Can two nerdy doms tame a thief bent on stealing from them? Or will the red harlot take their hearts along with their plans?More info →
“What are you still doing here?”
McKenna looked up from the spreadsheet she’d been engrossed in for the last hour to notice the man walking toward the receptionist desk.
Sawyer Hamilton smiled over at her, and she couldn’t help but grin back. There was no doubt he was dedicated and intelligent—being half the powerhouse behind an engineering firm with his best friend tended to show that, not to mention his deep intelligent gaze. He was also drop-dead gorgeous, looking more like a Viking god than the geek he really was. His blond hair hung long around his face, his big, bright blue eyes stared into hers.
What she wouldn’t give to twine her fingers in that long hair or trace the defined line of his square jaw with her lips. A tiny sigh escaped from her lips. If only.
“Come on, it’s quitting time.” He placed two tube-shaped packages in the outgoing mail. Drafts of two more projects, ready for inspections. “Whatever you’re doing can wait till Monday.”
“It’s fine. I don’t mind.” In fact she was counting on it. “I want to get this report off to Mr. McKinsey before I leave. I promised I’d send it to him by the end of the day. It’s already five.”
“Ha, that old coot. I’m surprised he hasn’t already called screaming.”
“He’s not that bad.” McKenna glanced up at Sawyer, enjoying how his eyes sparkled back at her. Exactly what she’d been shooting for. “If you talk to him the right way, he can be very understanding.” She batted her eyelashes up at Sawyer, unable to stop the corners of her lips from curling up. McKinsey was a pussycat compared to some of the bears she’d been pitted against before. Like all men, he was easy to manipulate, with the right incentive.
Sawyer chuckled. “First week and you already have our most demanding customer eating out of the palm of your hand.” He leaned on the reception desk, invading her personal space. His clean soap smell and masculine aroma drifted across the air, warm and enticing. “I can’t wait to see what you’ll do next week.”
His dark, husky tone sent little tingles across her skin. Oh, he’d find out. Probably sooner than he wanted to. But she doubted after her next act he’d be interested in making kissy faces at her. Unless they were through bars.
“Sawyer, stop bothering the new girl.” Chris Brewer, Sawyer’s best friend and the other half of the Brewer and Hamilton Associates power team, strode into the lobby from the direction of his office.
The opposite of Sawyer, Chris’s gorgeous mocha skin displayed his Hispanic heritage. If he were a deity, he’d be an Incan god any woman would be all too happy to be sacrificed to.
“She’s the best the temp agency has ever sent us. I don’t want to get another one.” A heavy messenger bag dangled from his shoulder, no doubt full of designs to fill his weekend. If anyone painted a picture of a workaholic, it would be of Chris.
“That won’t happen.” Not because she worked a little late on a Friday, at least. The reason for her exit would be much bigger than a little overtime. “I don’t mind the extra work.” No matter what the job required. “A happy client means more business. And I have somewhere to keep working.”
Sawyer leaned back, glancing over at his friend, and she let out a thankful breath for the space. “We’d better watch this girl. If we’re not careful, she’ll be running us out of a job.”
Chris looked over at her. She squirmed beneath his dark, penetrating eyes. Dark chocolate, the kind that would add padding to her ass but she couldn’t turn away from, no matter how many pounds she gained. His gaze stared through her, like he could see more of her than she wanted to share.
After a few seconds, the corners of his mouth turned up in a smile and her body relaxed a fraction. Whatever he saw, he liked. “You might be right, Sawyer.”
Sawyer leaned over McKenna’s desk again. His smell and heat permeated too close for comfort, and her stomach quivered. She could walk into a secure bank vault with hardly a nerve, but for some reason being close to these guys had her shaking. She must be getting soft.
“Just remember”—his bright blue eyes connected with hers, one of his eyebrows raising in a quirky smirk—“all work and no play makes McKenna a dull girl.” The glint in Sawyer’s eye tightened her stomach, and not in a nervous, anxious way.
Oh, she’d have her fun! Once she dropped off the package and got her commission, she’d have a lot of fun. A hundred thousand smackaroos of fun.
