Her eyes are wide as she watches me, her hand flat on my chest. I pulled her against me without even realizing it, and now the zing of awareness is a pulsing need. I can feel her, from knee to chest, and it immediately makes my dick stand up and beg.
This woman is going to be the death of me.
And she’s off-limits.
“I won’t,” she whispers, and watches my lips as she licks her own. An involuntary growl slips from my throat as I tip my head down and lean my forehead against hers, breathing her in. “This is a bad idea,” she whispers.
“Very bad,” I agree, and reluctantly pull away and walk her down the block to her loft.
“This house is pretty,” she says, gesturing to the four-story single family home right next to the building that holds her loft.
“Thank you,” I reply.
“You own that one too?”
“I do. That’s my house.”
“You live there?”
I nod and watch her carefully.
“So, we’re neighbors.”
“Well, thanks for taking me,” she says, and doesn’t meet my eyes as she climbs the stairs. “You don’t have to walk me to the door.”
“It’s not a problem,” I reply, but she stops me with a hand to my chest.
“I don’t want you to walk me to the door, Eli. Have a good night.”
And with that, she climbs the last of the stairs and lets herself inside without a backwards glance.
I stand on the sidewalk and watch her turn the lights on in her loft, then walk to my place and pour myself another glass of wine before I change into basketball shorts. It’s hot enough outside to forgo a shirt. I sit on the balcony, listening to the music coming from Jackson Square, and settle in for a long sleepless night.
An hour later, Kate’s lights go out, putting an end to a very long day. I picture her with her hair loose, climbing into bed, slipping between the sheets wearing nothing at all, and swear under my breath as I walk inside and close the doors.
Tomorrow will be business as usual. Forget her. I have no room in my life for a woman, least of all a woman who has forever and white picket fences written all over her.
I gave all of that up long ago.
“Good mornin’,” Savannah says with a smile and hugs me after leading me into her office. “Thanks for coming in so early.”
“I figured we could go over the details before I head down to HR and meet my new boss.” I set my purse on the floor next to the chair and take in Van’s office. “Nice place you have here.”
“Thanks.” Van grins. “Quite a step up from that apartment we all shared at college.”
“It wasn’t so bad,” I reply. “But, yes, this is great. I’m proud of you.”
“Okay, so tell me what happens now.”
“Well, not much for the next few weeks. I need my coworkers to believe that I’m just another assistant. Then, as things settle and I’m not being watched as much, I’ll start investigating. You know I’m good with the computer, I can hack and sneak around and no one will ever know I’ve been there.”
“Do we lie and say we don’t know each other?” Van asks with a frown.
“No.” I shake my head and smile ruefully. “This is new for me, in that I’ve never worked in a place where I know the owners, but I think that if anyone asks, I’ll just say that I went to college with you. Leave it at that.”
“Why do I think we won’t be having lunches together?”
“Because we won’t. I need people to feel comfortable talking to me, and they won’t if they think that I’m best friends with the boss.”
“You are best friends with the boss.”
I shrug. “They don’t have to know that.”
“This whole thing pisses me off,” Van says with a sigh. “I love having you here, but I hate that someone is stealing from us.”
“We’ll find them. It’s just going to take a little time.” I reach across the desk and grip Van’s arm reassuringly. “I promise.”
She nods and then frowns. “Okay, change of subject. I’m sorry I wasn’t available to meet you yesterday.”
I sit back in my seat and school my features. “I told you, it was fine.”
“Was Eli okay?”
“What do you mean?” I ask with a raised brow.
“I’m sure he was perfectly nice, but was he…too nice?”
“What are you asking me, Van?”
“Look, I told him to leave you alone, and then I practically dumped you at his feet yesterday.”
“Wait.” I hold my hand up and glare at my friend. “You told him to leave me alone?”
“Of course I did.”
I blink at her and then stand and pace across the room. So, was he just hanging out with me, kissing me, yesterday as a rebellious act against his bossy sister?
“Why?” I turn and face her, hands propped on my hips. She looks down at her desk, suddenly looking flummoxed.
“Well, because, you know Eli—”
“Actually, I don’t.” I cross my arms. “I’d never met him before yesterday. But I’ll tell you this,” I lean on her desk, towering over her, suddenly so angry on both my and Eli’s behalf that I’d be baffled if I stopped and gave it too much thought. “Eli was nothing but polite yesterday. He escorted me to my loft and to Declan’s show last night.”
“Look, Kate, I didn’t mean—”
“I don’t know why you think you had to warn your brother off me. I’m a grown woman, a professional woman, who certainly doesn’t flop down on her back for any man who smiles at her and crooks his finger, which your brother did not. So, I think you’ve misjudged both of us.”
“Wow, you’re pissed.”
“I am so bloody mad at you right now.”
“When you get mad, your Irish shows through.” Her lips twitch, but I’m not done being mad at her yet.
“I’m here to do a job, not start an affair. I won’t be here that long.”
“You like him,” Van murmurs with narrowed eyes.
“I don’t know him!” I repeat in exasperation. Yes, I like him! He kisses like a dream, and I want to climb his hot body and have my wicked way with him!
Not that I’m going to tell her that.
“I just didn’t want him to set his sights on you and have you eventually hurt. I know you’re still—”