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Easier said than done, Jane thought. She almost started coughing again but caught herself in time. So she cleared her throat instead—-

Christian rolled his eyes, but she pretended not to see it, asking, “Is Christian really your name?”

Christian’s azure eyes flashed.

I should shut up now, Jane thought. That was what his eyes were telling her.

But her tongue still ended up running away from her.

“Like…50 Shades?”

A muscle started ticking at his jaw. “That’s exactly why,” he said sharply, “I don’t like giving my name.”


“Everyone starts thinking I’m this whip-holding guy the moment they hear my name, and people keep asking me about this gray room.”

“Red,” Jane corrected automatically.

“I don’t bloody care.”

She couldn’t help peeking at his expression, asking, “Does that mean you haven’t watched the movie?”

“Not even if my life depended on it.”

“Oh.” Understanding dawned. “So that’s why you wanted me to call you ‘baby.’”

Christian stared at her blankly.

“In the book, you see, he has this popular line – ‘laters, baby.’” She gave him an apologetic look. “So if you’ve ever used ‘baby’ with another girl, then it’s only going to make them think of Christian Gray more.”

Three seconds passed before Christian spoke in a voice laced with quiet fury.


Jane choked out a laugh.

A discomfited look suddenly crossed Christian’s face. “I beg your pardon. I normally don’t swear this much.”

“That’s okay,” she reassured him. “I swear in every mood there is.”

He smiled. “You’re even funnier than I remembered.”



She asked with ill-contained hope, “How do you feel about clowns?”

Christian shuddered. “They creep the hell out of me.”

“Oh.” Her shoulders slumped.

“Why did you ask?” Christian was puzzled.

“Nothing important.” She hurriedly sought to change the subject again. “Umm…are you really friends with the CEO?”

He smirked. “You don’t believe me?”

Jane said slowly, “You don’t look like the type to lie about that so I guess…” And then it started to sink in.

Christian was friends with the CEO of the company she worked for.

Her gaze flew to Christian, and she asked uneasily, “Is there any way that you’ve told our CEO anything that could get me in trouble?”

“Trouble?” Christian sounded puzzled once more.

“My job in jeopardy,” she spelled out. “My employment terminated, my ass fired—-”


She asked doggedly, “Well?”

“I wonder what Jared would say if he finds out one of his employees tried seducing his friend within minutes of meeting—-”

“I did not seduce you,” she protested.

“Then asked for a snog?” His tone was mockingly polite. “Is that better?”

Shit. What the hell did a snog mean anyway? But did it even matter?

“You’re going to get me sacked,” Jane said gloomily. “Aren’t you?”

“It depends.”

Her heart jumped to her throat at the ominous-sounding words.

Oh no.

This couldn’t be—-

She started babbling. “I’m sorry. You must have the wrong idea about me, and really, I don’t blame you for it, but I’m actually not – I don’t have the guts to do most things, okay?” She was beginning to lose her breath, with how fast she was talking.

But she had to keep going.

“The only reason why I was able to approach you – and I swear that was the first ever time I did it – it was all because of a dare. It’s my weakness. I can’t say no to dares, like it’s not in my DNA. But that’s the extent of my courage. So if you’re thinking you can blackmail me to do some corporate espionage—-”

“Jane, breathe.”


And so she did, not realizing that she hadn’t actually drawn a breath while talking her tongue off.

“And also – corporate espionage?” Christian grinned. “You’ve quite the imagination, haven’t you?” He shook his head. “Can’t all this be an elaborate ploy so I could ask you out?”

She blinked. “Umm…” She tried thinking of the perfect wording, but nothing came so she just blurted out, “You do know I’m not stupid, don’t you? If you had really wanted to ask me out, you’d have done so the first time we met.”

Christian’s lips slowly curved into a smile. “If I say it’s not you, it’s me—-”

“I’d say I honestly want to believe you, but, well.” Jane shrugged uncomfortably. “You really suck at lying.”

Christian laughed.

At least telling the truth didn’t make him mad, Jane thought, relieved.

“That’s too bad then,” Christian murmured with a sigh.

“I know—-”

“Since lying is exactly what you and I need to do if you don’t want me to reveal the truth about us to that rather—-” Christian’s stiff upper lip made a sudden appearance. “—-grotty woman.”



Her eyes widened.

He thought Merry was repulsive?

Oh my God, the man did have standards like he said!


Had he just blackmailed her?

Christian was gazing at her patiently, as if waiting for her to realize that she was still skating on thin ice.


“What exactly do you want me to lie about?” Jane asked warily, all the while wondering what Jaike and Derek would say about her current predicament.

Be careful about what you wished for?

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