I shake my head, still chuckling, but he’s stony silent. His desire has now clearly morphed into annoyance, which makes me laugh even harder. “And if I say yes?”
I almost decide to lie just to see how he’ll react. Anger isn’t the type of response I want from Asher, though. I’m not really sure what I do want, but I know it’s not that. “No.”
As fast as his annoyance came, it went with my admission.
“Did you come here to question my relationship status? You could have just hopped on Facebook for that, saved yourself the drive.” I uncross my legs and lean on my forearms, the coldness from the steel desk seeping into my exposed pores through the thin fabric. It’s November in Detroit and very cold, but I still can’t regret my choice of wardrobe after seeing the appreciation in both Asher’s eyes and slacks.
“Because it’s not official until it’s Facebook official, right?”
“Right,” I drawl. “So, back to my original question. Why are you here?”
“I want to hire you.”
I assumed when he was calling references that was his angle. I’m thrilled, but at the same time, disappointed. I need this job, but I also want Asher, even though that’s not the best of ideas. And I can’t have both.
Why?…a little voice whispers.
Because it’s kind of a faux pas to sleep with your clients, I tell that little slut.
“There’s someone embezzling within my company. I want them found and stopped and prosecuted.” He pulls an envelope out of a folder he set down on the edge of my desk earlier. “Our outside audit firm completed our annual audit and found a discrepancy in the books, but they aren’t equipped to take it further. We need someone who has expertise in ferreting out things like this, whose techniques will hold up in a court of law. I know you’ve worked on cases before where your work has supported a legal case.”
True. I live to bring down white-collar thieves. My dad was a thief; he just stole our childhood from my sister and me instead of a corporation or business. I think that’s one of the reasons I went into this field to begin with. “Is this a past or ongoing issue?”
“I have reason to believe it’s ongoing, but of course I can’t be sure.”
“Do you have any suspicions?”
“Yes. Unfortunately nothing solid, though.”
I look down, unsure of how I should approach this. I don’t want to talk myself out of a job, but I want to be up front as well. I don’t doubt my ability in the slightest, but CFC would be, by far, the biggest client I’ve worked on, and this project could possibly take months, given my small staff depending on how deep the embezzlement is buried. “You do know I haven’t worked on a project for a company your size yet, correct?”
He nods, staying quiet.
“Okay. Let me look this over and work up a proposal and a timeline for your review. I can have it to you by mid-next week. Then we can meet again, discuss any questions you might have, and negotiate terms.”
My brows draw together in confusion. “No, what?”
“No. I told you I want to hire you. You. I’ve already done my research. I don’t need to review anything.”
I’m taken aback for a moment. “I could rob you blind. My fee may not even be competitive with the other firms you’re considering.”
“I’m already being robbed blind. And you won’t. Whatever your fees, whatever your terms, I’ll agree to them. I want the best, Alyse.” He pauses before he adds, “I hear that’s you.”
Huh? This is by far the weirdest client prospect meeting I’ve ever had. I have to wonder what the catch is, because this seems too good to be true. “Uh, oookay.”
“I want you to start on Monday.”
It’s the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I think for a minute, cataloging our current projects. I was planning to take this new client I just secured, but I can give that to Al. Tabitha still has at least two weeks on her current project, and I’ll have to come in now on Friday to wrap up a few loose ends and do some paperwork. “I can make that work.”
He’s silent, studying me. “One more thing. And it’s non-negotiable.”
I smirk. “I’m not sleeping with you.” Even though right now I can think of nothing else but your hot, wet tongue worshipping every inch of me.
Laughing, he leans forward, his forearms on my desk, his face mere inches from mine. I want to lean back, yet not at the same time, so I don’t. Once again, Asher invades my personal space. I can’t stop the big breath I take, inhaling his manly, spicy scent. It’s all I can do to keep my eyes from rolling back in my head.