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Authors: Kathi S. Barton

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BOOK: Ryland
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The doors closed and she sat down in one
of the chairs against the wall. She was still sitting there when a man came in
and went into the office doors in front of her at just a little after nine. The
phone started ringing about two minutes later.

At nine-thirty, she couldn’t take it
anymore. The phone had never stopped ringing and she was sure she’d been
forgotten about. Going to the phone, she picked it up while digging through her
purse for a pen and something to write on.

“Golden Towers.” She didn’t give her
name because she was sure she wasn’t supposed to be answering the phone. “How
can I help you?”

“Is he in his office?”

She hesitated.

“Never mind. Tell him to get his ass to
the meeting or I’ll come there and kick his ass.” The man hung up. She wrote
down what he’d said and the time. She could see that the phone number had come
up on the ID, so she wrote that down as well. Before she could finish that
note, another call came in. This went on for nearly two hours before someone
came off the elevator. She looked at the woman there as she answered the phone.

“Golden Towers.”

The woman sat down in the seat across
from her and smiled. Bronwyn smiled back, but was looking for another corner to
write on when the woman handed her a small pad of paper.

“Did you give him my message?” She
looked at the thirty-three notes in front of her and told the man she’d not
seen anyone. “He was supposed to be at this meeting when it started. We’re now
having lunch and he’s still not there. Tell him that I sent Mom to haul his ass
up here and she won’t be happy when she gets there.”

“Yes sir.” She hung up and looked at the
woman. “I don’t suppose you’re Liz Baker, are you?”

“No. I’m Sandra Golden. You would be the
new secretary, I take it?”

Bronwyn shook her head.

“Well, you could have fooled me. How
long have you been here, Miss…”

“Lawrence, Bronwyn Lawrence. Around eight forty-five. Ms. Baker was supposed to come and train me for the work pool. I haven’t seen
her unless she’s in there. I couldn’t take the phone ringing any longer so I
answered it. It was like a storm after that.” She looked around the office.
“I’m not supposed to be here, am I?”

“I don’t know, but I can find out. May
I?” The phone was ringing again and the woman answered it briskly and told the
caller to wait. She dialed three numbers and spoke to someone on the other end
just as efficiently. She sat back down.

“If you’re a relative of Alistair
Golden, he and I had an arrangement. I was to work for him until I could find
something closer to home. He represented me in a court thing last week and I
don’t have any money.” She flushed and stood up when the woman smiled at her. “I’ll
just go now. If you see Mr. Golden, tell him I’ll make other arrangements to
pay—”

“Sit down, Miss Lawrence. My son is on
his way here now. We’ll get this straightened out.”

Bronwyn didn’t sit, but continued to the
elevator. She was getting out of here before they had her arrested for
something. The doors to the elevator opened just as the door to the office
behind her did and she slipped into it. She looked up to see a gorgeous looking
man staring at her while Mrs. Golden spoke to him. The doors shut just as he
started toward her.

On the ride down, she leaned forward, put
her hands on her knees, and tried to deep breathe. She was terrified out of her
skull and was dizzy from it for the simple reason she did not want to go to
jail. She was so fucked. She took off the badge she’d been given that morning,
planning to hand it to the security desk if she made it that far. She had a
feeling she wasn’t going to make it. When the doors opened she knew someone had
called them. She stepped out and tried to judge the distance from where she was
to the doors and freedom.

“I can just go. No harm, no foul.” Stan
Flores, the security officer from earlier, shook his head and asked her to step
back into the elevator. “Seriously. I would really like it if you just moved
out of my way and let me go. I don’t want…I don’t want to hurt you, but I will
if I have to.”

“Miss Lawrence, you’re not leaving here
until someone from the top floor says you can. If you give me any trouble I’ll
handcuff you and take you up at gun point.” Gone was the nice man from this
morning and, in his place, he’d become a man on a mission. “Step back into the
elevator and we’ll both go up and see what’s going on.”

She hesitated just long enough for him
to put his hand on his gun. Bronwyn wasn’t afraid of guns, but she didn’t want
to be arrested again either. She looked at the door and took a step toward it
when he pulled out his weapon. She felt her hackles rise as she raised her
hands in the air. “Please don’t do this. Let me just go and I’ll never come
back.” He pointed to the elevator and she went in it. He never put his gun away
and she never lowered her hands. What a great fucking way to lose a job she’d
never even gotten trained at.

Chapter 2

 

Alistair was at the elevator when it
opened. He was smiling, but dropped it when he saw her. She was pissed off and
looking at the gun pointed at her as if she was expecting to be shot at any
moment.

“What the fuck are you doing? Put that
away.” He pulled her out of the elevator and pushed the button for the doors to
close. “Come on, Bronwyn. I’ll take you to my office and apologize a thousand
times for this screw up.”

“I can just go home and I’ll find
another way to pay you. I swear I’ll pay you every cent.” She still hand her
hands up and he pushed them down and sat her in the first chair he came to. It
just happened to be the one in front of Ryland’s office.

“You didn’t do anything wrong. And I
know you’ll pay me back.” Her eyes rolled in the back of her head and he caught
her just as she was going to fall forward. Alistair shouted for some help and
his mom and Ryland came running. “She’s fainted. That fucking moron Flores had
a gun on her. What the hell kind of place are we running here when women we
hire are accosted like that?”

A wet washcloth was handed to him and he
slapped it none too gently on the back of her neck. She tried to lift her head
and he pushed her back down and glared at his brother. He had to take his anger
out on someone and he was the perfect target for it. “You had to scare her off
on the first day, didn’t you? You just couldn’t stand the fact that you didn’t
know that Colette wouldn’t work for you and that I’d found you suitable help in
the meantime.” His brother started to speak, but Bronwyn lifted her head again
and he shoved her back down. “You should be horse whipped.”

