Blurring the Lines (Men of the Zodiac) (8 page)

BOOK: Blurring the Lines (Men of the Zodiac)
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Chapter Nine

“B
lake?” Kira stopped in the frame of his office. After their flirting in the bar Friday night, she’d thought about him all weekend and was relieved things hadn’t seemed awkward when she’d arrived that morning.

He looked up, his honey-colored eyes crinkling slightly at the corners in a friendly smile. “What’s up?”

It still threw her slightly off guard how casual he acted around her, and again she reminded herself that just because the CEO was nice didn’t mean he wouldn’t fire her if she tried to cross the line. The problem was her inability to read him, because every time he charmed her with that knee-weakening smile, she wondered how the attraction could only be one way.

Pointing over her shoulder, she asked, “Would you please come help?”

He shoved out of his chair and followed her to the main reception area where some other staff decorated for Halloween.

“Ah. This time of year again. Need me to pin something to the ceiling?”

“I need you to lie down.” She bit her lower lip, hoping he wouldn’t balk at the idea. In his crisp shirt and tie, he looked amazingly powerful. What she wouldn’t give for an excuse to fall on top of him again. Last time had been quick and awkward, but this time…just thinking about him prone on the floor gave her all kinds of indecent thoughts. How she could take her time enjoying the full length of his firm muscles…

One of his dark brows arched. “Excuse me?”

She swallowed her wicked ideas. “Just please lie there.” She pointed to the hardwood floor. “I Swiffered, so you shouldn’t get too dirty.”

“Why do you want me to lie here?” he asked, even as he squatted.

She took a moment to appreciate the way his pants tightened across his ass as he crouched. He really was a specimen of a man, and it seemed almost a shame that she’d started this platonic thing when she might not have the willpower to follow through with it. Maybe when her contract ended, she could—what? She shook that thought from her head and answered his question. “It’s almost Halloween.”

Sitting now, he tilted back his head to look up at her with an adorable grin curving his mouth. “That explains nothing.”

She smoothed her hands down her skirt, and when his gaze followed her hands to her legs and then his golden pupils seemed to darken, her stomach fluttered. With a light laugh, she said, “We need a body to outline.”

He reclined and clasped his hands over his stomach, crossing his legs at the ankles. “You know, Halloween was one of my grandmother’s favorite times to visit the office. I think that’s why my grandfather started the ‘decorate and bring your children to trick-or-treat’ tradition.”

She grinned down at him, well aware that should he choose, he could see up her flimsy sundress. “Little kids dressed in costumes are pretty cute. May I?”

She gestured toward his hands, and he unclasped them. “Where do you want them?”

All over her body. “I’ll just—” She grasped one of his wrists and lifted his arm above his head, bending it at the elbow.

He caught on to her idea and positioned the other arm in a classic angle, adjusting his feet accordingly. Then, she took the masking tape and crouched next to his face. Tearing off the first strip she’d use to outline him, she said, “Just please stay lying down.”

When he closed his eyes and whispered, “Only for you…” she choked back a sigh.

She made quick work to tape around his head and hands, but when she reached his waist, she paused. Could she be brave enough to tape between his thighs? She had him right where she wanted him. On the floor, on his back, a willing victim to her…

“Marilyn?” she called to another secretary hanging cobwebs around the receptionist’s desk.

When the woman glanced over, Kira wiggled the tape and pointed toward Blake. Marilyn’s eyes bulged right before she burst into laughter. “No way. How in the world did you get Blake to lie on the floor?”

He opened his eyes. “I believe it’s her excellent powers of persuasion.”

Kira’s cheeks heated. “Would you mind?” She handed the tape over.

“With pleasure.” She snapped off a long strip of tape and knelt between Blake’s spread legs. “You know, we’ve never thought about outlining a body before. Shame that Mrs. Whitman isn’t here this year.”

“Mrs. Whitman?” Kira hadn’t given consideration to Blake’s parents, but she had no idea what they had to do with the Halloween decorations.

Marilyn ripped off a long piece of tape. “Blake’s grandfather would bring Mrs. Whitman to the office, and she’s the one who actually started the tradition for the staff to have their kids walk around for candy during the day.”

