See me there, at my desk, mumbling like a goddamn schizophrenic off his meds?
That’s me reminding myself of the tenets, the sacred beliefs that have gotten me this far in life. The ones that have made me an uncontested success in the bedroom and in the office. The ones that have never failed me before. The ones that I am dying to throw out the f**king window. All because of the woman in the office down the hall.
Katherine Everyone-Calls-Me-Kate Brooks.
Talk about a frigging curveball.
The way I see it, I could still go for the gold. Technically speaking, I didn’t meet Kate at work; I met her in a bar. That means she could forgo the label of “coworker” and retain the “random hook-up” status with which she was originally designated.
What? I’m a businessman; it’s my job to find loopholes.
So, in theory at least, I could definitely nail her and not undermine my own personal laws of nature. The problem with that strategy, of course, is what happens after.
The longing glances, the hopeful eyes, the pathetic attempts to make me jealous. The supposedly “accidental” meetings, the questions about my plans, the seemingly casual walks past my office door. All of which would inevitably escalate into disturbing semi-stalkerish behavior.
Some women can handle a one-night stand. Others can’t. And I have definitely been on the wrong end of those who can’t.
It ain’t pretty.
So, you see, no matter how badly I want to, no matter how hard the little head is trying to lead me down that road, it’s not the kind of thing I want to bring into my place of business. My sanctuary—my second home.
It’s not going to happen. Period.
That’s it. End of discussion.
Kate Brooks is officially scratched off my list of potentials. She is forbidden, untouchable, a no-way-never. Right next to my friends’ ex-girlfriends, the boss’s daughter, and my sister’s best friends.
Well, that last category is a bit of a gray area. When I was eighteen, Alexandra’s best friend, Cheryl Phillips, spent the summer at our house. God bless her—that girl had a mouth like a Hoover vacuum. Lucky for me, The Bitch never learned of her friend’s two a.m. visits to my room. There would have been hell to pay—I’m talking fire-and-brimstone-of-apocalyptic-proportions hell—if she had.
Anyway, where was I?
Oh, right. I was explaining that I have come to the unequivocal decision that Kate Brooks’s ass is one that I, sadly, am never going to tap. And I’m okay with that. Really.
And I almost believe myself.
Right up until she shows up at my door.
She’s wearing glasses. The dark-rimmed kind. The female version of Clark Kent’s. They would be geeky-looking and unattractive on most women. But not her. On the bridge of that tiny nose, framing those long-lashed beauties, with her hair swept up in that slightly loosened bun, they are nothing short of full-out sexy.
As she starts to speak, my mind is suddenly filled with every hot-teacher fantasy I’ve ever had. They’re playing out in my mind right next to the ones about the seemingly sexually repressed librarian who’s really a leather-wearing, handcuff-bearing nymphomaniac.
While all this is going on in my head, she’s still talking.
What the f**k is she saying?
I close my eyes to stop myself from staring at her glistening lips. So I can actually process the words coming out of her mouth:
“…father said you could help me with it.” She stops and looks at me expectantly.
“I’m sorry, I was distracted. You want to sit down and run that by me again?” I ask, my voice never betraying the horniness inside me.
Once again, to the ladies out there—here’s a fact for you: Men pretty much have sex on the brain twenty-four-seven. The exact figure is like every 5.2 seconds or some shit like that.
The point is, when you ask, “What do you want for dinner?” we’re thinking about screwing you on the kitchen counter. When you’re telling us about the sappy film you watched with your girlfriends last week, we’re thinking about the porno we saw on cable last night. When you show us the designer shoes you bought on sale, we’re thinking how nice they would look on our shoulders.
I just thought you’d want to know. Don’t shoot the messenger.
It’s a curse, really.
Personally, I blame Adam. Now there was a guy who had the world by the balls. Walking around nak*d, a hot chick to satisfy his every whim. I sure hope that apple was tasty, ’cause he really f**ked it up for the rest of us. Now we have to work for it. Or, in my case, try desperately not to want it.
She sits in the chair across from my desk and crosses her legs.
Don’t look at the legs. Don’t look at the legs.
They’re toned, tan, and smooth-looking as silk. I lick my lips and force my eyes to hers.
“So,” she begins again, “I’ve been working up a portfolio on a programming company, Genesis. Have you heard of them?”
“Vaguely,” I answer, looking down at the papers on my desk to stem the flow of indecent images the sound of her voice calls forth from my deviant mind.
I am a bad, bad boy. Think Kate will punish me if I tell her how bad I am?
I know. I know. I just can’t help myself.
“They posted three million EBIT last quarter,” she says.
“Yeah. I know it’s not earth shattering, but it shows they have a solid base. They’re still small, but that’s part of what has made them good. Their programmers are young and hungry. Rumor has it, they’ve got ideas that will make the Wii look more like an Atari. And they have the brains to make them happen. What they don’t have is the capital.”