“I promise. One more e-mail and I’ll leave.”
“Okay.” Sawyer smiled back at her. “Don’t work too hard. We wouldn’t want to burn out the best receptionist we’ve ever had in the first week.”
McKenna nodded back. Not that it mattered. She wouldn’t be back next week, either way. “You got it, boss.”
These guys were so trusting. That kind of trust could easily be taken advantage of. If someone wanted to, and felt something in this office was worth taking, it wouldn’t require much effort to do so. That was what she was counting on.
“Have a great weekend, McKenna,” Chris added as he pushed his messenger bag full of designs higher up on his shoulder.
“You, too. Good night.”
And with that, the two men exited the suite, leaving her behind in relative silence. She was alone in the office. It was time to make her move.
She grabbed her purse from behind her desk and headed down the hall, toward Sawyer’s and Chris’s offices. It didn’t matter which she entered. They both had what she needed. Access to the secure server.
Stepping to the first door, Chris’s office, she tried the handle. Locked. Not a huge surprise but still inconvenient. She pulled her tools from her purse, selecting the tension wrench from the set and pushing it into the lock. Holding the metal in place, she used the pick to release each of the pins. She closed her eyes, allowing her muscle memory to do all the work. She’d been picking locks since she’d run away from home—if that was what you wanted to call it—and needed a warm place to sleep for the night. This paltry lock was nothing compared to what she’d come in contact with over the years.
Not for the first time, she wondered how there could be something valuable in this office. This building was nothing like the usual places she was hired to break into. No marble tiles, expensive leather furniture, or high-end computers filled out the rooms. Instead, the place reminded her of a down-on-his-luck seventies PI she’d seen on TV as a kid. The carpets were old, covered in stains, and a color that could only be described as faded mold.
Not that it really mattered to her. She didn’t care what she stole or why. All she cared about was retrieving what she was hired to find and collecting her payment. Asking questions about her clients or their motivations for employing her services only got her into trouble.
She stirred up enough of that already. She didn’t need more.
Walking across the room, she rounded the desk. Her instructions were clear, as was the bounty requested. And there was only one place to get it.
She knocked the mouse and the monitor came to life, prompting her for a password. While she’d been offered a lot of trust in the last week she’d worked here, they hadn’t gone so far as to give her all the company passwords. She searched the desktop, looking for any sign of what word to guess. Between the intricate computer system in front of her and the owner’s age, she doubted it was password.
A small, neon pink Post-it hung from the edge of the computer. Vet appointment Thursday 1:30. Chris must have a pet. She looked over at the picture on his desk of a big yellow lab eagerly licking the face of a little girl with big, dark brown eyes the same shade as Chris’s. Her small, chubby arms gripped around the dog’s neck.
McKenna stared at the scene, almost with longing. She could almost hear the little girl’s laughter as she played with the sweet, energetic canine. The Bay Park Bridge filled up the back of the frame. The park was a popular spot to have birthday parties and family events. The perfect place for a dog and little girl to have the best day of their lives.
It was a reality McKenna had never known. A happy, loving family. Picnics filled with lemonade and laughter. Her childhood parties were comprised of swears and thrown beer bottles, if she got a party at all.
Not that she cared about any of that stuff. She’d grown up just fine without it. Now she took care of herself. It had all worked out.
The picture frame was covered with dog bones and, at the bottom, engraved with the word Hugo. Chris loved that dog, probably more than any human. A lightbulb flashed in her mind. He did love that dog. So much that he probably used his dog’s name as a password. It was worth a shot.
She leaned over the keyboard, hunting out each letter. Too short for any logical password, she added the year at the end. Holding her breath, she hit enter and waited for the rejection. The screen flashed for a second then dissolved to the desktop. Another picture of the same dog, this time rolling on his back, looked back at her from the backdrop on the screen.
Wow! That was easy. Too easy. Clearly Chris and Sawyer had no idea how much they needed a good security system. Or how many people wanted what they had. Lucky for her. This might be the easiest job she’d been offered in a while.
