Sloane Abbot read the text messages, her free hand tracing circles over her swollen belly.
“Are you okay?” Josh Starke asked, stepping into her office.
Sloane looked up, smiling as her handsome husband approached. “I’m feeling really good,” she assured him. “This is our fourth child, Josh. I’m pretty much an expert at this whole pregnancy thing by now.”
He walked around her desk and place his larger hand over her belly. “I know that you feel that way, but I don’t.”
She laughed. “My pregnancies are one of the few times that you’re not in control and that irritates you, doesn’t it?”
He growled, and took her hands, pulling her out of her chair and into his arms. “Yes! I’m an unapologetic control freak.” With that acknowledgement, he lowered his head to nuzzle her neck.
Sloane laughed, pressing against him as much as she could. Her pregnant belly was in the way, but she didn’t mind. After years of working for this man, several of them as his wife, she loved him with her whole heart. And she still felt a zap of electricity whenever he touched her.
“Yes, you are, but I like that about you.” She laughed softly when his hands moved lower, but because they were in the office, his office, she grabbed them and stopped their downward descent. “You’re being naughty.”
“The door is closed,” he growled, nipping at her earlobe.
“Later,” she promised, and kissed him. “I’ll do that thing…” he didn’t let her finish, kissing her deeply as his body responded to her promise.
When he released her, Sloane laughed, because she knew that he was just as turned on as she was. “You’re an evil woman,” he growled and stepped away from her.
“I know. But you deserve it.” She walked back into her office and shuffled through some papers on her desk, searching for the file he’d need for his next meeting. “Oh, by the way, do you know anyone who works at Bosalis Industries?” she asked, handing him the file.
“I know Dimitri Bosalis. He’s the owner and a good man. Tough, but fair.”
Sloane tilted her head slightly. “That’s high praise coming from you.”
Josh shrugged. “I’ve worked with him on several deals. He’s brilliant. I admire him a lot.”
“Good. Some guy tried to get Pepper’s contact information. He said he works for Bosalis Industries. Tell this Dimitri guy to keep his employees from harassing my sister.”
Josh’s eyes hardened. “When did this happen?” he demanded, his voice low and threatening.
Sloane didn’t admonish Josh for his overly-protective-brother act. When it came to her sisters, she loved that Josh was as protective of her sisters as she was. “Just this morning,” she explained. “Some guy actually stopped Pepper on the sidewalk, demanding her contact information!”
“It won’t happen again,” he promised, already lifting his cell phone as he headed for his next meeting.
Dimitri walked into the old building, taking in the details as he went. The brick building was old, but solid with huge windows that harkened back to the industrial era when factories needed big windows to allow air flow in order to cool down the factory floors. It had character and charm, he thought, even if he preferred more modern, clean lines.
“I’m here to speak with Ms. Pepper Abbot,” he told the first woman he spotted. She was sitting at a sewing machine and looked up at him with a stunned expression.
“I’m sorry?” the woman replied, not immediately moving to find the woman in question.
“Ms. Abbot,” Dimitri repeated impatiently. “Is she here?”
Another woman stepped out of an office, a professional, if wary, expression on her face. “May I help you?” she asked, obviously someone with more authority.
Dimitri moved towards the other woman. “I’m looking for Ms. Pepper Abbot. I’m told that she works here.”
The woman crossed her arms, pressing the large notebook to her chest like a shield. “Ms. Abbot isn’t here at the moment. I’m her business manager, Nancy Coldron. How can I help you?”
Dimitri wanted to snap at the woman, impatience making his blood boil. He paused, irritated by his annoyance over such a simple issue. He never got angry, he reminded himself. He was always cool and in control. “My name is Dimitri Bosalis,” he said, handing her a business card. “Tell Ms. Abbot to call me and set up an appointment.”
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