Unspoken Vows, Book 1 of the Heartbeat Series

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Chapter 1. Claws Bared, Insults Spared, Life as Usual

Compared to my grueling schedule at AC Records in LA, I preferred the quiet of my home office in White Plains, New York any day. It’s not like I sit around in my boxers all day, a cup of coffee in one hand and the phone in the other either. While my record label is filled with beautifully adorned and talented eye candy, my foundation’s office had a delicious looking taskmaster whose apple bottom and perky tits made me rearrange my Summer schedule just to be poolside in New York this year and not in stuck in an air-conditioned office in California.

Leaning back in my executive chair, I twisted just enough to see if I had adjusted that mirrored award on the far wall’s shelf to the best possible angle. I just wanted to see what color thong had hiked up the waistband of Megan’s faded hip huggers.

Jet-lagged and already arriving a day later than planned, not to mention the evening catfight that I would referee since my girlfriend showed up a day ahead of me. Bianca had already drawn claws and spat with my assistant, who tattled with her wounded actions that morning with my first cup of coffee until I forced it from her pouty lips over lunch.

The last thing I wanted to do was the work piled on my desk. From where I sat I just needed her to move a little more to the left in that swivel chair she had taken the back off of to keep her posture straight. Once more I adjusted my seat until I almost caught a view of her until she turned to reach for a file from the horizontal file behind her desk, getting a complete view of her cleavage instead.

Oh yeah, don’t move. I considered enforcing a dress code in this office so she kept wearing those low cut blouses and push up bras. I knew she’d gawk at the idea and that she only wore them when Bianca was around to show off her rack to me, reminding me always that I could have her instead of my beautiful lithe ballerina who was flat as a board.

While I hated their antics and pissing contests, I enjoyed their vying for my affections. The special blow jobs that Bianca gave me to prove herself when I knew for a fact she was improving her skills with benefactors in every city and that I wasn’t the only one who spoiled her with shopping sprees and bling.

With Meg, it’s different. We play by other rules here. Living in my home in New York and managing the foundation was important for her and a necessity for me. While she was a wildcat in my presence with Bianca, I knew it was different when they were alone. Meg knew how to get my attention but she was the biggest distraction as well.

Between the low cut tops and welcomed invasion of my personal space when Bianca is about, she knew how to charge my battery and that I would go upstairs to relieve it on Bianca who would rather not be inconvenienced by what she called a mid-day shag. What really got on Bianca's nerve was Meg's figure and that diamond belly button stud that her latest boyfriend bought her. Complete with makeup and perfume, I fantasized about putting her over a desk any day of the week instead of Bianca. It would never happen. I lusted after Meg but my heart belonged to Bianca.

"Alex?” she asked. I just realized I had been too quiet.

“Yes?” I replied, opening a folder.

“You taking a nap?”

“No. Just reading through a...proposal,” I lied.

“Which one?”

I had to put on my glasses to see the name, and they weren’t there on my blotter where I thought I had left them. As I patted down my desk, Meg leaned on the doorjamb, holding my reading glasses that I had left on her desk. I lingered in my embarrassment for a moment more just to look at her precocious grin on that heart-shaped face framed by wisps of auburn hair that escaped the makeshift bun with pencils sticking out of the top of it.

“You caught me,” I said. She smirked and handed them to me.

“Want a cup of coffee?”

“No, I won’t sleep tonight if I did. Meg, help me out here. What do you need me to do with these?” I asked pointing to the stack.

Just then, she took the bait and leaned over me so that I got a whiff of her perfume and those perfect orbs near my face. She chattered on while I tried to come up with a plausible way of spilling her into my lap.

“So I need you to decide which of these two programs we should fund.”

“Which do you like?”

“I can’t decide so I’m asking you and Sean both.”

“And the rest?” she stood up and crossed her arms in front of her making those breasts strain the button band of her blouse even more.

“I’m sorry, Meg.”

