By: Kathi S. Barton

“I worked for you, not work for you. I was fired. Remember? And I haven’t the slightest clue what sort of secret you think I might be. And frankly, I don’t care. I have to get out of here.” Kasey looked over at Royce when he growled. “Oh grow up, you big jerk. Not everyone has money dripping from their fingers.”

Mrs. Hunter started laughing even harder at that. “You’re not the least bit intimidated by him, are you? Good. A woman shouldn’t be afraid of their mate, I think. What happened that landed you—” She looked over at her son. “The officer from the lobby?”

“Yes, I’m…I was Officer York. And now I’d like for you both to be going now. I’ve got plans to make and places to go.” Kasey wasn’t sure how she planned to execute anything, but she had made them. She raised a brow at them both when they pulled up chairs.

“Now, tell me who that man was and why he has reason to want to hit you. I must admit, I’ve been under the same strain since I’ve met you, but not enough to actually follow through.” Kasey glared at him as he continued. “You have been a pain in my ass since you stopped me in the hall of my own building.”

“Then don’t make rules you have no intentions of following.” She laid her head back on the bed and closed her eyes. “Haven’t you heard that ‘he who makes the rules is a man of great leadership?’ I don’t think I’ve ever read where ‘I make the rules and I say fuck them.’”

She’d forgotten about his mother and looked over at her when she laughed. The woman was certainly his mother. She had the same glint in her eyes when she was laughing. Kasey looked over at Royce. His glint didn’t seem to be from laughing.

“Miss York, are you in the habit of biting the hand that feeds you? And I’ll decide when you are fired from my company. Who was that man and what did he want with you?”

She turned away from him to answer. She wasn’t ashamed of being a bastard child, but she was ashamed of the bastard who was her father. “His name is Gilbert MacDonald and he’s my father. At least in the sense that he was the sperm donor that created me. He’s not been much of anything else. He and my mother never married.” Kasey looked at the door when it opened.

“Miss York, your lunch is here. Shall I bring it in or wait until later? You know what the doctor said.” Abby seemed a bit miffed again, but Kasey didn’t care.

“I know what he said and I still don’t care. Bring it in please, but don’t expect me to eat any more of it than I did this morning. I’ve told you three times I don’t care for it. And I want to go home.”

Even to her ears she sounded childish, but no one would listen to her. She didn’t want any broth and she certainly didn’t want any hot tea, all they would give her. She turned her head away when the tray of “food” was put on the little table.

“What is wrong with you? Are you nasty to everyone or just those that try and help you? Christ, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone as caustic as you are.” Royce stood up and started taking lids off of the containers. “You’ll eat every bit of this or, so help me, I’ll hold you down and pour it down your throat.”

Kasey glared at him. “Try it.” Her voice was low and full of intent. He paused for several seconds as they glared at each other. She was glad that she’d made him think. She wasn’t one of his minions who jumped when he barked. And she didn’t fucking work for him.

“Royce, why don’t you go get you and me a nice sandwich from the deli across the street? I’m sure that Miss York and I can get this lunch business squared away.” Neither of them looked at Annamarie. “Royce.”

He finally looked at his mother and gave her a short nod before leaving. He turned to look back at Kasey before he walked out the door and that look said volumes. He told her that if she hurt his mom, she’d be a dead woman. Well, she had news for him, she didn’t care.

“Oh goodness, no wonder you don’t want this. It’s crap.” The woman began taking the rest of the lids off the other bowls and cups as she tisked around. “Good heavens, is this suppose to be helpful or kill you? This won’t do, not at all. Why, if I had a dog…nasty.”

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