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Carl was sixty-something, almost forty years older than her. Everyone who passed by stared at them like she was a black sugar-baby and he was a lecherous old, white man with too much money and no sense. But that didn’t bother Tamsin ‘Sin’ Jacob. She’d hang around older men than Carl – married them even. Other people’s opinions of what she did with her body or her life had never meant anything to her.
The fact that Carl was staring at her breasts like they were a succulent pieces of chicken wasn’t a problem either. Sin was so used to men leering at her various body parts that she’d gotten used to it. If anything, she’d learnt to use those leers to her advantage, sometimes even deliberately encouraging them. Take today; she’d deliberately donned this vivid pink bikini top, which was nothing more than three small triangles and strings, so she could proudly display her girls. The goal; make as many men (and women) as possible lust for her. A man in lust was a man who wasn’t watching his wallet.
No, Carl’s age or leering didn’t bother her.
What bothered her was that thing on his head. Sin had nothing against wigs but the blond squirrel-like abomination balanced precariously on his egg-shaped skull was an insult to wigs everywhere. Even the fact that he was wearing a bathing suit that was too small for his already tiny… man thing… and had tanned himself a weird orange wasn’t enough to distract from that horrible hairpiece.
Struggling to keep her eyes from wandering up to the man’s ‘hair’, Sin smiled at him like he was a god. She gushed, “Has anyone ever told you that you have amazing eyes?”
“Thank you.” Carl’s eyes remained glued to her breasts. “You too, you too. Your eyes are very pretty.”
Resisting the temptation to remind him that her eyes were up here, she leaned forward to give him an even better view as she said, “So Carl, tell me about what you do. Your business sounds sooo fascinating.”
“It does, doesn’t it?” Carl looked up from her breasts to eagerly explain, “Most people think that making and selling toothpicks is boring work, but it’s a very interesting process…”
Frankly, the whole process sounded about as interesting as watching water boil. However, every con-artist knows that the most important skill is being a patient listener. People like to talk about themselves, and if they think you care about their boring lives, they tend to be more trusting.
“So, once we’ve purchased the birch logs, we take it to the…” Carl droned on.
Though Sin listened, she remained aware of the Atlantis Hotel looming behind them. She wondered how Ten, her partner, was doing up there. Was she done?
Almost as if on cue, Sin’s phone pinged. She didn’t even need to check her phone to know that the ping meant that Ten was done, but she picked the phone anyway.
Meanwhile, Carl was still expounding on the complicated science of toothpick making. He continued, “To cut the toothpick strips we use a puncher-”
“Oh no!” Sin cut him off with a sharp gasp as she stared at her phone.
“What, what… what’s wrong?” Carl asked.
“It’s a text from my husband.” She cupped a hand over her mouth and stared at her phone in wide-eyed horror. “He says he’s on his way here.”
Carl’s jaw dropped. “You have a husband?”
“Yes.” Sin nodded. Forcing a tremble into her voice, she said, “And he’s insane. See he just got out of prison for robbery with violence and he’s crazy jealous. If he finds me here with another man- Oh my God.”
She didn’t need to say anything more. Carl shot to his feet like there were bullet-ants on his seat. Hurriedly slinging a towel around his waist, he said, “I should… I should go. I’m not scared of your husband but… but… I have a few things to do in my room. You know how it is.”
“Of course, of course,” Sin agreed but even before her words were completely out, Carl was already beating a hasty retreat. Grinning, she shouted at his back. “It was great to meet you, Carl.”
Once he was gone, she grinned and reread the message. It was a simple text that said, ‘Done’. Still grinning, she dialed Ten’s number.
The other woman picked up immediately, “Yup?”
“Carl’s on his way up to his room,” Sin informed her.
Ten chuckled. “Well, he’s in for a big surprise.”
“How much did we get?” Sin asked.
“A lot but not nearly enough,” Ten said. “We need to hit a few more rooms.”
“Really?” Sin protested. “You said this was a quick hit and run.”
“Hey, it is not my fault that the guests in this hotel are broke.”
“I know, I know.” Sin sighed. “But still… A.J and Kelly will kill me if they find out what we’re doing. I told them I was done with this kind of stuff.”
“Hey, lady, I didn’t drag you into this,” Ten reminded her. “Your crazy ass stalked me to Miami then forced me to include you in the job.”
“Yeah, that’s true.” Sin sighed.
Two years ago, Sin had been incarcerated after a con-job had gone sideways. After her release from prison (where she’d met Kelly and A.J), she’d promised that she wouldn’t do anything that would get her thrown in again. However, making promises was easier than actually keeping them, especially when a friend was involved. When she’d discovered that Ten needed help, instinct had forced her to butt in.
Like Sin, Ten wanted to go straight, but that was easier said than done. Ten’s adoptive father, Casper, had recently dragged her into a job that involved robbing a museum. A day before the robbery, Ten had backed out of the job. Though Ten’s expertise was critical to the robbery’s success, Casper and the rest of his gang had insisted on going forward with the job. End result; things had gone sideways and two of Casper’s team members had been arrested.
The other people involved in the job blamed Ten for the failure and their subsequent arrests. If she’d held up her end of the agreement, they said, the job would’ve gone off without a hitch. They now wanted her to give them the money they would’ve earned had the job been successful.
Of course it was unreasonable. But logic wasn’t a strong suit of most criminals.
Now Ten had two options. Refuse to give them the money and get a bullet in her face. Or pay up. She’d chosen option number two. Unfortunately, she didn’t have that kind of money. Worse she couldn’t even borrow it from her sister, A.J, because A.J didn’t even know that she was still taking contracts. Hence today’s escapades.
“How much more do we need?” Sin asked.
“About twenty grand more.” Ten’s voice echoed over the phone.
“Okay, let me find a fat goose and I’ll text you their room number.” Sin’s gaze swept over the pool-area already looking for the aforementioned ‘goose’.
“I’ll be waiting.” Ten ended the call.
After squaring her shoulders and taking a deep breath, Sin rose to her feet then strolled to the edge of the pool. Smoothly, she dove into the water. The sun-warmed water engulfed her then dripped down her face and body when she rose at the other end of the pool. While acting like she was catching her breath, she assessed the people resting on towels and lounge chairs around the pool.
Her eyes settled on an older woman. Covertly, Sin took in the woman. The handbag by the woman’s seat was new, expensive looking and even had the Dior logo on it. However, even from this distance, Sin could tell that it was a ‘Made in China Town’. Nope. She quickly shifted her attention from the woman.
Sin’s gaze settled on her next target; a twenty-something man with two bottle-blondes flunking his seat and giggling at his every word. His watch looked like a real Rolex. His sunglasses? The real deal. When he picked up the keys to his Ferrari and waved it at the girls, Sin knew she’d found her goose.
Grinning, she turned around and dove back into the water then swam back to the other side of the pool. Getting rid of the giggling opportunists swarming around her mark would be no problem. They were amateurs – like children trying to race against an Olympic medalist.
What strategy should I use to get his attention? Sin wondered as she emerged dripping wet from the pool. She was aware of several men (and women) ogling her as she strolled back to her pool lounge but they didn’t matter. The only man who mattered right now was Mr. Ferrari. With any luck, he’d noticed the seductive display she’d put on as she exited the pool and would be ripe for an approach.
