His by Design(7)

By: Dani Wade



With shaking hands she finally pulled the award from his grasp and turned to place it on the corner of her desk. Then, she pulled out a thick folder from a drawer of the filing cabinet. “Here is information on the current preparations for the fall line. I thought—”

He lifted the file from her unsteady hands, resentment that he had to rely on her for information mixing with the other emotions roiling through him. “What do we have here?”

She managed to maintain an outward calm. Almost. “Actually, I thought you might like me to familiarize myself with the project you’re here for.”

Her eyes begged, a moment of peace, but he wasn’t in the mood for mercy. “Let’s take this discussion into my office.”

* * *

A spy, he’d said. She’d never really thought about it that way.

How had she been promoted from executive assistant in training to spy in one morning? Proving herself to Vivian had been a long-held goal, but doing it now could put her in a very awkward position.

One last glance at her Employee of the Year award stilled her spinning universe. Looking at it, her uneasiness and frustration melted away and her resolve strengthened.

This is what I want. I’m almost there. Becoming executive assistant to the CEO of a major design firm had been her goal from her first day at Eternity Designs. At twenty-seven, the finish line loomed much closer than she’d dared to hope, despite the lack of money for anything other than a trade school degree.

She’d grown up with nothing—no, less than nothing. Oh, they’d technically had enough to live on, but every spare cent had gone for slutty clothes and accessories for her mother to attract the newer, better sugar daddy around the corner.

She’d dreamed of escaping from the trash that still stained her heart into her own office situated right outside of her role model Vivian Creighton’s. But would the price be worth this sacrifice?

Vivian and Sloan are playing a game and I’m stuck in the middle.

Ziara was smart enough to realize it. Her firm loyalty to Vivian notwithstanding, her choices from here on out had to be dedicated to what was best for Eternity Designs. That was her only guarantee of keeping a clear conscience.

Vivian had given her a long lecture on all things Sloan yesterday afternoon. He’s not to be trusted. Why wouldn’t his father have just given him the business if he wanted him to run it? He’s up to something, I know it. Ziara had questions of her own, concerns about a man who spent his life reviving companies but completely ignored his family heritage until it was almost too late. If Sloan truly sought to ruin the company, as Vivian had also suggested…well, she wasn’t about to let him put anything over on her.

She’d just watch closely and learn to deal with him. She’d always been a stellar student. If she hesitated before crossing the threshold into his office, it didn’t mean anything. Drawing in a deep breath, she straightened her shoulders. A little over three months and her training period would be complete. This was simply a small bump on a long road.

She pushed the dilemmas from her mind and entered the room.

Sloan had chosen a corner office at the opposite end of the building from Vivian’s, his windows overlooking the sidewalk and shops that lined the streets in this part of town. Quaint, with a touch of subdued elegance, Ziara had always thought, and easily accessible through a MARTA stop only a few blocks away.

Instead of the soothing cream carpet prevalent in the rest of the offices, the flooring here had been replaced with dark wood planks. A desk just a shade or two darker dominated one corner, facing out so that Sloan could see the entire room, from the door to the floor-to-ceiling windows. He crossed the thick blue-and-burgundy rug to stand before them now, hands in his pockets, looking down from the fifth-story view.

For long moments he remained silhouetted against the lightened windows. His strong shoulders spoke of strength and shelter. The line tapered down to his waist, where his hands in his pockets drew the material of his dress pants across the high, firm cheeks of his backside.

Ziara shook her head slightly, grateful he couldn’t see her. Being close to this overwhelmingly masculine presence on a daily basis had the potential to open up a whole host of dark desires she preferred to keep locked deep inside. Choosing a leather chair a safe distance away, she sat, primly crossing her legs at the ankles. She held herself rigid as she prepared to take notes, make phone calls, whatever he wanted of her.

“Did you know this was once my father’s office?”

Surprise skittered through Ziara’s controlled pose. “No,” she murmured.

“I used to play right here on a rug while he worked,” Sloan said. “I used to watch him stare out these same windows, while he worked out problems.”

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