Authors: Kendra Little
Tags: #office romance, #workplace romance, #alpha male
"How can you possibly know that?"
"Spies everywhere, remember?"
I rolled my eyes. Ellen's network was scarily
"Don't roll your eyes at me," she said, a
smile in her voice.
I nearly dropped the phone. I glanced around,
but I was alone. I hoped. "Very funny." I stood up to check over
the back fence just in case. No one was there.
Ellen's throaty laugh rippled down the line.
"Don't worry about his current assistant. He's breaking up with her
this weekend. All trace of her will be gone by Monday morning."
"Does he always mix business with pleasure?
Both you and he make it sound like being his assistant also means
being his girlfriend."
"Girlfriend is such a loaded word. It has an
implied meaning that doesn't fit Reece's women. They're more
bedroom partners with the side benefit of being his date when
required. But you're right. Usually he sleeps with his
"Is that what you're expecting me to do?
Become his assistant and sleep with him?"
"I wouldn't do that to you, Cleo, and I'm
offended that you think I would." She did indeed sound offended,
her voice pitching higher than usual. "I want you to be the
different one, the one who
sleep with him. It'll
drive him mad with frustration and that's when he'll let his guard
I couldn't imagine me driving Reece mad with
pent-up desire. Maybe an OBF man would find it hard to slake his
lust elsewhere, but not Reece. He could get laid anywhere with
"Did you make any progress?" Ellen asked.
"Did he take your business card?"
"He took it, but I doubt he'll call."
"Why not? You did flirt with him, didn't
"Do you think you made an impression on
"Oh yeah, I'm sure I did. Just not the right
Another slight pause on the other end. "What
do you mean?"
No way was I going to tell her what I'd
witnessed in that storeroom. Not only had I made a promise to
Reece, but it reflected as badly on me as it did on him. I didn't
want Ellen thinking me a pervert who listened in on people having
sex. "Let's just say he probably won't be calling. I'm sorry,
Ellen. I fucked this one up. I'm just not used to guys like Reece
Kavanagh. He's too…" I sighed, struggling to find the words to
describe how out of my league Reece was. "He's too much."
"Nonsense. You're exactly what he needs. He
just doesn't know it yet because he doesn't know you well
"I think you'd better get another girl for
I heard tapping in the background, but I
wasn't sure if it was her fingernails on a cup, table or keyboard.
"We'll see. If he hasn't called you by Monday, we'll need to do
something drastic." She hung up, leaving me wondering what measures
she was going to take.
I drew the scent of the gardenias into my
lungs. Hopefully the next time she called she had a different job
lined up. I only got paid when a target hired me, not when I
failed. I needed the money. My savings were down to the last few
hundred dollars and the credit card debt was mounting. It was tough
supporting two people, paying for Becky's art classes and paying
off the loan covering her medical bills. Ellen had already given me
a raise six months back when I asked, and I couldn't ask again.
Maybe it was time to suggest to Becky that she get a part-time
Whenever I thought about having that
conversation, I backed away. She was still too fragile. She got
tired easily. Her art was the only thing that brought her to life.
There was no way she'd cope with working at a desk all day or
pulling beers at night. It would be her idea of hell.
I sighed and was about to go back inside when
my phone rang. The screen flashed "Private Number" so it wasn't
Ellen. I answered.
"Overheard anyone's intimate moments
I dropped the phone in my lap and stared at
it. There was no mistaking Reece's deep voice. Even if he hadn't
given me the clue as to who he was, I would've known that voice
"Have I shocked you again?" I heard him
I picked up the phone and tried to calm my
nerves with a few deep breaths before answering. "It's your phone
call that shocked me. I wasn't expecting you to follow up on our
"I, uh, thought I made a rather poor
"Then you thought wrong. You promised me you
wouldn't tell anyone what happened in that storeroom, and so far,
you haven't. I've been on the phone all morning to my media
contacts and there's not even the hint of a rumor circulating. The
only thing that's come up is my attendance at the gallery. You,
Cleo Denny, have kept your word. That's rare. I want to hire
My mouth flopped open and my pulse quickened.
