Masked Innocence (Innocence 2) - Page 2

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  • “Just for a sec. Brad wanted me to introduce myself, and a thirty-second ride won’t do that justice.”

    I doubted a three-day road trip would do that justice, but I smiled at her and unlocked my office door, ushering her in. It was early, but the rest of the staff would be filing in soon. I hoped she wasn’t planning on staying long. Rebecca’s presence was as subtle as a giant sign screaming I’m dating Brad De Luca! hung outside my door.

    “I can’t stay.” Her quick words made me wonder how transparent my inhospitable thoughts were. “Let me just get your email address and I’ll be on my way.”

    “My email?”

    “Yeah. Your personal one. I’ll need to send you some stuff that shouldn’t go over the company intranet.”

    I blushed, hoping the attachments weren’t of the adult variety and wondering how much Rebecca knew about our relationship. I scribbled down my email address, passing it to her with a smile that I hoped communicated my friendly intent. “It was nice to meet you, Rebecca.”

    “Hey, you, too. Maybe I’ll see you around.” She waved cheerily and swung out the door, her heels pounding down the hallway, and I breathed a sigh of relief when I heard the double doors close behind her. I plopped down in my chair, spinning slightly as I stared at the ceiling. Rebecca sending me “stuff.” This would be interesting.

    Three

    “Julia, can I borrow you for a moment?” Broward’s voice floated through the open doorway into my office, four hours later. He had politely used the office phone system for the first three weeks of my internship, but had abandoned that practice and now simply yelled for me, like I was his puppy roaming somewhere in the house, looking for a place to pee. I sighed, sliding back from my desk and working my bare feet into heels and standing. I was in his doorway a moment later, barely in time to stop another interoffice yell, his mouth already opening in preparation.

    “Yes, Mr. Broward?” I asked politely.

    “Come in, Julia, and please shut the door.”

    I cringed, stepping forward and grabbing the handle, pulling it closed behind me. Broward seemed to have this misconception that “closing his door” actually afforded him some measure of privacy. While the heavy, oak door probably did have excellent sound-deafening qualities, the one-inch gap that ran along the bottom allowed almost every word to come through in crystal-clear quality. This had to be about Brad, and thanks to this poorly hung door, someone was bound to walk by and hear the entire conversation.

    “I’d like to extend your internship, assuming you are interested.”

    My jaw literally dropped, an involuntary relaxation of muscles that I struggled to contain. Okay—guess this isn’t about Brad. “Extend?” I said dumbly.

    “Yes. I’ve been very impressed with you so far, and would like to expand your duties here, maybe bring you to court, let you see more than just the inside of a file.” He grinned at me, a worthless exercise of muscles, because as soon as he had said that word, everything else had disappeared.

    Court. The word hung, in gold glittery letters, above my head, blinking on and off like a Vegas sign advertising half-priced buffets. I tried not to lick my lips but could feel saliva pooling, and my jaw started itching to do that damn dropping motion again. “That would be wonderful, but I—um...I just need to check my class schedule for next semester.”

    He shrugged at my response, picking up his phone and cradling it to his ear. “Check your schedule and let me know. I’ll speak to H.R., see if we could take you on part-time, give you some hourly rate that would make it worth your while.”

    Monetary compensation? Court time? I smiled at him and turned quickly, wanting to get the hell out of there before slobber shot in all directions out of my mouth. I fled his office and collapsed into my chair, an expression somewhere between a grin and a grimace contorting my face. My excitement over the job prospect fought with the predicament it would cause. Court. Money. Brad. Broward. Certain disaster. Court. Ugh. I laid my head on my desk and groaned.

    * * *

    IT WAS 4:00 p.m. before I thought to check my personal email, remembering that Rebecca was going to send me something. I had one new email, from Rebecca Cray, titled INFO. I opened the email, and read the one-line message.

    When you get a chance, please complete the attached and scan it back to me. Thx—Rebecca

    I opened the attachment, an Excel spreadsheet, and scanned it quickly, my eyes narrowing the further down the document I read. No f**king way. Then I printed it, closed out the email and picked up the office phone, dialing Brad’s extension and waiting.

    He answered in a way that expressed he was not alone. That was fine. I had aspirations for my bitch-out session, and the minimum requirement was that it be in person. “Dinner, tonight? The bistro on Sixty-ninth at six. Okay?”

    “Do I have a choice?” His voice held a hint of wariness.

    Damn. I had wanted to blindside him with my tantrum. More dramatic that way. “Not really.”

    “The bistro is fine, at six, but be aware that I don’t do subservient very well.”

    His voice was almost dangerous in its authority, and my feminine side swooned a little despite my best efforts to project more of a dominatrix side.

    I tried to come up with a witty response, but struck out. “Whatever,” I finally snapped, hanging the phone up glumly, feeling, as I often did with him, that I had been outmatched.

    Then I stood, going to ask the other dictator in my life if I could run out for thirty minutes at six. I really needed to do something to get the men in my life under better control.

    Four

    “What, pray tell, could I already be in trouble for?” In the brick-walled restaurant, Brad’s face could only be described as pained as he ended a call and stood from a four-top at my approach, stepping aside and pulling out my chair.

    I sat, accepting the kiss he placed on my cheek, a kiss that moved, traveling down my neck before I pulled back with a squeal, a smile fighting me tooth and nail to reach my mouth. “What makes you think you are in trouble?” I purred, crossing my legs and reaching forward, dipping a carrot in some hummus and crunching down on it, Brad looking at me in barely contained disgust. “What?”

    “That stuff. It looks disgusting.”

    I snorted, all sexy purrs now gone. “Disgusting? You ordered it!”

    “I ordered it because women everywhere seem to eat it, and I was trying to find something you’d like in this granolified tent that they call a restaurant.”