Kira watched, envy rising, as Marilyn boldly placed one end of the tape dangerously close to Blake’s privates. She didn’t know why she’d called Tyler’s assistant to help her when she herself could have done the deed, but something about seeming too forward stopped her, and she knew the other woman—with her rock star husband and wild ways—wouldn’t bat a fake eyelash at putting her hand so close to the boss’s privates.

“That’s so cool,” she said, not knowing what else to say. “I’m sorry about your grandmother, Blake.”

Marilyn scooted to the other side of Blake’s thigh. “Oh, hah. His grandmother isn’t dead. She’s on a cruise.”

Embarrassing tingles heated her cheeks. “My misunderstanding. But in a totally good way.”

“Are we about done?” he asked, sitting up and twisting around to inspect the outline of his upper body.

She placed the last bit of tape by the sole of his shoe. “I think so. Thanks.”

Marilyn, with her back to Blake, gave Kira a knowing wink then took a pile of paper pumpkins from another secretary and moved to another section of the lobby. “Sure thing, doll.”

Her boss hopped up. “So why didn’t Marilyn get Tyler to sprawl on the floor?”

Kira shrugged. “It was my idea. He might be the CIO, but you’re the CEO.”

“Brilliant.”

“All part of my charm.”

“D
amn it!”

Blake heard Kira swearing under her breath
,
and he grinned. He shouldn’t find her anger amusing, but she was so cute when she was flustered.

“Need help?” he called, capping his pen and marking the page in the report with her pink sticky note.

“No, thanks. I’ve got it covered.”

He rolled out of his chair and moved to the doorway, a mistake made clear the moment he caught sight of her. On her hands and knees, head buried under her desk, he couldn’t quite figure what she was trying to accomplish, but he couldn’t tear his gaze from the flimsy material draped over her ass. If he tilted his head slightly to the left, he could just make out— What an ass he was. Damn. Did he really just sneak a peek at his secretary’s pink panties? What the hell was the matter with him? He swallowed. Then choked.

The noise must have alerted her to his presence, because she swung around quickly and gaped at him in wide-eyed shock. “Blake! I said I was handling it.”

“Handling what?” Prickly awareness tingled up his neck. Damn
,
he was too aware of her, and he was pretty sure it was more than the fact that on that first day she’d said she was off limits to him. He’d asked if she was sexually attracted to him, and she’d said absolutely not. Back then he’d liked that answer. But now? Still, wanting her because she didn’t want him? It couldn’t be that base a reason, could it? Just because she said no to him before he’d even asked, suddenly he found himself intrigued by the challenge?

A faint red flushed from the
V
in her blouse to the curve of her cheeks. “I’m trying to straighten out the cords under there. I’m tired of the mess, so I’m clipping them and color banding them.”

It was definitely more than her looks. She had a way about her that screamed tidiness, and she had a competency he enjoyed challenging. As he’d promised Keith, he’d made it a point to not keep her past six or seven on too many evenings, and surprisingly, he hadn’t needed to. She kept him organized during the day and, with folders clearly labeling evening issues to tackle, he’d gained a bit of spare time as well.

“Kira, you’re doing a remarkable job.” Almost too good, if he compared her with his other secretaries. He’d never met a woman as efficient or as sexy as Kira. She checked every box on his requirements list for a competent employee and then some, proving that he hadn’t known what he’d needed until he’d found her. His gaze fell to her stack of sticky notes. Pink and shaped like a flower, she’d used them to point out key discrepancies in more than one contract. Her enthusiasm for keeping him on track, for going above and beyond any secretary who’d ever worked for him, drove him to want to please her. Show her he was as sincere in wanting to help her as she was in helping him. He made a mental note to sweeten the pot with the other board members
,
so the vote for the downtown redevelopment went the way she wanted. He owed her that…and more.

Why she’d settled on being a dog walker, instead of working for a high-powered exec long before now, he had no idea. It seemed strange, but maybe she never felt she was cut out for a 9-to-5 existence. Or she’d never found a boss willing to keep her foster dogs in his office.

Her body stiffened and he heard her quick intake of breath. Then, she snapped a tie around two cords and shot him a confident grin. “Thank you. I’ll admit that I like it here a lot more than I thought I would.”

