Authors: Julia Marie
I paced the office in frustration. No - I prowled.
Kissing Shane had gotten me even more worked up than I possibly could have imagined. The way his lips toyed with mine, the firm pressure of his hands sliding up my back as though he had to know me, the feel of his hard muscles underneath his plain white shirt - it all combined to drive me wild.
And just as things felt like they were about to go to the next level, it all ended.
I stared at the intercom that had betrayed me by allowing Brittany to intrude on my time alone with Shane, and entertained fantasies of unplugging it and smashing it against the wall.
I knew what we’d done was improper, but I didn’t give a damn. I felt so alive.
I need to get out of here.
Shane had left with hardly any goodbye at all beyond instructions to take my time with lunch and not to rush back. Since I didn’t know this area of town very well, I decided that I would take a leisurely stroll through the neighborhood and see if there was anything worth eating. It had been a while since I’d been able to justify paying to eat out, but celebrating the first day at my new job was as good an excuse as any.
The hot sun didn’t help to cool me off, and while I walked the business district I found that my thoughts were unwilling to settle on anything other than my tattooed, rough, muscular boss. He exuded sex - how could I not be drawn in?
My stomach growled, a subconscious response to the delicious scents wafting from the cafe that I was passing alongside. The patio was expansive and nice but not too pretentious; a great place to relax in the sun and enjoy the day that hopefully wasn’t going to completely blow my budget. With time to spare, it looked like exactly the type of place I’d been searching for without realizing it.
An attentive waiter showed me to a small table and left me with a little lunch menu, returning shortly with a glass of ice water, condensation beading on the side.
I made short work of the sandwich I ordered, delighting in the light crunch of the toasted bread.
This is so much better than I can make at home. I hope I’ll be able to afford going out to eat more often.
I’d always assumed that I would become a better cook with practice, but somehow the gift of fine cooking eluded me. I could barely stand anything I made for myself; if I had the money I would never cook again.
Just as I polished off the last bite, my plate darkened.
I looked up, squinting into the sun as I tried to make out the face of the person who stood over me and shaded the table. The sun sat just over the shoulder of the figure, making it impossible to tell even if it was a man or a woman.
“Can I help you?” I asked.
As though I had extended an invitation, the person sat down across from me, and I was able to see that it was a smartly dressed man in a well-fitted suit and tie. If I hadn’t just been kissing Shane Hamilton then I would have called him the most handsome man I’d seen for weeks, but he wasn’t quite up to par with my new boss.
“Miss Maguire, I hope I am not disturbing you. I wanted to ensure that I waited until you were finished your lunch.”
“Uh, excuse me?” I asked, startled. “How do you know who I am?”
I gave him a second look.
Have I met him before?
I was sure I hadn’t, but I couldn’t figure out how he knew me.
He isn’t a stalker, is he?
I almost hyperventilated until I remembered that there was no reason that anyone could have to stalk me. I wasn’t rich or famous, or even particularly good-looking in my own opinion. There wasn’t anything interesting about me at all.
“The people I work for know a lot of things about everyone,” the man said with a deadpan expression. I couldn’t tell if he was being serious or was trying to mess with me. “My employers are very interested in the man that you just started to work for, and we need your help in finding some delicate information.”
He wants something from Shane?
I felt an automatic impulse to hit the man and try to run away. Only the knowledge that I couldn’t possibly win in a physical contest against a man who was clearly in fantastic shape kept me in my seat.
“What do you want with Shane?” I couldn’t understand why this suited man could have such an intense interest in a man who ran a small shipping company.
“Shane Hamilton is the leader of an outlaw motorcycle club, and a very dangerous individual,” the man said. “We are looking for proof that he’s broken the law, so that we can use that against him if need be.”
Outlaw motorcycle club? And Shane’s the leader?
I felt as though I should have been more shocked, but there had been clues. The tattoos, the leather jacket. Even some of the conversations that I had heard that morning made a lot more sense with the new information.
Still, just because he rode motorcycles didn’t mean that he deserved some asshole demanding I find his secrets and spill them. “Why the hell should I help some random person who just sits across the table from me during my lunch? I don’t owe you anything.”
A small briefcase appeared on the table in front of the man. I hadn’t noticed it when he had walked up, but I had been too busy trying to look at his face. The top clicked open, although the contents were hidden from my point of view.