Should I be subtle and send him a drink or should I go all balls out and stroll over there to ask him if we’ve met him before. Hmm…
Even as she mulled over her game-plan, Sin couldn’t help noticing the slender brunette who’d settled on the seat that Carl with The Bad Wig had just vacated. Unlike the swimwear-clad vacationers lounging around the pool, this woman was dressed in an all-white suit. Perfectly coifed hair, pantsuit looks like it’s tailor made, designer bag, original Louboutins… The woman was obviously loaded.
Mark changed, Sin immediately decided as she edged closer to the brunette. A woman like this would likely have a diamond necklace or two in her room. The woman barely noticed Sin even when she settled right next to her. Her full attention was on the conversation she was having over her cell-phone.
Frustration pulsed in the brunette’s voice as she bit out, “Are you insane? Do you expect me to sleep with you so Baron can keep his job?”
Sin’s eyebrows immediately shot up. Well, this was interesting. Trying to act like she wasn’t eavesdropping, she turned her back on the woman as she toweled herself off.
The person on the other end of the phone-call said something to which the brunette sighed. “Come on, Worth. Why are you being like this? Baron, my husband, is your brother. Why would you do this to him?”
Oooh, snap! Sin’s jaw dropped. So the guy on the other end of the line was Rich Brunette’s brother-in-law, Worth, and he was trying to get her to sleep with him so his brother could keep his job? Wow! Men were such dogs.
Sin discarded her towel, put on her sunglasses then settled back into her seat to listen to more of the conversation.
“Yes, I know he’s your step-brother.” Disgust dripped from Rich Brunette’s voice as she continued, “That doesn’t make what you’re doing any less vile.”
Tell him, sister, Sin silently cheered her on.
Rich Brunette paused for about a minute to listen to whatever bullshit Worth was spouting before snapping, “Yes, sleeping with you would be vile.”
Truth, Sin subtly nodded. This Worth-dude was a real piece of work, wasn’t he? Trying to sleep with his brother’s wife? Where they do that at?
“Where am I?” Rich Brunette snorted. “Like I would tell you that!” A moment later, her snort turned into an outraged gasp. “How do you know I’m in Miami?” Panic contorted her freckled face as her gaze swept the width of the pool-area as if searching for her errant brother-in-law. “Did you follow me from Portland?”
Oh no, he didn’t. Sin sat up slightly so she could look around too to see if the bastard had turned up here.
“Then how do you know I’m here?” Rich Brunette didn’t even wait for his response. She gritted out, “You’re psychotic. Leave me alone, Worth. Seriously! Leave me alone.”
And with that she ended the call. With a frustrated huff, she tossed her phone onto the side table between hers and Sin’s seats.
“Wow!” The woman pinched the bridge of her nose. “Wow.”
Now, Sin wasn’t one to get involved in other people’s business but…. Okay, fine, she’d been known to stick her nose into business that wasn’t hers on more than one occasion, but in this situation, who would blame her. Rich Brunette obviously needed a shoulder to cry on.
Sin took off her sunglasses as she turned to face the woman. “Are you okay?”
“Huh!” The woman turned in her seat to face Sin. Her eyes still held a glazed look as if she couldn’t quite believe the conversation she’d just heard.
“Are you okay?” Sin repeated. Pointing to the lady’s phone, she added, “You seemed to be having a hard time there.”
The woman’s gaze lowered to the phone then back to Sin. With a sigh, she said, “Ah, you heard my conversation with that psycho.”
“Mm.” Sin nodded.
The woman sighed. “I need a drink.”
“My treat,” Sin cut in before the woman could call the server over. Sin raised her hand and a moment later, a server strolled over.
Both ladies ordered a drink. Once the server was gone, Rich Brunette introduced herself. “I’m Claire.”
“Tamsin,” Sin returned with a smile. “But everyone calls me Sin.”
“Sin. Interesting name.” The lady was quiet for a while before she mumbled, “What is wrong with men?”
“So many things,” Sin quipped. “Where do we start?”
Her quip was enough to draw a reluctant smile from Claire. However, the smile soon faded, and she asked, “What would you do in my situation?”
Sin snorted. “Kick his balls.”
“Wish I could do that but I can’t.” Claire settled back in the lounge and closed her eyes. “He holds my husband’s professional life in his hands.”
It took a little prodding, but Claire finally revealed the root of her dilemma.
The errant brother-in-law, Wentworth Ransom III (even his name sounded like the kind of name a dickhead might have) also known as Worth, was the son of Wentworth Ransom II. Senior, as everyone called Worth’s father, was a property magnate and the current Chairman of the Ransom Group of Companies (RGC). Claire’s husband, Baron, had come into the Ransom family when Senior had married his mother after Worth’s mother’s death.
Though Baron had worked at RGC for over fifteen years and was now Senior’s second-in-command, it still counted for nothing. The fact that he wasn’t Senior’s biological son was like an anvil over his head, making his future in the company precarious. Worth, despite never having worked a day in RGC, owned a good percentage of the Group’s stock courtesy of an inheritance from his late grandfather. He also held considerable sway over RGC’s Board of Directors.
“He’s now threatening to get the Board to fire Baron if I don’t sleep with him,” Claire finished.
“That bastard!” Sin exclaimed. “Who does that?”
The other woman sighed. “I don’t even know how to deal with him.”
“Why don’t you-” Sin paused when her phone beeped. A brief glance over her screen showed that it was a message from Ten asking her if she’d reeled in a mark. She ignored the message and turned back to Claire. “Why don’t you tell Baron what he’s doing?”
“That will only make the matter worse.” The brunette explained, “Baron might do something stupid and get himself really kicked out of RGC. RGC is all he has…”
“…and Worth knows that,” Sin finished. Sharp anger threaded through her. What kind of man played such cruel games with his family? Wow! That bastard.
Sin made her decision in that moment. Her voice firm with resolve, she said, “You know what? I think I can help you.”
“You can help me?” Claire’s eyebrows rose and hope flashed in her eyes. “How?”
“I have my ways.” Sin smiled as she sent a text message to Ten.
New target acquired.
“Are you kidding me?” Ten Henson stared at Sin like she’d lost all her marbles.
Though Sin had changed out of her swimsuit and was now wearing a dress and heels, Ten was still wearing the maid uniform that she’d used as a cover as she broke into hotel rooms upstairs. The two women were currently cloistered in the ladies’ room discussing the change of plans. Predictably, Ten wasn’t happy.
“This is not what I meant when I told you to find a new mark!” the petite, dark-skinned woman exclaimed. “Why did you promise that Claire woman that you’d help her?”
“Because she looked like she needed help,” Sin said. “You heard her story.”
“Yes, I heard her story.” Ten folded her arms over her chest. “What I don’t understand is why we have to get involved.”
“Because we can help her while also making some money,” Sin coaxed. “Wentworth Ransom is the son of the Chairman of RGC and he owns W Sport.”
Ten offered her an unimpressed look. “So?”
“Sooo…” Sin explained, “He’s more loaded than anyone either of us has ever gone after.”
