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Black Ties and White Lies: Chapter 8


I’m late by over five minutes.

In my defense, it’s not really my fault. Emma takes four of those minutes by trying to get me to explain where I’m going with Beck. She doesn’t believe me when I answer truthfully. I have no freaking clue what Beck has planned for the day, what his motives are for showing up on my last day of work at 8-bit. But damn, I might be a little excited to find out.

When I finally convince her that I’ll give her updates the moment I know what’s happening, it takes another four minutes for me to grab my things and check my appearance in the compact I keep in my handbag.

The last minute is spent rushing out. Darla attempts to fire questions at me on my way out, but all I do is give her a smile. “I’m going to miss you, Darla,” I lie. Wrapping my arms around her, I give her one tight squeeze. I won’t miss her in the slightest, but part of me will miss this place. Even though I hated what I did here, it was my first real job. I got to start with Emma, it’s a bit bittersweet to leave it behind.

Who knows, maybe I’ll be back whenever this thing with Beck ends. But I hope to never be back again.

Beck looks pissed when I step into the large lobby. He’s got his phone pressed to his ear, clearly engaged in a conversation with someone else. The call seems civil. The look in his eyes is anything but.

I’m in trouble. The deep set of his brows tells me as much.

Why does the thought excite me a little?

He doesn’t say a word when I come to a halt in front of him. He continues to speak with whoever is on the other line. Beck acknowledges my presence by tilting his head toward the exit. Words aren’t needed for me to catch on to what he wants.

His long legs make their way toward the exit. Beck doesn’t even look over his shoulder to see if I follow. He doesn’t have to. I’m too intrigued by why he showed up on my last day of work, leaving no room for arguing that I needed to leave with him.

Even though it’s obvious he’s upset by me being late, he holds the door open for me. Before I leave, I turn and give Barry my sweetest smile. “Goodbye, Barry! I’ll miss you.” I blow him a kiss, loving how Barry eats the attention up by pretending to catch the kiss and tuck it in his pocket.

When I turn back to leave, I find Beck has ended his call. His eyes are locked on me like magnets. I wish I knew what the look on his face meant. The anger is wiped away for the moment, but I can’t quite put my finger on what’s replaced it.

As soon as my feet hit the sidewalk, he’s letting the door close behind him and guiding me toward a waiting black SUV. A guy dressed in a suit waits in front of the rear passenger door. As soon as we near the vehicle, he’s plastering on a smile and pulling the door open.

My feet skid to a stop. I anxiously look over my shoulder, wondering if getting into this car is a good idea. I guess Beck is my boss—and soon-to-be fake fiancé—so I should trust him. But a part of me feels a bit apprehensive. It’s probably the fact that the two of them are dressed like they’re about to go to a formal event and I’m dressed in a pair of fraying Levi’s.

I look between the guy holding the car door open and Beck. “I didn’t get the memo to come wearing a gown. My apologies.”

The man tries to hide a smile. His cheek twitches as he fights with all his might to keep a straight face.

Beck doesn’t look quite as amused. He’s now climbed into the back of the car, his arm outstretched like he’s waiting to help me get into the car. My body feels tingly as he looks over my outfit. “I’m going to have to have a chat with HR on dress code,” he clips, his eyes focusing on the large hole at my knee. My tan skin peeks out from the space.

I look down, taking in all the different holes on the pants. I shrug, completely unbothered by his comment. “Oh, it totally goes against the dress code. Darla wrote me a pink slip the moment I stepped into work this morning.”

It’s Beck’s turn to fight a smile. He’s much better at it than his driver, however. I mutter my thanks to him as I slide into the backseat of the SUV, completely ignoring Beck’s outstretched hand. He doesn’t say anything as it falls to his side. “So, you’re breaking the rules right after you’ve been promoted?”

Beck’s driver, I still need to get his name, softly shuts the door after me before he rounds the car and gets in.

I shake my head. “I’ve always followed the rules. But today being my last day and all, I figured I might as well wear something comfortable. If it were up to me, all companies would have casual Fridays.”

“Noted.” His eyes snap to my side. “Buckle your seat belt.”

I bite my tongue, wanting to tell him that even if he’s going to be my boss, he doesn’t have to always tell me what to do.

He must disapprove of my silence. In one swift motion, he’s reaching across the space, grabbing the seat belt and buckling me in.

“I’m not a child. I can do it myself.”

