Authors: Kendra Little
Tags: #office romance, #workplace romance, #alpha male
"Pull up the order forms," he said.
"I've been trying to but they're password
protected." I showed him one to prove it.
He thumped the back of my chair. "Who
password protects an order form?"
"Someone with something to hide."
"There's an easy way to check on this," he
said, already walking to the door that led to the elevator. "Come
I raced after him and we stepped into the
elevator together and rode down to the second floor, the home of
the Information Technology department. There was still one guy
working, a nerdy looking kid with more spots than freckles.
"Mr. Kavanagh!" he cried upon seeing us. "Can
I help you, sir?"
"This is my PA, Cleo," Reece said. "Your name
"Tad, show me into your server room."
Tad jumped up from his desk and punched a
code into the pad on the wall behind him. The door to the server
room clicked open and we were confronted by a blast of cool air and
the humming of processors.
Reece pointed to the name on one of the
servers. "Is this a good brand?" he asked Tad.
"Servers aren't really my area," the kid
said. "I'm more about the software."
"Do you know if this is a good brand or
Tad swallowed and nodded quickly. "One of the
Reece looked to me, his brows raised.
"Look at the model number," I told him. "Is
that a good model?" I asked Tad.
Tad pushed up his glasses and checked the
number. "It's a few years old now and was only ever intended for
small to medium data loads. Kind of surprised Austin still has
them. Maybe that's why we've been having problems with speed."
"Thank you," Reece said.
We filed out of the server room and headed
back up to the executive level. "Gather your things, I'm driving
you home. We'll talk on the way." He didn't sound like he wanted me
to question him. He sounded furious.
I shut down my computer and grabbed my bag.
"I don't need a lift," I said as we got back into the elevator.
"You're not catching the bus home at this
time of night on your own."
"How did you know I didn't drive in?"
His gaze slid to mine. "I just do."
I wasn't sure what to think. I didn't want
him to drive me home where Becky could see me getting out of his
car, but I liked the idea of spending more time with him, even
though he seemed in a frighteningly intense mood. In the end, the
need for secrecy won out. That's me, always sensible.
"I'll catch the bus," I said.
He blew out a breath and looked to the
ceiling. "Fine, if you don't want to get in the car with me, let me
pay for a cab."
"You're not catching the bus home now. It'll
be dark soon." The doors slid open and we stepped out into the
foyer. There was no one about.
"If you insist."
"I do. Tomorrow, you can drive in and park
I shook my head. "I can't. My sister
sometimes needs the car."
"She doesn't have her own?"
"No." We could only afford to run one.
We walked outside into the balmy evening. A
light breeze rustled my hair and carried the fumes of the city on
it. The sun had sunk behind the tall buildings behind us, its glow
reflected in the topmost glass panels of the high-rise opposite.
The lower reaches of the street were shrouded in shadows.
Reece looked for a cab. "How did you know all
that information about servers?" he asked.
"I've worked in a variety of companies. One
had the same problem as you—a slow system, apparently the latest
equipment, and a corrupt employee. I learned a lot there."
A cab pulled up and he opened the door for
me. "Thank you, Cleo," he said softly. "I'm glad I hired you."
I was about to say something off-handed to
lighten the moment, but as soon as my gaze connected with his, all
lightness vanished. There was no flirting in his eyes, no teasing,
just genuine admiration. It sent my heart skipping inside my chest.
I was well on the way to making myself invaluable to RK Financial
Group, and I couldn't be more pleased. And more worried. I liked it
when he looked at me like that. I could get too used to it.
"What will you do to Austin?" I asked.
"Without allowing him an explanation?"
"What explanation can possibly make up for
what he did? It's not the loss of money that bothers me, it's the
deception. I thought he was a friend. I went to his wedding for
Christ's sake. Apparently that friendship meant nothing."
I gave a small nod and climbed into the back
seat of the cab, my blood pumping hot and thick through my veins. I
gave the driver my address and didn't try to stop Reece paying him
in advance. I couldn't look at him. Didn't dare let him see my
eyes. If he did, he would know I was deceiving him too.
I worked late every night that week and the
next, as well as taking work home on the weekends. Becky complained
that she hardly saw me anymore, but I told her I needed to make a
"Is your boss nice?" she asked one night as I
warmed up the chicken and rice she'd cooked earlier.
"What's the company name again? I don't think
you told me."
"It's a financial corporation. They buy and
sell properties, shares, businesses, that sort of thing."
I laughed, relieved that she hadn't noticed
my lack of a direct answer. "It's actually pretty interesting."
"I'm just glad you like it, Cleo. I'd hate
for you to put in all this work for something you hated." The
microwave beeped and she took out the plate but didn't let go when
I grabbed it. She searched my face. "You wouldn't stick with a job
you hated just for the money, right? You'd tell me if we were
having financial problems."
She let go and I sat on a stool at the bench.
"I do like the job." That at least wasn't a lie. "I've been given a
lot of leeway to make it my own." Reece had left me largely up to
my own devices, something I was grateful for. It meant I could
snoop around and find out as much as I could about the Serendipity
Bend project. So far I'd learned very little. He had preliminary
plans drawn up for a boutique hotel on the site, and a contractor
ready to go whenever they were approved.
There was nothing underhanded that I could
see. No rushing through of the plans, which ordinarily indicated a
secret payment had been made to the planning department, and the
sale had been straightforward. He'd paid Cassie's brother a lot of
money for the house so I couldn't even claim Reece had strong-armed
him into the sale.
What did strike me as weird was that it was
right next door to his parents' house where he'd grown up. Surely
they didn't want their son to build a hotel so close to their
family home. Although their land was extensive enough that any kind
of development wouldn't overshadow the house and immediate
surrounds, it would bring down the neighborhood. The old money
people who lived in The Bend wouldn't want a modern eyesore in
One day I would ask Reece what his family
thought, but not yet. As far as he was concerned, I didn't know
where he had been brought up.
