Authors: Katherine Kingston
An Ellora’s Cave Romantica
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Kyle’s Bargain Copyright © 2009 Katherine Kingston
Edited by Briana St. James
Cover art by Syneca
Electronic book Publication May 2009
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owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction:
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Meg Travis pushed against the tide of people leaving the
building, working her way into the lobby. No surprise that so many were eager
to get out at ten after five on a Friday afternoon. If any of them gave her a
glance, they probably figured she’d forgotten something and needed to go back
to retrieve it.
She had the elevator car to the fourth floor all to herself.
The offices of Ryder & Harrison Development presented a bit more of a
challenge. When she tried the main office door, she found they’d already locked
it. She lurked in the hall, beside the water fountain, waiting. Her patience
was rewarded within a few minutes when someone pushed the R&H door open
from the inside. Meg hurried and caught it before it closed again completely.
The young woman who’d left was so intent on catching the elevator she never
turned around to see Meg.
Meg slid through the opening into an empty reception area. A
single voice sounded from an office down the corridor to her left—maybe someone
on the phone—but she didn’t see anyone. Kyle Harrison’s office was off to the
right. The door stood partially opened, so she stayed close to the wall,
sliding along it until she could peer in. The man was in there, working on his
computer, his attention tightly focused on the screen.
Dark hair fell forward over his brow, getting more
disarranged when he ran a hand through it as he studied the display. His thin,
lean face pulled into a slight frown that narrowed the brilliant blue eyes and made
his lips press tightly together.
Her heartbeat sped up as she watched him. While that came
mostly from fear, some of it was a more personal reaction to the man himself.
It infuriated her. Why did someone so handsome and sexy have to be such an
asshole as well? And why did his looks affect her at all? She knew lots of
other attractive men who never made her pulse skip a beat. But every time she
saw this man—this infuriating, obstinate, pig-headed man—every time she talked
to him, her entire body tensed and her blood sort of bubbled in her veins.
The rhythm of her heart jumped to a faster pace when he
shifted back from the desk and stood up. Meg scooted along the wall until she
could duck behind a filing cabinet. Just in time she squeezed into the shadowy
corner it made with the wall.
Kyle Harrison walked out of his office, leaving the door
open behind him. He didn’t go out the main door, however, but instead went down
the hall to the left. Going to the men’s room, most likely. Good, she could go
with Plan A.
Meg slid back along the wall and through the open door,
making it in just as she heard footsteps coming down the corridor. Not Harrison
returning, however. The tap of heels on the linoleum sounded different. She
held her breath for a moment and prayed whoever it was wouldn’t be coming to
see Harrison. The clicking stopped at the main door out to the elevator lobby.
Meg let out a long breath as it squeaked open.
She might not have much time, though, so she crossed the
room, settled into Kyle Harrison’s desk chair, grabbed the mouse and got to
work. She became so engrossed she didn’t realize the man had returned until a
masculine voice asked, “What are you doing here?”
He stood in the doorway but stepped into the room, leaving
the office door open behind him.
She looked up, trying to keep all surprise off her face.
“I’ve called your secretary a dozen or more times in the last few days. She
wouldn’t put me through to you. Or even schedule an appointment for me.” Meg
couldn’t quite get enough air behind the words to make them sound as calm and
normal as she would have liked.
Blue sparks glittered in his narrowed eyes. “You’ve said it
She shrugged. “Desperate times, desperate measures.”
“No kidding.” He pulled his cell phone from its clip on his
belt and pressed a number.
“I wouldn’t,” she said. “At least not until you’ve heard
what I have to say.” A shiver ran up her spine at the hard stare he turned on
her. She rushed on before the second thoughts knocking at her brain crashed
through the barrier to her rational mind. “You said once that you’d consider
not demolishing the shops if I would sleep with you.” She stared directly at
him, challenging him to deny it. “Does that still stand?”
Kyle Harrison’s eyes narrowed even more and his lips pressed
into a tight line for a moment before he answered. “It was a joke. Or more like
an insult, something to make you go away and leave me alone.”
