Oh shit. She stopped in the hallway, teetering in her high heels, and clutched her stomach. She had a crush on Eric Blackwell. Shaking her head, she resumed her course down the hallway toward the reception area. No doubt about it. She had a full-blown, heart fluttering, face heating, mind wandering, completely infatuated, school-girl quality crush on her firm-mate.
“Hi, Ms. Dixon,” the receptionist said. “Nothing has come for you.” She looked around at the empty lobby. “But, um, your dad’s been up here several times also. Are you waiting for Mr. Blackwell’s clients to come out of the meeting, too?”
Well, that would explain why he hadn’t replied to her text.
“Because they’re super-hot and so worth a look. I can buzz you when they come out. That’s what I’m doing for Mr. Dixon.”
Hot? “No. Thanks, Marcie. I’m about to meet a client anyway. Thanks for the news.”
She highly doubted her dad was stalking Eric’s clients because they were eye candy. It must be the executives from Anderson Enterprises. She turned into her hallway again.
When she was ten feet away from Eric’s office, his door opened. “Thanks for taking the time to go over everything with us in person,” a man’s voice said.
Jane knew she should just keep on walking, but she was way too curious about the deal that had Eric so consumed and her dad so uptight. She stood still, holding her breath and listening.
“I’m sure Cahill Investment Group will grant us the requested concessions in light of the tax ramifications,” the man continued. “They want to sell worse than we want to buy.”
“Speak for yourself, Chance,” another male voice said. “I want to buy pretty damn bad. I want that company. You’ll make it work, right, Eric?”
“I’ll do my best. I should know by our racquetball game tomorrow.”
“I’ve always wanted to say ‘See you in court!’” the last speaker said, “but I guess all I get is ‘see you on the court!’”
Then, two men exited Eric’s office. Whoa had Marcie been right. They were totally worth a look. More than one look, actually, and Jane fought the urge to gawk. They were a few inches taller than Eric, both easily over six feet. Both wore suits but looked very different. One was clean-cut like Eric, and the other had longer hair and a wild edge to him. She recognized the conservative-looking one right away from pictures in the paper and tabloids. Michael Anderson, CEO of Anderson Enterprises. Good. It sounded like the deal wasn’t dead. Maybe Eric would get his promotion to junior partner after all.
Eric followed them out, and as hot as the Anderson brothers were, she found her gaze being pulled back to the shyly confident and just as sexy man standing beside them. All three turned toward her. Oh God, she must look like the worst kind of eavesdropper, lurking in the hall outside his office.
If it bothered Eric, he didn’t let on. A smile that made her want to melt flashed across his face like he was genuinely glad to see her. “Ms. Jane Dixon. I’d like to introduce you to Michael and Chance Anderson.”
Handshakes and pleasantries were exchanged before the three men headed toward the receptionist desk where, no doubt, her father waited in ambush to see how it went.
Before she reached her office door, her phone rang.
“Hi. Is this Jane Dixon?”
“This is Brody Lyons. I’m a friend of Eric Blackwell…”
“Oh My God! What happened to your eye?” Jane asked.
Eric had planned on begging off tonight, but changed his mind when Jane’s text came through: “Prepare for an evening of sophistication. In honor of my most recent date from Hell, the evening activities will include Playdoh and juice boxes.”
With that kind of buildup, who could say no—even sporting a spectacular shiner?
She ushered him to the sofa and leaned down to study his face. “Eric Blackwell, did you get in a fight?”
He almost laughed at the censure in her tone. “Yep.”
An expression crossed her face that reminded him of his mom when he’d done something naughty as a little kid.
He held both hands up in surrender. “But it wasn’t my fault.”
Arms crossed over her ribs, she loomed above where he sat on the sofa.
“The racquetball started it… Or maybe Michael did when he smacked the ball into my face.”
Then she laughed. It was a wonderful sound. Hell, he’d take a rubber ball to the eye any day to hear her laugh like that.
“With three brothers, I don’t take kindly to fighting. Sorry I went all mother hen on you.”
“You’re cute when you’re all puffed up with self-righteous indignation.” She was cute all the time, actually, but he’d leave it at that.
Gandalf stuck his freakishly fat head out of the carpeted tower in the corner and hissed. Eric flipped him off.
“Not again,” she said, disappearing into the kitchen.
“Rematch, remember?” he called after her, narrowing his eyes on the cat, who stared back. This time, though, the beast didn’t seem hostile. Still, Eric wasn’t one to lose, especially to a flat-faced fur ball.
Jane sat next to him and clunked two beers onto the coffee table. “In honor of my sensational first and only date with your bodybuilder buddy, Brody, we should watch cartoons, or maybe read a picture book.”
He didn’t know Brody that well, other than he could do an unbroken set of fifty pull-ups. He seemed like a nice guy, though. He was an accountant for the city and had been a member of Eric’s gym for over a year. And the best thing about Brody is he’d just broken up with his girlfriend again, and Eric knew they’d make up and be back together next week. Yep. He wasn’t above sabotage at this point. “What did he do?”
“I’m not going to tell you until you are done having a stare-off with my cat. Honestly, I go from one child to another.”
One thing Eric had known since childhood was that he loved to win. That’s why he enjoyed being a lawyer and why he put in terrible hours every day of the week; the win was a thrill. Whether it was successfully negotiating a merger or winning a stare-off with a cat, victory gave him a rush. “This may take a while.”
With a huff, she stood and left the room. A drawer opened and closed in the kitchen, then there was a loud bang.