Uncovering Her Secrets
Copyright © 2015 Michelle Woods
All rights reserved
All rights reserved
December 24, 2010
Tina Kirkland couldn’t believe that she’d just had sex with a man she barely knew. She’d met him less than an hour ago and she was pressed against a wall with him leaning on the wall beside her, panting. He was still inside her actually and she couldn’t say that she regretted it. The man was a fantastic lover despite the fact that it had been a quickie against Mr. Stewart’s office wall.
Dear God, what the heck had she just allowed to happen?
Brent Elkins, the man in question, slowly pulled back, looking at her with a cocky grin that made her stomach twist warily because she had no idea what the heck she’d been thinking. He likely thought she was easy and she couldn’t blame that on him either. She shuddered to think what thoughts must be going through his brain about her at the moment.
“Want to go back to my place and finish this, sweetheart?” he asked, his hazel eyes darkening with renewed desire as he pulled free of her. He lifted his pants, stepping back and dropping the condom into the trash before pulling them up to button them.
She watched, pulling her skirt down, looking around the floor for her silk underwear. They were at fault for this, she decided. Yep, it had nothing to do with the fact that she hadn’t had sex in over a year and Brent was hot.
Not a damned thing! Okay, maybe it did but she was still blaming the silk hooker panties her friend Laney had convinced her to buy. That way it wasn’t her fault that she’d ended up sleeping with a man thirty minutes after meeting him.
What had she been thinking? Oh right, that he was hot and sexy.
He had three of the four things she looked for in a man: his own beauty didn’t overcome him even if he was a little cocky; he had rock-hard abs; and a good personality. He was only missing one thing and if he had that, she’d be a goner. That meant that she was going to go home with him because she needed to know if this was going anywhere between them.
Tina was still looking for her panties when Brent grinned and pulled them out of his pocket. “Looking for these, beautiful.”
“Yes, give me those,” Tina said, reaching for them.
“Nope, you might convince me to give them back if you go home with me tonight,” Brent said, grinning wickedly at her as he leaned back on Mr. Stewart’s desk with his legs crossed in front of him and her panties dangling from one hand. They twisted around his finger as he spun them in her direction wiggling his brows and she grabbed for them, her cheeks heated. No way was she walking through this party without her panties. It was bad enough that she’d just let him do her against the wall. Not wearing anything under her skirt would just make her feel more slutty than she already did.
“Fine, I’ll go home with you, but you have to give those back now!” Tina almost had them, she was only seconds from stealing them back from his light hold when he snatched them away.
He quickly stuffed them into his pocket again, chuckling as he moved away before she could try and get them from him. “No panties, sweetness. Not until I get you home with me. It’s turning me on just thinking about it.” He smiled a devilish smile. The same one that had led her slightly drunk libido into this ill-advised sex-after-twenty-minutes encounter in the first place.
She couldn’t believe that at the Stewart’s annual Christmas party for Seal’s Security she had just had a quickie against a wall. Dear God, she was in Laney’s father’s office for goodness sakes. Laney had been her best friend since she was twelve. Mr. and Mrs. Stewart were like her second set of parents and she’d just violated the man’s office. Her face reddened again when she thought of this insanely bad moment.
“Ah, sweetheart, there is no need to be embarrassed. This isn’t something I do often, I can promise you that. I don’t normally take a woman against the wall in my boss’s father’s study. This is a first for me too.” He grinned then and she wanted to kiss him again. He was like sex on a stick and she’d been without for a really long time.
“I don’t do this kind of thing ever. I––just know I’m not easy or slutty, okay,” Tina told him, feeling her face heat again.
“I already knew that, darlin’. I don’t think about you that way, I promise,” Brent said, suddenly looking at her with a serious expression. He placed his hand on her cheek. “I do however think that we need to explore this. Whatever it is. I need to feel your skin naked against mine. I think I’ll go insane if I don’t,” he whispered against her lips as he kissed her long and deep, his tongue caressing hers as he devoured her lips with his.
Tina’s brain seemed to shut down and her heart beat erratically. Her breath caught and she gasped, moving her hands to his shoulders, clinging to him. She couldn’t seem to get enough of this man’s touch. She moaned, the sound loud in the quiet of the room. His hands were on her hips holding her close and she could feel the thick hardness of his cock pressed against her leg.
After several more moments of impassioned kissing he jerked away, groaning. “Damn, we need to leave. I can’t wait long to get inside you again or I am going to go mad.” She smiled at him, too turned on to argue.
“I have to tell Laney I’m leaving or she’ll worry,” Tina whispered, brushing her hand down her skirt to be sure it wasn’t revealing her ass. Brent nodded, releasing her reluctantly.
“Okay.” He took her arm and began leading her out the door. Tina was still tingling from the kiss. Brent was heading towards Laney, who she could see standing on the other side of the room with Craig. Craig was smiling down at her with an indulgent look and Tina wondered when the two of them would admit that they were so hot for each other that they could hardly stand it. That was when Tina’s Christmas Eve became the worst night of her life.
“There you are, Brentie! I’ve been looking everywhere for you. I’m ready to go home and give you your early Christmas gift,” an annoyingly nasal voice said and Brent released Tina’s arm, his face going pale. Tina turned to see a woman in a white tube dress and red heels. She didn’t have an ounce of extra fat anywhere on her body and she was a bottle blonde.
“Crystal––ah–I– Excuse us for a moment, would you,” he said to the bottle blonde, guiding Tina to a small area a few steps away.
