If you haven’t read the Prologue or Chapter One, you can catch up before the last except!
Two weeks later, Kara walked down the hall and rapped her knuckles on Drake’s open door. “Got a minute?”
His brown eyes lifted from his computer. “Sure. Come on in.”
She took a few steps in. “I just received a copy of the credit card statements and there are a lot of charges with no receipts to them. The girls in accounting asked if I had them since the policy is to turn them in to me so I can make copies.”
He grinned at her. No, not a grin. A smirk. That’s exactly what it was. “What receipts are you looking for?” He opened a drawer and pulled out a handful of white sheets and spread them on his desk.
Her eye started to tick over that move. The smirk that wouldn’t drop from his lips wasn’t helping any. “I’ll take them all,” she said.
She walked a few steps to his desk and held her hand out. He placed them all in there, his fingers touching her palm. She almost pulled back from the heat of that innocent touch.
When she found the one she was really looking for she wanted to scream. “I can’t believe you spent over three hundred dollars on dinner for five people.”
It just appalled her how much money Drake spent on dinners with clients. It wasn’t just dinners, but lunches, events, office supplies. The best of everything for Drake.
She could imagine how much he spent on his personal clothes. His car was over six figures. She knew because she had to look it up one day to come up with an auto allowance for him since he did so much traveling.
Disgusting. His sister, Jade, and cousin Ryder didn’t spend money like Drake did when it came to work. Their personal lives, she had no idea and that was their business. But work was hers.
Of course he was older than them and had more responsibility. And Drake did seem to bring in more business than anyone else.
Didn’t matter. In her mind, a budget was a budget and she was hired to make sure everyone followed one. She’d even given him a bigger budget than the rest of the staff.
“That included drinks and tip,” he said. “That place wasn’t cheap. Nor would I take them anywhere cheap. That’s a massive contract. One that is funding a good part of your job, I might add.”
She narrowed her eyes at him. He wasn’t being sarcastic. He was even smiling still. “I was hired long before you got that contract.”
His smile dropped. “You know what I’m saying.”
“No, I don’t know what you are saying. Why don’t you explain? Your father and uncle hired me to get control of the spending and set up budgets. To analyze costs per project and so on. Just in case you weren’t aware, I’m doing this so we can build the costs back into bids.”
“I’m fully aware of why you were hired. What I don’t understand is what the big deal is if we are building it into bids anyway.”
“It’s just frivolous,” she said. “I understand there are expectations, but do you plan on doing this every time you meet with the officials in Charlotte? This is the third time you’ve come back with large dinner or lunch charges.”
“I didn’t know I was being monitored so much,” he said, leaning back in his chair.
“Everyone is. That is my job. And I’m not monitoring you like you think. I just know what you spend. You’ve got the highest cost ratio in the firm.”
“Sweet,” he said. “Not bad considering I bring in the most money.”
She took a deep breath. She wouldn’t lose her temper. She never did. Not anymore. Those days of losing control were long gone. She put that life behind her once she was able to get in a position that she could support herself.
She’d never be poor again. She’d never be needy. She’d never rely on anyone.
“I understand it’s a good honor to have. To be able to bring in the kind of revenue that you do. In the future, if you could please bring me the receipts as you get them, it would save me from bugging you. Or the accounting department to come in looking for them.”
“Fine,” he said.
She nodded her head and walked out the door to go do the job she was hired for. She needed to get out of Drake’s presence before she said something she’d regret.
The minute Kara was out of his door, Drake leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes, counted to ten and took a few deep breaths.
It didn’t help.
He even tried to focus on what she was wearing today. Tan pants that fit her long thin legs. A simple light green top with a white cardigan over it. It wasn’t really green. More like moss colored. She wasn’t flashy, she never was, but she was always put together.
He laughed out loud thinking that she actually fit the image of a bean counter in his mind even though she was young. Probably a few years younger than him.
He wondered why she never smiled. Why she was so serious all the time. Why she couldn’t have fun at work when so many others did.
He got up and made his way to his father’s office, hoping to blow off some steam. Before he got there, he noticed his father in his Uncle Grant’s office with his Aunt Diane and went there instead. He could kill two birds with one stone.
“What’s going on?” his father asked him.
“Nothing,” Drake said.
