Betrayed:Forbidden Series

By: Melody Anne

Pushing the unusual phone call from her mind, McKenzie looked back down at her computer, and she was immediately immersed in her work. Friday would come soon enough. She had enough to worry about without obsessing over an enigmatic phone call.

Chapter Three

Right this way, Ms. Beaumont.”

The host was dressed impeccably, and why shouldn’t he be dressed that way here, in a nice restaurant located next to the historic Pike Place Market? When they bypassed the regular dining room, McKenzie’s stomach clenched just the slightest bit.

She knew this potential client had money. Or if she hadn’t known it, she knew it now. It wasn’t cheap or easy to get a last-minute private dining room anywhere in Seattle, let alone one with a view Elliott Bay, Mount Rainer, the Olympic Mountains, and the Port of Seattle — all in one.

Why would anyone with this kind of money be interested in her fledgling accounting firm? Who in the hell could the person be? The room she stepped into was large, but it had only one small table set up by the impressive windows looking onto the bay, and she knew right then that she had to have whoever it was for a client. This man — or woman — could bring her business out into the open.

“I’ll hang your coat for you,” the host said.

Excitement teamed up with nerves as he pulled out her chair and waited for her to hand over her coat and sit down. That accomplished, McKenzie wondered how long she would have to wait to meet this mystery person.

He — had to be a male — most likely knew that she would wait all day if that were what it took. She couldn’t believe she’d gotten away with putting the person off for three days. It had been a silly power play, and it could have cost her a big client. She’d have to be more careful in the future. Would she have to do some serious sucking up now?

“Might I offer you a drink while you wait?”

“Yes, an iced tea, please,” McKenzie replied.

The man vanished right away, zipped back in, and vanished again, leaving her alone in the room. This level of service was new to her. She’d made a lot of money over the years as the proprietor of a seriously upscale escort service, but the host’s behavior made it clear that the person she was about to meet had a whole new level of wealth, a wealth that only a few possessed. And though she’d made a lot of money, she’d had a lot of expenses. Luxurious meals weren’t one of them.

A few minutes later McKenzie knew she was no longer by herself. Her body tensed, and she had a feeling she wasn’t going to be happy when she looked up, but even knowing this, she had to find out who was draining the oxygen from the room.

And there walking toward her was none other than Byron Knight. She should have known, and maybe she even had known somewhere deep down inside, but she’d refused to even think he could be the man behind that phone call. Why? Because then she wouldn’t have come, and she desperately wanted this client’s business. Call it her competitive nature, or her will to survive, but all she knew for sure was that she had to make it in Seattle’s business world — in a business not involving sex — and Byron Knight had a lot of wealth that she wanted a piece of.

“I see you found the restaurant all right,” Byron said as he walked up beside her, pausing before he moved to the place across from her and sat down.

When his knees brushed hers under the table, she cursed the intimate setting and scooted back a couple of inches. Sure, it would make eating a bit more difficult, but if she were touching him during the entire meal, she wouldn’t be able to eat anything anyway.

She didn’t bother to respond to his remark about finding the place. It was in downtown Seattle. Even a tourist could find the restaurant. So she cut to the chase. “Why all the secrecy, Byron?”

He smiled before answering her question with one his own. “Would you have come had you known it was me?”

McKenzie lifted her glass and took a sip before looking him in the eyes. Never show weakness, she said to herself, and she made sure she had on her most businesslike mask. She rarely wore any other one, but she found herself struggling a bit this time. “Of course I would have,” she finally told him.

“Very good, McKenzie. I almost believe that.”

A waiter now spoke.

“Would you like the appetizers brought out, sir?”

“Yes, please. And I’ll have iced tea to drink, too,” Byron said, surprising her.

“What? No alcohol at high noon?” she said, only the slightest mockery in her voice. But she hoped he remembered his boozed-up condition the last time they met.

If he did, he didn’t show it. “I don’t want you to accuse me of being inebriated while we have a business discussion,” he fired back. “And didn’t you know that the three-martini lunch went out of style before you were even born?”

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