Dangerous Temptations

By: Brooke Cumberland

I stared out of the large floor to ceiling window as the rain poured over New York City. It was a gloomy and cloudy spring day. I focused on the street walkers covering themselves up with umbrellas and oversized jackets. It was like deja vu…I felt the same feeling, that same fear. Everything around me moved in slow motion as the events from that day played out in front of me.

Blood. So much blood.

I felt my stomach threatening to empty the contents of my breakfast as I heard the screeching voice of my boss, Laura. “Mackenzie!” I quickly spun around to her opening the door. “I have a lunch meeting at one o’clock,” she informed me with cold eyes. “We’ll be eating in the conference room. Make sure our order is here on time,” she said firmly, emphasizing the word time. I was still learning my way around the company and calling in quick favors wasn’t easy.

“No problem, Ms. Carmichael.” I forced a smile in her direction.

Actually, it was a big problem.

She didn’t tell me where she wanted me to order from and she couldn’t be bothered with inane questions. She just expected me to know.

As soon as she walked out, I frantically searched my email for any kind of delivery confirmation the last time she hosted a lunch conference. Finally, I found the most recent one for a Mediterranean restaurant and quickly placed an order—hoping to God I was picking the correct things.

By 12:50, the food hadn’t arrived yet, and I was starting to sweat profusely.

Shit, shit, shit. She’s going to fire me.

“Mackenzie!” she yelled from her office.

“Yes?” I asked, fear and anxiety evident in my voice.

“Mr. Lancaster eats gluten-free only. Make sure the food is up to par.”

I nodded. “Absolutely.”

Oh my god! She tells me this now?

Just as I turned around to walk out and back to my desk, I ran directly into a wall.

Except it wasn’t a wall. It was Mr. Lancaster and my ass was definitely going to be toast.

“Whoa…” he said lightly bracing my shoulders with the palms of his hands. “You all right?”

I tilted my head up to a tall salt-and-pepper haired man. He was all lines and angles. His body felt firm against mine, and I had to remind myself how to talk.

“Y-yes. Oh, gosh, I’m so sorry!”

“No worries, Miss…” He smiled, waiting for me to tell him my name.

“Hewitt,” I filled in for him. “Mackenzie Hewitt,” I stumbled. “I’m really sorry. I should’ve been watching where I was going.”

“Yes…you should have.” I heard Laura scolding from behind me. Here it goes…I’m so fired!

“Laura, it’s fine.” He held up his hand. “I shouldn’t have crept up on her. It’s my fault,” he responded genuinely. He looked down at me and winked. I mouthed a thank you and stepped back to allow him to walk past me.

The food had finally arrived and I quietly brought it into their meeting without saying a word. That’s how I was trained—be seen, not heard. I was there to do a job, not make friendly chat.

“Laura…” I heard him say with amusement. “Your assistant must’ve read my mind.”

Oh, shit…Had he heard me thinking about him? Had I said something aloud? He was good looking for his age, attractive actually. I’d been thinking how sexy he was just before he spoke.

I swallowed as I turned to face them. “I love Mediterranean.” He smiled seductively, making my body shiver in response. Was he flirting with me right in front of my boss? I didn’t know what to say. I blushed as I gave a small smile in return.

“Yes, she’s quite the worker,” Laura praised, taking me off guard. She’d never said a nice thing to me in the past six months I’ve been slaving for her.

I left the room without another word. I felt like I was in the twilight zone. This was not a usual encounter in my busy day-to-day schedule.

An hour later, Mr. Lancaster exited the conference room and thanked me for his lunch.

“You’re very welcome, Mr. Lancaster,” I responded, smiling again. I couldn’t help it. There was just something so vibrant and appealing about him.

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