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by Ruth D. Kerce

“Get between my legs already!” Ronni grunted. Mounting frustration shot her blood pressure to sweat level. With her luck, she’d have pits under her arms by the time she got out of here. She tugged on her twisted pantyhose, trying to get them crotch-height, an almost impossibility with the new pair. Her elbow banged against the large, round toilet-paper dispenser, and pain vibrated up her arm. “Ow. Shoot!” She hated cramped spaces.

She pulled again and punched her thumbnail right through the nylon. “Dang it!” At that moment, she heard the bathroom door swish open, and voices filtered inside. She froze in the stall, hoping nobody had heard her outburst.

“I saw Hunter Dunlap in the company sauna yesterday with only a skimpy towel on and nothing else. That man is a major hunk. If he even once glanced in my direction, with a modicum of interest, I’d jump his bones and stay strapped on like a bronco rider at a rodeo.”

“Ooo, baby! Yee-ha!”

“You can bet the ranch I’d be screaming more than that. I wonder if he talks dirty when he fucks. I’d sure love to say a few dirty things to him. Hell, I’d love to do a few dirty things to him.”

“You always wonder that about guys. And you’d better watch what you say. You’ve already been reprimanded twice this week for language.”

“Like I’m scared. My cousin is head of personnel. He’ll just put me in another department if need be. Maybe the erotic toy division. The people working over there probably aren’t so lame.”

“Maybe, but I wouldn’t count on it. How did you get into the sauna anyway? Only key holders can get in.”

Ronni recognized the voices as belonging to two clerks in the lingerie sales division -- Jess and whatever-the-other-was-named -- she couldn’t remember.

“An important call came in for Mr. Elroy during lunch. I went to get him, and he was standing right outside the sauna area. The door opened, and there Hunter was. I swear, I thought I was going to cream my panties when he strolled into view, all hot and sweaty.”

“Jess! Good grief!” The woman’s laughter echoed off the tiled walls. “The way you put things…”

“Well, it’s true. You’d react the same, so don’t act all innocent. Besides, I’d bet his cock could use a good workout. From what I hear, no one’s seen him with a woman in months. He’s probably ready to spew.”

“I can’t believe his wife ran off with his personal assistant. She had to be nuts to give up that man’s body, not to mention all his money.”

“I’m sure she got a wad of a settlement. Can you imagine how much he must be worth as co-owner of Everlasting Love?”

The sound of a faucet turning on and water rushing into a basin drowned out their suddenly lowered voices. Ronni adjusted her hose one last time and lowered her skirt. It sure hadn’t taken them long to find out Hunter’s marital history. They’d worked for the company less time than she had. Gossip traveled fast.

The faucet shut off. “Maybe he’s not as hunky in bed as he is out of bed, and that’s why she left,” Jess whispered, as if afraid to criticize Hunter in a normal tone. Even so, now without the rushing water, the words filtered into the stall.

The women’s ensuing giggles grated on Ronni’s nerves worse than fingernails on a chalkboard. She tugged on her skirt to get it straight and prepared to interrupt their fun. She’d heard enough. She reached for the door latch, but the mention of her name by motormouth Jess stopped her.

“If Ronni had worked for Hunter back then, it never would have happened.”

“You said it. Who picks out her wardrobe anyway? She dresses like my spinster aunt. And those glasses…”

“Oh, they’re the worst! She looks like an owl.”

Tears misted Ronni’s eyes, and her chest tightened. Well, it’s not as if she hadn’t heard similar comments before. Always from catty women. She felt like calling them worse, but refrained. Still, it hurt.

So what, if she dressed conservatively? This was a place of business, not the Ho to Go club. She took a deep breath, felt her cheeks to make sure no tears had escaped, and buried her feelings as best she could. Before she heard any more trash about herself or her boss, she pushed her way out of the stall.

The two young women jumped in surprise. Under different circumstances, Ronni would have laughed at the comical look on their faces.

