Undercover Ch. 09byAda Stuart©
"What can I do for you, Warren?" Erin heard Cade talk on the phone in the next room. She had left the lunchroom early in order to see Cade and ask him if he wanted to have dinner with her that evening. He had left his door open and she could not help herself from listening to Cade's deep and pleasant voice. She didn't want to intrude on the conversation so she sat down at her desk and started to locate the papers Cade needed for his next meeting.
"Yes, I have heard about the take-over attempt. So what will you do about it?" She heard Cade continuing on with the business talk and she shut off the sound until suddenly she heard her own name being mentioned. She stopped working and listened.
"Yes, Erin is doing fine, as I said." He laughed at something Warren said on the other end.
"All right so she's more than fine. I see you have a spy planted in the building. Otherwise you would never have known about our nightly escapades." The short pause that followed declared Warren was saying something. Erin blushed. If Warren only knew how they spent their nights he would surely freak out. And who could be spying on them and reporting to Warren? She had thought she was the only spy Warren had placed here. If not, why would he even give her the assignment if someone else was already in place? There was something strange about this.
"Sure, I'm more than pleased with her, uncle. Finally you decided to use some common sense before dumping another woman on me. The last one you sent me was as flat-chested as a wall. And the one before that was a real bitch once I got to know her. But this one, well...I'm not giving you any details but she's really something."
Cade laughed at something Warren said.
"I am using my upper brain, uncle," he said loudly.
Erin almost stumbled. Something was not right here. They knew each other. That she had known in advance. They were partners. But, uncle. Cade had called Warren uncle. They were family? Now wait a minute? Warren had said he wanted her to have a close look at the man he suspected of fraud. Didn't he trust his own nephew, was that it? But she hadn't found anything wrong even though she had kept a close eye on the, Mr. Mason, Warren suspected to be the ringleader of the fraud.
Oh well, maybe she had kept a closer eye on him than Warren expected her to. Still, Warren had actually sent her to spy on his own nephew, his partner in this business and told her she should keep a close eye on him. And still he had not bothered to tell her that they were related. Something was definitely wrong here. And what was that about dumping women on him?
"Who said anything about grandchildren?" Cade exclaimed. "My parents are bugging me about that already so don't you start as well. Look, a fellow need to spread his seed before settling down. Although you do your best to trap me with any woman that comes your way."
That was it! That was the reason for this secret assignment. The real reason why she was stuck here in the wilderness dressed as a prostitute. Erin practically stopped breathing. Suddenly everything made sense. Chilling, breathtaking sense, but the logic was indisputable.
There was no fraud. No case. No promotion. She was bait. Pure and simple. Bait for a man that didn't want to settle down. So his family decided to team up and introduce him to new women. And that also explained why Warren insisted on her dressing like a tramp for this assignment. He wanted her to attract the male victim with the oldest trick in the book -- naked skin and large breasts.
Damn. And dumb, as she was she had thought this was her big chance for promotion, for doing something important and even believed she had gained Warren's trust when he would entrust her with such an important assignment. Important, my ass, she thought. Important as in being good enough to fuck his precious nephew - that was how much he trusted her. He probably thought his uptight little analyst would never have any bad diseases that would ruin the family line or something. Thinking her useful in trying to goad his Casanova-nephew into settling down with a nice woman.
And she had acted like the perfect little idiot she was and swallowed bait, hook and even the entire line. She had believed she had a job to do. An important job to do. Believed that the clothes and the bared cleavage were only a part of her cover. Even worse, she had fallen head over heels in love with the man. She realised that now. She could not be this attracted to a man without some serious feeling involved. And in the last few days she had started to hope for something more. Something lasting. She had started to think they had a future together and that they enjoyed being together. How wrong she had been?
"But I enjoy this one really well," Cade said smugly in the other office. "It's good to see you've developed some taste in your old days, uncle."
How could she have given him so much in such a short time? So much that she had forgotten her usual reluctance for relationships and given herself so heartily to him. And he had simply taken what was so gladly offered and contended himself with her for the time being, or at least until someone better was thrown his way. How could she have been so stupid?
"Tell me, how did you manage to find this one for me?" Cade continued talking to his uncle.
Erin wanted to shut the door so she didn't have to hear any more, but she did not want him to see her right now. How could she not have noticed that she was being used by two males at the same time? Lured into thinking her being in control of her own destiny and enjoying the males that came her way? Thinking her brainpower had anything to do with her landing this assignment. She cursed inwardly.
Instead it was her boob-size and body that had landed her this job. Warren had probably had a notion of his nephew preferring blondes in skimpy clothes and moulded her into that exact form with the help of Stella. And did she have any indication that Cade thought her to be more than an ordinary one-night-stand? They had spent several nights together but he had stopped nagging her about marriage. That should have told her something. Why pay for something he got for free, he was probably thinking.
She cursed herself for acting like a moron and given in to his advances - for not seeing through this plan of Warren's. Well, this farce was stopping right now. She was not going to dance to any man's flute any longer. Now she was taking command over her own life, and starting right now. She slammed the few personal items she had on her desk into her bag, reached for her coat and walked briskly out the door.
Tears were threatening to stream down her face but she kept them back with a force of will -- not wanting to let anyone know of the pain that was breaking her body into pieces. She just needed to get to the rented apartment, pack her bags and head back to her own home. There she could finally let the tears stream freely. After that she would return to Warren and demand the promotion or he would have her resignation. It was the least he could do after using her like this.
