Ebb Tide Excerpt
As the cocktail party went into full swing, N. Mackenzie Griffin, known to everyone as Griffin, had her eye on her objective. Tonight she was planning to ferret out a suspicion she had about her boss’s latest fling, the same suspicion she had about all his flings, just a different subtext and a different city. Her boss, Evan Darchon, multi-millionaire, risk taker, playboy, and heart breaker, had a penchant for two things: greasy fast food and women. She tried her best to curb the former, constantly exposing him to fine foods, but in the end his taste buds, like his choice in women, went back to basic needs. Big juicy burgers, cold beers, and all things that were bad for your health. She even tried to convince him that if he ate less volatile foods he wouldn’t have to work out so much. He replied that sex was his second source of exercise and not to worry, that he would always keep his body tight, ripped, and delicious just for her. She didn’t mind the comment; he always made comments like that to her because she was the only female in a hundred mile radius that didn’t respond to his devilish charm and melt when he flashed that beautiful smile.
Right now, Chantal Porter, his woman of the week, was a rising Hollywood star and a money bloodhound. Chantal charmed her way into his life three months ago and they’d been inseparable ever since. This was the difficult part of a very complicated job. She would have to tell him tonight that he and Chantal were through.
Griffin stood by the bar sipping a glass of champagne, watching Evan in action. He was something to behold, all six foot two of him. As he talked to Chantal and another gentleman, he would occasionally glance over at Griffin. They had a system of getting him out of or sometimes into conversations. His bodyguards, Bobby and Ernesto, appeared at the bar and naturally gravitated to Griffin.
“Hey Griffin,” Bobby said cheerfully.
“Bobby. You look very nice tonight.”
“Thanks.” Bobby blushed a little.
“And what about me?” Ernesto huffed.
Griffin turned and gave him a little sideways glance, smiling a little. “Ernesto, what can I say but there isn’t a suit you own that doesn’t hug you like a silky second skin.”
“That’s what I’m talking about.”
Bobby looked in Evan’s direction. “So what have we here?”
“Gentlemen,” Griffin drawled. “You are witnessing the world’s slowest train wreck.”
Evan looked in their direction as he heard Bobby and Ernesto laughing. Both men were standing protectively next to Griffin even though they were his bodyguards. They respected and listened to her well before him and did anything she asked. His house was run military tight. Men seemed to hover around her but she never paid it any attention. He liked her cool, confident ways and even found himself getting a little turned on when they were in the throes of a business meeting. There was something about her decisiveness, her drive, her composure that made him think that the day she came into his life was one of the best days of his life. He decided to tear himself away and find out what his employees thought was so damned funny.
“Having a good time, Mr. Darchon?” Griffin said with a tight smile as he approached.
“Apparently not as good as you.” He bit the words out. He came closer to her. “And what is so funny that you have Bobby and Ernesto in stitches over here?”
“You know how we servants are; take any laugh where we can get it,” she said smoothly. “Take a walk with me.”
They walked out onto the terrace. There was a nice, sweeping breeze that for a moment caught Griffin by surprise. She was wearing a sleeveless white sequined blouse that tied at the neck and a pair of black pants. In her highest of heels she was five eight and still had to lean back a little to look him in the eye. People were typically overwhelmed immediately by his height, giving his already intimidating nature an extra bite to it. He tried to do that to her one day while they were having a heated argument about something. He leaned in, towering over her, closing off her precious personal space. She grabbed a close by chair and stood on it. He got the point immediately.
Evan instinctively took off his jacket and offered it to her.
“No thanks,” she said politely, but he put his jacket around her anyway. As he came closer to pull the jacket closed, a tendril of her hair came out of the bun on her head. She reached up to catch it, but he did it instead and tucked it behind her ear. “I’m afraid I have some bad news.”
“And what is that?”
“You’re going to have to drop Hot Stuff in there,” she said quietly.
He laughed. “And what is the reasoning this time?”
“What is your current net worth?”
He rattled off a number.
“That’s wrong. Think again,” she said like a teacher.
He’d forgotten he closed a big deal about a week and a half ago. Evan repeated the new number to her.
“So teach, what do I get for the right answer?”
“You get to say goodbye to another gold digger. While in the restroom trying to give me the old you’re just the help but I keep him very satisfied in the bed routine, Hot Stuff rattled off your net worth, give or take a mere hundred thousand or so.”
“There are only twelve people who are obligated to know that number. And those twelve people have a cumulative staff of forty that would know that information. I smell a rat. Someone is feeding her information about you, and before you go all egotistical and find it flattering, it’s not. I have a rabid dog to find in your organization that needs to be put down. If you want, sleep with her a few more times,” she said as she slid his jacket from around her shoulders and walked behind him to slide it slowly back up on his. “Because apparently you are exceptional in the bedroom.”
“I aim to please.”
“I am sorry to rain on yet another sexual parade of yours. But I’m only looking out for you and the company.”
“Concerned?” He raised an eyebrow.
“Yes, that you will fall head over heels for one of these women and lose sight of your prospective. If you can’t think straight, your empire suffers. I cannot let that happen with the lives of so many employees in the balance.”
“Do you really see me sitting somewhere lovelorn over some woman?”
“Yes, I think if you find the woman who pushes the right buttons.”
“Lucky for us I don’t know where those buttons are.”
“I do,” she said in a deadpan voice.
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Copyright © 2013 Rhonda Laurel. All Rights Reserved.