Biting down on her lip, she scrolled through her schedule. There were no meetings this week. Ruby was handling the media for a charity that Dick in a Box was participating in, but she had a feeling that she was going to be assigned a new client. A local high-priced prostitution ring had been busted over the weekend and rumor had it that several politicians and sports players were on the lists as clients. The phone at the office had been ringing off the hook. Damage-control time.
She smoothed a hand over her head and flipped her ponytail back over her shoulder. She had a stash of rubber bands and pins in her desk but hadn’t pinned her hair up completely. It was strange feeling the weight of her hair.
A knock on her door drew her attention. “Come in.”
The door opened and the first thing Alana saw was a bushel of roses. Not half a dozen or a dozen, it was a freaking bushel of velvety red petals and damp green stems, carefully arranged among baby’s breath and placed in the largest glass vase she’d ever seen.
Her heart leaped into her throat as she started to rise. “Uh, I think you have the wrong office.”
“Miss Gore?” the deliveryman asked, his young eyes peeking out from behind the enormous arrangement. “That’s you, right? They told me it was this office.”
She gaped. “That’s me, but…”
“But these are for you.” He headed toward her, placing them on the desk. “Careful. They’re heavy.”
Her eyes scanned the roses and tiny white flowers as she stood there in a stupor. She didn’t see a card, but she hadn’t realized that in time. The deliveryman was already gone.
Sitting down slowly, she stared at the magnificent, beautiful display of roses. This…this had to cost a pretty penny and she couldn’t even fathom who’d sent them to her. Surely it could not be…
It was time to definitely get some fresh air.
Even though it was near lunch, she figured a quick walk to the coffee store two shops down would be perfect. Either that or sitting here staring at the roses, wondering if Chandler had sent them to her. Logically it had to be him, but why would he do that?
This weekend flashed through her thoughts.
Pushing to her feet, she grabbed her purse and headed out of the office. She looked for Ruby to see if she wanted to come, but she was currently MIA, and continued on her way. Once outside, she stopped and hated that the new habit she had was to check out all the surrounding areas before doing anything. It made her feel…paranoid to look for suspicious people.
Of course, there was no one and she made the quick trip to the coffee shop, ended up ordering an iced tea, and just as she turned, she was once again floored by spotting someone she never thought she’d ever see again.
Or at least hoped not.
Brent King, the aggressive dickhead that had hung around the actress she’d worked with was standing at one of the round tables by the window, fiddling with his phone. He hadn’t seen her yet or maybe he had, but didn’t recognize her.
Unease blossomed low in her belly. She knew he had ties to D.C., but seeing him here unnerved her, especially so close to her work. The first thing she needed to do when she saw Chandler was tell him about Brent.
Heading straight for the door like a speed-walker, she almost had her hand on the bar to push it open when she heard her name.
Squeezing her eyes shut, she toyed with the idea of ignoring him, but she exhaled loudly and faced him. For a moment she couldn’t move or speak while he stared at her with open dislike. Before—before all the stalker crap—it wouldn’t have bothered her, but a chill washed over her.
What if it was him? And she was standing right there?
Pulling herself together, she swallowed hard as she raised her chin. “Mr. King, I’m surprised to see you here.”
A sneer appeared on his handsome face. “Why the f**k would you be surprised?” he responded, and she flinched, realizing people were starting to stare. “You got all up in my business before. You know I got family here.”
She did, but that’s what being polite got you. “Well, I can’t say it’s nice to see you, so…whatever.” She twisted back to the door, but his words stopped her cold.
“I cannot wait to see you get what’s coming to you.”
Alana whipped back at him, her heart pounding in her chest. “What does that mean?”
He shrugged as he sauntered past her, toward the counter. He bumped her shoulder—knocked it hard. “Bitches like you always get what they deserve.”
Several seconds passed as she stared at the back of his head as he went back to paying attention to his phone, then she spun and quickly got her ass back to her office, back to the bushel of roses.
Brent could’ve just been talking out of his ass. He’d always been mouthy, but what if it was a threat? A not so veiled threat? She should really call Chandler.
She was still staring at the roses when she heard Ruby’s gasp from her open office door. “Holy crap, that’s a lot of roses,” she said, hurrying closer to the desk to inspect them. Her wide eyes met Alana’s. “Does this have anything to do with who’s on his way up the elevator?”
Alana stiffened, half afraid. “Who’s coming up the elevator?”
“One incredibly sexy Chandler Gamble.”
Her eyes darted back to the roses. It was him—he’d sent the roses. Oh my God, she didn’t know what to think, but her Godforsaken stupid heart started flipping in her chest even as sweat broke out across her palms and forehead, and really, she needed to be thinking about Brent. An urge to get up and race toward the stairwell was hard to overcome. The only reason she didn’t was because that reaction would be hard to explain to Ruby.
“I thought you two were just friends,” demanded Ruby, and then in a much lower voice, “hussy.”
She shot Ruby a look a second before a broad, tall form filled her doorway. Her poor heart did a cartwheel as she gripped the edge of her desk. If her heart continued this way, she was going to have a heart attack.
Chandler looked amazing. No big surprise there.
His dark hair was down, falling in soft waves ending just above his shoulders. He was wearing an old AC/DC band shirt and the dark, worn material stretched against his shoulders and chest. There was a bulge under his shirt, along the lip. He was packing.
Packing? Listen to her. Since when did she turn gangsta? Her brain was fried, and the way the jeans he wore appeared to be cut to fit his body alone hadn’t helped.
“What are you doing here?” She immediately winced at how rude it came across and not just to her. And it was a stupid question. He was her bodyguard. Though he couldn’t hang out in the office, he’d escorted her to work and she knew he’d been nearby all morning.
Ruby’s gaze sharpened as she silently exited the room. On the other hand, Chandler look unfazed.