"So the rumours I've heard about you and your ladylove are true, then? You simply can't stand to stay apart?" Warren asked smugly.
"Who told you that?"
Warren chuckled at the other end of the line. "Perhaps I do have a spy in your household after all."
"I'm sure you have. Who is it?"
"Never mind that. You should thank me instead."
"For giving you that secretary that you're banging all the time. I knew you would like her."
"I do like her, so thank you for your excellent taste, uncle. By the way, I'm marrying her," Cade said suddenly. "You're the first to know."
"What? Isn't that a bit sudden? You've only known her for a few weeks. What happened to the bachelor who didn't want to marry?"
"I'm sure about it. As sure as I'll ever be. I'm marrying her if she'll have me."
"What? Haven't you asked her yet?"
"Not yet, but I will. I've just bought the perfect ring for her." He held the ring in front of him and glanced lovingly at the glittering blue stone that perfectly resembled Erin's eye colour. It had taken a few hours to locate the perfect colour, but this was the one. He had felt it as soon as he saw it. This one would match her perfectly and he longed to give it to her -- along with his heartfelt declarations of love and his wish to bind her to him for ever.
"What?" Warren sounded stunned. "Are you sure about this?" He finally croaked.
"As sure as I'll ever be. I love her, uncle. And I'm sure she feels the same for me. I've seen it in her eyes and I want to marry her as soon as possible."
"Well, what are you talking to me for? Go and ask her, will you? Go and get your ladylove! The sooner the better."
"Don't worry. I will. Talk to you later, uncle," Cade said before carefully putting down the receiver.
He felt nervous. He had never proposed to a woman before, and this was one he really wanted. She had to accept. She would accept, he was sure. They had never spoken about their feelings for each other, but he had noticed her looking at him and he knew she liked him. Hopefully she liked him well enough to marry him. If she did not love him yet, she would in time. He would make sure of it.
Storming out of his office, he looked at the empty desk where Erin usually sat. Where was she? She should be back from lunch by now. He went through the other offices. She was nowhere in sight. He started asking around, but the reply was always the same. No one had seen her. Looking out the front door, he noticed her car was missing. Maybe she had felt sick and gone home. But it was really strange she had not told anyone about it. He went back inside again and finally located Sam. He was bound to know where she was. They seemed to get along quite well these days.
"Sam, do you know where Erin is?"
"No, I haven't seen her since lunch break."
"Then she must have gone home. I'm going over to check on her. Can you take over?"
"Sure," Sam replied as Cade ran out the door and drove the few kilometres to Erin's apartment.
Something was not right here, he though as he noticed her car was not parked outside her apartment either. Where was she? He parked his car and walked up to the front door and pulled the handle. After several tries there was still no response.
"Erin, we need to talk," he shouted just in case she was hiding. She had to be in.
"You've just missed her, son," he suddenly heard a voice say from his left. Cade turned to the grey-haired woman that had poked her head out from the neighbouring door.
"Do you know where she is?"
"Nope. Said something about going home and she loaded her bags into the car."
"What? She took her bags with her?"
"Yep, and she seemed in a hurry because everything was simply slammed into the luggage compartment. She didn't even pack her bags properly. I could see clothes hanging out. Oh, but she left me the keys and a letter. You don't happen to be this Cade person, do you?"
"Yes," Cade replied dazedly. "A letter, you said?"
"I thought you might be. She said you would probably step by. Yes, I have it right here somewhere." The woman turned slowly and rummaged through a drawer right next to the door. "There you go," she handed him an envelope addressed to Mr. Cade Mason. What was this all about? And why had she left in such a hurry. He turned to the old woman again.
"Do you know why she left?"
"She didn't say. But, I'm sure it had something to do with a man. She was crying, you see. I might be old, but I'm not blind yet. Oh yes, it was definitely man-problems. Or woman-problems. You never know these days," the woman chuckled. "So what did you do?" she asked curiously eyeing him up and down.
"Yes, I'm sure you're the one, right? You treated her badly is that it?" the old eyes were glittering with the thought of some juicy gossip, and Cade said a quick thanks before returning to his car and drove off.
Just out of sight of the curious woman, he stopped the car and opened the envelope. Inside was a short letter obviously written in a hurry as the words were barely interpretable. Still, the meaning was only too clear.
Cade. I'm going back to the big city. Thanks for the fun. I enjoyed it while it lasted, but now it's time to move on. Erin
Fun? Was that all she thought of it? Of him? Had he only been a toy to be discarded as soon as she tired of him. Had she managed to fool him all the time? He sank into the seat. This was not happening. The only woman he had ever wanted to marry had cast him aside like a pair of worn pants. Had he really misinterpreted her that much? It was not possible. He stared at the words and tried to decipher another meaning other than the obvious.
Finally, he gave up and drove home. The woman had fooled him all the time. Fooled him like the country idiot he had sworn never to become. He sank into a chair in his living room and poured himself a large drink. He definitely needed one after this day.
A few hours later the phone rang and he could see Warren's number on the display. He was probably wondering how the proposal went, Cade chuckled half-heartedly, but he didn't feel up to providing any explanations right now. He resolutely pulled out the plug and the phone went quiet as he continued to stare out of the window and out into the darkness, trying to make some sense of it all.