About the Author
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
She spun around on the toes of her low-heeled shoes and launched toward the closet. Good thing she'd mapped out an escape route days ago after studying the layout of the offices. Of course, the closet would be more like a trap than an escape if someone decided to investigate.
Holding her breath, she slipped into the claustrophobic space and crouched behind some boxes. She had a sliced-up view of the office through the slats on the closet door.
The door to the office swung open, and the figure of a man filled the frame. "I didn't expect to see you here this late."
Her heart slammed against her chest, and she rocked back on her heels with her rehearsed excuse running through her head.
A woman answered from the hallway. "I forgot some papers in my office and wanted to do some work at home. What's your excuse?"
The blood rushed to Katie's head, and she planted her hand against a box to steady herself. She pressed her other hand against her mouth to stifle her panting breath. Of course, nobody could see her through the slats and behind the boxesyet.
The man, Garrett Patterson, responded. "I thought I'd left my office door unlocked and came back to check it out. I had no intention of doing any more work, unlike some people. You work too hard, Ginger. Do you ever turn off that brain of yours?"
Ginger Spann's tinkling laugh sounded close. She must've entered the room behind Garrett.
"Just like a man to think a woman has to turn off her brain to relax or enjoy herself."
The door to the office clicked shut, and the soft sounds of rustling material floated across the room.
Katie swallowed, poked her head out from behind a box and squinted through the slats on the closet door. She couldn't see heads, only bodies, and those bodies were doing some naughty things to each other.
If she wasn't in hiding, she could record this encounter and turn it over to Human Resourcesif they had an HR department and if she was a snitch. Neither was the case.
As Garrett pushed Ginger against the desk, she groaned, and Katie almost groaned along with her. How long would she be trapped here while these two went at it?
Garrett murmured. "I never thought you were interested before, even though I tried my damnedest to entice you. I've been waiting a long time for this, Ginger."
"Mmm, so have I, Garrett. So have I."
Someone gasped. Garrett? Who knew cold, uptight Ginger Spann had the moves to bring a man like Garrett to his knees?
Garrett slumped across the desk, and Katie drew back from her peephole as his face appeared in her line of sight. His mouth gaped open, and his eyes bugged out of their sockets.
What was Ginger doing to him, and could she give lessons?
Then Ginger shifted from beneath Garrett's body and pushed him to the floor, where he fell in a heap, his pale face still turned in Katie's direction.
Katie drove her fist against her mouth. Garrett looked dead.
Ginger straightened her pencil skirt and smoothed her hands over the fabric. She crouched next to Garrett's body, but Katie couldn't see her face.
Ginger must be in shock. Her movements, slow and deliberate, didn't look like those of someone who'd just had a guy drop dead on top of her.
Katie watched, her mouth dry, as Ginger felt for his pulse. Then Ginger's hand plunged into his pocket.
Katie froze, afraid to move one muscle, as Ginger searched Garrett's body. What the hell was she doing? Why wasn't she calling 911?
When Ginger rose to her feet, Katie gave a silent sigh of relief. Maybe Ginger was just trying to cover her backsideliterally. As far as Katie knew, Garrett was a married man. She knew nothing about Ginger's marital status, although rumors had been circulating about her and the big boss. The woman was as cold as an icicle.
Katie heard the tones of cell phone buttons, and her stomach dropped. Once the EMTs swarmed this place, what chance would she have of escaping? It could be hours. She could be discovered.
"We've got a problem." Ginger's sharp tone was a one-eighty from her breathy pillow talk with Garrett. "I got here all right, but Garrett Patterson was here before me."
Ginger paused and then lashed back. "How the hell am I supposed to know? I couldn't risk it. He's dead."
"This is your problem. You're the one who lost your badge in his office. Send one of your minions over here to help me out. Now."
She must've ended the call because she'd stopped talking. Ginger moved toward the door and out of Katie's sight, but Garrett's dead eyes still stared at her in her hiding place.
Both she and Garrett had stumbled on more than they'd bargained for. Garrett had forgotten to lock his office door when he'd left for the day, and Katie had been careening down the hallway looking for an unlocked door.
Garrett's action had gotten him killed, and hers had gotten her trappedbut had also confirmed her suspicions about her place of work. Now, if she could only get out of this situation alive.
A soft tap on the door had Katie's heart hammering again.
The door opened and Ginger whispered. "Did anyone see you?"
"No. Besides, I have an excuse for wandering the halls at this hour."
"You're an idiot. How did you manage to lose your badge?"
A pair of legs encased in gray pants with a black stripe up the side came into Katie's line of vision. Security.
"My plastic badge holder cracked on one side. It must've fallen out, but at least I figured out where."
