Flirting with Fate
his phone, careful not to look into her eyes.
    “You know what to do.” She grabbed his shoulders, turned him, and shoved him toward the bedroom.
    Brandon heard Nicki’s rant as she demanded to know exactly who was trying to violate the private files of Ethridge Investments. His worries fell off his shoulders. She would take care of things. He stripped off his clothes, opened a drawer, and removed the silk scarves he’d neatly folded and put away. He placed them and his belt at the foot of the mattress, making sure they were lined up perfectly. Then he lay face down.
    Anticipation had his breath coming in rapid bursts. His cock pressed into the mattress. Had he been careless intentionally? He’d do almost anything for one session with her. His body craved the beatings. Craved the unbridled sex. Craved the discipline.
    Movement above him heightened his senses, but he didn’t lift his head. All his nerve endings were primed and ready. His hands and legs were secured, leaving him spread eagle, face down on the bed. The sting of the leather belt against his bare ass sent pleasure and pain rushing through him. He pressed his face deeper into the mattress to muffle his moans.
    “Why must I do everything myself?” she hissed as the belt contacted his back.
     

 
     
     
     
    Seven

    “N o, no, no.” Elle’s stomach dropped to the tops of her feet. Panic swept over her as Brandon’s file disappeared. She turned to Logan. “We were afraid of this.” Tears swam behind her eyes.
    “Son of a bitch.” Logan wrapped his arm around her. “I’m sorry.”
    Anger and desperation flooded Elle. She blinked hard, shoving the tears to the background. “There’s information on those other files. Information we need.”
    He pulled her into his arms and gently rocked. “I’m sorry. This one is a total loss.” She buried her face in his chest. “But don’t give up on me yet.”
    Elle rested against him for a few seconds, drawing strength. Through the open drapes, a blanket of white weighted down the tree limbs. The branches had bowed under the pressure but hadn’t broken. Neither would she. “I’ll never give up.”
    “I still have one more method to try.” He placed a call to his tech friend, explaining what had happened. Then he emailed the files to her. “If anyone can disarm the self-destruct, she can.”
    “That would be great. So now we wait?” Elle tried to sound as if she weren’t worried. Inside, fear that she would let her grandmother down flourished.
    “We do ground work.” He placed his hands on her shoulders. “Go downstairs, hit the gift shop. Pretend you don’t have a care in the world.”
    “Why? What are you going to be doing?”
    “Nicki had something on her mind when she asked me to call. I’m inviting her for a drink.” He leaned down for a kiss. “Maybe I can use her to get to Brandon.”
    “It might work. She’s certainly interested in you.”
    “Nicki and Brandon don’t know about the contest. Maybe it’s time I share that tidbit with her.”
    Elle ignored the pang of jealousy circling around her heart. She returned to the couch and her book, covertly listening while Logan spoke with Nicki over the phone.
    “She’s going to meet me in the bar.” Logan walked to her. He waited until she lifted her gaze and met his. “You understand this is strictly business?” His eyebrows lifted in question.
    “Sure, I do.” Elle returned to her reading, refusing to fall for the bait. 
    She watched over the top of her book while he logged off both laptops and took his to his bedroom. Elle’s curiosity stirred or maybe it was jealousy. Either way, she didn’t like him meeting Nicki in the bar or anywhere else. Logan didn’t help matters by strolling out of his bedroom looking as if he’d stepped off the cover of GQ .
    “Come on,” he said. “It would help if you’re seen out alone. Shop. Try to forget about the lost file for a couple of hours.”
    Elle stood and straightened his

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