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Next in Line for Love (EBOOK)

Next in Line for Love (EBOOK)

 

After a decade abroad, Ali returns home to Los Angeles to take over her family’s brewing business. But longtime COO Jill is in no mood to mentor Ali, who she sees as privileged and inexperienced.

As they’re forced to work together, could they both find love in the last place they expected?

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Full description

Can the road to the top take you on a path to love?

After ten years abroad, Alexandra ‘Ali’ Lennox’s father asks her to move back to Los Angeles to head the family company, Lennox Breweries.

The company’s COO, Jill Gold, has dedicated twenty years of her life to Lennox Breweries and is not amused when she’s asked to mentor Ali, who she considers to be nothing more than a privileged trust-fund brat.

Even though they don’t see eye to eye, Ali and Jill will have to learn to trust each other for the sake of the company—and each other.

Can Jill change her mind about Ali’s smug entitlement? And will Ali be able to come to terms with the past hurt that drove her away from L.A. in the first place?

Find out in this brand-new lesbian age-gap romance from best-selling author Harper Bliss.

Themes and tropes

  • Age gap
  • Ice queen
  • Opposites attract
  • Toaster oven
  • Workplace romance

Chapter One Look Inside

Chapter 1

I always get a faint whiff of stale beer when I enter the Lennox Breweries offices, even though the actual brewing doesn’t happen in this building. I shake off the imagined scent and head toward the elevator bank. The lobby feels empty—too empty. What was I expecting? A welcoming committee? That would have been nice, actually.

I make my way to the top floor unescorted, briefly wondering if I got the date wrong. But how could I possibly have gotten it wrong? This is the day I start my journey to becoming Chief Executive Officer of one of the country’s oldest breweries.

When the elevator opens to the executive floor, I’m greeted by my brother Sebastian—the last person I want to see.

“Hey, Sis,” he says. The smile on his face is already annoying me. “Ready for the big league?” I know the question isn’t one born from genuine concern. Sebastian’s just here to taunt me. We’re both in our thirties, yet insulting each other is still what we do most of when we are together.

“What are you doing here?” I ask, taking his bait.

“I’m here for you, of course.” He brings a hand to my shoulder, making me believe, just for a split second, that he can be a nice guy if he really wants to be. “On your big day.” He flashes me a smile again—it’s only a fraction less annoying this time. “Someone has to make sure you don’t fuck up straight away.”

“I’m touched.” My voice drips with sarcasm. As we progress toward my father’s office suite, a few people look up; some even give me a nod or quick wave.

“You’d think the old man would be in an extraordinary mood today, what with his favorite daughter reporting for duty, but he’s just as cranky as ever,” Sebastian says. “Trust me. It’s good that I’m here.”

Our father, Jeffrey Lennox, is the kind of man who can strike the fear of God into you with a single, withering look. A man who has gotten used to taking exactly what he wants. And now I’m here to take over his biggest prize.

“If you say so.” We approach the glass box that makes up my father’s office. He’s standing by the window, gazing out over the Los Angeles skyline. 

Sebastian looks at his watch. “I do have a meeting that can’t be pushed back—not even for your arrival, Ali.” He gives a curt, ridiculous bow. “You’re on your own.” So much for my brother being there for me on my big day.

You’d think it wasn’t my own father I’m about to greet, what with the way my heart is stomping in my chest. This is ridiculous. And all Sebastian has done is make me more nervous, which was probably his intention.

“Hey, Ali. Right on time.” A voice comes from behind me. “Shall we go in?”

“Jill.” I nod at the woman who has been Lennox Breweries’ Chief Operating Officer for as long as I can remember, although there must have been a time when it wasn’t her. My father makes the decisions, Jill Gold implements them.

Unlike the rest of the SoCal population, Jill’s not the sort of woman to greet you with a hug. She raps her knuckles against the glass door, opens it, and ushers me into my father’s office.

“Alexandra.” My father turns to me and opens his arms wide—as though I’ve just flown in from somewhere far away, instead of seeing him at the house two days ago. Maybe’s he’s putting on a show for Jill, but why would he? If not for Jill, then for me, perhaps? Where’s the crankiness Sebastian was talking about? 

“Hi, Dad.” I walk toward him but not too close.

He keeps his arms spread, but it’s more a showy gesture than any actual desire to give me a proper hug.

“The day has finally come. You’ve come to take the crown,” he says.

