For Her Protection(8)

By: Amber A Bardan

Lia glanced around and pulled a yellow sticky tab off her desk. “Umm, they said they’d have them for you next week.”

“Next week? They promised me I’d have them today. Oh, Lia, I told you I wanted this followed up first thing.” Charlize rubbed her temples. How was she supposed to do her job if everyone kept screwing with her? She needed those damn files months ago.

Lia blinked her huge blue eyes. “Sorry, Charlize, I did. I called and they said…”

“It’s all right. I’m going to go down there myself, see what they have to say.” Charlize turned to leave.

“Sorry…” Lia called.

Charlize stalked down the narrow white hall to accounting and directly to the corner office. It was empty. Great, the chief financial officer was conveniently out. She strode back out and tried the room next door. Gregory, the senior financial supervising manager, sat behind a desk almost as big as hers, sliding his finger along his Smartphone. She wasn’t completely sure what a senior financial supervising officer actually did, but she guessed it wasn’t playing apps. She cleared her throat.

Gregory glanced up, slowly, running his beady gaze from her leather stilettos to the skirt that stopped at her knees, then up to her throat. She clenched her jaw. Perhaps she should’ve worn slacks but then the stylist she’d hired assured her that with her figure the right skirt would actually be better than hip-hugging pants.

She resisted the compulsion to cross her arms over her chest and hide the fact that yes…she was most definitely a woman. But she was the woman in charge so she tapped her foot instead. “I’m looking for Frank. Is he here?”

“No he’s in meetings all morning.”

She studied Gregory’s round face. Meetings. Really? Because she hadn’t seen any bookings before the executive meeting. Unease swept over her. She already knew Frank was the captain of the get-the-girl-out committee, and Gregory his co-captain. Secret meetings did not sound like anything good for her. She had to watch these two or she’d end up leaving her position Caesar-style. “So who is in charge of the salary reports that were supposed to be on my desk this morning?”

Gregory set his phone down. “I looked over the last reports provided and decided you don’t actually need them. There are several overviews—”

“You what?” Charlize stepped closer to the desk, close enough to look right down on the top of Gregory’s receding hairline. Something twitched in her neck and her lungs were back to feeling half-capacity. She slowed her breaths down. Throwing a hissy fit in the office would only help their case. No doubt they wanted her to lose her cool. “You decided that the CEO didn’t need the documents promised to her?”

“There was no need for them for what you’re looking into.” Gregory smirked.

Her neck twitched again. What was it with smirking assholes this morning? Her lips tightened over her teeth. “What would you know about what I’m looking into, Gregory?” She straightened and smoothed a hand over imaginary stray hairs. “I want the breakdown of salaries by department on my desk before the executive meeting—you have exactly an hour and a half.”

Gregory developed a blotchy flush. “There’s not time.”

“Then make time.” Charlize turned toward the door but then paused. “Don’t test me again,” she said and stepped out.

She followed the corridor back to her office. Her pulse didn’t slow down, it sped up. She was screwed. No chance of changing anything working this way. She walked straight past Lia, who stood when she saw Charlize, but she waved off her personal assistant’s inquiring look. She needed some space, needed to start thinking about how she was going to lay the foundation of a plan she had no evidence to support.

Because no information had been provided to her promptly or fully since she’d arrived.

She shoved open the door to her office. Bob stood inside, talking to the front side of a broad, suit-clad body. A tall, suit-clad body that filled out every corner of the fabric with wide, wide shoulders that tapered to narrow hips.

Must be the security company.

She stepped into the office and approached the pair. Rich, spicy cologne entered her lungs with the same achy satisfaction as inhaling from a glass of whiskey. She stepped closer, ready to take another hit. He turned.

Fucking caveman!

Charlize shrieked. Actually shrieked like a little girl, dammit. She covered her mouth briefly then dropped her hand and placed it on her hip. He’d been hot in his shorts but in a suit he was off the planet. Damn her eyes, they drank in every inch of him—no subtlety possible, they gorged, feasted on him. The snug gray jacket hung open above a starched blue shirt. Of course he wouldn’t wear a tie—instead his top two buttons hung open, drawing her gaze to that golden skin.

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