Enough. I stood quickly.
“I’m not leaving without her. Will you help me, or do I need to start searching by myself?”
He didn’t move and his expression didn’t change, but the air in the room cooled.
“Sit your ass down,” he said, his brilliant blue eyes flashing. The absolute authority and will in his tone was indisputable, reminding me that this was a very dangerous man.
Hayes rose to his feet, coming to stand in front of me. Then he leaned down and rested his hands on the back of the couch on either side of my head. His gaze pinned me, and my adrenaline surged.
What the hell was he planning to do?
“You do realize where you are?” he asked softly, which was way scarier than it would’ve been if he’d yelled at me. Quiet menace, carrying visions of bodies buried in shallow graves …
“You’re in my club. Outside this room are twenty men who will do anything to back me up. Anything. And outside this building are forests and mountains that reach all the way to Montana. Only witnesses out there are deer and maybe a moose or two. You sure you wanna piss me off? I just pulled my dick out of a willing woman’s mouth for you, so it’s not like I’m in a good mood to start with.”
I couldn’t breathe. My heart beat so fast that I thought it might explode out of my chest, and I knew for a fact that pissing him off was definitely the last thing I wanted to do.
“Now ask me nicely to help you,” he said, the words slow and deliberate. I nodded, taking a minute to steel myself.
“Mr. Hayes, will you please help me find my cousin Jessica?”
Sudden moisture filled my eyes, and I felt myself quivering. I blinked quickly and forced back the tears through sheer will. I’d be damned if I’d give him any more satisfaction. Silence fell between us, his face six inches from mine, palpable tension hanging in the air. In the distance I heard music and noise from the party, all too aware that I was utterly at his mercy.
“Can I go?” I asked quietly.
At least he was direct. I licked my lips nervously and his eyes followed the movement. I couldn’t look at him anymore, so I lowered my gaze.
That was a mistake.
“Lower” was his body, and one glance was enough to tell me that just because he’d sent his girlfriend away didn’t mean he’d lost interest in sex. Nope. Nice big bulge in those jeans.
My eyes skittered away, stopping at the big knife strapped to his leg. A hunting knife. Inside at a party. Nothing scary about that at all, right?
“Convince me to help you,” he said softly, his voice growing smooth, almost silky.
“How?” I whispered.
“How do you think?”
I closed my eyes, trying to think. Sex. He was talking about sex. Okay. It wasn’t like I didn’t know about sex … Was I willing to sleep with a man to find Jessica? Give up on my relationship with Nate?
My gut twisted, because I’d already given up so much for her.
“It’s a very bad idea to mix work and personal business,” I told him. “I’ve got two crews working for you right now. I think getting involved would be a big mistake. Not only that, I’m seeing someone already.”
Hayes gave a low chuckle.
“I don’t want to get involved and I don’t give a shit about your boyfriend. But I wouldn’t mind fucking your tits—that’d motivate me to help. Your call.”
It wasn’t exactly a secret that I had a decent-sized chest, but I’d never had someone be so … crude … about it. I didn’t know what to say. My eyes flew around the room, desperate to look at anything but his face hanging over me. Then I spotted a picture up on the file cabinet. A beautiful woman stood next to two teenage girls. Heather Hayes and her daughters. Those girls were grown up and moved out now, one of them in the past year.
Now Hayes lived alone. Inspiration struck.
“Who cleans your house?”
He blinked at me.
“What the fuck?”
“Who cleans your house?” I asked again, my thoughts coming together quickly. “If you help me find Jessica, I’ll come out to your place and have my crew do a full cleaning, no charge. You can sleep with anyone, but how many of those women can you trust to clean your house?”
He rocked back on his heels, cocking his head at me. A strange light came into his eyes.
“Didn’t see that one coming,” he said, his mouth quirking at one corner. “But any of those girls out there will clean for me.”
“I’ll bet they expect something in return, don’t they?” I asked, sensing I had him. “I’ll bet they want to be your girlfriend or whatever it’s called …”
“I’ll bet they want to be your old lady,” I continued, getting into it. I leaned forward, willing him to agree with me. “And I bet they get annoying after a while. My crew comes in, we clean, we leave. No stress, no fuss, and no strings attached. How’s that for something of value?”
“Not your crew, just you.”
I frowned at him. He sat back on his heels, seeming relaxed enough, but I still felt the coiled tension in the air.
“All right,” I said, figuring I should stop while I was ahead. I held my hand out and he took it, wrapping his strong fingers around mine. They were warm and solid. I’d bet his arms would be, too.
He didn’t say he wanted to hold you, I reminded myself firmly. He said he wanted to “fuck your tits,” and that’s a place we don’t need to go.
Obviously I should start sleeping with Nate sooner rather than later, before my hormones destroyed me entirely.
Don’t question. Just find Jessica.
“So what does she look like?” he asked. I dug into my pocket and pulled out my phone, flipping quickly to her graduation picture.
Good lord, my little cousin was stunning.
Jessica was tall, with long legs toned from running. Her hair was a rich, chestnut-brown and her eyes were bright with thick lashes. She looked like an all-American princess.
He gave a low whistle.
“Pretty girl,” he said slowly, and I glanced quickly at his face, hoping desperately I wouldn’t see lust in his eyes. He took the phone and abruptly turned and walked out of the office, leaving me to scamper after him like a puppy. I followed him back into the main lounge area where I’d first come in. I spotted Gage leaning against the wall, eyes seeing everything as he surveyed the party. Reese walked over to him and handed him the phone.