Authors: Skye Michaels
“Morgan, while you’re busy here, I think I’ll sneak into my office for a couple of hours. I need to see what’s going on there. Do you want to meet for lunch?”
“I think I need to stay here today, babe. Why don’t we have dinner at my place tonight and have a quiet night in. We can go out to dinner Wednesday night and maybe stop by the club for a session. I don’t want to let that slide.”
The thought of a scene with Morgan at Le Club Eastside made Harper nervous, and she was not unhappy to put it off a day or two. The ambiance at the club was definitely darker and more serious than anything they had encountered aboard the ship or on Sugarloaf Island. She wondered if she would be able to handle it. Well, the time to find out was now. She could see that Morgan saw her hesitation when he walked over to her chair, bent down, brushed her hair aside, and kissed her neck.
“It will be fine. Don’t look so worried. This is me, remember?”
“Okay,” she said tentatively. “Dinner at your place tonight sounds good. I could use a little down time, and we’ll plan on Wednesday at Le Club.”
Morgan Court’s Co-Op Apartment, Fifth Avenue, New York, New York, Monday Evening, November 25, 2013
Harper had to grin to herself when Morgan opened the door for her at six thirty. He had obviously just showered. He was barefoot and wore a pair of soft old jeans and a black T-shirt that was molded to his body like a glove. What made her smile was the message emblazoned diagonally across his chest. It stated “Obey” in a bold white script.
“You are too much. You never miss an opportunity to plug your cause.” But inside she thought,
“Branding is everything.” He pulled her into his arms and kissed her. She sank into it as his muscled arms enfolded her. He unbuttoned her heavy coat and helped her shed a few layers. “How about a glass of wine? I’ve got steaks ready to grill, and Mrs. J. left us a Caesar salad in the fridge.”
“That sounds great. A glass of cabernet would be wonderful.” She wandered into the state-of-the-art kitchen and sat on a stool at the granite island. “You have the best kitchens for a guy who says he doesn’t cook much.”
“Mrs. J. does most of the cooking around here and at the beach. As I said, I mostly nuke, grill, or order in.” He reached into the gleaming stainless steel subzero refrigerator for chilled glasses before opening the wine storage unit under the cabinet and pulling out a cold bottle of her favorite Cabernet, which he competently uncorked and poured.
“Ummm. Delicious. I’m starved. I ended up getting involved with stuff on my desk at the office and never did order lunch.”
“Me either. McGregor had some preliminary information on Eastern Shore but nothing startling yet. I think he’s going to have to go a lot deeper to get what we need.”
“I did some poking around the state and county websites for licensing information and corporate records. Of course, there are corporations and limited liability companies five layers deep forming the corporate veil. None of the names meant anything to me, but I think you should give them a glance in case something rings a bell with you.”
“Good idea. How is everything at your office? Any pressure to come back to work immediately?”
“No, I hit it lucky. The senior partners are at their annual retreat in Aruba, and I was able to skate in under the radar. I did speak briefly with the managing partner of the firm that’s trying to recruit me, but I haven’t decided on anything yet. I don’t want to jump from the frying pan into the fire, so to speak. Most of the big firms run the same way. Billable hours, billable hours, billable hours!”
“Why don’t you open your own firm? You have a large pharmaceutical client for starters, and I’m sure a few of your other clients will follow you. That’s probably one of the reasons that other firm is pursuing you.”
“It’s so nice of you to say so, but I don’t know about raiding the firm’s clients.”
“Business is business, as long as you don’t do anything underhanded. They should have made sure you were happy. It’s part of the cost of doing business.” Morgan dropped the steaks onto the hot grill in the granite island, and they immediately began to sizzle. He pulled the Caesar salads out of the refrigerator, mixed the dressing, and then returned to the grill to turn the steaks. After grilling the steaks to medium-rare perfection, he said, “Let’s eat in the library. I lit a fire in the fireplace, and I love to watch the city lights. That’s one thing about this apartment I’ve never gotten tired of.”
“Your view is definitely magnificent.” She grinned to herself as she picked up her plate and glass and followed him out of the room.
This view is pretty magnificent, too. The man has a world-class ass, and you can take that to the bank
After dinner, as they sipped their wine and watched the view over Central Park and the city, Morgan turned to her and said, “You’re going to have to leave a few things here, you know. It’s just more convenient. I missed you in my bed last night.”
“Morgan, I am not ready to move in here yet.” She put her glass down on the coffee table next to their plates.
“Who said anything about moving in? I’m just asking you to leave some of your personal stuff here for convenience.” He grinned his devastating dimpled grin, and she could plainly see the wheels turning in his head. He definitely had an agenda, and she wasn’t sure she was ready for his plans. He turned her into his arms and kissed her until she forgot what she had been worrying about in the first place.
* * * *
Morgan knew he had some work to do here if he was going to get what he wanted. And that was Harper—full time in his bed and in his life. She was an amazing woman, and he didn’t plan to let her be the one that got away. He stood up, took her hand, and led her up the stairs to the master bedroom on the second floor of the duplex. Tomorrow was another day to attack all the problems, both personal and professional, that faced him. Tonight was his to enjoy with Harper in his arms.
Tuesday had passed without incident. On Wednesday morning Morgan was having breakfast in his apartment. Harper had left very early so she could stop by her brownstone to change and pick up clothes for their trip to the club that evening before meeting him at the office. He was on edge, waiting for something concrete on Eastern Shore, when he picked up a call from Harper.
“Well, the other shoe has dropped. The Associated Press has a story online this morning stating that Court Industries’ new diabetes drug is not only ineffectual, but dangerous to the Phase II trial participants. And guess whose byline is on the story.”
