Bastard In A Sut (Book Three)

By: Ivy Carter

(Bastard In A Suit 3)

Chapter 1

I turn slowly, Duke’s voice raising the hair on the back of my neck. Guilt and fear thread through me. I’m ashamed for hacking into his computer, but more than that, I’m scared. Terrified of what I’ve found, and what it could mean for Jake.

“I’m sor—”

Duke cuts me off with an angry bark. “Answer me. What the hell were you doing on my computer?”

I swallow the half-assed excuses and lies, prepared to cop to everything. But before I can respond, Duke cuts in again, the edge in his tone sharp enough to slice through steel. “Who do you work for?”

My eyebrows knit. “You, of course.”

He advances on me with a stormy expression that makes my legs tremble. The urge to break into tears lodges in my throat. Everything is happening so fast, all at once.

Duke balls his hands into fists at his sides. “What company, Hailey?” He blows out a breath through his nose so hard I expect there to be flames. “Which of my competitors do you work for?” His gaze rakes up and down me from head to toe with total disgust. “I didn’t peg you for a fucking spy.”

The weight of his accusation takes me aback. “Are you crazy? I’m not a spy.” I almost laugh, but the look on his face stops my hysterical giggles in their tracks.

Duke glares at me, every ounce of tenderness stripped bare. He stalks to the laptop and jabs at the space button with his index finger, squints at the screen. The tips of his ears go red. Jesus, he’s mad.

“I can explain…” I stutter.

Duke whirls on me. “I could sue you for this,” he says, snarling. “You’re lucky I don’t have you arrested.”

I recoil. “For what?”

“Corporate espionage,” he spits.

“Is this some kind of joke?”

“Do I fucking look amused?”

No, he looks pissed. Stark raving mad. And why shouldn’t he be? I know Duke is private, protective. I’m an employee—maybe a little bit more—but I’m not his business partner, and I’m sure as hell not his wife. I had absolutely no right to access these files.

My throat swells up as shame inches up my esophagus. I blow out a deep breath. “I’m not a spy, Duke…”

He opens his mouth to say something and this time I cut in, staving off another outburst, more accusations. “But I admit, what I did was wrong. Very wrong.”

He shakes his head slowly. “You betrayed my trust, Hailey.”

My heart is thumping rapidly as I shake my head with sharp denial. “That wasn’t my intent. Please, believe me. It’s just everything with this stupid MicroTracker…” I try to smile a little. “I guess it’s making me crazy. I just wanted to see what you were doing with it. It’s been like my baby for so long…” I trail off, noticing how insane I sound even to my own ears.

He nods curtly, which I take as a signal to continue.

“I found something, though.” My throat clogs up again, and I swallow hard to loosen the ball of fear crawling toward my chest. “Something about Jake. He was…” It takes great effort to speak the words that are clogging up my throat. “He was using the MicroTracker the night of Marissa’s murder.” My voice trembles. “He was tracking her—and the last log in from his account showed her location at Navy Pier…the site of the murder.”

Duke’s eyes grow wide, his skin pales. “Are you certain?”

I nod, gesturing toward the computer. He re-logs into the network and quickly accesses the files for the MicroTracker. I take a step back, giving his anger a wide berth. “What am I looking at here?” he says.

I tentatively move closer to him, breathing in his just-showered scent. Leaning over the laptop, our shoulders touching, I walk him through the series of folders and spreadsheets automatically generated by the tracking program. Duke rests his hand on the small of my back, steadying.

My pulse picks up speed.

He curses under his breath, looks away, and then back. “Shit,” he says, louder. He brackets his hands on his hips and huffs. “For fuck’s sake, this is exactly what I was afraid of.”