Olivia Devon

romance author

I write books. Some of them are naughty. Others are more well behaved.
 

CHAPTER ONE

Jinx Yoshida settled back into her tufted leather chair and put both six-inch stiletto heels up on her desk like she owned the place. She didn’t. Her boss, Jack Calvert did. But that didn’t stop Jinx from protecting Glow, New York City’s hottest nightclub, and the people who worked there, like a goddamn guard lion. At the moment, the lion was on standby, ready to be unleashed if the next few moments didn’t go well. Jinx examined a cuticle with an air of practiced boredom, folded her hands together, and raked her gaze ruthlessly over the ten o’clock appointment that was loitering in her office doorway.

His back was to her. It had been, for going on two full minutes now. Who showed up for a job interview and kept their potential new boss waiting while they flirted with the office assistant? This guy apparently, which was strike number one against him on Jinx’s mental “what I look for in an employee” scorecard.

It was a shame that Kristie, the assistant in question, wasn’t going to be conducting his interview. What with the flush in her cheeks, and the way she kept tossing those blonde extensions over her shoulder, it was clear the flirting was mutual. Jinx rolled her eyes. If she let this little scene play out much longer, Kristie was going to lick all that cotton candy gloss right off her lips, and she’d have to send this guy walking. That wasn’t ideal, since this was an emergency hire situation, and he was eminently qualified for the job.

She’d lost the club’s head of security the night before. Jack had fired the man and had him discreetly escorted from the building halfway through a busy night. The rest of the security crew kept their shit together, kept doing their jobs even though nobody knew what exactly was going on. Not even Jinx knew.

Of course, it was Jack’s call. As owner, he was totally within his rights to sack anyone, anytime. But he usually consulted Jinx first, trusted her to do her job, trusted the success and well-being of his club and its employees to her, without question. This time he’d kept her out of the loop, and that bugged the shit out of her. She’d planned on confronting Jack this morning, getting him to explain what the hell was going on, and why he was keeping her in the dark. But all her calls went to voicemail, and when she’d arrived at her office, a folder was waiting on her desk with a Post-it note on it. Two words in Jack’s handwriting were all the explanation she was going to get for now. “Hire him.”

This “interview” was just Jack’s way of soothing her pride, of pretending like she actually had some say in who she was bringing into her house. Jack’s house, she reminded herself. He’d made that clear with his actions last night. Jack was changing the guard. He wanted this guy in charge of the Club’s security and he hadn’t seen fit to tell her why. This interview was a charade, and both she and the guy in the doorway knew it. Which was probably why he felt like he had the right to clog it up. 

“If you don’t mind.” Jinx cleared her throat and smiled when Kristie jolted, then flushed a deeper shade of pink. “Please, excuse us Kristie, I’d like to get this interview started.”

Kristie squeaked and nodded, then shuffled off down the hallway, but not before stealing another fluttery-lashed glance back over her shoulder. The man in the doorway waved goodbye, and then turned abruptly to Jinx. Flashing a smile, his features contorted into some sort of squinty-eyed eyebrow wiggle thingy that was one part James Dean and two parts ridiculous. 

Jinx narrowed her eyes. 

“Sorry about that,” he said. “I saw the Hello Kitty coffee mug on Kristie’s desk and was asking where she got it.”

“Big Sanrio fan are you?” Jinx asked.

“Aw no.” He laughed, a low kind of velvety rumble that had the hairs on Jinx’s arm bristling. “Nah, I’ve got a buddy with a daughter that’s really into all that. Thought I’d send her something.”

What a dork. He was trying to charm her. The squinty-eyed smile and “aw shucks I just love kids” was an obvious shtick to get her blushing like Kristie. 

“Let’s get to it, shall we?” she said, flipping the folder open.

“Yeah sure,” he said. “I know it’s just a formality, but hey, you do what you’ve got to do. Whatever you want to know. I’m all yours.”

“Thank you,” Jinx said, lifting her gaze to his, a sneer twitching at the corner of her lips. “Mr. Wyatt Smith,” she said, trying to shake off her irritation. “Your resume is impressive.”

