Page 29

"Five hours ago," Jacob muttered pathetically, confirming her suspicions.

"And what did you do?" she asked casually as she added a spoonful of vanilla and caramel flavored creamer.

There was a slight telling pause before Jacob said, "It wasn't my fault."

"What wasn't your fault?" she asked, pouring a dab of cream into her mug.

"H-he knows."

"Knows what?"

"About the plans, meetings, suites, everything," he admitted, making everything in her go still.

"Where is he?" she asked in a bored tone as panic shot through her.

She realized that he would have found out about the project sooner or later, but she was kind of hoping on it being later, after she had a signed contract with McGill so that he couldn't interfere and take over. Now she was going to have to hunt him down, kick his ass and make sure that he knew that this was her project and that it was off limits to him. Then she would be right back to trying to figure out how to convince them to let her do this. Maybe she could -

"I think you and I should have a talk," Connor announced as he stepped into the office, holding a thick light brown folder.

Thankful that he saved her the time of having to hunt him down to kick his ass, she grabbed her drink and headed for her office, knowing that he'd be right behind her.

"Hey, what about me?" Jacob asked, but she ignored him. "Seriously, I have to use the bathroom. If you could just make a little tear in the tape I'm pretty sure that I could-"

Connor closed the door behind him and walked past her to sit in her chair, but she was quicker. She sat down and couldn't quite bite back the smug little smile that came along with besting the man. It seemed as though this meeting was starting off on the right track, she mused seconds before he snatched the hot cocoa out of her hands, placed it on her desk, grabbed her good hand and gave it a yank.


He ignored her as he took her seat and yanked her back onto his lap. Once he had her settled, meaning trapped, he reached around her and picked up her cup of cocoa.

"Don't even think about it," she warned evenly as she struggled to get off his lap, but the arm he had wrapped around her waist held her right where he wanted her.

He ignored her and finished off her cocoa as she was forced to sit there, watching as her precious cocoa was stolen. Once he was done he placed the coffee cup back on the desktop with a little more force than she felt was necessary and shifted her on his lap so that she was facing him.

"Anything you feel like sharing?" he asked as he leaned back in her chair, clearly making himself comfortable as he studied her.

"You're an ass."

"Anything else?" he asked in a deceptively calm tone, but there was no missing the anger in his eyes.

"Yeah, stop touching my cocoa," she said as she tried to climb off his lap, but he didn't release her.

"No. Anything else you want to tell me, Rory?" he asked, reaching up and pushing a damp strand of hair away from her face.

"I hate you?" she offered with a sweet smile.

For a moment he didn't say anything as he studied her, finally he leaned forward and grabbed the folder he'd dropped on the desk and handed it to her.

"What's this?" she asked as she cautiously opened it, this was from Connor after all.

"My bargaining chip," he said, sounding arrogant, a little too arrogant for her comfort.

With a feigned casualness, she opened the envelope and pulled out the crisp white papers inside. She ignored him as he shifted her on his lap and looked over the papers. With one glance she knew that she was looking at a contract and a few seconds later she knew that it was a contract from McGill. When her eyes landed on the third paragraph she felt her brows pull together and her jaw pop.

"You.....son......of.....a.......bitch!" she bit out with barely controlled rage as she jumped off his lap and whirled on him.

"Checkmate, sweetheart," Connor said with a wink and that sexy grin of his that had her seeing red.

"Checkmate?" she repeated in a strangled tone as she fought against the urge to jump him and go for those damn ni**les that she was becoming so fond of. "You stole my project, you son of a bitch!"

"Did I?" he asked in a bored tone as he leaned back in the chair and appeared to think it over. "I think you just might be right about that, Rory," he said with a shrug.

"You've gone too far this time, Connor," she said, slamming the papers down on top of the desk as she continued to glare at him.

"Oh, but I'm not even close to being done," he drawled as he reached out, picked up the contract and made a show of looking it over.

"What are you talking about?" she asked, reminding herself that this was the way the game was played and that she couldn't make her move until he laid all the cards on the table. When he was done, she was grabbing her pliers and going for his balls this time.

He'd done a lot of horrible things over the years, but stealing her project was by far the worst thing he'd ever done, besides ruining her life that is. How was she supposed to explain to McGill that this was her project and that Connor stole it from her without sounding whinny and creating a lot of drama? There probably wasn't, so she was just going to have to settle for using the pliers until Connor promised to back out of the contract so that she could take it over.

"You arranged a meeting and tried to go behind my back, altering my project. For that," he paused to meet her glare, "you're going to have to pay."

"It's my project, Connor. I worked my ass off designing those suites and I had every right to go to McGill and present them. Those are my designs, Connor, and you had no right stealing them!"

"Do you want to yell some more or are you ready to cut the shit and get down to business?" he asked and god help her, but she considered slapping that smug little smile right off his face.

"Yes," she grated out.

"The project is yours, Rory."

"For what price?" she asked, already knowing that Connor was going to make her work her ass off for it and probably put her through hell and if she didn't want this so badly she would have just shrugged and walked off, but she did. She might have to share Strawberry Manor with the jackass that she'd mistakenly started to like, but those screwed up feelings ended the moment he made a play for her project. This was her baby and hers alone.

"I'm glad you asked," he said with a content little sigh that had her right eye twitching and her hand inching towards her tool belt.

"I have a few conditions of course,-"

"Of course you do," she said dryly.

"-but once you've completed them to my satisfaction then you can start building your suites, have full use of my men and equipment and Shadow Construction will get full credit for it," he explained as he watched her expectantly.

Having the use of his men, the ones she hand selected of course, would help as would having the use of his equipment. It would save her time and most importantly, money. This was a good deal and she'd have to be an idiot not to see that. Then again, she didn't know what he wanted from her or if she could even go through with it.

"And in return, Rory, you're going to be my dotting girlfriend," he announced and just like that he found the deal breaker.

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