Dare(9)

By: Allie Juliette Mousseau



She looks between me and Silva, then to McGee and Caruso, and back to me again.

“Hey, guys, could you give us a few minutes of privacy?” I ask. I can tell they don’t like the request, but I don’t give a shit.

“Please, go ahead,” I tell her once we’re alone. I’m enjoying her game.

She steps closer to me and shores up the distance between us. She opens her sweet mouth to say something, closes it again, rethinks, and then finally says, “I always have my own hotel room on overnights.”

“Done,” I say.

“Not finished. I stay out of the press. I don’t want mine or Charlie’s names mentioned, and no photos can be leaked to the public. Ever,” she says with steel in her voice and fire in her eyes. Apparently she’s serious about her privacy. That or very camera shy. “And I’ll never be ringside,” she demands.

“All right, no special features, no photos or press conferences, no ringside. We can easily cover you up with a sports cap, big sunglasses and a scarf if we have to. No problem.”

She studies me warily. “Double his original salary offer?”

“Absolutely.”

“Mr. Silva said the duration of the commitment would be three months.”

I nod. I’d take three months.

“And I have the right to terminate, with full pay for the time I’ve worked, for any reason.”

“Definitely.”

Suspiciously, she adds, “And you’ll continue to provide Charlie’s health insurance.”

“Of course,” I say seriously. “Yours too.”

I can see the cogs coming together and the wheels turning in her mind. I’ve got her right where I want her. I know she’s about to say yes!

“No.” She shakes her head. “I can’t take the position.”

“Why?” I ask, incredulous.

“I can’t leave Charlie for all the overnights this is going to require. She’s only three years old. I’d need a nanny to come with us.”

“Is that all?” I let out a sigh of relief. “I’ll even cover the nanny’s expenses as part of your employee package.”

“Yeah,”—she laughs a little—“about your package … having a young, impressionable little girl on board with a bunch of men means she’s going to require some sheltering. And that would mean you’d have to tone down your friendships. No stewardess-pole-dancing-sex-scenes on the plane like in Iron Man.”

I had been taking a sip of water. It came spitting out from between my lips. “You think I do that?” I wipe my chin.

“I know you do that,” she accuses confidently. “I read all about it in Sports Illustrated.”

Fucking magazine articles. “I guarantee that won’t happen while the two of you are part of my team.”

Sophie nods slowly. “I know this is probably very forward of me and you’re probably wishing you hadn’t offered me the position by now …”

She has no idea how many positions I’d like to offer her.

“There can’t be … any kind of … sexual interplay … between you and me.”

Hell, maybe she does.

She continues, “I know we’ve had some sexual tension between us, but we can’t act on it. I need to give Charlie stability and live the right example. I don’t want to have to explain why Mommy and her boss sleep in the same bed.”

I feel my eyebrows lift. “Do you think I’m only offering you this job because I want to get into your pants?”

Her warm, soft mouth unhinges but she doesn’t say anything.

I go on, “You can bet your magic hands I’ve thought about it, about you, especially when those magic hands are squeezing my ass like you might never let go. Trust me, that was almost as good as amazing sex, and I’d be a damn liar if I said I didn’t want to take it the rest of the way and finish that scorching foreplay.”

Her mouth drops further with my words before she realizes it and snaps it closed.

“But I swear to you, on my honor and my name, that I will not make a move if you don’t want me to. Now if you make a move on me because you can’t take the crackling, electric tension that’s obviously between us—well, that won’t be my responsibility.”

She smiles and her eyes glow. “You don’t think I could resist you?”

“I think it’ll be pretty damn hard.”

She laughs. I hadn’t meant the pun, but it fit.

“You may have met your match, Mr. Jackhammer.” She folds her arms across her chest. I wonder if she realizes how it just pushed up her round, swollen breasts.

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