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In Your Eyes: Parker and Megan (Man of the Month Book 6), Page 3

J. Kenner

That wide, gorgeous mouth curved up. “I thought that would be obvious, Megan. I want you.”

  Chapter Three

  Megan blinked, certain she must have heard him wrong. “What did you say?”

  Heat flashed in his eyes, and she swallowed, not certain if it was borne from anger or desire. “I think you heard me just fine.”

  “I—” She paused, her mouth dry and her words lost. She had no idea how to answer. For that matter, she wasn’t sure how she felt. Was she confused? Insulted?

  Was she, God forbid, actually a little bit flattered?

  No. Absolutely not. He was being a prick and yanking her chain—and he was damn sure doing it on purpose.

  She lifted her chin, determined to remain professional even in the face of his antics. “I can’t possibly have heard you right.”

  “No?” He pushed away from the desk and came toward her, and oh, holy hell, the man had a presence. He walked with purpose—and she couldn’t shake the somewhat unnerving feeling that right then his purpose was her.

  She shifted, intending to take a step back, but then she saw his lips twitch, and she was certain that he was laughing at her. Amusing himself by intimidating her, and patting himself on the back when it worked.


  She dug in her heels and held her ground. “I came here to apologize for the misunderstanding and to ask you to please consider participating in the Man of the Month contest. The Fix on Sixth is a popular bar in a historic location on Sixth Street. This contest has turned into an incredibly well-attended event, and it’s no secret that the contest is the cornerstone of a marketing campaign designed to increase revenue at the bar and, thus, keep it’s doors open into next year and beyond.”

  Whew. She squared her shoulders and drew in a breath, impressed that she’d gotten all of that out without faltering. Then again, she’d practiced in front of her mirror for a good ninety minutes last night and once more on the walk over.

  He cupped his chin in his fist, one finger extending onto his cheek as his head tilted slightly sideways. He looked like an academic—an insanely sexy academic. And she had absolutely no idea what he was thinking.

  After a moment, he turned, walked behind his desk, and sat down, the city spread wide behind him. “Please,” he said, with a nod to a leather and chrome guest chair.

  She took the seat gratefully, certain that they’d passed the unpleasantries and were moving onto the details of how this would work and what The Fix could do to alleviate any inconvenience the whole mess had caused him.

  Parker leaned back in his chair, his fingers now steepled under his chin. “Let me make sure I understand. You’re telling me that—even though the error was entirely yours—because The Fix is a popular establishment with financial issues, I should enthusiastically tarnish my reputation and jump on board?”

  She couldn’t help it; her brows shot up. “Tarnish your reputation? Yours? The man whose picture’s been flashed on the TMZ website more than Paris Hilton? Your reputation?”

  He leaned forward, his hands clasped on his desk, his eyes on her, and his expression as commanding as she’d ever seen.

  “Yes,” he said, the easy tone belied by the formal posture. “My reputation. A reputation I’ve been working diligently to repair since I founded PCM Enterprises. A reputation that I’ve culled together piece by painful piece, meeting by interminable meeting with investors, doctors, FDA representatives, bankers, lobbyists, and more politicians than I like to think about. A reputation that I’ve clawed free from the wreckage of my bad choices in Los Angeles, and which you have just rendered invisible by including me in a line-up of men who are going to prance across a stage like a troop of goddamn Chippendale strippers.”

  “Oh.” She licked her lips as she sank a bit into the chair. “Oh,” she repeated, because she really didn’t know what else to say.

  With a rough shove, he stood, his chair rolling backward into the window from the force of his motion. For a moment, he simply stood there. Then he stalked around the desk until he was standing right in front of her, and she had to either tilt her head back to meet his eyes, or stay as she was with her eyes about level with his crotch.

  She tilted, though the whole situation ticked her off. Dammit, she should have remained standing, because this position was intimidating as hell, and even though she’d screwed up, she’d come here to eat crow, not be intimidated. “I assure you, there is absolutely no prancing during the contest.”