“Are you the daughter of Ruth and Mike?” the man asked. I nodded; there didn’t seem any point in denying it. “And it says here that you have about two hundred dollars in your bank account, thirty thousand dollars against student loans, and approximately three thousand owed on a series of credit cards, is that right?”
My face flamed immediately. “How the hell do you know that?”
He shrugged. “We know much, much more than that, Miss Maguire. And we can do anything with that information that we please. And we will do whatever it takes to get what we want. So you have a choice - you can help us with what we want, or you can decide to take your chances that we won’t pursue you any further.”
It felt like a scene out of a movie, like a director was going to yell “Cut!” any minute and makeup girls would appear out of nowhere to polish up my cheeks and fix my hair. I wasn’t the type of person to get blackmailed. Hell, I didn’t even have anything worth blackmailing for.
Except that thanks to my new job, it appeared that I did.
“What would you do if I said no?”
The man leaned back in his chair and said nothing, although his eyes bored into my own, leaving me no doubt that it wasn’t something that I wanted to find out.
“What do you want me to do?”
He sat forward in his chair again and gave me a predatory smile. “Now that’s more like it.”
That asshole better keep his house in order.
Spending the entire afternoon to sew back together the shattered pieces of the Los Cabos deal was not how I’d wanted to spend my time. The entire meeting I could feel the faint memory of Jackie’s lips on my own, driving me to distraction and almost causing me to flub a few key, heated moments. Derek had disappointed me, something that I hadn’t believed possible. If he messed up that badly again then I’d have no choice but to remove him from such a sensitive position. He wouldn’t like a demotion within the ranks, but I didn’t have a choice.
The ride back to the office gave me an opportunity to clear the anger from my mind. The cool evening wind whipping through my hair was as calming as the familiar rumble of my bike underneath me.
It was late enough that most of the cars and bikes were already gone from the parking lot; there was only a beat up Corolla that I didn’t recognize. The downtown office was relatively tiny, purely for the use of the business; the rest of the men spent the majority of their time at the clubhouse, which was further out of town.
There was a light on in my office.
It couldn’t be… could it?
Inside, Jackie looked up at me with a startled look as I opened the door. She was sitting at my desk, on my computer, the blue light from the monitor lighting her face and those tempting lips.
“Shane! I was starting to think you wouldn’t be coming back.” She clicked a few more times on the mouse before turning her attention back towards me. “I’m sorry for using your computer; I just really had no idea what else I should be doing.”
“No, that’s okay,” I said. “I really didn’t expect you to still be here, I came back much later than I had intended. I thought I’d told Brittany to let you know that you could go home.”
A sour look crossed the woman’s face. “Well if that’s the case then she didn’t see fit to keep me in the loop. I didn’t want to just leave on my first day without being told I could.”
Ah. No love lost between those two already, huh?
It wasn’t a surprise. Brittany had always been after me, but she just wasn’t my type. Any time another woman had the opportunity to get close to me the secretary couldn’t stand it. If she wasn’t the vice president’s sister, I would have gotten rid of her years ago. The headache of explaining to him exactly why I couldn’t stand her wasn’t worth the trouble.
“I’m sorry to hear that. You are earning yourself some serious points on this trial period already.” I let my voice drop as I said it, looking for her response and grinning inside when the tell-tale trace of pink colored her cheeks, washed out slightly by the monitor light. “And how are you enjoying it so far?”
She blushed even more fiercely and looked away for a moment. “It’s been great. You’ve been great. I couldn’t ask for anything more than this opportunity.”
The tension rose between us, surpassing even the levels from the morning. I walked to the desk and sat on the edge just beside her, our legs touching.
“And how was lunch?”
To my surprise, Jackie paled as the blood fled from her face. “L… lunch?” It was like I’d asked how her grandfather died. “Lunch was good. Nothing interesting about it.”
Her words could not have disagreed more with the expression on her face. It was like her body was fighting itself.
Before I could finish the sentence, she leapt out of the chair and grabbed hold of the back of my neck, planting a hot, furious kiss on my lips. Any thought of what I was going to say was immediately erased from my mind, replaced with the feeling of the woman in front of me pressing her body urgently against mine, all shyness abandoned.