“I figured.” She shut her eyes for a moment and drew a
breath, trying to steady her pounding heart. “But would you honor it if I
called you on it?”
He continued to stare at her. Her heart drummed so hard she
feared it would break free of her chest. She couldn’t seem to get enough air in
her lungs either. She fought for calm. She couldn’t afford to be dizzy or
light-headed or blinded by sexual charisma. Still…
Damn but he was good-looking. A sexy six-foot-one-inch
package with dark hair, hints of creases in the cheeks of his narrow face and
tiny laugh lines around his eyes, plus broad shoulders, lean hips and long,
strong legs. He’d taken off his suit jacket and tie and opened the top two
buttons of his dress shirt, baring an intriguing triangle of his upper chest
He was thinking over her proposal, seriously considering it,
which both elated and terrified her.
“You’re offering to sleep with me to get what you want?” he
She sucked in a sharp breath and felt a flush climb up her
face as she looked down at her hands. “If that’s what it takes.” She had to
force the words out past the constriction in her chest. Part of her still
couldn’t believe she was doing this.
He shook his head. “You know, I understand persistence and
determination. I even admire those qualities. I mostly understand using every
weapon you’ve got when there’s something you really want. But this is going too
far. No, it wasn’t a real offer.”
. Meg drew a deep breath and tried to laugh
but it came out sounding more like a sob. “I was afraid you might say that. I
guess I’ll have to provide more incentive for you to consider it.” She reached
out and put her hand back on the cordless mouse on his desk. “I’ve got some
experience in working with computers, you know. Right now I’ve got this set to
reformat your hard drive. All I have to do is press the button and all the
documents on it are history.”
“Shit! You bitch!” He lunged toward her then thought better
of it and stood still.
She looked up at him and raised an eyebrow. “Probably. But a
desperate bitch. People’s livelihoods are at stake and you won’t even talk to
us about it.”
“We did talk. Twice, if you include the time you stopped me
on the way to my car. I seem to recall a lot of sob stories and insults.”
“I talked. You didn’t bother to listen.” Honesty forced her
to concede, “Okay, I probably didn’t handle things as well as I should have. I
got too emotional about the situation. I’m not good with words that way. That’s
why I’m hoping to do it differently this time.”
His breath rasped in and out harshly as he forced himself to
some semblance of calm. Both of his hands clenched in tight fists. No doubt he
wanted to strangle her. He appeared to clamp down on the anger with an effort
as some other reaction or emotion tempered it. An odd sort of speculation
crossed his features while he stared at her, leaving her curious about what
might have caused it. It wasn’t a pleasant look, however, and she shivered with
fear of what might be behind it.
“How do you think you can do it differently?” he asked.
“I’d like to show you a couple of things.”
“Show me?” His brows rose a bit. He glanced at his watch and
shrugged. “Maybe we can reach a compromise,” he offered. “I’ll give you an hour
of my time to convince me there’s a good reason not to demolish the strip. In
return you give me six hours of your time, in my bed.”
His sudden concession slammed into her, robbing her of
“You’d… You’d do it?” She wondered if he was kidding or
stringing her along somehow. There had to be a catch. “And then you’d call the
cops and have me charged with breaking and entering? Or kidnapping?”
“I might. Are you prepared to take a chance on it?”
She closed her eyes for a moment and her breath whispered
out on a faint sigh. “I suppose I have to.”
important to you?” he asked.
“It is.” She opened her eyes and speared him with her gaze.
“I want two hours of your time and you can have more of mine if you want. As
long as you don’t report me to the police.”
He visibly fought back a smile. “You drive a hard bargain,
She sighed again. “No, I don’t. This is still a bad one for
me and we both know it.”
“Okay. Two hours of my time and I get ten hours of yours.
Plus I don’t report you to the police as long as you agree to accept a penalty
Well, shit. Here was the catch. “And what would that be?”
