By: Elijana Kindel

“Hell’s overlord who wields his lucky pen like it’s…?”

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Enough! Elise’s tolerance disappeared in a sulfurous cloud of smoke. “Hell’s overlord who wields his lucky pen like it’s his staff of masculinity,” she ground out, then lowered her head and furiously pounded on the laptop’s keyboard.

Luc laughed and the hairs at the nape of her neck prickled. “Staff of masculinity. How could I have forgotten that? You could have just said—”

Her cheeks burned red hot. “I made that up before I knew you liked to beat your lucky pen against the desk.”

He turned in his seat and smiled the smile that never failed to raise her body temperature a hundred degrees. “And it was that particular phrase which made your habit of sucking on pen caps all the more bearable.”

She glared at him and his smile widened. “Don’t make me get up and come near your desk, Lucien Masters.”

“Getting up and coming near my desk are the least of my worries,” he replied in a husky, Southern rumble.

Her whole body flushed and she stammered for a retort. He always did this to her. A look, a phrase, a casual brush of their arms and she was a useless female being trampled by a stampede of butterflies in her stomach. “Gaia should punish you for that.”

“She is, Elise. She is,” he murmured and her innards liquefied, pooling down into the center of her body.

His gaze held her captive, his eyes burning with a hunger she felt. Her mouth went dry and she licked her lips. Big mistake. His attention dropped to her mouth and she shivered. “Don’t look at me like that, Lucien. You’re a happily engaged man.”

The fire in his blue-green eyes dimmed and a muscle worked at his jaw. “Just engaged, Elise. There’s nothing happy about it,” he said so softly she barely heard it. But she did and it both thrilled and shamed her to the center of her soul.

Why couldn’t she have met Luc before his engagement to Margot, who was the complete physical opposite of Elise? Where Margot was tall, Elise was short. Well, not short. She preferred to think of herself as petite. Five feet and four inches was lacking when standing next to Margot’s five feet and eleven inches. Margot was tall and willowy, which was the nicest way Elise could describe Margot’s slender body. Margot’s figure could take a month long binge of ice cream and still be cellulite free. Whereas, Elise had a posterior that required Buns of Steel twice a week and a chest that required a new bra every other month—if she was lucky. Not that she was top heavy. Elise liked to think of herself as petite and voluptuous. Or curvy. She was proud of her hour glass figure, but if only she had someone like Luc to impress with it. Instead, she had day dreams and nightly fantasies that made it increasingly difficult to work with the blasted infernal man.

Luc continued to stare at her as if imagining her naked and on the desk. Or so she thought.

Elise tried unsuccessfully not to become flustered and lose her concentration. Her attention flickered to a precarious stack on the corner of the desk and she heard his sharp intake of breath.

“I could clear the desk,” he told her softly.

“Margot would mind.”

“After months of this, I don’t give a damn if Margot does care,” he replied roughly.

Elise considered it. Seriously considered giving herself up to the chemistry that’d begun the day she’d been assigned to help him. His eyes seem to beckon her to him and her fingers wrapped around the laptop, gripping it tightly. “No,” she whispered.

“After my job here is done,” he half asked and stated.

“No.” If what Luc had said earlier was true, he would be her boss for another week at the most. Then he would disappear from whence he came and her life would return to its normal, dull routine of typing memos for boring, unexciting, married for fifty years Roger Dill. No more teasing or electric eye contact or verbal warfare or… it wasn’t fair. It just wasn’t fair. Why couldn’t she have met him before Margot?

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