Authors: Cherise St. Claire
Published by Reason Enterprises
Wet and Ready Copyright © 2012 by Cherise St. Claire. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any way whatsoever without written permission.
Cover design by Fabian Ramirez
Story edited by Todd Barselow
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WET AND READY
Cherise St. Claire
Reese Worthington arrived at the home of DeMarco Diamond ten minutes earlier than her scheduled start time. This was her third day working for the elusive millionaire and although she didn’t think he even knew she existed, she had to be careful. The last thing she wanted was to arouse the suspicion of her boss or any of his other staff. Her phony credentials had been good enough to get her the job, now all she had to do was lie low until she was no longer a wanted woman.
Reese’s office was located on the second floor of the home. As DeMarco Diamond’s personal assistant, she was responsible for the usual mundane tasks: picking up laundry, dropping off laundry, waiting for laundry. It was a crap job. He was a busy man allegedly, and according to some of the gossip she’d heard, a dangerous one as well. Reese didn’t have access to his personal cell phone or e-mail address. According to her immediate boss, Lester Mint, Mr. Diamond could be reached via him only. All instructions from Mr. Diamond were to come from Lester only
. Fine. So be it,
Reese thought. As long as her paychecks were on time and her cover was kept, she could live with it.
“You’re late,” Lester said as she entered the mansion that stood on thirteen acres of prime real estate fifteen miles north of New York City. He was a bald, humorless guy. Strangely enough, she’d passed a simple interview with him to get the job. When he’d called and told her when to start, he might as well have been giving a eulogy for all the excitement in his voice.
“I’m early, Lester,” Reese said. “And all the copies of the reports that I needed to make were made yesterday and delivered to Mr. Diamond’s secretary at his office via Federal Express first thing this morning. And it was marked confidential. Tell me, what kind of a guy requires two assistants and doesn’t like them to talk to each another?”
As expected, Lester ignored the question. His nose tipped slightly in the air as though he was born of aristocracy when, in actuality, the guy probably hailed from Queens. She turned to go to her office.
“Mr. Diamond would like to see you.”
Reese paused at the base of the staircase. “Excuse me?”
“He’s dismissed the staff for the day,” Lester said. “I was just leaving myself. Apparently, he’d like to take a few days off, but he wanted to meet you while he’s around.”
“Am I getting the day off, too?”
Lester pursed his lips and rolled his eyes as though speaking to a child in need of remedial lessons.
“I suppose it does but seeing as he hasn’t met you yet, he wants to do so now. That is
you don’t mind. He’s out by the pool.”
Reese looked out toward the French doors that led to the massive back garden. She had hardly been able to believe her eyes the first time she’d checked out the place. The pool area resembled a lush oasis at some exclusive, tropical resort. Surrounded by palm trees and intricately cut hedges, the zero edge pool abutted a mountainous wall on one side, which was covered by leaves that looked like ivy to her inexperienced eye. The natural wall could have been cut from the side of a mountain; and out of it a lavish waterfall flowed into the pool. Adjoined to the pool, a hot tub hummed sensually as steam rose from frothy bubbles.
“Yes,” Lester said, pronouncing the word with a long hiss at the end. “The pool.” Reese wanted to rip off that stupid bow tie and strangle him with it. That’d teach him to talk to her with such contempt. “And if I were you, I’d do something about that face of yours. Mr. Diamond prefers his employees to look a little more . . . well-groomed.”
Lester Mint walked out the front door before Reese could respond. She had some choice expletives for the uptight prick, but now was not the time to indulge in her baser instincts. Her boss wanted to see her.
Reese clutched her purse and steadied herself as she made her way to the back of the house. Now that she thought about it, the place was eerily quiet today. Usually, the maids or cooks were bustling around like bees tending a hive. Not this morning, though. This morning, the place felt as cold and motionless as a mausoleum.
She paused, her hand on the gold-tipped doorknob, and thought back to Lester’s parting comment. How dare he insinuate the she wasn’t well groomed. The reflection looking back at Reese from the mirror on the wall showed that she looked perfectly fine. Perhaps her bare cheeks could use a bit more color. Her skin had precisely the right amount of bronze to allow her to forego heavy cosmetics and her lips were sparingly dotted with a light pink gloss. Yeah, okay, her lashes could have used a little mascara and maybe her hazel eyes could have been more attractive had she put on a little liner, but Reese wasn’t trying to catch a man. On the contrary, she was running from one. And, at this point, she wondered if she’d ever get far enough away.
The company cell phone given to her by Lester chimed in her purse, startling her.
When it rings, you answer. Day or night.
She recalled his stern warning.
The phone was preprogrammed. Her heart seized when she saw his name appear on the screen.
No first name included.
No first name needed.
With a nervous finger, Reese touched the screen to connect the call.
“Reese Worthington,” she stammered.
So much for nerves of steel.
“Where are you?”
“I’m here. At the house. On my way to see you.”
Reese looked in front of her. About a hundred feet from the door was the pool. She saw an arm languidly snake out from behind a lounge chair and reach for a glass on the nearby table. The hand disappeared and then reemerged to put the glass back down again.