“We got less than an hour before she comes in to collect you. Sean will be calling to discuss these two programs with you in ten minutes, and you still have a conference call from ACR at four forty-five.”

“And the rest of this?”

“I will bump to tomorrow, but I have payables that need to be signed that must go out by morning. I will drop them off on my run tonight.”

“You okay, Meg?” I asked.

She smirked. “I’m fine.”

“Is Randy behaving himself?”

“I haven’t seen him much. You best read that before Sean calls.”

“We will talk later.”

“We always do.”

I opened the files and read through the first proposal and was nearly finished with the second one when the phone rang. I let Meg get it so I could look over the proposed spreadsheet then compare it to the other one.

“Gaah,” I sighed as she picked it up.

“Alex, Sean’s on the phone,” said Megan, through the open door between our two offices.

I picked up the extension on my desk and chatted with Sean, my friend and co-founder of the Associated Artists AIDS Foundation.

While talking with Sean about a grant award, I heard Bianca make her grand entrance into Megan’s half of the office.

“He’s on the phone with foundation business,” Meg said, rising from her desk to meet her nemesis. As if the kitten had found bravado with the mama cat lurking nearby, Megan skittered from her chair to the door jamb, blocking Bianca from entering my office by standing in the doorway.

Without turning, I could see them both, now Meg’s ass was in full view and in the mirror I could see Bianca’s little fists being instantly perched on her hips. In those platform heels, curvy Megan was two heads taller than my petite ballerina, making her eye level with Megan's cleavage.

I struggled to listen to Sean’s concern and peered around Megan’s ass in those tight faded jeans to see Bianca stomp her feet as Megan leaned against the side of the door jamb closest to me so that Bianca couldn’t even see me.

Megan’s tush was so deliciously curved, and I loved looking at it, especially from where I sat because I could get a view of the whole package without Bianca thinking I was gawking at Megan instead of her.

“Alex can’t be disturbed right now,” Megan insisted from the threshold. She had braced her arms against the doorjamb so Bianca couldn’t get past her. As Bianca moved from side to side to make eye contact with me, Megan moved with her, infuriating Bianca.

As she tried to get by Megan, who just flexed her arms as she tightened her hold on the door jamb, in her debasing English accent, Bianca exclaimed, “Alex, make your pit bull heel.”

“Shut up, he’s on the phone with business. His world doesn’t revolve around you, you know.”

Bianca knew that my office was Megan’s turf, but she constantly invaded it to tell me nothing of consequence, just for the sake of irritating my assistant. By this time, they were hurling insults but not claws at each other, so I continued to talk with Sean, not paying the two of them any mind. Meg resisted and tightened her grip on the threshold while Bianca tried to squeeze past her, only getting louder.

Sean, who had heard just about enough, said, “I think you’d better break up that catfight.”

“Right, I’ll call you when I’ve settled their asses down,” I replied. Embarrassed for the last time by these two, I slammed the phone’s receiver onto its cradle as Megan’s insult was topped by Bianca’s cursing.

Sandwiching Meg between Bianca and me, neither of them cared that I was standing right there within inches of either of them.

“ENOUGH!” I exclaimed, getting their attention, making Megan lose her balance on the platform heels only for me to steady her with a hand on her waist and for Bianca to snort and storm out of there.

My eyes couldn’t resist peering down at Meg’s tight ass in those jeans, especially the gap in the waistband, and there it was, the black with the pink lace thong she wore today and totally worth the wait. Every day is casual Friday about this office with Meg’s tight blue jeans.

With a quick pivot, Bianca saw where my gaze landed and turned on her heel and resumed stomping out of the office, grumbling as she walked to the den for a drink. While Meg smiled victoriously, she returned to her desk and dialed the phone.

“Hi, Ryan. Is Sean there?”

Waiting for the argument that we have had daily since my return a night after hers, I determined that it was time for me to finish it. “Megan,” I snorted.

“She knows the rules.”

