Scandal In The Boardroom

By: Dani Wade

“Did you know this was once my father’s office?”

Surprise skittered through Ziara’s controlled pose. “No,” she murmured.

“I used to play right here on a rug while he worked,” Sloan said. “I used to watch him stare out these same windows, while he worked out problems.”

His voice was easy, soft with memory. He started to pace, firm steps along the length of the windows. Two glorious views. Candy for her sweet-starved eyes.

But warning lights started flashing through her brain as she thought about his words. She’d never had any type of loving parental relationships, and had cut all ties with her mother at the age of seventeen. But Sloan seemed to feel very passionately about his father, despite Vivian’s insistence that Mr. Creighton had found his son a huge disappointment. Why had Sloan—

No. Thinking about Sloan’s private life—his childhood, wishes, regrets—could not lead to anything good. Personalizing him outside of their business interactions would weaken her objectivity. She had to focus on work, not skipping through fantasyland.

After a minute or two, he clasped his hands behind his back, his long fingers tapping against his palms. “First things first,” he murmured. “Where to start—”

“I’ve got a list here from Mrs. Creighton, and—”

His laughter echoed through the room, the sound truly amused rather than the nasty version she’d heard in Vivian’s office. He paused in his imaginary trek to catch his breath and clutched his chest in mock astonishment. “Surely you jest. I don’t think so, sweetheart. We’ll be doing this my way.”

Well, that’s reassuring. Ziara had a feeling she was about to get a lesson in all things Sloan—and it would turn everything she’d planned for on its ear. She pulled out her handy-dandy tablet to take notes, since that seemed to be her only function here.

“We’ll need new ideas, new designs, definitely a new designer,” he said, his voice so matter-of-fact that she blinked for a moment, unable to handle the transition from sexy hunk to demanding boss that quickly. But she managed to pull herself together.

Then his words truly registered. Yikes! A new designer definitely would not go over well.

Sloan continued. “Something splashy. Something to draw in big buyers, get people talking, get them curious...”

He dropped into the chair behind his desk. “Presenting the line, one buyer at a time in the studio, is standard fare. We need a fireworks show, not a firecracker...I’ve got it!” Sloan jerked to his feet, palms slapping on his desk with enough force to startle her. “We’ll bring fashion week right here to Atlanta, Georgia. We’ll put on a fashion show.” He started to pace, throwing ideas out with such enthusiasm that she found herself pulled into the spirit without even realizing it. Before she knew it, he had location ideas, preshow party ideas, guest list suggestions, and on and on until he ran out of steam about an hour later.

Ziara’s fingers ached from typing so fast; even she had to concede to Sloan’s intelligence. Once he latched onto an idea, he thought through every angle—catch, plus and minus. Very impressive. If he truly had plans to destroy Eternity Designs, he was going about it the wrong way.

Glancing up in the sudden silence, she found Sloan staring directly at her. She should have been alarmed, afraid of what he might see, but she had sunk so deeply under the spell of his voice that she merely floated.

His eyes widened at whatever he saw in her own, then flashed with a heat that echoed deep inside her core. The connection remained taut for long moments as the heat gained momentum like a house afire.

Only when it threatened to burst out of control did Ziara panic. She bent her head to focus on the tablet still sitting in her lap. Though she felt hot enough for her fingers to burn it, the tablet was miraculously unsinged.

A new kind of heat enveloped her—embarrassment. As Sloan approached, her teeth worried her lower lip. Would he say something? Think she’d changed her mind about him? Think that she was silently asking him to come on to her? With her limited experience, she wasn’t even sure what kind of message she’d just sent. As her imagination picked up speed, Sloan paused a few steps away.

Then he continued around his desk and sat with a squeak of leather. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw his elbows settle onto the arms of the chair as if familiar with the pose, his fingers forming a peak with his fingertips. Relief swept through her, a cooling breeze, though it couldn’t extinguish the fire altogether. She chose to ignore it.

“So we’ll be putting on a fall fashion show this year. You’ll need to book the venue and start construction on the backdrop. Some plans can’t be finalized until closer to the actual date, but pick out invitations, contact the modeling agency so we can line up models, all that stuff.”

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