“O-Oh! Ms. Strickland,” whatever-the-other-was-named stuttered. “We didn’t know you were in here. Umm…we didn’t mean anything. We just --”

“Get back to work, ladies, and I’ll forget everything I heard. This time.” She put on her best business face, and said nothing further, though she really wanted to dole out some medieval-type discipline. Maybe make them walk around with a toilet seat cover hanging out over their asses.

Her nose twitched. Sheesh. One of them had bathed in exceptionally cheap perfume today. She’d love to dunk the offender in the toilet. A commode smell had to be better than the sharp odor presently attacking her sinuses.

Hopefully, the fact that she’d caught them gossiping would be enough to make the two think twice before letting their tongues wag so freely in the future. She didn’t actually have the power to do much else. The women worked in Dextor Elroy’s area – the other co-owner of the company -- not Hunter’s area, where she held at least some authority. She gave them her fiercest scowl, hoping to intimidate them into compliance.

With flushed faces, and lips at least temporarily sealed, they rushed out the door.

Ronni examined her still moist eyes in the mirror. They were right. She did look like an owl. She lowered her utilitarian glasses and perched them on the tip of her nose. Squinting into the mirror, she tried to remember what she used to look like with contacts. It didn’t matter, she supposed. Contacts irritated her eyes now, and she hadn’t been able to wear a pair in years. She pushed the glasses back into position. Maybe she should check into getting something more fashionable. Or redo her makeup. She had good skin. She could play that up. She needed to lose about ten pounds to show off her cheekbones better, but overall she was happy with who she was. She’d never be a ravishing beauty, but that was okay. She liked herself.

No matter how she looked, she had a secure position at < i>Everlasting Love as the personal assistant to Hunter Dunlap. That’s what really mattered. She’d worked hard, gaining experience at smaller companies until she acquired the skills and experience to get a position here. Her next goal was to attain a leadership role in the research area, and eventually run the whole division. She doubted the Board of Directors would appoint some “eye candy” for that particular responsibility, so she’d always concentrated her efforts on growing her knowledge base rather than tweaking her appearance. She wanted to gain respect and know that the respect was due to her brain size, not her bra size. Her looks certainly wouldn’t crack any mirrors, but physical assets weren’t how she wanted to attain her success.

Switching her gaze from the mirror to the sink, she turned on the faucet to wash her hands. As she thought about her position in the company and her boss, she acknowledged that the two women had been right about something else. Hunter was a major hunk with a major body. Tall, fit, with just enough muscle to make any woman weak in the knees.

His eyes were what really drew her though. Deep brown like rich, thick chocolate. They showed a hint of mischief when he smiled, as if he held a wealth of sexual secrets that he’d love to share. Or maybe that was just wishful imagining on her part. She’d had many a fantasy about the man. She turned off the water and tore a paper towel from the dispenser.

Even though she knew Hunter must have been devastated and embarrassed by his wife’s betrayal, she would have thought a man partially responsible for forming one of the largest romance-related companies in the country would be more interested in having romance in his personal life. Since she’d been with him -- six months now -- he’d never given a woman a second look that she’d noticed. Such a waste.

She tossed the towel in the trash and took one last look in the mirror, wondering what Hunter thought of her as a woman, not simply an employee. Despite what the giggle-twins had speculated, Ronni was certain that Hunter would be just as hunky in bed. Her female intuition told her so. Something about the way he moved, and the confidence he exuded, convinced her that those abilities would transfer to the bedroom.

She doubted he’d be the type to trip out of his underwear or try to fold her into some impossible sexual position he’d seen in a book, like her last lover. She rubbed her lower back and cringed, the memory still vivid, though almost two years had passed since the uncomfortable incident. She should have sent the jerk her chiropractic bills.

No, Hunter would be different. She warmed at the thought of his strong, thick fingers exploring her body…inside and out. Suddenly her pantyhose felt exceedingly hot and scratchy against her skin.

