I stood up slowly and watched the door close behind her, trying to sort out what had just happened. I should have been furious. But I felt the corner of my mouth lift in a smile and I almost laughed at the absurdity of it.

Damn her, she did it again. She was beating me at my own game.

My night had been hell. I’d hardly slept or eaten, and I’d suffered a near-constant hard-on since leaving the restaurant yesterday. I knew I was in for it as I headed to work. She was going to do everything she could to torture and punish me for lying to her; the sick thing was . . . I was kind of looking forward to it.

I was surprised to find her desk empty upon my arrival. Strange, I thought, she was rarely late. I continued into my office and began getting things in order for the day. Fifteen minutes later, I was distracted from a phone call when I heard the outer door slam. Well, she certainly didn’t disappoint; I could hear drawers and files slamming and knew this would make for an interesting day.

At ten fifteen I was interrupted by my intercom. “Mr. Ryan.” Her cool voice filled the room and despite her obvious annoyance, I found myself smirking as I pressed the button to respond.

“Yes, Miss Mills?” I answered back, hearing my own grin reflected in my tone.

“We need to be in the conference room in fifteen minutes. You’ll need to leave at noon to make the lunch meeting with the president of Kelly Industries at twelve thirty. Stuart will be waiting for you in the garage.”

“Are you not accompanying me?” Part of me wondered if she was avoiding being alone with me. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that.

“No, sir. Management only.” I heard papers rustling as she continued to speak. “Besides, I have arrangements to make for San Diego today.”

“I’ll be out in a moment,” I let my finger slide off the button, standing to adjust my tie and jacket.

When I stepped out of my office, my eyes landed on her immediately. Any doubts I might have had about her making me suffer were confirmed. She was leaning over her desk in a blue silk dress that showcased her long lean legs perfectly. Her hair was piled on her head, and when she turned in my direction, I saw she was wearing her glasses. How was I going to manage to speak coherently with her sitting next to me?

“Are you ready, Mr. Ryan?” Without waiting for an answer, she gathered her things and began walking down the hall. There seemed to be more sway to her hips today. The sassy bitch was taunting me.

Standing in the crowded elevator, our bodies were unintentionally pressed together and I had to stifle a groan. It could have been my imagination but I thought I saw a hint of a smirk as she “accidentally” brushed against my semierect cock. Twice.

For the next two hours, I was in my own personal hell. Every time I looked at her she was doing something to bring me to my knees: sly glances, licking her bottom lip, crossing and uncrossing her legs, or absentmindedly twirling a tendril of hair around her finger. At one point, she dropped her pen and casually placed her hand on my thigh as she bent down to retrieve it from under the table.

At the lunch meeting that followed, I was both grateful for the reprieve from her torment and desperate to get back to it. I nodded and spoke at appropriate times, but I was never really there. Of course my father had noticed every second of my surly, quiet mood. On the drive back to the office, he started in on me.

“For three days, you and Chloe will be together in San Diego without the buffer of office doors, and there won’t be anyone there to run interference. I expect you to treat her with the utmost respect. And before you get defensive,” he added, holding his hands up as he sensed my quick rebuttal, “I’ve already spoken to Chloe about this.”

My eyes widened and flashed to his face. He had talked to Miss Mills about my professional conduct?

“Yes, I’m aware that it’s not just you,” he said, leading us into an empty elevator. “She’s assured me that she gives every bit as good as she gets. Why do you think I suggested you as her program mentor in the first place? There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that she could hold her own with you.”

Henry stood silent next to him, a smug smile stretched across his face. Asshole.

I frowned slightly as the realization hit me: she had spoken in my defense. She could have easily made it sound like I was a tyrant, but instead she accepted some of the blame.

“Dad, I’ll admit that my relationship with her is unconventional,” I began, praying that no one understood how true that statement really was. “But I assure you, it in no way interferes with our ability to conduct business. You have nothing to worry about.”

“Good,” Dad said when we arrived at my office suite.

We walked in to find Miss Mills on the phone, speaking almost inaudibly. “Well, I’m going to let you go, Dad. I have some things to take care of and I’ll let you know as soon as I can. You need to get some sleep, okay?” she said softly. After a brief pause she laughed, but then didn’t say anything else for a moment. Neither I nor the two men beside me dared say anything. “I love you too, Daddy.”

My stomach tightened at the words, and the way her voice shook when she said them. When she turned around in her chair, she startled to find us standing there. Quickly she began gathering the paperwork on her desk.

“It went smoothly, as always,” my father said. “You and Sara really do a superb job taking care of things. I don’t know what my sons would do without the two of you.”