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Black Ties and White Lies: Chapter 20


I probably could’ve handled our conversation at the office better. The issue was, I’d been offended she’d dismissed the kiss so easily. That she thought so low of me. How could she think I’d kiss her in private for the sake of anyone else? Sure, if people thought we were engaged and we were at an event or something I’d give her a chaste kiss to make this arrangement more believable.

But this morning, in that dressing room, the only person I kissed her for was myself. I’d thought about kissing her in bed into the early morning the night before and I’d thought about it the entire morning while shopping before it happened.

I’d kissed her because the thought of not kissing her made me feel empty inside.

I should’ve known better. She wasn’t ready. She’d said as much when she’d laid out her terms when agreeing to becoming my assistant and then fiancée. I’d just been too blinded by my primal want for her, and by the way she basically dared me to kiss her, there was no stopping myself.

By the time I actually cared to apologize to her for how I’d acted, it was too late. I could tell she was upset with me. I’m smart enough to know when a woman wants nothing to do with me, and those were the vibes I got the entire ride home.

She’d smiled and fawned over Ezra as he helped her bring bags and boxes of clothing up, but any time I attempted to help it resulted in a dirty look.

Ezra ate it up like candy, clearly aware that something was going on between Margo and me.

It was four hours ago when we piled Margo’s new items in her room, and she all but slammed the door in my face.

I’d spent two of those hours in the private gym and sauna, trying to work out some of the pent up frustration. I’m still in disbelief that she tried to diminish our kiss into nothing. I’m even more enraged that her trust issues stem from the man whose picture appears on my phone.

Angrily grabbing my phone from the kitchen counter, I swipe to answer. “What do you want?” My tone isn’t friendly, although it never is when it comes to him.

He laughs, but there’s no actual humor to it. “Sup, big bro?” Blaring music muffles his voice. Wherever he is, whatever he’s doing, it isn’t quiet.

“Why are you calling me?” I clip, grimacing at his use of the words sup and bro.

“I got a fun tidbit of information today,” he taunts. I know he wants me to ask what, but I don’t. I’m not going to fall into whatever trap he’s attempting to lay.

“And I give a shit why?”

The oven timer beeps behind me. I walk to it, opening it up and taking a peek at the teriyaki salmon I have in there.

Carter chuckles on the other line. “Because, Beckham, it has to do with you and a certain ex-girlfriend of mine.”


I knew he’d learn of Margo working for me, and eventually becoming my fiancée, but I must admit, I didn’t think it’d be so soon.

“I repeat. I give a shit why?”

“I think it’s me who should give a shit. Why are you out with Margo? You know I’m still in love with her.”

I scoff, grabbing a spatula and turning the green beans that are cooking in the pan. “Didn’t you cheat on her throughout the entirety of your relationship?”

“I was immature,” he counters, slightly slurring his words. The realization doesn’t shock me. Carter has always been someone who likes to hit the bottle a little too hard. “I was stupid for what I did to her, but I want her back.”

Like fuck, I want to say out loud but I bite my tongue. Carter can’t know about the little agreement Margo and I have. Not now, not ever. Even if Margo didn’t hate him, there’s still no way I’d ever allow my brother to hurt her again. He’s stupid and pathetic, too busy thinking with his cock all the time to realize he’s got a good thing when he has it.

I won’t let him make that same mistake again. Not if I have any say in the matter.

“She’s working for me as an assistant.” I change the subject, divulging only a little.

“She’ll be mine again, Beckham. Just wanted to remind you of that.”

I stop, holding the phone to my ear as I think his words over. The last thing I need to do is get in a pissing match over Margo with my brother. I have to choose my words carefully, not wanting him to know how much the thought of Margo ever getting back with his sorry ass makes my blood boil. Even seeing her with him at our family home in The Hamptons, knowing he was unfaithful to her, upset me more than it ever should. Now I’m even more invested in her, more than I’m willing to let him or anyone else know, and it’ll be over my dead body that my brother ever gets her back.


“I don’t know why you think I care, but she’s only working for me, Carter. Who you are dating, or want to date, mean nothing to me. Do what you want.” I press end on the phone call, hating the way that sentence felt coming from my mouth. I have to tread carefully when it comes to him. The last thing I want is for my brother to come in and try to convince Margo to get back with him. She seemed adamant that she’d never get back with him, but she was also honest in the fact that he really hurt her. When people have the power to hurt you, they have a hold on you that makes you do unexplainable things. Things you never saw yourself doing.

Taking a deep breath, I pinch the bridge of my nose between my fingers. I hadn’t expected Carter to be so open about wanting Margo back, but then again, Carter has always wanted what he couldn’t have. Once he finally gets what he wants, he grows tired of it. I’m not sure how one could ever grow tired of Margo, but he did.