It was too. All the right boxes were ticked, and all his references checked out. Former Navy SEAL, lots of security experience. Overqualified really, since most nightclubs don’t have a practical need for special ops. On paper, he was perfect. In person, she was not so sure. 

Wyatt Smith laughed again, thrust his hands in his pockets, and crossed her office in two long strides. Jinx watched with fascination as he took his time unfolding legs and arms, arranging them awkwardly on the small chair. There was a term for it, the phenomenon she was observing right now. One of those hashtags her sister was so chronically fond of. When six-foot-something-ridiculous of hulking muscled man meat struts into your office, and claims the chair across from you like it’s the fucking Iron Throne—there’s gotta be a hashtag for that kind of bravado right?

“Ms. Yoshida. Thank you.  And again, sorry about the Hello Kitty delay.” He grinned, popped up from his chair slightly and thrust out his hand across the desk. 

Jinx ignored the hand and narrowed her eyes. Standing, she picked up his folder and ran a finger down the first sheet inside.

“Mr. Smith—”

“Wyatt,” he said, sitting back down. “Or Wy even. That’s fine.”

“Mr. Smith,” she repeated blandly. 

He shrugged, dislodging a lock of blond hair so it dangled low over one eyebrow. Brushing it away he did that squinty thing again, those sparkling baby blues projecting a mixture of humor, sincerity, and just a hint of awkwardness.

Jinx smirked and squinted back. This guy was good, but he was not fooling her.

She couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but there was something about him that had her senses tingling. That laugh of his, it set off alarm bells in her head. Her inner guard lion had perked it’s ears at the sound, and was on high alert now, crouching at the base of her spine growling “Something’s not right here.”

Or maybe the tingling was just hurt pride.

But there was something about him that had bothered her the minute he’d walked in. It wasn’t just the cockiness in his stride or the informality of his manner, there was something else. He seemed familiar somehow, which was odd, because she never forgot a face. And yet…No, she still couldn’t place it. Her best move was to keep him talking. That way, she could observe and size him up.

Perching on the edge of her desk Jinx arched one eyebrow and tilted her head. She’d get the answers she wanted, one way or another. And if necessary, the lion would use its claws.

* * *

Dark brown eyes. So dark they were almost black. And big. Biggest he’d ever seen really. Prettiest too. Long lashes, some kind of fancy eye makeup that enhanced the shape nature had given her, and kind of made her look like a cat. She sighed and narrowed her eyes, which meant she was studying him. Trying to puzzle him out.

It was there in her gaze, the first hints of recognition. She’d have it figured out within the next ten minutes he guessed. Which was fine, and in the long run it would make things much easier. But she was going to be all kinds of spitting mad first, which again, was fine, as long as it didn’t last too long or get too violent. As he recalled, Jinx had a mean right hook and a fondness for rope.

He’d told Jack this was a bad idea, told him they could trust Jinx with the truth. Wyatt had checked her out and as far as he was concerned, she was clean. Definitely not a part of the massive security breach they’d discovered a few months ago. But, typical Jack, he wanted to do things his way, and he insisted that keeping Wyatt’s real purpose at the club a secret was the best plan. Anything more, he said, was too messy. Wyatt disagreed, strenuously. That was why even though he had strict orders from Jack to maintain his cover, he’d decided to blow it the minute he saw that beautiful face.

“Mr. Smith?” She prompted, and he realized he’d been lost in thought a little too long.

“Yeah. Mr. Smith. That’s fine too,” he said. “To be honest I don’t care much for either Wyatt or Wy.”

Leaning back in the chair, Wyatt stretched his legs wide and hooked both thumbs in the top pockets of his denims.

He was going for approachability. Show the subject some body language that says you’re comfortable, and they’ll start to feel the same. Except he wasn’t comfortable, because this freaking stupid retro-revival torture device some snotty designer had dubbed a chair felt like it had been punched out of one solid block of steel. Looked like it too. 

And now his knee was aching.

