Authors: Minx Hardbringer,Natasha Tanner
Natasha Tanner and Minx Hardbringer
Copyright © 2016 Minx Hardbringer
All Rights Reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locations is purely coincidental. The characters are all productions of the authors’ imagination.
Please note that this work is intended only for adults over the age of 18 and all characters represented as 18 or over.
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“You’re working late again?” Angie’s voice chastises me through my cell.
“I have to, the big prick is taking off on another date with the model-of-the-week, and he left me a huge pile of work. It all has to be done by Monday morning, or I’ll never hear the end of it.” I wish I could just set it on fire at this point, but I’ve never been much of a criminal.
“So, do it tomorrow and come out with me tonight, Lilly. You can’t spend another Friday night in the office doing that assholes work for him.” She sounds hopeful, but I’m about to pop that hope like a bubble.
“I can and I will. I don’t want this stuff hanging over my head this weekend. It’s better to get it done now. If you’re still out when I wrap things up, I’ll meet you for a cocktail.” I can almost feel her shoulders slump with defeat.
“Fine. But if you don’t make it out tonight, it’s dinner and dancing tomorrow night. You have to move on, honey. Tom is never going to come around, and even if he did, do you really want him anymore?”
“Call you later. Love you, boo.” I say, and that elicits a giggle.
“Love you too, cupcake.”
In case you’re wondering, Tom is my boss. He’s the big prick who dumped a mountain of work on me so he could go out with yet another model. We’ve gone out a couple of times, and I was stupid enough to believe that we had something. That was months ago, and I’ve been holding out hope that he’ll come around.
I’m pretty sure that at this point, he’s just using that desire to get me to do his work. So, I’ve let the asshole use me too many times. This is the exact reason that Angie told me not to date my boss.
He’s so good looking, though, and rich too. It was hard for me to say no when he looked into my eyes and asked me out to dinner. Something about the way he talked to me, and the way his eyes devoured me like a fresh baked chocolate chip cookie, made me feel special. Now I know it’s an act. Tom is an exceptional showman and salesperson.
I take the files he left on my desk and break them down into piles. First I sort them from biggest to smallest, and then I rearrange them in order of time to complete. That’s when I realize that I’m procrastinating and wasting time too.
If I’m going to waste time, I might as well have a little fun doing it. So, I spend a half hour looking up Tom and his date on the web. Most of the stuff I find about Tom I already know. His date is hot stuff in the fashion industry, and she’s dated a few actors and a couple of rock stars too.
She never sticks with them long, and I wonder if that’s going to be a relief or a disappointment to Tom. Ugh. I have to stop thinking about him. I'm seriously super pathetic right now.
I’ve had about as much of this place as I can handle. I quickly finish the two easiest of my tasks so that I can at least say I accomplished something other than cyberstalking my boss. My email chimes, and it looks like Tom sent me a few more things to do this weekend.
“Thanks, asshole.” I murmur to myself.
I’m done here for the night. I’ll get up extra early tomorrow and knock most of this out by the afternoon. Angie’s going to be pissed, but I’d better head home to bed. I’ll make it up to her tomorrow night. I should also probably set up a dating profile on one of those sites for finding your perfect mate. It’s time to start taking steps to get over Tom. Even baby steps would be better than sitting around mooning over him.
After packing up my stuff and putting my trash can out for the night cleaning crew, I head to the breakroom to pick up my lunch bag. I’ve sent as much as I could of my workload to Tom’s email, but I’ve got a couple of physical files that need to be dropped off in his office before I forget.
An uneasy feeling washes over me as I walk down the hallway to his office. The cleaning people aren’t here yet, and I should be alone in the building. It doesn’t feel like I’m alone, though. I can also swear I hear rustling coming from behind Tom’s door as I get closer.
I reach into my purse and grab my pepper spray. There’s a good chance I’m just being paranoid, but I’m not going to take any chances. I’ve lived in the city long enough to know that no night in shining armor or superhero with perfect hair and even more perfect abs is going to swoop in and save me.
My heart is racing, and it feels like it’s going to jump out of my throat as I turn the doorknob to Tom’s office. It occurs to me that it would be smarter to turn around and go downstairs to the security desk.
That’s right, I’m not alone in the building. Sam, the security guard, is here too. He should be down at the desk, but who knows if that’s where he is right now. Maybe he had a reason to come up here. That thought helps me calm down a little.
“It’s just Sam, so calm down Lilith,” I whisper to myself more as a prayer than an affirmation.
When I open the door, I’m so surprised at what I see that I drop the pepper spray. “Damn.” I curse myself.
“It’s far less effective that way.” The handsome intruder chuckles and gives me a disarmingly sweet smile.
I should probably scream and run away, but something about him makes me smile back instead. I even feel myself relax a little bit. He’s wearing a janitor’s uniform, but not the one the regular cleaning crew wears. Despite his piercing blue eyes and the adorable lock of dark hair curling against his forehead, I put my guard back up just a bit.
“Can I help you with something?”
This isn’t a normal job for me, and there is so much riding on this particular heist that I actually feel a little sick to my stomach. In a previous life, I was a stuntman, so not much rattles my nerves, but my sister is counting on me getting this assignment done right.
I’m looking for a hard drive that Tom Hunt keeps all of his accounts and client information backed up on, and it’s supposedly hidden in the back of one of his desk drawers. Getting into his office wasn’t that hard. Apparently, he doesn’t lock the door when he leaves for the day, or Tom forgot because he had a date with a big set of fake boobs and bleach blond hair.
