Authors: Rhian Cahill
For all those afraid of the dark, it doesn’t always hide monsters.
For the man I’d gladly get in the closet with. Mr.C you don’t need seven minutes to rock my world, you do it every second you love me.
Cassie clamped her jaw and clenched her fists. She would not rise to the Neanderthal in front of her. Lil had been gone only an hour and already this giant was throwing his weight around. Lillian McDermott might be her best friend and had done Cassie a huge favour when she agreed to be the first to host the new line of adult parties run by Are You Game?, but that didn’t mean Cassie, or her team, could be anything except professional. This was still a job. A job that could break her company’s good reputation or send it skyrocketing. She’d do anything to continue the success of Are You Game?, and if it meant putting up with the head of McDermott Security—aka Mr. Muscles—then Cassie would suck it up and deal.
Taking a deep breath, she focused her mind on her job—on making Lillian McDermott’s farewell bash the party of the year. Calmer, Cassie tilted her head up and met eyes as black as coal and just as cold. It made her pause, the darkness lurking in that piercing gaze. He stood almost a foot taller than her, and if she were a simpering female, she might actually be afraid of the menacing giant. But Cassandra Moreland had never been simpering or particularly female. Growing up with five older brothers had fixed that.
She drew in another deep breath and let it out slowly. “Look. I know Lil left you and your team to oversee the rest of the night, but it’s me and my team that are in charge of this event and the cleanup. I’d appreciate it if you and your men stay out of our way.”
Her eyes narrowed. Oh, how she hated that placating tone men used when they were trying to reason with a
woman. “Don’t take that tone with me.” She stepped closer.
His eyes flashed. Fire lit up the dark depths for a split second before he blinked and cut the emotion—if that’s what is was—off. Not one to back down, Cassie pushed to her toes and got as close to in his face as she could without getting a stepladder. Her chest brushed his and the zing that shot through her system couldn’t be mistaken for anything but desire. Cassie’s breath stalled in her lungs and whatever words she’d been about to blast him with died on her tongue.
She sank back to her heels, but before they touched the floor, he shot out his hands and grabbed her elbows.
“Oh no, don’t back down now, Cass.” He used his grip to pull her back against him. “Not when things are just getting interesting.”
They eyed each other for long moments, and Cassie had the impression he was sizing her up—testing her mettle—before making another move. She wasn’t sure what to do or think. For a start, he was manhandling her. That hadn’t happened since she was in the eighth grade and Malcolm Birmingham had gotten a little too fresh on their first date. But unlike then, she didn’t bring her knee up to rearrange the giant’s groin. No, she wanted to reach down and cup it.
He leaned closer, his lips a breath from hers. “Do you really want me to stay out of your way?”
Cassie’s mouth went dry. The man held her spellbound, and she didn’t even know his name. She darted her tongue out to wet her lips, except he was so close the tip slid over his full bottom lip before retreating into her mouth. They both sucked in a sharp breath and Cassie’s eyes widened, her heart thudding as his dark gaze bore into hers. His nostrils flared and air streamed across her face as he inhaled and exhaled in a gusty breath. He smelled of peppermint, and she was reminded of when she was little and her grandma would sneak her chewing gum when her parents weren’t looking. It made her feel safe—loved—and didn’t that just blow her mind.
“Cassie?” Her head snapped around to find Dan standing beside them. “Everything okay?”
“Um…” She had no clue what to tell her second-in-charge.
“No problem,” the giant said as he lowered her feet to the floor and set her away from him. “We were just trying to hear each other without yelling.”
Cassie’s eyes met those breath-stealing dark orbs once more and a frisson of heat arrowed through her belly. “Ah, yeah, um, just sorting out the remainder of the evening.”
“Right, well we’re out of scotch, vodka
tequila. Oh, and the last of the finger food is being circulated as we speak,” Dan said.
“We’re out of food?” she asked, turning her attention back to Dan.
“Not quite yet.” Dan watched a waiter pass by, the silver tray he carried half-empty. “But it won’t be long.”
“That’s okay. We’re winding things down anyway.” Cassie turned back to face Mr. Muscles. “We’ll start shutting down the bars.”
He crossed his arms over his massive chest and Cassie tried really hard not to ogle the mouth-watering pecs hidden beneath his tight black shirt. When she brought her gaze up to meet his, it was to find one dark brow arched and a look on his face that clearly said he was pleased he’d gotten his way. Damn the man. She hated to give an inch to anyone, and if it weren’t for the prospect of being in the house with no food or alcohol and a bunch of demanding partiers, she’d never bow to his commands to shut the party down and usher everyone out. The plan had been to allow the evening to come to a natural end, only now it appeared as though he’d be getting his way.
With no small amount of frustration and anger, Cassie added, “We’ll start cleanup, you and your men stay out of our way.” She spun on her heel and, spine and shoulders straight, marched off, praying no one could see her shaking. The giant specimen of seething testosterone set her on edge, the least of which was the blade of arousal she felt for a man whose name she didn’t know.
Lucas Wilhelm watched Cassandra Moreland walk away. The word run slid through his mind, but Cassie wasn’t the type of woman to run from anything—or anyone. Hell, if he didn’t know better he’d think she actually had a set of balls in those sexy black pants of hers. A smile tugged at his mouth and it took more than the usual effort to keep his face impassive. He was going to enjoy tangling with little Miss. In Charge. Surveying the crowd, Luc doubted she’d be getting anyone out of here anytime soon. Not without pulling the fire alarm and starting the sprinkler system. Eyeing the couple in the far corner, he wondered if a drenching wasn’t exactly what this party needed.