“So he’s got a basement full of money-” Ten’s lips twisted in a sneer. “Whoop Dee Doo. Am I supposed to care?”
“Yes, you’re supposed to care.” Sin explained, “If we go after him, you can pay the money you owe Casper in one go, I can officially retire without ever having to worry about money again, and, most importantly, we can stick it to a bastard who thinks women are just holes for his dick.” She edged closer to her friend to coax, “Come on, tell me that’s not appealing.”
By the light that flashed in Ten’s eyes, it was obvious that Sin’s proposal was a tempting, but she shook her head. “Nope. No way. Too risky.”
“Since when did you start worrying about risk?” Sin scoffed. “The Ten I know revels in danger. The riskier a job, the more appealing it is.”
“I’m not worried about myself.” Ten pushed her fingers through her short dyed hair as she pushed out a long, heavy breath. “I’m worried about you, fool. You said that your time in prison was the worst time in your life. You said you never wanted to go back there again.”
“Aww.” Grinning, Sin edged closer to her friend. “So this is because you’re worried about me?”
“Uh uh!” Ten skirted away when Sin tried to hug her. “Don’t hug me then try to convince me to go along with this stupid job. I’m already mad that you got involved in my business but at least in this case I was the one doing the dangerous work. If things went sideways, I’d be the one taking all the heat. But this thing with you and Claire is different. If we go after Wentworth Ransom, you’re the one who’ll be in the lion’s den. The one he’ll come after.”
“Hey, I’m a pro,” Sin reassured her friend. “I can handle myself.”
“No, we’re not doing this.” Ten shook her head vigorously. “Ransom isn’t an easy mark.”
“No, he isn’t.” Sin soothed, “But I’ve reeled in sharks with sharper teeth.”
“Not as sharp as this.” Ten frowned. “Besides, have you forgotten that you failed at this once before? You landed in prison because of a job just like this one.”
“It’s not the same thing, and I didn’t fail,” Sin defended herself. “I successfully got away with Marvin’s money. The only reason I got caught was because he tried to kill me afterwards. And you know what happened to him after that?”
Sin waited for her friend to answer her but all Ten did was stare at her like she’d lost her damn mind. So Sin continued, “He got a longer sentence than me.”
She chuckled at that last part. Marvin Dubner likely hadn’t imagined that his revenge plan would screw him over too.
“Is that supposed to reassure me?” Ten cut into her friend’s chuckle. Her eyes were practically shooting fire as she continued, “Because it doesn’t. Marvin was a small-time accountant. Ransom is leagues ahead of him. If he decides to kill you-”
“I’ll be more careful this time,” Sin jumped in before her friend could finish the sentence. “I’ll make sure Worth can’t come after us after we’re done.”
“No, we’re not doing this.” Ten shook her head more vehemently.
“We’re doing it,” Sin insisted then before her friend could voice any further protest, she rushed on, “Look, I left Claire at the restaurant. Let me go speak with her then you and I can discuss this later.”
“There’s no more discussion. We’re not going after that-” Ten yelled but Sin was already out of the door.
Sin grinned. Ten might protest but Sin knew that if she packed her bags right now and headed to Portland, the younger woman would promptly follow. Of course she’d grumble all the way, but she’d still follow. It was one of the things Sin most appreciated about her friends.
Though she’d hated her stay in prison, one good thing had come out of it. No, make that three; Kelly, Ten and Ten’s sister, A.J. Before those three women, Sin had never had any close confidantes. Oh, she’d had plenty of people who claimed to be her friends and people who claimed to be in love with her. But those relationships were superficial. There’d never been anyone who knew who she really was, no one she could trust with her life.
The fact that none of her former ‘friends’ had visited her during her stay in prison had only emphasized the shallowness of her past relationships. Sure, she still sometimes hid parts of her life from Kelly, Ten and A.J, but she still trusted that if she needed their help, they’d be there for her unconditionally as would she for them.
It was cruel of her to drag Ten into hers and Claire’s business, but to pull off this job, she needed a good teammate. And Ten was the best. Not only did the woman have a photographic memory but she was the second best break-in artist Sin knew. Of course the best break-in artist was A.J, but she’d break their legs if she knew what they were up to.
Moments later, Sin found Claire still waiting for her at the hotel’s restaurant.
“I hope you don’t mind that I ordered for you.” Claire pushed a plate of salad towards Sin.
“No, I don’t mind.” Sin settled in the seat opposite the brunette then got right to business. “So what do you need to get Worth off your back? His money?”
“Money?” Claire guffawed. “I don’t need his money. I’ve got plenty of my own.”
“I can tell.” Sin hid a smile.
“No, we don’t need his money.” Claire continued, “What Baron and I need is the RGC shares that Worth holds. We don’t even need all of them; just enough to balance the power between them.”
“So like half of his shares?”
“Something like that.” Claire nodded. “If Baron holds the same equity in the group as Worth, it will be harder for the group to dismiss him.” Her voice took on a wheedling tone as she added, “We don’t even want the group. Just for Baron to keep his job. After all the sweat and years he’s put in, it’s unfair for him to get kicked out just because he doesn’t have Ransom DNA.”
“You’re damn right it’s unfair.” Sin paused to mull over all the information Claire had given her before she said, “Okay! So I need to get him to marry me then transfer his shares to me. After that I can transfer them to you and Baron, right?”
“Right.” Concern flashed in the brunette’s eyes. “But it’s not as easy as it sounds. It’s really not. And you and I are crazy for even thinking of attempting it.” Claire pushed out a shaky breath and shook her head. “No, this is a bad idea. Maybe we should quit while we’re ahead.”
“Hey, hey, calm down.” Sin reached across the table to squeeze her new friend’s hand. “You’re talking to a pro here. I’m sure I can get the job done. This ain’t my first rodeo. I once got a guy to marry me in thirteen days.”
Sin smiled as she fondly remembered her second husband. The man had been idiotic enough not to get a prenup before their ‘marriage’. Four months later, he was out fifty percent of his property. Most of that fifty percent had gone to his ex-wife while a small percentage went to Sin – her cut for successfully completing the job.
Ah! Good times.
Sin assured Claire, “I’m an expert.”
“An expert?” Claire’s eyes widened. “You’ve done this before?”
“Yes.” Sin didn’t add in the ‘several times’ because Claire looked skittish enough.
“What if someone recognizes you?” the brunette asked.
“You said you’re based in Portland, right?” Sin asked. When Claire nodded, she smiled. “Then no one will recognize me. I’ve never worked a job there plus I’ll be using an assumed identity so even if they check me out they won’t find anything.”
“Where in the world would you get an assumed identity?”
“Don’t worry about it. I have my ways.” Sin reminded her, “All you need to be careful about is making sure that Worth doesn’t know we’re connected.”
Claire still looked a bit unsure about the plan. “Are you sure about this?”
“I’m sure.” Sin bit into her salad before asking, “Do you have a picture of Worth?”
“Not here with me,” the other woman said, “but if you search his name on the internet, you’ll find him.”
Sin took out her phone and swiped her fingers over the screen. A moment later, she frowned. Wentworth Ransom III was hot… like sizzling hot. Even if he was a complete asshole, there were lots of women who could be fooled by his looks and money. Why go after his brother’s wife?