“Hardly.” I can just about keep from rolling my eyes. “I still need to get my training wheels on.”

“Yes, well.” He heads behind his large desk. “You know what I mean.” He waves for Jill to come closer.

“It makes sense to take you under my wing, Ali,” Jill says. “I know everything that happens at this company. Stick with me for a while, and you’ll be ready in no time.”

“She’ll be your boss in no time,” my father says, his voice gruff.

Jill shrugs off his comment as though she won’t mind working for someone much younger than herself—as though she never considered herself for the part of CEO. But she’s not a Lennox. It was always going to be either me or Sebastian.

“The first thing we need to do,” Jill says, “is make you a viable proposition for the board.” She gives a quick shake of the head. “They’ll be expecting Sebastian.”

“That’s what you get when the board’s mostly made up of old men,” I say. If I’m going to be CEO, I shouldn’t mince my words.

“Very true,” Jill says before my father can make a comment.

“I haven’t exactly been sitting on my ass the past ten years,” I say. “You can order Lennox beer in more than a hundred countries around the world these days.”

While this is true—I’ve been working in the family business for a decade now—even I expected Sebastian to be the one to follow in Dad’s footsteps, despite him being an entitled, obnoxious douchebag.

But times have changed and suddenly share prices can plummet, even when the most logical successor is announced. When they present me as the next CEO instead of my brother, the share price should stay pretty steady. At least, that’s what my father told me when he gauged my interest in the position. It was a heart-warming way to sell me on the whole premise.

“Once we’ve got the board… on board,” Jill says, not a hint of a smile on her face, “we’ll take it from there. But that’s the first objective. We need to create the idea of stable leadership. Someone who won’t rock the boat, but is fresh at the same time.”

“No pressure.” I glance at Jill. Even though we’re in Southern California, she’s wearing a black turtleneck sweater. 

“Don’t worry, Ali. I’ve got your back.” There’s something sincere—and therefore very unusual—about her, so I believe her when she says it, although I can’t completely shake off the skepticism I was raised with.

The least I can do is give her a warm smile in response.

A knock comes on the door. It’s Evelyn, my father’s personal assistant. “Dr. Barnes is here,” she says.

My father rolls his eyes and sinks into his leather chair.

“Just follow Jill around.” He as good as waves us out of the door.

Jill holds the door open for me. I’m at least five inches taller than her.

“I managed to convince him to have his blood pressure monitored twice a day. He doesn’t like it, as you can imagine,” she whispers, “but needs must.”

I follow her to her office. She points to the wall behind her desk. “We’ve set you up next door, close to all the action.”

“Thanks.” I glance around. Jill’s office is a smaller replica of my father’s. Perhaps mine will be exactly the same as well, but a little smaller still, to represent the current pecking order.

“How is he really doing? In the day-to-day?”

“He’s an old man.” Jill says it very matter-of-factly. It’s good to know she doesn’t mince her words either. “He should have stepped down years ago, but he’s more stubborn than he’s old, so…”

“Tell me about it,” I say as though I know all about it. I’ve only been back in L.A. a few weeks.

“I have some calls to make.” Jill looks at her watch. “But how about lunch together?”

“Oh, uh.” I slant my head. “I already have plans for lunch.”

“With Sebastian?” she inquires. “He can tag along.” She grins at me. “If he must.”

“Um, no. With my friend Madison. I didn’t think today was going to be, like, a whole thing.”

A whole thing?” Jill creases her features into an expression I can only interpret as extreme disapproval. “Why do I get the impression you’re not taking this very seriously? You’re going to be CEO of Lennox Breweries, Ali. This ‘whole thing’ is going to take up a lot of your time, if not all of it. I hope you’re aware of that.” 

“I’m well aware. It’s just that today’s the first day. I have the rest of my life to be serious about it.” I reach for my cellphone in the side pocket of my blazer. “But if it’s so important, I’ll have lunch with you instead.”

Jill’s phone starts ringing. She shoots me one last glance—is that some mild disdain I detect?—and turns to pick it up.

I slink out of her office, in search of my own. Maybe it’s good that we’ll have lunch, so I can manage Jill’s expectations of me. We already seem to have different ideas of what it means to become the big boss.

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Tiffany Hitchcott
Loved it

Another great read and characters you get invested in.

In the same collection

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Tiffany Hitchcott
Loved it

Another great read and characters you get invested in.