Authors: Kendra Little
Tags: #office romance, #workplace romance, #alpha male
"Ah. Your little puppy."
I bristled. Puppy? What the hell? Just
because I followed Reece once did not make me a damned puppy.
"Do I get to meet her tonight?" the brother
"Are you going to sleep with her?"
"None of your damned business."
The brother chuckled. "Touchy. That's so
unlike you when it comes to your women."
There was more silence. This time it
stretched a long time. I peeked around the curtain edge and saw
they'd disappeared. I stepped out of my hiding place and moved into
the center of the room just as someone dressed in a casual shirt
walked on stage.
"There you are," came Reece's honey-thick
voice close behind me. "I've been looking for you."
"I've been right here," I said without
turning around. I could feel him at my back, not touching, but near
enough to send tingles washing over my skin.
"I like that dress on you."
"I'm going to like it even more when you're
out of it."
My resolve crumbled a little
more with every whispered word. In fact, I couldn't even remember
why I'd decided to resist him. Something about morals and
Music pumped out of loud speakers and the
presenter received polite applause. I applauded too, but I didn't
hear any of the presentation. The next thirty minutes were a blur.
I was aware of Reece at my back, and only Reece. It was like we
were submerged in an airtight bubble deep under water. Just the two
of us with no one else around.
Finally the presentation finished and the
crowd resumed mingling and drinking. The fun part of the evening
was about to begin. I turned around and caught Reece staring down
at me, his face a study of intensity. I thought I heard his breath
hitch, but I could have been mistaken.
"You're beautiful," he murmured.
I flushed to the roots of my hair. "It's the
dress," I muttered, waving my empty glass around. "And my sister
did my hair." Could I sound any more like an idiot?
He took my glass from my hand and swapped it
for a full one as a waiter passed. He held it out to me but didn't
let go. Our fingers touched. The combination of the cool glass and
his warm skin caused havoc with my senses, but one thing I knew for
sure—every part of me was aware of him. Just him. The rest of the
crowd may well have not been there. It was just the two of us,
alone, touching. It wasn't nearly enough to satisfy me.
"I want to take you home, Cleo." He made my
name sound like a shimmer of moonlight on water, soft and ethereal
and very beautiful.
I should have reminded him that I wasn't
going to sleep with him, but my voice failed me. My tongue didn't
want to deny what my body wanted.
"Kavanagh!" interrupted the presenter,
slapping Reece on the shoulder. "Been looking for you."
Reece's eyes momentarily flared with
frustration, but he quickly schooled his expression and turned to
the man whose presentation I'd missed thanks to Reece.
"Davies," Reece greeted him. "Good work up
there. It's going to be another hit."
Davies grinned. "I'll have a dozen sent round
to your office Monday morning."
"My staff will like that. Cleo will receive
two." He gently drew me into the conversation with a hand on my
elbow. "Cleo Denny is my new PA. Cleo, meet Jarrod Davies."
Jarrod Davies's eyes heated as he studied me.
"Pleased to meet you, Cleo. Kavanagh is a lucky man." He leaned in
and winked. "If you ever get tired of
for him, give
me a call."
My back stiffened. Red flashed before my
eyes, a sure sign of my temper rising. "I'm Mr. Kavanagh's PA," I
ground out through my clenched jaw.
Reece's hand tightened around my elbow. "And
a damned good one," he said. "Not only has she reorganized the
office, she's saved me money in a number of departments. Don't
offend her, Davies." The threatening note threaded through his
quiet voice chilled me. "I can't afford to lose her."
Davies' tongue darted out and licked his
bottom lip. He nodded quickly. "So what did you think of the
presentation? Do we need more razzle dazzle next time? Maybe some
I excused myself and headed for the bathroom.
I was intercepted on my way back by a man who had to be Reece's
brother. I hadn't seen his face up close yet, but the resemblance
to Reece was unmistakable. The features were the same strong ones
arranged just a little differently, yet still devastatingly
handsome. His eyes were a different shade of blue to Reece's. They
were darker, like a deep ocean, and frighteningly intense.