“What’s up with this guy?” Sin wondered aloud. “He looks successful in his own right. He doesn’t need to come after you and your husband.”
“He’s doing it just to be spiteful,” Claire explained. “Some people are like that.”
A fresh spurt of hot anger raced through Sin. The man needed to be brought down a couple of notches and she knew the right woman to do it. Herself. Usually, she preferred to go after old men who’d ditched their wives for sugar-babies but she’d happily make an exception for Worth.
“How will you get his shares?” Claire asked. “It’s not like he’ll just hand them over to you.”
“That’s exactly what he’ll do! Once I’ve got him hooked, he’ll give them to me all on his own.” Sin’s lips curled into a wicked smile. “But first I need a way into his life.”
“I might be able to help with that,” the brunette offered. “Worth’s assistant is about to go for her maternity leave and they’re looking for a replacement. I can get you in. Have you ever been an Executive Assistant?”
No, Sin had never been an Executive Assistant. She’d been a yoga instructor, an architect, a dental assistant, even a pilot (that one had been the hardest), but she’d never been an Executive Assistant. But she couldn’t admit that to Claire. The woman looked worried enough as it was.
Sin smiled. “Yes, I’ve been an Executive Assistant before. I won’t get caught.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m sure.” Sin nodded. Leaning back in her seat, she asked, “Now tell me – what kind of women does Worth usually date?”
* * *
THE TENSION IN the room was so thick even the sharpest knife wouldn’t have cut through it. Everyone seated around the conference table was actively trying to avoid meeting the gaze of their employer, Wentworth ‘Worth’ Ransom the Third.
“Who’s in charge of the Adidas account,” Worth asked for the second time.
The eerie silence that met his question only served to annoy him further.
He barked, “If I have to find out on my own, then the consequences will be worse. Who was in charge of the account?”
“M- me.” Simon Richardson, the newest addition to the marketing department, tentatively raised his hand.
Worth eyed the young man for a long drawn out moment before saying, “Clear out your desk by the end of the day.”
Sharp breaths met Worth’s announcement but Simon’s gasp was the loudest. “Wha – what?”
“Tessa.” Worth turned his attention to another member of the marketing team. “Take over the account. Make sure you talk to their Head of Marketing so that-”
“But sir,” Simon cut in to Worth’s words. “I tried to-”
His words came to an abrupt halt when Worth shot him a sharp look.
Any other boss would’ve been happy to be able to shut down his employees with one look. Wentworth wasn’t. Even as he gave Tessa instructions on how to take over the account, he couldn’t help feeling a bit disappointed that Simon wasn’t trying harder to defend himself. He wanted his employees to have a bit of back bone, be capable of standing up for themselves. People without backbone were followers, and he didn’t need followers and sycophants around him.
“Anything else we need to discuss?” Worth asked when the meeting drew to a close. No one said anything. He waited for Simon to plead his case again, but the younger man kept staring at the table, looking like he was about to cry.
Shrugging on the inside, Worth rose to his feet. “Okay then, get back to work.”
With that, he left the boardroom. Barely ten minutes after Worth settled in his office, Diana, his assistant, called, “Mr. Ransom, Mr. Gaines would like to see you.”
Worth didn’t even bother asking why his second-in-command wanted to see him. He already knew. With a drawn-out sigh, he said, “Let him in.”
Moments later, the door swung inwards and Joel Gaines, W Sport’s Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, strode in. At first sight, most people assumed that Joel was a former basketball player. Given the black, bald-headed man’s astounding height, it was a fair assumption. But it would be a wrong assumption. Joel was a pole-vaulter through and through. In fact that was how he and Worth had met.
After Joel had retired from pole-vaulting, he’d become Worth’s coach and even taken him as far as the Olympics. When Worth retired from pole-vaulting and founded W Sport, it was only natural that he bring Joel in.
“Please tell me you’re not here for Simon,” Worth said as he watched Joel edge towards his desk.
“Of course I’m here for Simon.”
“Didn’t waste any time, did he?” Worth’s top lip lifted in a sneer. “You’re teaching these people that it’s okay to run to you instead of learning how to solve their problems on their own.”
“They wouldn’t have to run to me if you weren’t such a hard ass.” Joel settled in the seat across from Worth. “Will you really fire Simon? He just started working here a week ago.”
Worth returned his friend’s skeptical look with a defiant one of his own. “Is there a law somewhere that states how long someone is supposed to work here before I can fire them?”
“You know you’re being unfair, right?” Joel eyed Worth. “The manufacturers are the reason we didn’t get Adidas’ stuff on time. They sent the delivery two days later than expected.”
“Then Simon should’ve called them to make sure our stock was delivered on time.”
“He did but the guys at the factory kept stalling.”
“Then he should’ve insisted on speaking with the higher ups,” Worth suggested defiantly.
“He’s not trained enough to start making demands like that,” Joel countered.
“Then he should’ve gotten help from someone who knows how to escalate matters to the top.”
“He didn’t think that far.”
Worth smirked. “And that’s why he’s fired!”
“Come on, Worth,” Joel cajoled. “He’s still a rookie. You can’t expect him to already know how to handle these issues.”
“Hey, he’s not that much of a rookie. Wasn’t he with Dick’s before?” Worth waited for his friend to answer. When all he got was a sigh, he continued, “Besides his experience or lack thereof isn’t the problem here. You know what pissed me off?” He paused. “That he couldn’t tell me all that when we were in the boardroom. He just sat there looking like a sad, wet puppy. Then he comes crying to you after the fact? Ridiculous!”
Though Worth knew he was being a bit unfair to Simon, Joel’s presence in his office only made him want to fire the man more. See, this is why people never moved up the ladder. What kind of coward ran crying to another man instead of defending himself? Was Worth supposed to trust him to negotiate contracts when he couldn’t even negotiate to keep his own job?
“I’m sure he was just scared of you. Have you seen you when you’re in the boardroom?” Joel asked. “They call you Darth Vader.”
“Am I supposed to be offended?” Worth gave his friend a toothy grin. “Cause I kind of like Darth Vader.”
“Why am I not surprised?” Joel chuckled. Still smiling, he wheedled, “Come on, Worth. Give Simon another chance.”
“I don’t want to.”
“But you should.” When that didn’t get Joel the surrender he was looking for, he added, “I promise I won’t come pleading on his behalf if this happens again.”
“Please!” Worth guffawed. “You can’t help yourself. You’re a regular Captain Save-An-Employee.”
“I promise,” Joel insisted.
Worth pushed out an annoyed breath. “Fine. I wasn’t going to fire him anyway. I just wanted to scare him a little.”
“Why would you want to scare your employees?” Joel shook his head disapprovingly. “You’re one sick kid. No wonder the suggestion box is always filled with notes about you.”
“What are you complaining about?” Worth grinned. “Now that I’m Darth Vader, I’m sure they think you’re Luke Skywalker. The hero.”
“I’m not sure I want to play that part.”
“Aw, come on.” Worth teased, “You were born to be a hero.”
Joel eyed Worth for a second before saying, “For some reason that sounds like an insult coming from you.”
