Chapter 3

”Thats impossible. It has to be here, ” Virginia cried as her fingers skimmed across the keyboard of her office computer, her eyes frantic. After several long minutes, she finally stopped and whipped her chair around, nearly throwing Steve off balance, whod been leaning against it to peer over her shoulder.

”I don know what happened. When I left Thursday it was here. I promise you. ”

”It was your account, Virginia. If you don have it then no one else does, ” Steve said coolly.

For several moments she just stared at him with blinking eyes, not really knowing what to say or do. She was at a complete loss. When shed cleaned out her desk two days ago she had been sure to leave all company files on her computer or on disks in her office. It was company policy. Once an employee ended his or her relationship with Newton, they were obligated by law to leave all materials pertaining to Newton accounts at the office. It was to ensure that private information did not somehow end up in the hands of their competitors. Virginia hadn broken the rules. She had left everything but her personal belongings at the office.

So, when shed received a call from Steve saying that he couldn locate the files for the New Zealand account anywhere on her computer or in her office, shed raced down there on a Saturday still dressed in her ”lounging at home on a Saturday morning ” attire of faded jeans, flip flop sandals, and a canary yellow tank top.

”I—I don know what to tell you, ” she stammered. This had never happened to her before. She had never in her entire time at the company lost an account.

Steve straightened to his full height and of its own volition, her gaze traced the outline of his rippling muscles that strained against his short-sleeved white cotton t-shirt. She swallowed the lump in her throat. He looked every bit as young as he was in what appeared to be his gym clothes. But he was still strikingly handsome.

She used every ounce of self-restraint not to let her eyes dip lower where shed glimpsed the faint outline of his impressive cock through the thin material of his grey sweat pants when shed first arrived. She was so used to seeing him in suits that his casual attire had jolted her. Being there with him on a Saturday, in plain clothes, gave the meeting a slightly more intimate feel to it. She gulped down a deep breath, trying to ease the furious beating of her heart. His nearness was unsettling in the close space with just the two of them—alone.

”We meet with the Auckland Regional Council in two weeks. We can simply show up there empty-handed— ”

”Well thats your problem, not mine, ” she said, shooting to her feet. ”I quit two days ago, remember. ”

His eyes flashed with surprise at her flippant words. She could tell he hadn been expecting that response. Well, gone were the days where she slaved and sacrificed her nights and weekends for Newton. She no longer cared.

”Virginia, you told me if I had any questions to give you a call— ”

She folded her arms across her chest. ”And you did call, with your question, and I answered— ” She shrugged her shoulders. ”—with an I don know, ” she said, not even trying to mask the sarcasm in her voice.

She watched as Steves eyes narrowed to slits, his eyes hardening to tiny chips of blue ice. She could tell by the dark scowl on his face that her offhand comment had struck a nerve.

”Virginia, what is your problem? I am telling you that I need your help— ”

She stiffened at the simmering fury in his eyes, her own gaze turning cold. ”Well you
e CEO now so you don really need my help, ” she spat out, realizing how childish she sounded, but she didn care.

”I already told you I had nothing to do with that, ” he said gently.

He was right. And when she glimpsed the wounded expression on his face, she instantly felt ashamed of her behavior. It wasn fair to hold something that was beyond his control against him. She blew out a weary breath. ”I know, and Im sorry for my comment. But honestly Steve, I have no idea what happened to those files. I really can help you— ”

”Can or won ? ” He asked tightly.

”Both, ” she said quietly, and stepped around him to head toward the door.

She froze when his hands clamped around her arms and he dragged her up against his hard body, her back brushing against his chest. A tiny shiver raced down her spine when she felt the distinct outline of his cock through her clothing. She instantly pushed out her hips to put some space between their bodies.

”I can let you walk out of here—, ” he whispered into her ear, and she had to repress a shudder when his warm breath fanned across the sensitive skin of her ear, causing tiny goose bumps to break out across her flesh. ”According to company policy, if an employee quits and anything, from physical property to information, goes missing then I have to report it to the authorities— ”

”What? ” She pulled out of his grasp and spun around to face him, her eyes flashing with disbelief. ”Are you saying, you think I took those files? ”

”You were angry. Who could blame you if you wanted to sabotage the company— ”

She drew back as if hed struck her, unable to believe his words. ”I didn do anything with those files. When I left Thursday they were here, ” she cried, pointing at her computer.

His eyes remained cold, and his expression impassive, as he stared back at her. She could tell from the look on his face that he had his doubts.

”I want to believe you, Virginia, but the files have somehow disappeared. I don want to have you arrested, but I have no choice— ”

She stiffened as an icy chill crept through her veins. ”Arrested? Steve, I did not take those files. ” She could not believe this was happening. She had worked tirelessly for Newton, only to be screwed out of a promotion and now accused of corporate theft? She had never felt so helpless in her entire life.

She held her breath when Steve tilted his head to the side as if he were calculating some mathematic formula silently. When he abruptly fixed his gaze upon her, she stilled.

”I don want to see you arrested, all I want is to be ready for that meeting in two weeks. So, I am willing to keep quiet about this if you help me do just that. Help me put together this account in time. ”

She released a sigh of relief. She had absolutely no desire to spend any time talking with the authorities trying to convince them of her innocence. If he wanted her to help him with the New Zealand account then she could do that, which is exactly what she said.

”I didn take those files, but I do understand your position. I am willing to assist you with the account, ” she murmured reluctantly. Hell, she didn want to do any such thing. But she also didn feel like going to jail for corporate theft either.

At her words, a smile of relief spread across his handsome face. ”Good— ” he started but she quickly held up her hand to silence him. ”Before you get excited, you need to understand that this account took me three months to do and many weekends and eighteen-hour days. If you want it ready in two weeks be prepared to spend all your time doing nothing but this. ”

He folded his arms across his chest and gave her a genuine smile, but she swore she glimpsed a spark of triumph twinkle in his eyes. ”Have no worries. I have cleared my calendar to work on nothing else but this. For the next two weeks, I am all yours. ”

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