Executive Perks(3)

By: Angela Claire

He’d place his hands on her shoulders and gently nudge her back against the soda machine, then close the space between their bodies, feeling the luscious length of her against him, and before she could react, he’d kiss her lightly, his tongue tracing her soft, surprised mouth. The can she had been clutching would drop with a clatter to the floor and he’d move his hand down to her ass.

That’s when the slap would undoubtedly come, probably as hard as she could possibly make it, given her mood.

It would almost be worth it, though.

He cut short his daydream and smiled faintly. Smutty fantasies usually didn’t overtake him in the presence of business associates, not to mention about them. He chalked it up to surprise at how attractive she was.

“You didn’t hear me out. I said I’m assuming you’re not clinging to the independence of your company for those reasons. I’m assuming you have some kind of sentimental attachment because your family founded the company.”

“I wouldn’t call it sentimental. I’d call it a sense of value, of purpose, that you, with all your voracious gobbling up of companies, could never understand.”

“Whatever. I wouldn’t want to interfere with that. What I’m trying to say here is that I’ve thought about how we could make this a win-win situation and I’m willing to have you stay on as CEO of BFD. That’s a concession I almost never make. And if you agree to the merger to make BFD a subsidiary of Winston Enterprises, I’d be willing to give you an ownership stake in Winston as well as a hefty cash payment. Maybe even an operating role in the bigger company if it works out.”

“My, my, be still, my heart.”

He didn’t know what he’d expected, but she hadn’t even thought about it. In his book, that intransigence made her less than the businesswoman he’d thought she was. He found himself feeling a little less warm toward her.

“Again, no thanks, Mr. Winston. I meant what I said. BFD is my family’s company. It’s the only one I’m interested in running and I’m not interested in running it with any interference from any parent company or from you. If I don’t want you as a stockholder, what makes you think I’d want you as a boss?”

“As long as you make your numbers, you wouldn’t have any interference from me.”

“It’s all about the bottom line with somebody like you, isn’t it, Mr. Winston? Not people, not heritage—”

This was rapidly getting more heated than he’d intended. He didn’t back down from the argument, though. He rarely did. He was glad a quick glance around confirmed the cafeteria was empty. “I don’t know what people you’re talking about, but if you mean stockholders, mine are damn happy, thank you. And no, I don’t have a heritage to worry about. I made what I have. I didn’t inherit it.”

“Stole what you have, you mean,” she muttered, but loud enough for him to hear it.

“Fuck you.”

It just slipped out. Forget about smutty daydreams. She had managed to make him drop his cardinal rule of staying calm in initial meetings with a target, never losing his temper. But the thought that this corporate princess with all her family money was judging him and his methods unexpectedly infuriated him. Maybe he wasn’t as squeaky clean as she thought she was, but he’d done what he had to. Done things she’d never even imagine dirtying her hands with.

She popped open her Diet Coke and took a sip. “No thanks to that either.”

“Don’t be so hasty.”

Those gorgeous gray-blue eyes watched him thoughtfully. “You’re probably the kind of guy who never took the hint in college when a woman said she was washing her hair.”

“You may find this hard to believe, Miss Beckett, but I never heard that.”

He didn’t bother to point out that was because he’d never attended college. He was too busy working his ass off trying to stay off the streets of New York.

“That tells me more about who you were asking out than it does about you.”

Something about the way she was getting calmer and he was getting more worked up in the course of this conversation was just wrong. He tried to take back the upper hand. “Cut this bullshit. You’ve heard the proposal. Our companies are a good fit. I’m willing to cut you in on it, but if you’re not interested I’ll steamroll right over you.”

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