Dangerous Surrender

By: Katie Reus

Chapter 1

Taylor Arenas smoothed a hand down her light-gray, pencil skirt as she exited the main elevator onto her boss’s floor. Normally she just wore jeans and a casual top to work, but today she’d pulled out all the stops and actually gone for the business-professional look.

She resisted the urge to wipe her damp palm on her skirt as her heels clicked against the tiled entryway on the tenth floor. The ten-story building in Oceanside, California was non-descript on the outside so that most people didn’t know what went on here.

Today she wondered if she even knew what Powers Group did. Or whether it was all one big lie.

The glass and metal desk the executive assistant sat behind wasn’t occupied. No surprise since it was only six in the morning. Taylor was early for a reason. She needed to talk to Hugh Powers and couldn’t wait a second longer. Since he was often in by five-thirty, she had no doubt he’d be here.

And with her all-access card to the building she was one of the few people who could get to this floor without bothering with security. Even if she didn’t have the access card she could have just hacked her way in. Which was one of the reasons Hugh had hired her five years ago, fresh out of college. There were only three offices on this floor; two for the owners and one belonged to the head of security, Benjamin Escobar.

With her slim briefcase in one hand, she bypassed the first two and went straight to the last one at the end. This morning the glass walls of Hugh’s office weren’t frosted over and his door was propped open. But she easily saw he wasn’t inside before she’d even neared the door.

As she stepped inside, the door to his private bathroom opened. Since it didn’t have a regular door, it was as if the wall opened up. When it was closed it was difficult to see the seam.

His dark eyebrows rose as he looked at her attire. In his early fifties, he was a handsome, fit man graying at the temples with a sprinkling just starting to show throughout the rest of his hair. Even when he was dressed in board shorts ready to surf—and that was as often as he could—he had a regal air about him. “Is there a meeting I forgot about?”

She shook her head.

“Good because I don’t think those zombie shoes would cut it.” His lips twitched at the corners.

Okay, maybe her heeled pumps weren’t business-professional, not with the green and pink zombie teeth design covering the front and the skulls dotting the sides. But they made her feel better, more normal. She swallowed hard. “We need to talk.” She hated that her voice came out shaky.

His dark blue eyes filled with concern, which made her angrier. If he was the liar he appeared to be, she didn’t want his fake-caring. He pointed at one of the seats in front of his beat up desk. “Sit,” he said quietly. The man could afford anything he wanted but he still had the piece of crap desk he’d gotten from a big, box store decades ago before he’d made his millions. She’d always thought that said so much about the type of man he was. He’d never forgotten how far he’d come.

She prayed she wasn’t wrong about him. If he was ripping off his own company…it would break her heart.

Swallowing hard, she didn’t bother taking off her coat as she sat ramrod straight and met his gaze. “For the last week I’ve been working on investigating those six companies you wanted me to.” She had a tendency to ramble when she was nervous so she cut right to the point. “Long explanation short, in the process of my investigation I ran across some files regarding Chemagan.” She paused, waiting for a reaction, but Hugh just nodded, listening intently as he always did when she outlined something for him. He didn’t seem disturbed at all by the mention of the company. “I visited the Chemagan building yesterday.” A new company Powers Group had been funneling money into the past six months. A company that didn’t actually exist.

He frowned. “You did?” He seemed genuinely confused.

For the first time in a week Taylor allowed a sliver of relief to slide through her veins. He didn’t seem defensive or worried. She nodded and set her briefcase on the desk. She’d taken pictures of the decrepit building yesterday with her phone but had them blown up to 8x10s and printed. She pulled out a stack and slid them across the desk to him.

He looked down, scanned them, then looked back at her in confusion. “What is this?”

“Chemagan. A company you’ve been putting a lot of research and development funds into the past six months.” Or someone was. She pulled out two pages of financials, a condensed version of the trail of money she’d discovered.

“What the hell?” he muttered, scanning the readout.

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