69 Million Things I Hate About You(4)

By: Kira Archer

Brooks’s brows rose, and Cole squashed the slight twinge of guilt that tried to take hold. Yeah, he’d been an ass. What else was new? Didn’t change the facts. “I extended her benefits and doubled her severance package, neither of which I had to offer at all since she quit. But despite her failings, she was a decent assistant. While she lasted.”

Brooks shook his head. “You sentimental devil, you.”

Cole ignored that. “Don’t you have work to do?”

“Always. Now, back to this assistant problem you have.”

“I don’t have an assistant problem. That’s one of the reasons I’ve always got more than one.”

“Right. You’re the king of backups. Always have a backup for everything and you never have to worry about being without, right?”

Cole shrugged. “It’s worked so far.”

“Fine, so get another backup. This one is seriously hot.”

“I hadn’t noticed.”

“Then the first thing you should do is have her schedule you an eye appointment. I thought you were busy, not dead. She has that sexy librarian thing nailed.”

Cole wasn’t blind. Or dead. He was lying through his teeth so he didn’t have to put up with his friend giving him shit. How the hell Kiersten had been in his building without him noticing her, he’d never know. His only excuse was that Marie must have been hiding her or keeping her so busy she never managed to be in his presence. Because one glance at those big brown eyes staring up at him, her thick blond hair just begging to be released from her tight bun, had his body screaming.

Brooks was still rambling on. “Even her name—Kestin—so close to kiss—”



“Her name is Kiersten, not Kestin.”

“Then why did you call her Kestin?”

“Because I didn’t catch it when she said it, and that’s what I thought it was.”

“She didn’t correct you.”

“I know.”


Cole sighed again and flicked his finger on the tablet a little harder than necessary, sending the digital pages flying. “I don’t know. You’d have to ask her.”

“Hmmm, maybe I will. Maybe over dinner at—”

“No.” Cole glared at him. Brooks wasn’t going to get near Kiersten, even if Cole had to set her up with a full-time bodyguard.

“Jealous already?”

Cole rubbed his forehead, trying to stave off the ache that talking to Brooks often brought on. “Good assistants are hard to find. As you rightly pointed out, I have a hard time keeping them around. It’s bad enough with my first assistants, but the second assistants rarely last longer than a month. But from what I can tell, Kiersten has basically been running things since she was hired. Marie had her doing everything already, so there won’t be any irritating transition period to disrupt my life. I don’t want you chasing her off, or I’ll have to go through the trouble of training someone new, especially since I have yet to hire someone to be her backup.”

“How’d you find out her real name?”

Cole held up his tablet. “Had HR send over her file.”

“Anything interesting in there?”

“Yes. Now go away.”

“Why? Do you have a hot date showing up?”

“I don’t have time to date.”

Brooks scoffed at that. “You need to start making the time. Maybe it would loosen you up a bit.”

Cole ignored that. He had no trouble getting a date when he needed one for whatever function he might need to attend. But he rarely let his associations get too involved. It worked great. He had the company of a beautiful woman when he wanted it and his life to himself the rest of the time. No fuss, no future.

He’d yet to meet a woman who inspired any hint of desire to change his MO. The sudden vision of big brown eyes blinking at him sprang up. And wouldn’t leave. He shook his head in irritation and did his best to shove Kiersten’s image to the back of his mind.

“Dating makes women clingy,” he said. “I don’t do clingy. I do work.”

“Yes, I’ve noticed,” Brooks said, his voice thick with an implied eye roll. “What about that woman…Betsy or Becky or…”