“No. She’s fine.” Lucie told him, easing some of the tension that had been building over the course of the last two days.

“Alright. I’ll stop by.” Cole conceded, knowing Lucie didn’t want to go into detail at the club, and he couldn’t necessarily blame her.

“Thanks.” With that Lucie walked off, leaving Cole with his drink and a ton of worries.

The things he had on his mind weren’t anything out of the norm. At least not for him, but Cole couldn’t seem to get past them. One would think that with as much sex as he was getting, he wouldn’t have a care in the world, but apparently that wasn’t the case. Although he’d spent almost every single night for the past couple of weeks with Sierra and Luke, he couldn’t help but think they had come to the point in this so called arrangement that required them to determine what the next steps were.

The fact that he had told both Sierra and Luke that he loved them, and they hadn’t returned the sentiment bothered him more than he wanted to admit. Even though he had told them both only once, and during the heat of the moment, he wondered if they knew how hard it had been for him to share that much of himself. To not get anything in return left him wanting more. He only wondered whether they wanted the same thing he did.

Thankfully Alex McDermott chose that moment to intrude on his wandering thoughts as he pulled back a chair at the table and sat down with the same grace and style the man did everything else with.

“Thanks for meeting me.” Alex said, turning toward the bar, catching Lucie’s attention.

Alex was a regular at the club, both of them in fact, but no one knew much about him other than he had become more and more irritated over the last few weeks. Cole had an idea as to what was causing that irritation, but it was none of his business, and he and Alex weren’t what he would consider friends, so he wasn’t about to broach the subject.

“No problem. What’s up?” Cole knew this had to be about business because that was the only time Alex ever approached him, and since he needed something to help get his mind off of things better left alone, he was anxiously awaiting the reason for the impromptu meeting.

“I need your help.” Alex admitted, suddenly looking tired.

“Alright.” Cole hesitated.

“I want to hire you.”

Assuming Alex meant as a contractor, he nodded his head, encouraging Alex to continue. The last time he’d worked for Alex had been at the conference in Vegas and based on the feedback he’d received, they had drummed up some business out of the deal. Which was good for Alex and the man had compensated Cole nicely.

“Permanently.” Alex added then paused for Lucie to set the drink on the table. “Thanks.” He told her before turning back to Cole.

“Permanently?” Cole wasn’t looking for anything permanent. That didn’t explain why the idea intrigued him.

“Yes. We’ve just gotten too busy, and I can’t seem to keep up. Even with Dylan onboard and Sam working double to try and fulfill her contract with XTX while helping out with a couple of other big clients we’ve recently taken on, I’m quickly losing my mind. I can’t do everything, and since Dylan has continued to be reclusive, I’m unable to convince him to handle any of the PR work that we need.”

“Why me?”

“Because you know the ins and outs of CISS and you’re good at what you do. So, before you say no, let me tell you what I need you to do.” Alex hurried through the statement, obviously anticipating Cole’s immediate rejection.

For the next half hour Cole listened to Alex’s spiel. The man had obviously given this some serious thought before approaching him. And although Alex was looking to hire Cole as the front man for their public relations work, he didn’t realize how much better he would be at the job if he just handled it himself. But, that didn’t mean Cole wasn’t interested. For the first time in as long as he could remember, he apparently was ready for something more permanent. Something that he could look forward to day in and day out.

That longing had spilled over into his personal as well as his professional life and Cole figured this wasn’t necessarily a bad place to start.

“I’m in.” He said, stunning Alex into complete silence.

After a few tension filled seconds passed, Alex blurted, “You’re in? Just like that?”

“Just like that.”

“Well hell. I thought it would be a harder sell than that. You should’ve seen the hoops I had to jump through to get Sam onboard.”

Cole laughed, remembering the story Logan had shared with him several months back. After some highly escalated HR violations, Alex had come up with a plan to salvage Sam’s job while still allowing XTX to benefit from her employment. In the end, it had all worked out, so obviously Alex was a better salesman than he thought.

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