Worth smirked. “Caught that, did you?”
“Bastard!” Jason chuckled. A moment later, his tone turned serious. “Ah! I forgot to tell you… Claire is moving again.”
“What?” Worth’s mood immediately plunged. “She’s been so quiet that I thought we were done with her.”
“She was regrouping.”
“Ugh!” Worth pinched the bridge of his nose. He was so tired of dealing with his sister-in-law. “What’s she up to these days?”
“She heard that you were looking for an Executive Assistant,” Joel explained, “and she wants me to put in a good word for one of the interviewees.”
Worth’s eyebrows shot upwards. “Another mole?”
“Seems so.” Joel gestured towards Worth’s computer. “Check your email. I just sent you the interviewee’s résumé and details.”
It took Worth a few minutes to turn on his computer and get to his mail. He clicked on the email from Joel then opened the attachment. As soon as he opened it, a woman’s face met him.
Pretty. That was the first thought that crossed Worth’s mind when he saw her. The woman in the picture was attractive but in an exotic way. Her honey-toned skin loudly proclaimed her as biracial and her dusty brown hair tumbled to her shoulders in an interesting mess of cock-screw curls. But it was her eyes that held his attention. Even though her lips were drawn in a straight, thin line, her eyes were smiling, almost as if there was something funny behind the camera.
“Sinclair Johnson,” Worth read aloud as he scanned the rest of her résumé.
According to the documents, she was twenty-eight years old, a graduate of the University of Virginia with extensive experience working as an Executive Assistant.
Worth looked up from the screen to meet Joel’s eyes. “Is any of this true?”
“As far as I can tell,” said Joel. “I called UVA and their records say she was a student there. The company she says she worked at – Yeomin Technologies – had only good things to say about her. She looks clean.”
“Looks is the keyword there.” Worth reread the woman’s resume again then said, “There’s no way she’s clean. Not if Claire is behind her. I bet there’s something we’re missing.”
“Do you want me to tell Claire that I can’t get her in?” Joel asked.
“Hmm.” Worth thought over it then decided, “No, let her in for the interviews. You haven’t given Claire anything good in a while and she might start to think that you’re useless and get a new spy. Let’s use this opportunity to make Claire trust you more.”
A few years ago, Claire had found out that Joel had embezzled money from W Sport. She’d blackmailed him into being her spy in exchange for her not outing him to Worth. Fortunately, Joel had decided to confess to Worth rather than cross over to the dark side. Worth, however, wasn’t one to waste a good opportunity. His sister-in-law was so desperate to keep tabs on him that if she didn’t turn Joel then she’d find someone else. So why not give her Joel?
Worth had convinced Joel to fall into Claire’s trap and become her mole. Now, Worth could feed her information he didn’t mind her knowing while keeping his own tabs on her and making sure she didn’t ruin his business with her shenanigans. With Joel’s help he’d avoided several of Claire’s traps.
“Let’s let this Sinclair in.” Worth tapped his finger against his chin as he stared at the woman on his screen. “We can always drop her at any stage of the interview process then it won’t be your fault. You can say that the woman didn’t impress the panelists enough.”
“All right.” Joel nodded. “Your call.”
“We should also investigate her more thoroughly.”
Joel frowned. “Do you think her information is fake?”
“She’s Claire’s mole. Something will be fake.” Worth suggested, “Get Masterson on it.”
“Masterson?” Joel’s eyes shot up. “Are you sure about that? She’s overpriced for this kind of job.”
Masterson was an ex-FBI agent now turned private investigator. Though the woman was excellent at her job, her rates were so high that they only brought her in when the information they needed was worth a lot of money.
“I’m sure.” Worth stared at the image of the woman on screen. “I have a feeling that we’ll need a pro to unmask this Sinclair.”
Long after Joel left his office, Worth kept staring at the woman. For some reason, he couldn’t look away from her.
“Sinclair Johnson,” he mumbled under his breath as his gaze lingered on her smiling eyes. How was she connected to Claire and what did she want in his company? It would be interesting to find out.
“Can’t you be neater?” A.J, Sin’s best-friend and Ten’s sister, clucked disapprovingly as she stared at the red suitcase that was filled to the brim with Sin’s clothes. “This is not how a woman packs.”
“That is how I pack,” Sin retorted from her position at the head of the bed where she was busy playing with her phone.
“Look at this mess,” A.J scolded under her breath. She upended the whole suitcase then began to fold and pack the clothes again.
“Get away from my clothes, woman,” Sin said, but she didn’t even move an inch to stop her friend. Why? Because she liked having a neat suitcase too; she just didn’t have the energy to do it herself. And if A.J wanted to pack for her then who was she to complain?
“Are you sure you should be doing that?” Kelly, who was seated beside Sin, watched A.J in concern. “You’re pregnant, you know.”
“Pregnant, not sick.” A.J shot Kelly a grin. “And it’s funny you think that packing is the most strenuous thing I’ve been up to lately.”
This time even Sin sat up. Concerned, she asked, “Please don’t tell me you’ve been jumping up and down buildings again.”
A.J just grinned earning herself a round of concerned gasps. Before they could question her further, she asked Sin, “Do you have to be gone for that long? Six months is a long time.”
On hearing that this was the day Sin was leaving for Portland, the other two women had appeared at Sin’s doorstep early in the morning to say their goodbyes
“Six months is on the higher side,” Sin reassured them. “It could be less time –maybe four months or so. It just depends on how fast I – um-” She quickly corrected herself. “- depends on how fast Claire gets her treatment.”
Since Sin couldn’t tell her now annoyingly law-abiding friends that she was on her way to con someone in Portland, she’d come up with a cover story; Claire, a friend she’d been close to before her incarceration, needed her to mind her store while she underwent treatment for breast cancer.
“And yes, I have to go,” Sin continued, “Claire needs my help. If I don’t go, she might have to close her store.”
“Humph!” Ten snorted from across the room. Though she was pretending to watch the movie playing on the TV, it was obvious she was eavesdropping on the conversation.
Though Sin was afraid the younger woman might out her any time, it hadn’t happened yet, so she ignored the sarcastic harrumph and doggedly went on, “The shop is Claire’s only source of income. She can’t afford to close it, especially with how expensive cancer treatment is.”
“Doesn’t she have any relatives to watch the store for her?” Kelly asked.
“Nope.” Sin shook her head. “She’s all alone.”
“Wouldn’t it make more sense to hire a qualified manager?” A.J asked.
“Are you trying to imply that I’m not qualified?” Sin gave her friend a narrow-eyed look.
A.J smirked. “Caught that, did you?”
“Bitch!” Sin cussed, but her mouth crooked in a reluctant smile.
“Whore!” A.J countered with a wider smile before asking, “So, why can’t Claire hire someone instead of dragging you all the way to Portland.”
“She can’t afford it,” Sin said. Before her friends could ask more questions, she added, “Besides she needs someone she trusts to watch the shop.”
“And she trusts you?” Kelly eyed Sin skeptically. “With her money? Wow!”
“Yes, she trusts me with her money,” Sin insisted. When her friends gave her amused looks, she protested, “You know, you two are the only ones who don’t think I’ve changed. Everyone else trusts me.”
