A muscle jumped in Rhys Damon’s jaw as he strode across the open plan workspace of the Tokyo branch of Damon & Tucker. He ignored the curious looks of the men and women seated at the neat, uncluttered cubicles lining the ebony floor and stormed inside a large, glass-lined office. He slammed the door shut and glared at the figure on the other side of the sleek desk dominating the stark masculine room while he flicked a switch. The outside world disappeared as the privacy glass changed from clear to frosted.
“Why did you take Misaki off the Osaka project?” Rhys snapped.
Wade Tucker placed his pen down on the file he was working on and leaned back in his leather chair. His expression grew shuttered as he locked gaze with Rhys, his slate blue eyes unreadable.
“She’s not fit for it right now.”
Rhys inhaled shallowly and counted to five.
Breathe. Just breathe. Don’t let him get to you.
“Would you care to explain?” Rhys said between gritted teeth. “We agreed months ago that it was time to give her the lead on one of the new contracts and we did so. We’re now six weeks from the deadline. The timing of this couldn’t be any worse.”
Wade drummed his fingers on the white laminate table, a slight frown darkening his chiseled face. Rhys found his eyes drawn to Wade’s large hand and immaculately clipped nails. He wondered if Wade had touched anyone with that very hand the night before. Had dipped his fingers inside a woman’s hot mouth and her wet pussy. Had gripped her ass and her hips while he thrust his hard dick repeatedly into her body.
Rhys reigned in on the torrid images flashing across his inner vision and cursed internally.
Now is not the time to indulge in your usual fuck fantasies about this dipshit.
Rhys thinned his lips, leaned against the door, and folded his arms across his chest. “I’m still waiting, Wade.”
Wade let out a rueful sigh and ran a hand through his hair. “She’s made several mistakes in the past two weeks that would have jeopardized the entire project had one of the other designers on her team not picked up on them.”
Surprise jolted through Rhys at Wade’s words. It was followed by a surge of irritation. “Why the hell didn’t you tell me about this sooner? That doesn’t sound like the kind of thing she’d—”
“Because I only managed to pin her down and talk to her last night,” Wade said, his own voice laced with annoyance.
Rhys stilled, his mouth suddenly dry. “Wait…please tell me you didn’t sleep with her!”
Shock flared across Wade’s face. He scowled and jumped to his feet, his hands flat on the desk.
“What?! No! What the hell do you take me for?” he barked.
“An asshole who likes to dip his stick in any wet hole he can find,” Rhys said bluntly.
Wade blinked owlishly, his expression so disconcerted Rhys would have laughed had the candid statement he had just made not burned through his very core.
He’d watched Wade bed woman after woman in the sixteen years they had known each other, and it still hurt just as badly as the day he realized he wanted the man who ended up becoming his closest friend and business partner.
Fate is a sick, twisted bitch.
“You’re such a fucking contradiction,” Wade muttered.
Rhys stiffened under Wade’s heated stare. “What do you mean?”
Wade’s eyes darkened with a mixture of frustration and amusement.
“You’ve got that whole suave, sophisticated, butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-your-mouth look down to a T,” he said, his laser-like blue gaze roaming Rhys from his carefully-styled, dark blonde hair to the polished caps of his Italian loafers, “yet you’ve got the filthiest mouth of anyone I’ve ever met.”
Rhys ignored the fire licking across his skin where Wade had literally kissed his body with those dangerously mesmerizing eyes of his. He unfolded his arms, pushed away from the door, and tucked his hands in the pockets of his tailor-made trousers as he strolled casually across the office. He stopped opposite Wade and faced him across the desk.
“Of course.” Rhys arched an eyebrow arrogantly. “After all, that’s why they call me The Charmer and you The Brute.”
Wade’s lips twitched at the nicknames that had plagued them since their college days. “I still maintain they should have named us The Joker and The King.”
Rhys’s shoulders relaxed, the tension that had been with him since that morning slowly abating. “With me in the role of king, obviously,” he said tartly.
Wade chuckled, his mouth curving in a lopsided grin that brought out his dimples. Rhys swallowed a groan when he felt his dick stir in response.
Wade’s expression gradually sobered. “Misaki’s pregnant. And she’s thinking about having a termination,” he said quietly.
Rhys inhaled sharply, surprise tightening his muscles once more.
Wade sighed. “And no, before you ask, it isn’t mine.”