“What? That’s bullshit. While it’s true we haven’t had any results, and we both know why that is, there is no indication that the drug is dangerous. How could it be? They’re only getting sugar pills.”
“You’re getting sidetracked. The interesting thing is the byline—our old friend, Harmon Burke. I was expecting to see some fallout from the disappearance of your briefcase, but I was not expecting to see Burke’s name attached to the story.”
“That slimy little shit! I’m going to have John McGregor look into Burke. The Chinese delivery guy told me he had seen an old green Volvo parked in the dunes near the house on several occasions last weekend. I’m wondering what Burke drives.”
“You should definitely have McGregor look into his background and that rag he works for, but what do you think we should do about the article?”
“I think I’ll have to make some innocuous denial statement and do some damage control. I’ll possibly have to pull the plug on the trial for now, at least until we know who’s responsible for the sabotage. Joe Levine is going to be upset if I stop the trial.”
“Do you think that’s wise? Maybe you should make full disclosure. The trial participants have a right to know…”
“If I do that, we might not be able to find out who is responsible. They will know we’re looking for them and go underground, and that is unacceptable. Whoever it is might be able to slip away like a snake in the grass. Someone’s been fucking with me, and they’ve been doing it for a while. And I don’t like it. I’ll get my PR people working on a statement.”
“Maybe you should consider taking this to the FBI or the FDA.”
“Considering the problems we’ve had with the antitrust issue as well as other problems in the past, I’m not sure I want to involve the federal authorities just yet. I’d like to see what we can find out on our own first. I don’t think this is just a one-time problem, and it’s not going to go away on its own.”
* * * *
Harper was concerned. She understood Morgan’s desire to find out who had tampered with the Maxprotem trials, but she had other legal concerns. Basically she was worried about the huge potential for product liability actions here. As it stood, none of the trial participants had actually been receiving treatment for the disease, not just the participants who were to have been receiving the placebos. She could see a massive problem for Court Industries, and Morgan personally, if any of the participants suffered injury because of the company’s failure to disclose the problem in a timely fashion. She knew they were going to have to talk about this some more, and he probably wasn’t going to like what she had to say. Tonight they just might be having their first big argument, and she wasn’t looking forward to the experience.
* * * *
Harmon Burke was beside himself. And then some. Holy hot damn! He had finally gotten a national byline. So what if he couldn’t back some of his material up with hard facts, and the facts he had were stolen. It was true that the drug was ineffectual according to the report, but there was no evidence to back up his claim that it was dangerous. That worried him, but the article he had written for Cullen had needed some extra punch. Maurie had been happy with it and had sent it out to AP without any comment. The story had already been picked up by several of the New York papers, as well as
Harmon knew he was on the trail of a bigger story. He could smell blood, and he wasn’t going to back down. He planned to pick up his surveillance of Court and Cameron that afternoon when they left the office.
Morgan helped Harper into the low silver Jaguar. They had come down to the parking garage in the building’s elevator. Both wore long overcoats over their club apparel. It wouldn’t do for the conservative board of directors of his building to catch a glimpse of them duded out in BDSM wear. Morgan was in his standard black leather pants and vest over a naked chest. He had his mask in his pocket. Harper was wearing a short, tight, black satin dress that laced up the front from the crotch to the low-cut neckline and knee-high high-heeled boots. Her long black hair was spread over her shoulders, and she was wearing the platinum collar with the pavé diamond-encrusted heart and key that he had given her on the cruise. He’d had to swallow the saliva that flooded his mouth when she had come out of the bathroom.
“Have I told you, subbie, that you look delicious?”
“That would be ‘Mistress’ to you, sir.”
“Dream on, sub. I’m the Master here, and you’re the sub. Let’s not confuse the issue.” He grinned at her, knowing that she would be stewing inside, and he did so love to push her buttons.
He checked traffic as he pulled out onto the side street behind his building. Out of the corner of his eye he spotted an older, dark-green Volvo pull out of its parking space and follow him. If he hadn’t had a heads-up from Chan, he never would have noticed the nondescript car in the light evening traffic. Morgan headed downtown toward Le Club Eastside and kept an eye on the rearview mirror. The green car stayed behind him about two cars back.
“Looks like we have a tail. It’s the dark-green Volvo Chan mentioned to me on Sunday night. Don’t turn around. I think I’ll let him follow us and see if we can’t find out who it is.”
“Good idea.” Morgan watched her turn her head slightly and look in the side-view mirror. “Oh! I see him, but I can’t make out the driver. The headlights are obscuring my view.”
“Let’s just see what happens when we get to the club. Call the security desk and alert them. Find out who’s on the desk tonight.”
Morgan listened as she let the doorman at the club know that they might have a problem following them. “Liam, Morgan doesn’t want you to detain the person in the car. Let him follow us into the parking lot before you close the gate. We want to see who it is and what he does. Just be on the lookout. Thanks.” She turned to Morgan and said, “They’ll be ready for trouble.”
Le Club Eastside—Manhattan, Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York, Wednesday Evening, November 27, 2013
When they arrived on the Lower East Side and pulled through the high black iron gates into the heavily secured parking lot, the green Volvo was still behind them. Morgan parked the car near the back door of the club, and they went inside as though they did not know they had a tail. As soon as they were inside, they joined Liam behind the desk and watched the security monitors with him. Liam had closed the gates behind their guest, and whether he knew it or not, he was not going anywhere.
They watched as Harmon Burke cautiously exited his vehicle and looked around. The rear entrance to Le Club and the parking lot gave no clue as to what the warehouse building contained. The only signs said “No Trespassing” and “Danger/Enter at Your Own Risk.” Entry was usually gained by palm print at the gate and then again at the door, but Liam had left the door unlocked.