“Anything?” Connor asked.

“Anything.” I could almost hear Klaus’s teeth gritting together as he said it.


“Okay,” I agreed. “Have a nice – ”

“Is that all, Connor?” Klaus cut me off.

I wanted to throw the phone across the room. I might have, too, if it were mine.

“No, it’s not,” Connor said, crossing his arms. “That was very rude what you just did to Lily.”

I looked up in shock.

Stanley shook his head like, Here comes Jaws again.

“W– what?” Klaus asked, equally astounded.

“Apologize to her,” Connor demanded.

“That’s really not necessary,” I said in a squeaky little voice.

“Yes. It IS,” Connor insisted. “Klaus?”

“This is ridiculous – I’m not – ”

“Are you always that rude to everyone, Klaus, or just to the people you can get away with it? Employees, waiters, people you can abuse your power over?”

“I’m not going to take this from – ”

“I think I might call Dave back,” Connor mused. “I know he’s very nice to his personal secretary Amanda. I think he’d be interested to know how you kiss up and kick down.”

I was about to faint.

My very limited life at Everton Consulting was flashing before my eyes.

Stanley looked like he was watching a train wreck he was powerless to stop.

There was a loooooong pause on the phone.

“…sorry,” Klaus mumbled, the way a stylish woman ‘of a certain age’ might say her age in a crowded doctor’s office.

“What was that? Couldn’t hear you!” Connor shouted.

“Sorry, Lily,” Klaus seethed. “Is that all, Misssster Brooksss?”

“It’ll do, I suppose. Have a good night, Klaus!” Connor called out, then reached over, took the phone away from me, and hung up the call.

10

I must have been staring at him like he’d grown an extra head, because Connor gave me a mystified expression.

“…what?”

“What do you mean, ‘what’? What the hell was that?!” I fumed.

“My only entertainment on a boring Friday night,” he grinned, then turned around and stuck out his arm. “Stan, a pleasure. Good to meet you.”

Stanley just nodded his head in stunned silence as he shook hands.

“Shall we?” Connor asked me as he gestured to the elevators with one hand and put the other on the small of my back.

Oh.

My.

God.

Just that firm pressure there – the warmth of his hand, of his very large hand pressed in the curve of my back – sent a pleasurable jolt of electricity up and down my spine.

And his fingers slipped a little farther down as he pushed me gently forward. Just an inch or so.

He didn’t touch my rear end or anything, but… it was headed in that direction before his hand stopped and his fingertips pressed a little harder.

My knees got a little weak.

“Okay,” I agreed feebly, and we walked over to the elevators.

He withdrew his hand as we moved, and as soon as I felt his fingers move away, I thought about stopping just so he would touch me again to usher me forward.

I didn’t do it, though.

The elevator door opened as soon as Connor pressed the UP button, and we stepped inside.

“What floor?” he asked.

“23rd.”

As the doors closed, the last glimpse I had was the marble foyer and Stanley’s stunned face behind the reception desk.

I realized that might possibly be the spot I was standing when my boss decided to fire me.

As the elevator began its quick ascent to the upper floors, the anger rose inside me again.

“Who the hell do you think you are?” I blurted out.

Connor looked over in surprise. “What?”

“I said, who the hell do you think you are?”

He broke into a heart-stopping grin. “Did I tell you before how adorable you are when – ”

“ – I’m angry, yeah, yeah,” I snapped, not about to be put off. “Do you realize you might have just lost me my job back there?”

He looked at me, studying my eyes, peering deep into them. “Tell me something, Lily.”

“What?” I asked, exasperated.

“Do you like Klaus as a boss?”

He was entirely sincere. No snarkiness or anything.

I pulled back a little, surprised at the question. “What?”

“I said, do you like Klaus as a boss?”

I paused.

Something in his gaze was asking for an honest answer.

Against my better judgment, I gave it.

“Not really. Actually, no. Not at all.”

He nodded, satisfied. “Good.”

“Why ‘good’?”

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