"As what?" I blurted out, Ellen's words still ringing in my
ears—'usually he sleeps with his assistants'.
"As my PA. Isn't that what you're qualified
to do? Or do you want me to hire you as something else?" The
unspoken meaning had my skin tingling and tightening. His rich,
deep voice had me melting.
"PA is fine," I said cheerfully, pretending
not to have a clue what he meant. "But you want to hire me without
even hearing my qualifications?"
"Can you work a computer?"
"Can you answer the phone and take
"Are you organized?"
"That's good enough for me. Bottom line,
Cleo, I know people. I can sum them up very quickly. You came
across as efficient, business-like and funny. In my book, funny
people are smart and quick learners. You also proved yourself to be
trustworthy. That's more than good enough for me."
The irony of it wasn't lost on me. He was
hiring me because he felt he could trust me, and yet Ellen employed
me to betray him. "I have references," I said. And I did.
Legitimate ones. None of my targets knew I'd helped their business
deals fail and all had given me good references upon leaving their
employ. Many had asked me to stay on after my contract was
completed, but I always refused. I told them I liked temping. The
truth was, I couldn't take them up on their offer and stop working
for Ellen. She'd been good to me, but I didn't only stay with her
out of loyalty. I refused the permanent jobs because I couldn't
work with people I'd lied to and cheated on. I couldn't face them
every day knowing what I'd done. It would be like waiting for a
bomb to explode in my face. The longer I stayed around, the more
chance that I'd get discovered.
"If it makes you feel any better you can
email them to me." He gave me his email address then his office
address. "I expect you there at eight Monday morning."
So he really didn't want to see my
references. "Sure," I heard myself saying. "I'll be there."
He hung up and I stared at the phone for what
seemed like hours. Reece Kavanagh was full of surprises. I couldn't
seem to peg him down. Whenever I thought I had him figured out, he
did something unexpected. I kept staring at the phone until Becky
called to me from the back porch. I waved then went inside. I only
hoped I wasn't so vague when I rocked up Monday morning at RK
Financial Group's headquarters. I couldn't afford to let down my
guard around Reece. Not if I wanted to keep my secrets to
I wore sensible shoes for my first day at RK
Financial Group and a business-like skirt and blouse in cool shades
of gray. I wore my hair in a tight, high ponytail, aiming for the
sexy, sophisticated look. From the slight flare in Reece's eyes
when he saw me, I think I pulled it off.
I'd been directed to the executive floor by
the downstairs receptionist and told to wait for Mr. Kavanagh to
meet me in the foyer area adjoining his office. I didn't have to
wait. He was already there when the elevator doors slid open.
"You're early," he said, not even checking
his Rolex watch. He looked damned sexy and sophisticated too with
no hint of rough stubble on his jaw and not a hair out of place. He
wore another expensive suit with a crisp yellow tie and silver
cufflinks peeking out from the jacket sleeves. He wasn't
"I don't like being late."
Reece stood in front of a glass wall with his
name on it. Behind the wall was a large area with a desk, a single
droopy potted palm and some modern artwork on the walls. A lounge,
two chairs and a low bookshelf made up the rest of the furniture.
The bookshelf stood against a wall of polished wood beside a door
that led through to another office. It must be Reece's.
"Welcome," he said, opening the glass door
for me. "Since you're early, you have time."
"Time for what?"
"To make me a cup of coffee before my first
I set my bag down on the desk and looked
around. "Where's the kitchen?"
"Behind that wall." He touched a panel and
waited as it silently slid up to reveal a kitchenette. "Black, one
sugar. Make one for yourself as well."
