Blurring the Lines (Men of the Zodiac) (5 page)

BOOK: Blurring the Lines (Men of the Zodiac)
2.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

As Blake led them through the third floor’s lobby and into the employees only lounge, he ended the call and slid the phone in his pocket, drawing her attention to that area of his pants. Again her brain left logic at the curb and sped toward inappropriate imaginings.

He sighed audibly when they reached the vending machines. “Ah, chocolate. Just what I need.”

Chocolate would barely satisfy what Kira needed, but it would have to do. As his fingers inserted the bill in the machine, she imagined him dragging those fingers over her body. She swallowed.

What the hell was the matter with her? A small giggle escaped. She covered both hands over her mouth and stared at him, waiting for him to say something.

His eyebrows shot up. “Something funny?”

She shook her head. “I think my blood sugar must be low. Good thing you thought to get us a snack.”

His gaze stayed on her for a long moment and her entire body whipped to life, silently begging him to like what he saw. Had he been pleased with his day? Did it turn out the way he wanted? Did he think she’d be an okay secretary for him?

Finally, he said, “And we get to do it all again tomorrow.”

Chapter Six

o, Coconut. Bad.”

Kira hopped up from her desk and rushed into Blake’s office. “What? What’s wrong?” She’d survived her first full week, and this morning they’d shared a celebratory coffee from The Fresh Bean.

“Your damn dog was climbing up my leg. Again.”

She crouched on the floor by his chair and caressed the top of the Maltese’s head. “Awwww. She likes you. Probably just wanted to cuddle.” To Coconut, Kira used her baby-talk tone. “Isn’t that right, Coco, just cuddle?” Glancing up at Blake, she grinned into his frown. “Admit it, you’re going to miss her next week.” And then scooted back when she realized just how close to his thigh she’d gotten.

“She won’t be here next week?”

Heat rose on her cheeks as she spun back to focus on Coconut, ignoring the impressive bulge she noticed behind his zipper. What had she been thinking, sinking to the floor at his feet? “I’m going to pretend you don’t sound relieved about that.”

“What happened? Did she find a family?”

“The Edgewater Animal Rescue rotates the dogs every week.” With her back still to Blake, she sank back to her butt and pulled Coconut into her lap. “So next week we won’t have her. She’ll be at the shelter.”


At the genuine curiosity in his voice, she looked over her shoulder at his face—focused on just his face—and as she absently rubbed the dog’s head, she also noticed how he’d put down the tablet and focused on her. “You really want to know?”

“I wouldn’t have asked otherwise.”

“There aren’t enough foster families to house all the dogs, and this way each dog gets rotated to a home for individual attention. It helps with the newly abandoned dogs to have more human contact.”

“Smart idea.”

The way he listened and didn’t laugh at her for being invested in animal foster care almost made her forget the long hours he’d made her put in this week. Good thing he’d let her keep the dog at work, because if not, Coconut would end up staying crated for too many hours, in which case the shelter would be the better option.

She grinned up at him. “It’s a great rescue.”

He surprised her by slipping out of his chair and joining her on the floor. “I asked my accountant to get in touch with you next week. He’ll give you a list of where I currently donate, and I told him you get twenty percent to distribute for next year’s contributions.” When Coconut stretched her legs to touch Blake, he grabbed a paw and shook it. “Like for the animal rescue.”

“That’s so fantastic. I’ll print out the documentation for monthly sponsors. It will help so much!”

“Does losing Coconut mean we’ll have another beast in here next week?”

Something squeezed in Kira’s chest. He really was okay with the foster dogs in the office. Other staff had asked about the program, but not too many employees had pets at home. Kira respected that they knew their limitations, and with most everyone working either long days or irregular hours, pets didn’t exactly fit into their lifestyle.

“I told the placement coordinator that I wasn’t sure if I could keep fostering, but if you’re okay with it?”

When his computer dinged, he released Coconut and settled back into his chair. As he checked his email, with his back to her, he said, “I survived this week, didn’t I? Go ahead and bring in the next victim. Maybe as long as it’s small?”