“It’s a family name,” he continued. “It was special to my Mom. But there’s not a lot of Wyatt’s in Connecticut, so I got teased. Guess that’s why I never warmed to it.”

“Hashtag manspreading,” Jinx said, her gaze largely unfocused but vaguely centered on the area of his crotch.

“I’m sorry what?” Wyatt straightened in the chair.

“What you’re doing Mr. Smith.” Jinx gestured to his legs. “That’s called manspreading. Laying claim to more than your fair share of available space because you’re a man and you feel entitled.”

“Sorry.” Wyatt drew his legs together and shifted forward. “I thought it was called sitting.” 

Shit. She did not like him.

Regroup. Try again. Ask her something about herself. Connect.

“Well what about you? You don’t like your given name either? Right?”

She stared at him, eyes narrowing scarily.

“I mean, I assume your parents didn’t name you Jinx. Kind of heavy emotional burden to lay on an infant.” He laughed.

Nothing. Still, she stared.

Dammit. He was gonna have to ramp up the ole charm if he was going to have any hope of soothing the blow when she realized the epic dupe currently in progress. That meant going old school—dimples and, as his Mom used to say, “all the fine manners befitting of a gentleman”. Mostly dimples.

“Ma’am I think we got off on the wrong foot here, I promise I’m not trying to spread any man—”

“Ma’am?” He winced when she clapped the folder shut and slapped it on the desk. “Ma’am? Really? How old do you think I am?”

“I dunno,” Wyatt scrubbed a hand over the back of his neck. “I uh…” Stall for time buddy, he thought. No way you can answer that question correctly. Shit…what—

“Never mind. That doesn’t matter.”

Her tone had him snapping his head up. It was bitter, with an edge of triumph. Something had just changed. If the climate in the room had been cool when he’d walked in, it was positively arctic now. That meant…

She knew.

He heard the deadbolt snick home before his hand even reached the knob. There must be a remote switch or a button under that desk somewhere. If his stupid knee hadn’t been acting up Wyatt would’ve been out that door and blown the building before she could lock him in. Fucking crappy designer chair!

“Sit. Back. Down.” The command was punctuated by a staccato crackle that had his memory flashing back to the last time he’d been hit by a Taser. Two months ago, in this same office. No way would he ever forget that Taser.

“That was you.” Wyatt said, raising his arms slowly and turning back to the chair. He’d meant it as an acknowledgement, the first step towards getting everyone’s cards out on the table.

“Absolutely,” she said, her tone so emphatic that he knew she’d taken him the wrong way. He was going to have to spar for a bit, see if he couldn’t back her down off of boiling mad to low simmer.

Jinx came out from behind the desk, and stood just a few feet from him. Feet planted shoulder width apart, long dark hair falling around her like a cape, she had both hands on the Taser, and was wielding the thing like it was a lightsaber and she was Queen of the known universe. Damn…that was sexy.

“I’d say we definitely need to just start this whole thing over.” Wyatt grinned, added a little wink, and waggled his eyebrows. Good ole charm. Tentatively, he held out his hand again. “Nice to meet you. Wyatt Sm—”

Jinx Tasered him. 

Evidently, she was not into charm.

At least this is more comfortable than that chair, Wyatt thought as he jerked to the floor, watching Jinx’s heels approach across the marble tiles. Click. Click. Click. A sexy death knell. When he stopped spasming, she poked him with the front of her shoe. Peekaboo pumps. Red glitter polish. 

Even her toes were hot.

“What now?” he asked, looking up as she prodded him over with her foot. “Gonna call the cops?”

“Ha! No, no cops. You’re not getting off that easy.”

That was good. Jack did not want the cops involved at this point, not before they really knew what was going on. The cops would just fuck it all up.

“Then…what?” he asked.

“Shut up, or I’ll gag you.” Jinx snapped.

“Yes Ma’am—”

Jinx sneered.

“Miss?”

The sneer grew wider, got a little toothy. Okay, Miss isn’t gonna fly either.

“Mistress?” he offered on a hunch.

Jinx held up the Taser and tapped the trigger just long enough to make her point. Bzzzzzzzzzt.