“You don’t have to infuriate her.”

“I only have you from nine to five when you’re in New York. She has you anytime but that.”

“Oh hell--”

“Hi, Sean. Here he is, let me send you to his phone,” she crooned all sweet and innocent. I rolled my eyes as the phone rang in my office.

“I haven’t finished with you--”

“Likewise,” she interrupted, tapping the stack of files that set upon her desk. I apologized to Sean, the foundation’s founder, who chewed me out for allowing them to carry on like children during office hours. At least 5 years my senior, Sean talks to me as if I’m at least ten years his junior, and reminds me that if I was at the label, I certainly wouldn’t let the girls in the office there carry on that way.

When our conversation had ended, I took only one breath before I left the quiet of my office to confront Megan about her errant behavior. Taking her place on the door jamb, I leaned there and watched her briefly as she ignored me.

“You know Bianca’s not here for much longer. Why piss her off just for the sake of it?”

“I told you, we have work to do. She wants to play. Playtime is after five, since you’re leaving the same day as she is,” replied Megan. She tossed her long auburn hair back from her shoulder with a jerk of her head, letting the mane fall down her back and pool on the chair before she gathered it up and twisted the hairband from around her wrist, tailing it all in the back so that the tips landed right above her ass. When she swiveled in the chair, Meg dismissed me with a full view of her hourglass figure as she continued typing figures into the grant application.

While my eyes focused on her ass encased in those tight jeans, she lifted it off the seat to reposition herself for typing. I tried to concentrate on the task at hand.

“Remind me again, what needs to be done so badly?”

“I don’t care if it’s your own jet, you do not do well with red-eye flights, Alex. With your health, this is not good for you. The project reports from the grantees, which I need to be evaluated and signed before their application for this year’s funding can be approved can wait until tomorrow.”

“So evaluate them.”

“I did.”

“Then what do you need me for?”

“Your John Hancock, mainly, but—”

“Why didn’t you just say so?”

“You have had other correspondence of a higher priority.”

“I’ve made half of the calls on that sheet today.”

“Well, there’s still the other half for tomorrow, but you have a conference call with AC Records in ten minutes.”

“Who’s it with?”

Megan rifled through the papers on her desk until she located her computer mouse. She clicked on my calendar window on her desktop.

“Gonzo and Connor.”

“Wonderful, Connor’s done with his tour?”

“Last night was its finale,” she replied, swiveling in the chair towards me.

Again, another jerk of the head and the stray tendril fell loose about her heart-shaped face as it tilted up in my direction.

“Good, well, I’ll sign those now,” I said, reaching for one of the files. Quickly Meg put her small hand down upon the half-lifted file.

“No.”

Ready to battle her for usurping me yet again, I asked, “No?”

“You’d best attend to Bianca before you end up in the doghouse.”

Without another word, I left the office, knowing that if I protested with Megan any further, I’d be nagged until I did what she wanted to be done in the first place. Sometimes I argued with Megan even when she was right, the same way she did with me, but I wasn’t in the mood to have a pissing contest with her all night.

Since Megan moved in, my girlfriend, Bianca, felt threatened by my beautiful and young new assistant. Once only a visitor or booty call when she was in New York, Bianca began to literally live at my house when I was in town and not in Los Angeles. For the first time in eight years, she realized that she could lose not only me but also the perks that she enjoyed, like the shopping sprees and European holidays. Megan became the bane of Bianca’s existence since she wasn’t intimidated by her like most.

Bianca was always too busy with her career as a ballerina in an international touring ballet company to settle down with me. I had proposed on more than one occasion to the gorgeous blonde with long legs and the grace of a butterfly. However, the goddess of my bed, refused me as she enjoyed our open relationship and the freedom to have many other benefactors in the touring cities.

While I worshipped Bianca from the crown of her soft honey blonde hair down to the tight high arches of her little ballerina feet, my best friends despised her and continued to match me up with other women whenever possible.