She stared at his rigid back and the way his dark hair just barely brushed over his crisp collar. He might work ninety hours a week, and maybe he’d fired more than one employee for not being able to keep up with his rigorous standards, but she understood why some of her predecessors wanted more than a working relationship. She couldn’t blame them. This Blake, the one who took a couple minutes to pet a homeless dog, threatened her equilibrium.

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but right now I could kiss you.”

lake choked back the image of his lips covering Kira’s and said, “Uh. Thank you?”

She must have sensed she’d irritated him, because she skipped around to the front of the desk and clarified, “Appropriately, of course, and it’s not like I’d really kiss you. I mean.” Her eyes widened. “I only meant—um—thank you. Thank you again for being so generous.”

His mouth curved into a frown, but his body responded to her flirtation about rewarding him with
kisses for letting her foster. He picked up his tablet and swiped back to the email from the architect. However she’d meant it, he now had an image of her kissing him, and he waited until she’d backed out of his office before swiveling around to stare out the window at the bay. He glanced at the horizon, trying to remember the last time he’d been so distracted.

He’d never had a secretary he couldn’t figure out, and because she’d only taken the job to influence the decision of the downtown plans, he couldn’t fit her into a neat box labeled, “Secretary.” Not when she left him brilliant comments on pink sticky notes referencing clients and follow-up conference calls.

The dog had been a surprise, but people in the office responded well, and other than leaving her desk to walk Coconut, the animal didn’t disrupt his work day much. She had also made sure to email him medical journal studies in which pets were shown to lower stress and blood pressure in patients. Crafty girl.

Not that he was complaining. He could handle the tiny beast.

What he wasn’t sure he could handle was his imagination. Every day since the first one, he’d stared at her shoes and then her ass, wondering if her panties matched her stilettos like they had that first day. He really shouldn’t be looking at her like that, but the pesky memory kept resurfacing at the worse damn times, torturing him by replaying how her skirt had lifted to reveal the strip of electric blue thong that perfectly matched the bows tied around her ankles.

He had a million and ten demanding issues that needed his attention, including how she’d just roped him into participating in the Edgewater Animal Rescue foster program.

Now, not only would he contribute funds on a monthly basis to support the rescue, but he’d agreed to have different dogs delivered to his office every week. While he happened to love animals, he wondered who would save his jaded ass from the young woman with doe-brown eyes and plump lips he’d like to feast upon.

He didn’t date in the workplace, but lately he hadn’t dated anywhere. That had to be the reason Kira caught his attention.

He risked a sideways glance to see if she was at her desk and caught her reading her email, her legs crossed, the heel of one shoe dangling from her toe. Damn sexy. What he wouldn’t give to have those legs wrapped around his hips. But he wasn’t supposed to be thinking about her like that. Even if the sight of her bare legs made him forget he wasn’t a teenager.

She arched back, stretching provocatively. Her shoe fell from her toe, and as she bent to retrieve it, the chair slid out from under her. Landing with a soft thud and a quiet laugh, she turned and caught him staring at her. Neither of them moved for what seemed like an eternity, and he couldn’t look away from the light in her dark eyes.

She broke their eye contact first, and as she slipped on her shoe and regained her seat, he picked up the file on his desk. She’d wasted no time organizing his folders and commandeering his calendar. The girl had savvy written all over her, and although he hadn’t known anything about her when he’d offered her the job, she’d more than proven she was exactly what Keith had in mind when he said to hire a secretary who would stick around, focus on work, and not want to sleep with him.

Part of her intrigue had to be her commitment to preserving the downtown area. In order to save a building, she’d been willing to sign away a year of her life. He couldn’t help it. He admired her.

Too bad he couldn’t claim the same kind of self-control. He still couldn’t believe he’d suggested the arrangement so spontaneously. But, he’d always been focused on expanding the investments his grandfather had started and never before had he allowed a woman to take precedence over the company’s bottom line. Apparently, he’d hired the only woman able to capture his interest in a long while.

His computer dinged. Lunch meeting with Christopher Harlowe to discuss a new software integration system for their law firm, which gave him a great idea.

Grabbing his wallet from the drawer, he shoved his sunglasses to the top of his head and grinned like a teenager in lust. His reaction was ridiculous, but there it was. She made him want to forget about work for even the briefest of moments and just—be.



