The Contract(6)

By: Melanie Moreland

I crossed the office and sat down at my desk. “Adrian Davis of The Gavin Group?”

He nodded. “I was visiting Amy, and I went to see him to arrange our round of golf next week. He’s agreed to talk to Graham about interviewing you.”

I thumped the top of the desk with my fist. “Fucking great news. What did you tell him?”

“I said you were leaving for personal reasons. I told him, despite the rumors, your situation had changed and you were no longer comfortable with the direction of Anderson Inc.”

“My situation?”

“I told him your playboy days were behind you, and the way you conduct business had evolved. I informed him you wanted a different sort of life.”

“He believed you?”

Brian smoothed the crease of his pants with his fingertips, meeting my gaze. “He did.”

“Did you tell him what caused this miraculous turnabout?”

“You sort of suggested it yourself last night. I said you fell in love.”

I nodded. It was exactly what I was thinking. Graham liked the family atmosphere, and I would have to fit in.

Brian regarded me shrewdly. “Given your history, Richard, this woman will have to be vastly different from the women you’ve been linked with, especially recently.” He tilted his head. “Someone more down-to-earth, warm, and caring. Real.”

“I know.”

“Is it really worth it?”


“You’ll lie and pretend, all because of a job?”

“It’s more than a job. David screwed me over—so did Tyler. It’s not the first time. I’m not taking this shit anymore.” I reclined in my chair, staring out the window. “I may be hired under less than honest intentions, but Graham will get a fucking great addition to his company. I’ll work my ass off for him.”

“And the woman?”

“We break up. It happens.”

“Any ideas who the lucky lady is going to be?”

I shook my head. “I’ll figure it out.”

There was a knock and Miss Elliott entered, placing a bagel and fresh coffee on my desk. “Mr. Maxwell, can I get you another cup of coffee?”

He shook his head, smiling at her. “I told you, it’s Brian. Thanks, Katy, but no. I have to get going, and your boss here has a huge project to work on.”

She turned to me, her eyes wide. “Is there something I need to do, Mr. VanRyan? Can I help in some way?”

“Absolutely not. There is nothing I need from you.”

Her cheeks flushed, and her head dropped. She nodded, exiting the office, closing the door behind her.

“God, you’re an ass,” Brian observed. “You’re so rude to her.”

I shrugged, unrepentant.

He rose from his chair, buttoning his jacket. “You need to watch your attitude to have a chance for your plan to work, Richard.” He indicated in the direction of the door. “That pretty girl is the exact sort of person you need to interact with Graham.”

I ignored the pretty remark, gaping at him. “Interact?”

He smirked. “Do you really think he’s going to accept a name and a brief introduction? I told you how involved he is with his staff. If he decides to hire you, he is going to want to meet your lady—more than once.”

I hadn’t thought that far ahead. I thought I could get someone I knew to pose for an evening, but Brian was right. I would need to keep up the façade for a while—at least until I proved my worth to Graham.

He hesitated at the door. “I assume Miss Elliott isn’t married.”

“That should be obvious.”

He shook his head. “You’re blind, Richard. Your solution is right in front of you.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You’re a smart man. Figure it out.”

He departed, leaving the door open behind him. I heard him say something that made Miss Elliott laugh, the sound unusual coming from her area. I grabbed my bagel, tearing off a bite with more force than necessary.

What the hell was he suggesting?

A niggling thought began to grow, and I glanced at the door.

He couldn’t be serious.

I groaned, dropping my bagel on my plate, my appetite gone.

He was totally serious.

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