Wyatt shuddered. “Right, shutting up.” His head plunked against the floor.

Jinx walked back to the desk, picked up a cell phone, and dialed.

“It’s me. You’re needed here. Immediately.”

There was a pause, and Wyatt wondered who “you” was. Maybe he’d been wrong about her, had missed something in his background check. Maybe she was part of the security breach after all, and some big bad men were about to show up and cut him into chunks. How long did he have till ‘immediately’? If push came to shove, would his knee hold out? 

He sniffed. Taserings always made his nose a little runny, and his thoughts a little, frenetic. Jack was going to be annoyed. Worst job interview ever.

Click. Click. Click. She was back. Lightsaber at the ready.

“Get in the chair. I’m going to tie you up.”

“Ah, like last time. You’re sentimental. You missed me.” Wyatt looked up at her and grinned. Goddamn if his eyebrows didn’t waggle a bit again too. Fuckers had a mind of their own.

Jinx Tasered him. Again.

She seemed to like that.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

CHAPTER TWO

Wyatt smirked at Jinx as she tightened the final knot across his torso, binding him to the blasted chair. “If you’ve got things to do, don’t let me keep you,” he said. “I can just, ya know, hang out here.”

“You’d like me to leave, I’m sure. So you can take the opportunity to escape as you did before.” Jinx glided back to her desk and perched on the edge, her taser still trained on his chest. “No, I won’t be letting you out of my sight this time, cowboy.”

“Cowboy?” he said, rolling his eyes. “Because my name’s Wyatt? Wow, that’s super original and I’ve never heard that before.”

She didn’t respond, just crossed her feet at the ankles and leveled those beautiful black eyes on him. Whoa. That skin; creamy, flawless. She really was exquisite. Petite, but curvy. Legs for miles. Full pouty mouth, glossy with some kind of red stuff. He’d love to muss it up. Rub his thumb over those lips and smear it across her cheek.

Jinx’s brow furrowed, and he realized he was staring. Shit. What were they talking about again? 

Right. Cowboy. She still hadn’t responded. Never mind, he knew the answer.

“Wyatt Earp wasn’t a cowboy, you know,” he said. “He was a lawman. He arrested cowboys. Well the bad ones anyway.”

“The magnitude to which I truly do not care is astounding.”

“Fair enough.” Wyatt nodded and then dipped his head so she wouldn’t see him wince. 

Thank God he was alone on this job. He could just imagine how his guys would’ve described the scene if they were here. “SWO Calvert’s attempts to build a rapport with the subject were met with ridicule and utter humiliation.” He had to change tactics. Whatever he said, she definitely hated his guts, but when he stuck with the flirting and teasing, she seemed to hate him…well, in a better way?

“Hey is this the same kind of rope that you used last time?” he asked. “I didn’t get a good look, what with the pepper-spray and the mild concussion.” He flexed his biceps against the tension and strained forward a bit, testing the strength. “It feels the same. Slinky stuff. Sexy.”

“Mmmm,” Jinx said, eyeing him with a frown. He’d bet it was all the wiggling he was doing. Either it made her deeply suspicious that he was trying to escape, or the gun show he was putting on was starting to get her hot and bothered. Probably the first. But fingers crossed it was the latter.

“It’s like a calling card or something then? A trademark?”

“You could say that.”

“Maybe a fetish even?” Wyatt grinned but stopped short of eyebrow waggling, that seemed to set her off to nuclear. “Yeah? You get off on tying men up?”

“Wow, you’ve got me.” Her voice was low, almost monotone, but dripping with irritation. “Truly your powers of observation are formidable. The woman who just trussed you up like a Christmas turkey has an affinity for bondage. That is shocking information. Quick, call the tabloids.”

“Damn.” Wyatt arched a brow and held her gaze, then squinted in challenge. “That was mean.”

“And?” Jinx glared back at him and tilted her chin. Challenge accepted.

There was something going on here. Something crackling in the air between them like she’d left that Taser on, set to eleven. Whatever this was, it was interesting, and potentially useful. And just…fun.

