* Bentley *
Bentley followed behind Mason through the mass of annoyed parents and screaming children at the stupid Taco Festival. He had a dozen things to do, but Mason asked him to find Clover. Could the asshole be any more pussy whipped without actually having the girl?
Why had he pushed Mason to date a woman he liked? Sometimes the games he played only hurt himself but believed he’d come out on top.
Fate brought him and Clover together for a reason.
“How do you know she’s here?” Mason turned to him.
He winked, “Her phone. Your sassy secretary has a habit of leaving it around where anyone can get to it.”
“You shouldn’t have done that,” He didn’t seem angry, only resigned, “Split up. Text me when you see her, yeah?”
“Yeah, yeah,” Bentley waved him away, catching a leggy blonde checking him out.
He meandered through the crowd, buying a burrito before heading to the seating area. He stopped cold, spotting his man Kyrell. The guy wasn’t hard to miss with his massive stature. He was hiding some chick with his bulky frame at a single table near the fringe.
Then he caught a flash of red hair and flushed lips of one Clover McBride.
“No fucking way,” he growled, startling an elderly couple seated nearby.
He quickly pulled out his phone, tapping out a code. If he had any idea who Clover was, he’d kill the idiot himself. He watched Kyrell ignore his cell as he whispered in her ear.
Bentley sent off a text to Mason next relaying his whereabouts just as Clover stood, smiling like a slut about to be fucked.
He needed to stop the bastard before he messed everything up.
This was an epic shit storm, and it appeared they were taking off, which now placed him in a position he never wanted to be in.
* Clover *
“Clover! I thought I recognized you,” Bentley suddenly appeared when Clover stood to put some much-needed space between herself and Kyrell.
“Oh... hi,” she greeted him flatly.
She had expected to see Mason, but not Bentley. Were they here together? Kyrell gave a startled grunt of surprise, and she wondered if they knew each other. They couldn’t be more different. She was about to ask before spotting Mason headed in their direction. The causal version of him heated her already lust-filled body. She mentally slapped herself. Now she had three grown hot as hell men surrounding her without backup. She should have insisted Aurora come with her.
“Hello Mr. Thistle,” she nervously twisted her fingers in front of her.
“Mason, please, we’re not at work,” he offered her a quick smile, his gaze landing on Kyrell, “Who’s your friend Clover?”
Kyrell backed away, “We just met.”
She flinched at his terse tone. Things were becoming awkward fast. At least the sex bubble Kyrell cocooned her in popped before she embarrassed herself. Bentley smirked, biting into his burrito.
“Try anything good yet?” Mason warmly smiled, “I’m sorry if we’re intruding.”
She glanced at Kyrell who now had his phone out, a frown forming on his handsome face.
He shoved his cell inside his pocket, “I need to go, work needs me.”
She shrugged nonchalantly, although his nervous behavior set off alarm bells. She knew he was too good to be true. Guys like Kyrell were bad news, but she didn’t know him well enough to judge. “Oh. Okay.”
Kyrell took her hand, kissing it softly, “Thanks for a lovely afternoon Clover. Until next time?”
Gee, he was smooth. She wordlessly nodded, and he gave her one more smile before disappearing into the crowd. Mason cleared his throat after she turned around, blushing over their obvious flirting.
“Hot date?” Bentley wiggled his eyebrows, “Ouch, obviously not if he left. Don’t sweat it, he looked like a loser and you can do much better. Remember what I said the other day?”
Clover crossed her arms, her temper rising. She opened her mouth to tell him off, but Mason beat her to it, “Knock it off Ben. So what now, Clover? Want to share a churro with me?”
Her skin flushed a deep shade of red, and he chuckled, not getting why. Some daydreams can come true. “Sure... Mason. I… um… can’t believe you came.”
He waved for her to follow him. “Why not?”
She paused, taking in his designer jeans and shirt, “Do you have any idea how jealous the women at the office will be if this gets out?”
His smile was one she’d never witnessed in the entire time she’d known him. Relaxed and boyish. “What, the fact we both like Mexican? Alert the press!”
She waved a dismissive hand making him chuckle, “Says one of the top ten bachelors of Tucker City. They passed around your likes and dislikes for a week after they published the article.”
His cheeks pinked, she found his bashfulness adorable right before Bentley scoffed saying, “If they only got the real scoop.”
She saw the men exchanging heated looks, asking, “Scoop about what?”
Mason scowled at his friend, “Nothing. Should we try some Elote first? Heard it’s fantastic with mayo.”
Bentley screwed off, to her delight. She and Mason chatted easily as they checked out the booths and vendors. Everything looked and smelt incredible. Mason paid for anything she showed interested in, noticing how differently he behaved outside the office. Gone was the serious facade as his warm honey eyes sparkled as he talked about sailing in California with his parents every summer.
They sat in the beer garden tent, nursing drinks, and she delighted in how comfortably they both conversed after so many months of formal interactions. Who knew they had so much in common?
