To Catch A Cheat Part 14
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"Ah, well, that'll do it," Keith said. "And from her attack on you this morning, we can determine that the two of you probably won't have to worry about 'fraternizing after the cohabitation period.' h.e.l.l, you should probably worry more about staying alive until the week ends. Are you sure you were only trying to kiss her?"
"I wasn't trying; I was doing it," Trent said. "And she reciprocated. I think that's what spooked her this time."
"This time? No way, you're going to try again? I think you may have to accept defeat, and in this case, a defeat with the girl is a win for the business. That ad campaign wouldn't hurt DieHardAtlanta's print launch."
"I've already got what I need to move DieHardAtlanta forward. You gave me the go-ahead last week, remember?" Trent dropped the contract back on the desk and turned toward Marissa's closed bedroom door. After their kiss-or bite-on the patio, she'd stormed into the apartment, grabbed her laptop, and headed into the bedroom with Petie following faithfully at her heels. Trent hadn't seen her since, though he had heard her, moving through the bathroom and into his bedroom, evidently taking Petie out. Eventually, though, she'd get hungry, or at the very least, Petie would, and she'd have to show.
For most of the afternoon, Trent had handled business, overseeing a conference call regarding the Suwannee land acquisition and answering the attorney's questions about the DieHardAtlanta contracts, but he'd kept a portion of his attention on that closed door, and the woman behind it.
"You're telling me that the guy so gung-ho about increasing his subscribers isn't interested in winning a seven-figure multimedia campaign that will put the magazine over the top?" Keith asked.
"I wasn't gung-ho about increasing subscribers," Trent corrected. "I wanted to go to print, and I wanted to do that any way I could, without using Jackson Enterprises money. We did that, thanks to the publicity over this web war. The magazine will be top-notch and will hold its own, with or without me winning this radio deal."
"Got to tell you, I'm shocked. I've never known you to throw in the towel on anything, particularly something involving this much money."
"I'm not throwing in the towel," Trent said. "I'm merely going after what I want the most." He heard stirring in Rissi's room. Was she finally coming out?
"Marissa Kincaid?" Keith questioned.
"I told you I wanted her," Trent said.
"So much that you don't care about a seven-figure ad deal?"
Trent heard Petie bark, and then the sound of the two of them moving in his room. How many times did that dog go out in one day? "The magazine is going to do fine. I've got the equity I need, and we're moving forward. And, for the record, that prize isn't why I'm here."
"Maybe you should tell her that, because I guarantee the prize is exactly why she's there."
Keith laughed again. "I always knew you were sure of yourself, but do you really think you can convince this woman to give up that kind of deal for you, when she's told you, and all of Atlanta, that she doesn't even like you?"
"She lied," Trent said, but he knew Keith was right; Marissa Kincaid was his biggest challenge, ever. He'd thoroughly enjoyed their battles online and on the radio broadcasts, but this week would be much more fun. An all-out war, up close and personal, where she wanted to hate him, and he wanted to have her.
A loud knock sounded at the door, and Petie started barking from Trent's room. "I'll talk to you later," Trent said. "Sounds like we've got company."
"Keep me posted. Shoot me an email if you can't call."
"Will do," Trent said, disconnecting. He crossed the room and opened the door to find a pizza delivery boy on the other side.
"Compliments of Coleman and Speedy," the skinny guy said, peeking over the top of a thick red bag. "Four larges, cheese, pepperoni, meat lovers, and the works." He grinned, displaying clear braces with red and blue bands. "I guess they wanted to give you a variety."
"There are two of us and a dog," Trent said, moving out of the way so the kid could bring the pizzas inside. He placed them on the counter in the kitchen and then peered into the living room. "So, where is she?"
"Ms. Kincaid. I listened to the two of you on the radio Friday and then again this morning. Does she really hate you as much as it sounds?" He smiled again, sending a mult.i.tude of copper freckles, the same color as his hair, marching across his face.
"She's in her room, where she's been most of the day. But maybe she'll come out for pizza."
The kid snickered loudly, almost cartoonish. "Man, she really does hate you, huh?"
"Appears that way," Trent said, not amused.
"Well, at least that way you both get that prize, huh?" He grinned goofily, then added, "But I've got to tell you, if I were able to stay with a hot chick like that for a week in an apartment, you know, spending all that time alone, I'd have to think about letting that prize go. You gotta admit it, she's hot."
Trent couldn't believe this kid. He was all of nineteen, maybe, and was game to hit on a thirty-two-year-old woman with an admitted dislike for men. He was either ridiculously confident, or ridiculously stupid. Obviously, he had no interest in self-preservation, because when the bedroom door opened-Trent's bedroom door, that is-and Rissi walked out in obvious preparation for battle, the kid only beamed. And why had she exited from Trent's Trent's room? Should he have thought more about all the sounds coming from the other side of his bedroom door all afternoon? He'd attributed it to her taking the dog out, but now he wondered if there had been more to it than that. room? Should he have thought more about all the sounds coming from the other side of his bedroom door all afternoon? He'd attributed it to her taking the dog out, but now he wondered if there had been more to it than that.