They never understood how I felt about her: how after eight years, I begrudgingly shared her with the world. I was certain that as her career neared the end she’d accept my marriage proposal.

Bianca stood at the bar in the den, mixing a pitcher of Martini’s as I entered through the open double oak doors. The furrowed brow and pink face that was only rosy when she was upset or embarrassed warned me that this wasn’t going to be a quick fix with a peck on the lips and few sweet nothings in her ear.

“That little bitch,” she mumbled as she poured the vodka into the crystal pitcher. “Who in the hell does she think she is?”

I moved behind the oak bar and wrapped my arms around her thin waist. With my cheek, I pressed her soft blonde hair away so my lips could nuzzle her long slender neck. “Don’t you know?” I asked.

For some reason, Megan confused the titles assistant with wife, and that caused more than one battle on many occasions. There were times when I wished she wasn’t my assistant, when I wanted nothing more than to put her over the desk and screw her right there in the office, but I didn’t dare.

“I’m in no mood for your bloody jokes, Alex,” replied Bianca in her indignant English manner.

“Why do you let her get to you?” I asked, dumping some of the ice from the ice bucket into the crystal pitcher. She set out two glasses, hoping Megan would let me be for a few minutes to have a few sips of a cocktail with her, but I’d probably finish mine in my office alone since Meg would come to fetch me. Once more, Bianca will have to sulk by herself while drowning in her defeat with the Martini pitcher and a well-stocked bar. I hated making Martini’s because no one in the house made them as well as Megan, and right now I wished she’d buzz her busy bee self in here and make this pitcher because I always misjudged the Vermouth for as dry of a Martini as Bianca desired.

“Why? Why do you let her treat me so terribly?”

“You know the rules, Bianca.”

“I’m going to London early to see Mummy.”

“We have another week yet.”

“I’m tired of her and you. Honestly, Alex, you could live off of her affections.”

“The only affections that I feed off of are yours, Bianca.”

“Bloody hell. You’re sleeping with the bitch.”

“No, I’m not. I sleep with you.”

Turning away from me, so that her back was to me as she reached for the Martini glasses, Bianca snidely replied, “Sleep being the operative word.”

“I was exhausted when I got in last night.”

“You were supposed to be here on Tuesday.”

“So I was a day late. I told you I had business to attend to. It couldn’t be helped.”

“I want you to get rid of her.”

“That’s not going to happen.”

“You keep her to spite me.”

“I do not.”

“Her or me, Alex. Which will it be?”

I looked up, and there stood Megan in the doorway glaring at me with her arms folded across her chest with a clipboard clasped in one of her dainty hands, her eyes asking me the same question, which I readily ignored. Her luscious lengths of auburn hair were now gathered again at the nape of her neck with two pencils stuck in the midst of the twist she had attempted with that long thick braid.

“Alex, Gonzo and Connor—” I put up my hand to shush her nagging.

“Coming, I’ll be right there,” I said.

As I broke the seal on a fresh bottle of Vermouth, Megan rolled her eyes and walked to the bar, setting down her clipboard and reaching for the Vermouth. She grasped the bottle’s neck and with a flick of her wrist, she poured just enough into the pitcher. Before I could say a word, she had the Martinis mixed, strained, and poured into the glasses.

I picked up mine and sipped the perfect dry Martini. Bianca’s was already half gone

“For once, could the two of you act like civilized women?”

“That’s not my problem,” replied Megan. She stole an olive from the jar and popped it into her mouth. I left the room with my Martini in my hand, thinking Megan was behind me, turning back to see otherwise.

Pouring another Martini into her now empty glass, Bianca stated, “I’ll be rid of you by sundown.”

“Kiss my ass,” I heard Megan reply before following me into the hall. I chuckled under my breath, knowing that I had to straighten up to scold her in case I was within Bianca’s hearing. After I stepped into the office, I took a sip and put on my best pissed off boss’ expression, hearing Megan's cork wedges click down the Italian tiled hallway.

