Authors: Sandi Lynn
“What the fuck just happened?”
Garrett couldn’t contain his laughter. “That’s what you get for sending your assistant to buy your condoms. I guess she’s just making sure she doesn’t have to do that again for a while.”
I sighed as I picked up the boxes and placed them back in the bag.
“Is everything all set for Coco’s birthday party Friday night?”
“Yes. My mother has taken care of everything. Or should I say her assistants have. You’ll be there, right?”
“Of course. I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Are you inviting Lorelei?”
“Yes, and she better come.”
“I’m sure she will. I have a meeting. I’ll talk to you later, Jack.”
After Garrett walked out, I yelled for Lorelei to come into my office. Walking in with bags, she set them down on the table and looked at me.
“I didn’t appreciate your sense of humor as far as my condoms were concerned.”
“I wasn’t trying to be funny. I was just making sure that you were fully stocked and you didn’t have to worry about running out any time soon.”
“Whatever, Lorelei. Coco’s birthday is Friday and we’re having a birthday party for her and you’re invited. It’s at the 48 Lounge in the Theater District at seven o’clock.”
“Okay. Sounds fun.”
“Really? You can actually go?” I asked in surprise.
“Yes, Jack. It’s Coco’s birthday. I wouldn’t miss that.”
“Good. I know she really likes you and it would mean a lot to her if you were there. You can bring someone if you’d like.”
“Like who?” she asked in confusion.
“A date, perhaps?”
“I don’t have a date. I already told you that I don’t have a boyfriend.”
“That’s right. I forgot.” I lied.
I hadn’t forgotten. I just wanted to make sure someone didn’t walk into her life while I was away in Paris. I thought about her every moment I was there. She would have loved it and I would have enjoyed spending time with her. That just meant that we would have to spend time together here in New York, starting with Coco’s birthday party.
Looking at my watch, I got up from my desk. “I have a meeting, so I’ll see you later.”
“Okay.” She gently smiled as I followed her out of my office.
The week went by pretty smoothly. Every time Lorelei went to lunch, she always carried an 11x14 leather-bound book of some sort in her arms. It was Friday and I decided to follow her to lunch. I saw her walk into a deli and take a seat by the window. She didn’t know I was following her, so I had to make it look like I was going to the same deli for lunch. Walking in the door, I pretended not to notice her and I placed my order for a carry out. Grabbing the bag from the counter, I turned around and tried to play it casually.
“Lorelei?” I spoke as I walked up to her table.
She quickly closed her book as she looked up at me in shock.
“Jack. What are you doing here?”
“Getting lunch.” I looked at my watch. “I have some time. Would you mind if I joined you?”
She shook her head and placed her black leather-bound book in her tote.
“Since when do you get your own lunch?” she asked with a raised brow.
“I was starving and I knew you were at lunch and I didn’t want to wait. You know I don’t like waiting for things.” I smirked. “I didn’t know you came here for lunch. I thought you always ate in Central Park.”
“It’s getting cooler now and I didn’t pack a lunch today.”
“I see. Well, this is nice, the two of us having lunch together.” I smiled.
“What are you up to, Jack?” Her face twisted.
“Nothing. Why would you ask that?”
“Because since I’ve started working for you, you have never ordered your own lunch, let alone picked it up.”
“There’s a first time for everything, isn’t there?” I grinned.
. She wasn’t buying it. I could tell by the expression on her beautiful face.
“Anyway, I was thinking that I could pick you up tonight for the party.”
“Thanks, Jack, but I’ll just take a cab.”
“But, Lorelei, I insist,” I persisted.
“I’m going to my mom’s house before heading to the party. So I’ll just grab a cab.”
I sighed. She was one tough girl and I didn’t understand why. Women didn’t turn me down. EVER. I sat there and intently stared at her, trying to figure her out.
“Why are you staring at me like that?” She frowned.
“Because you’re beautiful, Lorelei, and I’m trying to figure you out.”
“There’s nothing to figure out, Jack, and thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” I looked at my watch. “Lunch is over in a few minutes. Shall we head back to the office?”
“Yes. Would you like me to stop at Starbucks for your afternoon fix?” She smiled brightly.
“Nah. I don’t need it today.”
She picked up her tote and we both walked out of the deli.
“Are you going tell me what’s in that black book you’re always carrying around?”
I chuckled. “I didn’t think so.”
“How do I look?” I asked Hope as I did a twirl in my crème-colored sheer triple-tier baby doll dress with spaghetti straps and an under-bust corsage in light pink.
“Pretty.” She smiled. “Can you make me a dress like that? We can match.”
“I sure will.” I tapped her on the nose. “Do you have your bag packed to spend the night at Grandma and Grandpa’s?”
“Yep. It’s already waiting by the front door.”
I ran my fingers through the curled ends of my blonde hair one last time before dabbing on my Joe Malone perfume and slipping into my crème-colored heels. I grabbed Hope’s bag and we walked out the door.
Before leaving my mom’s house, I bent down and gave Hope a tight hug.
“I want you to be good for Grandma and Grandpa. They’ll bring you back home tomorrow afternoon.”
“I will, Mommy. Have fun at your party.”
I took in a deep breath as I stood up and hugged my mom and Nick goodbye.
“Well, here I go.”
“You’ll have fun, sweetie, and don’t worry about Hope. We have a great night planned.”
“Tonight, you’re not a mother. Go be that young girl who always liked to have a good time.”
“I will.” I gently smiled.
I climbed into the cab that was waiting at the curb and headed to the party.