  His brows rose. “Isn’t there?” He stepped backward until he was leaning against his desk. “That’s odd. Because I could have sworn the whole contest went something like this.” He kept his eyes on her as he spoke, and all the while he was slipping off his jacket.

  Her mouth went dry, and she actually jumped when he tossed it onto his desk. But she really almost lost it when he narrowed those ice blue eyes at her, loosened his tie, and then let it trail through his fingers as it dropped to the floor, as casually as a man undressing for bed.

  During that whole process, he never stopped walking, and with each step closer her breathing grew more shallow and her body more aware. The man was like a sensual magnet, and the closer he came, the more her entire body seemed to yearn to go to him. Her blood humming. Her nipples peaking. Her lips tingling.

  And then—oh, dear Lord in heaven—he started to unbutton his shirt. One button, then another, and another, until he paused right in front of her, the tiniest smattering of chest hair peeking out from the starched white cotton, so enticing that she almost had to sit on her hands to keep from reaching out to touch him.

  He stopped after three buttons, and her mouth fell open, disappointment rolling off her in waves.

  “Or am I wrong?” he asked, his voice low and very, very sensual.

  It took her a second to remember her name, much less what they’d been talking about. “That wasn’t prancing,” she said, when her brain stared to function again. “It was preening.”

  Almost. He almost smiled at that. Instead, he managed to wipe his expression clear, then revealed nothing when he returned to the desk, once again leaned against it, and said, “I think you might be splitting hairs, Ms. Clark.”

  “I just mean that it is a calendar contest. Some amount of preening or prancing or strutting is expected.” And, she thought, he could strut for her anytime he wanted to.

  “Not by me. Since, as I already mentioned, I never intended to enter your contest. And by the way, did it even occur to you to ask my permission?”

  Whatever sensual haze had started to descend on her, that completely obliterated it, and she almost leaped out of her chair. “Excuse me? Of course! I called and talked to your assistant. I specifically told her who I was, that I was calling on behalf of The Fix, and that we were hoping you’d participate in the contest.”

  “And then you just assumed I’d agree, so you went and plastered your flyers all over town.”

  “I—” She cut herself off. Dammit, she wanted to argue—to tell him that his previous assistant screwed up, which she had. But Megan had screwed up, too, and why get both of them in trouble?

  “What?” Parker demanded as the silence lingered. “Did Lisa tell you she was sure I’d be happy to help, and you took that as gospel even before confirmation?”

  “No,” she lied. “No, I just asked for permission. And in my eagerness to get the flyer out, I guess I just assumed that you would do it.”

  For a moment, he said nothing. He simply watched her. When he finally spoke, all he said was, “Why?”

  She shrugged, her frustration with herself rising anew. “Honestly, I don’t know. Maybe because we used to know each other.” She drew a breath and looked down at the floor. And then, because this was the time for mea culpas, she told him the rest of it. “Or maybe because once upon a time I thought that you liked me.”

  She lifted her eyes to look at him. “At least just a little.”

  He held her gaze, and his expression didn’t change at all. But she thought she
saw his shoulders sag just a bit. The silence between them grew thick until, finally, he said quietly. “I did. I do.” The hint of a smile danced at the corner of his mouth. “Or maybe you missed the implications of my earlier negotiating point. I thought I’d made it clear that I want you.”

  She rolled her eyes. “That’s not a reflection of like. That’s a reflection of being an asshole.”

  “Careful — I can withdraw my very kind offer and watch you scramble to fix this mess you’ve tossed me into.”

  His words were intense, but his tone was light. So maybe they were reaching a detente?

  She couldn’t be certain, though. Just having her in the room seemed to amuse him. And she couldn’t risk screwing up again.

  “I can fix this,” she said firmly. “You say that I’ve damaged your reputation? We can use that reputation, and then walk away with it even stronger than before.”

  “I’m listening.”

  “Why don’t we announce that you’re doing it for a good cause. And for every vote for you, you’ll donate $100 to charity.”

  He crossed his arms, looking both smug and amused. “So instead of you scrambling to fix this, I’m going write a very large check?”


