Compromising Positions

By: Tawny Taylor



She tried to ignore his familiar but stunning features: his dark curly hair, square jaw, shadowed hollows under high cheekbones, the mole on his left cheek. “Gabe, what the hell are you doing in my office?” She was tempted to pinch herself. This was a nightmare. Why would Gabe Ryan, her fiercest rival, the marketing director of Love Lines’ competitor, the pathetic Date Doctor, be loitering in her office?

He slid his feet from her desk, sending a smattering of sticky-notes to the floor. Shaking his head and wagging a scolding finger, he said, “Now, really Fate, is that any way to greet a colleague?”

“How did you get past security?” She forced herself to ignore his jibe. He was obviously trying to shake her.

She couldn’t stand being in the same room with him for another minute. Just looking at him made her stomach turn and her blood burn in her veins. Determined to maintain as much physical distance between them as possible, difficult since the phone sat directly in front of him, she scooped up the receiver and punched security’s number. He’d be hauled out of there in no time, and she’d have peaceful chaos once again.

But, as she struck the last digit, Gabe stabbed at the phone with an index finger, cutting off the call. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” His voice held a hint of levity.

“What are you talking about?”

He yawned and stretched his arms over his head. “Security let me in. They’re not going to escort me out.”

“Who’d you bribe this time?”

“No one. I didn’t have to resort to bribery. Since I’m such a great guy, they escorted me in. Damn near held a welcoming parade.”

“What kind of idiot do you think I am? About the only one who’d welcome you, would be the devil himself.”

“So, as self-proclaimed lead bitch and spokeswoman, I expect you to act on his behalf. How about we start off with some party games? I think I can find a bottle here somewhere.” He waggled his eyebrows suggestively, the expression all too familiar.

The final thread of her patience snapped, and her mouth shifted into overdrive, “Okay, enough! I’m calling security whether you think I should or not. And I suggest you get your wide ass out of my chair and find another office to contaminate!”

He grinned and then he laughed loud and hard. Standing, he motioned to the chair. “Please, don’t let me ruin your day. You want the chair, it’s yours.”

“Of course it’s mine.” Why wouldn’t it be? “The whole office is mine, and I want you out. Out of my sight. Out of my life… Out of this world.”

“Thanks, that’s quite a compliment! I knew you had it in you all these years. Knew you couldn’t be the cold bitch you pretend to be.” He smiled triumphantly.

A compliment? “What?”

“I can think of better uses for all that wasted passion.” He sauntered around the desk and poked her nose with his forefinger. “I think you’re out of this world, too.”

“I didn’t mean it as a compliment, you idiot.” Damn it, she hated how he twisted her words around to mean the exact opposite of what she’d intended.

“Well, you don’t have to be insulting.”

Why wasn’t she getting through to this man? It was as if his skull was made of brick. She gave him a healthy shove toward the door. “Out.”

“And where do you suggest I go?”

“To hell?”

He quirked a smile.

What was so funny about this situation? She had a ton of work to do. Love Lines’ market share had dropped dramatically last quarter, and she was presenting a new marketing strategy to the head honchos this afternoon. But she couldn’t get it finished with this orangutan in her office.

Why was Gabe Ryan so hell bent on seeing her fail? He’d have to be mighty immature to still be seeking revenge for that little misunderstanding they’d had in college. He’d tried every trick in the book over the past few years. “What is this? Another sorry attempt at putting Love Lines out of business by wasting my time?”

He smacked his forehead. “Damn, you figured me out. But alas, I didn’t have to do anything to put Love Lines out of business. They did that all on their own.”

“You’re a moron. They’re as alive and kicking as I am.”

“Better check your facts, Fate, and your vitals while you’re at it. From my estimation, your heart stopped beating six years ago, long before Love Lines went defunct. But what the hell do I know? I’m no doctor.”

“Get the hell out!”

A couple of custodians hauled in a metal desk that hadn’t seen the light of day in probably thirty years and dropped it in the middle of the floor. “What is that?” And then Julie’s comment flew out of the air and, dive-bombing like a kamikaze, struck her from the rear. What did Julie say? Something about if I was still here later…

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