The Takeover Page 2

“Tristan Miles?” he asks.

I frown. How did he know that? “Yes . . . actually.”

“He has the private dining room booked upstairs.” He gestures to the stairs.

“Of course he does,” I mutter under my breath.

Marley curls her lip in disgust, and we make our way up. The top floor is empty. We look around, and I see a man out on the balcony on his phone. Perfectly fitted navy suit, crisp white shirt, tall and muscular. His hair is longer on top, dark brown with a curl. He looks like he belongs in a modeling shoot, not the snake pit at all.

“Holy fuck . . . he’s hot,” Marley whispers.

“Shut up,” I stammer, in a panic that he will hear her. “Act fucking cool, will you?”

“I know.” She hits me in the thigh, and I hit her back.

He turns toward us and flashes a broad smile and holds up a finger, gesturing he will be just a moment. I fake a smile; he turns his back to us to wrap up his call, and I glare at his back as my anger rises. How dare he make us wait. “Don’t speak,” I whisper.

“Can I whistle?” Marley whispers as she looks him up and down. “I totally want to wolf whistle the fuck out of this guy. Asshole or not.”

I pinch the bridge of my nose—this is a disaster already. “Please, just don’t speak,” I remind her again.

“Okay, okay.” She does a zip-her-lips-closed gesture.

He hangs up his call and walks toward us, confidence personified. Smiling broadly, he holds out his hand. “Hello, I’m Tristan Miles.” He’s all dimples and square jaw and white teeth and . . .

I shake his hand. It’s strong and large, and I’m immediately made aware of his blazing sexuality. The buzz he gives me makes me take an involuntary step back. I don’t want him to know that I find him attractive. “Hello, I’m Claire Anderson. Nice to meet you.” I gesture to Marley. “This is Marley Smithson, my assistant.”

“Hello, Marley.” He smiles. “Nice to meet you.” He gestures to the table. “Please take a seat.”

I sit down with my heart in my throat—great. As if I wasn’t ruffled already; he didn’t have to be good looking as well.

“Coffee? Tea?” He gestures to the tray. “I took the liberty of ordering us morning tea.”

“Coffee, please,” I reply. “Just cream.”

“Me too,” Marley adds.

He carefully pours us our coffees and passes them over with a plate of cakes.

I clench my jaw to stop myself from saying something snarky, and finally, he takes a seat opposite us. He undoes his suit jacket with one hand and sits back in his chair. His eyes come to me. “It’s nice to finally meet you, Claire. I’ve heard so much about you.”

I raise my eyebrow in annoyance; I hate that his voice is husky and sexual. “Likewise,” I reply.

I glance down and notice the black-onyx-and-gold cuff links and the fancy Rolex watch; everything about this guy screams money. His aftershave wafts between us. I try my hardest not to inhale—it’s otherworldly. I glance over at Marley, who is smiling goofily as she stares at him . . . totally besotted.

Great.

He sits back, relaxed and confident, cool and calculating. “How has your week been?”

“Fine, thanks,” I reply, my patience being tested. “Let’s just cut to the chase, Mr. Miles, shall we?”

“Tristan,” he corrects me.

“Tristan,” I reply. “Why do you want to meet with me so badly? What could possibly warrant you calling me five times a week for the last month?”

He brushes his pointer finger over his big lips, as if amused, and his eyes hold mine. “I’ve been watching Anderson Media for some time now.”

I raise my eyebrow again. “And do tell—what have you learned?”

“You are letting staff go every month.”

“I’m downsizing.”

“Not by choice.”

Something about this man rubs me the wrong way.

“I’m not interested in what you’re offering, Mr. Miles,” I snap. I feel a sharp kick under the table to my ankle, and I wince in pain. Ow . . . that hurt. I glance at Marley. She widens her eyes in a shut-up-now signal.

“How do you know I want to make you an offer?” he replies calmly.

How many times has he had this conversation? “Don’t you?”

“No.” He sips his coffee. “I would like to buy your company, but I’m not offering a free pass.”

“Free pass,” I scoff.

Marley kicks me again . . . oh shit, that hurt. I throw her a dirty look, and she fakes a broad smile. “Happy, happy,” she mouths.

“And what do you mean by a free pass, Mr. Miles?”

“Tristan,” he corrects me.

“I’ll call you whatever I want.”

He gives me a slow, sexy smile, as if loving every minute of this. “I can see you’re a passionate woman, Claire, and that’s admirable . . . but come on. Let’s be serious here.”

I roll my lips, willing myself to stay silent.

“The last three years your company has run at a massive loss. You’re losing advertising accounts left, right, and center.” He steeples his hand on his temple as he stares at me. “I’m guessing the financials are a nightmare.”

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