Only with You (The Best Mistake #1) - Page 7

Gray’s office phone rang and he jumped at the chance to escape the awkward conversation.

“Ms. Jennings, would you excuse me?”

“Sure thing,” she said with a wave. “I’ll point Ms. Dalton to your office when she arrives.”

Just wonderful.

“Wyatt,” he barked into the phone.

“Ah, there’s my favorite ray of sunshine.”

Gray relaxed at the familiar voice. Ian Porter was his best friend from college and one of the few people besides his brother whom Gray knew in Seattle.

“How’d you get this number?” Gray asked.

“Sweet-talked the receptionist. She sounds cute.”

Gray grunted noncommittally. He didn’t know if Brayburn Luxuries’ main receptionist was cute or not. He hadn’t thought to look when he’d walked through the main reception lobby this morning. Hadn’t thought to notice any of the employees, for that matter. Perhaps he should go make nice on his lunch break.

“So, what’s up?” Gray asked curiously. Ian might be one of Gray’s few friends, but they rarely talked on the phone to chitchat.

“I’m on marital damage control. I was supposed to invite you over to dinner this past Sunday, but I completely forgot, and Ashley’s out for my blood. Come over this weekend and get her off my back?”

“I’d love to.” Gray was glad his friend couldn’t see his regretful wince at the belated invitation. If only Ian knew the hassle he could have saved Gray if he’d remembered to pass on his wife’s request the previous weekend. Gray could have spent Sunday evening with his best friend and godson. Instead he’d been struggling to survive in enemy camp with a pseudo-girlfriend he didn’t even want and her marriage-minded parents.

And Sophie. Ian could have saved Gray from Sophie.

Speaking of which…

Female laughter was disturbing the former quiet of the executive floor.

Familiar female laugher.

She was here.

“Hey, Ian, I gotta go. But I’ll be there on Sunday. Can I bring anything?”

“A girlfriend? That would earn me extra brownie points with the wife.”

“Absolutely no way in hell,” Gray replied, his eyes scanning the glass wall for the source of the laughter.

Ian sighed. “Fine. Just bring some wine?”

“Done. See you then.” Gray hung up the phone and froze when he finally spotted her.

Apparently the manipulative monster had already made a new friend. One of the sales associates whose name Gray couldn’t remember.

Sophie caught his glare through the glass and her smile slipped as the sales guy…Brent? Brendan?…pointed her toward Gray’s office.

Gray rose slowly from his office chair as she came trotting toward his open office door.

Do not lose your cool, he ordered himself.

He’d already done that in a jammed elevator. And again in the Daltons’ bathroom. So far he was two for two in losing his mind around Sophie. Something he planned to put a stop to. Now.

Gray did a double take as he caught a good look at the woman standing in his doorway. There was no sign of the Sophie he’d seen in the elevator or the Sophie he’d met on Sunday. There were no hooker boots, obvious makeup, or scrappy little top that hoisted her br**sts clear up to her chin. Not that he’d noticed.

But also gone were the ancient jeans that had fit just a tad too snugly around her tight backside. Gone was the defiant, ditzy persona she’d maintained around her parents.

This Sophie looked…well, exactly as a new CEO’s assistant should look. Her light green skirt fell respectably to her knees, and her white blouse was conservative. He couldn’t even criticize her high heels, even if they did seem too sexy. Because, to be fair, he’d seen a dozen women wearing similar styles on his walk to work.

The only indications that this was the same woman were the blonde Playboy hair and bright blue eyes.

Simply put, she was perfectly respectable.

Sophie hadn’t made a single misstep in this conversion from hooker to tomboy to office assistant. He should have been pleased. Instead he felt…off-balance.

Off-balance from her conservative attire, off-balance from her placid smile. And definitely off-balance from the fact that his fingers were itching to unbutton those respectable buttons and see the real Sophie.

He was in serious trouble.

