Authors: Caitlin Falls
Copyright © 2014 Rascal Hearts
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.
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The building stood high in the Manhattan skyline, its impressive height and eye catching design helping it to stand out in the clutter of other buildings that hulked against the horizons and Jenna felt the same thrill she always felt as she swept in through the revolving glass doors.
The first floor was a long marble foyer, cold and sterile despite its beauty. Wealth was apparent in every surface, and the people who stood behind the long rosewood counter all looked as if they had been created at a factory that churned out healthy, fit, white toothed clones. Jenna always felt an almost irresistible urge to check the mirrored walls to see if she looked as impeccable as they did.
She always managed to stop herself from doing that. When she had been in college, slaving away at her business degree, a professor had told her that it was easy to tell who did not belong in big business, just look for the people who had to stop every few moments to make sure that they looked the part.
Jenna did look the part, and she knew that very few people in the foyer or crowding the elevators would have ever guessed at her humble beginnings. The elevator dinged and rose smoothly past the lower floors where harried clerks and accountants scrambled to make sense of the information being thrown at them hourly.
The middle floors were for middle management. At Brookers & Clark everything was not only a literal translation of the world but a symbolic one. The elevator in which she rode was an express elevator and woe to the new clerk or secretary who had no idea that only those executives or their assistants were allowed to use that particular bank of elevators. They would find themselves trapped in a ride that went from the lowest floor to the highest three with no stops in between and once they could get out they would understand quickly that the only way back onto it was to use a key, which they did not possess, or hike the stairs.
Jenna knew that Brad Dunning, the CEO of the company, had refused to put signs near the elevators because, as he put it, “Everyone needs to learn their place, some need to learn it the hard way.” She had never offered her own key no matter what she thought about the unfairness of that rule, to do so would have meant risking being terminated. Dunning was a hard man, and one who brooked no infractions of his policies.
Even in the elevators the lines were clear. The secretaries of millionaires stood politely still, their eyes fixed politely ahead. They did not chat with each other. In the company rivalries were frequent, as were bitter feuds and to speak to the secretary of an enemy was akin to consorting with the enemy themselves and more than one hapless soul had found themselves in the resources department collecting their last paycheck without ever understanding what they had done to get fired.
The executives who thought that they could get something from each other or who were actually not fighting did speak to each other, their voices filled the elevator, battered at Jenna’s ears. Their chatter was never about things that pertained to the company. They talked parties, new clubs, and theatre or politics, not that any of them ever had time for any of those things—to be at the top meant to be lonely.
Jenna did not mind that though, and she doubted any of the men she worked with minded either. Many of them had trophy wives that never came to the offices but who worked tirelessly on boards for museums and charities. Those wives seldom saw their husbands and given the attitude that they had had on the occasions when Jenna had met a few of them she doubted that those women minded the long hours their husbands worked either.
Jenna was all too aware that she was one of the few women who had ever managed to cross above the fiftieth floor line. Brookers &Carter was not known to be an equal opportunity employer but even they occasionally had to bow to rules. Jenna was good at her job, damn good, and she worked her ass off but she knew that most of the men she worked with figured that if she had not been a woman she would never have been promoted as fast as she had been.
She knew that there was some small truth to that so she kept her head high, her mouth shut and put in longer hours than she had before. The elevator door swished open and the car mostly emptied, Jenna and a few others remained. Jenna was on her way to her own office and the men in front of her were also on their way to their offices but the man next to her—he looked like he did not belong there at all.
He had stepped up from behind her at the last stop and the first thing she had noticed was his ass. She had not been looking at it, exactly, she had been looking down but when that denim wrapped and firm looking derriere had moved into her line of vision she had noticed it, and appreciated it as well.
What man in his right mind wore jeans to the upper floors of the company? She lifted her eyes from the ass and followed a spine that ran along a back covered by a shirt that did nothing to disguise the broadness of his shoulders and trimness of his waist.
Black hair, a little too long and with a definite curl to it, lay against his tanned neck, and there was a mole there that she stared at, helplessly. That mole looked—kissable. Jenna blushed, realizing that she was having fantasies about a man she did not even know at seven thirty in the morning, and in an elevator for Pete’s sake.
“I need to get out more,”
she thought a little ruefully.
The doors opened again, and she needed to get out but he was in her way. She could feel his body heat, smell his cologne and she took a deep breath and said, “Excuse me,” in her best boardroom voice.
“Sorry, ma’am,” it was a lazy drawl and then he moved to one side, his head turning to give her a glimpse of eyes as blue as a summer sky and full lips. Men like him had no business being about on the streets, they were dangerous.
Not that he was out on the streets,
she thought as she tried to squeeze past him without any part of her body touching him. That failed miserably, her hand brushed out and, to her utter mortification she brushed that hand over his hip. It was entirely accidental, but an electric shock rippled through her and she halted, confused and a little shocked.
“The door,” he tilted his strong chin and she gawked at him, wondering what that had to do with anything. He shot a booted foot out and caught the door for her and the spell broke. She muttered a thank you and fled from the car. As the doors closed behind her she was certain she heard a faint chuckle.