“Is sarcasm a fetish of yours too?”

“Absolutely,” said Jinx. Rising from the desk, she crossed to him and drew the edge of the Taser up the center of his chest. Slowly, navel to neck, over his blue button-down shirt she trailed it; up, until the cold plastic caressed his cheek. “There’s nothing I enjoy more than a man with a smart mouth.”

“Well honey, then I’m the man for—”

“Shhhh.” Jinx grabbed his face and squished his mouth shut so hard he was making fish lips. Kicking his feet together, she stood over him, straddled his lap, and hovered her lips at his ear.

“You think this is a joke cowboy? You think you can flirt with me and I’ll go all gooey and let my guard down? Well that’s not going to happen. Now, I have no idea who you work for or why you came back, but I do know this: you’re the asshole who broke in here and stole from my employer. You made me look very bad. There is no way I’m letting you out of my sight, and there is no talking your way to safety. So I suggest you sit tight and show a little respect, or I’ll smack the sass right out of that smart mouth.”

Wyatt tried to speak, tried to throw that tough act right back at her, but it wasn’t working. His scrunched up lips made him sound like a duck gargling. Damn, so much for winning her over with seduction.

Jinx straightened and examined him, the expression on her face something between distaste and amusement.

“Ur tho thesxy when ur pithed off,” he said, little droplets of spit misting into the air as he spoke.

Jinx’s lips twitched. That’s how he knew he was making progress. She was mad, for sure, but she kind of liked him too—she couldn’t help it. And that pissed her off more than anything else.

“When did choo know it was me?” he asked, his speech a little clearer now that she’d loosened her grip.

Letting go of his face, she gave his cheek a slap and stepped away, back to the edge of the desk.

“I knew it was you within the first twenty seconds of that farce of an interview.”

“Really?” He was more dubious than impressed. Last time she’d seen him, he’d worn a mask. Twenty seconds his ass.

“Yes, really,” she said. “Same build, same bearing, same blue eyes. I got a better look at you than you realize. It was stupid of you to come back here.”

“I guess so.”

“Why did you?”

“I have a job to do,” Wyatt said. “And I won’t rest until it’s finished.” Their eyes met, and some small truce seemed to be negotiated. A respite based on a common ethic. Even if she still thought they were on opposite sides.

“So it was mostly the baby blues I bet?” Wyatt winked, and Jinxed grimaced at him in response.

“No cowboy,” she said. “Don’t flatter yourself. It was mostly the manspreading.”

“Oh for the love of God I swear I’m not manspread—”

“Yes you are.” A voice spoke from the doorway.

Wyatt turned his head and groaned.

“Do you have that thing set to scramble?” he asked, turning back to Jinx and glancing at the Taser she still held in her hand. “Because I’m seeing double.”

The woman that stood in the doorway was a perfect copy of the woman at the desk. Face, build, and eyes were all the same. The only physical difference was the way they were dressed, and the hairstyle, and the fact that Jinx wore an expression of surprise and the woman in the doorway was staring hard at Wyatt with with a look that said “What the fuck have you gotten yourself into?”

“You’re such a dork,” Aiko said, ignoring Jinx and directing her comments to Wyatt. “I bet you fucked this up on purpose.”

He had, of course. But that’s when he thought Jack would just show up and explain everything, and he’d be on his way. 

Wyatt already knew Aiko. He’d been working with her for a while now, at Jack’s request. She was a kind of computer expert, a hacker that Jack had tightening up security and investigating the breach. 

It was weird, but the more time he’d spent with Aiko, the less he thought she and Jinx looked alike. They were supposed to be identical, but their vibe was totally different, and in the time he’d been working with Aiko, he’d already come to think of her as a little sister. 

But Jinx was her actual sister. And Jinx was pissed at him. And Jinx doesn’t know that I know her sister and her sister knows me and that I already know Jack too and that all of us know something that Jinx doesn’t and that if she did know that we knew…know…that…wait… what? Fuck. 