I’ve told Mom I think he was too spoiled as a child. It’s clear as day now with how he wants Margo back in his life at the mere mention that she’s working for me. My parents were good to me. I was loved and encouraged, but they were still much harder on me than they were Carter. I appreciate the difference between us. I had to work for things I wanted. Carter had it all handed to him. One thing he won’t be handed is the chance to have Margo again—I’ll make damn sure of that.

The smell of burnt garlic fills the kitchen. “Shit,” I curse, turning around to move the burning vegetables in the pan. I think I’ve got it before the green beans are completely done for. I douse them in a bit more oil before shaking the pan to disperse the liquid. Turning the temperature down on the gas range, I walk toward one of the ovens built into the wall. Opening it, I take a look at the salmon and find it crisped to perfection. I shield my hand in an oven mitt and pull the salmon out. Now that the heat for the vegetables is turned down, I do what I should’ve done awhile ago—find Margo.

I take the stairs two at a time, coming to a stop at the end of the hall in front of her door. She has it closed, music sounding from the other side. Now that I stand in front of it, I wonder if this isn’t such a great idea. She’s more than likely still angry with me, and deep down I’m still frustrated with her as well. Showing emotion makes my skin crawl and I’ve seemed to already let my guard down enough with her for one day.

Before I can think better of it, I bang my knuckles against her door three times. Nothing happens. I shift on the balls of my feet, knocking three more times, but louder this time. I’m about to knock a third time, annoyed by the fact she’s ignoring me, when the door swings open, a freshly showered Margo on the other end.

She gives no indication of her mood when she pins me with her green eyes. “Hi,” she says, her tone even.

I scratch my neck. “I…uh.” Words seem to fail me as my eyes roam over her body. She wears a pair of drawstring pajama pants, a bow neatly tied right underneath her belly button. The pants look good, but it’s what she wears as a top that’s making my pulse spike. She wears some kind of cross between a tank top and a bra. It stops right over her belly button, the thin fabric molding to her body. Straps thinner than my pinky hold the top up, and it’s obvious she wears no bra underneath by the outline of her nipples pushing through the fabric.

“You…” Her lips twitch as she fights a smile. Her arms cross her body, allowing me the time to gather my words now that I’m not staring at the outlines of her nipples and imagining how they’d feel in my mouth.

“I have a truce,” I offer, placing my hands in the pocket of my lounge pants.

“And what’s that?”

“I made dinner.”

“Is that code for you had a chef make it or you made it yourself?”

“What did I tell you? I enjoy cooking and for it to be a proper truce, I made it myself. Slaved away in the kitchen and everything to say I’m sorry for being a dick earlier.”

She stares at me, probably deciding if she wants to accept my apology or not. I’ll leave her no other option. I won’t go back downstairs unless she’s going back down there with me. Both of us acted childish earlier and I don’t want to go into her first day at the office tomorrow with her upset at me.

“You were kind of a dick earlier,” she finally offers, losing the battle with fighting a smile.

“Yeah well, it’s part of my charm.”

Her eyes narrow. “Apology accepted.” She acts like she’s about to step out into the hallway before she changes course last minute. The door begins to shut right in my face. Before she can fully shut it, I slap my hand against the wood, wrapping my fingers around the edge so she can’t shut it.

“What do you think you’re doing?” My grip tightens as she attempts to close it. She’d actually close it on my fingers if I allowed her to.

“I can accept your apology and not want to eat with you.” There’s not a hint of fear in her eyes. In fact, I think it’s the opposite. She looks thrilled as she tries to push the door all the way shut.

If it’s a game she wants to play, then it’s a game she’s going to get.

“I’m amending our terms to this agreement.”

“Considering we’ve already broken our terms, I don’t know what good that does us,” she fires back.

“Don’t care. Starting now part of the job—the offer—is that if we’re both home, we’re eating dinner together.”

Margo shakes her head. “That wasn’t part of the agreement and you can’t just add things to better fit what you want.”

I smile, catching her off guard and forcing the door open. “I’m your boss, remember. I can do whatever the fuck I want.” I take a step closer until I’m crowding her space. “And right now, what I want is your ass downstairs seated at the dinner table.”

“I’m off the clock. Right now, you’re just Beck. You’re not Mr. Sinclair until tomorrow. I don’t have to listen to you.” She means to say “Mr. Sinclair” mockingly, but it has the opposite effect. Her sweet tone only fuels my growing erection.

“I’ve already cooked you one dinner you didn’t come down to eat. It isn’t happening again.”

“You can’t make me.”

An idea pops into my head. Grinning ear to ear, I pin her with a wide smile. “Oh Violet, yes I can.”


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