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At Her Own Risk by Rachael Duncan (1)


MY HANDS SMOOTH down my navy dress before entering the elevators that will take me to my interview. I would swallow to try to soothe my dry throat, but I’m afraid even saliva will trigger my unstable stomach and cause me to vomit. To say I’m nervous is a gross understatement.

A lot rides on this interview and it’s a huge step in my career. I busted my ass as a financial advisor at a bank for seven years, catching on fast, and handling more accounts than any of my counterparts in the region. But I’m not an ass kisser, and that may be my downfall. I watched as people who did not perform as well as me got praised and promoted, making me realize this was a dead-end job.

Marcus became like family after he married one of my best friends. Lydia couldn’t have found a more perfect match, and he’s doing me a huge favor. His dad is the CEO of Bank of the States and Marcus put in a good word for me when he heard there was an opening as an investment relationship manager. I’ve done as much research as I can on the duties involved, as well as the person I’d be interviewing with. Marcus got me in the building; it’s up to me to get the job.

“Hello, Mr. Sanchez. It’s nice to meet you,” I murmur as the elevator car continues its ascent. “Hi, Mr. Sanchez. Thank you so much for this interview—for meeting me—” I let out a sigh. That sounds stupid.

All too soon, the elevator stops and the doors open. I’ve got this. I can do this. I repeat these words in my head as I make my way to the woman sitting behind the front desk. She greets me with a warm smile. “Hi, how can I help you?”

“Hi, I have an interview with Mr. Sanchez at two o’clock.”

She looks down at something on her desk before her eyes come back up to mine. “Ms. Stewart?”

“That’s me,” I say with a nervous smile.

“I’ll let him know you’re here. If you’ll have a seat over there,” she instructs as she points to a chair behind me, “someone will be right with you.”

“Thank you.”

I want to get this over with. My head runs through all the questions I prepared for prior to coming today, but I’m terrified my nerves will have me drawing a blank. I have the knowledge to complete the duties of the position, I’m just afraid I don’t have the experience they’re looking for. Chastising myself, I push those negative thoughts out of my mind. No sense going into an interview thinking you’re not qualified enough for the position.

You’ve got this.

“Ms. Stewart,” the receptionist calls out to me. I turn to face her. “If you want to head back to the last door on the left, he’s ready for you.” Her grin is comforting, encouraging even. As if she’s wishing me luck or something, and I decide right then that I like her.

I walk down the hall and with one last breath, raise my fist up and knock on the closed door. “Come in,” I hear from the other side.

With bright eyes and a wide smile, I open the door and walk in, but the smile is wiped right off my face the moment I see who is sitting on the other side of the desk in front of me.

Sean Riley.

Normally, I’m annoyed by his presence, but that was before I slept with him at my friend’s baby shower. Now, he’s completely under my skin, and not in a good way.

“Come in and have a seat.” He motions to the chair in front of him like this is no big deal. Then again, he knew I was coming and wasn’t blindsided.

Closing the door behind me, I take one step forward but make no move to sit down. “Where’s Mr. Sanchez?” My tone is more defensive than I intend, especially since I really need this job.

“He had a family emergency so I’m filling in for him today. Would you rather stand through the interview or sit?” He arches an eyebrow at me and my eyes narrow in response. I feel like I’m staring at a completely different person right now. Gone is the man who teases me relentlessly with his sexual jokes and bad lines. Before me is a man who is serious, put-together, and in business mode. Taking slow, measured steps toward the chair, I try to wrap my mind around the two sides of him that are at complete odds with each other.

I sit down and watch him as he reads whatever paper is in his hand. I’ve never seen him in anything but casual clothing, so it’s somewhat weird to see him dressed in professional attire. His suit is tailored to perfection as it highlights all of his attributes. No doubt it cost more than my whole wardrobe, but it’s worth every penny. His dirty blond hair is styled to perfection and his face is freshly shaved.

He looks damn good.

As the thought races across my mind, his blue eyes come up to meet mine. I try desperately to school my features, but if the twitch of his lips is any indication, he definitely notices the slight blush across my cheeks.

This has bad idea written all over it.

“So, tell me a little about yourself.” I wait for him to make a wise crack about how well he knows me, but he doesn’t. His face remains stoic as he waits for my reply.

I imagine I’m talking to a man I’ve never met before. A man who hasn’t relentlessly pursued me for about two years. A man whose prowess in all things orgasmic isn’t featured in my thoughts as I pleasure myself. I need to separate the Sean I know from the task at hand or this is going to go south real quick.

“I graduated from NC State in May of 2010 where I majored in business administration with a concentration in finance. After graduation, I was hired by my last employer and have been working there for the last seven years.”

I’m pretty much repeating the information on my résumé, but I’m not sure what else he wants me to say.

“Can I ask what’s making you leave your last place of employment?”

I know he’s heard me bitch about my job several times when everyone has hung out. The realization that he’s witnessed me speaking so unprofessionally about my employer causes me to blush in embarrassment. It’s definitely not the impression you want your potential boss to have of you.

Licking my lips, I swallow before replying. “To be frank, there’s no potential there. I hate speaking ill of a former employer,” I say, to which he grins the slightest bit. Yeah, he’s definitely recalling all the times I’ve contradicted that very statement. “After a while, it became clear there would be no career advancement for me there. I need to feel challenged and I wasn’t anymore.”

He studies my face as if deciding if I’m telling him a practiced line or the truth. I maintain firm eye contact despite the way it makes me feel. My heart beats a tiny bit faster and my palms get sweatier. I’m quickly reminded of the way his piercing blue eyes stare into my soul. No matter how much I fight and run, they always find me and see straight through my crap. I look away not able to handle the intensity.

When I glance back up, his eyes are focused on the piece of paper lying on his desk. A quick peek at it lets me know it’s my résumé.

His focus returns to me, and I almost want to punch him. How is he so indifferent? Here I am a ball of nerves, resisting the urge to squirm in my seat as I sit across from him. He’s not even doing anything and I’m still completely affected by him, especially when I recall the way his hands felt on my bare skin, or how his lips tasted.

“What makes you a good fit for Bank of the States?” His question breaks me from my lust-filled thoughts. Thoughts I wish I could rid my mind of.

I wrack my brain for an intelligent response, but come up blank. Great, the one thing I feared walking into the room is happening. But between being thrown off by his presence, and the images rolling around in my head, I can’t fake it.

A huff leaves my mouth, unable to keep up this façade. “How is this not awkward for you? How are you able to sit there and pretend like nothing happened between us?”

“Would you care to address it, Ms. Stewart?” His eyebrow arches in a challenging manner as he folds his arms and rests them on his desk. “Would you like to talk about how I can still taste you on my tongue and feel you around my dick?”

My eyes widen as my cheeks flush. “No.”