Undercover Ch. 11byAda Stuart©
Erin got a message asking her to immediately attend a meeting in the boardroom. Someone was in a real hurry, she though while she cancelled her lunch appointment with Stella. Not wanting to skip lunch altogether, she settled for a small sandwich as she bundled together the papers she had prepared and headed for the boardroom.
Warren had wanted her to check out a new company he intended to buy. The case seemed much too straightforward as far as she was concerned, and she wondered why Warren had bothered to ask for her help in the first place. Usually he made these decisions all by himself. Most likely he still felt bad about dumping that spy assignment on her, she chuckled.
Well, she had no intention of letting him off the hook just yet. Even though it smelled like a bad conscience that needed to be nursed, she was happy for the promotion he had given her. Warren probably felt he had given her ample compensation for using her as bait. Still, the feeling of having been sold as a prostitute still lurked in her mind - especially at night when she couldn't fill her mind with endless work.
As she strode into the boardroom she heard Warren speaking to someone, but she couldn't quite make out who it was. There was something slightly familiar with the guest's voice, but she couldn't pinpoint exactly where she had heard that voice before.
"Ah, there you are, my dear," Warren said at the other end of the room. "Close the door, will you?" She did as he asked and turned to greet his guest, before freezing solid as she met a pair of grey eyes she knew only too well.
"Miss Taylor, meet my partner Cade Mason. Cade, this is Erin Taylor, my senior analyst," Warren continued as if not realising his guests were staring daggers at each other. "Ah, of course, you've already met. How could I forget?" Warren said in a tone that didn't convince any of them.
"What is she doing here?" Cade snarled at Warren. "I thought you said you had fired her?"
"Now why would I do that? She's my best analyst, although her secretary skills are somewhat lacking," Warren chuckled.
"She's what? An analyst? You told me she was a secretary?" Cade stared incomprehensively at Erin. He frowned as he roamed his eyes over her formal business suit and her newly dyed, brownish hair, skilfully tamed into a tight coiffure with not a single strand of hair misplaced. "And she looked a lot different the last time I saw her as well."
"All right, it seems I have some explaining to do. No, stay here!" he commanded as Erin turned away and headed for the door. "This concerns you as well, my dear."
"This is your mistress, isn't it, uncle? What would Emma say if she knew?"
"How dare you!" Erin said icily while she prepared to scratch out Cade's eyes with her bare hands. "Warren is my friend, although I'm beginning to reconsider the friendship now. Especially considering his relationship to you."
"Calm down both of you. Let me explain everything. I really thought you two hotheads would have calmed down by now and started behaving like adults, but it seems I have some explaining to do."
"What's to explain?" Erin asked icily. "You sent me to investigate a fraud case involving a CEO. Only you forgot to tell me he was this precious nephew of yours."
"Uh well, yes. We've been worried about him for years. He has always been falling for the wrong kind of women and since he showed no interest in trying to locate the right woman, I decided to help him along."
"What fraud?" Cade interrupted. "Who said anything about fraud?"
"You told me to keep an eye on your own nephew? Did you seriously think he was a criminal or something? Or was it simply a trick to fool me?"
"Not exactly. I needed a good excuse to send him a woman I thought would be perfect for him, that's why. So I told you to investigate him while he thought he was doing me a favour by giving one of my secretaries a temporary job."
"Actually, you told me she seduced one of the married blokes and that you needed her out of the way for a while," Cade said coldly. "That should have given me a clue."
"He did what? Warren, did you really tell him that?"
Warren looked sheepishly for a few seconds. "But it worked," he started. "It worked really well. You were both aware of each other and you were hitting off really well. And if all the rumours have some truth in them, you have created a lot of steam lately."
Erin ignored the blush that was threatening to colour her cheeks even warmer than they already were.
"You used me as bait, is what you did," she spoke louder now. Barely controlling the anger in her voice as she stated the obvious to Warren. "Dangled me in front of him and just waiting for him to swallow. Like a damn carrot in front of a donkey. Now I understand why I had to wear those ghastly clothes. It was to make me resemble the loose women he usually prefers."
