A lock of dark hair has fallen over his forehead and my fingers itch to brush it back for him.
Calm the eff down, Mary Katherine. You’d think I’d never seen a hot man before.
Because I have.
Declan, the youngest of the Boudreaux brothers, is no slouch in the looks department, and he’s one of my best friends. But being near him never made my knees weak or made me yearn for a tall glass of ice water. Or a bed. Or to rip his clothes off his body.
“Did Savannah fill you in on what’s happening?” Eli asks calmly, his face revealing nothing. He crosses an ankle over the opposite knee and steeples his fingers, watching me.
“Yes, she and I have talked extensively, and she’s emailed me all of the new-hire paperwork, as well as the NDA’s, which I’ve printed and signed.” I pull the papers out of my briefcase and pass them to Eli. Our fingers brush, making my thighs clench, but he seems unaffected.
Typical. I don’t usually inspire hot lust from the opposite sex. Especially not men who look like Eli. Which is fine, because he’s my boss and my best friends’ brother and I’m here to work.
I clear my throat and push my auburn hair behind my ear. With all of this humidity, it’s going to be a curly mess in no time.
“That’s a beautiful ring,” he says unexpectedly, nodding toward my right hand, still raised near my ear.
He’s a man of few words.
“Yes, from my grandmother,” I reply, and tuck my hands in my lap. He simply nods once and glances down at the papers in his hand. He frowns and glances up at me, but before he can say anything, his office door swings open and Declan walks in with a wide smile on his handsome face.
“There’s my superstar.” I squeal and leap up and into his arms, and Dec squeezes me tight and turns a circle in the middle of the wide office. He finally sets me on my feet, cups my face in his hands, and kisses me square on the mouth, then hugs me again, more gently this time. “You okay?” he whispers in my ear.
“I’m great.” I gaze up into Dec’s sweet face and years of memories and emotion fall around me. Laughter and tears, love, sadness, affection. “It’s so good to see you.”
“Have you done anything fun since you got to town?”
“I almost lost my life in a cab,” I reply with a laugh. “I came straight here.”
“I’ll take you out tonight. Show you the French Quarter. I know this great restaurant—”
“That won’t be necessary,” Eli interrupts. His voice is calm. He’s standing now, his hands shoved in his pockets, his wide shoulders making the large office feel small. “You have a gig tonight,” he reminds Declan.
“I can take you out before.”
“Don’t worry about Kate this evening,” Eli replies, still perfectly calm, but his jaw ticks.
I feel like I’m watching a tennis match as my head swivels back and forth, watching them both with curiosity.
“You know what Savannah told you,” Declan says softly to Eli.
Declan glances back down to me. “I really don’t mind calling the gig off tonight and settling you in.”
“I’ll be fine, Dec.” I grin and pat his chest. “Where will you be playing?”
“The Voodoo Lounge.”
“I might just show up.” I push up onto my tiptoes and kiss his cheek.
“I don’t want you wandering around the French Quarter after dark.”
“I’ll take her,” Eli offers, earning a speculative look from Declan, who then gazes down at me and kisses my forehead softly.
“I’ll save a seat for both of you then,” he replies with a happy smile. “Have a good afternoon. Don’t let the boss man run you ragged.” He winks at me and grins at Eli, then slips back out the door.
“You and Declan are close,” Eli says when I turn back around. His hands are still in his pockets as he rocks back on his heels.
“Yes. He, Savannah, and I were sort of the three amigos in college.”
“Are you planning on fucking him?”
“Excuse me?” I feel my jaw drop as I stare at the formidable man before me. I prop my hands on my hips and glare at him. “That’s none of your darn business.”
He purses his lips as though he’s trying not to laugh. “It’s none of my darn business?”
“That’s what I said.”
He tilts his head and looks like he’s about to say more, but then he saunters to my suitcase and pulls it behind him, as he gestures for me to follow him.
He’s kicking me out?
“Miss Carter, I’ll be out the rest of the day. Reschedule my appointments.”
His assistant gapes at him and then sputters, “But, Mr. Freemont has been waiting…”
“I don’t care. Reschedule. I’ll see you tomorrow.” Eli calls the elevator, his eyes never leaving me as we wait for the car to arrive. “Do you have a change of casual clothes in here?”
“Yes. The rest of my things are being shipped down and should arrive tomorrow afternoon.”
He nods and motions for me to lead him into the elevator.
The air literally crackles around us as he glances down at me and raises a brow. He’s barely touched me and my body is on high alert and my mind is empty.
“Where are we going?”
“To your place.”
“You know where my place is?”
“I own it, cher.” He sighs and finally reaches over and tucks my hair behind my ear, making me shiver. “Are you cold?”
“No.” I clear my throat and step away from him. “If you’ll just give me the address, I’ll take a cab to my place.”
“I wouldn’t dream of endangering your life again,” he replies with a half-smile, and every hair on my body stands on end. Good Lord, what this man can do with a smile.
I need to get my hormones under control. It’s simply been too long since I got laid, that’s all. And I’m not going to scratch this particular itch with this particular man. He’s my boss. My best friends’ brother.
No way, nohow.
“You coming?” he asks.
I realize the elevator has opened and he’s standing next to me, waiting for me to go first.
“Of course,” he chuckles. “We can walk it…it’s not far, but it’s hot out, so we’ll drive.”