"Ms. Kincaid!" the kid gushed, leaving the pizza bag on the counter and crossing the room to, apparently, touch her. Then he went for a full-blown hug, and Rissi visibly stiffened. When he finally released her, she took a small step back and shot a look of concern to Trent. She was probably wondering why Trent didn't offer to save her from this kid's attack.
Trent grabbed a slice of pizza, held it up in mock salute, then took a bite. She'd bitten him, after all. Let her handle her young admirer on her own.
"I was hoping to meet ya," the boy continued. "I paid Trevor five bucks to let me make this delivery, 'cause I thought I might get to see you. This is actually Trevor's route. He's older, twenty-one, but I've been with the company longer. Anyway, I had to tell you that I think, well, I think you're really hot."
When she'd entered the living room, her fuming expression had been intact, but now she merely seemed shocked. She cleared her throat, while Trent continued to delve into the delicious medley of sausage, pepperoni, peppers, and cheese. The works. It was a pretty good pizza, after all. He turned to get a drink out of the fridge and left Rissi to fend for herself. Then he saw Petie eyeing his food bowl. Trent grabbed the bag of dog food off the counter and filled the silver dish. That's right; let her handle her potential stalker; we guys will stick together . . . and eat.
"You really are, you know? Hot, I mean. And I was wondering, well, when this week ends, would you want to give a guaranteed noncheating younger guy a chance . . ."
"I'm sorry," she said, shaking her head as though waking from a bad dream. "But-" She paused. "I didn't catch your name."
"Bud," he said, pointing to the nametag on his blue-and-red-striped s.h.i.+rt. Obviously, the kid got his s.h.i.+rt to match his braces, or vice versa. How cute cute.
"Bud, you want some pizza?" Trent called from the kitchen.
"No thanks, I get it for free at work, and I've already had some tonight."
"Suit yourself," Trent said, grabbing a second slice, while Rissi visibly panicked. Trent loved it. He grinned and took another bite. The second piece had more pepper than the first, and the open wound on his mouth started to burn. He winced and decided to make her pay. "Bud, you really should think about what you're asking. Ms. Kincaid may give you more than you bargain for. I have it under good authority that she bites."
Bud jerked his head toward Trent, pointing to his lower lip. "You did that?" he asked, turning back to Rissi.
Her dark brows drew together, and that wicked little curl on her temple seemed to hitch forward with the movement. It was a nice look, so Trent gave her a satisfied smile.
"Yeah, I did it," she said. "And if he gets near me a second time, I'll do it again."
"Wow! I've never had a woman who bites," the kid said, complete admiration in every word.
"Listen, Bud," she said. "I know you may not understand this, but I really don't have any desire to be with a man right now."
Trent choked on his pizza. Loudly. And she glared at him. Furiously.
She cleared her throat and continued, "I'm really into my e-zine, and that's going to keep me too busy to date. And, honestly, I believe there's probably a bigger age difference between the two of us than you may realize," she said apologetically, but Bud was obviously prepared for this argument.
"Oh, I don't think that's a problem," he said. "Look at Ashton and Demi."
Rissi's face drained of color, and Trent had to turn away to keep from laughing out loud. He picked up Petie's water bowl and filled it. "Here ya go, Petie," he said, placing it back on the floor. "Might as well have something to eat and drink while we watch the show."
"You're watching a movie tonight?" Bud asked. "Want some company? I could ask Trevor to cover for me."
"Sure," Trent answered. "Maybe you could even sleep over."
"I believe the rules for the contest state that we have to stay here alone," Rissi said, then shrugged. "Sorry, Bud, but I think you're going to have to leave."
Bud shrugged, too. "Well, if you change your mind about seeing a younger man," he said, winking, "then give me a call when the week ends." He withdrew a card from his s.h.i.+rt pocket and handed it to Rissi. "Like I said, it seems to be working out good for Demi."
"I'll keep that in mind," Marissa said, walking toward the door, then opening it for Bud's departure.
"You can keep the hot bag!" Bud yelled toward the kitchen. "The pizza will stay warm for hours in there, and I can come back and pick it up tomorrow."
"Wait," Marissa commanded sharply, then she softened her tone. "Wait right there, Bud."
"You gonna bite me?" he asked.
She didn't answer. Instead, she moved to the kitchen, where Petie was chomping on his dinner and Trent was chomping on pizza, and slid the remaining boxes out of the bag. Trent had already removed the supreme one and was working on his third slice. "Here you go, Bud. I wouldn't want you to have to make another trip," she said, carrying the warm red bag to the kid. "We appreciate you bringing the pizzas."
"Oh, you can thank Coleman and Speedy. They're the ones who paid for them."
"Here you go, Bud," Trent said, reaching around Marissa to hand him a healthy tip.
"Gee, thanks, man."
Marissa didn't even look at Trent. She merely continued facing Bud until Trent slid his arm back, grazing her side in the process, then returned to the kitchen.
Bud left, and the door slammed. Trent waited for the fallout. He didn't have to wait long.
"What do you think you're doing?" she asked, rounding the corner to enter the kitchen.