  “And what about all the men who don’t win because I get the charity vote?”

  She looked him up and down. “I just got a sneak peek at your prancing ability, remember? Believe me, you’ll win even without the charity vote.”

  His brows rose, and she saw the flicker of heat in his eyes. But all he said was, “Nice try.”

  “Fine. You’re right. It was a terrible idea.” Shit. She was just digging herself in deeper and deeper.

  “Actually, the charity idea’s not bad. I can work with it.”

  “Really?” Relief positively flowed through her veins, as warm and sweet as hot fudge sauce. Thank goodness that was settled.

  “Absolutely. We’ll add it to the mix.”

  The rush of relief turned to icy slush. “The mix?”

  He nodded. “You’re clearly reluctant to accept my original proposal. Adding these few promotional benefits should make it worth your while. After all, turning the contest into a charitable fundraiser—even for one night—that’s worth some media coverage for The Fix, I’m sure.”

  “Well, yes, but this conversation started because—”

  She cut herself off. She couldn’t actually remember how it had started, other than the fact that his initial compromise was to trade her for his participation in the contest. And that just wasn’t happening.

  “Look at me, Megan.” His voice, commanding yet melodic, allowed for no disobedience, and the truth was that she was too tired and frustrated to fight him on the point anyway.

  She looked up, and saw that the embers she’d seen in his eyes had flared into a burning desire so intense it sent a coil of heat curling all the way down to her core.

  “The bottom line is that I want you, Megan. I wanted you in LA, and now here you are, all flustered and desperate. You’ve already knocked me back down to the man I was back then. A man used to getting whatever and whoever he wanted, including any woman who intrigued me, right there in my bed.”

  He took a step toward her, and her breath quickened. “And do you know why, Megan? It wasn’t because of my bank account, though I’ll admit that didn’t hurt. No, it was because I have a certain skill set. I know where pleasure hides, and I know how to tease it out. I know how to tame desire and put a leash on passion. I have secrets, Megan. Secrets I can share with a woman—secrets that she’ll beg for. Secrets that lead to treasures you can’t even imagine.”

  Beads of sweat rose at the back of her neck. Sweat that had absolutely nothing to do with the sweltering temperature outside.

  He bent forward, then pressed his lips close to her ear. So close the scent of him caressed her, a woodsy, male smell that would have seemed counter to the man in the business suit if she hadn’t just witnessed the wildness inside. “Agree, Megan. You know you want to.”

  With supreme effort, she forced herself to shake her head. “No. What you’re suggesting. It’s … it’s inappropriate.”

  He took a step back, stared at her for one long beat, then laughed.

  “Yes, I suppose it is. And you can say no if you really want to. But I’m not the one who screwed up here, Megan.” He took a step back, his hands threaded behind his neck as he looked at her. “We’re done talking. It’s time for you to make your choice.”

  She drew in a breath, her pulse pounding with anticipation. As if her body knew what the answer would be even before her brain got with the program. “Just one night, right? That’s all?”

  He nodded.

  “And nothing I don’t consent to?”

  A single brow rose. “Well, dinner and a movie and a chaste kiss won’t cut it.” He let his gaze rake over her, from her head all the way to her toes, leaving her body tingling in the wake of his inspection.

  “But don’t worry,” he said, when his eyes once again met hers. “I don’t do pain. Not unless you specifically ask for it,” he added with a tiny smile.

  She swallowed, wondering what the hell she was getting herself into, and more turned on that she cared to admit. Even to herself.

  “No,” he continued, bending over and putting his hands on the arms of her chair, essentially caging her in with his body. “I’m only interested in pleasing you, Megan. In making your heart pound and your skin fire. In tasting your lips, your breasts, every delicious part of you. Pleasure, remember? It’s mine to give, and yours to enjoy. Come on, Megan. All you have to do is say yes.”

  She forced herself not to squirm in the chair, but she knew damn well that her panties were soaked. More than that, she was certain he knew it, too.

  With a supreme force of will, she managed to not only look at him, but to conjure words. “If you want all that,” she asked, “then why are you making it into a punishment.”

