Chapter 5 - Seven Nights of Sin (Penthouse Affair #2)


After my roller coaster of a weekend, coming into work on Monday morning is a relief. The atmosphere at Aspen is fast paced and high pressure, as always, but it’s also familiar. I’m in my element here. In control. Unlike in certain other areas of my life.

I grab a cup of coffee and settle in at my desk with an in-box full of emails, and release a heavy sigh.

My improved spirits last for all of an hour before Oliver pokes his head into my office.

“Hey, boss man,” he says.

Looking up from my computer screen, I give him a wry look. “I’ve told you not to call me that.” Even if I am his boss, he’s also my best friend.

Oliver just shrugs as he strolls inside and settles into the armchair in front of my desk. “What’s going on with Presley?”

My stomach tightens, but I train my features to remain calm. Oliver couldn’t possibly know the extent of what’s gone on between us.

Presley wouldn’t have spilled the beans . . . would she? I wouldn’t expect that of her, but given everything that’s happened in the past forty-eight hours, I clearly don’t know her as well as I thought I did. I never thought in a million years she could be bribed by the competition, or that she’d join the ranks at Allure.

Careful to control my tone, I reply, “What do you mean?”

“She’s not here, that’s what. And nobody’s heard from her.” Oliver scratches his head. “I guess that means you haven’t either. Weird. I figured if she’d said anything to anyone, it would be you.”


His eyes narrow. “Yeah. Her direct supervisor.”

I sit back in my chair. “Right.”

His eyes widen as he watches me.

I have no idea why she’s not here. Is she too upset to work? That doesn’t seem right. Knowing what I do about her personality, I would have guessed she’d at least call in sick, not just disappear.

Then I remember the comment she made when I rescued her two nights ago. She thought she’d lost her job. That I’d fired her. At the time, I’d been too focused on all the other crazy shit going on to address it.

“I’ll give her a call right now and check on her,” I say.

Oliver nods and crosses one ankle over his knee, apparently settling in for the long haul.

“I meant in private,” I add.

He rises and walks out with a grunt. I’ll deal with his moody ass later. Right now, all I care about is dialing Presley’s cell.

After a few rings, she answers with a confused, “Hello?”

“You’re not fired,” I say.

“But I . . .”

“Get to your desk.”

A long pause. “But . . .” Her tone wavers, and then firms. “Yes, sir. I’m sorry for the misunderstanding. I’ll be right there.”

She’s as efficient as ever. In under half an hour, I hear heels tapping on the floor outside my office and a knock at the door. I call out a brusque “Come in.”

Presley looks polished and beautiful in her black pencil skirt and white silk blouse. Of course she does —she’s always lovely, no matter what she wears, and my body hasn’t forgotten last night’s interrupted make-out session and subsequent case of blue balls.

But I can’t notice details like that anymore. I have to lock away everything we’ve done, everything personal we’ve seen about each other, and go back to just being her boss. Strictly professional. It’s the only way.

Violating my trust isn’t something that I can overlook, no matter the person, but I don’t want to raise any suspicions at work, so it’s better if she’s here. Business as usual.

“Do you have a question?” I ask.

“Yeah, actually. I was surprised to get your call. I thought we were . . .” She looks around to make sure no one is in earshot. “You know, done.”

“We are done—outside the office. But your internship isn’t over yet.”

She blinks. “I thought you said you didn’t trust me anymore.”

“I don’t. However, the fact remains that your work here has been top notch, so I’d like to give you a chance to prove me wrong.”

Plus, her finishing her internship here will mean fewer questions from Oliver and the rest of my staff, but I don’t share that tidbit. It’s been obvious to everyone that Presley is one of the most talented

interns here, so firing her wouldn’t make any sense.

A flurry of emotions flit through her eyes, then she suppresses a smile. “Challenge accepted.”

I resist the urge to watch her walk away and instead force my gaze to return to my laptop. I seriously need to pull my shit together. What kind of boss is the last person to notice when their own intern doesn’t show up?

Fucking hell. Oliver must know something’s up, but I’ll deal with that later.

Not ten minutes later, the intercom on my desk beeps, and I almost groan. For God’s sake, what now?

I press the button. “Yes, Beth?”

“There’s a phone call for you from Mr. Harwood. Shall I put him through?”

I sigh and rub my temples. “Go ahead. Thank you.”

Another beep, and Roger’s jovial voice booms, “Morning, Dominic. Hope you’re having a good day so far.”

Not remotely. “Same to you,” I reply with as much friendly cheerfulness as I can fake. “What’s on your mind?”

“Well, I’ve been chewing over everything we’ve talked about, and I’ve gotta say, you make a damn compelling argument. I think I’d like to invest in Aspen’s international growth.”

This is everything I could have wanted. All those long evenings of elbow-rubbing have finally paid off. So, why aren’t I doing a touchdown dance at my desk? Maybe I’m just too distracted by this whole Presley mess.

“That’s fantastic news. Great to hear we’ve impressed you. I’ll have Beth send ov—”

“Not so fast, son.” Roger chuckles. “I want to at least see the property you plan to build on first. You know what they say about location.”

“That’s fair.”

Looks like I can’t put off that scouting trip any longer. But the idea of being so far away from Emilia and Lacey for so long is unpleasant enough that I’ve been pushing it back for months.

“There are a few spots in London I’ve had my eye on. How does your schedule look for, say, next week for a little trip across the pond?”

He laughs. “You get right to the point, don’t you? Sure, I can make time. Surprise the missus with a little vacation.”

“Then I’ll see you there for high tea.”

“Sounds terrific. I’ll bring the paperwork. Speaking of significant others, will your lady friend be joining us? I certainly enjoyed talking to her a hell of a lot more than you.” He almost belly laughs at his own humor while I inwardly groan.

Fuck. Presley is the main reason why Roger warmed up to the idea of working with Aspen Hotels. But I can’t see her outside the office now, let alone jet off across the Atlantic for a week of pretend canoodling.

On the other hand, I’m so close to locking down this deal, I can taste it. I have to bring my A game, or in this instance, my P game . . . Presley. I refuse to risk blowing a massive deal it at the last minute over such a tiny detail.

“You still there?” he asks.

I clear my throat. “Sorry, I was just thinking. I’m not sure. I’ll have to talk it over with Presley first.” And make a brutally tough decision. Being in a hotel with her all week is bound to invite complications and send her the wrong message.

“Of course. And while I’d love to see her—” Roger’s voice turns teasing. “I understand that a man needs to fly solo every once in a while.”

Something about his choice of words rattles me. I’ve been flying solo for most of my life. I go out of my way to avoid messy entanglements, and look where that’s gotten me.

I inhale and try to focus. “I’ll email you as soon as I know. Have a good one.” I hang up and lean back in my chair, my fingers steepled over my mouth in thought.

Roger just gave me the out I was looking for. I can claim that I want to use this business trip as a girlfriend-free getaway. But now that I’ve thought about it . . . maybe bringing Presley to London with me wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Maybe I can kill two birds with one stone.

Or maybe being alone with her will kill me. Who the hell knows at this point?