Authors: Kat Faitour
Tags: #Contemporary Romance
Copyright © 2015 by Kat Faitour
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
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To Todd. For believing in possibilities. But most of all, for believing in me.
And to Gidget.
Tamara Lush, fellow author and critique partner. Thank you for your generous spirit and gracious suggestions. Not only did you help me grow as a writer, but you also helped make this book better than it would have been. Again, thank you.
Bev Katz Rosenbaum for your early guidance and suggestions.
Editor — Megan Cavanaugh (
Cover design by James,
failed a test.
Job interviews were simply meetings between new people to determine whether a mutually beneficial relationship could be arranged. To be successful, one should be able to read those new people, determine their needs, and assess their preferences. Then one should establish oneself as a competent, even pleasing, solution. As a test, it was simple.
“Thank you for your time.”
She stood, shaking the hands of each person on the interview panel before her. She was calm, even serene, as she followed each of them to the exit. She contained her smile to one of placid professionalism, fighting the grin that wanted to break free.
“Devon, we’d like to discuss a few things before we take you to lunch. We’ll step out, but make yourself comfortable here for the time being. There’s tea, coffee or any cold refreshments you’d like.” The vice president of Human Resources waved a hand to a nearby counter before turning to leave.
Devon busied herself making an espresso before taking a seat. Crossing one long leg over the other, she swung it in a rapid rhythm before catching herself and tucking both feet beneath her. Looking around, she took in the stylish and sleek setting, appreciating the minimalist neutrality.
“External clutter promotes internal clutter,” her dad would always mutter while clearing out any knick-knacks she’d accumulated before another move. Never one to be overly sentimental, he would add, “Keep the mind focused, Devvie. Clear out the fluff.” She’d argued, but he’d been right, she supposed.
A clear head had gotten her to Sterling Enterprises interviewing for her dream job as one of their financial economists. And she had it; she knew it. All that remained was closing the deal with the top man himself, Bennett Sterling.
She smiled, taking a sip of darkly brewed espresso. A faint groan escaped her. It was the first coffee she’d had since arriving in London that was strong and bitter enough to suit her tastes. She lowered her head to inhale its toasted aroma, closing her eyes in ecstasy.
She barely had time to register the faint stir of air as a man hurried past to deftly place a small cup under the machine for a quick caffeinated double shot. Her eyes widened to take in the sheer breadth of him before registering his height. He easily topped out over six feet. He appeared absolutely solid and Devon leaned forward slightly, unconsciously anticipating how the rest of him might appear. For surely no one could be gifted with a face to match the rest. Shifting, she forgot her earlier poise and crossed one leg back over the other.
Hearing the movement, he startled, barely refraining from bobbling the small cup as he turned to see who was behind him.
Devon didn’t notice because she was too busy taking him in. He was all strong bones and lines, from forehead to jaw with only the faintest dimple in his chin to show any softness. Black hair waved back from his forehead where faint lines marked his age — somewhere in his early thirties, she guessed. But it was his eyes that arrested. Navy blue seemed too obvious a description, their intensity accented by sooty black lashes.
She shivered. And suddenly, she realized she was staring, and had been for quite some time. Heat flooded her cheeks and she briefly glanced down, tightening her hands on the armrests of the chair. She rose, extending her hand. “I’m—”
“There you are!” A petite blonde burst into the room. “I’ve been looking all over for you…” She stuttered to a halt, and then took a quick step closer, her mouth turning down when no one seemed to register her presence. Finally, she angled her body to interrupt their connection and firmly grasped the coffee cup loosely held in her employer’s hand.
The man shook his head, before abruptly focusing on his personal assistant’s agitated face. She tugged on the coffee cup once more before he released it, one black brow lifted in question at her urgency.
“We need to go. We’re late.” She snapped out the words, setting the cup down on the counter before turning to lead the way back out.
Devon’s eyes traced him as he followed the other woman from the room. Just as he reached the door, he turned, and his navy eyes captured hers once more. He hesitated before turning to stride from the room.
