Dante's Temporary Fiancée(5)

By: Day Leclaire


“I don’t normally work the more exclusive accounts. This was my first time.” She made a face. “And my last.”

“The catering firm won’t switch you over to work some of their smaller parties?”

She released a sigh. “To be honest, I doubt it. The woman in charge of those accounts isn’t a fan of mine right now.”

“Personality conflict?”

The question made her uncomfortable. “Not exactly.”

If he was going to hire her, he needed to gather as much information about her as possible, especially if she didn’t deal well with authority. “Then what, exactly?” he pressed.

“Her boyfriend was on the waitstaff, and…”

“And?”

“He hit on me,” Larkin reluctantly confessed.

“Something you encouraged?”

To his surprise, she didn’t take offense at the question. In fact, she laughed. “JD doesn’t require encouragement. He hits on anyone remotely female. I hope Britt figures out what a sleaze he is sooner, rather than later. She could do a lot better.”

Rafe sat there for a moment, nonplussed. “You’re worried about your supervisor, not your job?”

“I can always get another job, even if it’s washing dishes,” Larkin explained matter-of-factly. “But Britt’s nice…when she’s not furious because JD’s flirting with the help. I just got caught in the middle.”

Huh. Interesting assessment. “And now?”

For the first time a hint of worry nibbled at the corners of her eyes and edged across her expression. “I’m sure it will all work out.”

“I overheard Barney say something about rent.”

She released a soft sigh, the sound filled with a wealth of weariness. “I’m a little behind. What he gave me for tonight’s work should cover it.”

“But you need another job.”

She tilted her head to one side. “I don’t suppose you’re hiring?”

He liked her directness. No coyness. No wide-eyed, gushing pretense or any sort of sexual over- or undertones. Just a simple, frank question. “I may have a job for you,” he admitted cautiously. “But I’d need to run a quick background check. Do you have any objections?”

And then he saw it. Just a flash of hesitation before she shook her head. “I don’t have any objections.”

“Fine.” Only, it wasn’t fine. Not if she were hiding something. He couldn’t handle another deceptive woman who faked innocence and then demonstrated avarice. Refused to deal with that sort of woman. “Full name?”

“Larkin Anne Thatcher.”

She supplied her social security number and date of birth without being asked. He pulled out his cell and texted one of his brother’s former security associates, Juice, with the request. He’d have gone through Luc, but there might be uncomfortable questions when he later presented Larkin as his Inferno bride. Better to keep it on the down low. In the meantime, he’d get some of the preliminary questions out of the way.

“Have you ever been arrested?” Rafe asked.

Larkin shook her head. “No, never.”

“Drugs?”

A flash of indignation came and went in her open gaze before she answered in a calm, even voice. “Never. I’ve needed to take drug tests for various jobs in the past, including this latest one. I have no objection to taking one here and now if you want.”

“Credit or bankruptcy issues?”

Indignation turned to humor. “Aside from living on a shoestring? No.”

“Health issues?”

“Not a one.”

“Military history?”

“I haven’t served.”

“Job history?”

Now she grinned. “How much time do you have?”

Rafe eyed her curiously. “That many?”

“Oh, yeah. The list is as long as it is diverse.”

“Any special reason?”

She hesitated again, but he didn’t pick up any hint of evasion, just thoughtfulness. “I’ve been searching.”

“Right job, right place?”

She seemed pleased that he’d understood so quickly. “Exactly.”

“I can’t promise to offer that, but I might have something temporary.”

For some reason she appeared relieved. “Temporary will work. In fact, I prefer it.”

“Not planning on staying in San Francisco for long?” He tried to keep the question casual, but conceded that as attractive as he found her, he’d feel better about his proposition if she intended to move on a few months from now.

“I don’t know. Actually, I’m looking for someone. I think he may be here.”

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