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So, what are your plans for the holidays, X?"
Xavier leaned back in the leather chair and propped his legs up on his desk while glancing out the window at New York City's skyline. The Empire State Building was in his direct line of vision and looked massive against the dark blue sky overhead.
He had arrived in New York a few days ago to wrap up a business deal between the Northeast Division of Cody Enterprises and Oxley Financial Services. Cameron Cody's takeover of the investment firm was a done deal, and as the executive attorney for all Cameron's affairs, Xavier needed to be in place to make sure everything was handled as it should be. Not only was he considered Cameron's right-hand man, they were very close friends. That friendship had begun back at Harvard when the two had been struggling students, determined to become successful in life.
And now, just like then, they looked out for each other, so he wasn't surprised by Cameron's question. Cameron knew that Xavier's parents had left for their annual six-month missionary crusadethis year to Haitiand wouldn't be returning back to the States until sometime in the spring. "I'm not sure yet, Cam. I have a number of invitations out there."
Cameron's deep chuckle sounded over the speaker-phone. "Hey, don't brag about it. Not everyone is blessed to have five sets of godparents."
A frown settled on Xavier's face that was best not seen by anyone. "That could be a blessing or a curse," he said, shaking his head pensively. "Currently it might be the latter. Now that Uriel has married, some of the godparents are eyeing the remaining five of us. I'm not sure I want to be included in any of their get-togethers for the holidays. Thanksgiving was hard enough."
Everyone had been invited to Uriel and Ellie's place on Cavanaugh Lake. Former neighbors on the lake, the two had remodeled both their homes once married, combining them into one with an enclosed walkway. That meant plenty of space for sleepovers.
And it was nice having all six godfathers present as they retold the story of how they'd met at Morehouse and become close friends, and how on graduation day they'd promised to stay in touch by becoming godfathers to each of their children, and that the firstborn sons' names would carry the letters of the alphabet from U to Z. And that was how Uriel Lassiter, Virgil Bougard, Winston Coltrane, Xavier Kane, York Ellis and Zion Blackstone had come into existence.
"Well, you know you can add me and Vanessa to your list," Cam was saying. "You're always welcome to our place. We're doing Christmas in Jamaica this year."
Xavier couldn't help but smile. His friend sounded happy and contented. What man wouldn't be once he'd finally gotten the woman of his dreams? The former Vanessa Steele had been determined not to become involved with Cameron after his attempt to take over her family's business. Cameron, on the other hand, had been just as determined to win her over. Not surprisingly, Cam had succeeded and was a happily married man with a baby on the way.
"Thanks, Cam, but I think I'm going to use the two weeks I'll have off during the holidays to chill and relax. I'm even thinking about going someplace quiet. I might decide to visit Zion in Rome," he said.
Moments later after hanging up the phone with Cameron, Xavier stood to stretch, ignoring the pile of work sitting on his desk. Not only was he executive attorney to Cameron Cody, he also managed the legal affairs for several well-known Hollywood celebrities, which was the reason he had an office in Los Angeles as well.
Of all his clients, Cam kept him the busiest, which accounted for Xavier's additional offices in London, Jamaica and Paris. And since Cameron's newest brother-in-law, Quade Westmoreland, had a first cousin who was married to a sheikh, Cameron and Sheikh Jamal Yasir were anticipating a business venture that could now take Xavier to parts of the Middle East.
"Mr. Kane, those reports you ordered are ready."
He glanced over at the intercom on his desk before leaning over to press a button. "Thanks, Vicki. Please bring them in."
"With pleasure, sir."
Xavier shook his head. Vicki Connell, the woman who'd replaced Christine James, his New York administrative assistant, while she was out on an extended maternity leave, was determined to get inside his pants one way or the other. He knew the signs and had read those hidden seductive looks in her pretty dark eyes plenty of times whenever he came to town. All of that would be fine and dandy if he was interested, but he wasn't. And he downright hated admitting that he hadn't been gung ho about any woman getting into his pants since splitting with Farrah almost a half a year ago.
He didn't know what the hell was wrong with him since, typically, he wasn't the brooding type. He'd certainly never given a woman any lasting thoughts once things between them had ended. So why was he doing so now?
He walked over to the window and glanced out again. If the forecaster's predictions held true, a snowstorm would be hitting the city by Sunday, and Xavier wished he could return to Charlotte before that happened. He could kiss that wish goodbye since he was due to remain in New York for another week or so.
He heard the door opening behind him and then an ultra sexy feminine voice said, "Here are the reports, Mr. Kane. Will there be anything else?"
He slowly turned around at the same time Vicki was smoothing her short skirt down her thighs, at least as much of them that could be covered. He was convinced if she were to bend over he would find out what color her panties were.
He had to admit her outfit looked fine on her, but did nothing for him, other than reminding him how inappropriate it was for the workplace. But then the same thing held true for the outfit she'd worn yesterday. One of his godbrothers, York, who lived in New York, had dropped by the office to take him to lunch and had mentioned a number of times during their meal how good he thought Vicki had looked. Apparently he was impressed with her attire.
"Yes, there will be something else," Xavier replied to Vicki. As he spoke he watched lust flare in her eyes.
"Yes?" she asked, with anticipation flowing in her voice.
"Please have a seat."
She lifted a brow. "A seat?"
"In the chair?"
He inwardly smiled. Evidently she'd been hoping he meant spread-eagle on the desk. "Yes, Vicki, please sit in the chair."