She stands and leans over my desk to pass me a folder. I’m assailed with a sweet but flowery scent. It’s delectable, alluring—not like the grandma whose perfume practically chokes you to death when she walks by you at the post office.
I have the urge to sink my face into her hair and inhale deeply.
But I resist and open the folder instead.
“I showed what I have to Mr. Evans…uh, your father, and he told me to run it by you. He thought one of your clients—”
“Alphacom.” I nod.
“Right. He thought Alphacom would be interested.”
I look over the work she’s done so far. It’s good. Detailed and informative but focused. Slowly, my brain—the one above my shoulders, anyway—starts to shift gears. If there’s one topic that has any hope of derailing me from thoughts about sex, it’s work. A good deal. I can definitely smell potential here.
It doesn’t smell as delicious as Kate Brooks, but it’s close.
“This is good, Kate. Very good. I could definitely sell this to Seanson. He’s Alphacom’s CEO.”
Her eyes narrow just a bit. “But, you’ll keep me on board, right?”
I smirk, “Of course. Do I look like the type who needs to steal other people’s proposals?”
She rolls her eyes and smiles. This time, I just can’t look away.
“No, of course not, Mr. Evans. I didn’t mean to imply…it’s just…you know…first day.”
I motion for her to sit back down, and she does. “Well, I’d say from the looks of this, you’re having one hell of a first day. And, please, it’s Drew.”
She nods. I lean back in my chair appraising her. My eyes rake over her from head to toe in a completely unprofessional manner. I know it. But I just can’t seem to make myself give a damn.
“So…celebrating a new job, huh?” I ask, referring to her comment at REM on Saturday.
She bites her lip, and my slacks tighten as I stir and harden—again. If this keeps up, I’m going to have one hell of a case of blue balls when I get home.
“Yes. New job.” She shrugs, then says, “I guessed who you were when you told me your name and the name of your firm.”
“You’ve heard of me?” I ask, truly curious.
“Sure. I don’t think there’s many in this field who haven’t read about Evans, Reinhart and Fisher’s golden boy in Business Weekly…or Page Six for that matter.”
Her last words refer to the gossip columns on whose pages I frequently appear.
“If the only reason you blew me off is because I work here,” I say, “I can have my resignation on my father’s desk within the hour.”
She laughs and then, with a faint blush coloring her cheeks, replies, “No, that wasn’t the only reason.” She holds up her hand to remind me of the almost-invisible engagement ring. “But aren’t you glad now that I turned you down? I mean, it would have been pretty awkward if something had happened between us. Don’t you think?”
My face is completely serious as I tell her, “Would’ve been worth it.”
She raises her brows in doubt. “Even though I’m working under you now?”
Now, come on—she walked right into that one, and she knows it. Working under me? How in the hell am I supposed to ignore that?
Yet I merely c*ck an eyebrow, and she shakes her head and chuckles again.
With a feral smile, I ask her, “I’m not making you uncomfortable, am I?”
“No. Not at all. But do you treat all your employees this way? Because I have to tell you, you’re leaving yourself wide open for a lawsuit.”
I can’t help the smile that comes to my lips. She’s such a surprise. Sharp. Quick. I have to think before I speak to her. I like it.
I like her.
“No, I don’t treat all my employees this way. Ever. Only one, who I haven’t stopped thinking about since Saturday night.”
Okay, so maybe I wasn’t thinking about her when the twins were double-teaming me. But it’s at least partly true.
“You’re incorrigible,” she says in a way that tells me she thinks I’m cute.
I’m a lot of things, baby. Cute isn’t one of them.
“I see something I want, and I go after it. I’m used to getting what I want.”
You’ll never hear a truer statement about me than that. But let’s put things on hold for a minute here, okay? So I can give you the full picture.
See, my mother, Anne, always wanted a big family—five, maybe six kids. But Alexandra is six years older than me. Six years may not seem like a lot to you, but to my mother it was a lifetime. The way the story goes, after Alexandra, my mother couldn’t get pregnant again—and it wasn’t for lack of trying. “Secondary infertility,” they called it. When my sister was four, my mother had pretty much given up hope of ever having any more kids.
And then guess what? I came along.
I was her miracle baby. Her precious angel from God. Her granted wish. Her answered prayer. And she wasn’t the only one who thought so. My father was thrilled, just as grateful to have another child—and a son at that. And Alexandra—this was the pre-Bitch years—was ecstatic to finally have a baby brother.
I was what my family had wanted and waited five years for. I was the little prince. I could do no wrong. There was nothing I wanted that I couldn’t have. I was the most handsome, the most brilliant. There was no one kinder, none sweeter than me. I was loved beyond words—doted on and catered to.