Betrayed:Forbidden Series

By: Melody Anne

He was thirty-five, though he acted younger than she did on most days, and he had slightly wavy blond hair and green eyes. Most women would find him charming. She found him brilliant.

The phone rang, and it rang again.

“Beth is out to lunch. You’re going to have to take that,” he told her, and she picked up the phone.

“Seattle Accounting, McKenzie Beaumont speaking. How may I help you?”

“Hello, Ms. Beaumont. Dixie Pedmore here. I’m calling on behalf of someone who would like to meet with you today, if possible.”

McKenzie looked down at her calendar, and today wasn’t the best day, but she didn’t want to turn down a potential client. Still, it was good to show people that she wasn’t available at the drop of a hat, that she and her time were in demand.

“I’m all booked up today, Ms. Pedmore. Could we do Friday instead?” she asked. Friday was only three days away.

The woman paused for a pregnant moment; she clearly wasn’t used to people who didn’t accommodate her requests. McKenzie had a way of reading people, even over the phone. When she hadn’t immediately agreed, Dixie had sucked in her breath, not loudly, but just enough for McKenzie to hear it through the phone line. This piqued McKenzie’s curiosity. Who did Ms. Pedmore work for? The woman hadn’t said.

“Hold for one moment, and I’ll see if that will be workable,” Dixie told her, quickly recovering, and before McKenzie could agree or disagree, the woman placed her on hold.

“Who is it?” Zach whispered.

McKenzie held her hand over the mouthpiece in case Dixie jumped back on the line. “I don’t know,” she replied. “Someone’s secretary, I’m assuming.”

A couple of minutes passed and then McKenzie heard the phone click as the woman came back on the line.

“Thank you for holding, Ms. Beaumont. My boss said Friday would be fine. Meet him at noon on Friday at Cutters on the Pier.”

“Can I get your boss’s name?” McKenzie asked, but the question got her nowhere. The woman had said what she needed to say and had hung up without even asking whether noon would be an acceptable time.

“So what’s it all about?” Zach asked. “Who’s the potential client?”

“I don’t know. The woman hung up. No contact number, no information. Nothing.” McKenzie shook her head in frustration.

“Don’t go if you’re worried about it,” Zach said, a frown marring his normally cheerful face.

“You know that’s not going to happen. I want this business to be a success, which means that I’ll meet with anyone and everyone,” she replied, and she took a few seconds to mark the appointment down.

“Want me to go instead?” he asked her.

“I thought you had meetings all week.”

“I do,” he said, the frown still in place. “But I can try to adjust my schedule.”

“It’s at Cutters, and I love the food there. And I promise you that I’ll be fine, Zach. I’ve dealt with a lot of less than pleasant clients before. I’m not worried about a business lunch at a public place,” she told him.

“But don’t they have private meeting rooms there?”

“Yes, they do, but they’re usually for larger parties. Even if I end up alone with the mystery person in one of those rooms, it wouldn’t matter because of the waitstaff.”

“I don’t like it, but I’ll trust you to do what you feel is right,” Zach said before looking at his watch and grimacing. “I have to run, doll. We’ll have more time to talk about this later — before you go or don’t go.”

She barely had time to tell him goodbye before he was rushing out the door. That was their lives right now. Fourteen-hour workdays followed by more work at home, and no days off. In the end it would be all worth it, though, because she would retire early, and most of the time it didn’t really feel like work anyway. She truly loved her business.

Well, she loved it at least eighty percent of the time. Still, it was different from working at Relinquish Control. She couldn’t say she had been unhappy owning her escort service — she had enjoyed her time there, for the most part. But there had been too many girls who had been just like her, lost, afraid, alone. It had begun to really get to her.

In this new business, she rarely even caught a glimpse of the people she managed. A client came in to request an accountant for their business, and she dispatched one. Some of the jobs turned into permanent positions, and some were temporary. Some were complicated and some easy. She was good at finding new clients, and excellent at matching up employees to businesses. Time would only make her and Zach’s business that much more reputable. This was going to be her year to shine.

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