Christian and Jared watched in stark silence as Jane unknowingly had the boy falling under her spell.
What a bewitching witch she was, Jared thought broodingly. If only Christian Ravenhearst had not discovered her first.
As soon as the waiter confirmed Jane’s orders, Christian dismissed him imperiously, “You may go.”
For one moment, the younger man had the insane idea of refusing. But then he saw the ruthless look in the man’s eyes and knew he wouldn’t stand a chance.
Christian’s iPhone vibrated against the table at the same time Jared’s did.
She watched them reach for their phones and read their messages in the exact same manner and did her best not to laugh. They might not want to admit it, but only guys who were exceptionally close friends with each other could be that similar.
Jared put his phone down. “What do you think about Caruthers’ network?”
“It’s worth considering.” Christian paused. “If he’s to be trusted.”
“But you don’t.”
“No, I don’t. He’s the kind that would stab us in the back the first chance he gets.”
“I think the same,” Jared acknowledged. “However, he’s also one of the few who has the server capacity you need to provide backup.”
Jane sat back and listened in quiet contentment as the two men continued with their conversation. As an inter-department operative, Jane was tasked to provide P.R. assistance to any department in AMC whenever needed. Over the years, this had allowed her to acquire a substantial background in everything from finance to human resources to I.T., and now the knowledge proved handy, allowing her to easily follow Jared and Christian’s conversation.
Even having their food served didn’t put a stop to the talks, but Jane didn’t mind, and she took it upon herself to ensure that the men’s glasses were refilled and plates taken away as soon as they were done with each course.
When dinner was over and they had finished drinking coffee, Jared and Christian suddenly looked at her as if only remembering that Jane had been with them the entire night.
Jane rolled her eyes. Men and their business talk.
Jared and Christian grinned.
“Apologies,” Jared murmured.
“Sorry, pet,” Christian murmured.
Jared’s chauffeur-driven limousine arrived first. “Shall I take her home?”
“Actually—-” Christian’s tone was very soft. “You won’t need to, after all. I can take her.”
“Are you certain?” Jared questioned. “Your work might make you forget. Again.”
And Jane started feeling there was something wrong in the air – again.
Weren’t these two supposed to be friends?
“That won’t be likely this time.” Christian’s arm went around her waist. “Since I have no plans of letting her go home tonight.”
She jerked. Oh my God. He had done it again. TMI! Weren’t Englishmen supposed to be reserved? So why the hell couldn’t Christian understand he was saying too much?
Jared’s expression hardened at the unmistakable taunt. “You know what? You’re right. You’re unlikely to forget tonight – but what about next time?”
“I don’t make the same mistake twice,” Christian bit out.
Jane decided it was time for her to intrude. She cleared her throat, saying, “You know, I could always commute—-”
Christian and Jared scowled at her.
“Or not,” Jane finished. “I mean, duh. That’s crazy. Why would I even want to commute? Tsk.”
Christian was the first to grin reluctantly, and Jared’s expression relented a moment later, both of them realizing how tension had them inadvertently snapping at the very woman whose attention they were competing for.
Jared turned to Jane. “Ms. Cooper.”
She automatically straightened, hearing her CEO speak to her.
“Let me take you home.”
And that was unmistakably a CEO ordering his employee.
Jane bit her lip.
Christian’s gaze narrowed at his friend. “That’s unexpectedly underhanded of you.”
“I didn’t get to where I am by playing nice,” Jared retorted, “and neither did you.”
Christian’s arm tightened around Jane. “Don’t let him intimidate you, pet. He’s not really going to fire you.”
“But if he does,” Jane muttered under her breath.
AMC’s CEO stared at her. “What is it to be, Ms. Cooper?”
Her lips parted, but the words just wouldn’t come. It was so embarrassing to actually pick a name.
Christian was amused when Jane started unconsciously moving backward until she was hiding behind his back like a child trying to escape from a sermon.
And then he heard her mumble, “I’d rather not put you through more trouble—-”
Christian stiffened. Fuck. What if she thought she was taking him away from work and so she had ended up choosing his friend?
The last word was practically inaudible, but both men heard it and understood.
Christian reached for Jane’s hand behind his, and as soon as her fingers twined with his, he squeezed her hand tightly, his heart still hammering against his chest.
That had been a major fucking scare.
He looked at Jared. “She’s mine for the night.”
Jared acknowledged his words with a cock of his head. “True.” He stepped towards his limousine then paused before entering, saying, “But remember that she’s mine for the day.”