How was your trip away?” Harley asks with a huge grin on her face.
I roll my lips to hide my smile. She and Maria have grown close. They may not have had a chance to catch up since we got back last night, but Harley knows Maria went with me. And after working for me for five years, she knows me well enough to work out that this isn’t some short-lived, meaningless hook-up.
“It was just what I needed. Thank you, Harley.”
She raises her brows and smiles as she plucks a large bag from the floor and deposits it on top of her desk.
I look at her in question.
“You can decide how much my bonus will be later!” She drums her fingers together excitedly as she looks at me and then the bag.
“You got it already?” I ask, impressed.
“Will helped. But yes! I peeked, you know, to check it. Gah! It’s gorgeous.” Harley’s smile grows as she takes the silk handles of the bag and holds it out to me. “She will love it, Mr. Parker.”
My smile matches Harley’s as I take hold of the soft handles. I hope Maria is going to like it. God, I would get her anything she wanted, a realization I came to long before the Hamptons. That time together merely cemented it further for me. She might be mine now, but I’m most certainly hers, too. She’s got me like a dog, pining after her.
We landed back late last night, and I hid my disappointment when she wanted to go back to her own apartment. Alone. The idea of pounding her into my mattress all night long was much more appealing.
“Thank you, Harley.” I lift the bag off her desk. “I’m very grateful.”
“Oh, you’re welcome.” She smiles at me.
She’s thinking about going to the spa to see Maria the minute I go into my office.
“Maybe you could go grab us a coffee from the place you like?” I raise a brow at her. “The last couple of days have worn me out a bit.”
“Yes, Mr. Parker.”
I don’t miss the small squeak she makes as she jumps up from her desk.
“Oh, Emily called for you. She said she’s on her way in.”
“Okay. Thank you.” She almost runs to the elevator, and I chuckle.
I head into my office and get to work for an hour, returning emails and calls that have come in overnight. I stayed up late after we got back last night playing catch up, so I’m pretty on track with what we have going on.
Later this week is the filming of Steel Force. We’ve got the production crew and actors staying in the hotel for a few days. They only have a couple of scenes to film in the hotel. The rest will be out in the city, so won’t require any input from me. But the ones at The Songbird, especially the one outside at street level, will take some preparation. I’ve already increased security to keep members of the public who come to watch safe. And I’ve placed Earl in charge of the front of house presentation. Everything looks to be under control.
There’s a knock at the door.
“Come in!” I call, getting up from my chair and rounding my desk.
“Griffin!” Emily beams at me as she rushes over and wraps her arms around me, pressing a kiss to my cheek. Her eyes sweep over my face as she places her purse down and shrugs out of her coat. “You’ve caught the sun.”
Harley’s head pokes around the door behind Emily and I wave her in.
“Here you are, Mr. Parker… Emily,” Harley adds as she places down a coffee for me and one for Emily, too.
I smile at her. She is a great PA, and the fact she thought to get Emily a coffee as well just highlights how thoughtful she is. Why Reed seems to have a stick up his ass if I even mention her name is a mystery to me.
“Thank you, Harley.” I wait until she’s gone before I join Emily, who’s sitting on one of the sofas.
She casts her eyes over me again, her lips twisting in thought.
“You’ve definitely caught the sun, Griffin. Been taking outdoor lunch meetings this week, have you?”
“No. I went to the beach house. Spent yesterday out on the boat.” I take a sip of my coffee.
Her eyes light up. “Oh, I love it there. Why didn’t you say? I would have come and kept you company.”
“I wasn’t alone.”
“Oh?” Her brow creases at the same time as she spots the giant Louis Vuitton gift bag I placed at the side of the sofa earlier. “I see.” She turns to me with a smile. “Have I met this new friend?”
I smile as I lean back on the sofa and have another drink of coffee. “Perhaps.”
“Oh, come on, Griffin. Don’t go acting all coy.” She reaches out and shoves my leg. “How long have I known you?”