"Now wait a minute," Cade interrupted. "I can find my own women, thank you very much, uncle. There was no use in trying to steer me in a certain direction -- even if the bait was tempting." He gave Erin a wink as he gave her a hot look. She didn't calm down one bit.
"I won't be treated like a fruit of any sort," she said angrily.
"Ahem, it's a vegetable, by the way," Cade interrupted.
"The carrot. It's a vegetable."
"I don't care what it is. He's treating me like a guinea pig. To see how much naked skin it takes to get his nephew pumped up and ready to blow."
"Now wait a minute..." Cade exploded.
"Sit down, both of you," Warren ordered. "I want you both to just sit tight and listen for a while. I've had quite enough of arguments from the both of you. That is why I arranged this meeting. I want to tell you the truth."
"About what?" Cade managed to say between clenched teeth as they reluctantly sat down in chairs as far away from each other as they could.
"About the assignment I gave Erin."
"You sent her to spy on me. I already know that."
"Yes, I told her I suspected embezzlement and wanted her to take a look at it."
"Embezzlement? And you suspected me?"
"Of course," Erin said harshly and jumped up from her chair. "Who wouldn't?" Warren gave her a shove so that she dumped back into the chair again, making a few strands of hair losen in the process. Erin immediately tried to tuck them into her tight coiffure under Cade's close scrutiny.
"Shut up! Both of you. I gave her a mission, yes. But I knew all along she would not find anything, because there was no embezzlement."
"I can't believe how you could sink that low," Erin fretted.
"Well, if my information is correct, you found something else instead. The screams and moans you both made was heard on the other end of the factory," Warren said humorously and watched Erin blush profusely.
Cade rose and looked more threatening than ever. "Don't say another word, old man. You sent me a spy dressed as a nymphomaniacal secretary to seduce me into doing your bidding, isn't that right?"
"I'm not a nymphomaniac," Erin jumped up and stared into Cade's eyes.
"Could have fooled me," Cade replied icily.
"If anyone was behaving as a sex-starving maniac, it was you, you bastard."
"He was?" Warren sounded only too happy about the news. "How nice to hear. I always thought you were bound for the monastery, Cade."
Cade just ignored him and stared at Erin as he growled "Show me the man who can resist having a pair of tits showed in his face every time he turns around. But I can see you have toned down the peep-show since last I saw you." He gave her clothes a look-over as he spoke. "Now you look practically decent."
"This is my usual dress code. That other was just a game."
"A game, you say? Well, what if I didn't like your games one bit, and wanted you to pay for all the crap you pulled on me?"
"Uh, Cade, she only did what I told her to do," Warren interceded.
"You actually told her to go down on me, staple my fingers together, ruin my coffee and fuck me senseless?"
"Uhm well, maybe not in so many words," Warren said sheepishly while Erin laughed at Warren's blushing face. He deserved a dressing down after trying to control their life.
"I did what the role demanded of me. But maybe I misunderstood some of your directions," Erin said calmly.
"A misunderstanding? Is that what this is?" Cade demanded.
"Yes, you are perfectly right," Erin said maintaining her calm as best she could. The next few lines would have to be convincing for her to get away from here with her mind intact. She stared directly at Cade and used all her willpower not to shy away as she continued.
"Warren sent me to solve a task and I did what I had to do to get the job done. Of course it was an added bonus that I enjoyed your body and stamina, Cade, but that was all there was to it."
She could see Cade's expression closing even more than before, and she thought she saw a small wince going through his body as she said the word 'job'. His eyes seemed pained for a short while before he managed to control himself and the pain was hidden just as quickly as it had appeared. She wondered whether she had imagined the whole thing but her decision had been made.
It was time to get out of here before she made an even bigger fool of herself. She wanted to make the break as clean as possible and get on with her life. She had already given this man far too many tears and sleepless nights, and she had no intention of giving him anything more. She stood up, straightened her stance and said as coldly as she could.
"Since we're done here I have an important meeting to attend to." She brushed her skirt slightly so as to wipe off any entanglements the discussion had provoked. "Good day to you both," she said while nodding to them before walking quickly out of the office.
Cade sank back into his chair and just stared after her. "Thanks, uncle," he said bitterly. "Now you made me look even more pathetic than before." Warren stared as well and he seemed totally perplexed by the end result of the meeting. He had been so sure they would resolve their differences as soon as he could get them in the same room.
