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Hostile Takeover, Page 2

Joey W. Hill

Page 2


  He didn’t know what scent she was wearing because he wasn’t that close, but he wanted to be. His gaze slid back down to that tempting ass, shaped nice and round by the tailored skirt. If she’d bend down to the lower file drawers, he could let his mind go some pretty interesting places. Not that he’d be anything but professional with her, of course. Baby intern and all that.

  She turned then, and his attention coursed up the flare of hips, registering generous breasts, probably a C-cup, cradled in a lacy, low-cut bra, thank the lingerie gods. The two-button opening of the blouse collar was modest, but would still give him a glimpse of bare curve at the right angle. She was perfectly put together, office executive with appealing woman, class and style all the way. Jesus, this was an intern? Then he reached her face and was poleaxed.

  Holy Christ, it was Marcie.

  Snapping his chair back to an upright position, he managed to send his pen spinning off his desk when he set down his coffee. He damn near splashed the document she’d prepared for him.

  When Lucas, K&A’s CFO, had married Cassandra, she’d been the guardian of five younger siblings. Marcie was the next oldest girl, about to turn seventeen when Ben first met her. She’d already been pretty, but pretty teenager had obviously given way to breathtaking young woman.

  For the past four years, she’d been away at college. During her freshman and sophomore years, he’d seen her briefly at holidays, because the five K&A men were a family. They’d congregate at Matt’s family estate in Texas, or Jon’s second home in Baton Rouge for family get-togethers. But for the last two years, Marcie hadn’t been home, though Lucas and Cass had flown out to see her once or twice. She’d been doing work co-ops in Europe, then New York City. If not for the occasional postcard, he’d have had no contact at all.

  During the first two years of college, she’d sent him lots of letters. Not just emails. Handwritten letters on scented girly stationery, with clippings from her studies or the college paper to interest or amuse him. At the beginning, when she told him she was going to write him, he’d told her he wasn’t going to become her pen pal. She’d fixated on him in high school, a crush he’d always carefully managed with platonic affection. While she seemed to accept that, she sought his advice on a variety of things, often inappropriate. The guys had teased him about his wary navigation of those treacherous waters, but he’d opened the letters, read each one, and even answered a few.

  Yeah. He’d become her regular damn pen pal.

  She was family, damn it. She was like having an annoying little sister, one he’d taken under his wing. All the kids had needed some one-on-one in the male role-model department, given that Cassandra’s father had bailed years before and Jeremy, the oldest son, had been a drug addict living on the street. When it was obvious Marcie was gravitating toward Ben, Lucas had trusted him to give her that big brotherly protection and guidance while he and the others focused on the rest of the family.

  Honestly, she got under his skin. Her worries and fears, her successes and missteps. Used to being “second Mom” when Cass was working her ass off to take care of all five of them, she was a serious kid, too locked down, one who’d had too many responsibilities thrown on her too early. He knew enough about that to feel a kinship with her right off.

  When her letters and phone calls slowed to a trickle in her junior year, he’d received the infrequent postcards, sometimes a passed-on hello when she talked to Cass on the phone. It was all normal for a girl growing into a woman, of course. She shouldn’t be spending all her time writing to a guy almost a decade older.

  He admitted he missed those letters, the things she talked about with him, no matter how wildly unsuitable some of those past topics might have been. They’d been friends—in the ultra-cautious way that an older man and jailbait could be. He almost snorted at the thought. She wasn’t jailbait now, but God above, he knew trouble when he saw it.

  “Baby intern?” She’d come to his door, was studying him. Jesus, her voice. How had she developed that sultry little purr to tag her syllables? She was…how old was she? Twenty-three. Barely. “You’re still such an asshole. I’m surprised Janet doesn’t smack you down a couple times a day. ”

  “She leaves that to Alice. And Alice is out of town. ” Ben kept his gaze fastened on her. “When’d you get home?”

  “Couple weeks ago. Hi. ” Marcie’s voice softened. There was a touch of shyness to her smile, something he remembered from her teens, but it was also openly glad to see him. “Did you miss me?”

  “Hi yourself. ” He realized his voice had become husky, and he cleared it. “Who are you again?”

  She crinkled her nose, stuck her tongue out at him. When she’d done that as a teenager, he definitely hadn’t reacted the way he did now. He watched that tongue go back between her full lips, touching them briefly, an involuntary gesture. Leaning in the doorway, she crossed her arms beneath her ripe breasts, hooking a delicate ankle around the other heel. “Cass told me you needed someone to fill in while Alice was island hopping, so I had her set it up with Matt as a surprise. I’ve heard working for you is like working for Satan, and I figure that’ll look good on a resume. Especially if you give me a glowing reference letter. ”

  For some of the thoughts he was having, he was going to get up close and personal with Satan. He needed to stand up, go give her a friendly hug, stop acting like something else was happening in this room, in the way they couldn’t seem to stop looking at one another. She was a kid. Like a little sister.