“That wasn’t necessary,” I said, lying in wait for her at the office door.

“Whatever. California awaits you,” she replied. Pressing past me, she handed me the clipboard with letters attached to sign before sitting down and clicking on her mouse to check off another appointment on my calendar. Megan’s cocky mouth and attitude are what irritated me the most, not to mention her cheeky idea that I couldn’t run this foundation without her. This spoiled brat, who thought she could be as rotten as she wanted to be one moment and sweet as pie the next, made me feel like I had two women working for me rather than one. If she weren’t worth looking at and teasing, I would have gotten rid of her after the first blow up between us. When she made the foundation its first million this year, I was glad I hadn’t canned her to hire someone half her abilities or wit. Her fingers clicked the keyboard quickly as she was working again, totally disregarding my presence there within ten feet of her.

“I wish I was back in California.”

“Fine, whatever. Just please take your prima ballerina with you so I can get some real work done."

Connor was one act I could do without, but I sure enjoyed the profits he grossed for the label. Always a bloom of controversy, this Trinidadian reggae artist made me close to crazy when dealing with the tabloid press. He loved the ladies, and they adored him and the money he spent on them. Mickey Gonzalez, his manager known as Gonzo to the rest of us, promised me that he’d take Connor and a few of his female companions from the tour up to ACR’s mountain lodge up near San Francisco in hopes of keeping Conner out of jail while in California.

“No contraband, Gonzo,” I replied, reminding him of the last fiasco with Connor that had me wheeling and dealing with a Los Angeles judge just to let Connor go on tour with a fine instead of community service for possession of pot and Ecstasy.

“Under control, Boss. Say, how’s that sexy assistant of yours these days?” asked Gonzo over my speakerphone, loud enough for her to hear. As if Megan needed her ego boosted any more than she already did today, Gonzo just puffed it up and I’d spend the night with her cocky mouth biting at Bianca’s bitchy attitude. Right now, California didn’t sound half bad.

Hearing her chair squeak, I knew that she would be in shortly at the mention of her name and would catch me playing solitaire instead of working. “Megan is fine.”

“Fine, you got that right,” interjected Connor. He had met Megan at his concert at Madison Square Garden a few months back. “If you could bottle beauty like that, damn, boss man.”

Megan carried the checkbook and set it on my blotter in front of me, peering over at my monitor to see the game on my computer. “Connor, you sweet thang you!”

“Back at ya, Megs-a-million. You take care of the Boss Man. He works too hard.”

“I would, Con, but that’s not my department, if-you-know-what-I-mean,” she flirted. I had one more card to move to win the game, but before I could do so, she swatted my hand away from the mouse and moved the final card to win the game for me, then shut the program.

“Don’t work him too hard,” said Gonzo.

Meg moved around to the back of my desk, put her hands on the executive chair, and swiveled it back to the desk where she had a stack of work awaiting me. “Who? Me? Mrs. Simms works him much harder than I do,” she said as I scoffed at her. She tapped the checkbook she had set there moments before, handed me my fountain pen, and then pointed to each of the three checks that needed to be signed, picking up the clipboard of signed letters. “She says that and just dropped work on my desk. I’ll talk to you guys later.”

“See ya, Boss man,” said Connor, “Say, Megs-a-million, you comin’ out with us next time we’re in New York?”

“Sure Con’, I’ll go out with ya, just give me some notice to clear my social calendar,” she replied, spying my reaction.

“Cool, well, we’ll see you Megs.”

Clicking down the receiver ending the call, “Bye!”

As she lifted the checkbook from my desk to retreat to her office, I simply said, “No.”

“No what?”

“No, you’re not going out with him.”

“Last I checked, my social life wasn’t any of your business.”

“Last time I checked, I’m your boss and his too. The answer is no. Besides, if you go out with that, you might come home with more than you meant to.”