Security wasn’t a big deal either. My uniform isn’t the right one for the cleaning crew I’m supposedly on, but I told the guard that it’s my first night, and they haven’t gotten me my official coveralls yet. It actually was supposed to be some guys first night on the job, but the family paid him off to stay away. At least I hope they paid him off. I’d hate to think they killed him, but I can’t completely put it past them.
By “they” and “the family” I mean the Russian Mafia. I’ve gotten myself in deep with them, and now they’re holding my sister as a way to keep me in line. Retrieving the hard drive for Vladimir is the only hope I have of getting my sister out alive. Another wave of nausea rolls through me as I pictured her alone and scared being held by a bunch of thugs and cold-blooded killers.
After Sam, the night security guard called Capital Cleaning Company and confirmed that they were expecting a new guy tonight, he issued me a temporary security badge and sent me on my way.
I know that the cleaning crew is expecting someone to arrive in the basement soon, so I've got to work fast. I guess correctly that Tom's office is on the top floor, and I'm relieved to find the door pops right open for me.
None of his desk drawers are locked either, and I start to wonder what kind of man I'm dealing with. He doesn't seem to take his business very seriously. At the very least he doesn't take his security seriously.
Then I remember the file I read on him before I took the job. Tom Hunt isn't a self-made billionaire by any stretch of the imagination. He's using daddy's money to lure other investors into putting their money into one of his many funds. Sadly, many of these "investment funds" seem to be schemes that allow the big investors to bilk the smaller investors out of their money.
I hope that I can find some way to make sure that Vladimir only takes money from the fat cats, and the little guys get their investments back. He's not exactly the fair or compassionate type, though so I might have to find a way to make that happens before I turn the information over to my sister's captors.
Tom has several file cabinets in his office, and while I've been told the files won't be in there, I take a minute to check them first. Better safe than sorry, and I don't want to be scrambling to look through them if I start to run out of time.
Nothing in them except old files and some old electronics equipment, but I feel better knowing I've done my due diligence. That means it's time to move on to searching Tom’s desk. There's no sign of the drive in the center drawer where a bunch of dusty stationery and office supplies reside. My guess is that this Tom character doesn't do a whole lot of real work, and he leaves all the heavy lifting to the gorgeous creature I saw in the office down the hall.
She must be his assistant, and from the looks of it, she does all the work around here. Not only is the beautiful goddess still at work on a Friday night, but she also had a mountain of files piled up on her desk. I watched her arranging them for a moment because I couldn't take my eyes off of her but then shake it off and remember why I'm here. I can honestly say that she's going to be some poor guys undoing someday.
I've gone through all but one of the drawers, and I still haven't found what I'm looking for. The last drawer is banged up, and I see that's because it sticks badly. Getting it open is much louder than I anticipate, and I hope that the woman I saw earlier didn't hear me.
I waited until I saw her go into what looked like a break room before coming in here. I have no idea where she is now, and I'm guessing leaving for the day was on her agenda.
The next thing I hear is the door opening, and then I'm suddenly face to face with Tom's assistant. She's got a can of pepper spray in her hand, and for a moment I'm worried that she'll use it on me. Then, she drops it and curses herself. It's adorable and frightening at the same time. If I'd been someone who meant her harm, she dropped her only weapon. Well, unless you count her pink lunch tote or lilac Italian leather purse.
The only reason I know the purse is Italian leather is that my sister was lusting after it one day when she saw it in a magazine. I didn't even know real women bought the stuff those magazines advertised. But I digress. The most beautiful woman I've ever seen is standing in front of me shocked and completely vulnerable. I'm supposed to be some sort of super criminal, but all I can do is smile at her and hope that makes her feel safe. I have no idea why, but I can't stomach the thought of anyone making her feel bad.
I have to think of a way to get her to stay here with me. If she runs off screaming, I can get way, but I'll never see her again. Plus, she might have some information that will prove useful to me, and I still need to save my sister.
"Please don't go, and please don't call the police. If you just give me a moment, I can explain everything." I say with my hands up in front of me where she can see them.
We've both been smiling at each other like we just met in a coffee shop instead of while I'm trying to steal her boss's most valuable information. She doesn't tense up or dive for the pepper spray when I walk around the desk and towards her, so that's a good sign.
"What could you possibly say that could explain you being in Tom's office, going through his desk, and wearing a fake cleaning crew uniform?" She asks and laughs.
"Well, when you put it that way, it sounds downright awful."
"Go ahead. I'll give you two minutes to explain before I go call security and the police." She says as she crosses her arms and cocks her head to the side.
"Thanks. Okay. Here goes. Your boss is into some shady stuff, and I'm looking for evidence." This may or may not be a lie. I mean, I'm not looking for evidence, but he's probably into some shifty dealings.
"Are you with the FBI or something?" She asks skeptically.
"No, nothing like that, Ma'am. I represent private interests. The men I work for want to bring your boss to justice before he can rob good, hardworking families of their life savings." Lying to her feels so wrong, but I have to save Sophie. I'm not sure how long her damaged heart can take the strain of Vladimir's men holding her hostage. He promised she was getting her medicine, but I can't believe him.
"I don't know. That sounds pretty shady to me." She says, but I can see a hint of a smile.
"Meet me at the diner across the street tomorrow night at seven. I'll be in the back booth. I'll tell you as much as I can, and maybe you can help me.
I wish I could see the look on her face when I go out the window. I picked today because I knew the window cleaning lift would be outside. It's two floors down and about four windows over, but it's an easy climb for me. Of course, I don't have any safety gear in place, but I manage to make it without killing myself.
By the time I'm in the lift and about to start lowering it, she's at the window looking down at me.
"I didn't even know these windows opened." She shouted at me from above.
"Good thing for me that they do," I say and give her a salute.
"My name's Lilith."