~~ Entire novella is available here.



Co-workers to lovers - can it work?

by Ruth D. Kerce

(a Valentine's Day romance)

erotic romance

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western historical

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-- February Direct Answers
     from Wayne and Tamara

Direct Answers appears in newspapers on six continents.

-- Direct Answers by Wayne and Tamara

From Zach:

"Here’s the deal. I just broke up with my girlfriend of a year and a half because I sensed she was losing interest in me. Later I found out through her girlfriends that she wanted to be single and unattached.

I am 36, divorced with three kids. She is 24, divorced, no children. According to her my “baggage” is not a problem. We got together not long after her split with her husband. She dated two different guys for a brief time before getting serious with me.

She was very serious about me and loved me more than any other man she has known. She still claims to love me and care about me, and she calls or emails every three or four days. Usually it is about some insignificant topic which seems like a reason to see how I am doing.

Two weeks ago she called and asked me out for a beer for an hour or so. After listening to her talk about everything she has been doing, she asked if I was dating yet. Just curious, she said. She has also shown signs of jealousy because some of her friends like to hang around me.

I would love to win her back, but I need a strategy. I feel she is checking out the single life while trying to keep me in the picture, because she might be making a big mistake. She even admitted to me once she might regret breaking up with me.

Do I just totally ignore her and remain friends while she goes through this stage?"

Wayne & Tamara's Answer:

"Zach, you are in a child’s game of choosing sides. You think: pick me, pick me. But either you are her first choice or you aren’t. No one wants to be another’s fallback position.

Her stance is simple. “I am not madly, passionately in love with you, but I would settle for you if I can’t find someone else.” Your stance is, “I’m divorced with three kids, she has no baggage, and she’s 12 years younger. Yeah, I’d like her back.”

Her second thoughts come from, why haven’t I met Mr. Right yet? She says your baggage doesn’t matter, but it does.

She doesn’t have a problem with your kids. She has a problem that the kids are not yours and hers, but yours with another woman. But how can she say that? How can she say, you’ve experienced all the things I haven’t experienced; we won’t be experiencing them together for the first time.

She sees your link to your ex. She knows, I don’t have to see my ex again in my whole life. She wonders, what about the expense of his kids, and what will vacations and holidays be like?

With age difference, people often push aside the real issues because they don’t have to be dealt with today.

You probably haven’t considered the history she brings. She’s divorced. She’s chosen badly once, and the second divorce is often easier than the first. While you are a percentage of sufficient for her, a percentage of right—even if it’s 99%--still isn’t 100%.

It’s simply this. She went to the store and found a pair of shoes. They don’t quite match the outfit. But they’ll do in a pinch. So she hides them behind another shoebox, so no one else will find them, in case she can’t do better.

That mentality alone should warn you away. But her foot in your door keeps you from moving on."

Authors and columnists Wayne and Tamara Mitchell can be reached at

Send letters to: Direct Answers, PO Box 964, Springfield, MO 65801
or email:

Read an interview with Wayne and Tamara at:

DIAMOND ASSETS (Contemporary)

He's shunned love since his wife left him for his sexy female assistant. His new assistant is not at all sexy. Perfect! But will a night at Bondage Bay change his mind?

Diamond Assets by Ruth D. Kerce
Second Edition © 2018, First Edition © 2005
Published by Ruth D. Kerce
Stock Cover Photo from
Available at Amazon

"A hot story of lust and love" - Susan White, CTR (EC Version)
FREE for Kindle Unlimited Subscribers

CANDY VALENTINE (Contemporary)

Sweet sensations turn fire hot when Candy goes to work in a goodie shop, owned by her former flame. Will their old feelings emerge into a new relationship?

Candy Valentine by Ruth D. Kerce
Copyright © 2012
Published by Ruth D. Kerce
Stock Cover Photo from
Available at Amazon

FREE for Kindle Unlimited Subscribers