“Where is Nell?” Tori Rodgers put every ounce of force into her voice. She kept her words short since she’d had a few drinks and was proud of the fact that she didn’t sway as she defied the man in front of her.
Atticus Paulus. Accountant. Acquisitions officer of ConFed. Bastard. His smooth dark skin was impervious to blushes, and he never looked disconcerted or uncomfortable. His long, capable fingers placed his drink back on the table. Damn it. She never should have suggested this place.
This mandatory conference had been difficult enough, but then she had to add a leather bar on their list of Las Vegas hot spots. Apparently, every damned executive with the company that demanded her attendance had it on their list too. All week she’d sat in boring policy meetings and ignored the fact that Atticus Paulus made her imagination go into overdrive. It was probably the fantasies she’d had about him that had driven her here. Yep. She was an idiot.
She’d gone to the bathroom, and when she came out, both of her friends, Nell and Gina, were gone. Positive that the ConFed officers knew where her friends had disappeared to, she confronted them but from a weak position. She was drunk and in a crowd. Too many people looked at her as she faced off with two men she was sure were sexual dominants. Two men who were senior officers in the company, who had become her new bosses and now owned her ass.
If Tori hadn’t been drunk, she would have been able to handle this better, but she’d overindulged, the stress of the last six months taking its toll. Being in close proximity of Atticus Paulus would drive her yoga teacher, who was fifty if she was a day and the most Zen person Tori knew, to murder.
“Nell is in good hands, Ms. Rodgers.” Atticus spoke softly, his East Indian accent barely noticeable, which only lent his voice an exotic flavor for Tori’s ears.
His hands would be good. Tori licked her lips and stared at those long fingers tracing the rim of his glass. She had to be drunk if she started obsessing about his hands like she obsessed about every other part of the man. But then, who wouldn’t? He was a lean, powerful male with steel in his personality. Yet he had a talent for using gentle persuasion until he was pushed too far. Then he took the gloves off, and the Dominant she had sensed beneath that gorgeous exterior would come out. Everyone knew it was pointless to argue with him or defy him. He would deftly eviscerate anyone who did.
And the only ConFed officer more annoying than him was Dimitri Caruso, whom Tori privately nicknamed the Italian Stallion. Both men were handsome, smart, and exuded sexual power. Whatever perverse God had created them also made her unable to back down from Atticus.
“And by good hands, you mean yours,” she snapped, her words more slurred than she would have liked.
“I’ll take that as a compliment,” Atticus shot back. He rubbed a hand over his face. “She’ll be fine, Victoria.”
She stepped closer to him to make sure he saw her glare. “My name is Tori, not Victoria.”
“You are buying more trouble than you can afford, caro
,” Dimitri said softly.
“I’m not buying anything you two are selling.” Well, if she was going to burn bridges, she might as well go all the way. “You come into my company with your hardline business savvy and your soft-porn voices, expecting us all to fall in step with the new world order.” She took a deep breath and sneered at both of them. “Never going to happen. Now where are my friends?”
When Atticus’s eyes narrowed, it registered that he was as angry as she was drunk. “You’ll have to trust us.”
“That’s hilarious, Finch.”
Dimitri snorted at Tori’s nickname for Atticus. Early in negotiations with the new company, Tori’s response to Atticus’s stolid professionalism was to name him after the only other Atticus she knew: Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird
. Who the hell named their kid “Atticus”?
“I wasn’t being humorous, Victoria,” he said sternly. “It’s time for you to go before you make a fool of yourself.”
“If I want to make a fool of myself, Finch, it won’t be with you.”
“How about with me?” Dimitri asked with a grin.
She focused her glare on the Italian Stallion. “No dice. I have a car coming. We have a room--”
“Gina took the car.”
“What?” Tori shook her head, and dizziness swamped her. She and Gina had always depended on Nell to keep a lid on their craziness. Now, Gina and Nell were in deep shit.
The lights from the bar hurt her eyes, and Tori struggled to clear her head.
“How drunk is she?” Dimitri asked, and Tori glared at him.
“Not that drunk, asshole.” She clenched her fists and looked around the bar, thinking she could cry out for help. Both Nell and Gina were missing, so Tori was the last one standing. That might not last long, but she was going to go down swinging.
“Come with us, soniye.
” Atticus stood side by side with Dimitri.
Where did he get the idea he could call her...whatever he’d just called her?
“I want Nell back here now,” she demanded. “She’s drunk, and I’m not going to have her wake up with regrets.”
Dimitri narrowed his dark eyes. “What exactly do you mean by that?”
“I mean that she deserves better than to get fucked when she’s drunk,” she said baldly.
“We wouldn’t let anything happen to her, and you know it,” Atticus said in a low, dangerous tone. “You’d better come with us. We’ll drive you to your hotel.”
Oh, hell no
. “I am not going anywhere until you tell me where Nell and Gina are.” She braced her feet and clenched her fists.
Dimitri sighed. “They are being taken care of, caro. Now come--”
“You bastard,” Tori snapped, but she spoke to Atticus. It was his fault. It wouldn’t make sense to anyone else, but it did to her. He’d arranged this. Him with that fucking section of the employee agreement. “If you try and hold either of them to that ridiculous declaration section, I’ll have every lawyer in Los Angeles on your ass so fast your head will spin right off your shoulders.”
Shit. She shouldn’t have even mentioned that weird section of their new employee agreement. Nell said it didn’t have any legal basis, but Tori couldn’t take that risk. That section read word for word like one of her fantasies.
“Ridiculous?” Dimitri raised one eyebrow and smiled. “Nell didn’t think it was ridiculous. She was curious. Aren’t you curious?”