"I'm sorry," he said to his Cade. "I really hoped it would turn out differently."
Cade laughed. "With that tough bitch. Don't be ridiculous. I've never met a more egocentrically woman in my life. Good riddance is what I call it. Now, if you don't need me anymore I'll return to the wilderness. The wolves had never reached such high levels of nastiness and I greatly prefer their company to this."
"Settle down and have a drink before you leave," Warren suggested, finally having collected himself again. "The next plane doesn't leave in a few hours anyway." He poured a large scotch and handed it to Cade. "Here you go. You look like you could need one."
Cade drank the content in one gulp and shoved not the least sign of shock as the drink met his throat. Warren was perplexed. His nephew must have been more shocked than he wanted to admit when meeting his ladylove. Maybe there was still a chance for a happy ending after all. There definitely seemed to be some genuine feelings between them -- especially on Cade's part. Now, he just had to figure out if Erin felt the same. At least Stella had thought so when he finally persuaded her to tell him her suspicions on the matter.
"I promoted her, you know," Warren finally broke the silence
"For what? Seducing me? Just let me know if you want me to test-drive any other of your staff. Just remember I only do females."
"Don't flatter yourself. No, I promoted her because she's the best of the team."
"Good for her."
"And do you know why?"
"No, but I can easily guess what she does to limit the competition. Especially among the men."
"Really, Cade. You are as blind as a bat. She has never had an affair as long as I've known her. She only cares about the job. She reminds me of you in that area. That's why I thought you would be perfect for each other."
"Well, you thought wrong."
"Naw, I don't think so. Seeing how strongly you react to each other I'd say I was right on the mark. You are perfect for one another, if only you would care to see it."
"Tell me, old man. Has Emma been nagging you for the lack of grandchildren again, is that it? Then start pestering your own offspring. I have parents to do that for me already."
"Look, Cade, can't you please give it another try?"
"No, uncle. The woman hates me, and I'm not fond off having my cock bitten off."
"She doesn't hate you at all. I've spoken to her friend and she is worried you're thinking her as slut. She's not, you know."
"And what else had this friend to say?"
"That she cared so much about you that she lost all inhibition."
"She's got that one right. I've never met a more demanding woman in my life. But that doesn't necessarily involve any deeper feelings. She told me she liked my body, but that was all."
"And you believed her?"
"Look, I'm not a mind reader, all right? Who knows what a woman really means?"
"She loves you, and I'm betting all my shares in your company on that fact."
"What? Are you crazy? Well, you'll lose, old man. Maybe your advanced age is dampening that brain of yours? I've never heard you bet money on a woman's feelings before."
"Do you take the bet?" Warren asked.
Cade just stared at him in surprise before he managed to collect himself again. Warren had to be joking, he thought. "What are the terms?"
"You stay and get to know Erin for...let's say two weeks, and if I think she's not in love with you by then, you get my shares of your company, making you the sole owner. If I'm right, I'll keep my shares."
"And get what?"
"Nothing, apart from the pleasure of knowing I was right all along."
"Let me just get this straight. You're betting your half of the company to see me crawl up to a woman for two entire weeks?"
"Yes, and you get the entire company of it doesn't work."
"Well, I'm not much for the crawling part." Cade paused while thinking it over for a while. He was not fond of making an even bigger fool of himself, but the idea of being the sole owner was tempting. Then he would run his own business and could make any changes he wanted done. The profit alone would also provide a decent bonus for sucking up to that ice queen for a fortnight.
She had already said all there was to say in that letter she had given him, but he had not told Warren about it. And maybe if he played his cards right, he could also get even with the woman. Give her a piece of her own medicine so to speak. The idea was tempting.
"It's a deal. Just prepare the papers right away, uncle. This will be a sure thing."
"Just remember that I will be the judge of her feelings."
"Yes, yes, she would probably scream them all over the place. Don't worry about that. Hopefully you haven't turned completely blind just yet, even though your head doesn't seem too good these days. You're going soft. Sure you're still up to being head of the family business?"
"Just try me, boy," Warren threatened humorously and thumped Cade's back so hard he had to take an involuntary step forward.