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Authors: T. C. Anthony

Tags: #Romance

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BOOK: Lust
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I started replaying Pat’s phone call, his every word, the
day’s events, the Mason guy, and thirteen attorneys. “I really
don’t know what to make of any of it. Nothing makes sense, the
few pieces we have just don’t fit…” I paused, turning toward
the bartender. “Chris, please…another?”

“Don’t get me wrong, ladies, but that’s your fourth you just
finished. And it is also six forty-five. Didn’t you say you had a
meeting at six fifty or seven?”

“Chris, don’t mess with me today,” snapped Samantha.

“Samantha, stop. Chris, are you serious? Did we really finish
four of these? Fuck, Sam, I am so screwed. I can’t go to
this thing hammered, and now I have five minutes to sober up.

Damn it!”

“Eva, don’t freak. Do you feel wasted? You look good. That’s
a start!” Samantha tried to calm me, but she could see my anxiety
building and my breath increasing as my chest moved in
and out faster and faster.

“No, I’m really buzzed but not wasted. Walking a little
should help, I hope. OK, it’s time. I have to face this and put
an end to this miserable day. And then it will be done, we will
know what’s happening, and I will go from there. No biggie.”

There was only insecurity in the unknown as I spoke, choking
down my fears. “OK, last check. How do I look?”

“As beautiful and professional as the day you started with
PHI.” Samantha spoke slowly, as if it pained her to imagine not
seeing me at work every day. “Go. You don’t want to be late.”

“Right, OK. I promise I will call you as soon as I get out.”

Leaning in, I gave Samantha a peck on the cheek and a tight,
loving hug.

Samantha looked at me solemnly. “I know that you are the
one who usually prays, but know that I have been praying for
us all day.”

“Thanks, sweetie. I’ll catch you up in a bit. Love ya.” I
turned, heading out the door as Samantha choked back the
tears, staring at two empty glasses.

“Chris, one more before I go cry myself into oblivion,

“Rough day, huh?” Chris, genuinely worried, prepared the
drink but asked anyway, hoping he could help.

But Samantha declined. “You have no idea!”

I was out the door and onto the street, walking up two
blocks to the meeting that would change me and my life forever.




It was 6:57 p.m. as I stood outside of The Black Lounge. Which
seemed rather appropriate, since I felt like the Grim Reaper
was sitting on my shoulder all day. I had only walked up two
blocks and was still really buzzed. All I could hope was that the
alcohol didn’t really kick in, or else I would be so screwed!

Walking through the French doors of the lounge, I was
welcomed by the hostess. “Ms. Chase, good evening. Are you
expecting clients this evening? Should we prepare the private

Looking around the room for Pat, I replied while keeping
my eyes in scan mode, “No, that will not be necessary, but
thank you. I am actually meeting Mr. Watson here. Do you
happen to know if he has arrived yet?”

The hostess motioned immediately through the back doors.

“Right this way. Mr. Watson and his guest arrived a few minutes

The hostess led me toward the very back of the lounge.

Beautifully decorated in a European fashion, the lounge was
carefully styled with dark mahogany wood, from floor to ceiling,
which I loved. Large mahogany beams swung across the
ceiling of the whole place. Thick, royal-blue velvet drapes covered
the painted murals that looked like windows. They were
absolutely beautiful works of art. Through each “window” was
a painted romantic scene from different eras. My favorite was
the Romeo and Juliet scene. Yes, I know. Cliché.

The mushy love stuff wasn’t my cup of tea, but the concept
of loving someone so intensely and passionately was so inconceivable
that it covered my entire body with goose bumps every
time I pondered the thought. The thought of it was beautiful;
the reality was unrealistic.

As I was lead through the lounge, and as we approached the
table at the very back, my first thought was that Pat was alone.

There were three chairs, but Pat was the only one sitting at the
table. Perhaps this Mason guy wasn’t here, but the hostess had
said that Pat and his “guest” had arrived. Perhaps the guest
she was referring to was Kelly, but where was Kelly now? God,
could this day get any more cryptic?

Approaching the table, Pat noticed me advancing and immediately
stood to greet me. He was always so warm and polite.

“Eva, my dear, glad to see you, and on time as always.” Pat
leaned over to embrace me warmly, as he always did when we
met outside of the office. Pat was not only a father figure but
also a mentor, a coach, and most of all, a friend. “Please sit here,
dear. Mr. Mason will be back shortly; he’s on a call.”

And there it was…Mr. Mason.

The name made my stomach do summersaults, and yet I
had no reason for it, not yet. This was perfect timing though;
alone with Pat, I could get all the info I needed before the socalled
guest came back.

“Pat, it’s been a day from hell. What is this about? Why
did you have me come here? Are you all right, health wise…

your wife? Please tell me what the hell is going on before I die
from the unknown!”

Pat giggled at me, but I couldn’t process it. Was I being
punked? Was this all a big joke?

“The unknown is a scary place, isn’t it?”

I flinched; the spoken words had come from behind my
chair unexpectedly, and somehow they were familiar.

“I don’t bite. Relax, Ms. Chase.”

I was so utterly consumed and completely embarrassed that
if I had been standing, my knees would have surely let out
beneath me. I couldn’t get my mind focused, or my eyes away
from his stare; it was my knight!

