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Pleasing Mr. Parker: Chapter 13


you don’t have it? When you called the other night, you said—”

Excuses pour down the phone from the incompetent fucker on the other end in response.

“I don’t want to hear it. Just ring me when you have something to tell me!”

I slam the phone down onto the desk and curse. Why is it so fucking hard to find someone who can do their job properly?

There’s a knock at the door.

“Yes!” I snap.

“Mr. Parker?” Harley pokes her head around the door and then opens it fully, stepping inside. “I’ve got some sign offs I need for Friday.”

“Of course, of course.” I hold my hand out and she walks across the room and places a folder in it.

“Are you accompanying Emily again?” she asks as I flick through the pages and sign the necessary ones.

“Yes.” I raise my eyes to hers. “Why?”

Her brows shoot up and she shakes her head. “No reason. Just wondered.” Her smile returns as I close the folder and hand it back to her.

“Oh, and Harley?”

She turns back as she reaches the door.

“Make sure you get the outfits you borrow back to the boutiques on time. Not like the last gala.”

She bites her bottom lip and nods at me. “Of course. Thank you, Mr. Parker.”

I smirk as she closes the door. I may not know the single most important thing about what’s been happening under my nose at the hotel yet. But I’m not stupid. I know enough of what my staff get up to. But sneaky tours of the penthouses for their friends when there aren’t any guests staying in them, and borrowing outfits from the hotel boutiques are the least of my problems. Not when the person who stabbed me in the back is still out there. Unpunished. Or worse, still in here, working for me, waiting for another opportunity to threaten The Songbird.

I will drag them through hell myself before I give them that chance again.

“You mean I have to put up with your stinky shit in one of my apartments for longer?” I screw my nose up, flicking my gaze to Reed’s sneakers across the room.

“The only stink in here is one of success, mixed with last night’s pussy.” He smirks as he hands me a glass of bourbon.

He’s still running for LA Mayor, but Reed being Reed, has decided after hearing whispers on the politics circuit that there is something going on at the New York Mayor’s office, he’s going to extend his brief vacation here and find out what. Frankly, I’m pleased. He’s my closest friend aside from my brothers, who live in other cities. It’ll be nice having him around longer. But I’d pull out all my teeth before admitting that.

“Still making plenty of ‘friends’, then?” I snort as I take a drink and savor the fiery burn in my throat.

“Networking, yes. It’s important for me to meet people. See what their concerns are. What issues the city is facing.” Reed reclines onto the other couch and grins at me. “It’s amazing what some of these chicks hear when they’re at work.”

“I don’t see how underwear models can have a huge understanding of the inner workings of the New York Mayor’s office.”

“You’d be surprised, Griff. Besides, my friend last night works for one of the city’s biggest defense attorneys. She had a lot of interesting things to say once I loosened her lips.”

I chuckle to myself. “Is that what you call it?”

“True story.” Reed lowers his voice. “I might need to apologize to your hot spa manager again, though. Attorney girl was a screamer.”

I look over at him. He even looks guilty, hanging his head like a hound.

“Her name is Maria. Call her hot again and see what happens to you.”

Reed’s eyes light up. “What’s that, buddy? You warning me off your chick?”

I shoot him a look that would make other men step back. “Second warning. And cut out the chick shit, too. She’s not a bird.” I tap my fingers against the side of my glass, then lift it to my lips and drain the rest of it.

“I knew something went down on that trip last week!” Reed ignores my warning and sits forward in his seat, his eyes focused on me. “You’ve been a moodier shit than usual since you came back.”

“Thanks,” I mutter, ignoring the waiting look on his face as I blow out a breath to calm the fire that’s settled inside my gut since I returned from The Bahamas.

“So?” he probes when I offer nothing further.

“So, nothing. It was a business trip. We negotiated a new deal. A great one.”

I run my hand down over my tie as I recall the way Maria spoke with Ken, engaging him in conversation about something he’s passionate about. She’s extremely astute. That entire trip cemented it in my mind. I need to loosen the reins a little and let her get on with it. The fact I haven’t seen her in person since we got back, yet spa bookings are through the roof should tell me something—she doesn’t need me. She’s Maria. She doesn’t need anyone. Another fact thrown in my face when I went back out to the pool and found it empty. If that isn’t a huge fucking sign of regret on her part, then I don’t know what is.

“Yeah, because it sure looks like business is thriving and you’re ecstatic about it.” Reed laughs.