There were sweaty half-naked bodies all over the house. All gyrating to the pounding beat of the music thumping through the wireless speakers in a very adult bump and grind that was more sex than dance. Luc shook his head and moved through the room towards the front of the house. He spotted two of his men and motioned them over to give them orders.
“Where do you want us, boss?”
“I need the backyard and deck cleared. Herd everyone into the house and close the doors behind them.” If they could slowly push everyone out the front door it would help Cassie, not that he expected her to be happy with him lending a hand. His lips curled. He looked forward to the argument they would surely have in the next little while. “And when you’re done out there, start moving everyone into the front rooms.”
“On it, Mr. Wilhelm.”
Luc hated it when his men called him Mr. Wilhelm. It always gave him the urge to look over his shoulder for his father. Stifling the action, he nodded at the two men and continued through to the front door. Two more of his men stood either side of the wide-open double doors as though they were sentries stopping anyone from escaping, except he
the guests to get away.
“You two, upstairs. Start clearing out all the rooms. And check the closets.” Lord knows what games people were playing up there. So far he’d seen more than one he’d played himself back when getting a hot piece of arse was all he was about. Of course, those days were long gone. In fact, he couldn’t remember the last time he’d wanted to get his hands on any arse. Well, not before one pint-sized brunette went toe-to-toe with him, anyway. Another smile tugged at his lips, and Luc marvelled at the emotion one small woman could drag out of him when men twice her size couldn’t make him so much as twitch.
He glanced at his watch. Two minutes after two. Time to put party shut-down into overdrive. Stalking through the downstairs rooms, Luc found each of his men and sent them out to move the crowd along. It was similar to herding sheep.
, they surged into the front of the house, filling the areas to breathing room only. In twos and threes, sometimes more, they began to disappear out the front door and into the night. By the time Lachlan McDermott barrelled into the living room, steam shooting from his ears, the place was down to half the number of occupants there had been when Luc first arrived.
The boss wasn’t happy. And the silence that filled the house when Lachlan yanked out the DJ’s power cables hurt Luc’s ears. He swiftly made his way over to the man who personally signed his pay cheque.
“Where’s Lucas?” Lachlan growled at one of McDermott Security’s men.
“Right behind you, boss,” Luc answered.
Lachlan spun around. “Where’s Mac?”
“He took Ms. McDermott off site about an hour ago. Maybe more.” Luc steeled himself. He had no doubt Lachlan wouldn’t be happy with Mackenzie and Lillian’s whereabouts.
“Off site? During a party Lil is responsible for?”
Luc nodded and kept his expression bland. He didn’t want to give Lachlan McDermott any reason to stop signing those cheques. “Mr. Harris arranged for my team to take charge. I’ve been monitoring the situation.”
Numerous emotions flashed across Lachlan’s face while he glanced around the room. Bringing his gaze back to Luc he said, “Get ’em out. All of them.”
Inclining his head once more, Luc gave the only reply he could. “Consider it done, boss.”
The fact Lachlan turned and strode from the room without a backward glance told Luc that not only was his pay safe but he was trusted to do the job given him. Breathing a little easier, he turned to the man on his right. “You heard the boss. Get ’em out.”
His employee spun into action and Luc went in search of Cassie. She would not be pleased when he informed her they were shutting down effective immediately. He’d be a liar if he said the swirling in his gut wasn’t excitement. But going toe-to-toe with Cassandra Moreland had more than his stomach churning. The tightness in his pants hadn’t escaped his notice either. And wasn’t that an interesting development. He didn’t usually go for bossy, confrontational females. Or ones that didn’t even come up to his chin. Luc scrubbed a hand over his stubbled jaw. This evening was turning out to be far more entertaining than he’d ever expected.
Cassie was loading empty bottles into a recycling bag when someone grabbed her arm and propelled her across the kitchen, forcing her to jog or fall on her face. “Hey!”
“We need to talk.”
Great. Mr. Muscles was manhandling her again. Yanking on her arm proved ineffective in gaining freedom from his vice-like grip, so she swung her full weight to the left and slammed into his rock-hard chest. Air burst from her lungs.
The man was made of steel. Her brain rattled and any protest she might have uttered vibrated right off the thought train and into the fog this man’s presence seemed to bring. Dammit. She was a highly intelligent woman who ran her own business. Why the hell couldn’t she think of anything other than exploring the slab of muscle she was currently plastered to? And it wasn’t just her hands itching to wander new territory either.
Before she could ponder that thought any further he’d manoeuvred them into the walk-in pantry and closed the door. For a heartbeat, the room remain pitch black, then he bumped his shoulder against the wall and eye-straining fluorescent brilliance flooded the area. His hands spanned her waist and it took her a second to realise he’d carried her the last few steps and still held her off the floor. She was eye level with his mouth. The very mouth she’d inadvertently caught a taste of earlier. The one she wanted to take a bigger sample of now.
Cassie swallowed, her throat dry, and fought the urge to lean in to seize the kiss she craved. She moved her gaze up his slightly crooked nose and met those dark, dark eyes. Her heart kicked. How had she ever thought his eyes were cold? Heat turned the brown—not black as she’d previously thought—irises into molten pools of hunger that flared hotter as their gazes connected. She gasped. The beat of her heart stepped up double-time and she went soft in places she hadn’t thought about in a long time. Who
this man and what the fuck was he doing to her?