He let the smile break through. It sent chills up and down
her spine, no doubt exactly the effect he intended. “That’s the rub. You won’t
know until later. You’ll have to trust me.”
“Is there any good reason why I should?” Her finger still
hovered over the mouse button that would destroy his records.
“Because you want something from me. Want it badly enough to
break into my office and bargain with your freedom and your body to get it.”
She hauled in a deep breath. “Point.”
“So?” He stared at her fingers with their neatly trimmed,
unpainted nails. “Hey, would you mind moving your hand away from the mouse
while you consider? It’s making me nervous. What happens if you sneeze and
accidentally press the button? Not so much bargaining power left then. And I’d
probably strangle you anyway.”
It surprised her that he could actually see some humor in
the situation. Drat. That only made him more attractive and she didn’t need to
think about that. “Another point.” She moved her hand off the mouse but let it
remain on the desk next to it so she could still press the button before he
could move to stop her. Worry drove away her amusement. “Do I get my two hours
“If that’s what you want. I’m not committed for tonight. Do
we have a deal?”
“I…” She swallowed hard to clear away the obstruction that
made it hard to talk. “I suppose so.”
“I want your promise, your word of honor, whatever you call
it, that you’ll give me two hours of your time and you won’t report me to the
police or the FBI or whoever afterward.”
Harrison shrugged. “As long as you comply with your part of
the bargain, give me your ten hours of time and accept my penalty, I promise
you’ll get those two hours and I won’t report you to the authorities.”
It sounded like a reasonably fair deal, though the “penalty”
part gave her pause. It was the best she would get from him. What exactly would
he do? An answer struck her but it seemed so ludicrous and far-fetched she
couldn’t credit it. Still…something about the gleam in his eyes suggested all
sorts of wicked and delicious possibilities. Did he know about her fantasies?
The ones she wouldn’t admit to
? He couldn’t. But could he guess?
Surely not. Not Mr. Thick-headed, Your-opinions-don’t-matter Kyle Harrison.
More likely he’d make her do something unbearably
humiliating. Stand out in front of the building with a sandwich board saying
or something like that. Or perform some sort of service for
him, maybe here in the office, sweeping the floors or cleaning the restrooms.
Still, that beat going to jail.
Would he do that even after they had a night together in his
bed? A night she both dreaded and—weirdly—looked forward to? She planned to
make it memorable. She’d been reading up on ways to please a man and had
several ideas for things to try. Some of the things she’d read about had seemed
rather gross and some had made her wonder if it those things were actually
possible, but most seemed to present interesting possibilities. Of course it
was better if you were with someone you liked and who liked you in return. But
maybe sexual attraction could be as good as liking.
“Ahem.” He reminded her that he waited for her answer.
“I’ll comply,” she said at last. “You have my promise on
that.” She slid her hand back toward her body, away from the mouse.
“Good.” He drew a deep breath and let it out on a sigh
before he walked toward his desk and circled around it.
She stood up to make way for him.
“Give me five minutes to wrap up a couple of things.” He
stared at the screen and sucked in a sharp breath when he saw she really did
have the reformat utility open on the screen. He leaned over and reached for
the mouse, centered it over the
option and pressed the button.
An aroma of leather and spice and pure male essence washed
over her, making her knees wobble. Meg moved away, heading for a chair beside
the desk, but she hadn’t gone more than a couple of steps before he stopped
“Come back here.”
She turned and raised an eyebrow, waiting for him to
indicate what he wanted.
“How about a kiss to seal the bargain?”
It hit her like a sucker punch to the gut. She drew in a
sharp breath. From the first time she’d seen him she’d wondered what his kiss
would be like. Given his attitude toward her, though, she worried it would be
brutal or cruel.
“The terms of our agreement include you doing a heck of a
lot more than just kissing me,” he pointed out as she hesitated.
The heat rose in her face but she nodded and moved toward
him, taking slow, cautious steps. Three of those brought her to within arm’s
reach. When she made no further move, he put his hands on her shoulders and
drew her toward him until her breasts met his chest.