Authors: Kendra Little
Tags: #office romance, #workplace romance, #alpha male
Becky came up to me and reported back the
information I already knew. She could hardly get it out, her jaw
was so rigid. "Apparently Cassie's asshole of a brother sold off
the house to Kavanagh. He's going to destroy it." She didn't so
much as speak the words as spit them in Reece's direction. Neither
he nor Ally noticed. They were having a conversation, although his
gaze still wandered the room from time to time. Did she bore him or
was he simply the type who needed to work the room rather than be
"Can't Cassie just move the studio
elsewhere?" I asked. "I know the house will be a loss, but it's
just a house."
"It was her grandmother's! Her sister died
there!" As if that explained everything. "It's Cassie's
inspiration. She loves that house, loves its location, the
atmosphere, everything. She said she couldn't afford to live in
Serendipity Bend if she had to rent or buy something else and she
needs the tranquility of the river to bring out her best work. To
find that tranquility again means moving out of Roxburg altogether.
We're going to lose her, Cleo." Tears filled her eyes, but didn't
spill. "All because of that asshole's greed."
I thought she was referring to Cassie's
brother, but she focused all her negative energy on Reece. So much
so that he must have felt her hatred because he suddenly looked
directly at us. Then he approached. Ally, taken by surprise,
tottered in her heels to catch up.
My pulse quickened, but I pulled myself
together and clamped down on my nervousness. This was no different
to any other job. I would not be reduced to a puddle of nerves from
a pair of frosty eyes and a handsome face.
"Do I know you, ladies?" he asked in a voice
that slipped over me like silk.
"No," Becky snapped. "I'm a student of
"Which are your pieces?"
"None of your business."
"I might want to buy them."
Becky opened her mouth then shut it, clearly
unsure how to react to the ruthless businessman art lover. Her mind
was probably having trouble filtering it through her limited
experience with the Reece Kavanaghs of the world. Mine wasn't. I
knew people didn't always make sense. Drug dealers gave their money
away to poor kids, thieves handed back the expensive camera with
the personal photos on it, and asshole businessmen sometimes saw
beauty in art. People didn't always fit a stereotype.
Becky's confusion gave me the opportunity I
needed. I thrust out my hand. "I'm Cleo Denny and this is my sister
Rebecca. I'm pleased to meet you, Mr. Kavanagh."
Reece's brows lifted before quickly settling
back in place. He took my hand and gave it a firm, no nonsense
shake. I had expected fireworks from his touch, or even just a
little spark, but there was nothing so clichéd. His hand was
strong, big and warm, but the palm was rough, as if he spent time
away from his desk doing man stuff.
"How do you know my name?" he asked.
"I read the financial pages," I said with an
off-handed shrug. "I like to keep up with the big
"Why?" He flung the question at me. Was he
challenging me? Trying to catch me out? Did he think I was lying
and actually knew him from the gossip pages? The man seemed to
appear in both sections of the newspaper with regularity, but it
was true that I preferred the financial pages to the other
sections. I liked to follow my targets' business affairs after I
helped screw them up.
"If I'm going to work for big corporations, I
need to know what it is they do," I said.
"So you're not an artist too?"
"No. I can't even finger paint."
His mouth kicked up on one side, but the
smile quickly vanished again, if that's what it had been. His cool
gaze swept down the length of me then back up. My face heated. I
bit my tongue to distract me from the thrill tingling my spine and
forced myself to meet his gaze. To my surprise, his eyes had warmed
up a little. He was smiling again too, but it was more of a curious
one, as if something had intrigued him and he wanted to find out
"Me either," he said. "I find stick figures
The man had a sense of humor! I wouldn't have
picked that. I grinned and he returned it. Not a quirk of his lips,
but a genuine smile.
Beside me, I heard Becky groan.
"Then what is it you do, Miss Denny?" he
Great, a chance to plant the seed. "Call me
Cleo. I'm a personal assistant. In fact, my last contract ended and
I'm looking for work." I fished in my clutch for a business card. I
saw Becky stiffen out of the corner of my eye and cringed. She
didn't stop me, however.
