Partial Claim

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-12-

Folders covered my desk, files were open in multiple tabs on my desktop. I looked at the profiles in front of me. Building teams was the most difficult part of my job. It sounds so easy but once you open those pages, details spill out and it’s important that those details match the needs of our clients and matched the rest of the members in the support team.

I turned back to look at the whiteboard behind me. I stared at the faces that looked back at me. I let out a frustrated groan as I glanced back down at my desk.

“That sounds so optimistic,” Jess said as she walked into our office.

“Oh yeah, getting so much done here.” I ran my hands through my hair at my temples before locking my fingers in and tugging on my curls.

“Do you know who the woman is that’s in Kaine’s office?” Jess asked as she sat down.

I looked up at her with a frown. “There’s a woman in his office?” I felt my tiger perk at the news. Her claws stretched, possessiveness rolled through me.

“Yeah. Tall, blond hair, blue eyes, well dressed.” She raised a brow. “Super hot.”

I shrugged my shoulders. “No idea, but I do need a refill of coffee so maybe I’ll scope her out on my way by.” I winked.

I made my way down the hall, smiling politely at Reba on my way by before my eyes glanced past her shoulder and through Kaine’s office windows. A tall blond woman sat in the leather chair across from his desk. She was leaning forward, a file in her lap as she spoke and laughed with Kaine. Her hair was loose, falling in soft waves against her shoulders. She was pretty, really pretty.

I continued on to the staff room and filled my cup before making my way back.

“Oh, Olivia.” Reba’s voice stopped me. I turned to look at her. “I have some files for you that Kaine wanted you to look over.” She spun in her chair and collected the paperwork, then handed it to me.

“Oh great.” I smiled and flipped them open, curious as to what he wanted me to look over. I viewed the files and frowned. “This isn’t right.” I shook my head. “I will not be making these changes.” I dropped my voice, shaking my head as I looked over his requests and changes.

“Well I’m sure he would be more than happy to hear your thoughts, why don’t you go on in.” She smiled sweetly at me.

“He’s in a meeting, is he not?”

“Yes, well… if I’m being honest I don’t like that woman in there very much.” She lowered her voice. “She likes to laugh and touch his shoulder a little too much if you know what I mean.” She glanced over her shoulder.

I followed her gaze and saw that the woman was now standing. Leaning over his desk, much like I had done the other week. He was leaned back in his chair, his face composed as he spoke. I felt a low rumble move up my throat as I watched the woman continue to try and flaunt herself in front of him.

Not that I blame her. He really is quite good-looking, and unmarked. I thought as I pushed open the door. I heard my cats grumbling at my remarks and she sized up the other female in the room.

“These changes are not happening.” I waved the file as I walked in.

The woman turned, shock on her face at the blatant interruption.

“Excuse me.” The woman turned, hands went to her hips. “We’re in a meeting here.”

I looked at her, shrugging my shoulders before I looked at Kaine. He was smiling at me as if he knew this is exactly what I would do when I saw these files.

“I’m not making these changes,” I said again, tossing the files on his desk.

“These changes I think will be beneficial to the groups.”

“You want to send Honey Badgers into a bear pack?” I look at him astonished. “They’ll just end up fighting over the honey stacks!” I threw my hands in the air. “Bears should be trained by other bears. It makes the most sense and they’ll be able to relate to their trainers better. That’s why I built the team with bears and a few wolves.”

“Can this not wait? We’re in a confidential meeting.” Her accent rolled off her tongue as anger seeped out of her body.

Huh, she’s British. I thought as I looked her over. How did I miss that?

I looked back at Kaine.

“Is she from the European office?” I asked. “Are you discussing the next steps in the investigation?”

“Investigation!” She woman was in disbelief that I somehow knew this information.

“It’s fine Claire. She can be here.” Kaine finally stated.

“This is a confidential matter Kaine. Your employees should not be privy to this information. Are you trying to blow up this investigation? We’re too close to finding out who is behind this and people in your office know?”

At this point, Claire was fuming. Not only was her drool fest interrupted, I pretty much dismissed her when I walked in, and Kaine hasn’t done much to make me leave. All things that would piss off a leopard. Groovy.

“Well I mean I’m not just an employee,” I shrugged. “But the office doesn’t know anything. Just me.” I smiled.

“And this information was hers to know because…?” Claire looked back over at Kaine.

“Because she’s going to help us. She’s a well-respected member of my team here. She knows the ins and outs of many of the departments here, which would be beneficial to us since I haven’t been around the last five years.” Kaine explained.

I felt my tiger pace in annoyance, she wanted to hear him say that we were mates and that’s why I know. Make the declaration public to everyone, let Claire know just who he belonged to.

As much as my tiger would like to hear that from his mouth, it wasn’t something I was ready to admit. We weren’t together, there wasn’t any reason for anyone else to know the status of our relationship…or lack thereof.

“And she’s family.” A new voice joined in from behind me.

I turned around with a smile. “Hey, Richard.” I greeted.

“Hello darling, how are you?” He asked as he wrapped an arm around my shoulder to give me a small side hug.

“Dad.” Kaine greeted him with a nod.

“Sorry I’m late, I thought the meeting was starting now.”

“Oh, it is.” Claire spoke up. “My flight got here early so I came here right away to get a layout of the building.” She smiled at Richard.

More like trying to get Kaine to lay you out. I internally rolled my eyes at her.

“I see.” He sighed. “Well welcome, I take it you’ve been told what's going on Liv?” Richard looked down at me. I always felt so small next to him. Kaine was tall like his father, but Richard still had another three to four inches on his son.

“Yes, Kaine and I had a meeting and he explained the situation.”

“I hope that’s not all you discussed.” He raised an eyebrow.

“No there was more.” I said. “But that’s not important for this meeting right now.”

Richard nodded. “Well, should we get started?” Richard moved into Kaine’s office and sat down at the small round table at the far side of the room.

Kaine stood up and we moved towards the table with Claire only a few steps ahead. Kaine’s hand came to the small of my back as we walked next to each other.

“You planted those notes on purpose didn’t you?” I whispered.

“You know me so well.” He leaned down and spoke low into my ear. I felt goosebumps rise on my skin as his breath tickled against my neck.

“Figured,” I smirked as I pulled out a chair. I felt Claire’s eyes on us as we sat down. I looked up at her and smiled…she didn’t smile back.

Oh well not like we were going to be bffs anyway.

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