I shrug. “Don’t get ahead of yourself, sweetheart. Anderson’s coming to me. My father’s just throwing you a bone.”
“Yeah. You’ve had your lips attached to his ass since you started. I’m surprised he can still stand up straight. He figures this will get you off his back for a little while.”
Always strike first—remember that too. The team who scores first? They’re almost always the team who wins. Look it up if you don’t believe me.
Yes, I’m trying to shake her confidence. Yes, I’m trying to throw her off her game.
I told you my history. I told you how I grew up. I never had to share my toys; I don’t plan on sharing my clients.
Ask any four-year-old—sharing sucks.
When she speaks, her tone is lethal, sharp as a fucking machete. “If we’re going to work together, Drew, I think we should get a few things straight. I’m not your sweetheart. My name is Kate—Katherine. Use it. And I’m not a kiss-ass. I don’t have to be. My work speaks for itself. My intelligence, my determination—that’s what got your father to notice me. And obviously he thinks you’re a bit lacking in those departments since he’s considering me for Anderson.”
Ouch. Certainly goes right for the jugular, doesn’t she?
“And I know women probably fall all over themselves to get your attention and one of your charming smiles,” she continues, “but that’s not going to happen with me. I don’t plan on being one of your groupies or a notch on your bedpost, so you can save your lines, your smile, and your bullshit for someone else.”
She rises to her feet and rests her hands on the edge of my desk, leaning over.
Hey, you know if I just sit up a little bit more, I could see right down her blouse. I love that spot on a woman. That valley just between her—
Mentally, I slap myself. And she goes on.
“You’re used to being number one around here. You’re used to being daddy’s special little man. Well, there’s a new player in town. Deal with it. I’ve worked damn hard to get this job, and I plan on making a name for myself. You don’t like sharing the spotlight? Too bad. You can either make room for me at the table, or I’ll step on you when you get in my way. Either way, you can bet your ass I’ll get there.”
She turns to go but then looks back at me, her lips curved into a saccharine smile. “Oh, and I would say good luck with Anderson, but I won’t bother. All the luck in Ireland isn’t going to help you. Saul Anderson is mine…sweetheart.”
And with that, she turns and stalks out of my office, right past Matthew and Jack, who stand in my doorway open-mouthed.
“Well…damn,” Matthew says.
“Okay, is anyone else turned on right now?” Jack asks. “Seriously, I got wood here ’cause that—” he points in the direction Kate just went “—that was fucking hot.”
It was hot. Kate Brooks is a beautiful woman. But when she’s pissed off, she’s spectacular.
Steven walks in with a cup of coffee in his hand. Seeing the looks on our faces, he asks, “What? What’d I miss?”
Matthew all too happily tells him, “Drew is losing his touch. He just got verbally bitch-slapped. By a girl.”
Steven nods grimly and says, “Welcome to my world, man.”
I ignore the Three Stooges. My attention is still focused on the challenge Kate just threw down. The testosterone pumping through my body screams for victory. Not just a win, but a shutout—nothing short of a full, uncontested knockout will do.
AND SO IT BEGAN—the Olympic Games of investment banking. I’d like to say it was a mature contest between two professional and highly intelligent colleagues. I’d like to say it was friendly.
I’d like to…but I won’t. ’Cause I’d be lying.
Remember my father’s comment? The one about Kate being the first one in the office and the last to leave? It stuck in my mind that whole night.
See, getting Anderson wasn’t just about putting on the best presentation, coming up with the best ideas. That’s what Kate thought—but I knew better. The man is my father, after all; we share the same DNA. It was also about reward. Who was more dedicated. Who had earned it. And I was determined to show my father that I was that “who.”
So, the next day I come in an hour early. Later that morning when Kate arrives, I don’t look up from my desk, but I feel it when she walks past my door.
See the look on her face? The slight pause in her step as she sees me? The scowl that comes when she realizes she’s the second to come in? See the steel in her eyes?
Obviously, I’m not the only one playing for keeps.
On Wednesday, then, I arrive at the same time to find Kate typing away at her desk. She looks up when she sees me. She smiles cheerily. And waves.
I. Don’t. Think. So.
The day after that, I come in another half-hour earlier…and so on. Are you seeing the pattern here? By the time the next Friday rolls around, I find myself walking up to the front of the building at four thirty.
It’s still dark. And as I get to the door of the building, guess who I see across from me, arriving at the exact same time?
Can you hear the hiss in my voice? I hope you can. We stand there looking each other in the eyes, clutching our extra-large caffeine-filled double-mocha cappuccinos in our hands.
Kind of reminds you of one of those old westerns, doesn’t it? You know the ones I’m talking about—where the two guys walk down the empty street at high noon for a shootout. If you listen hard, you can probably hear the lonely call of a vulture in the background.
At the same moment, Kate and I drop our beverages and make a mad dash for the door. In the lobby, she pushes the elevator button furiously while I head for the stairs. Genius that I am, I figure I can take them three at a time. I’m almost six-feet—long legs. The only problem with this, of course, is that my office is on the fortieth floor.
