THREAT (The Billionaire's Rules, Book 5)

THREAT (The
Billionaire’s Rules, Book 5)

By Kelly Favor

 

© 2015 All Rights Reserved

Lucas was standing in the entrance to
Ivy’s cubicle, blocking her path out.
 

“Get away from me,” she warned him.
 
She still couldn’t believe he’d had the nerve
to read a private email by standing behind her like some creepy stalker.
 

Ivy was furious, her blood boiling at the
invasion of her privacy.
 
And then
he’d used that moment to tell her that he knew something else bad about Cullen
Sharpe.

As if anything he could tell her would
shock her.
 
She’d just read an email
that accused the CEO of murder, and Lucas thought he could add something new to
the mix?

Lucas spoke in a low, conspiratorial
voice.
 
“In five minutes, take your
break and go outside.
 
I’ll be
waiting across the street by the hot dog vendor and we can talk.”

“You’re an idiot if you think I’m going
anywhere with you, Lucas.”
 

“I’m not asking, I’m telling.
 
It’s for your own good,” he said, and
before she could respond, Lucas had turned around and left her cubicle.
 
He went back to his own desk and sat
down like nothing had even happened.

Ivy turned back to her computer and
realized that Xavier’s email was still up on her monitor.
 
She quickly closed out of it and deleted
it from her email inbox.
 

Her heart was pounding hard in her chest
and she felt tears threatening behind her eyes.
 
Ivy shivered, feeling simultaneously cold
and clammy but also sweaty.

More than anything, she wanted out of the
little box she was sitting in, trapped by the cubicle walls and the quiet
humming of her co-workers computers on all sides.
 
She felt like a little rat in a maze,
needing to climb the walls to escape.
 

She left her cubicle and went to the
bathroom, and luckily it was empty.
 
Running cold water over her hands, she washed her face and tried to
catch her breath.
 

Calm
down, Ivy.
 
Cullen Sharpe isn’t a murderer.
 
He isn’t going to jail for anything.
 
That email didn’t really say much, just
a bunch of innuendo and gossip between people who don’t like Cullen.
 
That’s all it was.

But she couldn’t quite escape the feeling
that there was more to that email than just bad blood and gossip.
 

It hurt.
 
It hurt as if someone had just punched
her in the stomach.
 
And now, to
make matters even worse, Lucas was trying to intimidate and confuse her too.

Was she really going to meet him outside
and listen to whatever crap he intended to try and force-feed her about Cullen?

Ivy didn’t want to talk to Lucas, but
then again, she was feeling like maybe it was easier to just face the jerk head
on.
 

She’d look Lucas in the eye and tell him
to go to hell.

It had been about five minutes since
Lucas had come to her cubicle, so he was probably out there waiting for her.
 
  

Just
try me, Lucas
, she
thought, her hands clenching as she imagined his surprise when she fought back
against his accusations and showed some backbone.

She walked out of the bathroom, down the
hallway and out of the Biomatrix lobby.
 
She looked across the street and saw
Lucas buying two hotdogs.
 

Ivy shook her head in annoyance,
realizing that Lucas had just assumed she’d be joining him.

He
thinks I’m
a total pushover--that’s why he assumed I’d come
outside and talk
to him.
 
Whatever he’s going to try, I’m not letting him get away with it.

She walked across the busy street, head
held high, eyes set and determined to tell her “friend” where he could stick
his hotdog and his conversation.

When she reached Lucas, he was handing
the vendor a few bills.
 
“Keep the
change,” Lucas said, as the vendor thanked him profusely.

“What do you want?” Ivy said, as she got
closer.

Lucas held one of the hotdogs out to
her.
 
It was wrapped in plastic and
it actually smelled quite good.
 
Her
stomach grumbled, but she shook her head and folded her arms across her chest.

“Suit yourself,” he said.
 
“I’ll eat ‘em both.”
 
He walked over to a nearby bench and sat
down, taking a large bite of one hotdog.
 

“Just say whatever you want to say so I
can get back to work,” Ivy told him.

He glanced up at her.
 
“Sit down.”

She shook her head.
 
“No, I don’t think so.
 
And if you don’t start talking, I’m
going back in.”

“Ivy.
 
Sit.”
 
He gestured next to him.

“Screw this.
 
I’m going back inside, Lucas.
 
I only came out here to tell
you—leave me alone or I’ll make sure you’re fired.
 
I can do it, too.”

Lucas put one of the dogs down on the arm
of the bench, where it balanced precariously.
 
He held up one finger as if requesting
her patience, then reached in his pocket and pulled out his wallet, and flipped
it open.

Ivy saw that there was a large picture ID
staring up at her from inside the wallet.
 
It was unmistakably Lucas in that picture, and on the ID in large
letters it read FEDERAL BUREAU of INVESTIGATION, with a very legitimate looking
seal of the U.S. Department of Justice embossed next to that.

A cold shot of fear went through her
entire body, completely stopping her in her tracks.

“Now why don’t you sit down,” Lucas said,
smiling in a way that was friendly, while also seeming to be threatening at the
same time.

“That’s probably a fake,” she said.
 
“You don’t work for the FBI, Lucas.
 
You’re my age.”

He took a large bite of the first hotdog,
then another and another, finishing it entirely and crumbling the wax paper in
his hand.
 
He tossed it into a
nearby trash barrel and then closed his wallet and put it back in his
pocket.
 
