Page 53 of Knockout (Tapped Out 4)

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He pushed up his glasses on his nose and wouldn’t meet my eyes. “It’s been very busy.”

Bingo. I glanced at his tag and boosted the wattage of my smile. “Tell you what, George. I won’t tell if you won’t. Then neither of us will get into trouble.”

The elevator opened and the guard sighed. “The last applicant came down in tears. Are you sure you’re looking for a job like that, miss?”

“I’m a tough cookie.”

The frazzled older man finally smiled. “You seem like it.” He held his hand over the elevator’s sensor. “If you last twenty minutes, I’ll call it a good decision. Top floor.”

I knew it. I stepped over the threshold and turned to face him and pushed the button. “Good deal.” When the doors closed, I turned and slapped my palm against the side wall. Even the elevator was pure glass. Was it more of that strange opaque glass or was it simply see-through?

Why did I care?

And yet knowing people might see me fidget made me stop. I tugged down the hem of my white jacket. I wasn’t exactly rocking a business suit. It was perfectly suitable attire for the gallery, but this place was definitely not business casual with a side of funky chic.

Nope, people in this place probably had pinstripes on their underwear.

Blake Carson was the kind of rich that was out of my stratosphere. I understood the wealthy vacationing set, the old money from Marblehead, and men who wore four-hundred-dollar Polo shirts on their boat. Even the patrons at the gallery were an understandable rich.

This was an entirely different world.

The doors opened to a sea of gray. The wall facing the water was a pure sheet of glass. Even the frame for the panes was clear, giving it a faint grid pattern that drew me to the view of Boston Harbor.

My salvation, my first love, even above glass. A turbulent childhood of jet-setting from Milan to London, Greece to Japan, Monaco to Paris—places that should have been incredible and enlightening were only vague memories to me. My parents couldn’t be bothered to slow down for a child. I had a nanny and a tutor to keep me out of the way until finally my grandmother had said enough.

And then Marblehead had become my home.

My parents had lived too fast one too many times, and they’d been lost to the same sea that saved me. That had been minor compared to losing my grandmother. No more disruptive than learning a distant cousin had passed away.

The day I’d found my grandmother on the floor of her sitting room had been incomprehensible.

“Can I help you?”

I turned to the deep voice. Sandy-haired, with friendly blue eyes, he was the poster child for nice guy. Not what I was expecting at all. I held my hand out. “Mr. Carson?”

“Afraid not. Jack Hollister. I’m just the guy bringing you to the firing range.”

My eyebrows shot up. “That bad? George told me there were many tears today.”

“Nah, just an exaggeration.” He smiled and crinkles played at the corners of his eyes. Not from age, but from being outside and squintin

g into the sun. I knew that look. I’d fended off many a guy with an invitation for a midnight boat ride.

“So I don’t need to gird my loins?”

He snickered. “Actually, I think you’ll be just fine.”

Unprofessional and a snicker. What kind of business was I walking into? If this was the personality type, then maybe…just maybe I wouldn’t be totally out of my depth.

Jack opened his arm toward another wall of glass. So it could be colored. It was the same gray as the gunmetal sky outside. It took me a minute to make out the handle to the door. It was nearly indistinguishable from the glass. The only thing on the door was B. T. Carson in an understated font. Not a corporate font created for charts and progress reports.

However, it shouted wealth with the hairline fine lines echoing the curves and bars of the letters. A hint of art deco grandeur hidden under corporate gloss.

I straightened my shoulders and crossed the room. I knew how to read people.

It was my gift.

Blake T. Carson was going down.


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