"How's Cassie?" I asked. "Has she made any
progress on stopping Reece Kavanagh's plans?"
Becky leaned her elbows on the kitchen bench,
a cool glass of water in hand. "Nope. He's not returning her
I frowned. I hadn't put through any calls
from Cassie. She must have dialed his cell phone or another private
number. She had admitted that they knew each other, and it seemed
they'd grown up as neighbors, so it was no surprise that she didn't
contact him via the office.
"I don't get him," Becky said with a shake of
her head. "Cassie said he never used to be such an asshole, but he
"What changed him?"
"She wouldn't say, but I think she
"Secrets," I muttered, scooping up some rice
on my fork. "Everyone has them."
"You've been working hard," Reece said on my
third Thursday morning at RK. He sat on the corner of my desk, his
arms folded over his chest. He'd removed his tie and jacket and had
his sleeves rolled up to his elbows. All his meetings were finished
for the day and his calendar was free for the rest of the
afternoon, as it was every Thursday. He'd made it clear when I
started that nothing was ever to be organized for Thursdays after
one. "You deserve a break."
I eyed him carefully. He seemed too cheerful.
"You're not going to make me join you in a round of corporate paint
ball, are you?"
He laughed. "No, but I'll keep it in
I laughed too. Reece seemed to have relaxed a
little in the past few days. He'd fired Austin the morning after
we'd discovered his deception and brooded about it for more than a
week. He felt the betrayal deeply, and I noticed the change in the
way he treated all his staff from that moment. He no longer joked
with them or asked after their families. He kept his distance with
Everyone except me.
The more he pushed them away, the closer he
drew me in. He asked me about Becky, but I told him as little as
possible. I kept her health scare to myself. He never asked about
my parents and I never mentioned them. I desperately wanted to find
out about his past, but I didn't want to seem too interested. He
did speak fondly about his brothers a few times, but the topic of
his parents never arose. As far as I could tell, he did not visit
them and I received no calls from them for him. Of course his
family would have his private numbers, but still, his silence on
the matter got me intrigued. He might flaunt his dates in public,
but everything else was kept close to his chest, including what he
did Thursday afternoons.
We did talk politics and economics, books and
movies, current affairs and history, however. Our conversations
ranged from the deep to the frivolous. We worked long hours,
sometimes at the same desk, looking at the same monitor. His
knowledge of business and financials was impressive, and I felt out
of my depth, but he showed me how he'd come to his conclusions step
by step. I slowly took over more of the internal, day-to-day
running of the organization to free up his time to do what he did
best—make money for his stakeholders.
I'd never been so in sync with my managers
before. With anyone. It was the perfect partnership. That's why it
scared the hell out of me.
What was he going to do if he found out I was
lying to him?
But I couldn't think like that. None of my
other bosses had ever learned of my deception and it was unlikely
Reece would either. As soon as I'd found something to thwart his
Serendipity plans and passed it along to Ellen, I would end the
contract, claiming it was time to move on, and quietly leave his
In the mean time, I had to keep my wits about
me and my hormones in check. I was doing okay at the former, but
not the latter. My hormones jumped whenever he brushed against me.
He never mentioned sleeping with me again, but I got the impression
he hadn't forgotten his promise that he always slept with his
assistants. He made it impossible to forget. It was in his eyes as
he watched me, and was definitely present whenever we accidentally
touched. It was just a hand here or an arm there, but the contact
always sent my heart rate higher and my blood warmer.
"What kind of break did you have in mind?" I
asked. Maybe he would invite me along to wherever it was he went on
"I've been invited to a launch party by the
CEO of a company I invest in. They're releasing a new version of
I sat back and blinked at him. "You want me
to be your date," I said flatly.
He shrugged. "Call it whatever you like. I'm
asking you to accompany me."
"I told you, I won't sleep with you."
"I don't go past first base on a first date,"
he said, eyes twinkling.
Yeah, sure. Like I was going to fall for
that. Besides, I knew about the phone launch. I'd even seen the
invitation when it came across my desk. There would be media in
attendance and gossip mongers watching the high flying corporate
types. Everyone would see me on Reece's arm and would conclude that
I was his latest fuck. No thanks. It wasn't what I signed up for,
and it certainly wasn't a good idea where Becky was concerned.
She'd hate me if she found out.
"Going out with you is not my idea of a
break," I lied. A quiet date, with no attention, sounded wonderful,
but I didn't tell him that. "Unlike you, I don't mix work and
He drew his lips together and stared down at
the desk. After a moment he blew out a breath and stood. "Don't
make me fire you," he said lazily as he walked into his office.
"You're too good to lose."
I stared at his closed door. I wasn't sure
what to make of that comment. All I did know was that I'd liked
having him sit on my desk with me, flirt with me, and ask me out.
Liked it very much. If circumstances were different—
No. Forget that kind of talk. Circumstances
weren't different. It was pointless pining for something that
wasn't mine to have. Guys like Reece Kavanagh broke hearts. They
didn't want long term, only short. The evidence of it was in the
document Ellen had given me listing his girlfriends. His many, many
girlfriends. Or rather, dates. Girlfriend implied he cared. I
doubted Reece had cared for the likes of Ally. His cavalier
dismissal of her after fucking her in the storeroom was evidence of
that. No way would I let him do that to me. I was no different to
Ally when it boiled down to it. I'd hate to have a man like Reece
in my bed only to lose him after I fell hard.
I ate lunch at my desk like I often did. I
was just finishing up my sandwich when he walked past, briefcase in