“Whatever you say, Daddy.”

“Don’t go there.”

“Then quit acting like it. My Dad’s dead, and I don’t need another. Besides, fatherhood wouldn’t be the role I’d desire from you.”

“What the hell do you mean by that?”

Meg smiled and looked at her watch. “Five o’clock, time for my run.”

“You’re not going anywhere until we clear this up—”

“Alex, it’s five, and it’s my turn,” pouted Bianca coming into the office. Once again, Megan’s timing was perfect. Damn, she had set me on fire, and I wanted to hear from her lips what she meant even though I knew. After being badgered for the last year by Sean and Ryan about how Megan was the perfect woman for me, the pair always fanned the flames when they had the chance, trying to convince her to make the first move. Unlike them, I know Megan Beal. She’s all bark and no bite, except when Bianca’s about.

“Megs-A-Million,” I muttered, walking past her and making her smile.

“It fits since I brought in our first million this year.”

“Don’t even think about going out with that toker.”

“He’s all talk.”

“Just like you,” I retorted. Putting my hand on the hollow of Bianca’s back, I followed her out of the office and away from Megan.

Bianca was pleased to liberate me from my office and her nemesis and went immediately to the bar, pulling a lager and a bottle of tonic from the fridge beneath it and handed them to me.

“A Gin and Tonic? How bloody English of you,” I teased, knowing her disdain was with my Martinis and that she didn’t want a Martini badly enough to endure Megan again. The house phone rang. Some days there was no stopping it from ringing, and today would probably be one of those days, I realized, and let out a groan. Anna or Megan would bring it to me if it required my attention. Two rings, Meg got it from one of the fifteen extensions in the house. Bianca had just sat on the soft leather couch and took a sip of her Gin and Tonic. I was just about to join her when I heard Megan in the hall. While Bianca uttered an expletive beneath her breath in response to Megan’s entrance into the den, I screwed the top off my lager and took a quick swig.

With the phone balanced between her slight shoulder and her ear, Megan wound the black ponytail holder into her auburn hair as she stepped towards me. Bianca’s blonde hair was long, almost to her shoulder blades, but Megan’s was glorious, and she knew that I admired it. I had fantasized plenty about her doing a Lady Godiva there in the office, seated at her desk rather than on the backside of a horse since her hair hung down to her waist when she bothered to wear it down. I sighed at the thought of a nude Megan seated there at the computer, swiveling towards me in her chair and showing off her treasures. With Anna at the house and with all the professionalism and my hatred of sensationalist scandal, I knew I could never get her nude in the office, but if I could make one rule that she’d have to abide by while she lived and worked here, it would be that her hair had to remain down all the time. Meg would probably find that uncomfortable, as she’d have to sit on it or move it so she wouldn’t. That wouldn’t last a day before she told me to ‘piss off,’ or one of her other expletives that I heard when I stepped over her boundaries.

I had just sunk into the soft leather couch next to Bianca and had taken another swig of the spicy brew as Megan walked into the den, no longer in her jeans and T-shirt, but in her workout garb, a tight tank T-shirt, satin running shorts and of course, her Nike’s with those little white socks. While she wound a ponytail elastic high on her head, her stretched arms made the black ribbed tank shirt creep up her tight belly, exposing the navel piercing that her latest boyfriend had insisted she get after only their second date.

Meg boo-hooed to me about the piercing the following morning, knowing all along that she wanted to show it off and get my reaction. Needless to say, as she stood there in my office, very near to me as I sat in my leather executive chair, I sucked in the scent of her flowery perfume while examining the lovely little stud in her belly button, which was a little red and irritated, but sexy nonetheless. When her shirt was back down where it belonged, I didn’t get out of my chair right away.

“Hold on,” she said on the phone, bringing me back to reality as she released the tail to her back, and her shirt covered that little navel piercing yet again.

“Alex, do you need me for anything tonight?”

