By: Elijana Kindel

“It’s gonna blow,” Donna cried.

Luc lunged forward and yanked Elise bodily out of the chair. “Someone get a fire extinguisher before the sprinklers go off,” he ordered. He snatched up the folders from the desk and thrust them into Elise’s arms. “Not a word,” he warned.

Her knees shook and she clutched the folders to her stomach then sank to the ground. Her mother owed five hundred thousand dollars or more to the government. Her brother was selling his motorcycle. Her computer was on fire. Her boss was mad at her. And Elise had lost six months’ worth of work on a project which Luc had informed her yesterday would be completed within a few days.

Life couldn’t get much worse than this.

“Elise, where are the notes from the meeting with Hayworth?”

On my fried computer, she nearly answered aloud. “They’re under that stack over there,” she said, pointing to a pile on the corner of his desk.

“I looked there,” he said. Luc ran a frustrated hand through his chestnut brown hair and cursed under his breath. He pushed back his chair and surged to his feet, then leaned over the desk to rifle through stacks of folders.

Elise set aside his laptop computer and went to help him. “I put it with the files from your Tuesday talk with Smithers.”

Luc spared her a glance. “In the same folder?”

“No,” she explained patiently. “It’s in one of its own. I know I brought it in here. It was on my desk before Gaia destroyed by computer.”

“It wasn’t Gaia. It was lightning. And it wasn’t your fault,” he muttered. “So don’t start apologizing again. You heard Jim explain why it happened to your computer and no one else’s.”

“I heard, but that doesn’t mean I believe him,” she retorted sharply. Jim, the computer guru, had assured Elise that the destruction of her computer hadn’t been her fault, but the result of a direct hit to the transformer outside the building. Jim had gone on to say that since her computer was the first one set up on the network, it’d been the first to go. And the only one. Jim had called it luck. Whatever.

Elise knew it’d been Gaia’s revenge. She’d been singled out by Mother Nature for doubting Her ability to help Moonbeam. Rule number one when dealing with Pagan gods and goddesses: Don’t irk them. Pay back is heck. None of this waiting around mumbo jumbo. They were swift and direct. Elise was paying for her blasphemy and then some. Having to work with a grumpy Luc was a punishment all unto itself. She wished he would just go home and take a nap. His bad mood was rubbing off on her.

The tab of a vanilla folder peeked out from underneath a mound of papers. “There it is. Lift those and—” Elise touched the folder and the precarious stack on his desk shifted. “No!”

Luc uttered a curse and scrambled to catch the pile as it slid for the floor. “Got it. Pull out the folder. Do it slowly, Elise.”

She sucked in a deep breath and eased the Hayworth notes out. “Luc, it would be safer if I just went home. Gaia is punishing me.”

“As much as I’d like to send you home, you can’t leave yet. We’ve got to organize this mess. Tomorrow I need you to sit in on a meeting with Andersen.” He righted the stack and held out his hand for the notes. “Just go over there and sit down. Next time I ask where something is, point.” He must have noticed her annoyance, because he added in a sugar sweet, Southern drawl, “Please.”

Elise glared at him, then spun on her heel and stalked back to her seat. When Lucien Masters resorted to his country boy charm, she knew she was in trouble. In trouble of melting. When she’d been asked to move from Roger Dill’s boring office to Luc’s temporary one, Elise had been an idiot to agree. Luc was an overachieving, work-a-holic. Oh sure, he was vocal in his appreciation of her help, but the work was grueling. Not only that, but he was tall, lean, and sexier than he had a right to be. And he knew it. Arrogant man. He didn’t flaunt his sex appeal. Luc didn’t need to. It showed in the way he carried himself. The confidence in his walk, the breadth of his shoulders, the angle of his jaw, the arch of his brow, the knowing gleam in his sinfully wicked eyes, the firm, sensuous lines of his mouth, the velvety roughness of his… voice.

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