Cherry Girl (Blackstone Affair) (11 page)

BOOK: Cherry Girl (Blackstone Affair)
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Part Three

 

 

Us

 

 

 

And now these three remain: 

faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

 

                                                                              I Corinthians 13:13~

 

 

14

 

Five
years later

B
lackstone Security International, Ltd.
was housed in a sleek high rise building off the Liverpool Street station in downtown London.  My new place of work.  The company did a great deal of global business and had need of a receptionist with some fluency in the languages of Europe.  I had Italian and French down well enough—I was still working on the German and the Spanish.

As it turns out, this job was perfect
for me in a lot of ways.  I’d missed England in the nearly six years since I’d been gone, so it was lovely to be home again and close to my family.  Three years in Italy, and two in France had allowed me to experience other places and practice the native languages first-hand.  And since there would be opportunity for travel around Europe, the job at Blackstone Security was sort of a combination of both worlds for me, and I liked that.

When M
um suggested I apply for the position, I’d thought it was because a friend from her card club had suggested how well suited I was for the job.  Frances Connery was executive assistant to the owner and a longtime friend of my mother’s.  My brother, Ian, had also put in a word for me apparently.  He was a high-powered London solicitor now, and Blackstone Security International was one of his top clients.  He worked in the same building only two floors down, so we saw each other quite a bit.  Sometimes a little too much because I’d discovered just how much all the ladies loved Ian.  And the reasons behind it.  Disgusting hearing how good your brother was in bed.  Bleh.  Talk about someone who needed to settle down.

My new
job seemed almost too good to be true, and I’d been only been working there for about two weeks, when I found out why.

“The team is back today from the job in Madrid.  You’ll get to meet
Mr. Blackstone finally.  He’ll probably be in later than usual though from all the traveling.  I’ll introduce you to him and the rest of the crew as soon as they all get in.  Coffee, dear?”  Frances, my immediate supervisor, gestured to the pot in the break room.

“Yes, please.  I still have so many people to meet before I know everyone that works
here.”  Several were always out on large-scale team jobs, so that the whole company was never all together at the same time.

“Not to worry, my dear.

She handed me a cup of coffee that I immediately
started doctoring with sweetener.

“Well
, I hope I’m a good fit for them, you know, Frances?”

“Oh
, you are, dear, you are.  You’re doing an excellent job so far, and I know Ethan will be pleased to have someone with your skills here at BSI, now that there is so much international work for them.”

“Thank you for that
.  I’m really loving it here.  I’m nearly done with the contract from the Italian consulate and can get started on the others later today.”

“You’re a gem, darling,” she said, breezing out of break room with her coffee.

I got back to work at my desk, engrossed in translation and fielding calls when the most handsome man came through reception.  Handsome didn’t really accurately describe him though, stunning was more like it.  Dark hair, blue eyes, tall, built, serious, and acting like he owned the place.  The light bulb went on.  This was Ethan Blackstone, and he actually
did
own the place.

“Morning,” he said
, with a nod and a thorough look at me.

“Good morning, sir,”
I said as he passed.  He used his key code, and walked through to the main floor.

I blew out a breath and hoped I’d pa
ssed the boss’s screening.  This job really suited me and I wanted it to stick.

 

****

 

I preferred to take my lunch and eat outside in the courtyard if the weather was decent.  If I had any extra time, I’d pull out my Kindle and read for a few minutes.  I loved reading fiction of all kinds and found that if I purchased the popular books in other languages, it helped me stay sharp, and gave opportunity to master the ones I was still working on.  Right then I was enjoying JR Ward’s
Lover Unbound
in Spanish and really captivated by the angst of urban vampires fighting extinction in the modern world.  Until the space on the bench beside me was taken up, that is.

“Hello gorgeous, what have you brought for me today?” He poked a finger into my floral lunch bag and peered in.

“God, Denny, don’t you ever stop?”

He took a grape from my bag and popped it into his mouth.  “Why should I stop?  You’re back in England
, and you work somewhere near, because you come out of that building over there like clockwork to eat your lunch.”  He nodded his head toward my building.


Because I’m not interested?”  I gave him a fake smile.

“Aww
, baby, don’t be harsh.  I just want to take you out and show you a good time, you know, for old time’s sake.  What do you say?”

I set down my K
indle and gave him a patient look.  “I say, dear Denny, for about the tenth time, no thank you.” 
Not for old time’s sake, or new time’s sake, or any future time’s sake are we ever going out together.

God, I could only imagine the
scenario he’d have set up for “showing me a good time.”  No.  Just no.  I wasn’t going back to an ex that had cheated on me with some slut in a back alley behind the pub.