I shake my head at him. “We had a moment, that’s all. A short-lived one that won’t be repeated. She’s like me. We don’t mix business with our personal lives—Don’t look at me like that.”

“I didn’t say anything.” Reed holds his hands up in front of him.

“You didn’t have to. I can smell your friendly advice from over here. It stinks more than your sneakers.”

He knows I’m joking. There’s nothing further from the truth when it comes to Reed. Even as young men living together in college away from home for the first time, he was still a neat bastard.

His own version of control, I guess.

Just like I have my methods.

I knock back my drink, aiming to erase the memory of Maria’s taste, which is still on my tongue if I merely think of her for more than a moment.

Reed drops his head and laughs. “I’ve known you years, Griff, remember that. You can’t bullshit a bullshitter. I’ve seen you both together. She’s under your skin.” His shoulders shake as he continues to laugh. “Keep lying to yourself. But we both know the truth.”

“Which is?” I reach for the bottle on the coffee table and fill my glass back up.

Reed’s challenging eyes meet mine. “That she’s holding all the cards right now. You can either be a pussy and let her avoid you at work, then be back here with your ugly pissed face when she starts dating someone, which she no doubt will.”

My jaw stiffens as tightness spreads over my chest and down my arms.

“Or?” I knock back my drink again and reach for the bottle once more.

“Or you do what you do best.” He raises his brows at me. “You go after what you want and make it yours.”

I stalk into the spa the next morning with renewed purpose. Maria may think she can avoid me and forget about what happened. But no one has the last word. Unless it’s me.

”Ms. Taylor,” I bark as I approach the main desk.

It’s early so only a few therapists are in, setting up for the day. They scatter when they hear me.

Maria glares at me. “Mr. Parker. Would you be so kind to explain why you’re racing in here and making my staff jump with your excessive volume?”

I narrow my eyes at her. She’s tied her hair up again, exposing her neck and throat. I swallow at the sight of her creamy skin.

I could wrap a hand around it again. Make her moan.

She looks back at me and sighs. “Mr. Parker?” A hint of regret laces her words as her eyes lose some of their fire.

“Griffin,” I snap.

“You called me Ms. Taylor. I thought we were back on those terms.” She holds my gaze, crossing her arms over her chest.

I keep my eyes on her face, even though I know crossing her arms has pushed her magnificent breasts up in her low-necked dress. Damn. She might regret everything about that night.

I only have one regret—taking that call.

“We make our own terms from now on,” I say as she tilts her head and studies me.

“Okay.” She releases her arms. “What can I help you with? Were you after an update on how things are?”

“Sure. Let’s start with that.” I thrust my hands into my pockets and walk to the desk.

She glances at my light gray suit, then taps into the computer bookings system.

“Bookings are up fifty percent on last month. I’ve spoken with Todd and Ken. The first batch of new products should be with us within two weeks, in perfect time for us to have trialed them and gathered feedback before Vogue writes their feature. Oh, and we’ve already beaten the month’s target I set the team for new client introductions.” She fires off the list as though the quicker she can say it, the quicker our conversation will be over.

She looks back at me. “Did you want to know anything else?”

“You’ll be coming Friday, won’t you?”

My question must catch her off-guard as she blinks a few times before responding.

“To Emily’s gala?”

“Yes. Will you be there?”

Maria purses her lips, looking far from happy. “Yes, I will. She wouldn’t take no for an answer. She’s been visiting the spa every time she’s at The Songbird. In fact, I’ve seen her every day since we got back from…” Her eyes drop to the countertop.

“The Bahamas?” I finish for her.

She nods. And there’s the first crack. The fact she can’t even say the words means she’s thought about it.

Maybe she’s still thinking about it.

”Is anyone accompanying you?”

“Todd,” she says, still not making eye contact with me.

“I see.” My jaw aches as my teeth threaten to grind together until there is only dust left.

“It’s not a date.” She sniffs and busies herself with a small stack of treatment menus.

My hands ball into fists in my pockets. “Does he know that?”

She raises her chin, and her eyes meet mine, filled with a silent challenge.

“I don’t date people I work with, Griffin.”

I pull my shoulders back and they crack inside my jacket.

“Good. Neither do I.”

Her eyes bore into mine and her pupils dilate as she parts her beautiful pink lips to speak. “Glad we’ve got that clear.”

I jut my chin out, my eyes sweeping over her face one last time before I turn and leave.

Me too, Sweetheart, me too.


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