* * * *
Blake Lewis was amused, and being amused first thing in the morning was rare for him. He had gotten into the crowded elevator and instantly he had been sized up by every man in it. In a sea of suit and ties he had suck out like a sore thumb. He had not been surprised to see so many dedicated executives at that hour, in his years of working first as a cop and now as a private investigator, he had seen many a dedicated employee up at dawn and in the office shortly after.
He was not adverse to getting up with the sun, but one of the perks of his job was that he got to pick and choose when he worked, and so he had mornings to laze around a bit if he liked—and he often did like to do just that.
Working in the homicide division of the Bronx borough had not enabled him to spend a morning perusing the newspaper, drinking a second cup of coffee or even cooking his own breakfast, all things he had discovered he enjoyed quite a lot.
The gorgeous red haired woman with the pearly skin and wide green eyes had been a bonus. He had seen her glance down at his ass then look long and hard. She had likely never thought that he would look into the mirrors and see her looking either, women like her rarely noticed anything except themselves.
She had a great figure though, under that plain gray jacket and skirt she had lush curves and long slim legs that he had wanted to touch. She also had a touch of decadence in her; she wore stockings with incredibly sexy ruler-straight back seams. Stockings, not pantyhose—oh no, nothing so plebian for her. He was sure those stockings had Cuban heels, and the thought made his dick stiffen, an unwelcome outcome at the moment as he thought about how much he had wanted to tug at one of those seams, with his teeth.
The doors opened again and he stepped out, his eyes scanning his surroundings quickly and without seeming to. The security guard walking toward him was nattily attired and wearing a pleasant expression. If Blake had not been able to spot him a mile off the guy might have passed for just another executive.
“Don’t bother buddy, I’m here to see Brad Dunning.”
The security guard blinked. The man facing him was hardly Brookers & Carter material, he had a decided East Texas twang in his voice and he was wearing heavy boots that looked like they would be more at home on the pegs of a motorcycle than a boardroom floor. Yet he had an appointment with Dunning?
Blake read the man’s doubt. He said, “I am Blake Lewis, he’s expecting me.”
“Oh, right—you are the security guy.” He made it sound like an insult.
“Yes, and you are the security guy from this floor, correct?”
They stared each other down. Blake knew that the guy facing him was likely paid well, bored as hell and had no reason to expect real trouble unless some fired executive decided to make a last ditch effort to get into Dunning’s offices. Blake on the other hand knew trouble by all of its first names and he was not about to give an inch, especially before he had a signed contract in his hand.
The guy hit a button on his phone, barked out some words and then said, “Come on, I’ll show you in.”
Showing him in meant dumping him in the front section of Dunning’s offices. The largest of all the executive’s offices it featured a room that would have swallowed Blake’s entire apartment whole. A bored-looking blonde with perfectly cut hair, skin that showed the effects of spa treatments and a black silk blouse looked up at him as he entered.
“Have a seat,” she said in a low voice.
He sat because there was nothing else to do. Blake wasn’t a fool, Dunning would keep him waiting just to impress upon him that he was the boss there. The room was outfitted with thick carpet, the antique and costly desk that the woman sat behind, framed paintings—some by Masters—and a tall silver shelf that held coffee, teas, and other drinkables.
Nobody offered him anything and that amused him even more. The silent warning was clear
“you do not belong here, we will hire you to do our dirty work, but that is all”.
Blake knew he shouldn’t be so amused by the behavior but he had learned long ago that being pissed off at the people who employed him rarely helped him, and since he was incredibly expensive and since his job required he learn most of the nasty little secrets that his employers hid he could understand why they wanted to make certain he knew he had no other place there.
Thirty minutes went by. The blonde was well-trained, she never even lifted her eyes from the desk. Some would give him a sympathetic look or check him out, not her; she was as cold as the ice growing on the cans of soda in the freezer.
Finally the woman looked up and said, “Mister Dunning will see you now. Please go through that door.”
She indicated a door with her chin, if he had been anyone important she would have walked him there. Blake smiled at her as he went past, wondering what her boss would say if he knew she moonlighted as a go-go dancer out on Staten Island. In fact he wondered what she would say if she knew he knew.
* * * *
Jenna sat at her desk, her fingers tapping at the keys of her computer but her mind far away. Her body was restless was well, her legs kept squeezing together and her belly was filled with butterflies. Her nipples pushed at the fabric of her blouse, straining against her bra. The silk was soft and yielding but right then it felt heavy and too thick.
She was turned on, incredibly so. She had never felt so needy, her panties chafed against her swollen labia and she bit her lip, trying to force that need away but it persisted. She closed her eyes but the vision of a black haired man in tight jeans swam up, and that sure as hell did not help her passion cool off.
What was wrong with her? She had no idea, she had never been so turned on in her entire life and for what? Because some man with a cowboy accent and the face of a pirate had held the door for her? A cowboy-pirate? Was that how her thoughts were working out this morning? The ridiculousness of that made her smile but did not take her mind off him.