Authors: Felicia X. Scully
This book is a work of fiction. References to real people, events, establishments, organizations, or locales are intended only to provide a sense of authenticity, and are used fictitiously. All other characters, and all incidents and dialogue, are drawn from the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real.
BLITZ. Copyright © 2014 by S.C.O.R.C.H All rights reserved. This book may not be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission, other than brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. AMAZON EDITION
Cover Design: Scorched Designs
And to think we thought it’d never happen.
I’ve made a deal with the devil and we just happen to be related. Harsh, I know. Especially considering my pseudo Satan doubles as the gorgeous raven-haired, Reese Clarke. My cousin. My savior. Who is currently strapped to a bunch of tubes and monitors at the local hospital.
Damn it. This one’s for you, Reese. I owe you, after all. But, after this, we’re square.
I side-glance myself in the elevator mirror and take a deep breath. My hair looks stupid. I can’t pull off tight buns and pants suits. I’m a ponytail and tracksuit kind of girl. The occasional pair of skinny jeans and a cute blouse when I’m trying to sex it up. But this? It’s like a kid playing dress up.
Shit. I look like an idiot. I can’t do this. What was I thinking?
This is it. That’s what I was thinking. The only way out of this mess. The only way to keep our heads above water. How ironic that I’m already in over my head? I could give up now. I probably should have given up in the first place. Just did what Ma said. Let things run their course. ‘Reese will put things right once she gets back to normal. She’ll kick all their asses.’ That’s all I’ve been hearing lately. I level my chin. I don’t buy it. I know my cousin like no one else. This will break her and I have to fix it. I love my cousin. Like a sister. She’s kept all my secrets and she’s always been there. Now it’s my turn.
The elevator door chimes and my respiratory system refuses to cooperate. Not to mention my legs. I can’t move. No, wait. I can. Because I’m trembling like a leaf. But I don’t want to go forward. There has to be another solution.
God, I hate my life. I hate that I’ve been dragged into this stupid business. I hate that I have to track down a stupid football player just so I can live my dream, so I can save Reese’s. I release a slow steady breath and slip out of the elevator just as it begins to close.
They stand in a mini huddle in the middle of the lobby, like they’re plotting to take down the other team. And so far they’ve been successful. I stare hard at William Mahr. Willing his perfectly coiffed hair to spontaneously combust—possibly take him with it. Fuck. I loathe that asshole. How can such a pretty face harbor such an evil underbelly? Oh that’s right, it’s like his third one. No one knows the real Willie Mahr—everything behind the wrinkle free skin, gray eyes and bleach-white veneers has long been ironed out. Along with his god damn soul. Vultures. All of them.
I hurry past them keeping my head and down push through the doors. In the restaurant across the street is our future. The only thing that will ensure Reese’s place on the throne. Or at least the safety of her bank account.
I’ve never met the man in person but according to her, he’s a football god. Every agent and their mother is finding religion these days. Every last one, bowing at the feet of the top ranked draft prospect.
Reese predicted it. Just like she predicts everything. She’s been tracking his career since his first year at UDub. Willie was the one who told her she was crazy. That Ray didn’t have the gumption to make in the NFL. Now look at him. Sniffing around just like everyone else.
Ray is it—savior number two and I have to get to him before he jumps ship like the rest of them. Not like he was ever on board to begin with. I shake my head. Reese cultivates. It’s what she does. He didn’t officially sign, but he was going to. They all do. She’s the best in the business. She can charm just about anyone willing to give a few seconds of his or her time.
I jet across the street. According to my source, they’ve just arrived. I’m taking a huge risk meeting them out in the open like this, but I learned a long time ago, there’s no better place to hide your dirty dealings. And I sure am filthy. I close my eyes and take another deep breath. I could get in a lot of trouble for this. Sure, I’ve covered my tracks, but what if it rains? Or a gust of wind comes and blows it all to hell?
Stop with the drama, Sydney. They won’t notice until it’s too late. It’s not like Willie doesn’t use the company tabs for dates and other unsavory conduct. You’re good. This is all in the name of Reese. You’re going to sign this guy but to do it you have to be brave. Fearless. A fucking pit-bull.
Thirty seconds. That’s all it will take. Just keep them listening. That’s what she always says. If their eyes are still on you after thirty, you’ve got them.
I step into the restaurant my hands fisted at my sides. No matter how much my brain keeps telling me I can do this, my body is doing everything to convince me otherwise.
“Do you have a reservation?”
The girl that greets me pulls off business sexy far better than I. She’s petite, but not in a little kid sort of way like me. She’s got more of an Eva Mendez-Kelly Ripa thing going on. Sleek, shiny blond hair, perfect little plump lips and a killer body that doesn’t look like it’s drowning in Mom’s suit.
I clear my throat, and offer a quick nod. “Uh, yeah. I…I’m here with—I’m with Baldwin & Mahr, party of four.”
“Okay.” She glances down at the clipboard. “I’ve got a party of six here. But most have them have already left.”