Clicking on the menu, she pulled up the documents folder, glancing through each file for the plans she sought. She wouldn’t know a blueprint from her ass, but the buyer had been very specific about the title and numbering of what he wanted. Magnus Refinery 10-05067.
It didn’t make any sense to her, but it didn’t have to. All that mattered was that she found the plans, got them to the buyer, and collected her money. Everything else was just details.
She only had to search through three folders to find what she sought. The name screamed out to her like a bright neon sign. She pulled the file up and stared at the plans. All squiggly lines and numbers, she could have made better sense of a black hole.
McKenna hit the print button, and the machine next to her whirred to life. With each second, her heart rate shot up. Cold sweat dotted the nape of her neck, trickling down her back. Of course they couldn’t have one of those soundless laser printers. Not these two. Each sputter and shake of the machine constrained her chest a fraction tighter. She never got used to this part. The lying was one thing, but the fear of being caught never lessened.
Only a few more minutes. All but three inches of the page protruded from the printer. Just a little bit more…
“You’re such an idiot.”
“Why, because I forgot one plan on my desk?”
Two voices sounded in the hallway, just outside the door. Who would be here now? It was after six on a Friday. No clients would stop by at this hour. The whole office had already gone home for the evening. She’d watched them leave with her own eyes.
Only one more possibility remained. It had to be Sawyer and Chris. The men she was trying to steal from.
“No, because you’re taking three sets of plans home to work on over the weekend. Don’t you have any kind of life?” the voice responded back, which sounded a lot like Sawyer.
“Ha-ha, very funny,” the other voice retorted. She couldn’t be sure, but if she had to guess it was Chris’s.
The voices moved closer. McKenna cringed, silently begging them to turn the other way, to skip this office and proceed to the next.
“Dude, you’ve become such a workaholic.” Sawyer’s laughing voice filled the air. “It’s Friday, for fuck’s sake. The revisions can wait until Monday.”
“You know how Moore is with his last-minute additions. I’d rather be prepared.” The second voice, Chris’s, echoed in the hallway. “Besides, it’s not like I have other plans this weekend.”
A loud clap, kind of like the sound of one large male hand meeting with another’s strong back, echoed through the room. “We have to get you laid, buddy.”
Oh, fuck! They were moving closer.
Scanning the room, she focused on finding a place to hide. There wasn’t much in the tiny office. A drafting table took up one corner of the room, but the open bottom made it a piss-poor hiding place. A big, bushy fichus took up the opposite corner, but no matter how she might want to believe the overgrown plant would hide her ass, it wouldn’t work even if she starved herself for a week. Which only left the desk.
With as much speed as she could muster, McKenna crouched down on her hands and knees. A rip sounded, tearing through the room. She stared down at her skirt, torn up the side. Damn, stupid fabric! It was too tight around her legs to allow her to bend as she needed to get under the desk. Right now, one of those skin-tight catsuits thieves wore in the movies would have come in handy. It certainly would have allowed for the flexibility she needed, though she couldn’t exactly blend in with that outfit. If she came to the office in one of those, she might as well have thief tattooed on her forehead.
Besides, she’d always found the slutty secretary look she employed worked well to distract her mark. Most men loved the idea of a hot woman subservient to them.
Hiking her skirt up to midthigh, she slid into the dark bowels beneath the desk. The space was cozy, but she fit—albeit twisted up like a pretzel. She fought to keep her breath even and quiet. Her heart pounded in her chest. Would the sound give her away? It sounded so loud in her ears she had trouble believing it wasn’t reverberating through the entire room, bouncing off the walls and filling the otherwise quiet space. Her body strained, her lungs too small to suck in enough breath.
Just keep walking. Please, just keep walking past this office.
Another laugh filtered through the door. “Unless a girl falls out of the sky, I don’t see that happening. Not with our current workload.”
A tug sounded from the handle, and her breath froze in her lungs. Every cell in her body stood on high alert. With a rattle and a twist the door opened, followed by two boisterous voices. “We should go to the club tonight? Find us a few pretty ladies to play with.”