As I finally reach our floor, panting and sweating, I see Kate leisurely leaning against her office door, coat off, a glass of water in hand. She offers it to me, along with that breathtaking smile of hers.
It makes me want to kiss her and strangle her at the same time. I’ve never been into S&M. But I’m beginning to see its benefits.
“Here you go. You look like you could use this, Drew.” She hands me the glass and flounces away. “Have a nice day.”
Sure, I’ll do that.
’Cause it’s just starting out great so far.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll go over it again just so we’re clear. For me, work trumps sex. Every time. Always.
Except for Saturday nights. Saturday is club night. Guy night. Hook-up-with-gorgeous-girls-and-screw-their-brains-out night. Despite my renewed diligence at work as I vie against Kate for Anderson, my Saturday night does not change. It is sacred.
What? Do you want me to go frigging insane? All work and no play makes Drew a cranky boy.
So, that Saturday night I meet a brunette divorcee at a bar called Rendezvous. I’ve found myself gravitating toward brunettes for the last couple weeks.
You don’t need to be Sigmund Freud to figure that one out.
Anyway, it’s a great night. Divorced women have a lot of pent-up anger—a lot of buried frustration—which never fails to translate into a good, long, hard fuck. It’s exactly what I’m looking for and just what I need.
But, for some reason, the next day I’m still tense. Edgy.
It’s like I’d asked the waitress for a beer, and she brought me a soda. Like I ate a sandwich when what I really wanted was a nice juicy steak. I’m full. But far from satisfied.
At the time, I don’t know why I feel like that. But I bet you do, don’t you?
To do my job properly, I need books—lots of them. The laws, codes, and regulations involved in what I do are detailed and change frequently.
Luckily for me, my firm has the most extensive collection of pertinent reference materials in the city. Well, except for maybe the city library. But have you seen that place? It’s like a frigging castle. It takes forever to find out where something should be, and when you do, it’s most likely checked out already. My firm’s private library is much more convenient.
So, Tuesday afternoon, I’m at my desk working with one of the aforementioned references when who should grace me with her presence?
Yep—the lovely Kate Brooks. She is looking particularly delicious today.
Her voice is hesitant. “Hey, Drew? I was looking for this year’s Technical Analysis of the Financial Markets, and it’s not in the library. Do you have it by any chance?” She bites her lip in the adorable way she does whenever she’s nervous.
The book in question is actually sitting right on my desk. And I’m just about done with it. I could be the better man—the bigger person—and give it to her.
But you don’t really think I’m going to do that, do you? Have you learned nothing from our past conversations?
“Yeah, I do have it, actually,” I tell her.
She smiles. “Oh, great. When do you think you’ll be finished with it?”
I look to the ceiling, seemingly deep in thought. “Not sure. Four…maybe five…weeks.”
“Weeks?” she asks, gazing down at me.
Can you tell she’s annoyed?
I know what you’re thinking. If I want to eventually—after the whole Anderson thing is over—do the horizontal tango with Kate, why don’t I try being just a little bit nicer to her? And you’re right. That does make sense.
But the Anderson thing isn’t over yet. And as I’ve said before—this, my friends, is war. I’m talking DEFCON-one, gloves-off, I’ll-knock-you-down-even-if-you-are-a-girl war.
You wouldn’t give a bullet to a sniper who’s got his gun aimed at your forehead, would you?
Plus, Kate is too damn hot when she’s angry for me to pass up a chance to see her fired up again, just for my own twisted pleasure. I look her up and down appreciatively as I speak, before giving her my patented boyish smile that almost all women are helpless against.
Kate, of course, not being one of those women. Figures.
“Well, I suppose if you ask nicely…and throw in a shoulder rub while you’re at it…I might be persuaded to give it to you now.”
The truth is, I would never demand anything that resembled a sexual favor in exchange for something work-related. I’m a lot of things. A bottom-feeding scumbag like that isn’t one of them.
But that last comment could definitely be construed as flat-out, old-school sexual harassment. And if Kate ever told my father I’d said that to her? Jesus H. Christ, he would fire me faster than you could say, “Up shit creek without a paddle.” Then he’d most likely knock me on my ass for good measure.
I’m walking one high fucking tightrope here. Yet, though the possibility exists, I’m 99.9 percent sure that Kate won’t rat me out. She’s too much like me. She wants to win. She wants to beat me. And she wants to do it all on her own.
She puts her hands on her hips and opens her mouth to rip into me—most likely to describe just where I can shove my book, I’d guess. I lean back with an amused smile, eagerly anticipating the explosion…that never comes.
She tilts her head to the side, closes her mouth, and says, “You know what? Never mind.”
And with that, she walks out the door.
Kind of anticlimactic, don’t you think? I thought so too.
Wait for it.
A few hours later, I’m down in the library looking for an enormous reference titled Commercial and Investment Banking and the International Credit and Capital Markets. All of Harry Potter would fit into one chapter of this sucker. I scan the stacks for where it should be—but it’s not there.
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