“Of course,” she responded, patting her lips again and standing up across from me. “And by the way…”

She extended her hand, and I clasped it in mine. Her fingers were soft, velvety, and sent a surprising jolt of warmth where it didn’t presently belong. As she withdrew, I closed my fist around something hard and plastic that she had pressed into my hand.

“Call me Key.”

I didn’t get a chance to respond. Key turned heel and walked out with a surprising level of confidence. Sitting there in silence, I opened my fingers and saw a tiny black plastic USB stick. It was a simplistic thing, the kind of device you would never notice sticking out of a work machine. Unmarked. Unremarkable. I knew instantly that whatever Key had come here for, it was on that USB.


This wasn’t just a peace offering. It was proof that she was walking away from whatever organization had hired her. For a brief moment, I wondered if I could use it to figure out who exactly that was, but I pushed the thought out of my mind. It didn’t matter. None of this mattered. Soon enough I’d be married, and this whole company would be a distant memory. Where would my newfound freedom take me first? Paris? Rio?

Maybe I’d just take a walk in the park at the end of the street and try to forget the world.

I dropped the little black usb stick to the floor and crushed it beneath the heel of my shoe.

Chapter 6

Kiona

The rest of my day was pretty surreal. Had any of that just happened? Really?

Fifteen million. Half up front! He said yes and he didn’t even blink! The biggest payment I’d ever seen was six thousand for catching the owner of a gym cheating on his wife. Sure, Technolust Analytics was going to pay me twenty thousand for getting that USB full of corporate secrets out of here, but that was small-time. I made a mental note to send my contact there a message and let them know I’d failed at the task. It might make it harder to get another gig… You don’t look for someone like me on craigslist or in your local yellowpages. Corporate espionage is a word-of-mouth kind of business. Of course, being out of work is a little easier to swallow when you’ve got millions of dollars in the bank.

And all for some pretend marriage to a freaking billionaire? Whatever Cole had gotten himself into, it must be worth one hell of a lot more than fifteen million, that much was certain. My mind swam with the possibilities.

I tried to push the bizarre lunch with my billionaire boss out of the way to focus on my job. I really did. But the rest of my work shift passed excruciatingly slowly, and every glance up at the clock was another bitter reminder that I cannot manipulate time with my awesome brain.

Luckily, some last minute busy work fell into my lap around 3PM, and I happily submersed myself into designing the foundations of a promotional campaign. This was more of Tanya’s shtick – after all, she was the promotions manager of the department. Unfortunately, she was out with her sick kid for the day, but I knew that I could get by without the specifics. It’s what I do…

The work was a little more than I could chew, originally. I had been under the impression that I could tally up the budgets, slap a barebones campaign together, and call that done. That’s before I realized that the offices I needed to reach were closing fast.

I privately made the calls I needed, throwing myself on the mercy of the poor soul who picked up, studied some of Tanya’s notes from pre-existing work. In the end, I barely scrapped the work together in accessible form with ten minutes to spare.

When I stepped out onto the roof, the helipad absolutely dominated the area. The wind whipped at my clothes from the altitude as I staggered towards the pilot, who waved me over with a delighted grin. I could see myself in his sunglasses as I crossed the brief distance.

“It’s your lucky day, Miss Walker!” The pilot shouted towards me, taking me by the shoulder. “My name’s Patrick, and I’ll be your captain on this flight! Have you ever been in the air before?”

I looked at him oddly as he helped me up into the cabin. “I’ve flown coach a few times, when I was a kid! Not since then, though!”

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