Home > Bared to You (Crossfire #1)(5)

Bared to You (Crossfire #1)(5)
Sylvia Day

"Well, it wasn't my first," he replied with a hint of amusement. "But it was successful. And getting better as it progresses."

I nodded and managed a smile, having no idea what that was supposed to mean. The car slowed on the twelfth floor and a friendly group of three got on, talking excitedly among themselves. I stepped back to make room for them, retreating into the opposite corner of the elevator from Dark and Dangerous. Except he sidestepped along with me. We were suddenly closer than we'd been before.

He adjusted his perfectly knotted tie, his arm brushing against mine as he did so. I sucked in a deep breath, trying to ignore my acute awareness of him by concentrating on the conversation taking place in front of us. It was impossible. He was just so there. Right there. All perfect and gorgeous and smelling divine. My thoughts ran away from me, fantasizing about how hard his body might be beneath the suit, how it might feel against me, how well-endowed - or not - he might be...

When the car reached the lobby, I almost moaned in relief. I waited impatiently as the elevator emptied and the first chance I got, I took a step forward. His hand settled firmly at the small of my back and he walked out beside me, steering me. The sensation of his touch on such a vulnerable place rippled through me.

We reached the turnstiles and his hand fell away, leaving me feeling oddly bereft. I glanced at him, trying to read him, but although he was looking at me, his face gave nothing away.

"Eva!"

The sight of Cary lounging casually against a marble column in the lobby shifted everything. He was wearing jeans that showcased his mile-long legs and an oversized sweater in soft green that emphasized his eyes. He easily drew the attention of everyone in the lobby. I slowed as I approached him and the sex god passed us, moving through the revolving door and sliding fluidly into the back of the chauffeured black Bentley SUV I'd seen at the curb the evening before.

Cary whistled as the car pulled away. "Well, well. From the way you were looking at him, that was the guy you told me about, right?"

"Oh, yeah. That was definitely him."

"You work together?" Linking arms with me, Cary tugged me out to the street through the stationary door.

"No." I stopped on the sidewalk to change into my walking flats, leaning into him as pedestrians flowed around us. "I don't know who he is, but he asked me if I'd had a good first day, so I better figure it out."

"Well..." He grinned and supported my elbow as I hopped awkwardly from one foot to the other. "No idea how anyone could get any work done around him. My brain sort of fried for a minute."

"I'm sure that's a universal effect." I straightened. "Let's go. I need a drink."

The next morning arrived with a slight throbbing at the back of my skull that mocked me for having one too many glasses of wine. Still, as I rode the elevator up to the twentieth floor, I didn't regret the hangover as much as I should have. My choices were either too much alcohol or a whirl with my vibrator, and I was damned if I'd have a battery-provided orgasm starring Dark and Dangerous. Not that he'd know or even care that he made me so horny I couldn't see straight, but I'd know and I didn't want to give the fantasy of him the satisfaction.

I dropped my stuff in the bottom drawer of my desk and when I saw that Mark wasn't in yet, I grabbed a cup of coffee and returned to my cubicle to catch up on my new favorite ad-biz blogs.

"Eva!"

I jumped when he appeared beside me, his grin a flash of white against his smooth dark skin. "Good morning, Mark."

"Is it ever. You're my lucky charm, I think. Come into my office. Bring your tablet. Can you work late tonight?"

I followed him over, catching on to his excitement. "Sure."

"I'd hoped you'd say that." He sank into his chair.

I took the one I'd sat in the day before and quickly opened a notepad program.

"So," he began, "we've received an RFP for Kingsman Vodka and they mentioned me by name. First time that's ever happened."

"Congratulations!"

"I appreciate that, but let's save them for when we've actually landed the account. We'll still have to bid, if we get past the request for proposal stage, and they want to meet with me tomorrow evening."

"Wow. Is that timeline usual?"

"No. Usually they'd wait until we had the RFP finished before meeting with us, but Cross Industries recently acquired Kingsman and C.I. has dozens of subsidiaries. That's good business if we can get it. They know it and they're making us jump through hoops, the first of which is meeting with me."

"Usually there would be a team, right?"

"Yes, we'd present as a group. But they're familiar with the drill - they know they'll get the pitch from a senior executive, then end up working with a junior like me - so they picked me out and now they want to vet me. But to be fair, the RFP provides a lot more information than it asks for in return. It's as good as a brief, so I really can't accuse them of being unreasonably demanding, just meticulous. Par for the course when dealing with Cross Industries."

He ran a hand over his tight curls, betraying the pressure he felt. "What do you think of Kingsman vodka?"

"Uh...well...Honestly, I've never heard of it."

Mark fell back in his chair and laughed. "Thank God. I thought I was the only one. Well, the plus side is there's no bad press to get over. No news can be good news."

"What can I do to help? Besides research vodka and stay late?"

His lips pursed a moment as he thought about it. "Jot this down..."

We worked straight through lunch and long after the office had emptied, going over some initial data from the strategists. It was a little after seven when Mark's smartphone rang, startling me with its abrupt intrusion into the quiet.

Mark activated the speaker and kept working. "Hey, baby."

"Have you fed that poor girl yet?" demanded a warm masculine voice over the line.

Glancing at me through his glass office wall, Mark said, "Ah...I forgot."

I looked away quickly, biting my lower lip to hide my smile.

A snort came clearly across the line. "Only two days on the job, and you're already overworking her and starving her to death. She's going to quit."

"Shit. You're right. Steve, honey - "

"Don't 'Steve honey' me. Does she like Chinese?"

I gave Mark the thumbs-up.

He grinned. "Yes, she does."

"All right. I'll be there in twenty. Let security know I'm coming."

Almost exactly twenty minutes later, I buzzed Steven Ellison through the waiting area doors. He was a juggernaut of a fellow, dressed in dark jeans, scuffed work boots, and a neatly pressed button-down shirt. Red-haired with laughing blue eyes, he was as good-looking as his partner was, just in a very different way. The three of us sat around Mark's desk and dumped kung pao chicken and broccoli beef onto paper plates, added helpings of sticky white rice, and then dug in with chopsticks.

I discovered that Steven was a contractor, and that he and Mark had been a couple since college. I watched them interact and felt awe and a dash of envy. Their relationship was so beautifully functional that it was a joy to spend time with them.

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