Nothing has ever taken Cayo Vila by surprise—until now. The working theory was that he simply liked knowing that it was widely desired by others, that this pleased him more than the view itself. That was what Cayo Vila loved above all else, after all: owning things others coveted. Dru forced herself to smile at the man who had dominated every aspect of her life, waking and sleeping and everything in between, for the past five years.
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Nothing has ever taken Cayo Vila by surprise—until now. The working theory was that he simply liked knowing that it was widely desired by others, that this pleased him more than the view itself. That was what Cayo Vila loved above all else, after all: owning things others coveted.
Dru forced herself to smile at the man who had dominated every aspect of her life, waking and sleeping and everything in between, for the past five years. Night and day. Across all time zones and into every little corner of the globe where his vast empire extended. She'd been at his beck and call around the clock as his personal assistant, dealing with anything and everything he needed handled, from a variety of his personal needs to the vagaries of his wide-ranging business concerns.
It surged in her, thick and hot and black and deep, making her skin seem to shimmer over her bones with the force of it. It was hard to imagine, now, knowing the truth, that she'd harbored softer feelings for this man for so long—but it didn't matter, she told herself sternly.
It was all gone now. Of course it was. He'd seen to that, hadn't he? She felt a fierce rush of that hard sort of grief that had flooded her at the strangest times in these odd few months since her twin brother Dominic had died. Life, she had come to understand all too keenly, was intense and often far too complicated to bear, but she'd soldiered on anyway. What choice was there?
She'd been the only one left to handle Dominic's disease—his addictions. His care. His mountain of medical bills, the last of which she'd finally paid in full this week. And she'd been the only one left to sort through the complexities of his death, his cremation, his sad end. That had been hard. It still was. But this? This was simple. This was the end of her treating herself as the person who mattered least in her life. Dru was doing her best to ignore the swirling sense of humiliation that went along with what she'd discovered in the files this morning.
She assured herself that she would have resigned anyway, eventually; soon —that finding out what Cayo had done was only a secondary reason to leave his employ. She would cast aside the necessarily icy exterior that had seen her through these years, that had protected her from herself as well as from him. She would be flappable unto her very bones.
She could already feel that shell she'd wrapped around her for so long begin to crack. Slowly, incredulously, a kind of menace and that disconcerting pulse of power that was uniquely his emanating from him like a new kind of electricity, Cayo Vila, much-celebrated founder and CEO of the Vila Group and its impressive collection of hotels, airlines, businesses and whatever else took his fancy, richer than all manner of sins and a hundred times as ruthless, raised his head.
Dru caught her breath. His jet black brows were low over the dark gold heat of his eyes. That fierce, uncompromising face made almost brutally sensual by his remarkable mouth that any number of pneumatic celebutantes swooned over daily was drawn into a thunderous expression that boded only ill. The shock of his full attention, the hit of it, that all these years of proximity had failed to temper or dissipate, ricocheted through her, as always.
The air seemed to sizzle, making the vast expanse of his office, all cold contemporary lines and sweeping glass that seemed to invite the English weather inside, seem small and tight around her.
She could hear the lilt of Spanish flavor behind his words, hinting at his past and betraying the volatile temper he usually kept under tight control. Dru restrained a small ripple of sensation, very near a shiver, that snaked along her spine.
They called him the Spanish Satan for a reason. She would like to call him far worse. He shook his head, dismissing her. Send me an email outlining your concerns and—". They both paused; perhaps both noting the fact that she had never dared interrupt him before. She smiled coolly at him as if she was unaware of his amazement at her temerity. A very tense moment passed much too slowly between them then, and he did not appear to so much as blink.
And she felt the force of that attention, as if his gaze was a gas fire, burning hot and wild and charring her where she stood. Have you taken it upon yourself to demand more money? Better benefits? His voice was curt, clipped. That edge of sardonic displeasure with something darker, smokier, beneath. Behind her professional armor, Dru felt something catch.
As if he could sense it, he smiled. This conversation is merely a courtesy. In and out of the courts. Believe this, if nothing else. I have no interest in the corporate world. He was like some kind of corporate snake charmer. But she wasn't one of his snakes, and she refused to dance to his tune, no matter how seductive.
She'd been dancing for far too long, and this was where it ended. It had to. It would. Once—yesterday—he could have smiled at her and she'd have found a way to storm heaven for him. But that was yesterday. At how well he'd played her. One more reason she wanted to escape it. Not anymore. Dominic was gone. She was no longer his sole support. And the invisible chains of emotion and longing that had ruled her for so long could no longer keep her here.
Not now she'd discovered, entirely by accident, what Cayo truly thought of her. He only watched her now, those dark amber eyes moving over her like the touch of his hands, all fire and demand. She knew what he saw. She had crafted her corporate image specifically to appeal to his particular tastes; to acquiesce, as ever, to his preferences.
She stood tall before his scrutiny, resisting the urge to fuss with her pencil skirt or the silk blouse she wore, both in the muted colors he preferred. She knew the deceptively simple twist that held her dark brown hair up was elegant; perfect. There was no bold jewelry that he might find 'distracting. She had become so good at playing this role, at being precisely what he wanted.
She'd done it for so long. She could do it in her sleep. She had. Dru could see the precise moment he realized that she was serious, that this wasn't merely a bargaining tactic she was trotting out as some kind of strategic attempt to get something from him.
That she meant what she was saying, however impossible he found it to fathom. The impatience faded from his clever gaze and turned to something far more calculating—almost brooding. He lounged back against his massive, deliberately intimidating chair, propped his jaw on his hand, and treated herto the full force of that brilliant, impossible focus of his that made him such a devastating opponent.
No was never a final answer, not to Cayo Vila. It was where he began. Where he came alive. And where she got off, this time. For good. She couldn't help the little flare of satisfaction she got from knowing that she would be the one thing he couldn't mogul his way into winning.
Not ever again. What a preposterous question. Dru let out a short laugh that clearly hit him the wrong way. In truth, she'd known it would.
His eyes narrowed, seeming almost to glow with the temper that would only show there, she was well aware. He so rarely unleashed the full force of it.
It normally only lurked about, beneath everything, like a dark promise no one wanted him to keep. I have no life at all, in point of fact, and haven't for five years.
I manage yours instead. She laughed again, and told herself she couldn't hear the edge in it, that he should hit so close to a bitter truth she had no intention of acknowledging.
A Devil in Disguise
Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? Playing with fire! Drusilla Bennett's job from hell will soon be over. Ready to take her life back and walk away from the devil - currently disguised as her boss - Dru plucks up the courage to say 'I quit!
A Devil In Disguise