Trent took another bite, then swallowed. "You know, I could ask you the same thing. Or rather, I should ask what have have you been doing-in my room?" you been doing-in my room?"
She blinked a couple of times, shot a glance toward his closed bedroom door, and looked . . . guilty. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"What should I expect, Rissi? Itching powder in my bed? My sheets shortened? Or what?"
"None of the above," she said, then she scanned the sides of the pizza boxes and whipped open the one marked Cheese-plain Cheese-plain. Before Trent had a chance to ask any more questions, she bit into her first slice and slapped another one on a plate.
"Hungry?" he asked, deciding he'd figure out what she'd done to his bedroom later.
She continued chewing an oversized bite, then swallowed. "I'm starving. And a gentleman would have offered me something to eat when he fixed lunch. What was it, anyway? Grilled cheese?" She moved toward the table, sat down, then took another man-sized bite.
"Philly cheesesteak. The station stocked the place well," Trent said, taking the seat across from her. He could get used to this, sitting in the kitchen with Rissi, eating pizza together, while her dog happily ate his meal nearby. This was the closest he'd ever been to domesticated bliss, except for the fact that she had bitten him this morning. To remind her of the fact, he took another bite, and winced.
She stopped chewing, put her slice down, and swallowed. "Your mouth hurts?"
"You did draw blood," he reminded her.
"Well, you kissed me, what did you expect?"
"I expected you to kiss me back," he said easily, then added, "which you did."
"Reflex," she said, then turned her attention back to her pizza.
"Reflex, my a.s.s," he replied, and was rewarded with a guilty smile. "You've got sauce, right there," he said, pointing to one corner of her mouth.
She caught the drop with her tongue, then slid it back inside, while Trent recalled the way that tongue had slid between his lips this morning. "I'm sorry I bit you," she said quickly, "but really, did you actually think I wanted wanted you to kiss me?" you to kiss me?"
"I didn't think anything. I knew."
"You do realize that if we get together this week, or any time in the next twelve months, then we don't get the ad campaign, right?" she asked, finis.h.i.+ng off one slice and grabbing the other. "It'd be stupid for us to let anything happen, much less encourage it. Honestly, I thought you were smarter than that."
"So now you think I'm smart."
"A smart-a.s.s," she corrected, and tried to hide her smirk by biting off another piece of pizza. She swallowed too quickly, and her eyes immediately watered, then she started to cough. Her hand flew to her throat, and Trent jumped up from his seat. "Here," he said, raising her arms as she continued coughing.
"Dr-ink," she said.
He released her arms, then picked up his gla.s.s and held it to her lips.
Rissi took a few small sips, then slowly shook her head as her coughs subsided. Blinking through the tears, she rubbed her throat and grinned at Petie, concerned enough to leave his food in favor of licking her leg. "It's okay, Petie," she whispered raspily, then she looked up at Trent. "I'm okay now. Thanks."
"I'm not as bad as you thought?" he asked, returning to his seat and then reading the labels on the two unopened boxes. He grabbed the pepperoni one and withdrew a slice. "Want to try something beyond plain?" he asked.
"You're right," she said, finis.h.i.+ng off the slice of cheese pizza, then taking another of the same. "You aren't as bad as I thought, and no, I don't want anything else. I like plain."
"Nothing about you says plain," Trent said. He picked a circular piece of pepperoni off his slice and tossed it in his mouth.
She stood, moved to the refrigerator, and withdrew a c.o.ke. Then she popped the top and took a sip from the can. "You know, this meal doesn't seem to fit the image I'm sure most folks have for the CEO of Jackson Enterprises."
"I'm still the same kid you knew back then," he said evenly. "I never have gotten into the overly fancy stuff. The business aspect of the company, well, that's another story. I'm all for that, but the society c.r.a.p never appealed to me."
"Which is why I'd never seen your name or photograph in the paper until I put you on my site?" she asked as she brought her drink back to the table and sat down.
"That, and the fact that I hadn't done anything newsworthy," he said with a grin.
Trent noted the ease of her posture, the way she was thoroughly enjoying this meal, and him, without any animosity whatsoever, and he liked it. "Ready to call a truce?"
She laughed. "Just because you've ended up being something of a nice guy after all doesn't mean I'm about to give up that ad campaign. And I meant what I told that pizza boy, I don't have any desire to be with a man right now."
"Why is that?" he asked, and then remembered that fifteen of her site's cheaters had cheated on Rissi. No wonder she was gun-shy . . . of all men, Trent included.
"I just don't," she said, and Trent decided to leave it at that, for now. Eventually, though, he'd help her see that not all guys cheat. In fact, he could let her know tonight that his "offense" as a teen wasn't what she thought. And since that was the a.s.signment . . .
"We need to discuss what happened with the Sadie Hawkins thing. I really didn't cheat."
"It was twenty years ago, and we were kids. You don't have to explain." She gave him a smile. "I wish I'd never brought it up."
To Catch A Cheat Part 14
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To Catch A Cheat Part 14 summary
You're reading To Catch A Cheat Part 14. This novel has been translated by Updating. Author: Kelley St. John already has 74 views.
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