“It didn’t seem that way to me,” his Uncle Grant said. “Are you having issues with Kara?”
“That woman drives me insane,” Drake said. No one ever seemed to get on his nerves like she did.
“What is the problem this time?” his father asked. “I like her. She’s on the ball.”
“She was complaining about my credit card statement. Said there were receipts missing.”
Uncle Grant laughed. “That’s her job. She is just making sure the charges are legit.”
“No,” Drake argued. “She was making comments about how often I take clients out to lunch and the places I take them.”
His father laughed this time. “I tell you all the time you overdo it and spend too much. We hired her to analyze costs and expenses. No one escapes it.”
“Whatever,” Drake said, knowing it was useless. He should have kept his mouth shut. He knew why Kara was hired. They all did and they all agreed it was a good move. Little did he know he’d be the one that got the most grief in the end. “Hey, what’s in there?” he asked his Aunt Diane.
“Donuts and muffins,” Diane said, moving the box toward him.
“Thanks.” He grabbed a donut and left, not wanting to stand there any longer. He had work to do, deadlines to meet, and people to call. All the things he’d been doing before Kara interrupted his thoughts.
The worst part was, he wouldn’t be able to get her out of his thoughts the rest of the day.
“So, is that who you’re thinking of for Drake?” Garrett’s sister-in-law asked him.
“It crossed my mind. It’s funny watching Drake get so flustered. What do you think?” he asked.
“I think you and Carolyn need to work on it while we figure out what is going on with Bryce and Payton this weekend,” Diane said.
“Are we horrible people doing this?” Grant asked his brother, then looked at his wife.
“No way. We’re good parents just trying to see our kids happy,” Diane said, then leaned up and kissed her husband on the cheek. “Enjoy, boys, I’m going shopping with Carolyn today.”
Grant sighed. “Talk about needing someone to look over credit card receipts.”
“Tell me about it,” Garrett said. “Maybe we should have Kara analyze our wives’ expenses.”
His twin laughed. “Imagine how well that would go over.”
“About as well as it’s going over with Drake. I don’t get it. He was all for this position last year.”
“Until he was getting targeted,” Grant said. “Of course we all knew that would happen. Drake does spend more than the rest of us.”
“He earns it,” Garrett said of his oldest son, the pride shining through.
“Of course he does. It’s a good thing he likes meeting with the clients so much. He took a lot of that off of our shoulders. You know how much I hated it. That was more your thing.”
“Yeah. You didn’t care about playing nice as much as I did,” Garrett said.
“You’ve never played nice a day in your life. That’s why we got into so much trouble growing up.”
Garrett laughed. “Good thing our kids aren’t like us.”
“Wyatt?” Grant said.
Yeah, Wyatt was a prankster. Just like their nephew Cade. “How about Ryder?” he asked of Grant’s youngest and another employee in the building.
“Yeah, well, Ryder is just more a pain and a headache to his brothers and cousins than he is to us at work.”
Ryder was actually the ideal employee, which was funny since he wasn’t always the ideal son when it came to listening. His youngest nephew was the one that turned Grant’s hair gray.
“That’s true. So, what do you think of Kara and Drake? Match or not? I know Gavin thinks it’s perfect from what we’ve told him, but they don’t seem to even like each other. Drake never loses his temper. He never gets annoyed or frustrated, and Kara seems to bring the worst out of him just breathing the same air.”
Grant laughed. “I’m with Gavin. I think it’s perfect. Love and hate are so close. Let’s just see how it turns out.”
“So what do you suggest? Bring them together on a few projects?”
“I think that is the perfect idea,” Grant said.
“Let’s brainstorm this weekend and figure it out. It’s got to seem legit. We don’t want to raise any flags. Sam and Dani worked out flawlessly. Bryce and Payton seem to be working from what Diane said.”
“Diane has high hopes for Bryce and Payton, but I’m still not sure. I’m reserving judgment. I guess there is no reason you can’t work on Drake now and see how it goes,” Grant said.
“I’ll talk to Carolyn tonight and get her take too. She’s been out of sorts that you’ve got one son down and are working on the second. Might as well give Drake the push and see where it takes us.”
“Let me know what you come up with,” Grant said.
“You’ll be the first to know.”