The Favor:A Marriage of Convenience Romance(6)

By: Suzanne Wright


I was pretty sure he grunted by way of hello, but it was hard to tell from all the way over here. Taking in his default unimpressed expression, one might think he suffered from chronic indifference. It tended to make people nervous; they often seemed compelled to try to please or amuse him. The latter was truly a waste of time. In all the years I’d worked for him, I’d never heard him laugh. Not. Once.

I flashed him my receptionist smile as he neared me. “Afternoon, Dane.”

He flicked up his brows ever so slightly—his usual way of greeting me. Well, it was more than a lot of people got.

Grabbing some papers from my desk, I followed him into his sleek, spacious, masculine office. The glossy, cognac-brown wooden flooring perfectly matched the ergonomic desk, the full-wall shelves, and the coffee table in the seating area at the far side of the room. Two black leather sofas framed the table, and I could attest that both were delightfully comfortable.

Dane sometimes held one-on-one meetings in the seating area, but he mostly used conference rooms. I got the sense that he didn’t like having many people in his private sanctum. Not that anything in the room revealed much about him. There were no mementos, no knickknacks, no clutter. Even his kickass desk was surprisingly sparse. There was only his desktop computer, laptop, landline phone, nameplate, and a single coaster.

There were two things I envied about Dane’s office. One, the private bathroom. Two, the floor-to-ceiling windows that boasted an incredible, skyline view.

“Coffee?” I asked once he’d settled in his chair.

“No.”

In the beginning, I used to bristle at his curt manner. Now? I was used to it. I knew not to take his rudeness personally. Dane didn’t put much effort into sparing the feelings of anyone.

After relaying some important messages to him, I placed the papers on the desk in front of him. “You need to sign these.”

He only grunted.

I gave him a bright smile. “I like these little chats we have.”

He gave me one of those droll looks I’d become accustomed to over the years.

I headed to the door. Reaching it, I looked over my shoulder as I said ever so casually, “Oh, and Travis turned up to see you.”

Dane’s eyes narrowed as he studied me hard. “What did he do?”

I blinked. “Who says he did anything?”

“What did he do, Vienna?” Dane repeated. He very rarely raised that smooth, low-pitched, authoritative voice … as if never doubting that he had his conversationalist’s full attention. From what I’d observed, he was right not to have such doubts.

I really didn’t like tattling on people, but I figured Dane had a right to know that his brother might have been up to something. “Travis wanted to go into your office even though you weren’t here. I wouldn’t let him, so he kicked up a fuss. When it didn’t get him anywhere, he left. He also wants you to call him.”

“Define ‘fuss.’”

“He whined and yelled and growled and promised he’d have me fired.”

“Did he touch you?”

“No.” But he had threatened to. I decided not to mention that, though. It would only piss Dane off, and he was even more of a pain when he was in a mood.

“Hmm.” He made that sound far too often. It was infuriating, because it could mean everything or nothing.

Moving swiftly on … “Don’t forget you have a meeting in an hour. The agenda is on your desk, and I emailed you the materials that you’ll need to review for the meeting.”

His gaze on the laptop screen, he said, “You’ll attend it with me.” An order.

“That’s fine,” I said, nothing in my voice betraying that it was far from okay.

He went very still, and his eyes flew back to mine. “Is that going to be a problem?”

Seriously, the guy was a warlock or something. It was next to impossible to get anything past him. “Of course not,” I replied. “Are you sure you don’t want coffee?”

He didn’t answer. He just fixed me with that hunter stare. The only reason I didn’t squirm or avert my gaze was that I’d had plenty of practice at acting unaffected.

The cell phone he’d placed on his desk began to ring.