Shattered by the CEO(7)

By: Emilie Rose



Five years ago she’d made him forget every hard lesson he’d learned. She’d tempted him to break his vow to remain single and unattached.

He wouldn’t make the same mistake twice.

Tara Anthony couldn’t be trusted, and he was and always would be his father’s son. A chip off the old block. A selfish jerk to the core. A man incapable of fidelity.

One who could hurt a woman without a second thought.

A smile wobbled on her mouth. “If you’re paying me fifteen thousand dollars a month, then I won’t need anything else from you.”

He ripped his gaze from her damp lips. “Two weeks. I have to fly home and wrap up loose ends. I’ll be back on the sixteenth and our year will begin.”

And he hoped like hell he didn’t live to regret it.





Two



“D on’t waste my time.”

At the sound of his brother’s voice Rand set his laptop case on his father’s desk and turned toward the door. Mitch had followed him into the large office.Rand had expected his brother to be glad he’d shown up not ready to pick a fight on Rand’s first day on the job. “Excuse me?”

“Don’t set up shop here if you’re not going to stay the full year. If we’re going to lose KCL, then let’s make a quick, clean break and get on with our lives. Nadia is going to be miserable stuck in Dallas with nothing to do for twelve months. Don’t put her through that if you’re going to blow this.”

Nadia’s portion of the will required her to penthouse-sit and remain unemployed for a year. His sister would go crazy without something to keep her distracted from the memories that haunted her of the husband and child she’d lost.

Just one more reason to curse his old man, the sadistic snake.

“Mitch, I resigned from a job I enjoyed and put my condo on the market. I’m not going to quit. I’m here for the full three-hundred and sixty-five. If we lose KCL, it won’t be because I failed to do my part.”

Mitch’s disbelief was plain on his face. “Why come back now?”

“Because this time he isn’t going to win.”

His brother didn’t look convinced.

Rand shoved a hand into his pants pocket, withdrew his pocket-knife key chain and flicked it open. The blade flashed silver in the light as he pressed it to his fingertip. With the emotions churning through him he barely felt the prick.

“What in the hell are you doing?” Mitch demanded.

Red oozed from the cut. “You want me to sign in blood?”

“We’re not kids anymore, Rand. Blood vows don’t cut it. This is business. A multibillion-dollar business in case you’ve forgotten.”

Clearly he wasn’t going to erase five years of silence with their old childhood ritual. “I haven’t forgotten.”

Rand looked around for a tissue and saw nothing usable in his father’s Spartan corner office. He dropped his knife with a clatter on the desk and put pressure on the tiny wound with his thumb.

Movement drew his attention to the doorway. Tara, in a pale yellow dress with her gleaming hair scraped back tightly against her skull, stood in the opening. The severe style wasn’t unattractive, not with her bone structure, but he missed her golden curls. He shut down that port of thought. Her hair was no concern of his.

Tara’s blue gaze traveled from his open knife to the small amount of blood on his fingers, then met his. “I’ll find the first-aid kit.”

Mitch’s gaze tracked her retreat before returning to Rand. “Is she the reason you left?”

“I’m sure Dad spewed his own version of why I quit.”

“He said nothing. That’s why I’m asking you.”

Rand tried to mask his surprise. His father had loved to gloat. “I left because he took our competition too far.”

“How so?”

He stonewalled his brother with a look. Sleeping with KCL employees had always been frowned upon. Rand had known better, and to this day he didn’t know why he hadn’t been able to resist Tara’s alluring trap. Since he hadn’t been her supervisor, and therefore wouldn’t technically be breaking any rules, he’d chosen to ignore company policy.

“What exactly do you want, Mitch? Guarantees? Fine. I guarantee you I’ll see this through to the end.”

“Why should I believe you? You walked away five years ago without a word. One day you were here. The next you were gone and completely incommunicado. Hell, I didn’t even know if you were alive until your name surfaced on the letterhead of our competition.” Mitch’s eyes narrowed.

“Rumor had it you’d run away with Tara.”

Apparently the rumor mill hadn’t known Tara was two-timing him with his father. “You should know better than to listen to rumors.”

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