This was the absolute last time she’d kiss anyone under the mistletoe. A dozen red flags and ringing alarms should’ve sounded when Harold King nudged her under the poisonous berries. The guy had never paid her the time of day before. Between the wine punch and his cobalt blue eyes, her head went all woozy and blocked any logical suspicions. But wow. Eleanor licked her lips. The kiss was close to perfect, other than the vodka fumes…until he whispered in her ear, “This really is my gun, although I’m very glad to see you.”
Getting kissed under what should’ve been strictly holiday decoration, by a man she’d desired from afar, had her so addled she’d allowed him to lead her to the elevator. She’d decided this must be some kind of a joke perpetrated by her friend, Cricket. Harold snugged close to her back in the confines of the elevator, the gun poking her in the ribs as she scanned the crowded room before the doors closed on any hope of drawing someone’s attention. This was one Christmas office party she should’ve skipped.
Cricket’s joke had gone too far. This must be a joke. Yet, in the quiet closeness, the elevator plummeted along with her clenched stomach, tight lungs, and shaky legs. “What do you want, Harold? I think this has gone on quite long enough. Why are you doing this?” She glared at his face reflected in the mirrored walls.
“Ah, Eleanor, Head of Accounting. You keep your nose in the numbers too much.” He swished his mouth to the side and made a clicking noise. “You really are a bit dense, aren’t you?”
“That’s not nice.” His remark stung almost as bad as having a gun held against her. After all, he was the third highest ranking executive, not to mention the second best looking man in the company. A gun. Damn Cricket. It couldn’t be real, could it? She relaxed slightly with the thought. Cricket chose Harold for the swoon factor, which was just mean. Some best friend. Although she did get a kiss. A quiver managed to sneak in around the insult. “I’m not den—”
“Think about it, hon. I got fired today for company disloyalty. Hmm…why would I be pissed off?”
“You got fired?” She jerked her head and shoulders around to look up into his face, ignoring the supposed toy gun. “For disloyalty?”
“See, Eleanor? That’s what I mean. You really ought to look up from your computer once in a while.”
Criminy. She’d heard rumblings, and the books told her Harold King wasn’t worth the number of zeroes on his check. But why didn’t she know he’d been fired?
“Oh, don’t look so downcast. It was five minutes to five when that son of a bitch Cline got the nerve to drop the bomb. You’re probably not the only one left out of the loop.” The gun poked around her ribs while he fidgeted in anger. He brought it to rest against her side. “Cline, the mealy wimp, called Roman in for back up. Meathead and brawn combined to give me the ax. The son of a bitch thinks he can just ruin me like this?” Harold’s face went hard, his teeth grinding.
Eleanor’s heart skipped a beat as she glanced down at the metal nestled against her side. This was no joke. “What have I got to do with this?”
The melodic chime of the elevator signaled the basement level, and the door swooshed open. No Christmas decorations down here. The vault, shelving, records…no one to see or hear them. She curled her toes inside her black pumps, gripping the soles, throwing weight to her heels and plastering her feet to the floor of the elevator.
“Please, Harold. I didn’t have anything to do with your dismissal.”
“My dismissal? You make it sound so innocuous.” With a heavy hand on her shoulder, he whipped her around to face him, shoving her against the mirrored elevator wall and transferring the weapon’s barrel to the soft spot below her breastbone. “You’re always so in control, aren’t you?”
Fear caused her knees to weaken, and the familiar, dark-lashed eyes which usually gave her goosebumps glowered like a Halloween ghoul. Oh, damn the mistletoe and damn her fantasies. “Wh…what are you going to do?”
He leaned in, only the gun separating their bodies.
Would he take his anger out on her?
He cocked his head and stared into her eyes, so close his breath flowed over her face and slithered onto her bare collarbone. The restricting hand on her shoulder lifted, slipped to the back of her head, and pulled out the comb holding the hair off her neck. “I’ve thought about getting this close to you now and then.”
She’d thought about it more than now and then. Only Roman, Jack Roman, played the role more often in her dreams than Harold. Jack, the best-looking man in the company. In the world. Roman, Jack Roman held the same level of sensuality as Bond, James Bond when it came to weaving fantasies. A knee leaned heavily against her thigh effectively disrupting her digression. “Why…would…you…notice me?”
“Your ass. You have a great ass, Eleanor. One thing Roman and I agree on.”
“Ro…Roman?” Jack had noticed her.
“Hmmm. Yeah, nice ass. And with your hair down…” He tilted his head and studied her face.
Oh hell. The knee slipped between her legs. She couldn’t breathe. He was going to act out some warped fantasy before leaving the company. “With…a…gun?” Her voice croaked, not sounding like herself at all.
Her lip trembled. “Did your conjecture include a gun?”
“See?” He pulled away, jerked her from the wall, and resumed the gun in the back position. “You think too much. Exactly the reason why you head home alone every night.”
How rude. In spite of her fear, anger welled. Why ever did she find this man attractive? She’d never been drawn to bad boys. But then, he’d never shown this side around the office.
“Now get your cute little ass out of the elevator.” He shoved.
She reared back. “I didn’t get you fired. Don’t take your anger out on me. I’ve always been nice—”
“Just shut up, Eleanor.”
This time he shoved with force, the gun so sharp between her back ribs she cried out.
The slick soles of her black patent leather pumps slid over the mud-brown vinyl of the basement floor as he pushed her forward. An exhaust fan clicked on overhead, but didn’t relieve the stuffy confines of the windowless, cement-walled tomb. She gave a quick glance back as her only escape, the elevator, disappeared when he directed her past the shelving.
He yanked her around the bank of file cabinets and nudged her toward the vault.