“Are we in one of those time-outs from you being mad at me?”
Slowly Elle lifted her head and met his gaze. “No.” She paused, killing him. “But as you’ve mentioned before, we do some of our best work when I’m mad at you.”
With heat and need and something much stronger barreling through his veins, he lifted her up against him and then turned to head to his bedroom.
Her arms came around his neck, her fingers sliding into his hair to fist it, and she nibbled on his lower lip.
Still walking, palming her sweet ass, he let his fingers dip and play, making her gasp. He swallowed the sound with his mouth and then pulled back a fraction to meet her hot gaze. “Elle—”
The knock at the front door was loud and important. “Hey,” Morgan said through the door. “Max is here with me and he’s in a hurry to get home to his girlfriend, Rory. You two doing it or are you going to let me in?”
“I blame you for her,” Elle said to Archer, who reluctantly let her go. Elle vanished into his bathroom and into his shower, leaving him to let Morgan in.
“So?” Morgan asked Elle when she came out of the shower. “Were you two going hog wild?”
“No!” Elle said.
And to Archer’s eternal frustration, they didn’t go hog wild at all because Elle stubbornly took the couch for the night.
Elle spent the next afternoon with a set of new tenants who were moving into the empty space on the ground floor between the coffee shop and Reclaimed Wood. They were going to put in a bakery, and Elle, fond of any baking that she didn’t have to do on her own, thought it would be a great addition to the building.
By the time she was finished with them, she needed a caffeine hit so she made her way up to Spence’s penthouse apartment, where he kept some of the good stuff for her. She found him in his huge, sprawling living room working on . . . something. There were parts and pieces everywhere, of what she had no idea. Spence could take anything apart and put it back together. He could also build whatever he could imagine.
“What are you working on?” she asked.
The only word she understood of his answer was prototype.
“Trudy’s going to be pissed at the mess,” she said.
He was head deep in whatever that thing was on his coffee table, which looked like it could fly to Mars and back. “I asked her not to come clean this week,” he said distractedly.
“You trying to break her heart? She loves to clean for you.”
“Yeah, but yesterday she came in without knocking and—”
“Caught you getting laid?” Elle asked hopefully.
Spence snorted. “I wish, but no. I was flying a drone and it nearly hit her in the face. She left here screaming about the zombie apocalypse arriving early.”
Elle went into his kitchen and pulled out the tin of tea he’d ordered for her from England. “I think I’m all screwed up over Archer,” she said, bringing him a cup. “Emotionally.”
He sniffed at the tea suspiciously, like she was trying to poison him. “Why am I always the one to get roped into conversations about people’s feelings?”
“Because you’re so sweet and sensitive?” she asked dryly.
“Exactly, I’m none of those things so why do you all enjoy making me discuss your love lives?” He downed the cup she’d brought him and made a face because it was unsweetened. Shaking his head again, he went back to work.
“Well excuse me,” she said. “Next time I’ll come up here to discuss more important stuff, like how big our dicks are.”
He was laughing when she left him. She’d been back at her desk for an hour when two men let themselves into her office. Big. Mean-looking. Mouth-breathing knuckle draggers.
“We’re looking for your sister,” Thing One said, expression blank, mouth grim, beefy body tensed for trouble.
“I don’t have a sister,” she said.
The two men looked at each other and some silent communication happened. Thing One went to her window and looked out. Thing Two, just as nasty-looking as his buddy, stood between her and the door.
Okay, so they weren’t here about the vacancies in the building . . . She started to rise out of her chair but Thing One at the window turned and shook his head at her, like don’t even think about it.
Fine. She had her laptop open and within reach. She could get an SOS email out, possibly even a text message if she had that screen up. But before she could get her fingers on the keyboard, Thing One lunged close and slammed her laptop shut.
She dove for her cell phone but Thing Two was faster, shoving her hard as he wrapped his fingers around the phone.
Off balance, she spun, but not fast enough to avoid crashing into the credenza behind her desk and stumbling on her heels. Unfortunately for her, she’d left a drawer open and she hit it going down.
With her face.
It didn’t take a genius to figure out she was in trouble. But her phone was on the floor and she stretched for it, just barely grabbing it with the very tips of her fingers, hitting Archer on speed dial.
Two legs came into view as she scrambled up to her knees, hopefully leaving the phone connecting to Archer. She put a hand to her throbbing temple and cheek, hoping, praying she’d diverted his attention from the phone.
“Let’s start over,” Thing One said, hauling her up to her feet. “We’re looking for your sister.”
“I already told you, I don’t have a sister.”
He put his hands in his front pockets, the casual gesture revealing the big gun at his hip. “Try again.”
“Look, our beef isn’t with you,” he said, clearly the talker of the group since Thing Two had done nothing but grunt. “Just tell us where Morgan’s at and we’ll leave you alone.”
If they knew things like Morgan’s name and where Elle worked, the gig really was up and she was in bigger trouble than she’d thought. “What do you want her for?” she asked, hoping like hell Archer was listening to this and on his way.
“She cut us out of a deal and our boss isn’t happy,” Thing One said. “He wants to talk to her.”
Only half feigning dizziness now, Elle leaned on her desk and let one of her hands fall onto her heavy-duty stapler. Lars had been Morgan’s boyfriend a lifetime ago and he wasn’t a nice guy. He was the opposite of a nice guy. Back when she and Morgan had been teens, he’d had Morgan doing some grifter work for him. In fact, he’d been the one Elle had been attempting to return the stolen Russian brooch to the night their lives had all imploded. The night Archer had saved her. If Lars was still in Morgan’s life, Morgan had been lying about getting her life together.