“Okay, Ivy,” he said, as he
finished chewing.
 
“What I want you
to do is take out your phone and look up the FBI Boston Field Office.
 
Google it, and call the main
number.
 
Ask for Assistant Director
Ratner, and then tell him you’re standing here with me.
 
My real name is Special Agent Lucas
Hogan.”

Ivy hadn’t moved since seeing his FBI
credentials.
 
She refused to believe
he was for real, though.
 
“Maybe
you’re just impersonating this agent.
 
I know you’re lying, Lucas.”

He laughed and raised his eyebrows, as he
took the second hotdog off the arm of the bench and unwrapped it.
 
“Fine, let’s the two of us make a visit
to the field office right now, together.
 
It’s not far from here.
 
We’ll go speak to my superior in person.
 
It’ll be hard for you to deny who I am
after that, Ivy.”

She shook her head no.
 
“I’m not going anywhere with you.”

“Sit down,” he smiled with his lips, but
his eyes weren’t smiling any longer.
 
“You’re making this scene look very suspicious.
 
I really don’t want to be angry with
you, and you don’t want me to get angry either.”

She finally did sit down, because she had
the sinking feeling that Lucas really was exactly who he said he was.
 
It explained so many things about how
strangely he’d been behaving.
 
“Why
are you pretending to be a temp?” she asked him, sitting as far away from him
as possible on the bench.

“I’m working undercover to try and get
information about Cullen Sharpe and his company.
 
It’s very difficult to gain entry to his
organization at the higher levels, unfortunately.
 
And even more difficult to get close to
the man, the way you’ve managed to do.”
 
He shot her a meaningful glance.

“I’m not close to him at all,” Ivy said,
pressing her lips together.
 
She
felt sick to her stomach.

“Sure you don’t want a bite?” Lucas said,
once again extending the hotdog outwards.

“I’m sure.”

He shrugged and started eating, wiping
the corners of his mouth with a napkin.
 
“I wasn’t sure how I would connect with you,” Lucas said, “but then I
happened by your desk and saw the email you were reading.
 
And I realized that perhaps you’re ready
to hear the truth about Cullen Sharpe.”

“Just happened by my desk?
 
You were standing there spying on me,”
she replied.
 
“That email was
personal and you read it without my knowledge or consent.”

He chuckled.
 
“The bureau isn’t very concerned with
the dead woman anyway,” Lucas said.
 
“She’s just one of Sharpe’s many pieces of collateral damage.”

Ivy turned her head and stared at
him.
 
“So you’re not investigating that
woman who died?”

“We’re aware of the situation,” Lucas
said, chewing and swallowing.
 
“But
we don’t really care much about it unless it helps us with the bigger
investigation into his illegal activities.”

“Bigger investigation?”

Lucas turned towards her.
 
His eyes were steady and unwavering,
watching her as closely as she was watching him.
 
“We have reason to believe that Cullen
Sharpe is a very dangerous man—to himself, to those close to
him—and even to the security of our nation.”

This couldn’t be happening.
 
Ivy felt as though she’d stumbled into a
waking nightmare.

“Listen,” Ivy said, feeling like she was
going to scream or throw up or just pass out.
 
She tried to gather herself, as things
spun out of control.
 
“Listen to me,
Lucas.
 
I don’t know anything about
what you’re talking about.
 
I hardly
know Cullen Sharpe.
 
He tells me
nothing about his life or his business.”

“Maybe that’s true, or maybe you’re
already covering for him.”

She stared at him, aghast.
 
“So now you’re accusing me of lying?”

“Lying to a Federal Agent involved in an
investigation is a crime, Ivy.
 
It’s
called obstruction of justice, and it’s punishable by jail.
 
Just saying.”

“I’m not lying.
 
And I don’t intend to be bullied by
you,” she said, moving as if to stand up.
 
“Now please leave me alone.”

“Stay right where you are.”
 
Lucas threw the last of his hotdog in
the trash and then wiped his lips again with a napkin.
 
“Don’t think you can have a temper
tantrum and make this go away.
 
This
isn’t going anywhere, Ivy.
 
You
will
help us in our investigation.”

She stared at Lucas, completely stunned
by the fact that he was the same young guy who’d seemed so young and innocent
previously.
 
Now, he seemed much
older—maybe he was thirty-three, not twenty-three.
 

Not to mention an FBI agent.
 

He was also a mean, cruel jerk who was
trying to scare her.

Worst of all, it was working.
 
She felt terrified and weak.
 
“I don’t know what you expect me to do,
Lucas,” Ivy said helplessly.

He sat forward, hands on his elbows, not
looking at her as he spoke.
 
“The
first point of business is that you absolutely will not reveal my presence to
Cullen Sharpe.”
 
He turned and
glanced over his shoulder at her.
 
“If you tell him I’ve approached you, I’m going to make sure you do
prison time.”

“Prison time for what?
 
I haven’t broken any laws.
 
I don’t know anything.”

Lucas nodded.
 
“That’s what they all say.
 
But the bottom line is that we have
plenty of evidence that suggests you’re romantically involved with Cullen
Sharpe, and that you have every reason to lie on his behalf.
 
A judge and jury will likely see things
the FBI’s way, not your way.
 
Remember that, the next time you consider telling Cullen about me, or
about any conversation we might have now or in the future.”

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