This title is in transition.
©2009 Jet Mykles, all rights reserved
Owen stared at his monitor. “Yeah.”
Jane sighed and perched on the far edge of his desk. “And she just met him this last week?”
“Damn. What a life.”
“Oh God, would you stop mooning already?”
Scowling, he checked that the office door was closed. “Be a little louder, why don’t you?”
She reached up to smooth a hand over her short, straight black hair. “Oh, no one’s going to hear. Just about everyone’s gone home.”
He turned back to his monitor and tried to ignore her.
He’d known it wouldn’t work. She sat up further on his desk, leaning toward him. “Owen, you know you don’t have a chance with her, right?”
At times like this, he deeply regretted confiding in Jane. But they’d become good friends in the past few months, and he’d needed someone to talk to. Someone who understood. All his other friends were back in Atlanta, and they were too far removed from the business to get it. The only other person was his cousin Ellen. She was way too close to Gretchen for him to tell her anything.
When he didn’t answer her, Jane shook his shoulder.
“Hey.” He scowled up at her.
Her blue eyes narrowed. “She spends most of her time with rockstars, Owen. Gorgeous ones. She eats up handsome, successful men for lunch. She’s got guys like this Archer taking her away on expensive weekends. What could you possibly offer her other than your boyish charm?”
He gave her a mocking sweet smile. “Gee, thanks.”
She smoothed a hand over his hair. “I’m just trying to help you, honey. Mooning over the boss lady is just going to keep you distracted when a girl you can have and should be with comes along.”
He snatched his head away. Women were always petting him, he was used to it, but that didn’t stop it from being annoying when he was peeved. “I don’t want to talk about this.”
“Okay, okay. Let’s talk about this Saturday.” She clapped her hands like a giddy schoolgirl. “I’ll have to go out shopping for a new dress. You want to come with?”
“Oh yeah, that’s just what I want to do.”
She grimaced. “You know, darling, I have to say that you’re the strangest gay man I’ve ever met.”
That demanded that he give her the look. “I think you’d have to call me bisexual. I like girls too, remember.”
“Yeah. I guess it’s not so outlandish since you work for Heaven Sent after all. Well, once removed.”
Was she trying to depress him more? “Don’t you have a job to do?”
She batted her heavily mascaraed eyes at him, undeterred. “Bored with my company already?”
“Just the topic of conversation.”
“Fine.” She jumped off his desk and patted the folders she’d left in his inbox. “Make sure she sees those. There’s a new director whose work she should look at.”
“See you later. We’ll make shopping plans.” Giggling at his scowl, she opened the door and left.
Once the door had clicked shut after her, he gave up the pretense of working. Staring morosely at his desk blotter, he began his favorite task since Monday: trying to figure out a way to make Gretchen not go away with this Archer creep for the weekend. So far, no dice. He wasn’t going to do anything drastic, and no one from Heaven Sent had jumped in to demand her attention. The closest was when Chris Faith called for her, but he’d ended up calling her cell and getting his answer. Meantime, he’d had to hear about all her preparations for the trip. He’d even made calls to reserve a private table at a very chic restaurant for her and Archer.
Depressed, he tried to make himself see things a different way. This was a new thing. She hadn’t dated in a long time. She’d barely talked about Archer as more than a sex toy. Maybe that’s all it was. Sex. Still not something Owen wanted to dwell on, but if it was just sex, that meant it would likely blow over soon. He’d heard about her so-called relationships in the past. Nothing that lasted very long. Her career always got in the way. Maybe all Owen had to do was tough it out for a month or so; then she’d get sick of this guy and move on. Yeah, that was a better slant on it.
But it didn’t change the fact that she was going away to get fucked, repeatedly, by this Archer guy.
What did this bozo look like anyway? Owen turned toward his computer and brought up a Web browser. He’d just typed the man’s name in the image browser when a knock sounded. He had enough time to switch windows so that his e-mail was in front before he turned to greet the newcomer.
Whoa. The guy who walked in was movie-star gorgeous. The epitome of tall, dark, and handsome. His golden brown skin set off jet-black hair and matching brows that matched a classy, trimmed Vandyke beard. He wore a casual burgundy shirt unbuttoned just enough to show a hint of chest hair and black slacks over endless legs.
Owen wasn’t sure his own legs would support him if he stood, so he just turned toward the vision. “Hello. May I help you?”
