By: J. S. Scott

I’d heard stories that he was formidable, controlled. Unconcerned, I’d blown off the information. How scary could a twenty-seven-year-old guy be, even if he was filthy rich?

Now, I was thinking the stories I’d heard about him were probably true. People were drawn to him for some reason, his presence magnetic. And he hadn’t even spoken a word.

I sat in the luxurious chair in front of his desk, taking him in, trying to size him up as I heard the quiet click of his secretary closing the door. He was all money, and all class…everything I wasn’t. His long, masculine fingers flew across the keyboard on the desk as he stared at the computer screen, looking displeased.

Even irritated, Trace Walker was probably the handsomest man I’d ever seen.

His hair was short, thick, coarse, and a mixture of various shades of brown. The stubble on his face nearly hid what looked like a strong jaw and classically sculpted features. Studying him from my seated position, I couldn’t quite make out the color of his eyes, but he had eyelashes some women would probably kill for.

The fact that he was dressed in a power suit that I was certain was custom made was also rather daunting. It made him less approachable to a woman dressed in rags.

What was I thinking to finagle my way into the penthouse in the Walker building, wanting to speak to Trace Walker himself?

He was breathtaking, powerful, and obviously very much in control of this particular domain, no matter how young he might be. I wanted to jump out of the chair and run back to my apartment with my tail between my legs.

I could always resort to my ‘plan B’ which was to travel a little with my few belongings, go somewhere to start over…or would I be starting to live for the first time? But who was I fooling? I could never outrun my past.

When I’d decided to take on this bold mission, ‘plan A’, I definitely hadn’t been prepared for him.

His commanding voice stopped me from taking any action. “What do you want?”

The husky baritone startled me, so it took me a moment to speak. “I need a job.” I had a difficult time not stuttering, but I managed. I wasn’t the type of woman to be intimidated by someone with money, but it wasn’t the fact that Trace Walker was filthy rich that flustered me. It was him. The air in the room almost visibly sparked with his energy, his presence, the commanding, controlled tone of his voice.

Jesus, he was intimidating for a man who was only four years older than I was, but then, we shared very few commonalities except for one.

“Ah, you’re the friend Chloe sent?” He turned in his chair slowly.

Finally, he was looking at me, and the dark green eyes that were suddenly trained on me freaked me out. His stare was intense, assessing, and I had a feeling that his quick examination, which seemed to bore into my soul, had found me somehow…lacking.

“Chloe?” I had no idea who the woman he mentioned was, but he was obviously recognizing me for someone I…wasn’t.

“Chloe is my cousin’s wife. Didn’t you know that?”

I shook my head. I didn’t know who Chloe was, much less who she had married.

He continued. “She told me she had a friend in Denver who might be able to use a temporary job, a woman who might work for the position I require. I assume you’re that woman.”

My pulse started to race. A job, much needed work that I desperately wanted to acquire. I knew it was wrong, but I answered, “What kind of work?” My voice was shaky, and I hated it. Cowardice had never been a trait I possessed, and it wouldn’t get me the work I so desperately needed. But this situation was out of my scope of life experience.

“She didn’t explain?” His eyebrows rose as he continued to stare.

“No.” I kept my answers simple. It was easier that way.

He looked me up and down, examining everything from my hair to the holes in my beat-up sneakers. It made me feel like a sample beneath a microscope, but I willed myself not to squirm under his less-than-admiring gaze.

“You’re not what I expected,” he mused, folding his arms in front of him on the desk. “But I’m short on time. The holidays are coming, and I need this situation resolved.”

He was abrupt, businesslike, and I felt like a waste of his time. Apparently, he needed help, but resented spending any time on acquiring it.

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