"You must be Cleo," he said, thrusting out
his hand. "I'm Ash Kavanagh. Reece's brother."
I shook his hand. "Pleased to meet you. Where
are you in the pecking order?"
"Third, right in the middle. Just below the
two bossiest and above the two hell raisers."
"Does that make you the peacemaker?"
He thought about it a moment then nodded. "I
guess that sums me up. I'm the one who toes the family line. That's
why I'm here tonight."
"What line of business is the family in?"
"The same as Reece. Kavanagh Corporation is a
major shareholder in a bunch of things. Dad has more or less
retired so it's up to me to run it these days."
Here was my chance to learn more about Reece,
but I needed to do it before he found us. I suspected he wouldn't
like me grilling his brother about him. "Why did Reece go out on
his own and not join the family business?"
"He hasn't been around much in the last few
years. Neither has Blake." His mouth flattened and shadows filled
his eyes. Whatever had happened to the brothers had affected them
all. The urge to ask ate at me, but I couldn't. Not yet. I didn't
want to scare away my only source of information. "Being the next
eldest, the business fell into my hands. We're trying to get my
younger brothers to take up more responsibility, but they're too
busy partying. There are too many distractions when you're in your
I laughed. "You must still be in your
twenties too, surely. If Reece is the eldest and only thirty-three,
you have to be thirty at the most. Unless you're a twin with
brother number two?"
"No twin and you're right. I'm thirty. But
keeping the peace can prematurely age a guy."
"I know what you mean," I said. "I have a
sister and keeping her in line can be a balancing act."
"Reece said she was younger than you."
"He mentioned me?"
The corners of his mouth lifted in a small
smile. "Once or twice."
That impish smile reminded me of something.
"I should apologize for yesterday," I said with a wince. "I'd been
wondering where Reece went on Thursday afternoons and he wouldn't
tell me. I guess curiosity got the better of me."
"He never told you he met us?" He blanched.
"He can be private, but I thought he would have informed you. I'm
glad to see you're not angry about our little bit of fun. I blame
the two hell raisers for encouraging me to join in."
"I find blaming the hell raisers always works
too. And of course I'm not angry. I was presented with four very
nice views. What's there to be angry about?"
He laughed. "No wonder Reece likes you.
You've got a sense of humor. Makes a nice change to his other…PAs."
He cleared his throat and lowered his gaze.
I hardly noticed his discomfort. The words
'Reece likes you' were still echoing around my brain.
Ash glanced over his shoulder at the crowd.
"You better return to him soon or he'll come looking for you."
"I'm not his puppy," I said before I could
check myself. Damn. I should have kept my mouth shut. Now he knew
I'd overheard him earlier, which only confirmed that I
follow Reece around. For some reason, I didn't want this man to
think me pathetic.
"Right. Sorry." He frowned and his gaze
shifted to the spot where he and Reece had been standing near the
curtain earlier. "I really am sorry, Cleo. Now that I've met you I
can see you're not a sycophant. You've got a spine."
"Thank you. I think." He still looked
uncomfortable and genuinely sorry, so I smiled to show him I wasn't
offended. Talking to him had proven one thing, however. I may have
a spine, but I needed to use it more where Reece was concerned. No
more following him around.
"I do have another motive for talking to
you," he said, once more checking over his shoulder for Reece. "We
want you to try and get Reece to leave Cassie and her house
Aha. Interesting. I had briefly wondered if
Ash or the Kavanagh family was Ellen's secret client, but if that
were the case, Ash wouldn't have approached me now. He would know
Ellen had it under control.
"We?" I echoed.
"My brothers and I."
"Not your parents?"
"Our parents are…" He sighed. "Our parents
stay out of our business and our lives. They let us make our own
mistakes and our own way forward, or back, without interfering.
