Seth Barlow picks his teeth with the bones of secretaries he’s chewed up and spit out. Except Tessa Edwards. She’s completely unruffled by his bad attitude–and completely undone by his touch.
But Tessa is balancing on a high wire with no safety net. Her job is the only thing that keeps her from losing custody of her little brother to her money-hungry aunt and uncle, who care less for the dyslexic child than for the hefty trust fund that comes with him.
When ten thousand dollars goes missing from Barrett Newspapers and shows up in Tessa’s personal bank account, not even her budding relationship with Seth can help Tessa keep her job…or her little brother.
Warning: One bad-tempered boss, one super-efficient secretary, and a whole lot of sparks!
Seth offered her a hand to help her down the steps and onto the tarmac, but Tessa ignored it, just as she ignored the hand he offered to help her into the Escalade. When Seth pulled into the curb in front of her apartment, he put the SUV in park and looked at her.
“Tessa, we need to talk.”
Her expression impassive, she responded, “About what, Mr. Barrett?”
Seth slammed his fist against the dashboard. “Damn it! I’m sorry. Is that what you want to hear? I’m not used to groveling, but if that’s what it takes, then I will.”
At last he got a reaction. The detachment disappeared. Her eyes shot sparks of blue fire. “Tell me one thing, Mr. Barrett. Last night, did any of it mean anything to you? Anything at all? Or was it just a merger you decided not to complete?”
Seth looked into those ice blue eyes. A touch of wariness and hurt like he’d seen last night peeked through the tight control she had on herself.
“It meant enough to me that I stopped,” he admitted and continued to meet her gaze. She blinked rapidly, and for a second her lower lip trembled. “Tessa…”
“Don’t!” Before he could stop her, she threw open the door, grabbed her oversize purse and ran into the house.
Seth uncoiled from the driver’s seat, snatched the laptop and her hanging bag from the back and carried them up to the door. Zach met him there with a mutinous look on his freckled face.
“You made my sister cry,” he accused. “Tessa never cries! What did you do to her?”
Seth’s chest ached as he studied the boy. His little hands were knotted into fists and his small chest rose and fell with indignation.
“It’s a grown up thing, Zach, but if it means anything, I didn’t intend to hurt her.” He held the bags out to the boy. “Can you manage to carry these for me? I think Tessa has seen enough of me for today.”
Zach glared at him again and then snatched the bags from Seth before slamming the door in his face. Seth stared at the closed door and sighed. Yes, all in all, he had screwed things up. He walked back to the SUV and stared at the house for a moment longer before climbing in and driving off. He’d wanted to take her and Zach to the beach this weekend to say thanks, but right now that seemed like the lousiest idea in the world–and the one thing he kept thinking about.