“My folks retired to Malibu after I left home. They own a boat, but I never go out when I visit.”
“Why not? It’s nice there.”
“Open water scares me,” she shrugged.
“What else scares you, Clover?”
“You first. I already said one.”
He chuckled, leaning his toned arms on the table, “Alright... let’s see,” he gazed at her as if debating something major before he opened his mouth and rocked her world, “I’m scared of the way I feel around you.”
She tried to not show surprise. Did Mason like her? She’d worked with him for over a year now, and he’d been nothing but professional. The Plastics at work couldn’t even get a wink on a windy day from him. He gave her a look, making it clear he was sincere.
“Don’t be frightened,” she teased after a beat of silence, “I won’t hurt you.”
He smirked, “Somehow I doubt that,” he leaned forward and ran his thumb over her bottom lip, “Just looking at you sometimes...”
She boldly parted her lips, sucking on his thick finger as if it were the most natural thing to do. He inhaled a quick breath, eyes widening. What was she doing provoking her boss?
He started it, she internally justified.
How far would their flirting go? Thank goodness they were in public. Here she was making out all over the festival with two different men.
“Go out with me tonight,” he abruptly pulled away.
She blinked, taking a gulp of beer instead of answering. Was it wise to date Mason? Hell no. She knew one thing for certain, he couldn’t fire her if she rejected him.
She sighed, “Is this smart? I work for you.”
“I want you.”
“Say yes, Clover.”
“Yeess...” She breathed out.
He stood grinning, “I’ll pick you up at seven. Thanks for spending time with me.”
She weakly smiled back and watched him leave. Deciding she’d had enough, fled to her car like someone was chasing her. Who would have thought her morning would end up so scandalous?
Once home she phoned Aurora who complained of a hangover, but once Clover went on about meeting Kyrell, then the thumb sucking she’d shamelessly performed, Aurora laughed maniacally in her ear gleefully saying, “It’s raining men for you, you saucy minx! Finally! I’ll make sure those cats you wanted to adopt go to good homes.”
“Ha, ha,” she rolled her eyes, “I only wanted one, and my place doesn’t allow pets.”
“Whatever. Do you suppose Kyrell lied when he ditched you? After all that lip-locking, you’d think he’d stick around.”
Clover paused rifling through her closet, searching for a decent dress for her date, explaining, “It was weird. Like he didn’t want them to see me with him or something. What does one wear on a night out with a billionaire?”
“Nothing. Open the door naked and do it animal kingdom style.”
“Not happening. I mean, should I even? What if I eat dinner, thank him, and never go on another date? He has better options than his secretary.”
A knock at her door made her jump. She told Aurora to hold on, greeting a delivery man who handed off a big white box. A beautiful black cocktail gown was nestled inside with a quick note from Mason hoping she would wear it on their date. She felt amazed and a little put off.
“It’s just clothes,” Aurora said, “He has money so let him spoil you, Clover. You’re not obliged to sleep with him over a stupid dress. Although, if you aren’t interested, send the playboy my way.”
“You’re shameless!” she playfully snapped, “Okay, got to go.”
Clover held up the couture clothing with a flutter in her belly. Mason must have looked up her address to have the gift delivered, and it warmed her insides he’d go through such trouble. Even if nothing happened between them, the thoughtfulness touched her deeply.
Mason picked her up like the gentleman he was, complimenting her as he rocked one of his tailor-made suits that had her drooling. He drove to a fancy Italian restaurant in his Aston Martin where she relished in the seat’s buttery softness where he promised she’d love what he ordered. Normally, she hated any man assuming to order for her, but the place was way out of her league.
She sipped her wine slowly, savoring the rich taste as they waited for their meal. “Did you and Peter start your company right out of college?”
He nodded, “We were fortunate to produce a solid product in our first year. Everything snapped together with hard work and determination. Two nerds make it good. Did you go to college?”
She shrugged, his answer sounding rehearsed but didn’t comment on it, certain many had questioned how he started in AI engineering. “A semester, then I had some personal issues. I worked as a PA for a while then... well... you.”
He winked, “Yes, lucky me.”
After dinner, he took her back home, and she felt brave enough to bring him inside. He sat on her sofa, looking out of place in his finery. She’d rented the apartment straight out of high school and furnished it with comfortable furniture in earthy tones. She wasn’t one for knickknacks, hanging plants instead, giving the open living and kitchen area an outdoor vibe.
“Want something to drink?” she nervously asked.
Mason shook his head, pulling her down beside him before kissing her tentatively but firmly, “It’s okay beautiful,” he hummed, placing kisses along her throat, “Relax.”
Yeah right, she thought as his warm hands cupped her face, bringing their lips together once more. He tasted of the fine wine they’d drank and moaned into his mouth.
He was intoxicating.
“Sweet Clover,” he sighed, “I’ve wanted to do this for a long time.”
She kissed harder, gripping his wide shoulders. So had she, done fighting her attraction to Mason Thistle.