"Yeah, you're a real genius. Get a new badge holder. Patterson was already suspicious. Finding your badge in his office would've amped up his suspicions even more."
The security guy whistled and crouched beside Garrett's lifeless body. A hand with a bird tattooed on the back reached for Garrett's throat. "How'd you do him?"
"As far as you're concerned, he had a heart attack."
"With his fly down?" The security guard chuckled.
"That's why you're here. Set it up."
"Don't worry about fingerprints. I have every right to be in Garrett's office, and nobody's going to be doing a criminal investigation here if you stage it correctly."
The guard hoisted Garrett's body up and dragged him out of Katie's view. Unfortunately, the two conspirators exchanged very few words as they positioned Garrett at his desk and straightened up the office.
Katie hadn't noticed a security guard's badge when she'd first entered Garrett's office, which seemed like hours ago now, but she hadn't known what to look for. It was the first time in two weeks of searching that she'd discovered an unlocked office, and she'd meant to take advantage of it.
If she'd found that badge first, there's no telling what she could've discovered about her employer, Tempest and Sebastian's suicide.
"That should do it." The security guard cleared his throat. "Should I close his eyes?"
"Why? People die with their eyes open all the time."
"I don't know. He looks kinda surprised."
Katie shivered. Why kill Garrett unless she suspected him of returning to his office to get the security guard's badge? Why would he do that? Was it because he had his own doubts about Tempest?
The security guy's shoes squeaked as he crossed the floor. "Should I discover him tonight?"
"Let someone else discover him tomorrow morning. Keep a low profile."
"He's a married guy. His wife might come looking for him or start calling around."
"Garrett's wife is out of town." Ginger made a clicking noise. "He must've told me that ten times this week."
"Then he's someone else's problem."
Ginger brushed past the closet door, and Katie's heart stuttered as she caught a whiff of Ginger's light, citrus perfume.
"I'm leaving first. Wait at least a minute and then get lost."
"Should I leave the door locked or unlocked?"
"Leave it unlockedthe easier for someone to find him tomorrow morning."
"I hope this works."
"Of course it'll work. I didn't slit his throat. The drug I gave him mimics a heart attack, and that's all you need to know."
The door clicked open and shut, and Katie eased out a short breath. Ginger terrified hereven more now.
The security guard hummed a tuneless song as Katie closed her eyes and counted the seconds until his departure. Her muscles ached with tension.
Just when she thought she'd be holed up in the closet all night, she heard the door open and close and blessed silence descended on the office. Leaning her forehead against the nearest box, she released a noisy sigh.
She shifted her stiff body and pressed her eye against the slat in the door. As far as she could see, the room looked empty, not that she expected Ginger or the security guard to pop out from behind the deskbut she wouldn't put it past them.
Unlike Ginger, she had no reason to be in Garrett Patterson's office, so she shrugged out of her sweater and wiped down the boxes and the inside of the closet door. Still using the sweater, she pushed against the door to open it and crawled out.
She straightened up and then immediately swayed to the side when she caught sight of Garrett slumped in his chair, his eyes still open. She crept toward the desk and reached across the body to shuffle through the contents on top of his blotter. The security guard must've found his badge.
Like most employees at Tempest, Garrett worked on a laptop that he must've already taken home for the evening.
Her fingers tripped across the edge of a notebook shoved beneath the blotter. She pulled it free and thumbed through the pages of what looked like an appointment book.
As she wiped the desk clean with the sweater, it caught on the arm of Garrett's chair and she yanked it free. She didn't want to get any closer to him than she had to.
She shoved her arms into the sleeves and tucked Garrett's spiral notebook into the pocket. Grasping the door handle with the sleeve of the sweater pulled over her hand, she took one last glance at the room. If she'd had her cell phone with her, she could've caught the whole scene on video. Of course, if she'd had her phone with her and it'd buzzed, she could be dead right now.
She pushed down on the handle and inched open the door. The hallway stretched to her right toward the stairwell, and she slipped from the office and tiptoed down the hallway. She'd already checked these other doors earlierall locked.
When she reached the metal door to the stairwell, she pulled the sleeve of the sweater over her hand again. She didn't think the authorities would be checking for fingerprints out here, but she didn't want to be connected to this floor in any way. She'd already tampered with the security camera, and she'd fix its footage later.
Anxious to put as much distance between herself and Garrett Patterson, she charged through the door. She took the stairs two at a time on her way down and then stumbled to a screeching halt as a man materialized in front of her.
A scream roared from her lungs and then ended in a squeak on her lips as she looked up into the bluest eyes she'd ever seenor at least the bluest eyes she'd ever seen since the last time she'd locked lips with the man who broke her heart.