Before I could separate my lips from the beer bottle, Bianca answered for me. “No, go out, please.”

“I might be late, concert tickets.”

“Stay out all night, we don’t care,” replied Bianca, wanting to be rid of Megan for the night.

“Whose concert?” I asked, wondering who was in town this week.

“Train,” Meg replied, awaiting my reaction.

“Train’s not on the AC Records label.”

“So?” she asked with a coy smile, egging me on.

“Are we going or not?” asked Randy into the phone, loud enough for me to hear him.

“Yeah, we’re going. When are you coming to get me?” she asked into the phone. Megan was always dramatic about everything when it came to dating. This guy, for some reason, fed off her dramatics and one night took it too far when he returned my assistant to my house with a bruise on her face. Until Davenport and I came to an understanding on how he would treat her; she wasn’t going out with him again.

“One hour? But I haven’t run yet,” she protested, putting a hand on her hip.

“Not my problem. Skip it,” said Randy loud enough for everyone to hear.

“I never skip my run. An hour and a half?” she begged.

“I said, one hour,” he replied even louder. She moved the phone from her ear and away from her face.

“Fine. One hour. Bye,” she replied in a huff. She pressed the end button, releasing a sigh as I stood up to take the phone from her slight hand.

“You better scoot,” I said, taking the cordless extension from her, then watching her hips sway as she left the den altogether.

“Ah, a night without Megan serenading us with her classical music.”

“At least the Steinway gets played now. It only collected dust before she moved in.”

Bianca and I had just finished dinner when Randy arrived an hour later, punctual as always. Meg was still upstairs, putting on her finishing touches. When it came to working, Megan was never late. Punctual wouldn’t describe her. Early would be the more appropriate word. A stated condition of her contract, she demanded that she could work whenever she wanted, however early she wanted to, that meant seven in the morning. Some nights she’d be in there until midnight, only stopping work for her afternoon run and maybe a bite or two of her dinner. However, when it came to her dates, she purposely took her time, as if she wanted me to size them up for her. Usually, I had to come up after her, and she’d give me the inquisition as to what I thought of them, and then utilized me as her own personal valet to attach a necklace or a bracelet about her. One time, I had the pleasure of zipping up a dress, only to peer down it and see matching black bra and thong beneath. For a pain in the ass, she had a sexy one, rounded in all the right places, and I knew that she enjoyed teasing me with it.

When the beeping of the gate alarm forced me to leave Bianca’s side for the foyer to press in the gate’s code, Bianca followed and sat in the great room so she could have ringside seats to the match. As I opened the front door, I saw through the beveled glass door the black rod iron gate blended in with Randy Davenport’s black SUV approaching the house. I joined Bianca in the great room and waited for Davenport to be ushered into it by my housekeeper, Anna, who reminded me with her eyes about a certain chat that was long overdue.

Randy Davenport hadn’t been here since the last time he dropped her off, and we were about to discuss that again before she left my house to go anywhere with this man. Regardless of the discussion we had in his office the following day, man-to-man, I had to set this bastard straight. I couldn’t have my assistant covered in bruises. That’s just the publicity I needed, “Alex Corwynn Beats Assistant into Submission” on the front page of the New York Post.

Anna, my graying housekeeper, waddled into the bright foyer where the setting sun shone into the plate glass window above, refracting the crystal chandelier onto the oak staircase like a disco ball on a dance floor. Anna put on a fake smile for him and bid him enter, only to give me that look of determination that reminded me that I had a job to do, and if I didn’t do it right, she would, and it would not be a pretty sight.

A handsome man with steel gray eyes and short blonde hair, Randy Davenport probably never had a problem getting a date. Keeping them through date three, however, must have been a challenge with this control freak. Why Megan tolerated this from him was beyond me. Since she wouldn’t stand up for herself, I had no choice but to do it for her. Hearing the gate bell, my security, Mike entered through the double doors on the den and stood in the foyer in case I needed back up.

