrel when she sees one. Ian fits the bill: a cocky, ridiculously handsome bad boy with a slick swagger.

She’ll do anything to prove he’s guilty. He’ll do anything to prove he’s not. But it’s only a matter of time before their fierce battle of wits gets oh so hot and personal. Now, taking down Ian has become more than business for Lara. It’s become a pleasure—and there’s more at risk than she ever dreamed.

One-Liners
  • A hot shot Wall Street broker at the top of his game—and the gorgeous SEC agent poised to bring him down.
Accolades

“Lauren Layne’s enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy, Hot Asset, makes Wall Street sexy, smart and fun…An irresistible battle of the sexes that stands out due to its clever humor, witty banter, sophisticated setting, and passionate, sigh-worthy romance.” —USA Today’s Happy Ever After

Hot Asset by Lauren Layne is a sexy, laugh-out-loud battle of wills between Wall Street’s hottest bachelor and the SEC agent on a mission to turn his playboy lifestyle upside down.” —PopSugar

“[A] playful romance…Layne populates her world of high-stakes finance with charismatic characters, and the fast-paced story works well with the simmering sexual tension between the leads…It’s easy to root for this couple.” Publishers Weekly

“Layne can always be counted on to create an engaging, steamy, and thoroughly rewarding reading experience.” —RT Book Reviews

Excerpts On paper, I’m a douchebag. Yeah, I said it so you don’t have to. Don’t believe me? Here’s a crash course in Ian Bradley: The charcoal-gray suit I’m currently wearing costs more than my first car. I’m six foot two, black hair, blue eyes, and I work out every day, so I wear that suit well, if you get what I’m saying, and you know you do. At thirty-two, I’m an investment broker – director level, thank you very much – for Wolfe Investments. And let’s just say, work hard, play hard is basically the unspoken company motto. I’ve got a corner office, a seven-figure salary, a swanky apartment in Manhattan’s Financial District, and I never sleep with the same woman twice – because I don’t have to. Did I mention I went to Yale? Managed to graduate top of my class and get the usual college bad decisions under my belt. Achieving both a thriving social life and summa cum laude at an Ivy League is no easy task, let me tell you. So, like I said – I’m basically the poster boy for “Wall Street dickhead.”

I’m texting my Monday Starbucks barista to let her know I’ll be there in five (no point in waiting in line when a twenty-dollar tip has your drink waiting for you) when a pair of excellent female legs in the break room catches my attention. I slow, trying to see what I’m dealing with here. I don’t recognize the calves. Not the ass or slim waist, either, and I’d definitely remember that long blonde ponytail that’s got just the right amount of grown-up cheerleader fantasy going on. Hot. Very Hot. Still. I’ve got shit to do, and I’m about to pass on by when I hear the woman talking to herself. “How are there eight milk options?” I smile at the genuine bafflement in her voice. Shoving both hands into my pockets, I step into the kitchen to see firsthand if the face is as great as the body. “Well, I’m no expert, but off the top of my head, whole, two percent, skim, soy, almond unsweetened, almond sweetened with vanilla, coconut…” She whirls around at my voice, and my head snaps back a little when I see her face-to-face.

Not because I know her but because I want to know her. For one bizarre-ass moment, the woman feels meant for me.

The kicker? She’s not even my type.

--

I like my women with flirty smiles, quick laughs, great bodies, and a solid understanding of what I’m looking for: a good time for one night only.

This woman…I’m not entirely sure she’d know a good time if it swatted her on the ass. Her blonde hair is parted down the middle, pulled back away from her good-girl features. She’s not particularly well endowed up top, and though the flare to her hips is worth a second look, her blouse and prim skirt are all business, her bra probably white and cotton. Or worse beige and cotton. I won’t even get started on her purse, which is huge and brown and ugly.

Nothing about her, save the great legs, explains why I’m itching to unravel her inch by inch.

Except the glasses.

Yeah, it’s definitely the glasses that do it for me.

Sexy black frames with a vaguely naughty-librarian vibe that are pure fantasy material. They enhance the sexy punch of her wide blue gaze that’s thoroughly…

Suspicious.

When her gaze slides back up to mine, I’m expecting the admiring smile I usually get from women, but she looks…

Bored?

Which leaves me feeling off-balance. So off-balance that instead of a smooth pickup line, I find myself nodding at the machine on the counter. “You need help with that?”

Her eyebrows lift. “Do I need help with what? Pushing buttons?”

--

When her gaze slides back up to mine, I’m expecting the admiring smile I usually get from women, but she looks…

Bored?

Which leaves me feeling off-balance. So off-balance that instead of a smooth pickup line, I find myself nodding at the machine on the counter. “You need help with that?”

Her eyebrows lift. “Do I need help with what? Pushing buttons?”

You can push my buttons anytime.

Her eyes narrow, and I get the sense she’s read m unspoken words and found them lacking. I’m annoyed. And intrigued. It’s been far too long since I’ve had a challenge.

I ease a step closer to her, moving toward the espresso machine. She doesn’t get the least bit flustered by my proximity, so I lean against the machine, patting the top of it with my hand. “Just say the word. Happy to mansplain this to you, little lady,” I say with an exaggerated drawl.

She responds in kind, fluttering her eyelashes, the glasses making the gesture even more mocking. “Oh, could you?”

--

I smile, enjoying her more than I expected, “What are you drinking?”

“Coffee.”

I roll my eyes. “What kind?”

“Caffeinated,” she says, pulling out one of the company mugs, setting it beneath the spout, and punching the standard drip-coffee option.

