By: Elijana Kindel

“No,” she repeated more firmly. “You’re engaged. Soon to be married.”

He stared at her like a man who knew exactly what he wanted on the menu for the night.

Elise swallowed hard and sharpened her tongue against her canines. “Forget it, Luc.”

The air conditioner clicked on and a stream of cold air blew down from the vent over the door. Paper rustled in the background and from the corner of her eye she saw the precarious stack on the corner of his desk shift.

Elise watched Luc.

One by one, folders slid for the floor.

Luc watched her.

The stack plopped onto the floor. Folders opened, papers scattered in the wind, floating to the ground in a graceful rocking motion.

A slow, sinful smile slid across his face. “Do you think Gaia’s trying to tell you something?”

“No. Gaia is a moral goddess. She wants to punish me.”

His laugh was soft and husky and… made her want to crawl out of her skin. “At least I’m not the only one.”

It just wasn’t fair! Why couldn’t she have met him before his engagement? This was unbearable. It had to stop. Now, before she tossed aside her willpower and gave in to the urge to do more than just gnaw his lucky pen to death.

Elise tore her eyes away and drew in a deep breath. This was madness. It had to stop. Right now. She moved the laptop off her thighs and pushed her hair back from her forehead, arching the tired muscles in her back. “You had your chance. You could have sent me home.”

“Not without me.” He held up his hands defensively and rolled his chair backwards when she glared at him. “You know what I meant,” he added when she pointed a warning finger at him. “Elise, stop giving me the Mother Superior look. You know I can’t get through this mess without you.”

Elise ceased glaring at him against her better judgment. The Mother Superior look never failed to make him squirm in his seat. It gave her the rush of confidence she needed to move within arm’s reach of him. “How you ever managed to create a successful company on your own without me to take care of you, I’ll never understand.”

Luc smirked. “Fishing for compliments again?”

“No. Making a point.” She knelt down beside the desk and started the long process of gathering up the papers. “This is probably the worst day of my life.”

“Look on the bright side,” he said as he came down beside her to help. “I was about to ask you where the Jenner notes were.” Luc picked up a folder and tossed it onto his seat. “Now I don’t have to.”

“Isn’t there another innocent soul you’d rather be tormenting? A convention of hell raisers you should be attending?” She crawled underneath the desk to chase a rogue memo. “A baby who needs his candy stolen? A poker game down at the boys’ club which needs moderating?”

“I wouldn’t miss this show for anything,” he said softly from right behind her.

She froze and scowled at him over her shoulder. The wretched man’s attention was fixed on her posterior. Her eyes narrowed and she opened her mouth to deliver a sermon.

He held up his hands and fell back on his haunches. “I can’t help it, Elise. I try, but you got the nicest… pair of eyes I’ve ever seen.”

“Lucien Masters, if you don’t—”

“Luc, have you been here all night?” Footsteps pounded on the ground.

Elise jumped as Margot’s whiny voice grated on her last nerve, causing her to bang her head on the desk drawer. “Shhi-ugar,” she muttered with feeling, reaching for the top of her head.

But Luc beat her to it. His touch was gentle as it probed-slash-massaged her scalp. “You okay, darlin’?”

“I’ll live. I think.” Elise started to back out from underneath the desk and Luc kept a hand on her head, keeping her from banging her head a second time.

“Luc,” Margot demanded, marching through into the office and up to the desk. Elise was momentarily distracted by the sparkles in Margot’s Day-Glo purple platform heels. Where on Earth did she find that color? “I’ve been trying to— Oh-my-God!”

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