The Boss Vol. 2By: Cari Quinn & Taryn Elliott
Games were things I won.
“I think we should talk. Privately. When will you be in the office?” She paused. “And Blake, that talk needs to be soon.”
I entered my office at approximately twelve-forty-five. Showering and dressing had taken me fifteen minutes. Traffic had taken longer.
I sat down and flipped through my datebook, scanning the meetings I had scheduled for later in the day. I’d been lucky that today was relatively light—not that my schedule was ever light, but lighter—or else I wouldn’t have been able to take the morning off.
Of course, I’d had to add another unexpected meeting to the queue, one I hadn’t notified Grace to add to my schedule.
One she would never know about.
The conversation with Violet was necessary. She wasn’t only a loyal employee, she was a pitbull when it came to protecting me and Jack. Whether or not we needed that level of attack from her was irrelevant. Violet was our soldier-at-arms, and that she often wore lace and silk didn’t alter that perception in the slightest.
When Grace arrived precisely at one o’clock, I was on the phone with a supplier that needed the personal touch to deliver the quantities we needed—overnight, at cost. I didn’t acknowledge her in any way, but the definite tightening beneath my waist caused me to shift in my chair. There were all kinds of ways to pay for sins, and my physical discomfort was topping the list right now.
Jack stepped off the elevator just as I was getting off the phone, and I expected to stop by to razz me about who knows what as he always did. I wasn’t in the mood for it, but that wouldn’t stop the bastard. He usually leaped upon my malcontent like a dog with a Frisbee.
This time, however, I wasn’t his intended target. No, he aimed right for Grace’s desk, and within moments, I heard her laughter. Light, unrestrained. As if I hadn’t just fucked her against the glass hours ago. As if the man in front of her was capable of making her happy where I only brought her stress.
Irritation dogged me as I reviewed the notes for that afternoon’s video conference with the head of a new tech company that was hoping to develop a new two-way conference system using Carson Covenant’s glass. I tried to block out the sound of Grace laughing and Jack’s deeper, teasing voice. I should’ve made this room soundproof as well.
Lost opportunity, one of many.
When it became clear Jack had no intention of stopping by my office—or ever allowing Grace to return to her work—I sent her a message.
BC: I’m happy to see you have such a free schedule this afternoon, Ms. Copeland.
It wasn’t long before I received one in return, though Jack hadn’t budged from her desk. Glad to see my authority struck such obvious fear in her heart.
GC: Are you interested in lunch or have you satisfied all your appetites for the day?
I narrowed my eyes. Did she think she was funny? I didn’t. Not one bit.
I didn’t respond to her. That wasn’t for her benefit, but mine. At the moment, I couldn’t be sure of what I might say.
And fuck, I never lost control. Grace Copeland wouldn’t make me start.
Too late. Exhibit A, lobby vestibule. Exhibit B, steel erection just from reading her name on your computer screen and hearing her laugh.
For him, not me. She’d never laughed for me, never would, and I couldn’t forget that.
The worst part was now I was hungry. I hadn’t stopped to eat, hadn’t done anything but grab a power bar and a coffee on my way back into the office. Now? My stomach was growling like the rest of me when it came to dealing with Grace.
But I would ignore it. My appetites were satisfied, all right, and I wasn’t about to sit through another interminable lunch while Grace cheerfully mocked my chopstick technique.
I returned to my notes, determined not to glance toward the glass. Then my IM window flashed again.
GC: Jack ordered Chinese. He got you your favorite—nutty chicken. It will be here soon.
Nutty chicken? My eyebrow lifted as I tapped out a reply.
BC: Peanut chicken is not nutty chicken.
GC: Hmm, sounds like nuts to me. I like nuts. A lot.
She was baiting me, I was almost sure of it. Whether she was hoping to make me uncomfortable or was just having a fine time at my expense, I wasn’t sure. Either way, I wasn’t going to engage. We worked together. Work was all we would do, this morning aside.
BC: Have you had a chance to prioritize this morning’s correspondence yet or has Mr. Hollister’s witty repartee kept you too occupied?
That wasn’t what I had intended to say. I wasn’t jealous. I was simply annoyed that Ms. Copeland clearly didn’t value work as highly as I did. Otherwise, she would send Jack back to his office to play with his brightly-colored tie behind closed doors.