I held out my card to Reece. "I don't suppose
you could pass this on to anyone—"
Ally snapped the card out of my fingers. "Mr.
Kavanagh already has an assistant." Her hard, clipped tones were at
odds with Reece's smooth ones. "Me."
Crap. Ellen had told me he needed a new
assistant, yet Reece didn't disagree with Blondie. Clearly Ally was
more than an assistant, though. She looped her arm through Reece's
and clung on until her knuckles turned white against the dark gray
of his jacket. She tossed my card onto a nearby table.
Becky went to reach for it, but Reece got
there first. He pocketed the card. I didn't know who was more
shocked and annoyed, Becky or Ally. I refused to meet my sister's
gaze, but I did like seeing the lines surrounding Ally's anemic
"I know someone who could use a new PA,"
Reece said. "Ones who keep up with the business pages are hard to
come by. He'll call you over the weekend. Have your work history
He walked off with Ally still clinging to his
arm, but there was no triumph in her eyes anymore. Neither of them
glanced back at us.
"What a first class bitch," Becky said, hands
on hips, watching them go. "They're a perfect match for each
I said nothing. My heart was sinking. I'd
missed my chance with Reece, but worse, I now knew there wasn't
even a job opening. He would give my card to someone else and I'd
have to politely decline the job offer. Somehow, the frighteningly
competent Ellen had got it wrong. Reece didn't need an assistant
and now we'd have to find some other way to force an acquaintance.
That was going to be hard work for someone like me. Ellen may have
to switch to using one of the girls who didn't mind sleeping with
My heart tapped out a rhythm of
disappointment even though my head knew it was silly to be enamored
with him after such a brief encounter. He was a compelling man, not
only to look at, but to be around. He'd smiled along with me. He'd
picked up my card.
But it was important to remember who he was.
He had ruthless businessman stamped all over him according to
Ellen's files. Flirting was one thing, but business was
I mingled with Becky and spoke to her friends
and teacher. Cassie couldn't speak highly enough of my sister's
talent. She seemed not to notice Reece stalking around the gallery,
checking out all the paintings, but I did. I couldn't take my eyes
"What do you think he's doing here?" I asked
her during a lull in the conversation.
"Reminding me of what I'm up against."
"You're going to fight him?"
She tossed her red curls. She had most of
them contained in a half-up do, but some tumbled down around her
face and down her back. Cassie had wild, Bohemian hair that suited
her profession. She was dressed similar to Becky in jeans and
shirt, although hers was green. She usually wore overalls and
nothing on her feet, but tonight she wore a pair of heels that set
off her slender legs. "I have to," she said. "The studio isn't just
my livelihood, it's my home. My memories and history are in that
house. My brother, sister and I were brought up there by our
grandmother. My sister died there." Her voice cracked and she
cleared her throat. "My brother inherited, but Gran made him commit
to an arrangement to allow me to stay after she died. He managed
not to break that agreement for five years. It's a record for him,"
she said with a sad twist of her mouth.
"Why did he sell it?"
"Money. He's dirt poor and Reece has been
sniffing around it for years. Looks like he finally won."
"Reece?" I echoed. "You know him
"You could say that." She tucked her hands
into the back pockets of her jeans and looked away. "He used to
date my sister. I used to date one of his brothers. Both
relationships ended badly."
I wondered if her sister and Reece had broken
up before her death. Either way, it must have affected him too.
"The Kavanagh brothers are bad news," she
went on. "Stay away from Reece."
I wanted to ask her why they were bad news,
but I got the feeling she didn't want to discuss it. "What will you
do if Reece succeeds in tearing the place down?"
"He won't." Her green eyes sparked to life
and she squared her shoulders. "He's a bully and I hate bullies.
I'll fight him every step of the way."
"Can you afford to do that?"
The flare dimmed. She shrugged one shoulder.
"I'll borrow if I have to."