“Is there a reason why you’re keeping me waiting to see you?”
His voice. Sweet God. The deep timber of his voice sent shivers throughout her body, like a drop of water rippling through a pond. No inch of her was left unstirred.
By just the sound of his voice . . .
Reese forced herself to place one foot in front of the other.
“No.” Reese struggled to compose herself. “Lester has left. He said you wanted to see me, so I’m on my way out to you now.”
Mr. Diamond said, “I’m on my way out to you now . . . what?”
Huh? she thought. And then she knew.
“I’m on my way out to you now,
“I don’t like to be kept waiting.”
“You aren’t waiting, Mr. Diamond,” Reese said. “I’m right behind you.
DeMarco clicked his cell phone off. What does a man have to do in order to get a refill around this place? He’d let the staff go for the day, but he expected his assistant to be present and accounted for. And why shouldn’t he? After all, the only reason he’d even hired Reese Worthington was to keep an eye on her. He’d made a promise to keep her safe. DeMarco wasn’t accustomed to being in the position of owing people favors, but a friend had covered his ass once, and now it was time to repay that debt.
DeMarco sighed. Would it have been too much to ask her to stand in front of him? Didn’t she know it was dangerous to stand behind a man like him? It was unusual for him to relax and DeMarco was ready to use his Krav Maga skills at a moment’s notice. A man like him had to be prepared for anything. But when he turned around on the chaise lounge to get a better look at his old friend’s little niece, he quickly realized that he was prepared for anything . . . except her.
When Mitchell kept referring to her as his
niece, DeMarco expected her to be about eighteen, given Mitchell’s age. In fact, the woman was young, but not quite that young. Beneath the ill-fitting suit and cheap shoes, he imagined that she had quite a body on her. But it was that skin—light brown and radiant—that transfixed him. There wasn’t a nick, scratch, or mole on that baby smooth face of hers. He figured she was a combination of something: black, white, Native-American, Brazilian, hell, he could believe she had a little of his own Italian blood considering the jet-black hair she wore in a prim, matronly bun. He didn’t know her heritage, and at the moment he didn’t care. Beauty was beauty. And this exotic beauty was quite unexpected.
Nervously, she blinked at him but held his gaze.
What a shame to hide those hazel beauties behind overly long bangs.
“How old are you?” he asked.
DeMarco wasn’t in the habit of repeating himself and even a fine female like Reese Worthington wasn’t going to make him change his ways.
She cleared her throat. “I’m twenty-five.”
Twenty-five? Surely a woman of that age had more style savvy than she’s demonstrating.
“Reese. May I call you Reese?” She nodded. “Is there a reason you’d stand two feet behind me instead of in front of me?”
DeMarco watched as the muscles in her thin neck strained. She licked her lips and DeMarco felt his groin stir. Was she tempting him on purpose?
“Well?” he growled when she’d refused to answer. She jumped at the sound of his voice. DeMarco had to remind himself to use his softer side when he wasn’t in the boardroom. In the boardroom, where he ran the eighteen companies of his business empire, he refused to edit himself, despite the few women who sat on his executive committee. Want to run with the big boys, then you’ve got to learn how to go the distance without crying about the bumpy terrain along the way. DeMarco had learned that it wasn’t the women on his board that had turned out to be the biggest pussies.
Finally, Reese found her voice. “I’m not comfortable around water, Mr. Diamond.”
At first, DeMarco thought perhaps he’d misunderstood. He looked at his Olympic-size pool with his initials handcrafted into the bottom. Then his eyes scanned the entirety of his property. As beautiful as his back lawn was—with the flower gardens, the guest quarters, the Hudson River out in the distance, the private wood—the pool area was certainly the most striking in his mind. He’d had Casa Diamond custom built two years ago and he was proud of it even though he was rarely here. He preferred his penthouse in New York or the Malibu beach house. Even when he was here, he never sat and lounged by the pool. DeMarco smiled ruefully. Lester Mint was probably calling New York’s best psychiatrists right about now to ask if his boss had gone nuts. DeMarco was perfectly sane. But something was troubling him and he’d decided to take time to meditate on his little problem. His eyes found the still waters again. Never would he have imagined that this pool, which sparkled like jewels, would be a source of consternation.
“You don’t know how to swim?” he asked.
She shook her head. “But enough about me. What can I do for you, Mr. Diamond?”
Oh baby. There’s no limit as to what you can do for me.
DeMarco let his eyes wander over her. Reese shifted her weight from one leg to the other. She seemed unaccustomed to having a man openly appraise her. It was endearing to see a woman so lovely appear so shy. DeMarco didn’t trust it because he knew better.
“Reese.” DeMarco stood and approached her.
And what is this, now? Is she blushing beneath that golden skin?
DeMarco’s six-four frame towered over her. He knew he looked better at thirty-two than many men ten years younger, thanks to his grueling six day-a-week workout. But it was still reassuring to know that his strong Italian features appealed to the opposite sex. “As my assistant, you should know how to swim.”