Though Sin was indeed preparing herself for another illegal adventure, she didn’t like it when people assumed that she was still a crook. Even the courts insisted on evidence before deciding on guilt.
“That’s because everyone else doesn’t know you like we do,” A.J teased, earning herself a round of laughs from everyone but Sin who cut her eyes at her.
“Don’t worry, Sin.” Kelly reached over to pat Sin’s back. “We’re just teasing. We know you’ve gone straight.”
This time Ten’s snort was loud enough to attract everyone’s attention.
“What’s with the humph?” A.J turned to her sister. “Do you know something we don’t know?”
“A.J,” Sin quickly cut in before Ten could out her. “Do you think I could borrow some spending money?”
Frowning, A.J turned back to Sin. “What did you do with all the money you earned as a fake girlfriend?”
“It bought all those clothes.” Sin pointed to the now neatly packed suitcase.
Both her friends gave her exasperated looks. “What will we do with you?”
Sin gave them her best puppy-eyes. “Lend me money?”
“You’re a disaster,” Kelly complained. She reached for her purse and pulled out a card. “Here. A.J and I got you a card.”
“Aw, you wonderful, wonderful women.” Sin snatched the card then lifted on her knees to give Kelly a bear hug. “I knew you loved me.”
However, when she started towards A.J to give her a hug, A.J immediately backed away then informed her, “The card has a two thousand dollars limit.”
“What? Only two thousand?” Sin glared at her friends. “You. Mean. Bitches!”
“You can always return the card,” Kelly dared her.
“Nice try!” Sin clasped the card to her bosom protectively, drawing laughs from the other women in the room.
When the laughter died down, Kelly said, “I just hate the thought of you being all alone up there, or of you missing my wedding.”
Kelly was due to marry her fiancé, Spencer, in seven months. Frankly, Sin was surprised that the two had even gotten this far. Spencer was the prosecutor who’d sent Kelly to jail for a murder she didn’t commit. How they’d been able to get over that was anyone’s guess. Sin wasn’t sure she could be that forgiving. Heck, she still regularly dreamt of stabbing the judge who’d sent her to prison.
“Don’t worry, Kelly. I’ll be there for your wedding,” Sin assured her friend. “And I won’t be alone in Portland. Ten is coming with me.”
“She is?” A.J turned surprised eyes to her sister. “I didn’t know you were leaving with Sin.”
“I am,” Ten said simply with a shrug.
Anyone watching the two sisters’ cold interaction would’ve been surprised. Sin wasn’t. The two sisters had a strange relationship; they weren’t estranged but they weren’t close either. They weren’t enemies, but you couldn’t call them friends either. They were just strange. But it worked for them.
“You’re going to help out with the store too?” Kelly asked Ten.
“Something like that,” Ten retorted without looking away from the TV.
“You?” A.J’s tone held a healthy dose of skepticism. “You’re going to help out at a clothing store?”
“She’s helped out in stores before,” Sin rushed to Ten’s defense. “If you remember, she used to help out at your store.”
“Hmph.” A.J remained unconvinced. A second later, she narrowed her eyes. “Ten, are you sure you’re not running away?”
“What?” Ten turned swiftly to face her.
“Are you sure you’re not running away?” A.J folded her arms over her chest. “I heard you owe Casper and his crew some money.”
“You heard?” Ten’s wide-eyed expression perfectly mimicked Sin’s own surprise. “How did you hear about that?”
A.J ignored her sister’s question and instead said, “If that’s what you’re running away from, then you don’t need to. I already talked to Casper.”
“You talked to Casper?” All three women exclaimed at the same time.
A.J and her father were like water and oil. They did not mix well. Heck, the last time the two had met in person, A.J had held a gun to Casper head all while forcing him to give her his money.
“Yes, I talked to Casper,” A.J said. A second later, she corrected herself, “Well, it was more like I threatened him. But the end result is that you’re off the hook. You don’t have to be worried about him or one of his guys coming after you.”
“You didn’t have to do that,” Ten protested.
A.J rolled her eyes. “Just say thank you.”
“Whatever!” Ten sniffed before turning back to her movie.
A.J shook her head before turning back to the conversation with Kelly and Sin.
Hours later, both A.J and Kelly left for their respective homes. Ten stayed behind with Sin.
Trying to affect a nonchalant tone, Sin commented, “You must be happy.”
“Happy about what?” Ten asked.
“Now, you don’t have to do the job with me.” Even though there was a tight knot of anxiety in the pit of her belly, Sin pretended to be engrossed with her phone. “A.J already paid your debt.”
“You expect me to let you go to Portland alone?” Ten guffawed. “Your crazy ass will get arrested within a day if I’m not there to keep an eye on you.”
“Hey, I’m perfectly fine on my own,” Sin insisted even as relief pulsed through her. Though she’d done a lot of jobs in the past alone, she didn’t want to be alone this time. Not when she’d discovered how great it felt to have someone watching your back.
“Whatever, Miss Perfectly Fine!” Ten snorted. “I’m still coming with you though.” A moment later, she reached for her jacket and pulled out a card. “Forgot to tell you that these were out.”
“Wow!” Sin gaped as she reached for her new driver’s license. “This looks so real.”
“As far as the government and Wentworth Ransom is concerned it is real.” Ten waved her own license. “Keyboard is a pro at these things.”
“What identity did he give you?” Sin arched her neck to see Ten’s license.
With a grin, Ten turned then held up her license. “Say hello to Eight Adams.”
“Eight Adams?” Sin laughed, the sound ringing loud in the room. “That’s the best you could do?”
“Hey, I could’ve gone with One but I decided to be humble,” Ten said with a smile. A moment later, that smile dropped and her expression became graver. “Are you sure we can do this? Have you ever played an Executive Assistant?”
“No, I haven’t.” Sin rushed on to reassure her, “But I have been studying how to be one. I know some things now.”
“Pease tell me you don’t mean the things you learnt while watching all those movies starring secretaries.”
“Of course that’s what I mean.” Sin raised her eyebrows. “Is there any other way to learn?”
Ten flopped back into the seat with a heavy sigh. “We’re so screwed.”
Sin laughed. It was true that her entire knowledge of ‘how to be an executive assistant’ came from Google and The Devil Wears Prada, but she was confident that she could pull this off. Even before she’d decided to be a con-artist, she’d always been pretty good at transforming into whoever she wanted to be. Nerd, socialite, shrew, emo-chick… even her mother had jokingly nicknamed her Chameleon. This job was right up her alley.
“Don’t worry, Eight!” Sin scooted closer to her friend on the couch and slung her arm across her shoulder. “I can do this. Within six months, we’ll be smiling all the way from the bank with Worth’s money.”
Almost as if on cue, Sin’s phone rang. The caller-ID loudly blinked Claire’s name.
“Hi, Claire,” Sin answered. “How are you doing?”
“Fine. Fine.” Claire rushed on, “Are you in Portland yet?”
“No, I’m still in New York.”
“What?” The woman’s voice rose to a high-pitched whine. “You promised that you’d be here in time for the interviews.”
“I know what I promised,” Sin countered calmly. “The interviews start in three days, don’t they? I still have time.”
