The Boss Vol. 2By: Cari Quinn & Taryn Elliott
BC: Come in my office, Ms. Copeland.
After a moment, she rose and tugged down the skirt that crept higher with every moment. It wasn’t indecently short. She never dressed provocatively. Then she strode into my office and hovered on the threshold, still gripping the doorknob.
“Shut the door.”
Her nerves intoxicated me, the scent of them as pervasive as the light hint of her floral perfume. She closed it, but came no closer, keeping the mile of glass floor and seating between us. She stared down, her gaze on the harbor.
I wanted it on me.
“If you don’t have money for lunch, that isn’t a problem.”
Her chin lifted and her eyes blazed. “I work for my money. I don’t take charity.”
“So it’s charity if I ensure you don’t starve.” I rose and undid the single button on my jacket, well aware of how her gaze dropped before skittering away.
Nice to know I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t keep from watching.
I walked around my desk and leaned against it, crossing my feet at the ankle. “Starting this week, I will be adding a lunch allowance to your wages. Consider it a stipend of sorts.”
She tilted her head and tightened her fingers around the doorknob she still clutched. “As payment for services rendered?”
My cock stiffened. I couldn’t have stopped it if I tried. It was like the beat of my heart speeding up at the sound of her voice, or the incline of her chin. It was an involuntary reaction no different than the rush of blood in my veins.
That didn’t mean I had to like it.
I also didn’t alter my stance. If she saw what she’d caused, so be it.
“What services would you like to render, Ms. Copeland?” I asked softly as color rose in her cheeks. She would flush everywhere I knew, beyond the collarbone-bearing top she wore to the curve of her breasts. To the tight little nipples that beaded for me just from the mere question.
“I didn’t buy lunch because I brought my own. I don’t need a stipend.” She glanced again at the harbor beneath us and pressed her lush lips together. I wanted to bite the lower one until it bloomed red like the rest of her. “Besides, you all order out all the time. You must live in the gym to look like…” She waved a hand. “That.”
“I run,” I said simply. “Usually in the mornings, though I’ve skipped a few recently.”
I also didn’t tell her that I’d taken to running at night when I couldn’t sleep. Due to her.
“It’s the holiday season. Time to eat, drink and be merry.” I’d said it to be sarcastic—I didn’t celebrate holidays, and hadn’t since childhood—but the quick flare in her eyes made me grip the edge of the desk. “Do you not celebrate?”
“Celebrate what? Christmas? It’s not Christmas yet. And Thanksgiving—no, I don’t do that anymore either.” Her gaze snapped to mine and I was amazed that sparks didn’t go off between us. She was angry at me again, and I didn’t know why. “I just work, okay? I want this to be about work. No fun lunches, no talk of holidays I can’t celebrate.”
Not don’t celebrate. Can’t celebrate. That was a different thing altogether.
Whether the reasons were financial or emotional didn’t much matter. Not if I could try to do something to alleviate even a fraction of that turbulence in her expression.
When I didn’t reply, she pivoted and walked out.
I was getting really tired of her walking away from me. Mostly because I watched her go, every damn time.
I returned to my desk and picked up the phone. For once, I didn’t overanalyze what I was going to do. She had a habit of causing those kinds of reckless actions in me, and I was going to have to put a stop to it.
“Next Friday, I want to hold a company-wide Thanksgiving banquet. Yes, less than two weeks before the holiday. I’m well-aware it’ll be a scheduling nightmare, Jack, but that’s why I called you. You’re the king of your domain, right? You know how to get these things done. Or better yet, know who to contact to do them for you.”
Jack’s sigh almost made me smile. “What about that brand spanking new assistant of yours? Isn’t this more under her purview than mine? Not to mention she can actually tolerate your ass, unlike me.”
For a moment, I wondered if I’d imagined the knowing tone of Jack’s voice. Had Violet blabbed what she’d seen to her best buddy?
As soon as I considered the idea, I dismissed it. That woman was a vault, and sticky fingers Hollister didn’t have the combination.
“This isn’t for Grace. She’s involved with other things. Can you make it happen or not?”