“The exceptions being our group sex partners, not random women you screw on the side.”

His mouth twitched under my fingers and he nodded, returning my hand. “Correct.”

“Fine, I’ll accept your offer of servitude,” I said, glancing at him while blowing on the soup, his amusement visible through the steam. “Since that grants me the power of possession, exactly how many women does Rebecca have a dossier on?”

He shrugged. “Not many. I’ve had five or six extended flings that have stretched for a few months. Rebecca has files on those women.”

I growled through the first spoonful of soup, wanting to march up to her office right now and feed those spreadsheets through the shredder myself. Not that I, with my still-had-the-tags-on-it new relationship, had any right to be territorial. “Well, I was going to hire a pushy assistant and have him, for the sake of invasiveness, send you an STD pee kit, but I guess I’ll cancel that, seeing as you have agreed to drop the questionnaire and keep your pit bull of an assistant at bay.” I grinned at him and dipped my spoon back in the bowl.

“Oh....speaking of that.” The hesitancy in his voice caused me to look up, my body tensing at whatever disaster was lurking.

“Speaking of what?”

“STD tests.” Crap. I was afraid that’s where he was headed. “If you are going to be part of this lifestyle, we need to get you tested.”

Never mind, not where I thought he was headed. “Me?” The incredulity in my voice caused another grin to cross his face.

“Yes, oh patron saint of virtue. You. I know you are probably clean, but for future planning purposes, and in order to get access to the elite clubs and parties, we have to know for sure, and be able to provide documentation.” He lowered his voice, leaning forward. “Everyone, and I mean everyone, wears condoms, but you have to be clean in order to participate. Do you have a doctor that you use?”

Gynecologist. That had been one of the blanks on Rebecca’s spreadsheet, and I had planned on its being my argument’s grand finale—a shining example of the utter invasion of privacy that the questionnaire had been. Now it made a little more sense.

“Yeah,” I muttered, scooping up a combination of noodles and vegetables.

“Do you mind?”

“Not particularly. I mean, I want everyone else there tested, but...” My mouth curved on its own, my own mind realizing the double standard that was about to come out of my lips. “No. I need to do it anyway. I’m due for an annual exam.” I glanced at my watch, swearing at the time. “Damn, I gotta go.” I stood, grabbing my bag, and leaned over, kissing him briefly before glancing at the table.

“I got it, babe. Go. Call me when you’re done for the day.”

I thanked him with my smile, trotting out the front and onto the downtown sidewalk. I made a mental note to call my gyno and see if I could get in to see her this week. As I stood at the busy street and waited to cross, I realized that I hadn’t mentioned the job offer that Broward had extended.

Five

The invitation came, as so many did, by private messenger, a tuxedoed male with the bone structure of a model. He wound through the halls of Clarke, De Luca & Broward with familiar ease, taking the elevator to the fourth floor and swinging through the heavy doors of the East Wing. Approaching the elevated semicircle of secretarial desks, he stopped in front of the middle one, waiting patiently until the elegant women raised her silver head and looked at him.

“Yes? What can I help you with, sir?”

“I have a courier item for Mr. De Luca, ma’am.”

“You can hand it over. I’ll be sure that he gets it.”

“I apologize, but I am under strict instructions to deliver it only to Mr. De Luca.”

The woman pursed her lips, fixing him with a stern gaze that did nothing to alter the confident grin on his face. “I believe you have been here before, Mr....”

“Martin. And yes, I have made deliveries here before.”

“Then, Mr. Martin, you are quite aware that Mr. De Luca is a very busy man. I will try to reach him via phone, but if I fail, you will have the option of leaving the item with me or returning at another time. I will not have you wandering around this lobby waiting for his return, understood?”

His grin still in place, he nodded. “Yes, ma’am.”

She turned, the wrinkles in her neck smoothing for one moment, and placed the phone to her ear.

* * *

BRAD WAS MIDSWING in the third stroke of a par four when his cell rang, vibrating inside his pocket, the one distraction he didn’t need at that point in time. He swore loudly as he watched the ball fade to the right, headed exactly where it shouldn’t, a loud splat confirming his error. He yanked his phone from his pocket and glanced at the display. “De Luca.”

“Mr. De Luca, there is a gentleman here, a Mr. Martin, who has an item that he will only deliver to you.”

“Let me talk to him, please.”

There was a rustle, silence, then, “Hello?”

“This is Brad De Luca. Who is the item from?”

“Beverly Franklin, sir.”

Brad chuckled. “Okay. Just a moment.” He lifted his chin, going through the possibilities, then came to a decision.

“I’m going to give you a set of instructions, but I want to make sure that the secretary in front of you does not hear them. Do you understand?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Leave the wing you are in and return to the elevator banks. There will be an entrance there for the West Wing—Kent Broward’s name will be visible on the door. Enter there and ask for Julia Campbell. You can deliver the item to her. Just her.”

“Gotcha, Mr. D. See you later, sir.”

“Thank you.” He hung up the phone and approached the cart, nodding to the three men standing there. He would give anything to see Julia’s face when she opened the card.

I WAS ELBOW deep in transcript review when Chace Crawford, in a tuxedo, appeared in my doorway. Okay, so it wasn’t the Chace Crawford, but enough of a lookalike for me to momentarily forget Drueit vs. Pace Contracting, which was a feat unto itself. I collected myself and waved him in.

“Can I help you?”

“I’m looking for Julia Campbell.”

“I’m Julia.” I stood, stepping forward and shaking the hand he extended.

“I’m Jeff Martin. I have a couriered item for Mr. De Luca, but he isn’t in. He said that I could give it to you.”

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