“Yeah, but you shouldn’t wait until the last minute,” Claire whined. “The person I hired to prep you will-”
“Claire, Claire, Claire!” Sin cut her off. “Chill. Relax. You don’t need to worry. I’ll be there by tomorrow, and I’ve already done my own prep work.”
“Are you sure?”
“You can’t fail these interviews.” Claire sighed. “Ever since I’ve been back, Worth has upped the harassment. I’m afraid that he might do something soon.”
Instant anger shot through Sin. Her lip lifted in a sneer, she promised, “Don’t worry we’ll cut him off at the knees.”
“I hope so. I hope so. I really need you, Sin.” Claire’s voice took on a pleading note. “You’re my last hope so please don’t let me down.”
“I won’t,” Sin assured her. “I got this.”
“When’s your flight?”
“I’ll let you know as soon as I get to Portland.”
“Please hurry here,” Claire said.
As soon as Sin ended the call, Ten said, “Well, she’s desperate.”
“You’d be too if you were in her position.”
“If I were in her position, I would’ve already cut off Worth’s balls,”
Sin chuckled. “That’s because you’re crazy.”
Ten grinned. “True.”
“Alright Eight.” With a grin, Sin stood up. “Let’s go steal Worth’s family jewels.”
* * * * *
THREE WEEKS LATER, Sin found herself at the headquarters of W Sport. This wasn’t her first time in the building; she’d already been here twice for the preliminary interviews. Sin had practically skated past those two interviews. Thanks to her own research into the company and the interview panelists, the coaching she’d received from Claire’s guy, and her innate ability to charm people, the process had been as successful as expected.
Nonetheless, now that she was in the homestretch, she couldn’t help feeling nervous as she sat waiting at the reception that led into Wentworth Ransom III’s office. This was the day she’d finally meet the man himself. This was the day the game really began.
According to Claire, Worth was into powerful but sexy women so Sin had gone ahead and unleashed her inner Olivia Pope. Today, she’d straightened her hair so that it fell to her shoulders in soft waves instead of the usual cock-screw curls. Her black lacy dress, though long enough to cover her thighs, subtly clung to her body, showing off her natural curves. To top off the whole ensemble, she’d gone with red-bottom pumps that lifted her ass and light makeup to emphasize her eyes and lips. Damn it, she looked good. One look at her and even a gay man would be tempted to go straight.
She smiled. I’m coming for you, Worth.
Two other people had made it to the last round of interviews. Instead of skimming through her documents like her competitors were doing, Sin subtly watched and assessed them. She started with the woman seated on the couch directly across from her.
Eyebrows too sharp, looks like she’s never smiled a day in her life, suit is too severe and one sleeve is frayed, one nail is chipped. The side of Sin’s lip crooked in a smile. It would be easy to beat this one. The man seated next to Sin was another matter all together. Judging by how he kept worrying his bottom lip with his teeth, he was obviously nervous. However, he was well-groomed and had smiled at everyone as he walked in. If his résumé matched his congeniality, and he’d done as much research as Sin, then he was real competition.
Time to get rid of him. Sin reached for the bottle of water that she’d brought just for this occasion. With a smile, she held it out to the man. “You look like you need this.”
“Thanks.” The young man eagerly grabbed the water.
Sin couldn’t help feeling a little guilty when he downed the water in one gulp. But she consoled herself with the fact that what she was doing was for the good of woman-kind everywhere. In every war there is collateral damage and unfortunately for this guy, he was it. In about ten minutes, the guy would be racing around the building looking for a bathroom courtesy of the mild laxative she’d spiked the water with.
Hey! She needed to be the only outstanding candidate.
“Priscilla Keyes?” Diana, Worth’s very pregnant assistant, called out.
“Yes.” The extra-serious interviewee raised her hand.
“Mr. Ransom, will see you now,” Diana said.
“Okay.” The lady shot to her feet and made her way to Worth’s office. Priscilla stayed in there for quite some time. By the time she came out the laxatives had kicked in and the male interviewee was nowhere to be found.
“Max Winchester?” Diana called out as she looked around the room.
“He had to go to the bathroom.” Sin helpfully pointed in the direction of the restrooms.
“He went to the bathroom?” The assistant’s eyes widened in disbelief. “Right before he’s supposed to go in for his interview?”
Sin was the picture of innocence as she offered, “I think it was urgent.”
“Wow.” With a disapproving shake of her head, Diana reached for her phone. “Sir, Mr. Winchester has left the waiting area. Can I let the next interviewee in?”
The assistant paused to listen to her boss’s response then nodded. “Yes, her name is Sinclair Johnson.” Another short pause then the assistant said, “Okay. Got it.”
When she got off the phone, the assistant turned her attention to Sin. “Go right in. Mr. Ransom is waiting for you.”
“Thank you.” Sin rose to her feet and strode towards Worth’s office. At the door, she paused to straighten her dress, square her shoulders and paste on a smile. Game on. She pushed the door open.
The office she walked into was breath-taking. Anchored with marble floors, furnished with dark wood furniture and crowned with crystal fixtures, the room was as stunning as it was sleek. The north wall was lined entirely by floor to ceiling windows that offered an endless view of Portland. However, what caught Sin’s attention was the man seated behind the large oak desk that dominated the office. Immediately, her footsteps came to a screeching halt, her eyes widened and her smile dropped.
The pictures online hadn’t done Worth justice. The man was hot. Like really hot. Gorgeous even. Raven-hair that was stylishly cut so that the top was a bit longer than the sides, thick brows over deep-set eyes, Roman nose, incredibly kissable lips and a square jaw that was lightly dusted with a five o’clock shadow. His black shirt was open at the collar to reveal his strong neck and its sleeves were folded to reveal his muscular arms.
Sin’s gaze rose back to meet his and her breath immediately caught in her throat. My god… those eyes! So dark, so intense. And the way he was looking at her – his gaze journeyed from the top of her head and slowly down her body. It was almost as if he was x-raying her, undressing her. His gaze left her feeling winded, oddly unsettled and irritated. Usually, she was the one who left people unnerved. She wasn’t used to being the recipient of that feeling and she didn’t like it.
Worth’s gaze slowly came back up her body. When he met her eyes again, his eyebrow rose. “Are you going to stand there staring at me or are you coming in?”
His words were enough to yank her from her stupor.
“Oh, sorry.” Cursing herself for momentarily losing her senses, she crossed the room to stop in front of his desk. Despite her still rattled nerves, she forced a smile and held out her hand. “Hi, I’m Sinclair Johnson but everyone calls me Sin.”
His eyebrows rose even higher. “Do you always introduce yourself by your nickname to potential employers?”
“Uh?” Sin was momentarily startled. “Um… no. I-”
“It’s not very professional, is it?” Worth’s dark eyes never left hers. “Sin.”
“I guess not,” Sin winced on the inside. This wasn’t the way she’d planned to start this interview. “Sorry. I’m Sinclair Johnson.”
Worth watched her for a long unsettling moment. His gaze dropped to her still outstretched arm then back to her face. With an annoying smirk, he ignored her hand and instead turned his attention to his computer. “So, Sin, tell me why I should hire you.”
