Page 2 of The End of Faking It

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‘I wanted to see what the place was like when it was quiet.’

‘Why?’ Her suspicions grew more. What did he want to see? There wasn’t any money kept on site, but there were files, transactions, account numbers—loads of sensitive investor information worth millions. She glanced past him to Mason’s open office door, but could hear no gentle hum of the computer.

‘Why are you watering the plants at nine-thirty at night?’ he countered.

‘I forgot to do it earlier.’

‘So you came back specially?’ Utter disbelief.

Actually she’d been downstairs swimming in the pool—breaking all the rules because it was after the gym’s closing hour. But she wasn’t going to drop Jed in it. ‘New recruits don’t get to grill me.’

‘No?’

His smile sharpened, but before he could get another question out she got in one of hers. ‘How come you’re here alone?’

‘Mason wanted to get an early night before we get started tomorrow.’

‘He didn’t tell me you were starting.’

‘Does he tell you everything?’

‘Usually.’ She lifted her chin in defiance of the calculated look that crossed his face, but he missed it—his focus had dropped to her body again.

‘Mason buried his heart with his wife,’ he said bluntly. ‘You won’t get any gold out of him no matter how short your skirt.’

Her mouth fell open. ‘What?’

‘You wouldn’t be the first pretty girl to bat her eyelashes at a rich old man.’

What was he suggesting? ‘Mason’s eighty.’

His shrug didn’t hide his anger. ‘For some women that would make him all the more attractive.’

‘Yeah, well, not me. He’s like my grandfather.’ She screwed up her face.

‘You’re the one who said he likes your skirt.’

‘Only because you couldn’t drag your eyes from it.’

‘But isn’t that why you wear it?’

She paused. He wasn’t afraid to challenge direct, was he? Well, nor was she—when she could think. Right now her brain had gone all lame. ‘I don’t believe you’re supposed to be here now.’

‘Really? Go ahead and ask your boss. Use my phone.’ He pulled it out of his pocket, pressed buttons and handed it to her.

It rang only a couple of times.

‘Carter, have you already found something?’

Penny gripped the phone tighter as she absorbed the anxiety in Mason’s quick-fire query. ‘No, sorry, Mason, it’s Penny. Not Carter.’ She stuttered when she saw Carter’s sudden grin—disarming and devilish. ‘Look, I’ve just bumped into someone in the office.’

‘Carter,’ Mason said.

‘Yes.’ Penny winced at the obvious. Had the sinking feeling she was about to wince even more. ‘He’s given me his phone to call you.’

‘Penny, I’m sorry, I should have told you but Carter thought it should wait until he got there.’

Thought what should wait? Why was Carter the one calling shots? What was going on?

‘Carter heads up Dodds WD in Melbourne. I asked him to come to Sydney for a couple of weeks. I need his help.’

‘What for?’

Carter knew he was still standing too close but too bad. In fact he put both hands back on either side of her. That way she couldn’t readily escape. He was certain she would, so he made sure she couldn’t—by holding a position that was only a few inches away from intimate.

He was having a time shutting up the temptation whispering that he should lose those few inches. He pushed his hands hard on the cool metal and watched as she pressed the phone closer to her ear and turned her head away from him.

The colour ran under her skin like an incoming tide and Carter couldn’t contain his amusement. Mason was his grandfather’s best friend. He’d seen him every few months all his life and he was on the old boy’s speed-dial to prove it. This was the first time Mason had asked him for help—and help he would. But just this moment?

Distraction. Capital D.

‘Of course.’ Penny had turned her head even further away, clearly hoping he wouldn’t hear whatever it was that Mason was saying.

Carter didn’t give a damn what the old guy said right now. He was too lost in looking at her. She had the biggest, darkest eyes he’d ever seen. They drew him in and sucked him under—like sparkling pools that turned out to be dangerously deep, the kind of eyes that you could stare into endlessly—and he was. Peripherally, bits of his body were absorbing the detail of hers and the back of his brain drew rapid conclusions.

A skirt that short, a shirt that sexy, a body that honed, lips that slicked…

This woman knew how attractive she was, and she emphasised all her best assets. Everything about her was polished to pure, sensual perfection. She was no shy, shrinking secretary. She was a siren. And every basic cell in Carter’s body wanted to answer her summons. So, so badly.

‘Hello?’

She was holding the phone out to him and he’d been too busy gawping to notice. He grabbed it and started talking.

‘Hi, Mason, sorry to bother you so late.’

‘It doesn’t matter. It’s great you’re onto it so quickly. I can’t thank you enough.’

‘So Penny’s your temp PA?’ Carter kept looking at her, still struggling to believe that conservative, eighty-year-old Mason had ever hired such a blatant sex bomb. ‘She’s working late.’

‘She always works late.’ Mason sounded pleased. ‘She’s an angel. I get in every morning and everything is so organised, she makes it a breeze.’

An angel? Carter’s suspicions sharpened again. Penny wouldn’t be the first attractive young woman to turn an older man’s head. Carter knew exactly how easy it was for an avaricious, ambitious female to use her beauty to dazzle a fool old enough to know better. He’d watched not one, but tw

o do that to his dad. Despite her outraged reaction, who was to say that wasn’t what was happening here? ‘How long has she been with you?’ He couldn’t not ask.

There was a silence. ‘Since after the problem started.’ Mason’s voice turned arctic. ‘I thought I’d made this clear already.’

Yeah. Mason had mentioned his fabulous PA more than once—but not her hotter-than-Venus factor. Not mentioning that didn’t seem natural.

‘You tell her what’s going on,’ Mason said sharply. ‘I should have already. Carter, she’s not who you’re looking for.’

Carter stared at the temptation personified before him. Her mouth was as glossy and red ripe as a Morello cherry—and he wanted a taste. That was the real problem. Hell, he was off on a tangent before he’d even started. He owed Mason better than this. ‘You’re right,’ he said brusquely. ‘She’s not.’

Penny watched him pocket the phone. He didn’t seem to be any happier about the situation—offered no laughter or light apology. If anything he looked as angry as he had when he’d first interrogated her. What was he here to do exactly? Mason hadn’t elaborated, just told her to help him if he asked her to. They hadn’t advertised a new job—she was the one who placed the ads so she’d know. So this was cronyism, some old boys’ school network thing. But he was hardly a fresh-faced graduate getting his first contract courtesy of his father. ‘You know Mason personally,’ she said baldly, annoyed by the fact—annoyed by him—and his attractiveness.

‘Have done for years.’ He nodded.

Yeah, that was why the job, whatever it was, hadn’t been advertised. Mason had probably made something up for him to do. Still smarting from his gold-digger slur, she let her inner bitch out to taunt. ‘You don’t look like you have to pull favours to get a job.’

‘Don’t I?’ he answered too softly. ‘How would you know? Is that what you do?’ He leaned closer and whispered low, as if they were intimate. ‘What kind of favours do you pull to score a job, Penny?’


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