Beck pins me with a glare. His face is dangerously close to mine. So close that his hot breath tickles my cheeks. His smell surrounds me. For a fraction of a second, his gaze focuses on my lips. He rips his sight away from my parted lips, his stormy eyes looking into mine. “Too late.”

I tear my eyes from his, too caught up in the moment with him for my own good. I should be angry with him for catapulting into my life and changing everything so quickly, but I’m also thrilled at the possibilities of what’s in store.

“Where are we going?” I question, looking out the window as the driver pulls the car away from the curb.

“Before we do anything, I need you to sign this.” Beck pulls a packet from a briefcase and plops it between us.

I pick it up, my eyes roaming over a bunch of legal jargon that goes over my head.

“It’s an NDA, Margo,” he explains, watching me closely. “You’re expected to sign it before we go through with this.”

I frown, trying to understand what everything means. Flipping from one page to the next, I find highlighted sections where I’m supposed to sign my name. Watching reruns of Law and Order SVU hasn’t given me enough knowledge of law terminology to even begin to understand a thing. I look at Beck with skepticism written on my face. “I don’t understand any of this.” I wave the packet around in the air between us. “How do I know that I’m not signing away my first-born child to you?”

The driver spits out a laugh. I smirk, happy I got the calm and collected guy to finally break.

“Glad you find her hilarious, Ezra.” Beck gives the driver—Ezra, apparently—a dirty look through the rearview mirror. Ezra, however, only makes eye contact with Beck for a fleeting moment before he pins his eyes ahead of him, suddenly very focused on the road. “Sorry, sir.” He coughs. “It was kind of funny.”

I beam, looking at Beck with a satisfied look. “I like him already.”

“Thank you, Miss Moretti,” Ezra comments, his eyes still focused on the road ahead.

Beck sighs dismissively at the both of us. He looks at the packet I still hold between us. “I can assure you I’m not having you sign away anything. All of my staff sign NDAs. It’s standard protocol. Your best friend, Ezra, signed one as well.”

“Sure did. Hopefully, I didn’t sign away my first-born child,” he says sarcastically. “My future wife may not be happy to know that.”

Beck snorts, slightly leaning forward to get Ezra’s attention. “You don’t even have a girlfriend,” he responds dryly.

Ezra’s eyebrows raise to his hairline. “That you know of, sir.” He winks at me through the mirror.

The gesture manages to further annoy Beck. Angrily, he snatches the packet from my hand and places it on the leather seat between us. His fingers trace over some of the sentences as he begins to explain what everything means. My eyes travel over the words he reads out loud, so far confident that I’m not signing some kind of shady deal.

Once he makes it through three pages of the packet, he looks up at me through his thick eyelashes. “Need me to keep going or do you trust me enough to know that I’m a civilized human being that wouldn’t trap you into anything crooked?”

“I don’t know if trust is the correct term when it comes to you.”

Beck makes a face, making it seem like my response actually offended him. “Fine,” he bites, slipping his phone from his suit pocket. “I’ll call my lawyer to review it with you then, if that’s what it’ll take.”

His fingers are quick at typing something on his phone. Taking myself by surprise, I reach across the bench seat, placing my hand on his forearm. “Wait,” I argue. Even the way the suit feels underneath my palm tells me it’s expensive. It’s soft, a light gray that looks great up against his pale skin tone.

Beck looks at where my hand rests on his arm. I pull it away, meeting his eyes. “Don’t call your lawyer. I’ll sign it.”

His eyes bore into mine. I try not to squirm in my seat. Half of me loves having his undivided attention like this. The other part of me wants him to look anywhere but me. I can’t handle having him watch me like he’s leaving so much unsaid. “But you don’t trust me.” It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to hear the disdain in his voice.

Rolling my eyes, I reach for the handbag at my feet. I rifle through it, searching for a pen.

“What are you doing?” Beck finally asks.

I pull random things out of the bag, wondering why I can’t find a single pen in here. Typically, this bag is like the one from Mary Poppins, full of unexpected treasures. Today, it’s full of random things except the one thing I need—a pen. “I’m looking for a pen,” I grumble, pulling out my makeup bag and moving it out of the way.

“Don’t bother,” Beck responds. He opens his briefcase and holds up a pen. “Use this.”

Snatching the pen from him, it feels heavier in my hand than I was expecting. Even this man’s pens feel expensive.

I set the packet in my lap, using my legs as a makeshift table as I sign on each dotted line.


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