It smelled classy. Expensive. Exotic, and yet… comforting, somehow.

And damn sexy.


Because I was completely tongue-tied (what with the voice and the scent), I looked over at Stanley. He nodded reassuringly like, Dude’s okay.

Which was good. I trust Stanley. If he gets a good read off of somebody, I accept his intuition.

“M-Mr. Brooks?” I stuttered as my hand clasped his.

Ohhhhhh God.

His skin was so warm. His handshake was really strong, but unlike a lot of jerks who try to push women (and other men) around, he didn’t try to crush me. He just let his hand envelope mine. Firm but inviting.

I melted a little bit more.

“Good to put a face to the voice,” he said as he hung onto my hand for a second or two longer than was absolutely necessary. (I didn’t mind. Not at all.)

“Yes,” I agreed, because that was all I could think to say at the moment.

Then he dropped my hand and got down to business. “Okay. Call your boss for me.”

The unpleasant prospect of having Klaus chew me out over the phone pumped a shot of adrenaline into my system. And that temporarily overrode all the sex hormones flooding through my veins.

“Ohhhh… I don’t really know if – ”

“Relax, Lily, you’ll talk to him first, and it’ll be on your phone, so I won’t even see the number. Besides, he’s probably not even out of the parking deck yet, is he?” Connor smiled.

And, no, the truth was that he probably wasn’t.

I sighed, pulled my cell phone out of my little black purse, and hit ‘KLAUS’ on my contacts list.

This was not going to go well.

But how could I say ‘no’ to what was actually a pretty reasonable request?

And, even more importantly, with those gorgeous blue eyes twinkling at me?

“What,” Klaus’s perpetually pissed-off voice answered.

“Um… I have Mr. Brooks here, and he’s pretty insistent about – ”

“WHAT THE HELL?! What part of your brain shut down when I left, Lily?!”

And then he went off on a mini-tirade of profanity and insults that was worse than usual.

Just as my blood reached the boiling point (which was really only 1.5 seconds in, after Klaus dropped the first F-bomb) and I was on the verge of saying something that would get me fired, I saw movement out of the corner of my eye and caught that smell again. That sexy, intoxicating scent.

I looked up to see Connor’s hand extended towards me, palm outward, right about my shoulder level.

He was looking at me with a bemused expression. Like puppy-dog eyes, but if the puppy dog knew you weren’t a very good owner and he had to explain to you how to walk him and feed him, but he still loved you anyway.

“May I?” he asked with that sexy-as-hell smile.

Meanwhile, Klaus’s torrent of profanity was still pouring full force into my ear.

What the hell, I thought, grinned wryly, and handed the phone over to him. Connor glanced at the phone screen and then held it up to his face.

“KLAUS!” he shouted in a backslapping, Hey, buddy! kind of way. “Connor… Brooks here from LMGK. How’s it going?”

First impression: Connor just commanded the conversation right from the beginning. He reached out verbally, took hold of Klaus by the neck, and steered him in the direction he wanted him to go.

Second impression: he paused slightly after his first name. At first I thought he was being friendly by saying ‘Connor’ alone, then realized Klaus might not know who he was, so he included the last name as a formality.

Turns out I was wrong, which I found out later that night.

The torrent of profanity ended abruptly. There was a long pause, and then a single word on the other end: “Hello.”

He didn’t say it in a friendly voice, but it was a hell of a lot friendlier than what he’d been subjecting me to a second ago.

“Here’s the thing, Klaus – I’d like to call you back on my phone so I can conference in somebody else. He’s expecting my call. You okay with that?”

There was the muffled, Charlie Brown’s teacher wah-wah-wah-WAAAAH of Klaus’s voice complaining on the other end.

“Thirty seconds, Klaus, and I’ll get right back to you. Be sure to pick up, bud – you’re gonna wanna hear this!”

And then Connor hung up on Klaus without waiting for a reply.

Ohhhh CRAP.

Mr. Movie Star had pretty much just signed my death warrant.

8

Connor saw my face and laughed. “You should see what you look like right now.”

“You did not just hang up on my boss,” I almost shouted.

I’d gotten my voice back, which was good. Basically, my overwhelming fear of losing my job – and my irritation at Connor losing it for me – overrode all the physical attraction that was keeping my tongue tied.

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