Damn it. I’ve been stupid not to check. Why wouldn’t there be other meetings here? Maybe no one will recognize me in this suit. I bite back the laughter. Not likely.
“Yes,” I say. “This is a different reservation. In the private dining room.”
“Oh, yes. I’m so sorry. I see it here now. Party of four in The Boardroom.”
Perfect. “Is Mr. Carlson here yet?” I ask, secretly wishing I've been misled.
By the looks of it, you can’t see much from the kitchen. Maybe this is a false alarm. Maybe I have enough time to get myself together before I make the biggest move of my life. God, I’m so sweaty. It’s damn hot in here.
“He certainly is.” A small smile appears on her lips and she tosses a glance over her shoulder. “God, I’d kill for a job like yours,” she says quietly.
Not exactly a compliment, most people would. Literally.
I thank her as she leads the way. I’m not even paying attention, just following along like a lost child, and when we approach a near empty room, I swallow a gasp and do my best to neutralize the shock on my face.
In retrospect, I probably should have gone with a table in the common area. I was trying to be business-like, instead I’ve probably managed to blow through half the company’s dining budget on a brunch for four people. I’m starving. But I’m not going to eat. I’ve already spent enough.
My mind wanders to the five thousand bottle of vodka I sent to the Carlson’s six weeks ago. Specialty vodka for a minister, his wife and his goody-two-shoes jock of a son. I’m really beginning to look like an ass.
At the end of a long banquet table is periwinkle-blue-eyed, older blond man in a suit and a small dark haired woman beside him. Standing beside his chair, is another man, but all I can see is the back of his head. From the healthy head of dark brown hair, broad shoulders and the way the waitress practically drools when she passes by him, I know he’s my target. I’m finally in the presence of the infamous StingRay Carlson and I need to make it count.
The flirty waitress places my menu on the table, her eyes still on Ray. She glances up briefly. “Let me know when you’re ready to order.”
“Thank you,” I say, my tongue sticking to the roof of my mouth, as I inch toward the table. “Some water would be nice, please.”
She nods eagerly, then takes her time as she pours me a tall glass and places it at my place setting.
I creep closer. Manners Sydney. You can do this. I turn my gaze first on the woman. She peers back, studying me from head to toe, then leans in to whispers something to the man at the head of the table. He offers me a slight smile. My eyes finally shift to the main attraction and my resolve completely crumbles when he turns around.
I’ve made assumptions about this man. What he’d look like. How he’d act. I’ve made up an entirely different person in my mind. One I was all too familiar with. One I could easily hate. He is supposed to be exactly like the guys back home. Ruffian cowboys with rugged looks I never considered quite handsome. A scruffy face, cocky confidence, expectant admiration.
Ray's face is smooth shaven. His crystal blue eyes sparkle like a shimmering swimming pool. He’s not as beefy as he looks on TV either. Due to the lack of protective gear, I gather. He’s wearing a navy blue shirt that fits snug across his muscled chest, topped with a blazer that he has rolled up at the sleeves. Despite the blue jeans, belt buckle and trademark boots, he looks nothing like the boys back home, I’ve grown to loathe. He’s a cross between a Texas Ranger and a fucking Adonis.
A football god, that also happens to be kind of beautiful.
As he stares back at me, every word of the speech I’ve prepared is lost. Somewhere in a deep crevice of my brain. The place where sexiness, savviness and brilliance go to die.
“I’m sorry.” It’s the woman who speaks first, her harsh gaze still poring over me. “You are?”
My skin flashes hot and I suddenly can’t stand. I grasp the back of the closest chair. It’s two seats down from them. A bad choice, I know, but I’m still sweating and I probably smell like ass. The chair scrapes across the floor, making an obnoxious nail-on-chalk-board type tune that makes me want to leave, right then and there. Instead, I settle into my seat, keeping my gaze on Ray.
“Hello, Mr. Carlson, Mrs. and…uh, Mr. Carlson.”
Shit. I should have shaken his hand. Introduce yourself, Sydney. That’s the first goddamn rule.
Ray smiles and nods in response. “Hello.” I am completely humiliated when he picks up the glass of water I requested, walks over and places it in front of me.
I suck in a sharp breath, as he settles into his chair and angles to face me. They are all watching. And I am failing.
“What did you say your name was?” Mrs. Carlson squints at me.
“I’m Sydney Bucco, assistant for Reese Clarke. I’m so sorry Miss Clarke couldn’t make it here today but I wanted to assure you that you are still her number one priority. She is very excited about the possibility of working with you and well, you know as well as I do, she’s been following your career for the past four years. Even before she started at Baldwin & Mahr. She’s your biggest fan and your greatest supporter. It is directly in her best interest to get you the best deal there is.”
Mrs. Carlson raises her eyebrows and glances from Ray to me. Carlson Senior doesn’t say anything and Ray just continues to watch me, his blue eyes fixed on my every move, his hands clasped in front of him.