For a moment, Declan appraised me, then nodded. “Good observation, indeed.”

Now I’m heading into my second business meeting. Per Declan’s instructions, I’m dressed in the off-the-shoulder cocktail dress. It’s cobalt-blue with a sweetheart neckline, the back almost wholly scooped out. It fits snugly through my torso and hips, cascading to asymmetrical but subtle ruffles at the hemline. He’d insisted on a pair of silver spike-heeled sandals from a designer I’d never heard of—not that I know much about fashion—and had cost a heart-stopping bit over a grand. I find myself strolling cautiously so as not to nick the costly leather in any way.

Restaurant Guy Savoy is a French restaurant I’m unfamiliar with. I’d Googled it while at my new desk this afternoon when Declan ordered me to confirm our seven PM reservations. Apparently, the original restaurant is in Paris. At the sight of the menu and the seventy-five-dollar appetizers, I’d almost swallowed my tongue.

I am going to be out of my league again tonight. Hopefully, I won’t have a Pretty Woman moment and squirt my escargot across the dining area. Declan already bought me a new wardrobe, so I feel like I’m well on my way to trying to fit in somewhere I don’t belong, just like Julia Roberts in the movie. I don’t need to act her part to feel as if I’m living it.

Inside the lobby of Caesars, I’m surprised to find Declan waiting for me. This afternoon, he’d merely left instructions to meet him at the restaurant, then he’d left the office to work from his suite for the remainder of the day. I’d stayed at my desk, learning the computer system and flipping through the human resources manual. In addition to the hefty salary and signing bonus he promised, I get 401K, health insurance, three weeks of paid vacation, and seven sick days.

Taking a—hopefully—surreptitious second, I revel in how gorgeous Declan Blackwood is. In my opinion, there’s no better pairing than dark hair and blue eyes. Declan’s hair is thick, more black than brown, and his eyes have a flash of silver in their blue depths. I have no clue if his hair will gray as he ages, but if it does, he’ll wear it well. His wavy locks are swept back from his forehead and face, accentuating his strong jawline and slightly hollowed cheeks, which make him appear of European descent.

His suit is a navy so dark it could pass for black. Of course, it’s expertly cut to his frame, which is packed solid with muscle, as I can attest by seeing his near nakedness yesterday.

“Miss Robbins,” he says in greeting.

“Mr. Blackwood,” I reply. Even internally, I’d made myself drop the Dicklan nickname. If I didn’t, I’d end up getting irritated one day, and it would slip out.

Then I’d be fired and out of luck.

To my surprise, he holds his arm out, slightly bent at the elbow. It’s a silent demand, so I curl my fingers around there, allowing him to escort me into the restaurant.

As we traverse our way to the Augustus Tower of Caesars, I find myself not minding the heat of his body through his suit jacket or the hardness of his arm muscles under my fingertips.

“I knew that dress would be a great choice,” Declan says, and I almost stumble I’m so stunned by his comment.

“Pardon?” I mutter, managing to smooth my gait once again.

“Look at all the attention you’re drawing,” he says quietly.

I look around at the people milling about. Some people who will be lodging here, others just on a tour of the famed Caesars Palace. Many people—men, women, old, young—are watching us.

Well, watching Declan. Surely not me.

He doesn’t allow me to refute him, though, continuing, “We’re meeting a gentleman tonight by the name of Christopher McGale. Do you recognize the name?”

The name is sadly not familiar, and thus I can’t impress my boss. I shake my head. “I’m afraid I don’t.”

“He’s a hotelier himself, but he’s made his name on small, trendy type boutique lodgings in secluded places.”

“And you’re considering doing something like that with the Blackwood brand?” I ask.

“Considering it,” he admits. “I want you to do the same thing tonight… take notes, feel free to ask pertinent questions if something comes to that fascinating brain of yours, and keep your senses open to anything odd.”

I stop walking, forcing him to do the same and turn my way. “I don’t understand why you need me to try to judge these people. I’m sure you’ve done lots of business meetings without someone like me to observe.”

“That would be true, but I have you now. You’re a resource.” The detached tone indicates I’m nothing but a tool in his arsenal, but then his voice drops an octave, and he bends slightly toward me. His gaze runs down the length of me, and his lips curl slightly. “Now that I have you, why wouldn’t I use you?”


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