* * *

You can do this, Sophie reminded herself for the hundredth time that morning.

But looking into Grayson Wyatt’s glowering gaze, she wasn’t so sure. For starters, his gray suit was like a punch in the gut. It was identical

to the one she’d admired in Las Vegas. Back when she’d wanted to jump his bones.

Back before she’d learned he was a jerk.

She was smarter now. Now she knew exactly what he was. An uptight, judgmental, socially impaired prick.

Whose eyes still made her…tingly. Crap.

She tried to think of something cutting and witty to say, but her brain seemed to be malfunctioning. Although she wasn’t sure if it was nerves from the unfamiliar setting or nerves from him.

In happier news, he didn’t seem to be handling her presence any better than she was handling his. He looked slightly constipated.

“Hi,” she said, wincing at the weak opening. “Witty” apparently was not in her cards this morning.

He gave a curt nod but made no effort to welcome her into the office.

“What’s with the glare?” she asked.

“What did you expect, welcome balloons?”

Sophie’s patience frayed. She stomped closer to his desk. “Did you ever think to call? I assumed you were going to back out on our deal until that woman from human resources called and asked me to send over a formal application.”

“I never back out on a deal, Ms. Dalton.”

“But you wanted to,” she accused.

“Of course I wanted to.”

Sophie felt a little stab of regret at the certainty in his tone. His irritation at their situation didn’t come as a surprise. And it wasn’t like she wanted to work for this man. She’d only agreed to it with the intention of making his life miserable. And obviously what made him miserable was her.

But somewhere beneath her Old Testament–style revenge fantasies, a little part of Sophie wanted to make Gray change his mind about her. Impress him. She wanted to prove that she could do a good job and make him eat his horrible words in the elevator and in her parents’ powder room.

“You may as well go set your bag down,” he said with a resigned sigh. “I don’t need you at the moment.”

Sophie’s jaw dropped slightly at the curt command and sheer irritability coming off of him in waves. “Are you kidding me? It’s both of our first day on the job, and we’re not even going to…you know, talk?”

He glanced up at her for a brief moment. “If we were new to each other, I would, of course, invite you in to sit down and fake interest in your life and what your hobbies were. But since we’re past all that—”

“Really?” she interrupted. “Are we? The only thing I know about you is that you’re trying to get into my sister’s pants. And the only thing you seem to know about me is that I turn tricks on Saturday nights.”

Gray finally gave her his full attention, but not until he’d made a show of rubbing his eyes like she was an exhausting toddler. “You’re right, Ms. Dalton. I’m behaving badly. Please sit down.”

“I think I’ll set my purse down at my desk first,” she said, turning on her brand-new patent-leather blue pump and flouncing out of his office.

But her initial surge of satisfaction about defying him faded almost immediately.

He really didn’t like her.

The full magnitude of her situation settled around her like a storm cloud. It had seemed like such a harmless game on Sunday night, but now that she was actually here, she was realizing that she’d have to earn her paycheck.

And that meant pleasing Mr. High and Mighty.

“But not in the sexual way,” she muttered to herself snidely, remembering Las Vegas all too vividly. “Because he’s not the type to ‘pay for sexual attention.’”

Sophie identified her desk by the WELCOME, SOPHIE card next to one of those fancy corporate gift baskets. She’d bet her new shoes that it wasn’t Gray himself who’d initiated the gesture. Flicking open the card, her suspicions were confirmed. It was signed “the team at Brayburn Luxuries” in a distinctly feminine scrawl. He probably wasn’t even aware of its existence.

Setting her imitation designer purse down, she surveyed her workplace. Sophie let out a little squeal as she took in the view from the floor-to-ceiling windows behind her desk.

All of the Seattle landmarks sparkled up at her from the high-rise windows. Well, okay, not so much “sparkled,” considering the fog, but still. There was the Space Needle, endless water, big-ass mountains. She could have been looking at a poster for Sleepless in Seattle. Minus the adorable image of lovelorn Tom Hanks and perky Meg Ryan before she’d gone all edgy and weird.

