NoQS Adult Contemporary Romance: DISTRACTED

Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 80,000

My MC and MA are dressed as: Although Jackson mandated that the team would all dress as characters from popular videogame Halo, and assigned Alicia the Cortana character, there’s no way she’s going to wear skintight blue spandex in front of her all-male team. Instead, she dresses as Master Chief Petty Officer John-117. Why shouldn’t she get to be the hero? Jackson had planned to be the muscular hero and is irritated when Alicia shows up in an identical Master Chief costume. Especially when he has to admit seeing her in body armor turns him on.

Alicia Weber does not cry at work. Even though no one would know if she did since working for a male-dominated software company means the ladies’ room at JFA, Inc. is echoingly empty. She’s tempted today, but when she grits her teeth and emerges, it’s not to the pink slip she expected. Instead, she’s asked to lead a critical project that will end with either professional triumph or the unemployment line. And as her eight-year-old nephew’s guardian, she can’t afford to lose her job. 

Jackson Jones spends his time on the Formula One circuit with a trophy girl on his arm—or in his bed—and has lost all interest in JFA, Inc., the firm he founded. But when he walks into the Dayton office and meets Alicia, his passion for work comes racing back. As usual, he acts on impulse and ends up hiding his identity and introducing himself as Jay, the new programmer on the team.
Disruptive “Jay” (Jackson) is Alicia’s worst nightmare. Although he’s playing the part of a developer, he still sees himself as the team’s leader. He questions her value, hijacks her meetings, and tries to seize control of her project. But while Alicia and Jay spar at work, they fight a growing attraction after hours. Alicia finds it hard to keep her distance when Jay helps her nephew cope with his ADHD and grows into the father figure the boy never had. 
After Jackson’s identity is revealed at their product release in Las Vegas, Alicia must choose between love and ethics, with both her livelihood and her heart at stake.
First 250 words:
The one good thing about working in an office full of men is that you can cry all you want in the ladies’ room, and no one will know. At least, that’s what Alicia thought as she barricaded herself into the far stall, the one with the stiletto-sized dent in the bottom of the door. The echo of the lock subsided, and silence pressed on her eardrums. 
She wasn’t going to cry—she wouldn’t allow it—but she needed to pull herself together before the meeting. 
Rumor had it that today was Alicia’s last as a software project manager at JFA. She normally didn’t give much credence to rumors; after all, they crawled through every poorly performing company like bedbugs at a cheap motel. But when she got the meeting invitation from Human Resources with the cryptic title, “Mandatory: New Direction,” and saw that she and her team were invited, her stomach lurched. When they’d asked her about it, she’d smiled and said she was sure it was nothing. But secretly, she’d worried. And stared at Wayne’s dust-covered desk and empty chair. Now, fifteen minutes before the meeting, anxiety constricted her throat.
Alicia took a deep, shuddering breath and let it out in a whoosh. After five years at the company, five years of long hours and stress, the unfairness of it infuriated her. What would a guy do? Her dad was gone, she didn’t date, and she kept her coworkers at arm’s length. What would Noah do? That was easy: punch something.
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