Authors: Meredith Clarke
Tags: #Paranormal, #Contemporary, #Fiction, #Romance, #Forever Love, #Adult, #Erotic, #Bear Shifter, #Chosen Mate, #Romantic Suspense, #Supernatural, #Protection, #Bachelor, #Single Woman, #Sarkozy Brothers, #Trust Fund, #Millions, #Pro-Bono Law Firm, #Charade, #Identity, #Benefactor
Kat and Sam worked well together. Case in point, the burger. They often grabbed takeout for each other. It had become an unsaid thing, and they'd fallen into a pattern, considering they were often working late together.
But everyone at the firm worked hard to earn their salary. A salary that was likely courtesy of Lukas's benefactors.
When she'd considered donating, she hadn't known the lengths Lukas and his team would go for the women who came to their doors. The truth had sealed the deal in her mind. Helping all those women in ways that they would never be helped otherwise was satisfaction enough for her.
On a normal day, when her work was done, she'd have been uploading videos to Carson's social media and answering fan mail for her friend. But last night, it had taken her barely thirty minutes to throw together a couple of graphics to market her friend's current videos. Carson needed the boost, especially since she hadn't uploaded a new one since she'd joined--and then left--Ursus Major.
A Sarkozy man had broken Carson's heart, and here Kat was, mooning over another one of them. What right did that family have to produce such fine specimens, anyway?
Kat sighed. No sense in allowing Carson's career to break too, while the poor girl waited for her broken heart to heal.
Kat picked up a pencil and began to write some numbers, trying to figure out how much she'd need to give to the firm, and on what type of schedule. She almost grunted when it hit her that she'd already made the decision to give her money to Lukas.
How fast had she managed to make up her mind to toss millions of dollars into Lukas Sarkozy's lap, especially when it usually took her ages to part with even a hundred dollars for anything.
You're losing your head, Kat.
But the truth was that she was always circumspect when it came to spending her own hard earned money. Pot loads of inheritance cash was another thing altogether. Yes, she'd never wanted his money, but wouldn't it be fun to put the old man's dollars to good use helping the 'unwashed masses,' and imagine his grimace as he turned in his grave?
She sure was going to enjoy this.
more to get away from Alana's probing gaze than to escape the sight of the luscious Kat.
He gunned the engine of his motorbike and sped along the road. He'd driven straight out of the city and up along the coastline, the need to escape taking over.
He'd almost kissed her.
And damned if he wasn't regretting that a whole lot.
He'd been so close to tasting those delectable lips of hers, so close to feeling her skin beneath his fingertips.
He angled the motorbike off the blacktop and took a small dirt road up into the mountainside. There were still pockets of pure nature left where he could escape to, even if it meant that all he got to do was allow his bear to roar out his frustrations to the sky.
And his frustrations were understandable.
When had he ever gotten this obsessed with a woman, this intrigued? And when had his bear ever agreed with him this vehemently?
Sure, he liked the fairer sex, and he damn well liked sex. Period. But Kat scared him more than he was willing to admit. She was revealing a side of himself that he'd never known existed.
Lukas craved her. And his bear was being pretty insistent too. Beneath his skin, his bear yearned for release, both in his desire for freedom and his desire for Kat.
He drew to a stop beside a stand of trees, evergreens that reached skyward so high that he had to lean back to see the tops. Swinging off the bike, he tugged off the helmet and slung it over the left handle. He stretched and stared through the forest, the trunks so close that a man could barely walk between them.
Lukas was pretty sure he'd lose the fight to keep away from Kat. But what would he gain from trying? He'd break the heart of a woman who was not only an employee, but also someone who understood his need to help people who couldn't help themselves.
He's seen it in her eyes, the uncertainty as she'd struggled to decide if he was just playing at being the good guy, or if he had his heart in the right place. He'd seen the moment when her eyes had lit up and heard her heart pick up speed as she'd accepted him.
If she only knew that the true lies were still well hidden from her. He didn't think there was any woman that would truly accept a shifter instantly. And given the disastrous end to Marek's foray into shifter-human relations, Lukas was pretty certain he wasn't up to it.
Carson had taken it hard when Marek had revealed what he really was, and she'd run from him. His cousin had taken a chance on love and had it flung right back into his face.
Marek looked like shit the last time he'd seen him. The man had seen a lot in his life, been through a lot. They'd all done their time with Delta Ops and worked on behalf of their grandfather.
But as dangerous as open warfare or covert ops was, neither had a thing on romance.
He sighed. Who was he kidding, anyway? She may have been overwhelmed by him when he'd almost kissed her, but Kat Brandon had made it painfully clear that she didn't like him all that much.
For the quiet librarian type, she had a passionate streak a mile wide.
And he liked it.
the next morning on tiptoe, afraid she'd awaken Carson.
