The One Nighter(7)

By: Shauna Hart

The restaurant he chose was a small Italian place with red tablecloths. Old wine bottles with melted down candles were the only centerpiece. She took a deep breath. This was a far cry from the cafeteria-style settings that Mr. Turner used for lunch meetings. No, this was a place that hosted many Saturday night dates. It certainly was not the type of place where a boss took his new coworker.

The setting led the way to a question she wasn’t sure that she was ready for.

What exactly was Connor Mason planning?

And, worst of all, would she be strong enough to resist it?

Chapter 5

As soon as they sat down in the booth, she knew she was in trouble.

Connor Mason in a professional setting she could handle; Connor Mason in an intimate setting meant she was in trouble. After ordering a bottle of wine, he turned to face her. His eyes sparkled in the candlelight.

“I thought maybe we should talk,” he explained.

She picked up her menu, feigning intense interest. “About what?”

The side of his mouth quirked up on a cocky grin. “I just want to make sure that what happened doesn’t interfere with our work.”

Her eyes met his. “It won’t,” she assured him evenly.

His gaze bore into her, and she began to wonder how much he could see when he looked at her.

Could he see through the façade of indifference that she was clinging to?

After a moment of silence, he nodded. “Good. Because that would be the last thing I need right now. I mean, I know that this is awkward…”

“It’s not awkward. I mean, not for me,” she lied.

He tilted his head to the side as a lazy grin stole across his face. “No?” he prodded.

She tried her best to maintain his gaze, but that sexy grin was doing her in. Unable to stop herself, she looked away. For a minute, she thought the silence that enveloped the table would go on forever.

Luckily, he ended it.

“Well, that’s great, because we have our work cut out for us,” he remarked.

Her eyebrows drew together in confusion. “What do you mean?” she asked.

He pinned her with a steady gaze. “I mean that Turner hasn’t brought in any new clients in over a year, and he’s barely holding on to the clients he’s got.”

Indignation rose up in her, and she pursed her lips. “I’ve been working with these clients for the past six years. If anybody knows them, I do. And I haven’t heard a single complaint.”

The look on his face made her blood boil.

“I’m sure you didn’t,” he replied.

She sighed heavily as she tried to reign in her errant temper. “What does that mean?”

He was silent as the waiter brought their food. Sliding the napkin into his lap, he looked up. “It means that their problem wasn’t with you. It was with Turner,” he explained.

She let out a huff of aggravation. “You don’t know what you’re talking about. Mr. Turner is a great man,” she bit back.

“Who hasn’t had his mind on the business for a while,” he provided.

She shook her head. “That’s not true.”

One eyebrow arched. “Really? When’s the last time he even met with his clients?” he challenged.

“Mr. Turner leaves most of the client relations to me,” she said.

“Exactly,” he replied.

Anger rose swiftly. “Are you saying that I don’t know how to do my job?” she demanded through gritted teeth.

His eyes narrowed. “No, I’m saying that Turner doesn’t know how to do his.”

The words were meant to placate her, but they didn’t have the desired effect. In fact, they did just the opposite, and she was seriously considering a full attack.

After all, what did he know about the agency?

What did he know about their clients?

She tried to pretend that his criticism didn’t echo her own. It was true that Mr. Turner could have been more involved with what was going on with the clientele. She had complained about that very thing many times.

But she would never admit that.

Especially to him.

He leaned in, his eyes meeting hers. “Melanie, I know you do a great job. I also know that you care a hell of a lot more about your job than Turner does,” he elaborated.