I didn't think the bank would lend a homeless
artist money to fight a huge corporation, but I didn't say so. She
seemed determined and I wanted her to succeed. Becky's happiness
depended upon Cassie winning and staying in the city. Thank
goodness Ellen's client had an interest in seeing Reece fail too. I
felt better knowing someone else was looking out for Cassie and her
house, although I couldn't think who it would be. Some business
rival of Reece's probably.
I squeezed Cassie's arm. "Let me know if
there's anything I can do." It was a hollow response because what
I do? She thanked me anyway then wandered off
to join her students.
Speeches followed with one or two sly digs at
the sale of the property, and I marveled that Reece could stand
there as straight and unbending as a pole with everyone in that
room wishing him gone.
As soon as the speeches were concluded,
however, I looked for him again. He and Ally had disappeared. With
a sigh I made my way down the long corridor to the bathroom. The
white walls were lined with small black and white photographs and I
admired them as I slowly walked.
A man's voice caught my attention and I
paused, looked up. It was Reece. He must have been around the
corner because I couldn't see him yet.
"Not here," he said quietly. "Someone will
"Let them." It was Ally, her voice a
slithering, slippery appeal. I couldn't see them but I could
imagine her draping herself over Reece in an attempt to stop him
I heard footsteps and instinct kicked in. I
didn't want them to see me, so I opened the nearest door and
stepped inside. The room was small and seemed to be used for
storage. It smelled faintly of chemicals and lemon-scented cleaning
products. It was completely dark once I shut the door.
I listened as the footsteps approached and
the voices continued. "Reece, baby, don't walk off on me. Come on,
let's do this. Here. Now."
"Why not? It's never stopped you before. You
love doing it in public places."
She was talking about sex! I screwed up my
Please don't come in here and fuck her in the dark. Or,
even worse, turn on the light and see me.
"Not tonight," he said. "I'm not in the
"Come on, baby, you're always in the mood.
What's got into you lately?"
"Nothing. This isn't the right place or time.
We've got an appointment tomorrow."
"You never used to schedule me," Ally cooed.
"We used to do it everywhere, all the time. Remember? Come on, in
here." The door handle rattled then the storeroom door opened.
"I told you—" His sentence was cut short. I
imagined her kissing him, smothering his protest.
The next moment, the door was pushed back and
they tumbled through. I got the feeling she was hauling him in
after her, but the rectangle of light was cut off as the door was
I slunk back, wedging myself into a small gap
between two shelving units. My heart pounded. I prayed they
wouldn't see me or hear me.
"This is a mistake," Reece said, his quiet,
calm voice filling the storeroom. "We shouldn't. Not here."
"Who cares?" Ally asked.
"It doesn't feel right."
"No one will know. It's just you and me.
Here, this will change your mind."
I heard fabric rustling and Ally's breath
hitch. I imagined her lifting her dress and placing his hand on her
girl parts. I rolled my eyes at her overtness, but I didn't hear
Reece protest anymore. It would seem he was just like any other guy
when presented with easy sex. He took it.
I heard the unzipping of a fly next. Reece's
trousers probably. He moaned.
"God, you're so hot," Ally murmured. "I love
"Shhh," Reece whispered. "No talking."
"Why not? You used to like me talking."
"Take off your dress, keep your shoes on. If
we're going to do this, we do it properly."
"Yes, sir," she said, giggling.
Then came more rustling of fabric as she
slipped out of her slinky dress.
"Touch me," she muttered. "My breasts. Suck
"You don't give the orders, I do. On our
"Do it." He hadn't raised his voice, but the
command was unmistakable. He didn't expect her to argue with him.
And she didn't. "Mmmmm," he murmured.
I pictured her taking his cock into her
mouth. I bet he was long and thick. A small throb between my thighs
caught me by surprise. It would seem the couple wasn't the only one
enjoying this. I'd never eavesdropped on sex before, never been a
voyeur, although it seemed like something I might like to do, but
only in secret and in my dreams. Did that make this a dream come