How rude! While she’d been researching him, she’d come across comments from former employees of his and most of them had described him as an asshole and a ruthless taskmaster. Those comments weren’t far off. If this was any other man, Sin would’ve given him a piece of her mind, but Worth wasn’t any other man. He was her mark. Once she had his money, she’d say everything she was holding in. But for now… she swallowed her anger and kept smiling even as she lowered her hand.
“Well-” Sin pulled one of the seats across his desk back so she could sit down. “-I believe that-”
“I didn’t tell you to take a seat,” Worth cut her off without even looking up from his screen.
Wow! If you looked up asshole in the dictionary, this guy’s picture was right beside the word, right?
Still, Sin rose back to her feet. Though her face felt like cracking from her fake smile, she said, “You should hire me because I’m a good fit for this position. As you’ll see from my résumé, I have the academic qualifications and the experience needed. My former employers will tell you that I was a valuable asset in their daily life, having saved them many wasted hours by streamlining their systems and schedules. I have the ability to stay focused in stressful situations and can be counted on when the going gets tough. My high energy and quick learning style will enable me to hit the ground running. I’m confident that I would be a valuable asset to you too.”
It was a great answer. Hell, she would’ve hired herself if she was listening to that monologue. But Worth’s expression remained unimpressed. If anything, it seemed as if everything she’d said had gone in one ear and come out through the other without making any kind of impression on him.
Instead of commenting on what she’d just said, he asked, “Is Sinclair your real name?”
Why would he ask something like that? Her heart jumped in her chest. However, on the outside, she maintained a blasé expression and nodded. “Yes, it is.”
“It sounds like a man’s name,” he said.
And Wentworth sounds like a pretentious asshole’s name but you don’t see me saying it. Sin’s smile widened as she said aloud, “It does, doesn’t it? My parents wanted a boy so when I came they just used the same name.”
Wentworth met her eyes and instant heat shot through her. A moment later he poured water on that heat by sarcastically saying, “They must have been disappointed when they got you.”
That was an insult, right? This dude was getting on her last nerve. Was this really how he treated people? His boorish behavior only made Sin want to take him down more. For that to happen, she needed to pass this interview.
Acting like the insult had completely sailed over her head, she chuckled lightly. “I made up for it by being a very competent daughter.”
Amusement twinkled in Worth’s eyes almost as if he was laughing at her before he said, “In your résumé, it says that you worked as an Executive Assistant at Yeomin Technologies. I’ve never heard of them.”
Of course he hadn’t. Yeomin was one of the paper companies owned by the guy who’d created Sin’s fake identity. But it was such a skillfully created company that it had an online presence, yelp reviews, an address and even paid taxes every year. Keyboard even had a customer-care line for the company so that potential employers who called to check on the fake identities he created could talk to the ‘CEO’.
“They’re a small but reasonably successful company out in Virginia,” Sin said before licking her bottom lip to draw Worth’s attention to her plump lips.
It didn’t work. Worth looked away from her as he asked, “How long did you work there?”
“And why did you leave, Sin.” Worth’s top lip rose in a sneer. “Were you fired?”
“No,” Sin said. “I felt like it was time to move on and expand my horizons.”
“Ah, I see,” he said, However, underneath his breath, he murmured. “Also disloyal.”
This wasn’t how she’d expected this interview to go. Even the most misogynistic assholes were usually charmed by her appearance at first glance and tried to seduce her. However, Worth was completely unaffected by her. In fact, he seemed to despise her. It was quite clear that this interview was going to the toilet with every word she spoke.
Trying to salvage it, she said, “Actually, I’ve always wanted to work for W Sport.”
“Everyone wants to work for W Sport,” Worth retorted.
“I’m sure they do.” Sin smiled as she pushed her hair behind her shoulder to draw his attention to her neck. It worked, but Worth’s lips crooked in what was obviously a sneer. What the hell was wrong with this guy? He had to be an alien because if he was red-blooded, he’d be burning with lust right now. Any other woman would’ve given up by now. Fortunately, Sin wasn’t any other woman.
She kept smiling as she complimented, “Everyone wants to work here because it’s being led by a very brilliant businessman. You must take after your father.”
Worth’s eyebrows rose. “My father?”
“Yes, Wentworth Senior,” Sin said. “From what I can tell, he’s a very astute businessman like you. I read his book ‘The Mind of A Businessman’ and got many valuable life and business lessons from it.”
“You got valuable business lessons from that book?” Worth guffawed. “It was a crappy book.”
Was it? She hadn’t read it. She’d just skimmed over the few chapters that were available for free on the internet. Still, it was his father’s book. What kind of son describes his father’s book crappy? Worth was proving himself more of a tool by the minute.
She shrugged. “I found it okay.”
“And that shows your lack of judgment.” Worth gave her a disapproving look.
She started, “Actually-”
The ring of Worth’s phone cut into her sentence. Without even an apology, he picked it up. “Wentworth Ransom, here.” He paused a moment. “I see.”
After a few more ‘okays’, ‘yeahs’ and an ‘give me a minute’, he ended the phone-call. But before Sin could even finish what she wanted to say, he rose to his full height. Whoa! The guy was super tall. And super fit. Admiring the way his gray pants clung to his muscular thighs and imagining how it would feel to have him between her thighs left her feeling weirdly hot.
Stop it, Sin. She gave herself a mental slap. You’re not here to ogle him.
It was only when Worth grabbed his jacket and put it on that she realized what was happening. She gasped. “You’re leaving? But my interview-”
“-is over,” he finished for her. He smirked. “Thank you for your time. We’ll get back to you.”
What? The interview was over? Like this? When she hadn’t even had time to impress and seduce him? Aw, hell no! She needed to at least leave him with a lasting impression. Since her résumé was obviously not enough, then it was time to use her other charms.
As soon as Worth started to circle his desk, Sin stood up as if she was preparing to leave too. As he was about to pass her, she moved forward. Then as if she’d just tripped on her own feet, she stumbled forward with a small cry. As expected, Wentworth stretched his arms to catch her. She fell right into his arms.
“Oh!” With a dramatic gasp, she pressed her chest into his and grabbed onto his upper arms as if to steady herself. The moment she felt the shift of those muscles against her breasts, an undeniable yet shocking heat shot through her. Her gaze flew up to meet his. And she found him staring at her.
Sin had faked that fall because she wanted to force contact between them. Body contact and soul-gazing are the easiest ways to get a man interested in you. However, she didn’t expect her pulse to stop in its tracks when her eyes locked with his. She certainly didn’t expect the sudden tightness in her lungs or the urge to step even closer to him.
It was easy to see that Worth was as affected as she was. His eyes had darkened until it almost seemed like a storm was brewing inside him. For a while their gazes remained locked together in a whirlpool of undeniable awareness and desire then his gaze slowly moved downwards to her lips. He halted there, lingered. It almost felt like he was kissing her with his eyes. Then he lowered his head…
This was what Sin wanted; for him to give in to his male instincts and kiss her. But for some strange reason, she wanted to move away. Unfortunately, her body was locked into his; unwilling and unable to move.
Her throat tight and her body tense in his arms, she waited for him to close the distance between them.
For him to kiss her.
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