“Boring,” I declare.

“Classic,” she counters.

I gave her a slow smile. “I’m headed to Starbucks. Let me buy you a real drink.”

She lifts her mug. “I’m good with this.”

“You could be better with something else,” I say, lowering my voice.

She surprises me by laughing, and not a flirty, breathless laugh but an at me laugh. “Seriously? Do these lines usually work for you?”

“Honestly?” I give a small smile. “Yeah.”

“Well” – she sips her coffee – “let me know when I’m supposed to fake the swoon.”

--

Ian slides on subglasses, hiding eyes that I know are piercingly blue. He stops in front of me, a hair closer that he needs to be, but I refuse to step back.

God, he smells good. Manly and expensive. How annoying.

“Hello again,” I say, giving him my most generic “SEC smile.”

He doesn’t smile back, and even with his sunglasses on, I’m more certain than ever that I’m dealing with a very different version of Ian Bradley from the one I met then minutes ago. A more dangerous version.

“Was it good for you?” he asks in a low voice.

My smile drops. “Excuse me?”

“Your little game back there.” He tilts is head toward the office. “You have fun?”

“Actually, yes,” I say, lifting my chin defiantly.

He steps closer, and I can feel the anger radiating off him. “Where the hell do you get off? Coming into my office, flirting—”

“Flirting?” I interrupt, furious. “I was just trying to get a stupid cup of coffee. You’re the one who was acting like freaking Don Juan.”

--

I expect him to growl at me, but his smile merely widens, though there’s a sharpness to it. “Then I look forward to the day you have to look me in the eyes and tell me I’m innocent.”

“If you’re innocent, I will surely do that,” I say.

“But you don’t think I am.”

“I told you, it’s my job to find out.”

“Great. So when this thing goes my way, maybe you can buy me a drink.”

“Oh, absolutely,” I say, making no effort to hide my sarcasm.

He rubs his jaw and studies me, then he shakes his head and turns away. “See you around, Ms. McKenzie.”

I’ll deny it to my dying day, even to myself, but I’m disappointed that he doesn’t turn and glance my way, because I can’t seem to remove my eyes from his retreating back.

A back that’s too broad, too muscular, too…

Gah!

I pivot on my heel and march away, more in need of that champagne than ever.

A drink with Ian Bradley, indeed. Can you imagine?

Even if he’s not guilty, it won’t happen.

And if he is…

Let’s just say I’m totally not visiting him in prison, even though I know he would look really good in an orange jumpsuit.

--

I snort. “Really. You bring me an overpriced coffee and think I’ll just tell all?”

“Or you could swoon,” he says with a wink.

This time I roll my eyes. “I’d heard you were a womanizer, but I confess, it’s really hard to picture.”

“Yeah?” He crosses his arms and sits on the edge of the conference room table. “What have you heard? Maybe that I’m good with my hands? That when I’m with a woman, I always make sure she gets her –”

I hold up a hand. “Stop.”

Good Lord, is it hot in here? I resist the urge to undo a button on my shirt.

He smirks, then glances down at my ignored beverage. “Try the drink, Ms. McKenzie.”

“No thanks,” I say briskly, trying to remind myself that I’m Lara McKenzie with the SEC, not Lara McKenzie, Ian Bradley groupie.

--

He gives an exasperated sign as though I’m an uncooperative child and stands and walks toward me. He stops a couple of feet away and, without breaking eye contact, picks up the drink I’ve set aside and holds it out. “Try it.”

“This caveman approach might work on other women, but –”

“Oh, I get it,” he interrupts, starting to set aside the drink. “You’re scared. You like your lines straight, your colors black and white, your coffee boring. God forbid you try something new, live a little –”

Before I can stop myself, I reach out and snatch the drink. My fingers brush his, and the contact is so unexpectedly electric I nearly drop the damn thing.

He shifts slightly closer. Not to crowd, or to intimidate, or to kiss, but for a whisper-quiet seduction that’s about a million times more effective than his pickup lines so far.

For a hideous moment, I want to lean in to him, to brush my lips along his jaw, to…

Well, hell, I realize with a jolt. The man really may be as good as his reputation after all.

I can’t let him know it. I won’t.

--

I stay put, giving a little lean of my own, letting my eyes lock on his as I part my lips and put the green straw in my mouth. I take a sip of the cold, wonderfully sweet beverage, and I let out an mmm noise unlike anything I’ve ever made in my life.

His eyes flare with surprise, then desire, and for a long moment I have no idea who’s seducing whom, who’s one-upping the other…

Ian gives a slow smile that crinkles his eyes. “Well played, Ms. McKenzie.”

“Back at you, Mr. Bradley.” I take a victory sip – it really is delicious. “You want to play sexy cat and mouse, I can play right back, and I’ll win.”

--

“So she’s not a girlfriend, nor a source.”

“No,” I growl. “She’s a friend, and she’s got nothing to do with your BS case, so leave her the hell out of it.”

“A friend,” Lara says, her voice skeptical. “When she looks like that, and you look like that…” She breaks off, her eyes widening in horror as she realizes what she’s said.

I don’t bother to hide my grin as I lace my fingers behind my head and lean back in my chair. “I look like what, Ms. McKenzie?”

This time her blush is unmistakable. She uncrosses her legs, then crosses them again, and I grin wider.

“I’ve got to say, seeing you uncomfortable is the most gratifying thing I’ve seen in days.”

“I’m not uncomfortable.”

I lift my eyebrows. “You’re practically twitching.”

“Maybe it’s because you’re killing your orchid,” she snaps.

--