His by Design(9)By: Dani Wade
That was a discussion she’d prefer to postpone for, oh, forever. A new designer would shake the foundations of Eternity, regardless of how wonderful he was.
“And what would those ideas be?” she asked, poised to type. How was she going to tell Vivian all of this? Ziara was excited by some of the plans, but change was definitely not Vivian’s forte.
Sloan grinned, resorting to his ample sex appeal in the blink of an eye. “Uh-uh. I’m not giving it up that easily.”
Their eyes met and held. In the aftermath of their earlier connection, his bright blue gaze unnerved her more than ever. Not only did it threaten her internal control, it made her want to clamp the top of her jacket closed to hide every hint of cleavage. She pressed her thighs together in a purely feminine gesture of defense.
Slowly he rose and circled the desk, leaning his hips against the front. The angle allowed him to tower over her, while inadvertently giving her a level view of—
No, she wouldn’t look. Her fight-or-flight instincts kicked in with a rush. She needed a few moments away from this man’s disturbing sensuality. Heck, a few hours would be better. Rising to her feet, she said, “If that’s all, I’ll start—”
Her fingers fiddled with her tablet while her gaze examined the polished floorboards.
“I expect hard work out of all my employees. I don’t think that will be a problem with you. But trust…trust has to be earned, doesn’t it?”
The guilt burned deep inside, because she knew she’d have to tell what she’d learned to Vivian—sooner rather than later. But it was her strong work ethic that just might tear her in two. Her dedication demanded she do what was right for Eternity Designs; her loyalty demanded she do anything Vivian asked of her.
“Though hiring and firing is Vivian’s department for now,” he continued, his voice deceptively benign, “be aware you wouldn’t be in this office if I didn’t want you to be.” He stopped an arm’s length from her, bringing the icy heat of his gaze closer, stinging her conscience. “You have your own reasons for being loyal to Vivian.”
She heard the implied question behind his statement. She swallowed, the urge to speak unnerving. How could she describe all Vivian had done for her, the hands-on coaching and molding of her abilities? She opted for short and sweet.
“Vivian saw my willingness to do a job right, even as a simple secretary. To uphold the ideals of this company.”
“Where tradition and style forever align,” Sloan murmured.
A slight smile tugged her lips. Her chin lifted. She knew her intentions here were right, no matter what anyone else thought. Pride in her hard work, in pulling herself up from the bottom rung of the ladder, refused to let him condemn her loyalties. “Yes.”
Sloan stepped even closer. The urge to retreat exploded in her belly. Her muscles jumped to high alert, tightening in preparation for flight.
“I, too, value hard work, initiative and loyalty.” He paused, as if choosing his words carefully. “Just don’t forget who you work for now.”
The pressure of his stare proved too much with Vivian’s expectations still flashing neon in Ziara’s brain. Her gaze fell, grazing his fit body to the tips of his Gucci dress shoes. A short nod was all she could manage.
She wasn’t likely to forget anything about Sloan.
Still, the need to push back rose. “Wanting to uphold the values of this company isn’t a bad thing. After all, it is the way your father wanted this business run.” She ignored the twinge of her conscience. The truth hurt. This time, she leaned closer to him. “People other than you are allowed to care about this place, you know.”
Something flashed across his face that she couldn’t quite read, but it encouraged her to push harder. Not for Vivian. Not for her job. For Eternity Designs. “If you would just tell me what you’re trying to do here instead of leaving me in the dark, then maybe I could help.”
He met her halfway, crowding into her personal space with a sexy grin. “You’ll have to try harder than that to access my…secrets.”
Sloan took a deep breath and wrestled with his libido for a moment before managing to lock it down. How could the simple sounds of Ziara at her desk turn him into a dirty old man? Well, not quite old, if the level of urgency he felt was anything to go by.
They had a long day ahead—he was pretty sure she was going to hate him by the time he was done, but as the saying went, he had to get rid of the old to make room for the new.
He would need Ziara’s help to carry out his plans without permanent damage. Robert and Anthony were indeed good designers, but designers who needed a serious shake-up. Vivian had offered Ziara for her expertise and he planned to conquer a large portion of his new territory today.