Her desk phone rang and Sophie plopped into her chair to answer it. “Hello?”

“Is that how

you’re going to answer the office phone line?”

Sophie swiveled around in her chair to stare through the glass walls to Gray’s office. He was staring back. She really hated that he was wearing another of those dark charcoal suits. Men in modern, sexy suits were a major weakness of hers.

“Are you seriously calling me?” she asked. “From ten feet away?”

“Very astute, Ms. Dalton. Perhaps by the time we leave today, you will have managed to remember that you’re not answering the phone at your sorority house, and you will have aspired to actually follow the directions of your employer.”

“Do you have any friends, Mr. Wyatt?”

“Friends?”

“It’s a tricky concept for someone like you, I’m sure. They’re essentially people who place themselves in your company voluntarily.”

Silence.

She watched through the glass as he broke eye contact and stared at a stack of papers on his desk. His expression was mostly unreadable, but for a brief moment, Sophie had the sensation that he was almost human.

“See if you can manage to be in my office within the next two minutes, Ms. Dalton. Surely even you can handle that.”

Nope, definitely not human.

Sophie hung up and tapped her home-manicured nails against her fancy new desk.

The morning was not going as planned. He was supposed to be cool and indifferent, and she was to be polite and professional until she’d figured out a plan of attack.

Instead he looked ready to explode, and she hadn’t even been trying to annoy him.

And already she was itching to see what was beneath that icy surface. That was so not part of the plan.

Sophie assessed her two options:

Stick it out and figure out how to work with Mr. Holier Than Thou, or…

Quit.

Quitting was the obvious choice.

The whole point of this respectable-job thing was to be, well…respected. That was pretty much out the window considering the one person who was now supposed to save her ego was the very same person who’d crushed it in the first place.

Even the luxury of working in a place where nobody spilled beer on you or “accidentally” brushed your boobs wasn’t worth working for a man who’d seen you wearing little more than a bandanna tied around your waist.

Especially one whom you also had to face at family functions.

And the drive-him-out-of-his-mind revenge plan still held appeal, but she wasn’t sure how to do that and be a competent employee at the same time. Her two goals were working against each other.

Something you should have thought about before getting into this mess, she chided herself.

So quitting it was.

Or…

Sophie contemplated a third option.

Leave the ball in his court.

It wasn’t her usual course of action. She liked to be in control. But this way, Sophie couldn’t be accused of being a quitter. More than likely he was already thinking of ways to get rid of her. And then he could be the jerk, and she could be the poor fired victim.

Mind made up, Sophie took her sweet time reapplying her lipstick. Not because she wanted to look her best, of course. At least, not just that. Mostly it was because the thought of making Grayson Wyatt wait on her was rapidly improving her mood. She added a dab of shiny gloss to her lower lip to make it look fuller. Then she checked her mascara and blush.

Primping complete, Sophie strolled over to his office, taking care to let her h*ps sway just a bit. If this was going to be her last day on the new job, she at least wanted to get the most out of her brand-new outfit. Gray definitely seemed like the type who would prefer everyone to knock and await permission. So she barged in.

And blanched.

The office was horrible.

She didn’t know how she’d missed it the first time she’d come in. Probably because she’d been too busy trying to avoid her new boss’s death ray gaze. But she was getting a good look at it now. It was creepy. Even for Gray.

“Whooooo-eee!” she turned in a full circle. “I love what you’ve done with the place. Did you decapitate all these animals yourself? I’d ask if they were dead first, but I know better. Destroying creatures you deem beneath you is a hobby of yours, am I right?”

He looked up from his files, and the eyes that met hers betrayed nothing. Not even annoyance.

“They’re not mine,” he replied curtly. “The former CEO left the, um, decorations when he retired,” he said finally. “I’d prefer something less cluttered.”