Black Ties and White Lies: Chapter 5

Beck

I’ve never cared to know what people are thinking. Other people’s opinions on things have never really interested me. Until I laid eyes on the fiercely stubborn woman sitting across from me.

The moment she stuck her tiny little hand in mine at our summer house, the countless rings on her fingers scratching against my palms as we shook hands, I wanted to know what she thought of me. I was curious to know what she thought of her boyfriend’s older brother. She’d barely told me her name and I had countless questions I wanted to ask her. I’d never wanted to know every detail about another human being until I met her.

Then I saw her draw in her sketchbook and the only thing I wanted to know more than how she viewed me was what she was drawing in that little book of hers.

We’d barely spoken the rest of the weekend. I’d tried to avoid her when possible.

Except one night that weekend. The night that is forever burned in my mind.

Just as badly, I wanted to know what she was thinking when she met me. I’m desperate to know what’s going through her head.

Margo clears her throat, breaking me from my memories and bringing my attention back to her.

Has she already made up her mind to say no? I’d use every one of my breaths to get her to change her mind.

Is she considering it? I’ll make sure it’s worth her while.

Has she made the decision to say yes? I’ll give her anything she wants and more.

Unfortunately for me, Margo doesn’t let on to what direction her head is going in—at least not yet. “I need more details on how this is going to work before I agree to anything.”

“Done.” My answer is immediate. Standing up, I walk around the table until I’m standing right next to her. Reaching up, I undo the button of my suit jacket and let it fall open. I slide my hands into my pockets and sit on the edge of the table. If I scooted over an inch, her knee would brush up against my leg. I’m tempted to do it just to feel some sort of connection between the two of us. “What else do you want to know?”

“What does being your assistant mean? And what happens to your other one? Do you fire them?”

I scoff. “No. Polly still keeps her position, except she’s going to stay more grounded in New York. You’ll be based in New York with me, but you’ll also travel with me when needed.”

It appears she just realized that to do this, she’d have to uproot her entire life and move across the country from California to New York. “I’m supposed to move?”

“We can’t be engaged and live on opposite ends of the country.”

Her bottom lip juts out in a frown. “My friends are here, not in New York. We all moved out here together. I can’t leave them.”

I bite back the urge to remind her that she also moved out here for Carter.

“I’ll fly them out there. Or fly you here. You choose. I’ve got a jet with staff always on standby. We’ll figure that out easily.”

“You have a jet? With people on standby?”

“Yes. It’s waiting on a tarmac right now. I try to avoid California as much as I can. I much prefer the Northeast.”

She laughs. “Yeah, you totally have the New Yorker vibe. Rich, full of themselves, and grumpy.”

I ignore her comment. She probably thinks they’re supposed to be insults, but those adjectives don’t have power over me. I know who I am. She isn’t wrong with her assessment.

New York and I fit together perfectly.

“What other reasons do you have to convince yourself this won’t work?”

Margo rubs her lips together, her eyes seeming to focus on the small amount of air between our bodies. It wouldn’t take much for us to be touching, just a slight movement from either of us and our bodies would connect. “Well, there’s the obvious reason that it’s totally fake. How do we expect people to believe us? My friends will know it isn’t real…”

“We’ll have to convince them it is. For this to work, we need everyone—including friends and family—to think that we’re madly in love with one another. My board can’t know that I’m deceiving them or it’ll make things even worse.”

It already bothers the hell out of the people on my board that I have the control I do of my own company—one that I created. When I sold it years ago at twenty-five, they’d expected me to take the money and give someone else the position of CEO. I hadn’t created Sintech Cyber Security just to sell it and disappear. The only reason I sold it and created a board of directors was because I had visions of what I wanted Sintech to become. Now, every single relevant social media platform uses the company I created for data security. As much as it sucked to admit, I couldn’t do it alone. To expand, I had to relinquish some control. But not all. If the board believed I settled down, that my “playboy” ways were behind me, they’d get off my back. The focus would come off me and my personal life and go back to where it should be—on the company. On how we’re keeping consumer’s data secure as social media becomes more prevalent in the average consumer’s life each day.

Margo sits back in her chair. Her thighs clench together so tightly, I’m wondering the reason behind it. “What’s your family going to say about us, Beck? Won’t they be upset that you’re engaged to your brother’s ex?”

Scoffing, I shake my head. “They adored you. Both my mom and dad were upset when they heard what Carter did to you. They’d love to see you again and won’t care if it’s because you’re now with me.”

I’m amazing at reading people, at studying their body language, to know exactly what’s going on in their head. My ability to read someone even though I hardly tolerate them ends with Margo. I can’t determine the look on her face. It looks apprehensive, but by the way she rolls her lips together, I’m wondering if I’m breaking her down and slowly convincing her.

“I’m not trying to upset Carter.”

My jaw clenches. I abruptly flip her chair around, her back now to the conference table. Her eyes are wide as saucers as she stares up at me in shock. Crowding her space, I lower my body until we’re eye to eye. “Say his name again, and I’ll bend you right over this table and fuck you until the only name you can say is mine. You’ll be so full of me you won’t even remember who you were thinking about before.”

Her chest heaves up and down, her breasts brushing up against the lapels of my jacket. “I’m not trying to upset…him,” she corrects. Her voice comes out forced, like it’s taking everything in her to try to keep her tone level.

That makes two of us.

The leather armrests groan underneath my tight grip on them. My back is tense, and I know I should pull away. If someone were to open this door, they’d find Margo and I in a questionable position. Nothing inappropriate has happened between us here, but the words that just left my mouth were far from appropriate.

“I shouldn’t have said that.” My words are a complete contradiction to what I’m feeling. I want to kiss her lips and lick them until my brother’s name never comes from them again.

“Beck,” she breathes. Her tongue peeks out to lick her Cupid’s bow. I have to rip myself away from her before I do something to ruin this plan I have for us before she even agrees to it.

“That was inappropriate. I apologize, Margo.” My features mask into a look of indifference. I have to get my shit together. No one gets to me, and I need to remember to keep it that way. Even when it comes to her. “Let’s just agree we don’t need to say his name, okay? He’s moved on. I’m fairly certain he has a new girlfriend he’s no doubt already cheated on. He won’t care.”

For a moment, Margo looks sad. It hadn’t ever occurred to me she may still have some lingering feelings toward my dickwad brother. That’ll have to change. I make no move to comfort her. I stay firmly in place standing above her, a respectable few feet between us before I do something that’ll have HR breathing down my neck.

“If we do this, we need rules, or terms, or I don’t know the fancy word I’m supposed to use, but we need something. For me to even consider it, I need to know we’re on the exact same page.”

“Tell me your terms, Margo.”

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