Emmie Echavarre is a professional faker. She has to be to survive as one of the few female employees at Nuts & Bolts, a power tool company staffed predominantly by gruff, burly men. From nine to five, Monday through Friday, she's tough as nails—the complete opposite of her easy-going real self.
One thing she doesn't have to fake? Her disdain for coworker Tate Rasmussen. Tate has been hostile to her since the day they met. Emmie's friendly greetings and repeated attempts to get to know him failed to garner anything more than scowls and terse one-word answers. Too bad she can't stop staring at his Thor-like biceps...
When Emmie and Tate are forced to work together on a charity construction project, things get...heated. Emmie's beginning to see that beneath Tate's chiseled exterior lies a soft heart, but it will take more than a few kind words to erase the past and convince her that what they have is real.
A teaser from FAKER
And then there’s Tate Rasmussen, the pale figure bleeding into my line of sight. The one person at Nuts & Bolts whose presence doesn’t require me to pretend. I feel genuine emotions for him, all of which are rooted in frustration, anger, and irritation.
Thankfully we reside in separate offices. The downside? His office is diagonally across the hall from mine, which means I have an unobscured view of half his face—just as he does of mine—forty hours a week. Only a narrow hallway and two flimsy doors—the equivalent of four paces—separate us.
Shutting the doors would offer more separation, but neither of our shoebox offices contains vents. Unless we want to roast in the summer or freeze in the winter, we have to keep our doors open.
Tate’s in charge of social media for the company. It’s an amusing example of irony, as he is one of the most anti-social and eerily quiet people I’ve ever met. Luckily we don’t interact much. Most of our communication is done via email. Face-to-face words are not often exchanged aloud unless it is to bicker or criticize.
Most days I can ignore him, but this afternoon is proving to be a challenge because I’m enduring Tate’s loud pen tapping. When he’s not typing or on the phone, it’s tap, tap, tap all day, every day.
“Be quiet, please,” I say.
He scribbles something on a sheet of paper before crumpling it and tossing it on my desk, zero trace of emotion on his face. I open it to find a “NO” scrawled in black ink, taunting me. Already I can feel the heat making its way to my face.
That’s Tate. Cold, calculating, and hostile. His rude, dismissive behavior is currency and I’m the store he chooses to shop at. I’m paid in frowns, grimaces, scowls, and blank stares.
He’s never once stepped foot in my office. I’m convinced it’s yet another one of his passive aggressive digs at me, since he waltzes with confidence through every other space in this building. The closest he’s ever gotten is hovering around my doorway. I wonder what it would take for him to cross that invisible boundary. Would I need to be choking with bloodshot eyes, begging for him to administer the Heimlich?
Sarah Smith is a copywriter-turned-author who wants to make the world a lovelier place, one kissing story at a time. Her love of romance began when she was eight and she discovered her auntie's stash of romance novels. She's been hooked ever since. When she's not writing, you can find her hiking, eating chocolate, and perfecting her lumpia recipe. She lives in Bend, Oregon, with her husband and adorable cat Salem.
Sarah is represented by Sarah Younger at the Nancy Yost Literary Agency.
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