True Deceptions (True Lies)(9)By: Veronica Forand
When she finally cracked the door open, a black-haired woman in a flirty yellow dress strutted through. Her posture revealed more confidence than a supermodel on a catwalk. Even with heels, however, the woman was tiny compared to Cassie in bare feet. Her facial features were dark, sensual, and exotic. Her beauty was so universal that she could blend into a crowd in a thousand marketplaces across the world. Not Cassie. She’d always stood taller than most men, and her hair hung like a neon banner announcing her presence. Blending in was not her specialty.
“Cassie, I love your new place.” The woman kissed her below each cheek as though they knew each other from way back.
It was like Cassie had stepped into in a parallel universe where her life was a game in progress, but she didn’t know the players or the rules.
The second the door closed, the woman dropped her friendly act. Turning away from Cassie, she strolled straight into Simon’s arms, lifted up onto her toes—making her even taller than the three inch stilettos allowed—and pulled his head toward her until they were kissing hello. One hell of a nice hello. Okay, to be fair, she was on the giving end and he was receiving, but he wasn’t exactly rejecting her advances.
“Simon,” she purred, “I haven’t seen you in so long. We need to catch up.”
He grinned, and Cassie’s stomach tied up in knots. He was gorgeous wearing a scowl, but when smiling he was seductive and sweet and sexy, all rolled into a body a woman would love to own. Apparently the woman in the yellow dress owned at least a piece of him.
“Aren’t you a beacon of sunlight in an otherwise drab afternoon.” His hand draped over her shoulder. “I’d like to introduce Cassie Watson. Cassie, this is Pauline Hall, the best handler in the business.”
“Nice to meet you, Cassie.” Pauline dropped her hand to Simon’s rear end, and her eyes remained focused on his face.
“Handler?” Cassie stared at the back of Pauline’s head.
Simon looked over at Cassie and then glanced at the woman, his smile a bit more restrained.
“I’m here to help you prepare for your trip.” Pauline stepped further into his arms. Their bodies seemed comfortable in that position, as though they’d been together a hundred times.
“Our trip,” Simon corrected.
“I don’t understand.”
Pauline laughed. “She really hasn’t a clue what she’s doing, does she?”
Cassie could tolerate a lot of things, but she hated when people equated her looks and hair color with a low IQ. “She is standing right next to you and doesn’t have a clue because no one has bothered to give her one. If you’d like to discuss mobile manipulation platforms in personal robotics applications, I’d be more than able to hold an intelligent conversation.”
Simon raised his eyebrows but didn’t say anything.
Pauline, however, smirked. “That’s a bit over my head. If you don’t mind, I need to… discuss a few things of a more pedestrian nature with Simon.” She pulled him in the direction of his bedroom, not the office. “We’ll be back in a little while.”
They disappeared behind the bedroom door.
Cassie stood alone for a few minutes, feeling like the annoying little sister. Yet, she wasn’t a little sister, she was a professional woman who had more education than the two individuals making out in the room next to her. Her temper, which had barely simmered during the past thirty years, now boiled over.
As soon as the door locked Cassie out, Pauline began her pursuit. She wrapped her arms and one flexible leg around Simon. A hand dropped between his legs, sending his neurons firing. Damn, she was sexy. But today wasn’t the day to reignite their old flame—a remnant of his wild days before Nicola and her professional ethics.
Nicola had never tolerated Simon’s workplace trysts while she was his partner. According to her rules, he couldn’t have her or anyone else at the service. Although his heart had craved her over anyone else, he made do with local beauties who didn’t care if he never called them again. Despite his chronic blue balls at work, Simon and Nicola’s relationship functioned perfectly. They’d made more deals and stopped more arms shipments from reaching their targets than any other team from the U.K., U.S., France, or Germany. Nicola had been one of the most competent women he’d ever known. Yet she still ended up burned.
He kissed the top of Pauline’s head as he unwound her from his body. “As much as I’d love to throw you on the bed and explore how many ways I can send you over the edge, I need to focus for a few hours, and I’m hesitant to anger my new partner during our ‘get to know each other’ period.”