Where was Jack? Dammit. Wyatt opened his mouth, ready to fess up and hope for the best, but Jinx turned her back on him and addressed her sister.

“What are you doing here?” Jinx asked.

“Yeaaaahhh….about that,” Aiko said, crossing the room and dropping a large patchwork shoulder bag onto Jinx’s desk. “You’ve got to promise not to be mad.”

“I will not.”

“Fine then.” Aiko plopped into Jinx’s chair and propped her feet up on the desk. “I’m not telling you.”

“Aiko, I sincerely do not have time for your shit right now.”

“How about mine?” said a voice with a posh British accent.

Wyatt whipped his head around and exhaled a sigh of relief. A tall, distinguished man with dark hair that was greying softly at the temples, polished a pair of glasses with a handkerchief, and then set them back on his nose. It was Malcolm, Jack’s assistant or butler or boy-Friday or whatever. What exactly Malcolm was didn’t matter. All that mattered was that if Malcolm was here, that meant Jack was close behind. Thank God.

“Do you have time for my shit?” Malcolm asked Jinx, his tone lilting with amusement.

“Malcolm. I always have time for you.” Jinx set the Taser down (finally) and embraced Malcolm warmly. Air kisses on both cheeks, Wyatt noted. She liked him. He kind of felt like pouting.

“Well.” Jack Calvert strode into the room, and crossed his arms over his chest. Italian shoes, one hundred thousand dollar watch adorning the wrist of one manicured hand; Jack Calvert was a mogul who came from old New York money. He always dressed the part.

“What a clusterfuck,” he said. “A simple interview, that’s all that was required. How you managed to turn this into a hostage situation is beyond me.”

Wyatt and Jinx responded to Jack’s reprimand at the same time. 

“I’m sorry Jack.”

“Sorry Boss.”

Whoops. 

Jinx turned her head slowly and stared at Wyatt, her pretty painted mouth opening and closing in astonishment.

* * *

“What did you just say?” Jinx demanded, a sense of dread creeping up the base of her spine. “Why did you just call him boss? You can’t possibly imagine you’ll get the job now?”

“Okay,” Wyatt replied. A shade of sarcasm in his tone told her she was missing something. She had the awful suspicion that she was going to feel incredibly foolish in just a few minutes. And that thought had her digging in. Doubling down.

“No, no, no,” she said, crossing to stand in front of him, pointing her finger at that smug grin. “Don’t okay me. You’re not getting a job asshole. You’re the guy that broke in here. You’ve been caught. I caught you, and you’re the hostage here. That’s what he meant.” Jinx stabbed her finger in Jack’s direction.

“Whatever you say.” Wyatt nodded.

“I do say. Because you’re the one who’s tied up.”

“True.” Wyatt nodded again.

She wished he’d stop doing that. The nodding. The smiling. She backed up to the edge of the desk and threw her sister a look. One that said, “A little help here? What the fuck is going on?”

“I’m just gonna swipe right till she gets it you guys,” said Aiko, staring at her phone. “Holler when you need me.”

“Jack?” Jinx said. “Explain, or I’m out. If this is some kind of joke at my expense I’m going to be seriously pissed.”

“No, no. Nothing like that.” Jack popped off the doorway and sidled up next to her. “Wyatt? You’ve made your point. You were right. We’ll include Jinx. Now, can we move on? I have a lunch appointment.”

“Awesome.” Wyatt grinned and leaned back in the chair. Muscles strained for one brief moment against the ropes. He bit his lip, did a little wiggle and twist, and before Jinx could stifle a gasp, Wyatt was up, jumping free, and throwing a tangle of black ropes to the floor in triumph.

“He did it again!” Jinx said, mouth gaping. “I cannot believe you did it again.”

“I did. I totally did.” Wyatt bobbed his head solemnly.

“How?” Jinx picked up the end of a rope and examined it. “Cut! You cut it! Same as last time! Goddamnit…c’mere.” She rounded on him, grabbed him by the waist and kicked his feet apart, stooping to pat down each leg.

“Hello!” Aiko said, putting her phone away and sitting at attention. “This just got interesting. You two need us to give you a little privacy or what?”