“I thought you’d like to do lunch today,” he said, strolling up to her desk and the enormous set of roses.
It took her several seconds to respond. “Well, I haven’t eaten yet, but you don’t have to come—”
“You hired me as your bodyguard,” he said, his voice low enough that it wouldn’t be overheard. “Therefore, if you are going out in public, I need to be with you.”
Her thoughts swam. After this weekend and now the roses, she seemed to have lost some brain cells. “I was just going to order in.”
“No need now.”
She curled her hands around the edge of her desk. “I went to get coffee earlier, and I ran into Brent King.”
He’d been staring at the roses, but his sharp gaze swung back to her. “He’s on your list. I’ve had a hell of time tracking that actress’ friends down. Did he speak to you?”
Nodding, she told him about the exchange, and based on the way his eyes narrowed, it didn’t look good. “Now that I know he’s here, I’m going to run some searches.” He glanced at the roses again, frowning slightly. “Nice flowers.”
“They are.” She flushed, realizing she hadn’t thanked him for them, and that made her feel like something that rhymed with über-witch. “You didn’t, um, have to send them, but thank you.”
Chandler’s icy blue gaze moved to hers.
She swallowed. “They’re very beautiful, but I’m not sure why you’d send them. I mean, what happened between us? Well, I hired you for this job, and that’s all it is.” As Alana continued to ramble on, Chandler’s brows inched up his forehead. She squirmed in her seat, hating how idiotic she sounded. “Anyway, thank you, but you shouldn’t have.”
A moment passed and then Chandler leaned over, putting his hands on her desk. She couldn’t help but stare at those long fingers and remember how they’d felt inside her. Heat burned low in her belly.
Oh God, that was so not the direction her thoughts needed to go.
“First off,” he began, his voice still calmly level. “What happened between us Saturday night didn’t have anything to do with you hiring me. And guess what, it won’t be the last time, either.”
Her eyes narrowed as she opened her mouth. How dare he think he could just say that and it be true?
“And you damn well know it wasn’t,” he continued before she could say anything. “Secondly, do those flowers have a name on them?”
At the change of subject to somewhat safer topics, she glanced at the roses. “Well, no, but—”
“It would’ve had a note if they were from me.” Lifting one hand, he cupped his fingers under her chin. Her skin tingled at his touch, but his next words were like setting a fire to her blood. “Probably something along the lines of how I couldn’t wait to taste you again and I’m not talking about your mouth.”
Her breath left her in a rush. No man ever spoke to her like that. And no person had ever been able to render her speechless.
“So the flowers weren’t from me.” He dropped his hand, but his mouth replaced his fingers a second later. “But I’m dying to know who sent them.”
It happened so fast she didn’t have a chance to pull away. At least that was what she was telling herself. His lips brushed her chin, as soft as one of the rose petals inches from them, and then his mouth was on hers, kissing her, working at the seam of her mouth until her lips parted, allowing him entry. He tasted of rich coffee and something else sinful and all him. A moan caught in her throat as he flicked the roof of her mouth.
“Fuck,” he ground out, breaking the kiss and tearing himself away.
Left panting and scattered, she watched him stalk toward her door. Was he leaving? Nope. He shut the door and locked it, then faced her. The hunger in the tight line of his full, expressive lips and the heavily hooded look to his eyes stole her breath.
She stood, her legs weak. “Chandler, what are you doing?”
“No talking,” he growled, prowling around the corner of her desk.
Her eyes widened as he pulled her chair back. “Excuse me? No talking? Who in the f**k—?”
His mouth was on hers once more, but this kiss… Good God, she’d never been kissed like this before. Thoughts of Brent King and random roses vanished in an instant. It was like he was staking a claim, marking her as his with his mouth and tongue. She had no idea how that was possible, but she felt claimed. Knew that she was. There was no fighting it, not when his tongue rolled over hers as he pulled her against him. She could feel his erection burning hot against her belly, pushing through layers of clothing.
Chandler broke off the intense, fiery kiss and framed her face. He placed feather-light kisses across her cheeks and over her forehead, fogging up her glasses. His hands slid down her sides and for a moment, she forgot where she was and her earlier concern about this happening again and what it would mean for her. Her pulse was racing as his lips found hers once more.
As if he was trying to drive her absolutely senseless, he upped his tactics, slipping his hands down the outside of her thighs, sending currents of heat through her.
“I am so f**king glad I convinced you to buy these skirts,” he whispered against her swollen lips. “And you wore one today. Perfect.”
Before she could question why it was perfect for today, his hands slipped over the bare skin of her thighs. Pantyhose were the work of the devil, so she’d always sworn them off. Feeling his hands roaming up to her hips, under her skirt, left her feeling warm and sultry. His fingers hooked around the fragile material of her panties.
A burst of laughter from somewhere outside her office startled her back into reality. “Chandler,” she hissed, grabbing his wrists. “What are you doing?”
“What does it look like?” A wicked glint filled his blue eyes.
Her grip tightened. “We can’t do this.”
“We can.” Easily breaking her hold, he tugged down her panties. A wide grin broke out across his face as she gasped. “And we will.”
“Chandler!” she whispered, her heart pounding. How in the world had she ended up in this position?
He gripped her h*ps and lifted her up on her desk, her bare cheeks right on her desk calendar. She’d never be able to look at Monday through Sunday the same way again. Or her desk. Or her office. But then he had her panties off, slipping them into the pocket of his jeans with a wink.
Heat flooded her face. “Chandler, we really—”
“I’m hungry.” He kissed her deeply, stealing away her protests.
“Then let’s…” She cried out softly as his finger brushed through her wetness. “Then let’s go get something… Oh God,” she moaned as his finger slipped inside her. “We should go get something to eat.”