The shrill whistle made him leap from Bronwyn.
He’d heard men whistle like that, but never a woman. He smiled at her when she
stood. Damn, but this girl had spirit.

“You will not shove me around like an
old, unwanted piece of furniture.”

Ryland told her to sit down and shut up
and she stepped close enough to him to touch.

“And I am not a dog to be ordered about
like one either.” She stomped to the elevator again and before she could touch
the button, his mom stepped behind her.

“You’ve been treated poorly by my
family. I’d like for us to start over. Could you please come and have a seat?
I’ll make sure that the two idiots are well away from us before we talk.”

Alistair started to speak, but Bronwyn
spoke to him first. “I will pay you back, but I won’t be brought up on false
charges again. All I did was answer the phone.”

“I know, and if you’ll come to my office
we’ll get this straightened out.” He glanced at Ryland. “He’s my brother. You
were answering his phone and, from what Mom says, doing a great job of it.”

“You said I was to be in some sort of
work pool. That guy downstairs brought me here.” Alistair nodded. “Is this
where I was supposed to be?”

“Yes. I’d like for you to work here for
the week. I know that—”

“Do I get any kind of say in this?”

Alistair looked at Ryland and wanted to
brain him.

“I should have some say over who works
for me. I do own this company.”

“She’ll work for you or I won’t.” Alistair
turned to his brother. “You say one word, one single word, and I will quit now.
There are nineteen of your projects sitting on my desk right now. If you want
them taken care of I would suggest that you go to your office right now and
shut the fuck up. I’m tired of trying to deal with your temper.”

Ryland turned, went into his office, and
slammed the door. When Alistair turned around the doors to the elevator were
closing and Bronwyn was gone. He snatched up the phone and barked for someone
to stop her when she got there. “And the first person who pulls a gun on her
will be unemployed before they put it back in their holster.” He looked at his
mom when he hung up. “There are days when I wish I had gone into business for
myself.”

“No, you don’t. Go down and take the
girl to lunch. She said she’d been here since around eight-thirty. It’s past
one now. She’s probably starving. I’ll meet you both at the deli across the
street in five minutes.”

He nodded, went to the other elevator,
and pressed the button to go down and try to clean up this mess. Alistair
rubbed his head. Ryland needed help and he needed to have something go right
for a change. When the door opened, she was standing there waiting. When she
tried to hand him her badge he took her arm and led her from the building.

The deli was busy, but he had a table
reserved for lunch and just asked to have two people added. He was shown his
table a few minutes later. Bronwyn sat, but she refused to order. So he ordered
for her.

“This is my treat if that’s what—”

“You think I give a damn if it’s your
treat or not?” She looked around when he did and lowered her voice. “You said
it would be fine. You said I’d work for you and no one would give me any
problems. Having a gun pointed at me was a big fucking problem for me.”

He nodded and felt his mouth twitch. He
had no idea why he thought it was funny, but he was having a hard time not
laughing. Besides, he was reasonably sure she’d knock him on his ass if he did
laugh. His mom showed up before he could speak.

“You won’t have any more problems with
Ryland. I had a word with him and—”

“If you think I’m going back to that
bedlam then you’re nuttier than I am. In the event it escaped your notice, I
quit. And I won’t be going back there for any amount of money.”

Alistair liked this girl and knew that
if she didn’t work for him she’d have to go back to working where she’d gotten
into trouble in the first place. And shot. He shook his head and took her hand
when she started to stand.

“You signed a contract with me. You
either work for me where I say or you go back to where I first found you or to
jail.” She paled and glanced at his mom. “No one knows anything that you and I
have talked about and I’ll keep it that way provided you do as you said you
would.”

“That’s blackmail and makes you no
different that the man who got me here in the first place.”

That hurt, hurt more than he could
imagine it would have, but he shook his head. “It’s business. You signed the
contract and I get what I want.” Alistair didn’t look at his mom, knowing she’d
be mad at him. “What’s it going to be?”

She didn’t answer as their food was
delivered. She looked at the food in front of her and didn’t say a word. Then
she nodded. He could tell that she wanted to say more, much more, but she
picked up her bag again and stood. “I’ll work and you’ll get your money even if
I have to sell myself on the side to get it to you.” She looked at his mom. “You
did a bang up job on raising this one. You must be proud.”

As she stormed out of the restaurant he
nearly stood up to go after her to make her apologize to his mom. His mom stood
up too and told him to sit down. He started to glare at her when he thought
better of it. “She had no right to speak to you that way.” He decided he was
going to hunt her down and tell her all deals were off when his mom spoke.

“I’ve never been so embarrassed in all
my life.” He reached for her hand when she slapped him away. “You and your
brother should be beaten and then beaten again for good measure. The nerve of
the two of you fighting over her like a bone. You should be ashamed of
yourselves.

“Us? She insulted you. I won’t have her—”

“You insulted me, you jackass.” She
motioned for the waitress and asked her to box up hers and Bronwyn’s lunches. When
she left, his mom stood up.

“Mom, I never meant to insult you. She
started it by telling you that you should be proud of the way you raised us.
You did a great job and she had no right to say that to you.”

She sat down, but never put her purse
down. “You think about the way she was treated by my sons, you and your
brother. No one came to train her, she answered a phone for nearly three hours
without help or training, she had a gun pointed at her, was brought back up to
the offices after trying to leave with her dignity, and you stripped that from
her the moment you ordered her to come here with you. And your brother?” She
stood up. “I’m ashamed of both of you.”

BOOK: Ryland
3.31Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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