It's made for an interesting upbringing, I guess, but at times like
this I wish they'd just sit Reece down and give him a talking
"They're not going to tell him how they
"They're sure he'll make the right decision
in the end."
They sounded somewhat cold, distant. My
parents had been the opposite. I wouldn't have called them
interfering, just interested. There was a difference. It seemed
Reece and his brothers had never learned that difference.
"You don't trust him to make the right
decision?" I asked.
He heaved a sigh. "I want to. Hell, I really
want to. But time's running out and I don't see him wavering. He
seems just as determined as ever. Years ago, you could trust he
would do the right thing. Not anymore."
Reece was cool and distant too, just like his
parents. It figured, considering he'd not had warm, loving role
models in his life.
"I don't know if you're aware," Ash went on,
"but Reece is used to getting what he wants. It comes with being
the eldest of five, maybe. He has always bossed us around, always
been in control. Only Blake stood up to him when we were younger
because he was the closest to Reece in size back then. But Blake's
gone." He blew out a breath. "That's the problem right there in a
"What do you mean?" I was beginning to see
the link between Reece, his brother Blake's absence, and Cassie,
but there was something missing. Something important that I felt
was close enough for me to grasp, but too slippery to catch. I
hoped Ash would provide the answer, but he just shook his head.
"Those are Reece's demons to tell, not
Damn. "I want to help you, Ash, but how do
you think I should get him to change his mind?"
He shrugged. "I don't know. Sometimes I don't
feel like I know him anymore. He never comes home. He hasn't been
to the house in years."
"Not even to see your parents?"
"Nope. He expects everyone to come to him
nowadays. Don't think that it's his fault entirely. Those demons I
spoke of visit him often and they're still living in The Bend."
My heart softened. It was almost impossible
to think that the hard, cold Reece Kavanagh had demons, yet it made
sense. I'd seen him look vulnerable on occasion and knew there was
more to him than the hardworking asshole. He could be genuinely
happy when something amused him. Yet he seemed to want to bury that
side of himself. To please his wealthy, successful and unemotional
parents? Or for some other reason?
The distant parenting shed some light on why
he never kept girlfriends, only bedroom partners. Clearly intimacy
freaked him out. He didn't know how to respond when someone showed
genuine affection and wanted more from him. So he pushed them away,
just like he pushed away his brothers.
That was my theory and I thought it worked.
"Gotta go," Ash said, moving off before I
could say anything. It took me a moment to realize he'd spotted
Reece coming toward us. The crowd parted for him in Biblical
proportions and he prowled up to me as arrogantly as an alpha
"What was my brother saying?" he growled.
I stood my ground. I knew a little more about
the guy now. Hearing the way his brother spoke of him and their
parents helped me look past the arrogance through to the real
Reece. But it was still damned hard to stand up to him when he was
in such a dark mood.
"He was apologizing for embarrassing me
yesterday," I said.
His gaze narrowed. "If that was all, then why
the hasty retreat?"
"Perhaps he didn't want to speak to his big,
I thought I saw a ghost of a smile flitter
across his lips, but it was so small and so fleeting that I could
have been mistaken.
"I'm not scary," he said.
He should stand in my shoes. Maybe he'd think
differently if he saw the determined set of his jaw and the
rigidity in the way he held himself.
His mouth curved into a broader smile, but
there was no humor in it. It was all predatory. "But I am big."
Yeah, I bet he was.
He leaned down and his lips brushed my ear,
warm and soft. "Come home with me, Cleo. I want to see you without
that dress on and make love to you all night."
After my gut stopped churning and my face
cooled, there was one thought that beat out a staccato rhythm
against my ribs.
I had nothing to lose and a wonderful night
with a hot guy to gain. So what if it was just one night, or just
for a week? I didn't want long-term with Reece Kavanagh. I was
spying on him for Christ's sakes. Anything more than a fling would
bring me closer to revealing the truth. One or two nights here and
there while we worked together I could do.