Was this how they really thought about women? Toys that could be used and thrown aside. The pigs deserved to be stolen from. They’d never shown any signs of being such assholes before. Then again, if anyone knew appearances could be deceiving, she definitely did.
“I don’t know.” Chris’s hesitancy provided her some calm. At least her instincts were completely wrong about both of them.
Chris stepped toward the desk and her heartbeat sped up. Stay where you are. Please don’t walk farther into the room.
As if he’d heard her, he stopped, on the opposite side of his desk. Papers rustled above her head as he sorted through the mess on top of the desk for whatever he’d come back to the office to retrieve.
“How long has it been since you’ve gone to the club?” Sawyer must have stayed on the other side of the room, because his voice sounded a little farther away than Chris’s and no more steps sounded across the floor in her direction.
“I don’t know,” Chris answered, “Not long. A month, maybe.”
A sarcastic snort emanated from Sawyer. “A month is not long?”
“You know how I feel about the club, Sawyer. It’s fine for fun, but not for finding someone with more substance.”
McKenna only half-listened to their conversation as her eyes scanned the room, searching for anything she could use to escape. Right now she’d thank god for a rusty pipe. At least she could protect herself with that when they found her, but she came up empty.
“Poor Chris, too good to bring a girl home for a night of spank and tickle.”
“Come on, Sawyer, don’t give me that shit. Not after Tessa.”
“Blah, blah. I’ve heard all about this before.” The bite of anger to Sawyer’s words surprised her. “Tessa didn’t just leave you, dude, she left both of us. But I manage to have a life besides work.”
She left them both! What did that mean?
They probably just meant it as a mundane turn of phrase. She was probably the receptionist McKenna replaced. What were the chances they meant more than that?
No matter how she tried to convince herself against it, her mind automatically began painting images she shouldn’t be thinking about. Especially right now. These two men wrapped around a woman. Four hands exploring, two mouths pleasuring, two cocks thrusting in and out of her. The cries of pleasure ringing through the air. She doubted anything could be more erotic. Her temperature kicked up at the thought.
But that couldn’t possibly be what they meant. No woman caught between these two men would leave of her own accord. Not unless she was completely brain-dead. And she couldn’t imagine Sawyer or Chris falling for some ditzy airhead in a tight sweater or short skirt.
Distracted by the erotic thoughts, McKenna almost didn’t hear the crinkle of paper as it was yanked from the printer tray. “Were you looking at the refinery plans?” Sawyer’s question drew the oxygen right from her lungs. The world stood still as she waited for the answer. Her mind fought her body’s urge to scurry out of this hole and run, as quick as she could, before they could prepare to fight back against her.
“No, of course not. The lawyers told us not to touch them until the patents are clear.”
Footsteps sounded, turning away from the desk, along with more fumbling of papers. “Then why are the plans on your desk?”
“I don’t know.” The crinkling of papers followed Chris’s word as he grabbed the plans from Sawyer. “I didn’t print these out. I haven’t touched those schematics in months. It’s not like we don’t have plenty of other work.”
“And I’m just supposed to believe that?” Sawyer’s voice echoed with sarcasm down to her beneath the desk. “When the evidence is right here.”
“Well I didn’t print those out. Someone else must have been looking at them.”
McKenna leaned her head against her knees, focusing on not moving, not breathing, not passing out. The room was so quiet, so tense, one twitch of a toe would be enough to give her away.
“Who else could have done it? No one besides the two of us have access to the files. With all the hell Texichron is throwing at us, we can’t have these files left out.”
“God damn it, Sawyer, I know that. I didn’t leave out the files.”
Every muscle in McKenna’s body tensed, ready to run or fight. Ready to do whatever was necessary to escape. Because she would get out of here. This wouldn’t be her end. Not under some particleboard desk on the bad side of town while two men fought like girls above her head. She’d gotten too far, survived too much, to turn in the towel now.
“If it wasn’t you…” The deep husky tone of Sawyer’s voice twisted her intestines into knots. “Then who did?”