“Shut up.” Jinx threw a deadly glare at her sister. “I’m pissed at you.”

“Easy.” Wyatt sucked air in through his teeth as Jinx probed angrily around one knee. “Got a bum knee. It’s a little tender.”

“Whatever.” Jinx continued her search. “Like I’ll believe anything out of your mouth.

“I understand,” he said, “But I’m not lying about the knee. So please, ease up.”

Wyatt’s black jeans fit snugly, she noted, as she smoothed her hands up over his thighs. Firm, muscled flesh twitched softly under her palms as she searched. Warm, hard…

“Hey now,” he said, capturing her fingers as they glided over his chest. “I’m ticklish, and I promise I’m not carrying.”

“No, you’re not,” she agreed. His shirt fit snugly too, nicely tailored and crisp under her hands. Nowhere to hide a blade in there, just muscle. Muscle draped in clean blue cotton. Blue like those eyes… She looked up, and he pinned her with his gaze. His smile was open, casual. But those eyes—there was a heat there, an urgency. He looked…hungry.

Jinx twisted her fingers from his grasp, glanced down, and took a step back, hoping the heat in her cheeks wasn’t visible to anyone.

Jesus, wtf was that? Really?

Aiko was staring at her. Damn. Nothing gets by a sister. Twin sisters? Even worse.

Aiko had seen her blush when she was patting Wyatt down and probably figured Jinx had the hots for him. That meant that in about one point two seconds Aiko was going to get positively impossible.

“So Wyatt?” Aiko asked, throwing a mischievous grin at her sister. “That’s a nice shirt. What kind of material is that?”

“Huh? Oh, I dunno,” Wyatt said. Stepping back, he ran a hand down the front of his shirt, considering it. “Just cotton I think. Or a blend or something.”

“Interesting,” Aiko said, coming around to sit on the edge of the desk. “Are you sure? Cuz…I dunno—”

“Aiko.” Jinx sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose. “You are so immature.”

“From here it kind of…” Aiko tilted her head as if she were seriously assessing a new and exotic fabric. “Well it looks like…boyfriend material.”

“Jesus Christ. Five minutes younger, and it may as well be a decade.” Jinx took a deep breath and leveled her gaze on Wyatt. “So how did you cut out of my ropes when you don’t have a knife on you? That’s impossible.”

“Ah,” Wyatt said, holding up a finger. “I’d love to tell you but then I’d have to—”

“Wyatt,” Jack said, cutting him off. “I’m begging you.”

“Right. Sorry. Your lunch appointment. Okay so, here’s the thing—”

“If I might interrupt?” Malcolm said, and Jinx realized she’d forgotten he was there. She’d forgotten Jack was there for that matter. The last few moments her worldview had been narrowed down to only two important points: she was irritated with her sister and even more irritated with this man. Wyatt Smith. The impossible cowboy with the too-tight shirt and the too-blue eyes and the ability to cut ropes with the power of his mind. Apparently.

“Your lunch appointment has cancelled for today Sir,” Malcolm continued. “Since you’re suddenly free might I suggest I secure a private room for the five of us at Thai Sun?”

“I love that idea Malcolm,” said Wyatt before Jack could reply. “Some spicy Pad Thai would hit the spot. Bondage always works up my appetite.”

“Oh for crissakes…fine.” Jack turned to the door and waved after them. “C’mon then, the lot of you. “My blood sugar is very low right now,” he said with a labored sigh. “So I either need to eat something or fire you all. Jinx, if you want an explanation you’ll have to wait until I’ve gotten some curry in me.”

“So it’s true then?” Jinx said. Confusion had given way to hurt and a growing sense of betrayal. “Mr. Smith already works for you?”

“Calvert,” Wyatt said, stepping toward her and offering the same hand he’d tried to earlier.

Jinx stared at him, arms lifeless at her side.

“Not Smith.” Wyatt reached down, slid his hand gently into hers and shook lightly. “Calvert. Wyatt Calvert. Jack and I are cousins.”

 

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