Even though I wouldn’t ever consider him
, I had to say, Denny Tompkins surprised me in where he’d ended up.  I’d have placed bets on prison.  But according to him, he hadn’t been to prison and was gainfully employed at his father’s import business.  I could only imagine what illicit goods they imported, but it was better than the street dealing I was pretty sure he used to do.  Maybe still did.  Who knew?  He’d been persistently stalking me on my lunch hours since he’d spotted me down here in the courtyard on my second day of work.

“Are you
finally going to tell me where you work today, baby?”

“Stop calling me ‘baby’ and no
, I’m not.  It’s called an invasion of privacy, Denny, and you need to stop.”

He smirked at me and tilted his head, his dark wavy hair falling over his eyebrows and mak
ing him look dreadfully charming.  He might be a hooligan in a suit, but he was a very handsome man all the same.

“You’re tough now, Elaina
baby.  What happened to the sweet young thing you used to be with me?”  He put his hand on my leg.  “We had good times together.”


She grew up.  And watch how you talk to me.  And stop groping me,” I said firmly, while brushing his hand off my leg.

I remember how relentless he’d been with me after Neil left for Afghanistan, and before I went to Italy.  I couldn’t shake him then
, either.  Ian finally had to step in and make him stop pestering me to be with him again.  He just wanted me back in his bed, but I wasn’t interested.  Denny had the persistence gene for sure, but was too dense to understand that no man would take Neil’s place.

No, that spot was a permanently empty
placement.

“All right
, then.  Until tomorrow, baby.”  He leaned in and gave me a peck on the cheek.  He also reached into my lunch bag again and stole a few more grapes before sauntering off.

I rolled my eyes and tried to get back into my book, wondering how in the hell, out of all the places in London, my new job put me smack dab in the same locale as
my ex, Denny Tompkins.  No luck had I, apparently.

With that thought
, I gave up my decadent vampire book and gathered my things.  I sought out the newsstand for some foreign papers instead.  Reading the news in Italian or French kept me up to date with the foreign headlines, and sharp in a different way than just reading the language.

“That
’ll be two pound fifty.”  Muriel, the newsagent on the corner was quite the character.  She looked like something between a homeless crone and a Gypsy fortuneteller with her habit of attempting to predict the future.  Her eyes were the most amazing greenish-hazel though, unlike any colour I’d ever seen.  Just stunning.

“Here you go, Muriel, and keep it.”  I handed her a fiver.

“Ye be an angel ta me, so bless ye.”  She flashed me a horrific toothy grin.  “Gimme your hand, girl.  I’ll read ye.”

She
took my right hand and held it at an angle.  She traced over the lines of my palm with her gnarled finger and muttered as she named them.  “Life, Health…Love.”  Her beautiful eyes snapped up to mine at the last one.  “Ye have love comin’ yer way, girl.  True love is a comin’ for ye.”  She smiled again.

Muriel’s declaration rattled me.  I pulled my hand out
of her grasp, mumbled a quick “thanks” and left quickly with my newspapers; sure she was just trying to validate her fortuneteller act with me.

Seriously
?  True love was coming for me, huh?  I wanted to laugh, but I didn’t.  The particular words she’d used, were ridiculous because I knew her prediction was totally false.  I had only one true love, and I’d told him a long time ago…to never come for me.

 

****

 

I’d returned from lunch when Frances buzzed though and asked me to make my way down to the executive offices with the translations I’d done.

This was it.  Meeting time.  I tried to suppress the nerves suddenly making me jittery and prepared to leave my station.

I hurriedly gathered up my paperwork and folders and went to open the door using the security key code on the access panel. I punched in Z-A-R-A and got the door open successfully, but my paperwork not so much.  The edge of the folder got jumbled on the door frame and I lost hold of it.  The contents spilled out all over the floor at my feet.

“Well, shit.”

I dropped down to pick up the pages, mortified and praying not too many people saw my blunder, when two well clad male feet stepped into my line of sight.

“Let me help you
with that,” he said, dropping down and beginning to pick up the mess of papers scattered at our feet.


Thank you,” I managed, too embarrassed to make eye contact when he handed a stack to me.

He
rose up and so did I.  Determined on organizing the pages in my now very untidy folder, I was distracted and not paying close attention when I offered an introduction to my helper.  “Sorry for that. I’m Elaina, the new reception—”

I
drew my line of vision up a very large-suited chest, and met eyes I had looked into before.  Dark, beautiful eyes, that had burned back at me with love in moments of deepest intimacy.  Eyes I had loved… 

I lost the rest of my words.

My heart hammered.  Speechless didn’t even begin to cover it.  Breathless and dumbstruck needed to be in there too, because I dropped the folder again and heard the papers dump out in a heap at our feet with an airy swoosh.

“N
-Neil.”

“Elaina,” he said stonily.

The hard frown on his face proved he was just as surprised to see me, as I was to see him.

BOOK: Cherry Girl (Blackstone Affair)
9.75Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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