Breaching the Contract(5)

By: Chantal Fernando


“Sorry,” I say to him, and step aside, my arm accidentally brushing the material of his gray suit. I touch my arm where the material did, and stop as his direct gaze pins me in my place. Did I see a flash of heat in there? Lust?

He studies me for a few quick seconds, then murmurs, “You have ink on your mouth,” before heading back inside the office without a backward glance.

I pull my compact mirror out of my bag as I head toward the juice bar and have a look. Ugh, he’s right. There’s blue ink smudged all over my bottom lip, which must be from me biting my pen while I was working on a brief earlier.

Goddammit.

I cover my face with my hands and groan.

Why can’t Tristan and I ever have a normal interaction? It’s always tense, awkward, or embarrassing.

By the time I get to the juice bar, my mind is a mess. I order a green smoothie and, as I wait, rub my lips with my finger. Those are the words he had to say to me? I hope I catch him with his shirt on backward or something next time. Smoothie in hand, I head back to the office and sit at my desk, putting my earphones in as I read the report Jaxon wanted me to look over for him. Ed Sheeran’s soothing voice hits my ears, and between that and concentrating on the papers in front of me, I don’t notice anyone entering my office until Tristan is standing right in front of me. I glance up at him and pull one of my earphones out.

“Jaxon just called,” he says to me, frowning. “You weren’t picking up your phone.”

I glance to my phone next to me, seeing three missed calls. “Shit, I forgot to take it off silent. Is everything okay?”

“He’s running late and wants you to start the interview with his next client,” Tristan says, pursing his lips and handing me a file.

“No problem,” I say, taking it from him. Our thumbs accidentally touch in the handover, and when I hastily pull my hand away, the file falls onto the table, papers scattering. I quickly pick them up but keep my head down, silently cursing myself. When I straighten, file in hand, Tristan is still standing there watching me.

“Is there anything else?” I ask, keeping my tone even when all I want to do is snap at him.

He bends and picks up one piece of paper I’d missed because it’d fallen on the floor, and hands it to me.

“Don’t mess this up” is all he says, and he glances at his watch. “They’re already waiting in his office, and you’re now officially late. I don’t know why Jaxon has so much faith in you.”

“Lucky I’m working with him then,” I say to him.

And late?

By what, thirty seconds?

I glance at the clock on the wall, and yes, I’m about one minute late, but only because he won’t leave my office.

I walk around him and exit without saying another word.

The man is infuriating. No wonder my friend from law school, Callie, said he has a reputation for making associates and interns cry, and hardly anything intimidates Callie. At the time, I didn’t understand why she didn’t apply for this position, but now it makes perfect sense. He’s tough in the beat-you-down-and-tell-you-when-you-are-messing-up way. He’s clearly not a compassionate, approachable man. He’s good at what he does, yes. He has a reputation just as good as Jaxon’s, but he’s . . . I don’t know.

Meaner.

Less empathetic.

Always brooding.

I rush to Jaxon’s office, opening the door and smiling at the man sitting down. He stands as soon as I approach him.

“Hello, Mr. Davensworth. I’m Kat, and I’ll be stepping in for Mr. Bentley this afternoon and helping him with your case,” I say, shaking his hand. He grips my hand, then lets it go and nods once. He’s good-looking, in a rough kind of way. Brown eyes, and a mop of dark hair that he’s hidden beneath a black cap. He sits back down only when I do. A gentleman.

I open his file—the papers upside down. I silently curse Tristan, turn them the right way around, and then glance up. “So it says here you and Mr. Bentley spoke on the phone regarding allegations made by your old workplace, is this correct?”

“Yes,” he replies, tone emotionless. “They’ve accused me of stealing money from the company.”