Considering he’d forced her hand at taking the job, he liked her answer. “Really?”

He found her sheepish grin adorable. “Well, maybe not the job itself, but some of your projects are remarkable, and I’m excited to see the dog park’s progress. Plus, I saw another email about the new architectural plans for making downtown historic rather than modern.”

And just like that, she’d reminded him how she was just like every other woman he’d expressed an interest in. He might feel an undeniable chemistry toward her, but even if he were tempted to break his own rules about dating in the work place, he’d never know if she said yes because she needed to stay on his good side to save her mom’s building.

Or if there was something else she wanted. He’d have to keep an eye on her. Maybe going above and beyond wasn’t merely to help him out, but because she was looking for something else. She
did
have access to a great deal of company information.

Focusing on work, he said, “Listen, I’m sorry to ask you on such short notice, but we have a conference call scheduled for seven tonight. Can you stay late?”

“Of course. But I need to let Tish know.”

“Actually, she’s our accounting part of the conference call. We’ll be discussing private real estate equity investment strategies, and I’m hoping you’ll be able to run the recordings.”

“Not a problem. I don’t mind working after hours.”

She might not mind it, but he’d begun to think of her as more than an employee, and he’d been trying to keep his distance; the more hours they spent together, the harder that was. Not that it mattered when he couldn’t get her out of his head, but—

Keith marched straight by her desk, grabbing him by the arm. “We have a situation.”

His brother always had a situation. He thrived on confrontation, as evidenced by the gleam in his eye and the excited way he charged toward Blake’s office. Once inside, he sighed with aggravation. “What now?”

Keith whirled around and rubbed his hands together. “Morris Clinic is being sued.”

Damn. A hundred different scenarios flew through his brain, all with equally compelling profit margins. “The whole clinic? Not just one doctor?”

“The whole damn clinic. Discrimination.”

“That’s wild.”

“That’s luck. Good business for us, bad for their reputation. Look, we’re going to need to put some pressure somewhere to get moving on finishing the medical center on Palm Street. Can’t wait until the New Year.”

“I agree.”

Keith shot a purposeful glare toward the door. “One other thing.”

Blake stared at his brother and tried to follow the conversation, but the image of Kira on the floor under the desk still flooded his mind. “Yeah?”

“Did you see the email regarding the new plans for downtown?”

Blake whipped his gaze to Kira, but whether she’d heard Keith or not, he couldn’t tell. Lowering his voice and dragging his brother deeper into his office, he said, “I did.”

“I have an urgent voicemail to return a call to the chairman of our board.”

The chairman had been a strong supporter for the modernized downtown design, but he was only one vote. “I have voting members my side. Let me make some calls. We promised Kira—”

“No. Not
we
.
You
. You made a promise you might not be able to keep. I’m just giving you a little head’s up, in case things don’t go your way. She’s a smart girl. I’m sure she understands how board decisions work.”

“No need to upset her before the vote. I have a plan.”

“Why don’t you offer her some of the company’s charitable funds? Let her work with our corporate gifts department a little bit more. That might soften the blow.”

Placate her with something different? He’d rather stick to his word. “It won’t. Besides, she already saw the email about the new historical plans from architectural.”

Keith shot him that disappointed glare he’d perfected. “Fine. Play it your way. I just hope you don’t lose her. She’s just what you need.”

Blake couldn’t agree more.

K
ira turned her back to the bar and pouted. “He’s not coming.”

Tish wiggled her empty glass at the bartender. “He might.”

“He’s not coming.” She scanned the roped off area of The Vault, the bar the Whitman-Madison executives had rented for the Halloween party. Loud music, lots of bare skin, and no sign of her hot boss.

Her friend rolled her eyes. “Sweetie, he has to show up. This is a tradition started by Blake’s grandfather, and for Blake not to show up would be—unholy toward his grandparents.”

“Unholy?”

“According to legend, Blake’s grandfather invented the work hard-play harder mantra. His grandmother loved a good party, and his grandfather loved to throw her one.”

BOOK: Blurring the Lines (Men of the Zodiac)
13.97Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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