Home > Beautiful Bastard (Beautiful Bastard #1)(10)

Beautiful Bastard (Beautiful Bastard #1)(10)
Author: Christina Lauren

Stop it, body. Engage now, brain.

Glancing around the sun-filled room, I set the files and laptop on the large conference table and helped the catering staff set up the breakfast spread along the back wall.

Twenty minutes later the proposals were set out, the projector was prepared, and refreshments were ready. With time to spare I found myself wandering over to the window. I reached out and touched the smooth glass, overwhelmed by the sensations it brought; the heat of his body against my back, the feel of the cool glass against my br**sts, and the raw animalistic sound of his voice in my ear.

“Ask me to make you come.”

I closed my eyes and leaned in, pressing my palms and forehead against the window, and let the power of the memories overtake me.

I was startled from my fantasy by a throat clearing behind me. “Daydreaming on the clock?”

“Mr. Ryan,” I gasped, spinning around. Our eyes locked and I was once again struck by how beautiful he was. He broke eye contact to survey the room.

“Miss Mills,” he said, each word sharp and clipped. “I’ll be giving the presentation on the fourth floor.”

“Excuse me?” I asked, irritation flooding me. “Why? We always use this room. And why did you wait until the last minute to tell me?”

“Because,” he growled, leaning on his fists on the table, “I am the boss. I make the rules, and I decide when and where things happen. Maybe if you weren’t intent on staring out windows, you would have taken the time this morning to come confirm the details with me.”

My mind flooded with white-hot images of my fist connecting with his throat. It took every bit of control I had not to jump across the table and strangle him. A smug smile crept over his face.

“Fine by me,” I said, swallowing my annoyance. “No good decisions are ever made in this room anyway.”

When I turned the corner into the new conference room, my eyes immediately met Mr. Ryan’s. Sitting in his chair, his hands predictably tented in front of him, he was the portrait of barely contained patience. Typical.

Then I noticed the person beside me: Elliott Ryan.

“Here, let me help you with that, Chloe,” he said, taking a stack of folders from my arms so I could more easily maneuver the cart full of food into the room.

“Thank you, Mr. Ryan.” I shot a pointed look at my boss.

“Chloe,” the elder Mr. Ryan said, laughing. He took some handouts and sent the stack around the table for the attendees to take. “How many times do I need to tell you to call me Elliott?” He was every bit as handsome as both of his sons. Tall and muscular, all three Ryan men shared the same chiseled features. Elliott’s salt-and-pepper hair had turned silver over the years since I’d first met him, but he was still one of the most handsome men I’d ever met.

I smiled gratefully at him as I sat down. “How is Susan doing?”

“She’s doing fine. She keeps bugging me about having you over,” he added with a wink. It didn’t escape my attention that the youngest Mr. Ryan snorted in annoyance beside me.

“Please tell her hi from me.”

Footsteps sounded behind me and a hand reached out to gently tug my ear. “Hey, kiddo,” Henry Ryan said, giving me a wide grin. He turned to address the rest of the room. “Sorry I’m late, guys. I guess I thought we were meeting up on your floor.”

I chanced a smug look out of the corner of my eye, meeting my boss’ gaze. The stack of handouts came back to me and I handed a copy to him. “Here you are, Mr. Ryan.”

Without so much as a glance, he snatched the stack and began leafing through them.


Just as I was taking my seat, Henry’s boisterous voice called out, “Oh, Chloe, while I was up there waiting, I found these on the floor.” I walked over to him and saw two antiqued silver buttons sitting in his palm. “Would you ask around and see if anyone’s lost these? They look kind of expensive.”

I felt my face heat. I had completely forgotten about my ruined shirt. “Um . . . sure.”

“Henry, can I see those for a minute?” Jackass suddenly chimed in, taking them from his brother. He turned to me with a wicked smirk in place. “Don’t you have a blouse with buttons like these?”

I glanced quickly around the room; Henry and Elliott were already absorbed in another conversation, oblivious to what was happening between us.

“No,” I said, trying to sound as disinterested as possible. “I don’t.”

“Are you sure?” Taking my hand, he ran a finger from the inside of my arm to my palm before dropping the buttons and closing my hand around them. My breath caught in my throat and my heart pounded fiercely against my chest.

I jerked my hand back as if I’d been burned. “I’m sure.”

“I could have sworn the blouse you wore the other day had little silver buttons. The pink one? I remember because I noticed one of them was loose when you came looking for me upstairs.”

If possible, I felt my face heat further. What was he playing at? Was he trying to insinuate that I had orchestrated a way to get him alone in the conference room?

Leaning in closely, his breath hot on my ear, he whispered, “You really should try to be more careful.”

I attempted to maintain my calm as I lowered my hand from his. “You bastard,” I replied through gritted teeth before he pulled away, looking taken aback.

How could he look surprised, as if I’d been the one to break the rules? It was one thing to be a dick to me, but to jeopardize my reputation in front of other executives—he was going to get an earful later.

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