When she did so, the hem of her skirt barely covered her thighs. "Yes, Mr. Kane?"
"How old are you, Vicki?"
After probably trying to figure out why he was asking, she said, "I'm twenty."
He nodded as he leaned against his desk. "And I understand you're attending classes at the university at night and working for a temp agency part-time."
She shifted in her seat to deliberately show more of a bare thigh. "Yes, that's right. I'm hoping to get hired here full-time during the summer so I can qualify for an internship next fall."
He wasn't surprised to hear that. Cody Enterprises had several internship programs available. Going to college had been a financial hardship for Cameron, so he was a firm believer in assisting college students whatever way he could. The internship program he had in place was just one way of doing so.
"I see no reason why that can't happen for you, other than for one."
She looked surprised. "And what reason is that?"
"You need to improve your attire in the workplace."
She actually looked offended. "I was told there wasn't a dress code here."
"There isn't one per se. However, a person trying to move up in a company needs to care about the image she projects."
She lifted her chin. "And just what kind of image am I projecting?"
"An image of someone who enjoys getting a lot of attention. You've become a distraction. Deliberately so. Every man in this building finds some excuse to come to this floor every day and your work is suffering because you're spending more time entertaining than taking care of business matters. I've yet to get that report that was due yesterday."
"It's not my fault those guys drop by and take up my time."
Xavier's gaze roamed up and down her outfit. "Isn't it?"
He didn't say anything, wanting to give her time to consider everything he'd said. "That will be all for now, Vicki," he finally said. "I hope we don't have to discuss this issue again and I hope to have that report on my desk before I leave today."
He took his seat behind his desk and watched her quickly leave the room. Moments later, while sitting staring into space, the truth hit him right between the eyes as to why he wasn't attracted to other women. He hadn't gotten Farrah out of his system.
Considering everything they'd shared for close to a year, that was understandable. Usually his affairs with women rarely lasted a couple of months. That was when the women began to get possessive, and Xavier had no interest in being tied down to one woman.
With Farrah things had been quite different. She'd never stamped a claim to any kind of ownership on him. He'd liked that. He'd liked her. And dammit, he missed her. He still wasn't sure why she had ended things between them, but he did have a hunch.
They had started getting too comfortable with each other, had fallen into one of those relationship routines where they just couldn't get enough of each other. That sort of addiction between two people was kind of scary since there was no telling where it could lead. Straight to their hearts was out of the question since falling in love was in neither of their plans. Still, the thought of doing something as drastic as ending things between them hadn't crossed his mind.
He'd been perfectly satisfied with how things had been going. She didn't ask for anything but gave everything. Hell, no woman could compare to her in the bedroom. And she had never questioned his activities when they weren't together. But then in his mind she'd had exclusive rights as his bed partner, although he'd never given them to her verbally. It had been something understood between them. He'd known she hadn't dated anyone else during the time he'd been her lover, and neither had he.
He reached for the report Vicki had delivered to him and, after flipping through a few pages, decided his concentration level wasn't where it needed to be today. This was New York. There was no reason he couldn't get back in the groove and begin enjoying life again. He had the phone number of a few ladies living here who were laid back and easy. The latter was the key word. He should give one a call, invite her to meet him somewhere for a drink. And then afterward, they could go to her place for a roll between the sheets. Hell, skip the drink, he would just go for the roll between the sheets. He hadn't had sex with a woman since Farrah. What was he waiting on? Christmas?
He glanced over at his calendar. And speaking of Christmas
it was only three weeks away, so if he was waiting on Christmas, he didn't have long, but he doubted his testosterone could last until then.
Xavier shrugged off the feeling that something was missing in his life. Instead, he thought about the woman he would pay a visit later tonight. Beth Logan was a flight attendant he'd met a couple of years ago and was a sure bet if she was in town. It wouldn't bother her in the least that they hadn't connected in over a year. She was known to be hot and ready whenever they got together in one of their uninhibited passionate romps.
He smiled. Yes, making a booty call tonight was definitely in order. All he needed was to stop somewhere to grab a bottle of wine, and he would be all set.
"So there you have it, Farrah," Frank McGraw said, handing the file to her. "The judge recommended the women seek mediation before officially going to court."
Farrah nodded as she scanned the file. She'd reviewed it already while on the plane from Charlotte since Frank's secretary had faxed a copy to her that morning before her flight. The case was interesting. Two best friends from high school, Kerrie Shaw and Lori Byers, had started a line of cosmetics right after college, investing equally in the start-up. Lori had eventually lost interest when she married and became a mother. Kerrie, still single, had continued to make the business prosper and, with Lori's blessings, had even moved things in another direction when she created an antiaging cream. Though Lori hadn't been actively involved in the company in over ten years, her new husband wanted Kerrie to buy out Lori's share at a percentage Kerrie felt was unreasonable, considering she was the one who'd made CL cosmetics into the mega-company it was today.
"So what do you think?" Frank broke into Farrah's concentration to ask.
She glanced up. "Like all the others, I find this case interesting."
"Well, you're the best damn mediator this firm has. I'm just glad you were able to change your schedule to accommodate us."
Farrah smiled. "What woman would turn down a chance to come to New York, especially in December? I plan to do some major holiday shopping while I'm here."
Frank chuckled. "Good luck. Forecasters predict a snowstorm by Sunday. Personally, I think it might be before then. If that happens, you won't get much shopping done."
Farrah stood, stuffing the file into her messenger case.