Carson had slowly graduated from sleeping all day, to moping around, to practicing at the piano. It was a good sign, and Kat hoped that she'd get over Marek soon.
She sighed as she entered the elevator and hiked her handbag strap higher with a flick of her shoulder. Her briefcase was heavy, weighing down the hand that didn't contain her morning coffee, but that was nothing new.
It was such a pity, though. Marek was super hot, and wealthy too. That he was also a talented guitarist and successful business owner all worked in his favor. If only Carson would tell Kat what had happened between them. Maybe then she could have helped her friend heal faster. But Carson had been tightlipped, and the one time Kat had asked her what Marek had done, Carson had almost turned white.
She'd mumbled something about Kat not believing her even if she told her, and had hidden in her room, avoiding Kat when she was home.
What could possible have gone wrong with a relationship that had ticked all the boxes, including that of fierce attraction?
Kat shrugged as she exited the elevator to her office and sipped her coffee.
Who the hell knew which end was up when it came to love? She'd rather swim naked in a bathtub of bloody water filled with piranhas.
She'd laid her coffee on her desk and was dropping her bag onto the floor when her phone rang. "This is Kat," she said into the receiver.
"Kat, could you come into my office for a minute?" Lukas's voice washed over her, giving her goose bumps.
Geez, woman. All he has to do is speak, and you get weak in the knees? This is so not good.
"Sure. Be there in a sec," she managed to say before dropping the phone onto the cradle and grabbing her coffee.
When she entered Lukas's office, he was standing and staring out of the window.
"You wanted me?" Kat asked.
The words were out before she could stop them, and her cheeks went red. She opened her mouth to take it back, then shut it immediately before anything else equally stupid left her lips.
Lukas smiled and looked like he wanted to say something. Then, probably having more of a presence of mind that Kat did, he said, "You know we have this benefit this weekend. I'm expecting you to be there. I thought I'd give you a heads up."
Kat nodded. "Thanks." Then she cleared her throat. She may as well tell him now. "Also, my donor is considering putting more money into the firm."
"Is that so?" Lukas raised his eyebrows, clearly surprised. Kat could understand that. Yesterday, she'd said her mysterious donor was offering a decent amount, and here she was upping the offer. "What changed his mind?"
Kat bristled at Lukas's immediate assumption that her Moneybags was a Mr. and not a Miss. She cleared her throat and tried not to let her irritation show. Then she realized it was probably for the best. Technically, her grandfather was donating the money. "I mentioned something to him about what you're doing here."
"You did what?" Lukas barked, taking a step toward her so fast that she flinched and moved back a few feet.
Her heart thudded in her chest, but she straightened her spine. "Don't worry. I wouldn't reveal the details without permission. All I told him was that the firm goes above and beyond and provides additional assistance to women who are in need of it." Kat shrugged and schooled her trembling lips into a smile. "He probably thinks you're buying groceries and clothing for the kids. He's keen to help."
Lukas stared at her for a few seconds, then looked away. He walked closer to her, and she found herself stepping back automatically.
Lukas sighed. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to react that way."
She shrugged. "It's no big deal. You need secrecy. I understand that."
"That's no excuse for speaking to you that way."
Kat laughed, and she heard the sound of her voice: cold. "It wasn't the first time someone's spoken to me like that. I'm pretty sure it won't be the last." Kat found her gaze flicking to the door, half expecting Alana to breeze in and tell her to get her sorry ass back to work.
Lukas cleared his throat. "It's not acceptable, and you shouldn't stand for it. I'd like to make it up to you."
"You would?" asked Kat, more than a little surprised. "I mean, thanks for the offer, but it's not necessary."
Lukas stepped closer and put a hand to her arm. Heat sizzled up her, and she was sure her cheeks were revealing her blush.
He was touching her.
She was going to die.
"I won't be able to forgive myself until I at least try to make it up to you."
Kat cleared her throat. "Sure. If that makes you feel better. But to be honest, I'm totally fine."
Lukas ignored her. "Good. How does lunch from Joshua's sound?"
She raised her eyebrows. Joshua's was one of the most expensive restaurants in the city and one of the most difficult to get a table at. But he continued. "It will have to be takeout though. A working lunch?"
Kat smiled. That was more like it. "Mr. Sarkozy, if you wanted me to work through lunch, all you had to do was ask."
Lukas laughed. "It always pays to sweeten the deal."
He was smiling, and Kat laughed too, the sound light, and for a moment, their happiness seemed to wrap them inside a little bubble. Then Lukas moved away, letting go of her arm and leaving her feeling bereft, as if he'd taken something from her.
"Let's meet in the private meeting room. I want to go over the paperwork with you. For Mr. Anonymous?" Lukas said.
Kat wanted to laugh. So that was the reason for the fancy lunch. Not Kat, but the money. She struggled to put the smile back on her face. "Of course. Better to get it done as soon as possible."