Home > Bared to You (Crossfire #1)(6)

Bared to You (Crossfire #1)(6)
Sylvia Day

"Damn, girl," Steven said with a whistle, as I went for a third helping. "You can put it away. Where does it go?"

I shrugged. "To the gym with me. Maybe that helps...?"

"Don't mind him," Mark said, grinning. "Steven's just jealous. He has to watch his girlish figure."

"Hell." Steven shot his partner a wry look. "I might have to take her out to lunch with the crew. I could win money betting on how much she can eat."

I smiled. "That could be fun."

"Ha. I knew you had a bit of a wild streak. It's in your smile."

Looking down at my food, I refused to let my mind wander into memories of just how wild I'd been in my rebellious, self-destructive phase.

Mark saved me. "Don't harass my assistant. And what do you know about wild women anyway?"

"I know some of them like hanging out with g*y men. They like our perspective." His grin flashed. "I know a few other things, too. Hey...don't look so shocked, you two. I wanted to see if hetero sex lived up to the hype."

Clearly this was news to Mark, but from the twitching of his lips, he was secure enough in their relationship to find the whole exchange amusing. "Oh?"

"How'd that work out for you?" I asked bravely.

Steven shrugged. "I don't want to say it's overrated, 'cause clearly I'm the wrong demographic and I had a very limited sampling, but I can do without."

I thought it was very telling that Steven could relate his story in terms Mark worked with. They shared their careers with each other and listened, even though their chosen fields were miles apart.

"Considering your present living arrangement," Mark said to him, catching up a stem of broccoli with his chopsticks, "I'd say that's a very good thing."

By the time we finished eating, it was eight and the cleaning crew had arrived. Mark insisted on calling me a cab.

"Should I come in early tomorrow?" I asked.

Steven bumped shoulders with Mark. "You must've done something good in a past life to score this one."

"I think putting up with you in this life qualifies," Mark said dryly.

"Hey," Steven protested, "I'm housebroken. I put the toilet seat down."

Mark shot me an exasperated look that was warm with affection for his partner. "And that's helpful how?"

Mark and I scrambled all day Thursday to get ready for his four o'clock with the team from Kingsman. We grabbed an information-packed lunch with the two creatives who would be participating in the pitch when it got to that point in the process; then we went over the notes on Kingsman's Web presence and existing social media outreach.

I got a little nervous when three thirty rolled around because I knew traffic would be a bitch, but Mark kept working after I pointed out the time. It was quarter to four before he bounded out of his office with a broad smile, still shrugging into his jacket. "Join me, Eva."

I blinked up at him from my desk. "Really?"

"Hey, you worked hard on helping me prep. Don't want you want to see how it goes?"

"Yes, absolutely." I pushed to my feet. Knowing my appearance would be a reflection on my boss, I smoothed my black pencil skirt and straightened the cuffs of my long-sleeved silk blouse. By a random twist of fate, my crimson shirt perfectly matched Mark's tie. "Thank you."

We headed out to the elevators and I was briefly startled when the car went up instead of down. When we reached the top floor, the waiting area we stepped into was considerably larger and more ornate than the one on the twentieth. Hanging baskets of ferns and lilies fragranced the air and a smoky glass security entrance was sandblasted with Cross Industries in a bold, masculine font.

We were buzzed in, and then asked to wait a moment. Both of us declined an offer of water or coffee, and less than five minutes after we arrived, we were directed to a closed conference room.

Mark looked at me with twinkling eyes as the receptionist reached for the door handle. "Ready?"

I smiled. "Ready."

The door opened and I was gestured in first. I made sure to smile brightly as I stepped inside...a smile that froze on my face at the sight of the man rising to his feet at my entrance.

My abrupt stop bottlenecked the threshold and Mark ran into my back, sending me stumbling forward. Dark and Dangerous caught me by the waist, hauling me off my feet and directly into his chest. The air left my lungs in a rush, followed immediately by every bit of common sense I possessed. Even through the layers of clothing between us, his biceps were like stone beneath my palms, his stomach a hard slab of muscle against my own. When he sucked in a sharp breath, my ni**les tightened, stimulated by the expansion of his chest.

Oh no. I was cursed. A rapid-fire series of images flashed through my mind, showcasing a thousand ways I could stumble, fall, trip, skid, or crash in front of the sex god over the days, weeks, and months ahead.

"Hello again," he murmured, the vibration of his voice making me ache all over. "Always a pleasure running into you, Eva."

I flushed with embarrassment and desire, unable to find the will to push away despite the two other people in the room with him. It didn't help that his attention was solely on me, his hard body radiating that arresting impression of powerful demand.

"Mr. Cross," Mark said behind me. "Sorry about the entrance."

"Don't be. It was a memorable one."

I wobbled on my stilettos when Cross set me down, my knees weakened from the full body contact. He was dressed in black again, with both his shirt and tie in a soft gray. As always, he looked too good.

What would it be like to be that amazing looking? There was no way he could go anywhere without causing a disturbance.

Reaching out, Mark steadied me and eased me back gently.

Cross's gaze stayed focused on Mark's hand at my elbow until I was released.

"Right. Okay then." Mark pulled himself together. "This is my assistant, Eva Tramell."

"We've met." Cross pulled out the chair next to his. "Eva."

I looked to Mark for guidance, still recovering from the moments I'd spent plastered against the sexual superconductor in Fioravante.

Cross leaned closer and ordered quietly, "Sit, Eva."

Mark gave a brief nod, but I was already lowering into the chair at Cross's command, my body obeying instinctively before my mind caught up and objected.

I tried not to fidget for the next hour as Mark was grilled by Cross and the two Kingsman directors, both of whom were attractive brunettes in elegant pantsuits. The one in raspberry was especially enthusiastic about garnering Cross's attention, while the one in cream focused intently on my boss. All three seemed impressed by Mark's ability to articulate how the agency's work - and his facilitation of it with the client - created provable value for the client's brand.

I admired how cool Mark remained under pressure - pressure exerted by Cross, who easily dominated the meeting.

"Well done, Mr. Garrity," Cross praised lightly as they wrapped things up. "I look forward to going over the RFP when the time comes. What would entice you to try Kingsman, Eva?"

Startled, I blinked. "Excuse me?"

The intensity of his gaze was searing. It felt as if his entire focus was on me, which only reinforced my respect for Mark, who'd had to work under the weight of that stare for an hour.

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