“Davenport,” I said, greeting him from across the room.

“Corwynn, Ms. Barteau,” he said with a nod in Bianca’s direction. She looked him over while I sized him up myself. “I take it Megan is late as usual?”

“Indeed, she’s waiting for Alex to check on her. Probably to zip up something,” replied Bianca, fanning the flames between us. I turned and shot at her a look to which she raised her glass at me, tinkling the ice then taking a sip, ready to watch me go toe-to-toe with him.

“Is that so?” asked Davenport, with his hand on his hip.

I stepped in front of Bianca so he had to focus on me. “Quite strange, she’s only late for you,” I replied.

“Really?”

I scoffed. “Personally, I don’t see why she wastes her time.”

“Sorry I don’t meet your standards.”

“Only a coward hits a woman. You don’t deserve a gem Beal. Appreciate this, Davenport. One more bruise and she’s done with you.”

“Megan happens to appreciate a slap with her tickle, Corwynn. Besides, she’s a big girl who can manage her own life.”

“But she values my opinion more than yours.”

Davenport looked at his watch then stomped out of the room and bounded up the oak staircase to locate Megan as Mike followed behind him. Randy barked her name in the high ceiling hallway, as his shoes clapped against the hardwood floor, stopping only when Megan responded in a pissed tone to his line of questioning that became inaudible when she shut her bedroom door with him inside.

Davenport barked at her while I went to the office for her cell phone nodding to Mike, my bodyguard, to check on her. When they came downstairs with Mike a few feet behind them, I pulled Megan aside before she left. With the tapered white blouse that had more than one button left open at the breast and the belly exposing her gorgeous cleavage above and the stud in her navel below, I wished she wore that blouse in the office instead of out with him, but then again, I wouldn’t get any work done, and she probably knew that. Her tight, faded hip huggers hugged her in all the right places and were topped off by little open-toe platform heels. I realized that I would prefer it if she stayed home tonight and sat at the Steinway and gave a concert instead of going to Madison Square Garden with Davenport. Certain that top would creep up her back and the hip huggers would slip down to expose her thong if she wore one at all tonight, those jeans were tighter than the ones she wore to work. From what I could tell, I didn’t see a panty line. She left her hair down with a braid centered on each side of the loosened lengths, looking like a little flower child from the seventies.

Within his earshot, I said, “You look hot tonight.”

Megan giggled and winked at me. “Thanks, Alex.”

“Here’s your phone. I put the bastard on notice again. Call me if you need me to come and get you. It doesn’t matter when or where.”

Megan nodded and slid the phone into her purse.

Patting her on the butt of those skintight hip huggers, not realizing that Bianca stood there watching me as well, “You best get going,” I said.

“Bye, Alex,” she replied with a giggle.

“You like the way he feels you up, don’t you, bitch?” asked Bianca. Randy turned and glared at us. Just like Bianca, his fair face flushed pink when he was angry.

“Come on, Randy, we’ll be late,” replied Megan with a laugh.

“As if you care.”

“Either we go now, or we don’t go at all.”

“Fine, let’s go.”

As Randy stepped out onto the porch, Meg turned towards me, kissed two fingers then blew them in my direction in view of Bianca.

As I stepped to the door, watching to see if Davenport bothered to open the door for her, Bianca said, “That bitch. You’re sleeping with her.”

Just as I expected, he didn’t, and I watched as she pulled her own door shut, her petite form almost falling out of the SUV to reach the door handle. Once she was safely in the vehicle, I turned back to Bianca, ready to reassure her that she had my undivided attention.

“I am not, it’s just her way of saying not to wait up.” Bianca had already turned away from me and walked into the great room on her way to the bar.

“But you will.”

“Yeah, I will,” agreeing with her. I went to the picture window and watched as Randy’s black SUV drove out of the estate’s gate as it shut automatically again behind him.

“She’s a big girl.”

“That’s the problem, she’s a big girl and not a woman.”

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