Rhys’s heart thudded in his chest as he considered Wade. “Who’s the father?” he mumbled.
Wade rolled his eyes. “You get one guess.”
Rhys’s mind raced frantically as he thought of their staff and anyone Misaki had shown interest in of late. From Wade’s words, it had to be somebody they both knew.
“Not Reo?” Rhys said. “I know she had a thing for him a while back but he just got engaged, didn’t—”
“For one of the smartest guys I know, you sure are dumb sometimes,” Wade interrupted, deadpan. “It’s Itsuki.”
Rhys ignored the insult and frowned. “We haven’t got an Its—” He froze as a face swam before his eyes. “Oh my fucking God, you mean that Itsuki?!”
Wade nodded, his eyes sparkling with mirth at Rhys’s stunned expression.
“The sandwich guy?!” Rhys spluttered. “That baby-faced kid who looks like he hasn’t hit puberty yet? The one who delivers our lunch every day?!”
“Shush, keep your voice down!” Wade said with a frown, eyes darting to the frosted glass separating them from the outer office.
“We both know it’s soundproof,” Rhys said absent-mindedly. He crossed his arms and leaned his hip against Wade’s desk, still startled by Wade’s revelation. “Is she serious? About the termination?” he said after a while, chewing his lower lip thoughtfully.
They both knew Misaki was deeply committed to her career at Damon & Tucker. She had been with their Tokyo branch ever since its inception four years ago.
Wade’s gaze dropped fleetingly to Rhys’s mouth. He sat down slowly.
“I’ve told her to take some time out and think about it.” He picked up his pen and rolled it between his fingers. “Her head is all over the place right now and, until she makes her decision and comes to terms with it, she won’t be able to concentrate fully on work.”
“Good move,” Rhys murmured. He was still annoyed Wade had kept what had happened from him, but he was also pleased Wade had chosen to address things personally with Misaki first, before hauling her over the coals about her mistakes in front of the entire office. It was one of the reasons they had built such a successful business together and had fiercely loyal employees who rarely jumped ship.
“So, who are you thinking of giving the lead on the project to?” Rhys said curiously.
The pen stilled in Wade’s hand. The strangest look flashed in his eyes as he gazed at Rhys.
“I thought you and I could take this one on together.” A faint smile curved his sculptured lips. “Like the good old days.”
Rhys’s stomach plummeted as he stared back at Wade. The last thing he wanted to do with Wade was get back to their “good old days”. In fact, he couldn’t think of anything worse.
Rhys knew there was no way he could be that close to Wade again without doing something stupid. Like kiss him. Or jump his bones.
“It’ll please our client. And with the both of us working on it, it won’t impact too much on our schedule,” Wade continued in a wary tone, as if he were testing the waters.
“What about Gabe?” Rhys said, conscious he was grinding his teeth. He took a breath and deliberately relaxed his jaw.
“He’s got his plate full with the Hawaii project.” Wade grimaced. “Besides, I can practically see heart-shaped bubbles above his head whenever I look at him these days. If he wasn’t a guy, I’d swear he was pregnant, too. He’s positively glowing.”
Gabe Anderson, one of their senior and most sought after design consultants, had recently gotten engaged to his boyfriend. Their relationship hadn’t been without its trials though, and it was a testament to the two men’s commitment to one another that they had come this far in such a short time.
“Well, if anyone could impregnate a guy, I’d say it was Cam Sorvino,” Rhys murmured as he thought of the gray-eyed king Gabe had tamed. He smiled faintly when another man’s face swam before his eyes, one he knew could also lay claim to that improbable scenario. “Or Joe Cavendish. And you, of course.”
Rhys suppressed a bitter smile at his business partner’s expression.
“Don’t worry,” he drawled in the nonchalant tone he had mastered over the years of his friendship with Wade, “I know you have zero interest in sticking your dick in a man’s ass.” He pushed away from the desk and started for the door.
“Who’s Joe Cavendish?” Wade said.
Surprise flashed through Rhys at Wade’s tone. He paused and looked over his shoulder. “A friend.”
Lines wrinkled Wade’s brow. “You should introduce me, one day.”
Rhys blinked. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that was a hint of jealousy in his voice. He scoffed at himself internally then. Yeah, like that would ever happen.
“I don’t think so,” Rhys said smoothly.
Wade’s frown deepened.
And there it is.