My stomach was a bundle of nerves as I entered the 48 Lounge. Why? I wasn’t sure. It wasn’t like I didn’t know anyone. Then I saw him, Jack Sutton, leaning against the bar and talking to some woman, smiling and laughing. My stomach fluttered, but something more crept up inside me. If he was talking to someone I knew from the office, the feeling wouldn’t exist. But she wasn’t from the office and she wasn’t someone I knew. I didn’t come here tonight for him. I came for Coco. He was just the added bonus. Why the hell was I even thinking that?
I walked the opposite way from the bar to avoid him when I saw Coco sitting on one of the couches, talking to Franny. Her face lit up when she saw me.
“Oh my God, you came!” she exclaimed as she got up and gave me a hug.
“Happy birthday, Coco.” I handed her the small, pink glittery bag I had brought.
“Look at that dress. Turn around.” She smiled. “Which designer? It looks like a Betsy Johnson design.”
I laughed. “I made it. I guess you could call it a Lorelei Couture.”
“You made this? Seriously? You designed and made this dress yourself?” She put her hand on her hip as she held her drink in her other.
“Yes.” I smiled as I nodded my head.
“It’s fabulous. I had no idea you designed clothes. Mother!” Coco yelled and held up her hand, waving Kit over.
“Look at this dress Lorelei is wearing. She designed and made it herself.”
Kit looked me up and down and then reached out and felt the fabric of my dress.
“Beautiful. Simply beautiful.” She smiled. “You have quite a talent, Lorelei.”
Coco took me by the hand. “Come on; let’s go get you a drink,” she spoke as she led me over to the bar.
Before we reached the bar, Jack looked up and his eyes locked onto mine. My heart started to beat rapidly as I saw the corners of his mouth curve up into a handsome smile. My belly flipped a couple of times and, suddenly, I felt like a high school girl all over again. When we reached the bar, he left the woman he was talking to and walked over to where we were standing.
“You look stunning.” He smiled.
His woodsy man scent filled up my personal space and the ache between my legs hit hard.
“Is this another Lorelei creation?” he asked.
“Yes. It is.”
“I highly approve.” He winked.
“Doesn’t she look gorgeous?” Coco asked him as she handed me a cosmopolitan.
“She sure does.” His sultry glare burned into me.
“Please excuse me,” Coco spoke. “It looks like Joshua needs rescuing.”
Jack rolled his eyes as she walked away.
“So who’s your date?” I asked.
“What do you mean?”
“That woman over there you were talking to.” I pointed.
“She’s not my date. She’s Coco’s friend. I’ve known her since she was twelve years old.”
. I assumed and I shouldn’t have. Nope. I should have because he was Jack Sutton. But my whole attitude and mood changed when he said that. There was a part of me that was pleased he wasn’t here with a date.
Jack leaned against the bar and wouldn’t stop staring at me. It was sort of making me uncomfortable.
“Why are you staring at me like that?” I asked with a small smile.
“Because you’re incredibly beautiful and I can’t seem to take my eyes off you.”
My cheeks became heated as I looked down at my drink. He was my boss and he shouldn’t be saying those things to me.
“Jack, you’re my boss. I don’t think you’re allowed to say those things.”
“Not tonight I’m not. Tonight, I am just a man and you are a beautiful woman with whom I’m having a conversation.” He smiled and my panties became a little wetter.
I finished off my cosmopolitan and signaled the bartender for another. When I turned around, Garrett was standing next to Jack.
“Good evening, Lorelei. You look beautiful.”
“Thank you, Garrett.”
“Doesn’t she?” Jack grinned.
I took note of the glare that Garrett gave him.
“Do you mind if I steal him away for a moment?” Garrett asked.
“No. Go right ahead. I’m just going to mix and mingle for a bit.” I smiled as I got up from the barstool and walked away.
“What the hell, Garrett?” I asked in irritation.
“We have a problem, Jack.”
“What is it?”
“Lindsey, Bradley’s secretary, told me that he has been embezzling money from the company. She found some documents he left on his desk. When she tried to ask him about it, she said he became nervous. So I started to do some digging. Sutton Magazine is in real trouble. Bills haven’t been paid in months and creditors are threatening to sue.”
“Does my mother know about this?”
“No. I came to you first. He’s already embezzled over eight million dollars. Do you know what will happen if this gets out to the press?”
“Where the fuck is he?” I asked in anger.
“That’s the problem. Nobody knows. Lindsey said he hasn’t been in the past couple of days and he hasn’t called. When she tried to reach him, his cellphone was disconnected.”
“Get in touch with our private investigator and call Finn, Muir, & Abernathy. We’re going to need a lawyer to calm these creditors down. Don’t mention any more of this tonight. I don’t want to ruin Coco’s birthday. We’ll discuss this Monday morning when we’re all back in the office.”
“Will do. I’ll go make a few phone calls now.”
An anger started to roar throughout my body like a wild beast. I flagged down the bartender and ordered a double scotch. As soon as he set it down, I threw it back as fast as I could.
“Everything okay?” Lorelei asked as she walked up to me.
“Yeah. Everything’s fine. Are you enjoying yourself?”
“Yes, I am. It’s a great party.”
Feeling the way I was, I couldn’t stand not touching her. It became an obsession and not only did I desperately want her, I needed her. I grabbed her hand without saying a word and led her to a private room down a hallway.
“Where are we going?” she asked as I pulled her behind me.
I opened the door and we stepped inside.
“Why are we in here?” she asked nervously.
“I just needed to get away from everyone for a while. I thought maybe we could talk in here in private.”
“I don’t know. Whatever you want to.” I sighed as I paced around the room. “Listen, Lorelei, I’m going to be completely honest with you. I hate games and I don’t play them. I am extremely attracted to you and you have no idea how badly I want to kiss you right now.”
“Oh,” she said.
“Oh? Is that all you’re going to say?”