Tangled Page 13

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Anyway, it’s a great night. Divorced women have a lot of pent-up anger—a lot of buried frustration—which never fails to translate into a good, long, hard f**k. It’s exactly what I’m looking for and just what I need.

But, for some reason, the next day I’m still tense. Edgy.

It’s like I’d asked the waitress for a beer, and she brought me a soda. Like I ate a sandwich when what I really wanted was a nice juicy steak. I’m full. But far from satisfied.

At the time, I don’t know why I feel like that. But I bet you do, don’t you?

To do my job properly, I need books—lots of them. The laws, codes, and regulations involved in what I do are detailed and change frequently.

Luckily for me, my firm has the most extensive collection of pertinent reference materials in the city. Well, except for maybe the city library. But have you seen that place? It’s like a frigging castle. It takes forever to find out where something should be, and when you do, it’s most likely checked out already. My firm’s private library is much more convenient.

So, Tuesday afternoon, I’m at my desk working with one of the aforementioned references when who should grace me with her presence?

Yep—the lovely Kate Brooks. She is looking particularly delicious today.

Her voice is hesitant. “Hey, Drew? I was looking for this year’s Technical Analysis of the Financial Markets, and it’s not in the library. Do you have it by any chance?” She bites her lip in the adorable way she does whenever she’s nervous.

The book in question is actually sitting right on my desk. And I’m just about done with it. I could be the better man—the bigger person—and give it to her.

But you don’t really think I’m going to do that, do you? Have you learned nothing from our past conversations?

“Yeah, I do have it, actually,” I tell her.

She smiles. “Oh, great. When do you think you’ll be finished with it?”

I look to the ceiling, seemingly deep in thought. “Not sure. Four…maybe five…weeks.”

“Weeks?” she asks, gazing down at me.

Can you tell she’s annoyed?

I know what you’re thinking. If I want to eventually—after the whole Anderson thing is over—do the horizontal tango with Kate, why don’t I try being just a little bit nicer to her? And you’re right. That does make sense.

But the Anderson thing isn’t over yet. And as I’ve said before—this, my friends, is war. I’m talking DEFCON-one, gloves-off, I’ll-knock-you-down-even-if-you-are-a-girl war.

You wouldn’t give a bullet to a sniper who’s got his gun aimed at your forehead, would you?

Plus, Kate is too damn hot when she’s angry for me to pass up a chance to see her fired up again, just for my own twisted pleasure. I look her up and down appreciatively as I speak, before giving her my patented boyish smile that almost all women are helpless against.

Kate, of course, not being one of those women. Figures.

“Well, I suppose if you ask nicely…and throw in a shoulder rub while you’re at it…I might be persuaded to give it to you now.”

The truth is, I would never demand anything that resembled a sexual favor in exchange for something work-related. I’m a lot of things. A bottom-feeding scumbag like that isn’t one of them.

But that last comment could definitely be construed as flat-out, old-school sexual harassment. And if Kate ever told my father I’d said that to her? Jesus H. Christ, he would fire me faster than you could say, “Up shit creek without a paddle.” Then he’d most likely knock me on my ass for good measure.

I’m walking one high f**king tightrope here. Yet, though the possibility exists, I’m 99.9 percent sure that Kate won’t rat me out. She’s too much like me. She wants to win. She wants to beat me. And she wants to do it all on her own.

She puts her hands on her hips and opens her mouth to rip into me—most likely to describe just where I can shove my book, I’d guess. I lean back with an amused smile, eagerly anticipating the explosion…that never comes.

She tilts her head to the side, closes her mouth, and says, “You know what? Never mind.”

And with that, she walks out the door.

Huh.

Kind of anticlimactic, don’t you think? I thought so too.

Wait for it.

A few hours later, I’m down in the library looking for an enormous reference titled Commercial and Investment Banking and the International Credit and Capital Markets. All of Harry Potter would fit into one chapter of this sucker. I scan the stacks for where it should be—but it’s not there.

Somebody else must have it.

I turn my attention to a much smaller, but just as important, volume called Investment Management Regulation, Seventh Edition. Only to find that it, too, is missing.

What the hell?

I don’t believe in coincidences. I take the elevator back to the fortieth floor and march purposefully through Kate’s open door.

I don’t see her right away.

That’s because stacked on and around her desk, in neat skyscraper-high columns, are books. About three dozen of them.

For a moment, I freeze, my mouth open and my eyes wide with shock. Then, inanely, I wonder how the hell she got them all up here. Kate weighs a buck-ten at best. There’s got to be several hundred pounds of pages in this room.

It’s then that her shiny dark head emerges over the horizon. And, once again, she smiles. Like a cat with a mouthful of bird.

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