Bennett’s long legs quickly ate up the distance his PA was trying to put between them. Her gaze flicked upward as he easily moved beside her, and he swallowed a smile as her eyes narrowed in annoyance. Natalie Enfeld was a superior assistant, his operational right hand. One of her finer qualities was her ability to put people in their place.
His best strategy was distraction.
“Are all the files ready for the presentation? Did you go over the slides one last time?”
He nearly bumped into her when she abruptly stopped, just shy of the conference room where they’d be meeting with clients. “Bennett, I am hardly new at this. I have always checked the files and gone over the slides before every presentation for the last five years.”
This time, he couldn’t hold back. His eyes creased as a smile lifted the corners of his mouth in appreciation. “It never hurts to check, Natalie. No insult intended.”
She returned his humor with a flat look. “None taken. But I believe I’m the one who should be concerned. You seem…
His smile slipped. He knew she was referring to his fascination with the other woman. He wasn’t ready to dissect that, certainly not with his PA. He cocked his head, then shook it in denial.
“Not at all. I assure you I’m perfectly fine.” He pulled open the boardroom door, ushering her in before him. “Let’s do this. We still have a full day ahead of us.”
As the meeting neared its close, Bennett finally allowed himself to drift. Not since Olivia had anyone taken his breath so. And yet, even Olivia hadn’t caught him at first glance. He frowned, unable to remember the first time they’d met. Absently, he scratched his jaw, for once trying to call up the features he’d tried so long to extinguish from his memory.
He was blank.
No, not true. It wasn’t Olivia, but he could still vividly see pale, flawless skin and barely tinted full lips. Regal cheekbones had flushed with embarrassment when she’d caught herself staring. Masses of dark, tumbling hair, pulled back into a clasp. He’d wanted to free it, plunge his hands into it, draw her toward him.
Her eyes had captured him — pale gray, nearly colorless. They’d swirled like fog in those moments, and he’d been sure she was as lost as he. Until Natalie’s interruption, when he’d lost his concentration.
He abruptly straightened. He didn’t know who she was. Not even her name.
He turned to Natalie, ready to make his excuses. As he opened his mouth, the building’s power gave one brief surge then shut down into midday darkness.
And then the fire alarms went off.
Devon silently but sternly lectured herself in the bathroom mirror. How could she have stared like that? It wasn’t as if she’d never seen a good-looking man before. Her best friend, Dominic Martin, was the closest thing to godlike perfection a man could get. They’d grown up together but she only saw him as a brother figure. Yet, she’d ogled a stranger like some hormonal fool.
She hoped, valiantly, she wouldn’t meet him again. Everything had gone perfectly thus far; she prayed Sinclair luck would hold. And skill. She was here to prove that skill, hard work, and intelligence could go just as far. She nodded into the mirror, affirming herself.
Just then the lights shut off and the fire alarms sounded.
She looked up, casting an appeal toward the now dark bathroom’s ceiling. “Okay, I’ll take the luck. Some luck please.”
Of course, nothing happened. She felt her way to the exit, gently pushing the door open. The hallway was shadowy but not nearly as dark, so she gingerly stepped out, looking around. There was no one, and she guessed everyone had evacuated or was doing so. The alarms rang, unabated.
Remembering her way, she continued to the elevators she’d taken earlier, knowing a stairwell must be nearby. Seeing the door, she cautiously approached, not sure what to expect. There was no smoke, no heat anywhere so far. She pressed her palm to the exit, reassured to find it cool.
Looking back, she was never sure what made her throw open that door so forcefully. But whether it was relief or panic, she gave it a shove, moving forward at a near run. Immediately, the door sprung back and she caught it before it could slam shut again. Muffled cursing followed an indistinct thud.
Pushing the door open wider, she peered around to get a look. A man stood, slightly stooped with one hand covering the lower half of his face, catching the blood that flowed in a steady stream from his nose.