He was about six foot two, with black hair, hazel eyes, and
very muscular. His suit looked as expensive and perfectly tailored
to his sculpted body as the one he wore the night I fell into
his lap. He looked like he was coming right out of a GQ cover.

Regardless, a little voice in the back of my mind whispered,
So this is Mr. Mason. And that made me immediately snap out
of it. This is the man I’ve been dreaming about for the last two days.

The same man who is causing havoc at my job?

“Ms. Chase, is everything all right?” he questioned, playing
the professional part, pretending he hadn’t caught me in his
arms during my drunken strip show just two days prior.

“Ah, yes. My apologies. I…yes, I am Ms. Chase, and you
are?” I already knew the answer, but I needed it to be concrete.

The affirmation would conclude that this was the guy who I
had hated all day and lusted after for the last two days.

“Mason. Mr. A. Mason.”

“It’s nice to finally put a face to the name.” I was determined
to be professional and polite, regardless of how much
I loathed him at this moment. I wasn’t going to let my guard
down, and the professional partition had gone up. Manhattan
is too large a place for such a coincidence. Did he know who I
was that night at the bar? Was he trying to dig up dirt on me?

“Ms. Chase, the pleasure is truly all mine.” He took my
hand gently, never taking his eyes off of me; it was intense,
almost scary.

I had to adjust myself in the seat, uncomfortable as ever.

Mason slid the third chair toward the table, but he moved the
chair closer to Pat so that he was directly in my line of sight.

He was rigged. The way he walked, talked, and even sat seemed
scripted and hard. I felt flushed; I was dazing. His hard demeanor
matched his hard muscles—and I’m sure they matched
whatever else got hard!

Shit. I was obliviously staring at him, and I felt the blush
rise to my face. He caught me staring, or more like checking
him out.

What am I doing? I hate this asshole. He’s got a nice body, and
he’s gorgeous, but he’s single-handedly ruined my day. OK, focus.

And as I concentrated on Pat, the waitress brought over
two glasses of wine and a scotch.

“Eva, I took the liberty of ordering you a chardonnay.” Pat
gave me an endearing smile, but somehow there was more too
it. Something about the smile was saying, I’m sorry!

“Thank you. If I may be so bold, what is the agenda of
this meeting? There has been so much commotion today, that
truthfully I’m uncomfortable with this secrecy. Pat, is there
something wrong? Have I done something wrong?” I should
have asked if this had something to do with the other night,
but Pat wouldn’t embarrass me like this. But I was so unsure of
what this Mason guy was up to, I couldn’t rule anything out.

The troubled feelings must have shown through my eyes,
and Pat knew the look. I knew he didn’t want to hurt me,
ever, but I was, in fact, hurting.

“My dear, for the last forty years, I have built this company
into a rock, and I have loved every minute of it. The last seven
years have been a joy plus some. You became part of my family,
and I have watched you achieve so much and work so hard that
it pains me to do this.” Pat looked down, trying to hide the
sudden tears that swelled in his eyes.

“May I ask why? What have I done?” My words came out
as more of a plea than a question.

“Why? What? I haven’t told you anything yet. Did someone
tell you something?” Pat looked sharply, almost angry at
Mason, and Mason shook his head no. They both looked at me
perplexed, trying to figure out what and how I knew.

“No one told me anything. I put two and two together. I
just don’t understand, and I won’t make a scene. You know I
am more professional than that, but please, you have to tell me
the reason. I at least deserve to know why I am being let go.”

“Let go? Jesus, Eva, why the hell would I let you go? I
wouldn’t dream of it.” Pat was giggling to himself and shaking
his head as if in shock at what he was hearing.

“But, then what? Why all the secrecy? You’re not ill and
you’re not firing me…What is this all about?”

My throat was closing; my heart was pounding out of my
chest. Instead of being relieved that Pat wasn’t dying and I
wasn’t losing the job I loved, I felt worse. The “not knowing”

was truly going to kill me.

“Oh, Eva, if I could clone you, I would. What I was saying
was that I am getting old—older—and in all my years, I have
never fully enjoyed my family and my successes. Now that the
company is where it is and I am the age that I am, it’s time to
pass it along to—”

I had to cut him off, completely ignoring that Mason was
sitting right across from me. Grabbing Pat’s hand, I again
pleaded for truth in all the madness. “Pat, don’t say it. Please
don’t say it.”

“I told you it was going to be all right. You will be great,
and well, we’ve just signed contracts. Eva, effective tomorrow
morning, I am no longer owner of the company, and Mr. Mason
here will be taking over for a while at PHI while the new owner
gets settled in. He is your new acting CEO.”

And at that moment, my heart broke; I heard the pieces
shattering within me and felt them falling all the way to the
pit of my stomach. I had single-handedly ruined my career!

Aside from falling onto him and flirting a bit, I couldn’t remember
if I had done anything else to or with him, and now
he was my boss!

Don’t cry. Don’t cry, damn it. Your new boss. Don’t be unprofessional.

Coaching myself through the information I was
given, I gathered my words and swallowed hard. After a few
moments passed, I just stared at Pat; Pat stared down at his
hands to hide his obvious sadness. From the corner of my eye,
I felt the piercing. The piercing stare from Mr. Mason—my
new boss! He was staring right through me, and I quickly
took notice of my facial expressions and how I was sitting. I
would not look weak in front of this predator. He already had
enough on me to make my professional life a living hell.

BOOK: Lust
13.08Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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