By: Sienna Mynx

Tarek’s gaze swept down to her breasts then up to her face once again. It was not an appropriate appraisal. She felt his visual undressing and her stomach clenched. She made sure not to unlock their connection.

“Who are you here representing today?” His voice seemed to drop several degrees and his coolness sent a shiver of dread up her spine.

“Myself,” Kassidy said. “It's why I wanted to meet. I just came back from a sabbatical to South Africa. I’m testing the waters, looking to make new connections.”

“Angela.” He rolled her name over his tongue as if he were savoring a fine wine. And then Tarek made a decision. It wasn’t something he said. It was in his manner. Daniel didn't think he'd take the bait. Kassidy saw in that moment that Tarek was nibbling at the hook.

“You lost your dinner companion earlier,” he gave a nod to the window seat she left unoccupied.

“Yes, a friend I knew in Chicago who decided to join me for dinner. Unfortunately, he had to leave. That's when my luck improved and I saw you.”

“How old are you?” Tarek leaned forward and asked in his sinfully Texan accented voice. There wasn't a hint of amusement in his voice. The purpose of his question could be seen in the dark swirls of his pupils. So penetrating was his stare she almost slipped in her response and confessed.

“I'm twenty-eight,” she lied. Every muscle in her body tensed over the spoken lie. He shook his head smiling in disbelief.

“Would you like to see some identification?” she asked.


The answer threw her. But thanks to Daniel she was prepared. She reached for her purse and opened it. She removed her wallet and located her driver’s license. She handed it over. He gave it a cursory glance and passed it back. She wasn’t even sure if he read the date.

Tarek nodded to someone behind her. A waiter appeared from out of nowhere. Tarek reached inside his blazer and removed his bill fold. He handed the waiter a black card. The man gave a curt nod and walked away.

“What is it you want Ms. Brown?”

“I was hoping for an interview,” Kassidy quickly spoke up.

“You just had one,” he informed her.

“Am I hired?” she asked.

“You think it’s that easy?” Tarek asked and smiled for the first time. His smile did strange things to her insides.

“Easy? No. I wouldn’t call you easy Mr. Marshall,” she said. Underneath the surface of his hard veneer she saw a glimpse of the charming young man who rode her on his motorcycle through Crystal Beach. Or maybe that was just a childhood memory that she couldn’t trust.

“Contact my secretary and she will put you in touch with H.R.,” Tarek said. “It was my pleasure Angela Brown.” He accepted the silver tray with his bill and his credit card. He signed it. He was leaving.

“Ah, Mr. Marshall. I'm sorry if I was too forward in asking for this meeting.”

“Why would you think you were?” he asked.

“Well, you've dismissed me.” Kassidy smiled.

“Typically I'm not rejected so soon by a prospective client.”

“Ms. Brown, I'm sure you did your homework. There is nothing typical about me.”

“Okay, I guess the direct approach doesn't work with you. Maybe I should put together some proposals for your team. For you to consider. How's that?”

Tarek once again stared at her. Kassidy felt the nervous twitch in her gut that made her want to stare back. Could it be possible that he recognized her? Could he know who she was?

He reached inside his blazer and withdrew his billfold. Inside he plucked a card. He handed it to her. But when she reached for it, his finger flipped up to keep her from taking it. “Be careful approaching men in bars in that dress. You might not be taken seriously,” he said.

The smack to her pride made her mouth gape in surprise. Kassidy fumed. She wanted to toss her wine into his face. Instead she pressed her lips to a firm line and held back from responding. He then flipped the card to her and she took it from his two fingers. He picked up her card and put it in his billfold, which was a surprise.

“If you do want to be taken seriously. Present something worth my time.” Tarek stood. “Enjoy your stay in Chicago Ms. Brown.”

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