He left me before I could ask any questions,
shutting his office door with a firm click. I quickly assessed my
workstation. A password was written in a loopy, childish scrawl on
a sticky note attached to the monitor and stationery was placed
neatly in the drawers. A set of keys sat on a notepad and a snow
globe held down a stack of papers in a tray. Inside the dome was a
white polar bear, a forest of firs behind him. It was cheap, the
sort of thing that would cost a couple of dollars at a tourist
store. I wondered if it had belonged to Ally and whether she'd left
it behind on purpose or not. It seemed out of place amid the sleek
polished wood of the desk and the expensive furniture.
I set to work making the coffee then knocked
on Reece's door. He opened it, his cell to his ear, and signaled me
to enter. I set the cup down on his desk and was about to leave
when he hung up.
"Wait," he said, picking up the cup. "Don't
knock next time. If I'm on the phone and can't answer, you could be
waiting there for hours. Besides, there's no need for formality
between us." Was it my imagination or did his voice just lower a
"Is there something I can do for you before
your meeting starts?"
He sipped then set down the cup. "Grab your
notebook and pen to take notes. Do you write shorthand?"
He nodded in approval. "They'll be here in a
I took that as a "Hurry up" and returned to
my desk. I managed to make myself a coffee and re-enter his office
just as his first executive walked in.
I soon learned that most of the senior
employees at RK Financial Group were under forty like Reece. Not
all wore expensive suits. One had no tie and his shirt sleeves
rolled up and another wore jeans. He winked at me as he
"So you're Reece's latest victim," he said
with a grin.
I grinned back. "Temporarily."
"Yeah? No wonder he hired you."
I didn't know what that meant, but laughed
along with him until I caught Reece's icy glare out of the corner
of my eye.
"Everyone, this is Cleo Denny. Cleo, these
are my most trusted staff. You'll learn their names as we go."
So much for making me feel comfortable. He
seemed to be going out of his way to make me feel like an outsider.
I could deal with that. I
an outsider, and planned on
keeping it that way where the rest of the staff was concerned.
"I'm Austin," the jeans guy said, holding out
his hand to me.
I shook it. "Nice to meet you," I whispered
as I sat.
The meeting was short and to the point. It
consisted of each man reporting on his department and answering
Reece's questions. Even the cheerful Austin spoke with no-nonsense
precision. It turned out he was in charge of all the computer
It wasn't until after the meeting was over
that I realized there were no women in the senior group. I tried
not to read too much into that as I set to work typing up the notes
and getting to know the databases, the files, and the current
projects. Ally had left the filing in a bit of a mess and there
were some gaps in the database records that I wanted to close. I
made some short-term, mid-term and long-term goals for getting
After lunch, when Reece had disappeared to
another meeting, I looked for anything I could find on Cassie's
house. I was in the middle of reading the contract of sale when a
woman of about my age entered through the glass door.
"Hey," she said with a nod that sent her dark
fringe into her eyes. "Is Reece in?"
"No. Can I help you?"
"Sure can." She sat on the edge of a chair on
the other side of my desk and leaned forward. "To be honest, I'm
glad he's not here." She glanced at his office door as if she
expected him to come out. "He makes me nervous."
That made two of us. "I'm Cleo," I said,
holding out my hand.
She seemed surprised at first, then took my
hand. "Jenny. I'm assistant marketing manager. My boss sent me up
here for some information. Actually, he didn't send me, I just
decided to come up. I wanted to meet you."
"Thank you. I'm glad you did."
Jenny smiled. She had big teeth inside a big
mouth that seemed to stretch from ear to ear when she smiled. Her
soft brown eyes danced merrily as they took in my face, my clothes
and hair. "You're not his usual type," she said.
"You mean I'm nothing like Ally?"
"I'll take that as a compliment."
She laughed, a deep chuckle that made her
large bosom jiggle beneath her blouse. "I think I'm going to like
I leaned forward over the desk and dropped my
voice. "Tell me what you know about Mr. Kavanagh."