O Magnet (Titans of Tech #2) - Tessa Layne

Chapter One


"PENNY," I bellow from my office, ready to throw my laptop out the seventeenth-story window. She's done it again, and I don't have time for this shit. Not with Tokyo breathing down our throats for a new security update, Amsterdam yelling amended satellite specs, and a stack of reports from my top baseball scouts. All I'm seeing on my screen is a goddamned animated laughing emoji.

"PENNY," I holler again, louder, because she is taking god's sweet time, and I have five minutes before I'm supposed to be on a conference call.

When she finally appears in the doorway, her black and pink-streaked hair is piled high in a messy bun, and she's wearing her favorite Ramones tee. The same one from last night, and the one she was wearing the day we met. Her black skinny jeans are strategically torn, and she's wearing a pair of chucks the same shade as her pink streak. Even now, four years later, she could still pass for a high schooler. Her eye makeup is smudged and her eyelids are a little puffy. Looking at her, you'd think she'd stayed out all night tying one on instead of staying up all night checking and rechecking the security update we're about to deliver.

But what catches my attention is the shiny pink skin on her right forearm and a brand-new tattoo that wasn't there when I left the office after midnight last night. I eye it - a delicate pattern of vines and flowers that is at odds with the snarky brash young woman who's irritated me incessantly for the last four years. But I put up with it because Penny's brain is my kryptonite, and Steele Conglomerate would be sunk without her skills.

I scowl. "That's new," I bark. I shouldn't be bothered about the tattoo - I'm not Penny's minder. I made sure of that the day she came to work for us. But a big decision like a tattoo? It feels like a slap in the face. Especially when we've been working around the clock on this project for Tokyo.

Her green eyes sharpen and the barest hint of a smile pulls at the corner of her mouth. She saunters to my desk and swipes my coffee mug, draining the contents before releasing the rim with a big smack of her pretty pink lips. She lifts an eyebrow, as if daring me to comment. But we've played this game before, and I bite my tongue. "So's your flavor of the week," she sasses back, referring to the latest in a revolving door of women my mother keeps trying to set me up with.

"Did you order a side of brat with your breakfast?" I retort.

Wisely, she ignores me. "Sloane seems very personable. She's waiting for you in the foyer. I told her she'd outlasted the previous candidate by three days."

Sloane Harwig is nice enough, and her bod is slammin', but the fact she's been around long enough for Penny to remember her name tells me it's time to let her down gently. Even though I just spent four hours with her late last night and she's loosely affiliated with the baseball team we own. Work hard, play hard and all that. I have no intention of settling down. A fact my mother patently refuses to believe as evidenced by the string of women she brings by the office for "lunch".

"Is she bothering you?" I ask sharply. Penny rolls her eyes. Hard. Most people bother Penny. It's part of her charm. "Okay, let me rephrase. Is she preventing you from working?"

Penny lifts her brows and smirks.

Of course not. Hence the laughing emoji locking up my screen. "So this is what it's come to?"

She lifts a slender shoulder. "You should at least benefit from my babysitting skills in some way."

"I've got a meeting in five minutes," I growl. "And I'm paying you good money to run interference."

"Sleep deprivation was not part of our agreement."

Fair enough. "But you know late night's the only time things are quiet enough we can work without interruption."

Her eyes narrow. "And whose fault is that? I practically live here, and I run interference with your mother's Find My Son a Wife campaign." She air quotes. "I think I'm going to polish my resignation letter."

She's one-hundred-percent right. Steele Conglomerate has been growing exponentially, in large part because of Penny's mind. And even with a good team in place, I can barely keep up with the technological demands the growth is placing on our organization. Having Penny