Noah laughed. “Maybe I’ll just be the one who gets coffee for us, and you can do something much more low profile, like just show up.”

I giggled. I could tell I was going to like him a lot. “What show up?” I muttered like a caveman. “Me no understand.”

Noah cringed. “Ugh, stop that! I’ll drink the dairy if you stop.”

He grabbed the cup, but I snatched it back. “No! I’ll stop.” He started to laugh, but then his expression suddenly went serious. I cocked my head in confusion. “What?”

A voice cleared its throat behind me. In all honesty, I expected Ryland. His snide behavior and incessant need to see me working non-stop could probably be designated by a clearing of the throat, but when I turned around, my heart settled like a brick into my stomach.

Standing before me, in a navy-blue, fitted designer suit, and a devilish smirk on his face, was the man I’d met at the bar the night before; the man who called himself ‘Neil.’ I understood in an instant that it wasn’t ‘Neil,’ after all. His deep blue eyes and dark hair were so reminiscent of the single picture I’d seen of him, that I couldn’t believe I didn’t put it together sooner.

“Good morning,” he announced. “You must be Sascha.” He held out his hand. “I’m Carson Werner; C.E.O.”

I eyed him with wide eyes. Was I being tricked or did he truly not recognize me from the night before as I bad-mouthed him? I analyzed the grin on his face and the small fires burning behind his eyes. He definitely recognized me and this was all part of some game he was planning to play. Well, if he thought that he was going to catch me with flapping gums, he was sincerely mistaken.

“I am indeed. Sascha Day,” I replied, reaching out and shaking his hand, deciding it was best to keep up his charade for now. “Lovely to meet you.”

Carson

To say that Sascha had done well in her first two weeks would be a severe understatement. Communications around the office were the best they’d ever been as she streamlined workflow, not to mention client satisfaction was through the roof because editors were now speaking with them directly due to a system she’d implemented. She was a spitfire and damn good at her job. Someone had even made a passing comment that I was spending more time in the office as of late, and as I approached her with my blood pumping a little faster, I had to admit that she was likely the reason.

“Good morning, Sascha. Were you able to get those client surveys entered?” I asked as I passed her desk, not paying her nearly as much attention as I wanted to.

She looked up with me with a stone serious expression. “Wait, you mean you didn’t want me to wallpaper them all over your office?” She turned back to her computer with a curt shake of her head. “Boy are you in for a surprise.”

As much as I hated it, a chuckle escaped my lips as I continued without responding. I thought I might spend my time keeping her on her toes, but I actually found myself trying to keep up. She had a dry, sarcastic sense of humor that was right up my alley and she didn’t shy away from giving it to me straight either.

She was an impressive creature.

“Tall, double, half-calf latte for my queen.” I stopped just shy of my office door as I heard Noah’s voice enter the otherwise quiet office, apart from the clacking of Sascha’s computer keys. She’d forged bonds with all of the editors there, but had grown closest with him.

“You are my hero,” Sascha responded. “How can I ever repay you?”

“I’m a pretty needy guy,” Noah quipped back.

“Oh, I’ll do anything,” Sascha said, with a suggestive tremor to her voice; at least that’s how it sounded to me.

I entered my office and closed the door behind me, trying to ignore the deposit of frustration in my stomach. I wasn’t a dumb guy. Noah was a charismatic, good-looking, take-home-to-mom-and-dad kind of guy. Sascha was, in a word, a bombshell. When two such people got together, often there was chemistry, and why shouldn’t there be? Something about it annoyed me outside of what I was comfortable with. Sure, she and I would often lock eyes, and that secret of having met in the bar travels silently between us. She’ll bat snarky comments at me like a day at Wrigley Field, and we could go tit-for-tat in a battle of wits, but she was close with Noah in a way that I suppose I found myself jealous of. Was it just because I was her boss that her shoulders always sat a little further forward than when she was with Noah? Was there something fundamental about him that she preferred to me? I cursed myself for mulling over it like a schoolboy. Who did she think she was creeping into my mind the way she had? Someone needed to be taught a lesson.

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