“Long enough to know I don’t like to kiss and tell.”
I adjust my back against the sofa cushions, the skin still tender where Maria’s stilettos scratched my lower back. It’s a gratifying pain, though. One I gladly welcome as a reminder of a fantastic night. God, I want her again. That first night… the beach the next day… the times back at the beach house before we flew back to the city… They aren’t enough. No number of times will ever be enough.
Emily sighs and purses her lips. “Suit yourself. You know I’ll get it out of you. But if you prefer to think you’ve won for now, then I’ll let you believe it. We all have our secrets.”
I smile as one corner of her mouth curls.
“Okay. On to business. I have some things to run by you.” She glances at me as she pulls some documents from her bag and lays them out on the coffee table.
I nod and lean forward over my knees to look. She likes to come and talk business with me. She’s perfectly capable of running her charity by herself, but it seems to make her happy to come and run things by me and get my opinion.
I’m probably the only male she has in her life who shows an interest. I feel bad for her, the way her dad ignored her most of her life growing up. He had more time for me and my brothers growing up than he did for Emily. Some men don’t see daughters and women as equally capable, or maybe even more so, than a man at running a successful business.
Emily looks away from me, her eyes casting back down to the documents she’s brought with her. “This gala was an enormous success, one of the best yet. Thank you, Griffin.”
“Don’t thank me, Em. You’re welcome to host them here anytime you want.”
She reaches over and lays her hand on my arm. “Thank you. We make a good team.”
“It’s all you. You’re doing an incredible job.”
“That means a lot coming from you, Griffin.” She looks at me for an extended time, studying my face, and I get the feeling she’s going to tell me something. Instead, a frown passes over her lips, and she turns back to the documents, drawing us back into talk of benefactors and publicity for when she hands over the very sizeable donation to the hospital.
The rest of the morning passes, one call after another, until I finally get a moment to myself.
I blow out a breath and stretch my arms up behind my head as I lean back in my chair and stare out at Manhattan. It’s one of the best views in the world, knowing that this entire building, and at least six others in my eyeline down the street, are all mine. The Songbird is my only hotel, but I own buildings housing luxury penthouses, offices, and retail spaces running all the way down Park Avenue. They’re leased off me. The only one I run myself is The Songbird. This place is where my heart lies. Here, and at the beach house and my boat.
My cock twitches as I recall the way Maria came so hard on my face in the private cove that she was too dizzy to get up afterward. We laid next to one another on the sand on our backs instead, looking at the sky, holding hands. I was covered in sand, food, and bird shit. But all I noticed was the way her hair smelled, and that her taste lingered on my lips like honey.
Sweet as fucking honey.
I sit up, sliding my chair back to my desk, and grab the phone, hitting speed dial.
“Hello,” she answers on the second ring, her voice soft and breathy. It makes me want to grab my dick in my pants and squeeze.
“How’s your morning been, Sweetheart?”
There’s a smile in her voice. “It’s been great.”
“You’re not feeling… like you’re missing anything?” I lean back in my chair, my hand stroking over my tie as I wait for her response.
I smile as I imagine her down in the spa, leaning her beautiful curvy hips against the counter as she talks to me.
Are her cheeks blushing that beautiful pale pink? The one that turns darker, dusky in color when she comes.
“Well, I guess it has certain redeeming qualities.”
I chuckle, leaning forward and looking at the word Spa lit up on the cradle display. She’s all those floors below me when she should be here, next to me, on me… around me.
“I’ve got a packed afternoon. But I’m sending you something.”
There are voices in the background, and someone says her name.
“Listen, Griff. I’ve got to go. I’ll speak to you later.”
There’s a pause and then the line goes dead.
I run a hand around my jaw. She’s the only department manager who’s ever been the one to end a call first on me because her team needs her. It’s not just a job for her. It’s a passion. And I love that.
I understand that.
I pull out my wallet and retrieve the business card Will gave me, turning it over in my fingers.
Then I pick the phone back up and make another call.