Hardpressed

Author: P Hana

Page 56

   

My jaw dropped. I’d brought Risa on and shared every resource with her, taught her everything I knew, and given her the opportunity to be someone important on the ground floor of our company. Sure, we had a few personality conflicts, but this was too much.

I called Sid immediately. “Hey, can you change Risa’s email password?

“Sure, what’s going on?”

“I don’t fully know yet, but it looks like she’s in cahoots with Max, the guy who was supposed to fund us originally.”

“I don’t get it.”

“She sent him a database dump of the site and all our advertiser contact info, plus a ton of financials for the company that I’d shared with her when she started.”

“Whoa. Why?”

“I don’t know, but I don’t have a good feeling about it.”

“Have you spoken with her?”

“Not yet. Send me her new password and I’m going to do some more digging tonight. I want to figure out as much of this as I can before I approach her, but it’s safe to say she won’t be coming in on Monday.”

“All right. I’ll do it now.”

I hung up and continued to fume. As pissed as I’d been with her this afternoon, she’d crossed a new line that we couldn’t come back from.

*

I showered quickly at the apartment and picked out something to wear. I had no idea what we were doing, so I decided on a light sleeveless top and a short floral skirt that Alli had accidentally left during her visit. I didn’t have much choice but to wear my hair down since Blake had branded me with a hickey. I brushed on some light makeup and curled a few chunks of my blond strands into beachy waves and called it good.

I checked the street below, indulging the remnants of my paranoia that Connor might still be lurking, but I saw no sign of the Lincoln. Maybe that would be the end of that. If so, sneaking time with Blake might be feasible. But Blake probably wouldn’t be interested in a relationship with me under the radar without some sort of explanation. Things between us were changing again and everything felt out of my control.

I texted Blake that I was at the apartment, and he was downstairs a few minutes later. I opened the door when he knocked, and he scooped me into his arms before I could even say hello. He lifted me off my feet, tilting his head up for a kiss. His smile was contagious. I lowered my head to kiss him sweetly, my hands cradling his face. He held me hostage with his kiss, drawing me into the passionate strokes of his tongue until I was breathless and wanted him all over again.

He lowered me finally, keeping our bodies close. “Perfect.”

My face heated at the word. I’d felt anything but perfect for so long. How could he possibly think so?

“Where are we going?” I asked, eager to shift the focus away from my supposed qualities.

“You’ll see. We’d better go. It’s a little bit of a drive.”

After navigating through some weekend traffic, we found the coast and drove north. Gradually the city landscape changed as we passed into the smaller suburban towns. Unlike the palette of cedar-shingled mansions on the Cape, the seaside homes north of the city were more historic and quaint. The farther we went, the more impressive they were. We pulled off the main road onto Marblehead Neck, an exclusive neighborhood reaching out into the sea. Each house was majestic in its own way, grand both in size and architecture. We pulled into a large circular driveway leading up to a sprawling brick home overlooking the ocean and the Boston skyline. A few other cars were parked in the driveway to the side of the house.

We sat in the car a moment. Blake held my hand tightly in his.

“Are you going to tell me where we are?”

“This is my parents’ house.”

My eyebrows shot up. “Oh.”

“They’ve been wanting to meet you. I figured this was as good a time as ever.”

I checked myself in the mirror. This was all so sudden.

He smirked. “You look perfect, baby. Don’t worry. They’re going to love you.”

He opened my door and we walked up the brick pathway to the main entrance. Blake’s mother answered the door a moment later.

“Erica!” She smiled and pulled me over the threshold into a warm hug.

“Erica, this is my mother, Catherine.”

Catherine was a petite woman with short blond hair, tanned by the sun. She had cool blue eyes that reminded me of my own. She stepped back, smiling.

“Sweetheart, we have been dying to meet you! Blake has been keeping you all to himself.” She slapped him playfully on the arm before grabbing my hand. “Come on in. I want you to meet Greg.”

She led us into a large kitchen where Blake’s father was pulling trays out of the oven. He was wearing an apron over blue jeans and a T-shirt. Now I knew where Blake got his fashion sense.

“Greg, come say hello to Erica.”

Blake’s father pulled off his oven mitts and the apron and joined us at the edge of the room. Tall, with graying dark brown hair, he was handsome and had a kind smile, his eyes glittering when they met mine. I saw so much of Blake in him.

“Wow. Good work, son.” He laughed heartily and surprised me next with a big hug. “Wonderful to meet you finally. Blake speaks very highly of you.”

I fell speechless at the compliment. In fact, I hadn’t been able to speak since I’d stepped into the Landon home. All of this was complete and utter overload.

“I hope you like chicken parm,” Greg said, easily filling the silence.

“I love it.” I smiled warmly.

“Oh that’s right. Blake tells us you’re a phenomenal cook. Damn, I hope this measures up.”

Blake laughed as he took two beers out of the fridge. “All right, guys. Tone it down. Seriously. Want to get some fresh air? Otherwise these two will literally suffocate you with questions and compliments.”

“That doesn’t sound so bad,” I joked. Blake’s parents seemed amazingly sweet. I was definitely feeling overwhelmed, though.

“Go on you two. Everyone’s out on the deck,” Catherine said, motioning us out of the kitchen.

Blake caught my hand in his, and we passed through a large living room and onto a deck that spanned the length of the house, overlooking the ocean.

Heath and Alli turned toward us from their position at the railing.

“You!” Alli crossed her arms defensively and gave me a terse look.

Oh shit. She’d been right about hunting me down.

“Hey,” I said timidly.

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