Welcome to First Page Saturday. Individual authors anonymously send a first page read and critiqued by the Dear Author community of authors, readers and industry others. Anyone is welcome to comment. You may comment anonymously. You can submit your own First Page using this form.
She waited till he was alone. She leant across the desk and said three words in a dirty low whisper. “I want you.” Then she walked away. The heels, the legs, that black suit, and the no nonsense hairstyle that should’ve made her look sexless, forbidding. She was so freaking gorgeous she couldn’t hide it in all that stiff expensive tailoring.
He laughed, louder than was sensible and earned a sharp look from Nolan.
She didn’t want him for his ability to code a program or provide IT support. This was a bad idea, but the city was burning, so if the girl was on fire he had a duty to put her out.
He followed her across the empty hotel ballroom, Nolan’s eyeballs stuck to his back. She waited, but she wasn’t in a socialising mood. “Look Mason, you either want this or you don’t.” She spoke softly in that you will obey me voice, looked him dead in the eye, daring him to misunderstand.
He was hooked. He’d been snagged by her from the moment she’d stood at the front of that meeting room, explained the game plan and called him on not paying attention in front of nineteen other people. She didn’t care if she’d embarrassed him. He didn’t care enough to be embarrassed. But if he didn’t find his tongue now he’d lose his chance. And it wasn’t the most disciplined organ. It either sat thick in his mouth and refused to move, or said inappropriate or ill-timed things that irritated people. “Mace.”
She frowned. “What?”
There it was, irritation—and he’d only said one word. “No one calls me Mason except Nolan, and he’s an idiot.” Which she was smart enough to know.
“Get too cute and I’ll start thinking this is a stupid idea.”
No point not saying it. “It’s a monumentally stupid idea.”
She let out a sigh, noisy with attitude. “That’s all you had to say.” She stepped around him to leave.
If he wanted her, he’d have to suck up the tough bitch programming. “I’ve got nothing else to do.”
She stopped. She was so straight backed, so crisp in her movements there was little left over for loveliness. She was military, her own parade. He was cannon fodder. If he did this, he’d get to see her without the armour, without the authority that kept her separate, like another species of woman, one without warmth or softness. He’d get to see her stripped of all that made her a corporate machine, the heiress apparent. That alone was worth the snark.
She turned back to face him, fixed him with a hard stare. “Changed your mind?”
He shrugged. “Why not?”
“Maybe the world will end tomorrow.” Yesterday that comment would’ve earned him too cute points and he’d be going home alone. After what just happened, he’d scored a break. Why me?” Jacinta Wentworth could choose anyone she wanted, but it was risky choosing someone she worked with, even if two office towers and fifteen layers of authority separated them.
She raked his face with eyes so stunningly certain, so sure of what she wanted, he didn’t need her answer, but he got it. “Because you’re hot.”
He laughed, too loud again, and across the ballroom Nolan scowled at him, a hundred censures radiating from under his mono-brow. Mace was fraternising way above his pay grade and for that there’d be words.
She stepped closer. “Because it’s been a long campaign, an awful day and I’m pissed off. And maybe an asteroid will smack down, cause a tsunami and the world will end. If that’s the case, I’d like to go out with a bang. You look like you know how to handle that.” One hand went to her hip and he couldn’t stop his eyes going there too. “Good enough?”
He nearly laughed at her phrasing, but she was fierce with it, so he checked it in time. “Almost.”
“What do you want—a contract?” She’d lowered her voice and upped her sarcasm.
“I want to hear you say this is no strings, we go our separate ways afterwards and we—”
“Can work together without it being weird.” She eye-rolled her impatience.
He grinned. Word was she was always wound tight. He could see that the failure of the shareholder meeting, the collapse of the takeover, the wrath of the CEO, had her pulled taunt like a muscle about to snap. “It’ll be weird.”
She slapped a hand on her thigh and looked down at the carpet. “This is over.”
“You have no sense of humour.”
Her chin jerked up. “And you have no sense of self preservation.”
That wasn’t news. He wouldn’t be in this conversation now if it was. He leant towards her, a little too close to be collegial. “And that’s exactly why you hit on me.”