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Bastard In A Suit – Chapter Three [Online Ebook]

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Jake pours a glass of beer from the pitcher and slumps in his chair. “That guy Kingston is a motherfucker.” He shakes his head and his eyes go dark. “Thinks he can just walk all over people. Rich asshole.”
I shoot him a look. “Calm down, Jake.”
I think he might be getting drunk.
Meanwhile, the delicious scent of fried cheese wafts from the deep-dish pizza at the center of the graffiti-riddled table. I resist picking at it, not wanting to ruin my appetite. Like I’ll be able to eat when I’m out with Duke, anyway.
“At least we’re still in the game,” Forrest says, taking a sip of Guinness. Foam sticks to his upper lip and he licks it away.
I pretend to be the reasonable one. “The important thing is that we have a second shot here. Let’s not blow it.”
Jake snorts. “No, you have a second shot. Duke Kingston wants nothing to do with me and Forrest.”
Forrest gives me a look as if telling me to ignore Jake’s whining. “If we make a deal, we all get paid regardless of who Duke Kingston meets with.”
“Yeah, well maybe she’ll be able to do something you and me couldn’t do to close the deal,” Jake mutters.
I turn to him, my cheeks blazing. “What the fuck does that mean?”
“Don’t listen to him,” Forrest says. “He’s drunk and pissed off because Marissa broke up with him.”
I sigh, trying to decide between feeling angry at the way Jake’s behaving or showing sympathy over his personal loss. I end up somewhere in the middle. “You guys will get back together,” I tell him.
Jake just shakes his head and holds up his cell. “Marissa’s done. For good this time.”
I’ll believe that when I see it. The two have been dating for the better part of the last three years. I’m not surprised Marissa’s called it quits, since they’ve always been extremely volatile. I am a bit shocked, however, that Jake appears to accept that this time it might be for real.
Jake’s never done very well when the two have split for short periods of time in the past. He has some kind of obsession with Marissa…and I suppose she must like it, because she keeps getting back with him again and again.
“She’ll be back,” Forrest says, echoing my own sentiments.
My thoughts turn back to Duke—his cold, calculating mind and that rock-hard body. Sin practically oozes from his pores. And those eyes. Wicked. The intensity of his stare almost gave me a damn orgasm.
I cross my legs tighter together in an attempt to curb the tingle between my thighs, but it’s useless. I’ve been in constant discomfort since we left Kingston Industries. And that scares the shit out of me.
Especially knowing I’m going to be alone with him in a matter of hours.
“Can you believe that, Hailey?” Jake’s voice snaps me out of my thoughts.
“Sorry, believe what?” A flash of annoyance crosses his face. “Can you believe that she said she won’t even give me one last face-to-face conversation for some closure?”
I reach across the table to put my hand on his arm. “I’m sorry, hon. She’ll come around.”
He flinches away from me and his expression darkens. “She’d better,” he mutters.
Our table falls temporarily silent.
Forrest clears his throat. “Can we move on to issues of real importance?”
Jake downs the last of his beer, and pours another. I’ve barely made a dent in mine.
“We have a second chance with Kingston Industries,” Forrest says. He doesn’t meet my eyes, which tells me he’s put off that I’m the only one who was asked to go to dinner.
“We need a strategy,” I say, nodding, looking to my partners for help.
Jake snorts. “Not really.”
I glare at him, my patience fraying now. “Just say what you want to say, Jake. You think I should sleep with him so he gives us the money?”
Jake shrugs but won’t look at me as he guzzles his beer.
Forrest tries to be the voice of reason. “I’m not saying you sleep with him, but maybe just…I don’t know. Flirt a little if he seems to want that.”
I stare at Forrest, my eyes wide. “Are you fucking serious?”
“It’s the way the world works,” Forrest says, itching his nose.
Jake laughs and shakes his head, clearly bitter.
“This is total bullshit,” I tell them both. “Just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean that I have to be a sex object for some rich investor. Maybe he thought I was the smartest of the three of us—did that ever occur to either of you?”
“Not really,” Jake says. He pours the last of the pitcher into his cup.
I want to tell them both to go to hell, but then I remind myself that this has been an incredibly stressful day and none of us have handled it well.
But now I’m deep in my head, waves of anxiety washing over me.
I’m already worked up over the thought of going to dinner—what the hell am I going to wear?—and the last thing I need is Jake’s smart-ass sarcasm and bitterness infection my thinking as well.
My thoughts return to the boardroom. I press my back into the chair, imagining what it would have been like to have Duke’s groin pressed against my ass, his cock hard through his pants. I close my eyes and allow myself to fantasize that his hands are on my bare hips as he bends me forward. His palms skim along the soft curve of my hip, skip along my abdomen and wrap around to cup my breasts. My nipples go tight.
“Hailey?” Forrest asks.
I snap out of my fantasy and pretend that I wasn’t just thinking about Duke fucking me in his conference room. “Yeah?”
Forrest pinches is bottom lip as he broods. “All kidding aside, I think we need to target a more narrowed segment of the population.” He sighs. “I liked what you said to Kingston about having a big upside. His risk, high reward. If we could somehow sell him on the idea that the MicroTracker could corner a niche market, maybe he’d be more interested.”
“Exactly.” I cup my hands around the beer mug, allowing the cold condensation to cool my skin. “But which market?”
Jake types into his phone. “…fucking bullshit…” he says, to nobody in particular.
Forrest shakes his head. “I don’t know. There has to be a natural fit.”
And then my eyebrows raise and I feel the shock of the obvious. “How about law enforcement. Or…military, maybe?”
Forrest sits up straight. “Hey, you could be on to something.”
I know that I am, which gets my heart racing. If I can convince Duke that Kingston Industries will have exclusive patent rights to a device that could revolutionize the spy industry—for the greater good, of course—then I’m sure he’ll invest in the product. With a bit more money, we could make the right enhancements to make it worth everyone’s while.
Forrest leans forward. “But do you think Kingston will go for it?”
Movement across the street catches my eye. A man in a Chicago Cubs baseball cap hovers in front of the Nike store. There’s something familiar about him. I could swear he was there when we first arrived at the pub, standing and staring through the window in exactly the same position. Almost as if he’s been watching…us.
I tap Jake on the shoulder, interrupting another animated discussion. “Hey, do you know that guy?”
Jake leans forward to get a better look. “What guy?”
“The one—” Just as I go to point him out, I realize he’s already gone. I try to shake off the unease, but my skin tingles with anxiety.
Great, now I’m also becoming paranoid.
I polish off the last of my beer and set the glass on the table. “I should get going.”
I gather my purse and stand, smoothing out my skirt to avoid eye contact. Forrest, always perceptive, picks up on my discomfort and grabs my wrist. “Hey, we were just razzing you before about Kingston, Hailey. Don’t take it so seriously.”
Right.
I exhale hard. “But it is serious, Forrest. We’re not in school anymore.”
Forrest seems chastened, nodding his head at my words.
Jake is tapping away at his phone.
“Not going to bother to wish me luck?” I ask him, feeling more and more annoyed at his bad behavior.
Jake finally glances up at me, and his eyes are dark with venomous resentment and envy. “You don’t need luck, Hailey. You’ve got other assets far more important.”
I want to tell him to fuck off, but instead I turn on my heel and head out.
For all my partners’ boisterous talk, neither of them have the spine to sit face-to-face with Duke Kingston. They’re trying to pawn it off on me being a girl so they don’t have to deal with the fact that I’ve always been the leader of our group.
Nothing’s changed.
I still have to close this deal one way or another.

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