Owned (Office Intrigue #8) - Nicole Edwards Page 0,1

entire joint, squeezing just enough to have his arm going numb. “Next time you think of being nice to her, I’ll break your fingers. One by one.” I leaned down to his level. “Then I’ll feed them to you.”

The man howled, his knees buckling as my fingers dug deeper into the nerves.

“Okay. Yes.” He attempted to shrug off my hold. “I won’t touch her again.”

I released him, my eyes shifting to the woman. More specifically the way she was rubbing her arm, her expression pinched from pain.

The bullshit excuse for security stormed off in a huff, but I was more interested in the big brown eyes peering up at me.

“Are you okay?” I took her wrist, pushed her sleeve up, and gently raised her arm to study the angry red marks the bastard had left on her flawless pale skin.

Her eyes locked on the spot where my skin touched hers, but she didn’t pull away. “Yes. I’m fine. Look,” she said softly. “I really am sorry. I’m not trying to crash the party. I just need to find my brother.”

I motioned her out of the path of the other guests, hoping they would redirect their attention now that the show was over. “Who’s your brother?”

“Ransom Bishop.”

Well, wasn’t this an interesting turn of events? I’d known Ransom Bishop for many years, and never had I learned he had a sibling.

“He’s not here,” I told her.

Her eyes widened and a glimmer of fear glinted in those mesmerizing amber eyes, replacing the determination. “He’s not? He said he would be here.”

I motioned toward the front door. “I saw him leave about an hour ago. Said he had to take care of something.”

Her hand covered her mouth. “Oh, God.”

Releasing the wrist I’d inadvertently been running my thumb over, I motioned for her to step toward the hallway. No sense causing another scene.

“Have you tried calling him?”

“Yeah, but … he didn’t answer.” She exhaled her exasperation. “He does this sometimes. When he’s busy.”

“And you suspect he’s busy?”

She offered a half shrug. “Must be. If not, his memory’s going, because he forgot to pick me up.”

Before we could continue our conversation, footsteps sounded behind me. I knew from the scurry of feet that there was more than one person coming my way. With my body blocking the woman from view, I glanced over my shoulder, narrowed my eyes at the leader of the pack of assholes.

“Hey. She can’t be here,” he barked, glaring up at me as though he might have the mind to take matters into his own hands should I not heed what was clearly a warning.

When I didn’t budge, he attempted to look around me.

As though it was my sole position in life, I didn’t move, keeping her sheltered between my body and the corner, my back to the room. There was no way he could see around me unless he forced me to move. Or tried, anyway. Which he wouldn’t. Not if he knew what was good for him.

“She can’t be here,” he demanded again.

I turned my attention back to the woman while I continued to speak to the man who was making a feeble attempt at passing himself off as security. “She’s here. And she’s not leaving until I say she’s leaving. Understand?”

Ransom’s sister craned her neck, staring up at me. I could sense her trepidation, but I could tell I wasn’t the one causing it. Nor did she seem the least bit perplexed by the jackass with the superiority complex. Since I was acting as a wall between her and the men who were determined to drag her out, she was safe from them.

Which begged the question: what had her so worried?

“Look, man,” the guy muttered, his voice lower but no less adamant. “I’m not some submissive you can boss around. I’m TJ Arlington’s second-in-command.”

Very, very slowly, ensuring he could see my displeasure with the interruption, I turned to face him, because clearly he wasn’t going to get the message otherwise. “Well, why didn’t you lead with that?”

The smug look he gave me said he saw himself as far more important than he was.

“If you had…” I pretended to consider it for one heartbeat, two. Then shook my head, smirked. “No. It would’ve had no impact whatsoever.”

He frowned. “I’m sorry?”

“You should be.” I lowered my voice to a guttural growl. “I don’t give a fuck who you are. I suggest you scurry off, find me the top dog. Perhaps he’ll have a bit more respect for Mr. Arlington’s guests.”

“She’s not