Means:Office Roulette, Book One

By: Kennedy Layne

Office Roulette, Book One



CHAPTER ONE




“I couldn’t bring myself to end it.”

Laurel Calanthe pulled open the pristine glass door that led to the offices of Manon Investments. The well-established hedge fund catered only to high net worth individuals and select business partnerships. The expensive décor was designed with those clients in mind.

In all honesty, even the air smelled of the same linen used in the manufacturing of U.S. currency. The heavy fragrance hanging in the air never failed to bring a smile to Laurel’s lips.

The fact that the door was unlocked meant someone was still burning the midnight oil, but that wasn’t unusual in their line of business. Brad Manon was fanatically selective in who he chose to add to the employment at his firm, most often ensuring the analysts understood loyalty and the importance of total commitment. Such marked dedication went the whole nine yards when it came to bonus time.

It was going on one o’clock in the morning on a Friday night, but that didn’t matter in the financial world. One of the world’s markets was always open, trading, and willing to take money from the fund’s capital holdings.

“You’ve worked too hard to give up your success for Smith Gallo,” Grace reprimanded, her voice of reason coming through loud and clear over the cell phone. Unfortunately, no advice she offered now could take back the fact that Laurel had just spent the last three glorious hours in Smith’s bed. “I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have a personal life, but does it have to be Smith? You’re both up for partnership. How’s it going to look if word gets out that the two of you are sleeping together?”

“That I’ve got tremendous taste?” Laurel asked halfheartedly, recognizing that she’d only put off the inevitable. It wasn’t good for her career to get involved with her competition nor was it wise to dip one’s quill in company ink. Oh, Smith had definitely dipped his quill in company ink. She’d even questioned if the partnership wasn’t why Smith had propositioned her to begin with, though their attraction had started long before either of them were up for promotion. Did he believe he could ruin her chances if Brad discovered their indiscretions? “I know, I know. I’ll tell him tomorrow that we should take things down a notch or two.”

Soft backlighting accentuated the empty reception area, though she didn’t pause on her way across the tiled entrance. She had one last destination in mind for the workday, and that was her private office where she’d left some files she’d planned to take home with her this weekend. Her black high heels clicked on the marble tile with each step she took until she reached the plush carpet of the private hallway.

“A notch or two?” Grace wasn’t being fooled in the least. “I was at today’s morning meeting, Laurel. The papers in your hand almost combusted from the way Smith was staring at you. Taking it down a notch isn’t going to cut it, not even close.”

“You only noticed that because you already know about the two of us.”

Laurel continued to walk down the hallway, noticing that a dim light was coming from Brad’s office. His private domain was located at the end of the corridor. The spacious corner office overlooked the beautiful city of Minneapolis, but he wasn’t the type to have an open-door policy. Quite the opposite. It hadn’t always been that way, but his demeanor had changed in the past few years…and not for the better.

It seemed it was in her favor to have stopped by for the files she needed, even at this time of the night when her boss was still here. Her presence in the office so late on a Friday would look good come next week when a final decision was to be made regarding the partnership slot.

Her chance at turning the fates was in the making.

“Look, Smith has a reputation for business and with women.” Grace muffled a yawn, reminding Laurel of the time. “Mixing the two together is just a recipe for disaster. I don’t want to see you get hurt.”

Laurel rested her tongue against the back of her teeth in an effort to counter that sentiment. Smith only allowed the world to see what he wanted them to see, and nothing more. He’d been born into one of the most prestigious families in the city, but he’d worked hard to make a name for himself based on his contribution to society. He was an enigma to most of the people he interacted with on a daily basis. He was nothing like his spoiled siblings who lived off their trust funds while traipsing around the world with the jet set crowd.

“I’m not going to get hurt,” Laurel argued, not truly believing her own contradiction. She had no idea where she stood with Smith, other than the sex was scorching hot. “Listen, I can’t talk about this now.”

She reached around the wall of her office and flipped on the overhead light. She hung the strap of her purse on the door handle before continuing down the corridor. Her heels sunk into the plush carpet as she got closer to Brad’s office door. It would ultimately benefit her if she dropped by and checked in, letting him see that she took her work seriously.