Compromising Positions

By: Tawny Taylor



And there was no way in hell she’d let it be Gabe Ryan!

*****

Gabe made the last few adjustments to his new desk’s placement, lifting a corner and pushing it toward the wall. When he’d been called this morning and was told to report to Love Lines, he’d no idea what was going on. Never in his wildest dreams would he have guessed the truth.

As it turned out, reality was better than his wildest dreams. Yesterday, he’d been the marketing director of a mediocre dating service. Not the most rewarding job he’d ever held—certainly not the kind of job he’d dreamed of as he’d slogged through four years of college and two years of grad school. He’d be in debt for the next ten years, all for a crummy job selling memberships to a dating service.

But, that was yesterday.

Today, a god had knocked the world on its side. And how much more pleasant this angle was—even if the blood was rushing to his head.

Six-thirty, bright and early, he’d reported to Love Lines as directed, and after learning he was sharing an office with Fate Doherty, not only his former adversary, but also a woman he’d dated and slept with briefly in college, he’d gleefully planned his next move.

Desk in place, he adjusted the white cloth vertical blinds, which had become tangled when he’d brushed against them. He peered out the window, savoring the view of the traffic-clogged road and neighboring glass and steel temples to the god of capitalism.

The memory of his earlier confrontation with Fate buzzed through his mind. Was he cruel, the way he’d toyed with her? Possibly. Did he feel guilty? A tad. But overall, he’d enjoyed their heated exchange immensely. It was better than what little interaction he’d been afforded over the last ten years.

No longer would he begrudge Monday mornings, not when he had so much to look forward to. And the new partnership between companies already stirred his creative juices. He was nearly exploding with ideas. The thought of targeting twenty-somethings, rather than the conservative thirty and forty-crowd, sent a jolt of revitalizing energy through his brain.

New name, new marketing strategy, new advertising media. Maybe television.

The only hurdle he had to overcome was also the one thing that made his new position so delightful: Fate Doherty. He needed to let her see the other side of Gabe Ryan, not a particularly settling thought.

Although he still found her absolutely stunning, with her curly copper hair, ivory skin, vivid green eyes and heart-shaped face, under the surface of that angelic veneer lay a hardened ice-queen. And the arctic slivers she shot from those emerald eyes could slice a man to pieces. She was not a woman to mess with. And he couldn’t wait to do just that.

Sure, she’d grown comfortable in their adversarial relationship. Why wouldn’t she? By remaining enemies, he guessed she didn’t have to face any threatening emotions. But now, neither of them had a choice.

If he were a religious man, he’d be on his knees right now, thanking the gods. No doubt about it, one of them was smiling down at him. He’d been wishing for an opportunity to rekindle the explosive chemistry he and Fate had shared so long ago. At last the opportunity was his, and there was no way he would blow it.

Turning, he took in his surroundings, still not sure whether or not he was dreaming. Nope. Couldn’t be a dream. In his dreams he never had such a nice office. This place was a palace compared to his cubbyhole at the former Date Doctor headquarters. The walls were pristine white, and Fate’s furniture matched—definitely top dollar. Real artwork even graced the walls.

He walked over to Fate’s desk, notably devoid of clutter, and scooped a framed photograph from its lacquered surface. She was accepting an award from the ex-C.E.O. of Love Lines. Tracing the outline of her face, he thought, Fate Doherty, you have no idea what’s in store for you.

Damn, did she look sexy in the photo, even if she was wearing a conservative blue suit and overly grim expression. He couldn’t wait to see her clothed in more casual attire—a pair of shorts, or sweats and one of his tshirts. He closed his eyes and imagined the scene, sighing.

“What the hell are you doing, you psychopath?”

Her voice struck him like a bolt of lightning. His eyes flew open. “Thinking about our new partnership. What do you think about the news?”

Her eyes flashed. “I want to make one point perfectly clear. We have no partnership. Our companies merged, but there is no way we will be sharing anything. You understand?”

“Sure.” He hadn’t expected her to give in easily. Actually, the tougher she was the better. He enjoyed a challenge, especially from a woman. Once she realized he was more than a cocky, troublesome, man-boy, she’d come around. He’d have plenty of opportunity to reveal the depth of his intelligence and personality.

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