“Coffee, sir?” she asks, and Oz shakes his head.

“No one in,” he tells her as he pulls me into his office, sealing us in. The sound of the lock turning echoes in the room.


“What are you doing?” I try to pull my hand from his, but he grips me by the hips, lifting me up and carrying me over to the sofa next to his desk. He sits down with me straddling him. I try to move, but he tightens his hold. The action both turns me on and pisses me off. My body reacts to him like it always does when he becomes controlling.

“As was discussed at our private lunch yesterday, I found out that my inheritance came at a price. And though I’ve made that money back a hundredfold, I don’t like knowing that it began from something…” He pauses as if trying to think of the best word. “Unsavory.”

I nod, understanding. I wouldn’t want to have anything of mine tied to someone I despised. But I can’t help but wonder how ill-gotten the money was. What horrible things had to take place to earn it?

“For a long time I sought revenge, and though a part of me still hates him, I think my energy is better spent taking care of those I love.”

My stomach does a little flip at his words. The idea that maybe I’ve made him want to put his focus somewhere else warms me.

“I’ve decided to invest a large portion of my money in philanthropic projects. I need two people I can trust to sort out who’s in need of money and where it should go. I’ve seen what you and Skyler can do with numbers, and I trust you with everything I have, Mallory. I’d like for you to head this project and help me do some good with everything that I’ve been given.”

“You want us to run your company’s charities?” My mind suddenly races with ideas.

“Yes. I think between you and Skyler, you could do a lot of good and make sure the money goes to all the right places. I want to really make a difference in children’s lives. Ones who maybe don’t have a support system to help them along the way.”

“Like me,” I say, looking into his eyes.

“Like you,” he confirms. “I hate my father, but I wonder if I would’ve found you without him. And that’s something I can’t hate him for. So instead of investing all my energy in revenge, I want to invest some of it in something good. Giving back what was given to me.”

His words are sweet, and I want this. Badly. I look away from him, not sure what to say. He eases his grip on my hips and turns my face to make me look at him.

“Oz.” I lean into his hand as he cups my cheek, his thumb brushing back and forth. “You have to talk to me. Not run me over with what you want.”

“I know,” he says. I can hear a trace of guilt in the two simple words. “I’m trying. I want what’s best for you, and I’d be lying if that also didn’t include you being as close to me as possible. But I promise I’m trying.” His hand slips around to my back and he pushes me closer to him. “I could have moved your apartment stuff like I did the office.” He half smiles, but I roll my eyes, biting the inside of my cheek. “See? I’m trying.”

I have an inner battle going on inside me. Part of me wants to stand on my own two feet, and the other part wants to fall into Oz. I want to enjoy being taken care of for once in my life. I don’t even know why I’m fighting for control with him, when deep down I like the idea of letting him take over. That really the struggle isn’t for control, it’s the fear of losing him. I’m afraid to enjoy something that could be taken away from me. I should know better than anyone how possible that is. I might not remember my parents, but I’ve seen pictures and have photo albums tucked away in my closet at home. We look happy in them. Like a normal family. Then poof, they were gone. Knowing how perfect things could be with Oz makes me so happy and so scared at the same time.

“I’m being serious,” I scold, but find myself wiggling against him.

“I am, too, sweetheart. I’ll work better with you close. The security on this floor is the best in the building.” His hand moves to my belly and slides along it. I know what he’s thinking. He’s been doing this since we spoke about the possibility of my being pregnant. “I need you close.”

Then his fingers find the edge of my loose dress, sliding up my thighs and around to my ass. “When I know you’re near, I can breathe better. As crazy as that sounds.”

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