The Tycoon's Secret Affair

By: Maya Banks

At lunch, she went down to the small café and nibbled on a sandwich while watching the seagulls dive-bomb tourists who had bread to feed them. If Margery let her on the company computer this afternoon, she’d e-mail Kirk and let him know she’d arrived on the island and would be staying a few weeks.

He was her only friend, but they rarely saw each other. He was forever taking assignments to far-flung places, and she was equally determined to travel her own way. It amused her that they were essentially lost souls who wandered from place to place. Neither had a home, and maybe that was why they understood each other.

An occasional e-mail, sometimes a phone call, and every once in a while they crossed paths on their travels. Those were good times. It was nice to connect to another person even if it was only for a few hours. He was as close to a brother or family member as she’d ever imagined having.

After finishing her sandwich, she tossed the wrapper and walked back to the employee elevator. Would Piers be back? A flutter abounded in her stomach, but she swallowed back her nervousness and forged ahead. It wouldn’t do to let him know she was put off by their unintentional relationship. If he could be cool about it then so could she.

When she walked back into Margery’s office, Margery looked up, a grim expression on her face. “Mr. Patterson wants to see you immediately.”

Jewel’s brow crinkled. Maybe it was more personnel stuff to sign. Lord knows she’d had enough paperwork this morning to choke a horse. With a resigned sigh, she turned and left Margery’s office and went several doors down to the human resource manager’s cubicle.

He looked up when she tapped on the frame of his open door.

“Miss Henley, come in. Have a seat please.”

She settled down in front of him and waited expectantly. He cleared his throat and tugged at his collar in an uncomfortable motion. Then he leveled a stare at her.

“When you hired on, it was with the condition that it was a temporary position. You were to be Mr. Anetakis’s assistant for the duration of his stay here.”

“Yes.” They’d been through all of this and she was impatient to get on with it.

“I’m sorry to say that he no longer requires an assistant. He’s had a change of plans. As such, your services are no longer required.”

She stared, stunned, for a long moment. “Excuse me?”

“Your employment here is terminated effective immediately.”

She stood, her legs trembling, her fingers curled into tight fists. “That bastard. What a complete and utter bastard!”

“Security will escort you to your room and wait while you collect your things,” he continued as if she hadn’t let loose with her tirade.

“You can tell Mr. Anetakis that he is the lowest form of pond scum. Verbatim, Mr. Patterson. Make sure he gets my message. He’s a gutless piece of chicken shit, and I hope he chokes on his damn cowardice.”

With that she turned and stormed out of his office, slamming the door as hard as she could. The sound reverberated down the hallway, and a few people stuck their heads out of their cubicles as she stalked past.

Unbelievable. He hadn’t even had the courage to fire her himself. He let his personnel director handle it while he ran for the hills. What a crock.

Two security guards fell into step beside her when she neared the elevator. It pissed her off that she was being treated like a common criminal.

She rode the elevator with them in stiff silence. They walked behind her to her door and positioned themselves on either side of the frame while she went in. How long would they give her before bursting in? The thought amused her even as rage crawled over her in waves.

Shedding her uncomfortable heels, she sank onto the bed like a deflated balloon. Damn the man. She had enough money to get off the island, but little else. Certainly no money to plan her next venture. She’d spent what she had to get here and taken the good-paying job to restock her resources. With the money earned in this job, she would have been able to travel, albeit economically, for the next six months without worrying about finances.

Now she faced the only choice available to her if she wanted a roof over her head. Going back home to San Francisco and the apartment that belonged to Kirk was her only option.

It had been an agreement between them. If she ever needed a place to stay, she was to go there. The utilities were taken care of each month and the pantry was stocked with staples.

She didn’t even have a way to contact him other than e-mail, and sometimes he went weeks without checking it. She just hoped he hadn’t planned one of his rare trips home at the same time she’d be there.

Her fingers dug into her temples, and she closed her eyes. She could look for work here on the island, but she’d already exhausted most of her possibilities when this job had landed in her lap. Nothing else paid nearly as well, and now she had no desire to stay where she might actually run into Piers Anetakis. The worm.

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