Call him egotistical, but he loved when she called him sir. “I’m heading out to a business lunch. I’d like you to join me.”

Her face brightened. “Really?” She sounded so damn excited. She stood and smoothed her hands down her lean frame, accentuating the curves under her sundress. “Let me put Coconut in Tish’s office.” She moved out of his office, and he followed her.

Damn his stupid libido and his rash invitation. He didn’t need her there, but Kira already had Coconut in her arms, her purse over her shoulder, and that excited smile on her mouth.

Her roommate took the dog without question. Then, Kira and he caught the elevator before he could change his mind.

She followed him to the parking lot. “This is so exciting.”

“It’s lunch.” He hoped he hadn’t made a mistake in leading her to think this was anything but a meal with a vendor. But he’d wanted to spend more time with her, and just because he’d never done it in the past, didn’t mean it was abnormal for him to invite his secretary to a business lunch.

“Yes. I love lunch.” She hopped in the passenger seat and clicked into her seat belt, the strap snugly outlining her breasts. “Where are we going? It wasn’t marked on your calendar.”

A dozen inappropriate answers flew to the tip of his tongue. He choked them back and said, “Limoncello’s,” naming the exclusive restaurant.

“I love that place! Do you need me to take notes?”

He could feel her looking at him, but he kept his gaze on the road and not on her bare calves.

“Mostly it’s networking. Christopher Harlowe is the new kid on the technology block. We’re interested in his integration software for our medical center.” Given his limitations regarding technology, Blake didn’t go into further detail.

“The one on Palm Street?”

She’d definitely done her research on his current projects. Impressive.

In his peripheral vision, he noticed her twist toward him, and when she tucked one leg under the other, her flimsy dress rose farther up her thigh. “So you don’t really need me?”

The light scent of her perfume lingered in his brain, along with the quick glimpse he caught of her smooth thigh now burning the sexy image into his memory. He forced his gaze forward, driving a little more recklessly than usual in order to get them out of the confines of the SUV. He hadn’t anticipated the close proximity sharing a vehicle would entail. It would be so easy for him to stretch his hand and touch her bare skin.

His grip tightened on the steering wheel. “No, I need you.”

She swallowed loud enough for him to hear. Had she misinterpreted that remark? He could mean it so many different ways. Okay, two different ways. But he didn’t. Mean it. Like that. He had to clarify.

“Kira.” He meant to say her name as a warning, but it came out sounding like a plea.

“What?” Her innocent tone caught him in the gut every damn time, and he couldn’t leave her alone. She’d told him from the start that she wasn’t interested, so why did he view that as a challenge?

What was the matter with him? He never mixed work with pleasure, and they had a contract stating she’d be his employee for one year. She was forbidden fruit. Other coworkers had dated and broken up across different departments without bringing serious drama to work, but Blake never risked it. He’d never wanted to risk it.

He reminded himself she was only interested in him for what his company could do for her, anyway. “I’m bringing you along because I’m interested in your impression of this potential vendor. You’re sharp, you’ve done great work this week, and you’ve got good instincts. Just make notes of any questions that come up along the way.”

The heat from the Floridian sun baked the car. He opened his door, hot and anxious to put some space between them.

Slipping from the car, she said, “Oh. Thank you.”

She sashayed around the back of the SUV, the cutest wrinkle in her nose

A warning shot straight to his gut, like he’d just left Pandora’s box unlocked, but these unused emotions intrigued him, and he was curious. Shoving aside his inappropriate thoughts, he matched her step as they approached the restaurant. He knew the exact moment Christopher Harlowe spotted them. The man licked his lips, his gaze so obviously on Kira’s long legs, that Blake instinctively stepped in front of her, blocking her from Christopher’s view.

The man shook his hand but made no effort to hide his interest in Kira. “Hi, I’m Christopher.”

“Hello. I’m Kira.” Her voice sounded half an octave lower and slightly on the formal side. “It’s a pleasure to meet you

Blake glanced over his shoulder to see his secretary, her mouth closed in a tight-lipped smile. Gone was her flirty demeanor.

For some reason, one he wasn’t ready to explore, this pleased him immensely.

BOOK: Blurring the Lines (Men of the Zodiac)
2.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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