Arch Intrigue: Chapter 10

chapter 10

Did she really kiss him back? Shaun kept repeating the same question over and over again in her head. She drummed her Parker on the notepad in front of her while gliding the fingertips of her other hand over her kiss swollen lips, still tingling from his expert touch.

Cole was a good kisser. An excellent kisser. However, his words impressed her more. She never expected him to be offended by her proposal. Contrary to his belief, there was no hidden agenda. Not an intentional one at least. She just thought he could use the help and would see it as such. Boy, was she ever wrong and for once, she was glad to admit it.

She slightly jumped at the sound of the intercom buzzer. She reached over and pressed the button down, “yes, Chelsea.”

“Mr. Jacobson is here to see you.” Really?

“Thank you, send him through.” Shaun disliked how her body reacted to the prospect of seeing Cole again so soon after she tossed him out of her office. Maybe tossed was too strong of a word. She politely asked him to leave once she mustered up the strength to pry herself from his unyielding embrace. The impressive bulge of his manhood against her midsection had yanked her from the haze like a cold shower. As right as he felt, pinning her to the door, the repercussions were numerous. An office affair could undermine her position. Especially with the other party being the nephew of her business partner.

Shaun heard the door knob turn and looked up. Speak of the devil. The smile she wore slowly curved downward when Robert appeared in her doorway. She needed to ask Chelsea to clarify which Mr. Jacobson she is referring to next time. Shaun watched as he entered her office and closed the door. His expensive navy suit bunched between the shoulders with the calculated movements. He turned and gave his signature smile. If snakes stood upright and walked on two legs, Robert would be their king. He was very handsome. His dark bottle-blond hair brushed back with a tiny bit of styling cream. His cornflower blue eye sparkled, hiding his many secrets she suspected. Cole resembled his uncle in many aspects, but the way each carried themselves differed greatly. Robert held an air of superiority, expecting women around him to bend to his every whim. Which they did. A trait she found positively repulsive in a man and very common in the social circles she frequented. A factor which played a huge part in her relationship choices.

No matter, Shaun was immune to Robert’s charm. She saw straight through the attractive candy-coated shell to his slimy, sour center. “Good morning, Robert.” she didn’t stand but motioned to the chair in front of her desk. The chair Cole had occupied. “What can I do for you?”

Robert slithered the distance from the door and sat, steepling his fingers when his elbows rested on the arms. “I won’t mince words. We’ve always been straight forward with one another.” Hardly. “Were you aware Jasper has been taking meetings with Meyers Construct?”

Robert knew she had no idea but she would not let him see her panic, the reaction he was most likely hoping for. Instead, Shaun sat up in her chair and shook her head slowly. “No, I was not aware. Jasper spoke of personal issues getting in the way of our appointments, but nothing to the fact that he was shopping around. I doubt he would lie to me.”

“Don’t be naive, Shaun. Considering his connection to your father, he probably doesn’t want to hurt your feelings.” He sat back against his chair. “I will admit, you do seem distracted as of late. Maybe the personal connection is too much and you need to step away. I would be more than happy to take over and relieve some of the pressure.”

Shaun bit her tongue enough to stop the response she wanted to make from slipping out. She knew Robert well enough to suspect he had some underlying plan cooking, but she wasn’t sure what exactly. Regardless, she refused to play into his game. “I appreciate the offer and the information, but trust me, there is nothing to worry about. I have everything under control.”

“Are you sure?” he smirked.

“Yes, I’m sure.” She relaxed back and stared over at her business partner. “Is there anything else?”

“Now that you mention it, I saw Cole coming off the elevator before and he seemed out of sorts and irritated.” Robert brushed something off his pant leg. “Is he working out?”

“And if he wasn’t?” she asked.

Robert shrugged, indifferent. “Well, then you have my permission to let him go, of course. My reason for bringing him on was to help you.”

Yep, he was up to something, for sure. Shaun just hoped she got the jump before it was too late. “He’s doing just fine.”

“Don’t keep him on board on account of me, Shaun. I’ve never been a fan of nepotism.”

The target of the jab acquired. Direct hit. Shaun fought down the insecurities of her father’s hand in her position here at the company. Careful to use a tone that would disguise the effectiveness of Robert’s choice of words, she paused a moment before responding. “If I feel as though Cole is failing to be a productive member of my team, I will not ask for permission, Robert. I will do what is best for the company. Always have.”

“Yes, you have,” he replied in a condescending manner. He stood and rebuttoned his suit jacket. “I’ll be in meetings for most of the day today, but if you need anything…”

Cutting him off, Shaun rose up from her chair as well and accompanied him to the door. “Thank you, Robert. Have a good one.” She concentrated on every syllable, making sure she didn’t growl her words in the way she really wanted to.

“You too, Shaun.” Robert exited first after Shaun pulled open the door, and she followed him out. When they reached Chelsea’s desk, having walked the path through the garden in complete silence, Shaun continued towards the elevator while Robert went the way of his office.

The cogs in Shaun’s brain started turning once Robert had spoke of Jasper and Meyers Construct. Whether or not the information was true, she wanted to solidify the account and she knew how.

When the doors split on six, Henry jumped to his feet and started towards her. “Good morning, Ms. Wright. I didn’t expect you.”

Shaun stopped his advance with an outstretched hand. “Good morning, Henry. I just needed something from my office.” She lied and hated the feeling. She walked past him and headed towards her secondary space. When she reached the door, she looked over her shoulder, relieved to find Henry back at his desk. She turned left and tip-toed the distance to Cole’s office. He sat with his back to her and the sight of him kicked up the butterflies in the pit of her stomach. Damn. “Cole.”

He spun in his chair to face her and attempted to push up. “Please, don’t get up. This will be quick.”

“Shaun, I never should’ve…”

“No!” She grimaced, realizing that came out louder than expected. “I mean, that is not what this is about.” His expression transformed to one of confusion. “I need you to accompany me to a dinner party this evening. A black tie event my father is hosting.” His brows furrowed further. “For business. It appears Jasper might be exploring some of our competition and he will be there tonight. We can double team him.”

There was a long pause and she wondered if he would answer. “Okay.”

Shaun didn’t know Cole well enough to read his features, so she went with her gut. “Great!” She smiled and wrung her hands. “The party starts at 8. I will send a car pick you up since I will most likely have to be there early. Just text me your address.”

“Or you can send me the address of the party and I can get there on my own.”

She frowned, not understanding why everything she did seemed to offend him. “It’s easier if you just let me send the car.”

“Very well, if you insist.” he grinned and the tension eased.

“I do.” She smiled back, letting out a small breath. “See you then.” Shaun hurried out from Cole’s office, making an extra effort not to smile when she passed Henry on her way back to the twenty-seventh floor. Contrary to what Robert may think, she had a few tricks of her own and she was prepared to use his nephew to execute them.

Chapter 9 * Table of Contents * Chapter 11

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