Shattered by the CEO(9)

By: Emilie Rose

Not Rand’s management style.

“Get me some furniture. Desk. File cabinets. Shelves. Tables. Wood, for godsakes. This pane of glass is useless. I want a decent chair—leather—rugs on the floor and comfortable visitor seating that doesn’t look like acrylic urinals. And send the IT team up to connect my laptop to the company network. My father may have refused to work with a computer, but I won’t work without one.”

“Yes, sir.” Her words snapped as sharp as a salute.

“I need hard copies of the press releases for the past five years, a current financial statement and a list of KCL’s officers and division heads within the hour. That’s all for now.”

She pivoted sharply and headed for the doorway, but then stopped and faced him again without speaking.

“Spit it out, Tara.”

“When are you moving in?”

Ah, yes, the other part of this ridiculous farce. Why had she demanded sex and cohabitation? What did she expect to gain if not a rich husband? He didn’t buy her too-busy-to-date story. A woman who looked like Tara wouldn’t lack dates or sexual partners if she wanted them.

But this time the scheming witch would fail.

“Tonight.” Damned if the hunger for her didn’t hit him hard in the gut. He desired her and he resented the hell out of her ability to yank his strings. “I want my own bedroom.”


“You’ll get laid, Tara. But I won’t sleep in your bed, hold you afterward or pretend we’re a happy couple. I’m living under your roof because you’ve given me no choice. Don’t forget that. Not for one second. I certainly won’t.”

She paled, nodded and quickly left him, driving home the fact that he really was a chip off the old block.

A real son of a bitch.

The voices in the KCL cafeteria petered out as soon as Tara entered. Heads turned and she found herself under the scrutiny of more than a hundred pairs of eyes.She recognized a few familiar faces scattered among a sea of new ones and forced a smile. The buzz of conversation suddenly resumed. Apparently the employees who’d tapped into the gossip grapevine felt duty-bound to update those who hadn’t.

Mitch’s words replayed in her head. You and Tara disappeared on the same day.

She hadn’t known. She’d deliberately sought a job outside the travel industry and had skipped the business and travel sections of the newspaper so she wouldn’t hear talk about the Kincaids. She hadn’t even read Everett’s obituary. And now she and Rand were returning to KCL on the same day and working together. Tongues would wag for sure—especially if word of their living arrangements leaked out. That was one part of the plan she hadn’t thought through.

Chilling doubt crept over her. Had she made a mistake?

No. When she’d been with Rand, he’d made her feel special, as though he couldn’t get enough of her or wait to see her again. She’d felt the same way about him. He’d been a part of her life that had been carefree, happy and fun. Her life was none of those things now. She was tired of being alone and she wanted to feel connected again.

She only hoped those old feelings were still there, waiting to be nurtured back to life. From the quiver of awareness she experienced each time he was near, she had to believe that was the case. And today for the first time in ages she’d awoken looking forward to the day instead of counting the hours until it ended.

She crossed the bright and spacious cafeteria, and headed toward the food line. Kincaid’s had always pampered its employees with first-rate amenities. Tara had loved working here.

Despite rumors from the business community to the contrary, she’d always believed Everett Kincaid to be a decent guy. Her former boss had offered her the gentle affection she’d never received from her own absentee father. When her mother was diagnosed it had seemed natural to seek Everett’s advice. He’d offered a solution. Move in. Let him take care of everything. But the idea of sleeping with him when she still loved his son…

She pushed down the icky feeling and reminded herself Everett had been lonely and looking for companionship and a woman who didn’t have her sights set on being the next Mrs. Everett Kincaid. Tara had been a logical choice. They worked well together and respected each other. And Tara had needed the kind of financial help only someone with Everett’s deep pockets could afford.

But Tara ultimately hadn’t had the stomach to accept his offer, and she hated herself for being weak when her mother needed her. Weak where Rand had been strong.

The hum of conversation died again as Tara picked up a tray and silverware. She glanced over her shoulder toward the entrance and saw Rand. Almost as one the other employees’ gazes bounced from him to her and back again, like spectators of a tennis match waiting to see the next shot.

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