  He didn’t answer. He only smiled.

  And when the silence had lingered so long that she couldn’t stand it, she waved the white flag and whispered, “Yes.”

  He nodded, just the tiniest movement of his head. “Wednesday,” he said. “We’ll start our date after the contest is over. And take Thursday off from work. We don’t want to rush things, after all.”

  Her eyes went wide, and he chuckled. “Thanks for coming in today, Ms. Clark. It’s been a pleasure doing business with you.”

  He was an asshole.

  A first-rate, A-number-one, certifiable asshole.

  But at least he knew it, so maybe that went part of the way toward redeeming him.

  Parker didn’t know. Frankly, he didn’t care. Not so long as he got what he wanted.

  And what he wanted was Megan.

  With a sigh, he settled in the guest chair she’d vacated, still warm from her body. Her perfume lingered along with her heat—a vanilla essence that tickled his senses. He had a weakness for white cake with vanilla cream frosting, but at the moment, he was craving something even sweeter.

  But not just sweet. Strong, too. And his cock tightened with anticipation and desire as he pictured her sitting right in that chair and owning up to her mistake.

  For a moment, he simply enjoyed the memory. But then he levered himself out of the chair and circled his desk. Frowning, he pushed the button on his phone to call the reception desk, then waiting until Mrs. Ridley’s efficient voice came on the line.

  “Yes, Mr. Manning?”

  “Is Lisa in?” She’d been his assistant for less than three months, but her lack of attention to detail had sealed her demise. Rather than fire her, though, he’d had Human Resources relocate her. Now, he believed, she worked as a file clerk.

  “She is, sir. Shall I send her up?”

  “Please.” He ended the call, then waited, not entirely certain what had possessed him to go down this particular road. After all, Megan had been perfectly clear that she’d jumped the gun in printing the flyers, and that
Lisa had never suggested that he was willing to participate.

  Even so, he wanted to talk to the girl himself.

  She arrived within five minutes, then wiped what were undoubtedly sweaty palms on her slacks. The girl got nervous and flustered if you so much as looked at her wrong. Yet another reason she wasn’t assistant material. He needed an assistant who anticipated him, not one who jumped every time he spoke to her.

  “You’re not in trouble,” he said, because that was the best way to begin every conversation with her. “I’m trying to clear up a misunderstanding and just need to get a few details.”

  “Oh.” She blinked. “Okay. Sure.”

  “I understand that you told someone at The Fix that I’d participate in their Man of the Month contest.” He actually didn’t understand that at all. In fact, he assumed the opposite. Hell, Megan had confirmed that Lisa hadn’t pulled such a boneheaded maneuver as signing him up for an event without first clearing it with him.

  All he wanted was for her to deny it.

  Instead, she nodded. “That’s right. It’s a very popular event. I went with my friends after work about a month ago. We saw Mr. April. That radio guy won. The DJ who’s so funny during the morning show when—”


  She closed her mouth, her eyes open wide.

  “Is there a reason you never told me about it?”

  Miraculously, her eyes opened even wider. “Oh, no, sir. No reason at all.”

  He considered responding, thought better of it, then nodded. “Thank you, Lisa. That’s all I needed to know.”

  “Oh. So I can go?”

  “You can go. Thanks.”

  He pressed his fingers to his temples, fighting a headache that was creeping in.

  At least he’d confirmed that he’d made the right decision by transferring Lisa off his desk.

  And at least he’d confirmed his suspicions that Megan had taken it on the chin, purposefully covering for his assistant’s ineptitude.

  With a sigh, he looked out the window, thinking.

  The truth was, he’d been intrigued by Megan from the first moment he’d met her, but she’d ended up in Carlton’s arms before Parker had made a move. He was shallow enough to admit that it was her looks that had initially caught his attention. Her long, glorious hair, so dark against her fair skin. Those big brown eyes that today had been hidden by teal-rimmed glasses. Her slim body and subtle curves. And that sweet, sweet smile that had the power to shatter him.