Kaz is clearly oblivious to the sudden tension. “I’m sure you’re familiar with Dawson’s work, Grey. You will be his assistant for the duration of the film. Anything he needs, you will provide. Anything.” Kaz’s eyes flick to mine, and I force myself to breathe in before I pass out. Kaz addresses Dawson. “Grey is the best intern I’ve ever had, Mr. Kellor. I have complete faith in her abilities.”
Dawson rubs his upper lip with his finger. “Grey, hmm? Do you have a last name, Miss Grey?”
I swallow hard. “Am…Amundsen. Grey Amundsen.”
I’m two seats away from Dawson, but we might be the only two people in the room. He’s staring at me intently, as if he could glean my secrets through my eyes. Only, he already knows my secret.
I flash back to last night, to his hot gaze on mine, his hands on my skin, his eyes raking over my naked body. I feel his lips against mine. I stumble to my feet and lurch to the door.
“I’m sorry,” I mumble to Kaz. “I’m not—I’m not feeling well. Something…I ate.” I put my hand over my mouth and rush to the ladies room, where I bend over a toilet and vomit, a burning acid flood.
This can’t be happening. It’s not real. I know for a fact Kaz will fire me in a heartbeat if he knows I’m a stripper. I watched him fire an assistant secretary when he discovered she’d stripped in college. He fired her, not for having been a stripper, but for having lied about it. I’ve lied about it. Not directly, but by omission. It’s enough. I can’t work with Dawson. Not now. He knows my dark secret. He has power over me.
Never mind all that. Dawson himself is the problem. The way he looks at me, the way he touches me. Even in the public business atmosphere of the conference room, his eyes burned into mine, quicksilver gray and hypnotic. His mere presence sets my blood racing and my body trembling.
I hear the bathroom door open and a pair of heels click across the tile. Carrie Dawes pushes the stall door open and touches my back, then pulls my hair away.
“Grey? Are you okay?” Carrie is young and beautiful, with naturally red hair and fair skin, and she’s gotten a lot of notice recently for her leading roles in some of the best-reviewed dramatic films of the last three years.
I nod and force myself upright. “Yeah, I’m okay.” I wipe my mouth and inch past Carrie to the sink. “Thank you. Something I ate didn’t agree with me.”
Carrie leans back against the counter, and I see her doubt. “Uh-huh. It looked to me like you’d seen a ghost.”
“I had a late night and some bad food. I’m fine.” I have a travel-size bottle of mouthwash in my purse, and I rinse my mouth with it.
Carrie rolls her eyes. “If you say so.” She leaves then, and I’m alone once more.
I turn on the faucet and dip my cupped palms under the cold water, rinse my mouth and spit several times to get the taste of bile out of my mouth. I’m retouching my lip stain when the bathroom door opens. Dawson strolls through the door, and I can’t breathe all over again. He’s dressed in dark blue distressed jeans and a tight light gray T-shirt that looks softer than clouds. His dark hair is artfully mussed, and a shadow of stubble covers his rugged jawline. His eyes match his shirt, the color of an overcast sky. He doesn’t stop, but crosses the bathroom to stand barely an inch away.
I can’t meet his eyes. My cheeks feel like they’ve been set on fire. “Mr. Kellor, sir. What can I do for you?”
“You can explain.” His voice is like an earthquake felt from miles away, a low rumble.
I inch away from him, but I can still feel the heat emanating from his huge, hard body as if he’s a furnace. I shrug, a roll of one shoulder. “There’s nothing to explain, sir.”
“Quit that. Even if you were just an intern-assistant, you wouldn’t call me sir. How are you here?”
“I took a bus.”
Dawson grunts in irritation and rubs his hands over his face. “Don’t be obtuse.”
I try to breathe, but I can’t. I’ve got his reflection in the mirror, and the blinding reality of his presence in front of me. He’s too gorgeous for words. Too much man to be real. His cheeks are high and sharp, his jaw like a sculpture of marble. His arms are thick and long and rippling with muscle. The T-shirt is a second skin over his muscles. His jeans cup his thighs and backside, and I just can’t look away from him. I close my eyes and try to breathe. I’m nauseous all over again.
“I’ll make this easy,” Dawson says. “You were at the club last night. You were Gracie. Now you’re here, and you’re Grey.”
I feel a rush of panic, and it comes out as anger. “There’s nothing to explain! You’ve got it all figured out, don’t you? You saw what I do. What else do you want me to say?”
I push away off the counter, but my heel slips and I stumble. Strong arms catch me and hold me, lift me upright.
“Don’t touch me,” I snap, shoving away from him.
“Grey, it’s fine. I don’t care.”
“It’s not fine. I care.” I’m facing the door, with Dawson behind me.
His fingers touch my shoulder and effortlessly spin me around. I duck my head to avoid his eyes, because his gaze is all too intent, all too knowing. Just the touch of his fingers on my shoulder is enough to set my heart thumping. I was leaving, I was walking out, but I can’t move. I can’t pull away. He’s sucking me into the orbit of his intensity. His touch is a riptide. It sucks me under. It’s a catalyst, igniting the fire of need. I need. Him, his touch, something. Anything. I don’t even know. Just him.
I panic and scramble away from him. “I have to go.”
“Away. I don’t know.” I yank the door open, but his hand catches my wrist and stops me. I jerk free. “I said, don’t touch me! This won’t work, Mr. Kellor. I’ll have Kaz—I mean, Mr. Kazantzidis—assign another intern for you.”
“I don’t think so.”
I don’t answer. Arguing is futile. I can’t do this. He’s too much. He knows. Working with him professionally, when he knows what I am…no. I can’t.
I go back to the conference room, and everyone asks if I’m okay. “I’m fine,” I say. “Kaz, can I have a word in private?”
He frowns but accompanies me to his office. I sit in the deep leather chair in front of his desk and wait for him to sit. “Is everything okay, Grey?”