“Perfect,” I say. And when I press a kiss to his cheek, I hope he understands that I mean so much more than the resort.

twenty

“I see what Glau was getting at with the consolidation of all the recreation facilities in one area,” Jackson is saying as the elevator doors open and we step into the office’s penthouse foyer. We’d spent the morning on the twenty-sixth floor in the previously empty space that Stark International has made available to Jackson and his team for the duration of the project.

Now, we’re on our way up for a meeting with Damien, but Jackson’s mind is still on the designs that he’d taped to the wall and then immediately started revising with bold blue pencil.

“It’s not only a terrible use of the natural space, but it also limits the flexibility of the resort as a whole.” He glances up, sees Rachel waving us over, and gives her a halfhearted wave as he flips more pages in the notebook he’s holding. “I also want to discuss the construction crew. Unless you’re contractually locked in, I’m more comfortable with my own team.”

“If we hit a snag, we can bring Aiden in, but you and I can work it out. Is Mr. Stark ready for us?” I ask Rachel as we reach her desk.

I glance down and can see by the light on the phone that he’s not. I glance at my watch and then frown. Damien is exceptionally prompt, and I can’t help but wonder why he’s still on a call when we’re scheduled to meet with him right now.

Not my problem.

The reminder isn’t easy to swallow. I’ve sat at this desk for so long that it’s strange not to be behind it on a weekday, even if the reason I’m not behind it is management.

“How’s the desk?” I ask Rachel, my curiosity getting the better of me.

“Busier than on the weekends,” she says. “Thanks for letting me pick up Monday and today.”

“Don’t thank me. I’m thrilled, too. Gives me more time on real estate.”

“Speaking of, guess who I had drinks with last night.”

“Aiden?” Rachel’s pretty and fun, and I’ve always thought they would make a cute couple. But she just shakes her head and says, “I wish! No, Trent.” From her smile, I can see that she does not consider Trent to be sloppy seconds.

And while I would be less than enthusiastic about him myself, I have to agree that Trent is both nice and competent, if rather dull. I keep my mouth closed about that last part.

“So?” I say. “Details, please.”

“No big deal, really,” she says, but her blush suggests otherwise. “But he was up here last night. I was, too, because Damien had one of his international conference calls from his house, and I was here in case he needed me to pull files or something.”

“Why was Trent here? Was the call about the Century City or Bahamas projects?” Those may not be my projects, but I’m hoping to be officially in that department soon, and if there’s something cooking, I want to know about it.

“Oh, no. He didn’t say why he was here, but since he asked me out, I think that was the real reason. And he hung out for the whole call. Even watched my desk when I had to run into the apartment to get some files that Damien left in the kitchen,” she adds, referring to the private residence that covers half of this floor. “After that, we split an entire bottle of wine down at the Biltmore’s bar. And I think that if we both hadn’t needed to get up early, I might still be on a date.”

My smile is genuine. “Good for you.”

“I know, right? It’s been forever since I’ve had s-e-x.” She glances at Jackson as she spells, as if that’s going to somehow keep him from picking up the thread of our conversation.

I’m about to ask her what happened with the last guy she was dating when the intercom buzzes.

“Are they here?”

I frown. Damien’s voice is rarely that tight, and I wonder what morning crisis he’s had to handle with Rachel at the desk rather than me.

“I was just about to send them in,” Rachel says.

As Jackson levers himself off the reception couch, I give Rachel a quick nod, and she pushes the button to open the door.

Damien is standing by the window when we enter, and as the door shuts behind us, he hits a button on the remote he is holding. Immediately, the automatic blinds that cover the wall of windows start to close, shifting the room into dark.

The projection screen begins to descend and a tabloid-style headline splashes onto it:

Sex, Sand & Starkalicious Scandal!

“Would one of you care to tell me what the hell this is?” Damien’s voice is taut to the breaking point.


Tags: J. Kenner Stark International Trilogy Romance
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