Sweet Heat at Bayside(6)

By: Addison Cole

With a softer tone, he said, “There’s nothing more to say, and I’m sorry I was a jerk. It was totally selfish of me. Let’s get started on the space designs. I’m sure you’ve got a billion things to take care of before you leave.”

“Whoa. That was a complete turnaround. You sure you’re not going to secretly chain me up in the office or something so I can’t leave?”

“Or something,” he said with a laugh.

“Why are you laughing?”

“Because I don’t chain women down to get them to stay.”

Her jaw dropped open. “But you do…chain women down?”

He didn’t respond.

“Oh my gosh! You do!” she said. A hint of intrigue in her eyes warred with the shock on her beautiful face.

“Tie, not chain,” he clarified. “And only if they ask me to.”

“They ask you to?” She mouthed, Wow.

Why did he say anything? “We are not having this conversation.”

“How did I not know this about you?” she asked incredulously.

He grabbed her bag and handed it to her. “Dig your notebook out of there, Supergirl. It’s time to get to work.”

Her beautiful eyes were wide with curiosity that he wanted desperately to satisfy. “But—”

“Serena,” he said sharply, leaving no room for negotiation. “We are not going there.”

Chapter Two

SERENA RACED FROM the file room into her office Wednesday evening and grabbed her phone, typing a quick group text to Mira, Desiree, Emery, and Chloe. Leaving in five minutes. I’m sorry!! I promise I’ll be there soon. She was supposed to meet them in Orleans in five minutes to shop for clothes for her new job, but Drake was still behind closed doors with the last interview of the day. She hoped that was a good sign, considering he’d nixed the first two candidates she’d brought in.

Drake’s door opened, and Serena shoved her phone in her purse, trying to read his expression.

“Thank you for coming out,” he said to Mina, the petite blond applicant. “We’re interviewing for the rest of the week, but we’ll get back to you as soon as we make a decision.”

Something in his tone told Serena he’d decided against her.

“It was a pleasure meeting you.” Mina shook his hand, and then she offered her hand to Serena. “And thank you, Serena. Good luck with your new endeavor.”

“Thank you. We’ll be in touch.” She watched Mina leave, and the second she was out the door, she turned a stern glare on Drake. “What’s wrong with her?”

“We can’t have a Mina around here. We’ll get her confused with Mira.”

Serena hoped he was kidding. “Seriously? You can’t tell the difference between a petite blonde and your tall, brunette sister?”

He shrugged. “She’s too…”

“Experienced?” she said sarcastically as she gathered her notes for the music shop and shoved them into her bag. “Drake, she worked for three summers running the office for a cottage community. How can that not be good enough?”

“She didn’t lack experience,” he said casually. “She lacked personality.”

“She was sweet and friendly. What more do you want?”

His lips quirked up. “Sweet and friendly will never cut it when something needs to get done. We need sweet, strong, and warily friendly.”

“What does that even mean? And when did you become a psych major?” She grabbed her bag and dug out her keys.

“You’ve worked here for years. Do you really think sweet will cut it when Rick and I disagree and she needs to intervene or make a final decision? Or how about when guys come in and hit on her? Will friendly send the wrong message? Will she be able to deal with a handsy renter?”

“She won’t have to. You always bulldoze anyone who comes near me.”

“She’s not you,” he said, and stalked into his office.

“Well, maybe you can pretend she’s your younger sister or something.”

He looked over his shoulder, glowering at her.

Serena stifled a laugh. “I’ll miss that scowling face when I’m gone. Maybe you can send me a selfie every once in a while.” They texted each other often, hung out after work, and were partners in all their group activities with their friends. But the idea of Drake sending a selfie made her laugh.

“Oh, I’ll be in touch. Don’t worry. Someone’s got to look out for you.”

“My butt they do.”

“How about we keep men away from your butt,” he said a little too sharply.

“Ha ha,” she said sarcastically. “You’re going to hate not being able to watch me like a hawk, aren’t you?”