  She was also apparently tired of waiting on him. Straightening, she moved across the carpet. The heels she wore were pencil thin, four inches and made her legs look ready to wrap around a man’s hips. She still had those solemn, steady brown eyes. Her features had traces of the girl he remembered, but they’d become more refined. Her makeup was applied with a light touch, because with those doe eyes and thick lashes, the cushion of her bottom lip frosted with a light gloss, she didn’t need much. A few wisps of hair strayed over her brow and around her temples, increasing the focus on her face while emphasizing the delicacy of it.

  He realized then why her movements had seemed familiar. They were like Cass’. Lucas’ wife was a top negotiator who could hit a guy broadside with understated female wiles and nerves of steel. She’d move in for the kill so smoothly a man died with a smile on his lips. Her younger sister had obviously inherited some of that, but this was also Marcie, a separate and unique entity with mysteries of her own.

  She had a gymnast’s grace. In high school, she hadn’t had the time to join teams or clubs, but she’d pursued gymnastics on her own, used the school equipment to stay flexible and lean, and he knew she continued that in college. She’d excelled at everything she attempted, studying business principles practically from the time she was in middle school. Majoring in business and minoring in pre-law, she was as brilliant and driven as her sister, who’d been a child prodigy of Pickard Consulting, a negotiation and corporate investigations firm.

  The slim choker she wore caught his attention. The pendant was a crystal disk with a tiny trio of blue flowers pressed under the glass. Forget-me-nots. Something about that niggled at his mind, but the fact there was a lock above the pendant, a small keyhole decorated with scrollwork, was even more distracting. It could be an affectation of course, not a true lock.

  She was coming around the desk, giving him a warm look. Since he hadn’t moved, he saw a flash of uncertainty behind it, something hard to pin down, as if she wasn’t sure a hug would be welcome. Get up, asshole. Say hello, be nice. What the hell’s the matter with you?

  Why wasn’t he getting up? When he’d been younger and more street raw, Matt’s father and then Matt himself had hammered courtesy into him as a mandate, not just as a way to hustle marks. Like Matt’s unbreakable rule about not cursing around women, that and the rest of it had become part of who Ben was somewhere along the way, the instinctive breeding of a Southern ma
le rising above the circumstances of his birth.

  But he was also a Dom with extreme preferences, whose radar was on full alert. Something was keeping him right where he was, studying her with firm, unsmiling lips and a calculated gaze he intended her to see.

  It was a weighted moment, that indefinable quality teetering on a scale between them. When her gaze shifted to the floor between his knees, her lashes lowering, it hit him in the solar plexus. But then her smile became a wry twitch of her lips. Putting her hand on his shoulder, she gracefully squatted and picked up the pen by his polished shoe. Her fingers slid down over his biceps, an exploratory touch. When she placed her palm on the desk to lever herself back up, she caught the edge of his notepad, knocking it off as well.

  “Oops. ” With a glance at him beneath those long lashes, she knelt fully to reach farther under the desk. As she did, she reached over his polished shoe, stretching out to retrieve the pad. He got an eyeful of Marcie on her hands and knees before him, her ass turned up, her back that shallow valley that made him imagine caressing the sweet, naked line of it. Her skirt was pulled drum tight over those toned cheeks, the cleft nicely teased. His palm would make a firm smacking sound on it if he gave her a swat for dropping his papers.

  What would it be like to cover her with his body, hold her there on her elbows as he ripped the fragile silk open, her breasts filling his hands so he could squeeze? She’d gasp, rub her ass against his cock, wanting, begging…

  Christ. Okay, if he invoked that name one more time, he was going to have to go to mass or confession, something he hadn’t done well…ever. To be a lapsed Catholic, you had to be a practicing one first, right?

  She’d knocked that pad off deliberately, was doing this deliberately. He wrapped his mind around that as she straightened, turned in the span of his knees to put the note pad on his desk next to the pen. She took her time, straightening things, making sure they were exactly the way they’d been before she’d disrupted them. Kneeling there, her back to him, she had her hair in range of his fingertips. He could unclip that barrette, bury his fingers in those thick strands, pull her head back to set his teeth to her throat. She smelled the way a candy shop did, so many flavors to sample and explore.