Executive Perks(4)

By: Angela Claire

“You can try.” She took another sip from the can. “Who are you talking to in my company, by the way? Who gave you the tip? The greedy old aunt of mine you purchased your stock from wasn’t exactly advertising on eBay. I assume someone knew who to approach.”

“I don’t divulge my confidential sources.” He leaned against the vending machine, all his thoughts of getting a Coke himself long gone. “At least without some kind of a payment.”

“I don’t reward corporate spying.”

“You’re such a good girl, Miss Beckett. It almost tempts me to find out if you have a bad side.”

Annoyed as he was with her, she was quite sexy in her own way—well, in anyone’s way, actually.

“I do. It comes out when somebody is condescending to me. Or screwing me over.”

He laughed. “Gee, I almost got you to swear.”

“I’m glad you’re having such fun, Mr. Winston.”

“Grow up,” he responded dismissively. “If you don’t realize by now that I have you by the bal…throat, then you better get out of your ivory tower and get serious. Otherwise, this meeting is a waste of time and Winston Enterprises will be moving to an alternate plan.”

“Dare I hope that involves selling me back my stock?”

“Not quite. It involves getting a director or two on your Board to start with. And then you’re going to see how much trouble a dissident shareholder with as much stock as I have can cause. You may have been a good manager to start with, Miss Beckett. But from now on, I promise you, you’ll be spending half your time answering to me.”

“Thank you, Mr. Winston, for making your bullying tactics abundantly clear. I suspected this would be the case, but I at least wanted to hear what you had to say. Now that I have, I can be prepared for your shareholder eroding tactics and tantrums and can act accordingly. Was there anything else we should discuss?”

Aaron wondered how he had gotten so hostile so fast. Sure, he played hardball, but usually with a little more finesse.

That didn’t shut him up, though. Apparently he was on a roll.

“Well, for the record, since we’re already on such shitty terms—”

Her lashes dipped. “Your vocabulary is so wonderfully varied as well.”

“I’ll just throw in that if you want to fuck while we work this out, I’m more than amenable.”

Uh oh. He had said that one out loud. Clear as day. He levered himself away from the vending machine and licked his dry lips, waiting for her reaction. It was sort of out of line. He was actually a little ashamed of himself. He was usually more politically correct. He was a lot of things, many of them not so nice, but he’d never been a sexist.

But what the hell? Hard to believe he could go any lower in her estimation. And frankly, as much as she was pissing him off, she was turning him on too. Bizarre.

She didn’t slap him. By her calm reaction, she had expected the worst of him anyway, no matter what he said. Or else she was used to getting propositioned more often than her lofty station would suggest.

“This keeps getting better, Mr. Winston. Is this part of your normal intimidation tactic or are you making a special case for me?”

“Absolutely a special case. I’ve never wanted to fuck one of the CEOs of a company I’m taking over before. It adds a whole new dimension to the experience. But don’t worry, it’s not a one-time offer. Any time you feel the urge to take me up on it, give me a call. In the meantime, think about my other offer.”

“I’d rather die on both fronts, you conceited jerk.”

She stalked out of the room, nearly knocking over Rye who was coming through the doorway.

“What was that all about?” Rye asked him.

“I think I just made your job harder. I really pissed off our target.”

“Aren’t all our targets pissed off—unless they have a golden parachute, that is?”

“After the conversation I just had with Virginia Beckett, I don’t think a platinum parachute would help. We’re going to have to modify our approach in this case.”

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