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Tycoon(12)
Author: Katy Evans

“Yes, we did.” I lean down and pet Missy happily, once again running my plan through my head.

“So when was your last meet?”

“Five days ago? Monday. I was supposed to call but I want to be sure my business plan is solid before I call again. I can’t screw this up again.”

“I like what you’ve told me so far.”

“Hmm,” I say when I spot a man exiting a bank building.

“What the fuck is wrong with you? He said to call, right? You’ve finally got your foot in the door and now you’re hesitating. Why?”

I give him a wordless look, my heart pounding over the reason. “Personal, I guess.”

“What.”

“I’m attracted to him,” I admit, my eyes still tracking the guy, who has his head down and is speaking on the phone.

“So. Last I heard, everyone is. Me included.” He grins. “The only ones spared are straight men, and the woman who gave birth to him.”

I laugh. “I’m just so impressed by him, Jensen. He was always hardworking, and a little bit bad, but he was a good guy too. I see him, I see the Aaric I knew in this man, but he’s also so…I don’t know. I’m just impressed by him.”

“And.”

“And I think, despite him not going for my business, he was impressed too.” I smile.

“So?”

“It could just be complicated to work with him so closely, but I’m going to call, don’t worry. I’m just getting my ducks in a row.”

“Speak of the devil and he appears,” he mumbles under his breath, kissing my jaw. “He’s crossing the street and heading straight toward you. Go get it.”

“Wha—” I gasp, grabbing his wrist impulsively. “Jensen, don’t go,” I beg.

“I really have to bail, I’ve got to join my boyfriend in his art stand down Prince Street, it’s Saturday, babe! But don’t be shy. Pretend he’s me and tell him exactly what you told me about your plans for your fucking kickass business. If he’s not in, I’ll mortgage my house and my ass and give you the money.”

“Come on.” I push him, laughing, and he pats my butt and says, “Christos,” in greeting.

They slap each other’s back, and yet I notice Christos seems pissy as he greets him.

I don’t know why.

He sees me and I can’t stop my heart from kicking faster. “Twice in two weekends?” He smiles, his eyes glinting in the evening light. “Somebody up there has a sense of humor.”

“No kidding,” I agree.

He’s wearing slacks and a gabardine, and he looks decadent. Making it even harder for me to stay calm.

We begin walking side by side toward Washington Square.

“You didn’t call,” he says. He eyes me sideways.

“I will. I just have other things on my mind. My roommate was really distraught last weekend. I’ve been looking for more clients so that she can join my dog-walking escapades.”

I realize what I said sounds lame. I don’t want him to think I let other things keep me from doing what I really want to, so I add, “And I’ve been quoting an office space, a marketing budget, the works.”

“Good. I was concerned I’d discouraged you.”

“You have a lot of experience. People with experience have been discouraging me for a while.” I shrug.

“Who are these people?”

“Losers, all of them. Just richer.”

“’Fess up. Names. Addresses,” Christos says.

“Oh haha.” I smile. “The loaning institutions.”

He frowns, then he leads us into a small café and summons a waitress, giving her a warm smile. “Hi, there. Would you hold this little pooch for us, please? Thank you.”

She seems flustered by him, for the waitress nods dumbly and takes the leash from my hand without a glance in my direction—her eyes never leaving Aaric’s face.

He sits down at a small table and kicks the chair out so that I can sit with him.

“I’m supposed to be walking Missy, not talking to you,” I object.

He winks at the waitress. “Would you walk her up and down the block for a few minutes?” He hands her a bill. “I’ll double that if you bring her back safe and happy in fifteen minutes.”

“Aaric.” I’m amazed, shaking my head. “I think you’re having trouble realizing this”—I motion—“is not your office. You’re not her boss, mine, or the dog’s, or the dog’s owner.”

He leans back and looks at me with smirking eyes.

“You can’t just do what you want and get away with it!” I say.

“See…if you want to own your own business…those invisible lines you want to keep yourself inside?” He moves his head sideways decisively. “Need to disappear. No limits to anything you can do. Or have.”

I smile as we order drinks. I order more coffee, hoping to keep working tonight, but he orders wine.

“So why did you look me up?” he asks, watching me across the table.

“Bankers don’t go into this sort of thing.” I shake my head. “Not big risks and definitely not from someone with hardly any credit to her name.”

“You’re right.”

“You think I’m crazy?” I ask.

He just stares at me, his watchful gaze making me nervous.

“A lot of people have thought of crazier stuff that works,” I say.

“You can make anything work in this day and age with hard work and a good marketing campaign. I don’t think you’re crazy. I think you’re crazy if you don’t call me tomorrow. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to get me to hear anything?” His brows go up cockily.

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