“This is Gretchen Hobbes’s office?”
“Yes. I’m Owen, Ms. Hobbes’s assistant.”
The man stopped in front of his desk and held out his hand. “Owen. Nice to meet you. My name is Archer Thanos.”
Owen’s hand was folded in a warm grip before the name was spoken. He was unable to hide his jump of surprise. “A-archer Thanos?”
“I, uh, Gretchen’s told me about you. She said you…” He dropped his gaze to the package in the man’s hand, only to realize that his own hand was still held. He blinked, confused and entranced by the sight of his light tan in contrast to the deep gold-brown of this man’s skin. Yum. He tugged his fingers away so he could reach for the package. The angle made sure that he could check out the man’s other package, a slight bulge in the loose slacks. Yum. “She said you’d be dropping something off.”
Archer held the thick envelope up, just out of Owen’s reach. “Yes. This. It’s a prospectus for a video game.” That smile was just killer. Teeth blinding white in all that darkness. “You play?”
“Do you game?”
“I’ve, uh, some, but I’m not… Well, that is. Not much.”
The gorgeous man twisted to the side so he could hitch his ass up on the edge of Owen’s desk. He leaned companionably toward Owen as he set the envelope down on the desk blotter. “If you’re interested, I’d be happy to send you some samples.” Hands now free, he dipped two fingers into his chest pocket to extract a slim metal business-card case. A gold ring flashed on his finger as he flipped the case open and extracted a card.
Not until the card was hovering before him, held by two longer fingers, did Owen realize he’d just been watching the man move. Instinctively, he reached for the card. “Oh, I… There’s no reason to give me games. I mean, I wouldn’t be making a decision about this.” Jeez, Owen, get a grip! He’d handled plenty of other people with far more class than this. Why did this man have him rattled? Because this guy’s been inside Gretchen. Strangely, with said man sitting before him, the thought turned him on far more than it pissed him off.
“Oh no, my pleasure. No strings attached. Gretchen made that one perfectly clear this past weekend.”
Owen swallowed, dropping his gaze as he took exaggerated care in setting the man’s card down on top of the folder that was already there. “And you’ll be seeing her this weekend as well.” He heard the words before he could take them back.
“She told you about that, did she?”
“She tells me everything.”
When there was too much silence, he braved a glance up. Another speculative look pointed at him. He seemed to be getting a heck of a lot of those lately. This one, however, made his guts quiver into jelly. “As well she should.”
Owen stared into deep brown eyes, getting lost in the silent heat. He didn’t know what to say, and the man didn’t seem in a hurry to leave or break the silence. Finally, Owen cracked. “Actually, Mr. Thanos…”
“Please. Call me Archer.”
Owen nodded as he turned toward his monitor. “Archer. Gretchen wasn’t sure where you’d be going this weekend. Could you give me a location, just in case?”
The man amiably supplied not only the name of the resort, he pulled out his iPhone and forwarded the reservation information to Owen right on the spot. “Will you need anything else?”
Owen shook his head, trying to make his fingers stop trembling. “No. I think that’s more than enough. Thank you.”
“You’re quite welcome.”
He needed to be polite. Garnering his courage, Owen turned back and spread his hand over the folder on the desk. “I’ll make sure she gets that.”
“Thank you. Please call if you need any more information. And I mean it about the games. Take a look at our Web site. Any games you want, they’re yours for the asking.” He leaned forward on the desk, fingers steepled to support his weight. “You call me personally.”
Owen stared at his fingers, far too frightened of what might happen if he got lost in that smoldering gaze again. He might just have to throw himself at the man. “Thank you.”
“Well, then. I’ll see you later. Owen.”
Owen nodded and smiled, managing to raise his gaze to the man’s collarbone. It was high enough for him to see the smirk. No shit, you’re acting like a simpering schmuck. But it was the best he could manage.
Once Archer left, Owen just sat there, staring at the door, relearning how to breathe. The man was…ungh. No wonder Gretchen was so taken. Owen was afraid he was going to have to make use of the private bathroom in Gretchen’s office unless he could get control of the hard-on in his pants. He sat back and kept breathing until he brought his heart and groin under control enough to reach over to his keyboard to bring up the image search that he’d started before the man himself had come through the door.
“There’s no way,” he whispered, gazing at a smiling photograph of the man. “There’s no way you’ve got a chance in hell against this guy.”