Crystal however wasn’t too pleased and called after them, “Brent, I am not going to wait for long. I need you.”
Tina wasn’t stupid and she knew that the other woman was offering to go home with Brent. Was he going around the party all night looking for an easy lay? Had she been one of many, she wondered, her heart breaking a little as she realized that she’d made a huge mistake with him.
“Tina, I know this looks bad, but I honestly forgot about her.”
“Look, it’s fine. It was nothing, we both drank a little much and…” Tina had held her hand up at the start of this speech to stop him from talking. This was too much; she was not going to let him see how much this hurt her. Brent was obviously a man-whore.
“No, Tina. Sweetheart, I just forgot I brought her. I will take her home and then you and I can––” Tina stopped Brent’s words with a hand on his chest. She’d thought he’d been flirting or working the party, but to find out that he’d brought the woman with him and then forgot about her while he had sex in the study with her was just too mindboggling.
“You brought her here?” Tina demanded, glaring at him, her heart picking up. She felt as if the ringing sound in her ears would never stop. How could he do this to her. Her hands shook as she tried to compose herself. She really was a slut, wasn’t she? At least she’d acted like one tonight and it wasn’t ever going to happen again, she promised herself coldly.
Brent looked pained and his hazel eyes pleaded with her. “Yes, but it’s not what you think. I didn’t remember her because of you. I saw you and I didn’t––no, couldn’t think of anything but you.” Tina couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Did he think she was an idiot? You didn’t forget you had a date and if you did, you where scum as far as she was concerned. Tina didn’t stop the cold hardness to her tone when she told the idiot what she thought of his “forgetfulness.”
“Bullshit, you’re just an asshole! Thank God I found out now instead of after I had wasted months on you.” Tina turned to storm away, but he grabbed her arm.
“Tina, sweetheart, please.” Tina didn’t know what came over her in that moment, she just knew she had to get away, so she slapped him across the face. The echo of the sound was loud in the suddenly quiet room. She looked around, her cheeks heating when she saw that everyone was looking at them. A large rather livid-looking handprint had appeared on Brent’s face and he looked pale and unhappy. Tina didn’t care; she just wanted to get the hell away from here.
Luke Stewart, her best friend’s brother, stepped over to them, looking between Brent and Tina for a moment before asking, “Is there a problem here?”
Tina was too embarrassed to stick around for any more of a show. Her cheeks flaming and her stomach in knots, she shook her head. “Nothing me leaving won’t fix,” Tina told him, turning to leave.
“Tina, wait,” Brent said, grabbing for her arm, but Luke grabbed him before he could catch it. Tina ran out the door to the garden intending to escape through the back when Laney came running after her. She was almost to the gate, tears threatening to flood her eyes with their overwhelming presence.
“Tina, are you okay?” Laney demanded, her face a mask of concern when she caught Tina’s arm before she could escape.
“I’m fine. Brent just ticked me off and now I’m embarrassed because I made a scene. I’m fine, Laney. Really. Just go back to the party.” Tina didn’t want to ruin her friend’s night. Craig hadn’t brought a date to this event. Normally he did, but tonight he seemed to be paying attention to Laney and she didn’t want to mess that up for her. Seal’s Security was finally successful after a year in business and she was happy for her friend. Tonight’s debacle wasn’t going to ruin things for Laney.
“Come back to the party then. It’s fine, everyone knows that Brent can be a jerk. Please don’t leave,” Laney asked, still not wanting to let her go.
“Laney, I don’t feel much like a party anymore. I can’t go back in there after I made such a fool of myself in front of everyone,” Tina whispered, leaning on the fence wishing that this night was over. This had been the worst Christmas Eve ever.
“If you’re sure? I’ll call you tomorrow. You’re coming to dinner, right?” Laney asked.
“Of course,” Tina replied. She’d been attending Christmas dinner at the Stewart’s for years, ever since her mom had died when she was eighteen. “I’ll see you then, okay?”
“All right, but don’t think I don’t know that there’s more to this story than you’re telling me,” Laney grumbled, making her smile. Laney knew her better than anyone ever had and she wasn’t surprised her friend knew that she wasn’t telling her the truth.
“I’m just not ready to talk about it, okay,” Tina told her, knowing that she never would be because she had really thought for a brief time that she might be able to see herself with Brent. Until she found out he was the kind of man who took one woman to a party and then tried to leave with another.
“Fine, I’ll call you in the morning.”
“Sounds good.” Tina escaped out the back and ran to her car, the tears finally escaping to run down her cheeks as she crawled into her car.
February 10, 2015
Tina walked across the hallway into the office, her heart pounding. Unease filled her because what she had just discovered was bad. Really, really bad. Like the government would want to know kind of bad and she wasn’t sure what the heck to do about it. She wasn’t sure if she should do anything. Mr. Clark was stealing money from one of their FBI accounts. This was bad.
Tina felt her stomach turn because this was the kind of thing people got killed for in movies and she was only twenty-eight. She didn’t want to die at twenty-eight. She stared at the blank computer screen, wondering what the hell she’d followed the errors in the system for anyway.
Why was she such a stickler for things being correct? If she’d just ignored it and went about her business, she wouldn’t be here contemplating what to do about this. She wouldn’t feel like her heart was going to pound out of her chest and her hands wouldn’t be shaking as she gripped the desk trying to stop the trembling.
God, was she going to have to move away from the only family she knew? Enter the witness protection program and leave them all behind? Maybe she didn’t have to tell anyone. She could pretend she’d never seen the proof. She nodded in agreement at that thought, only to shake her head.
Damn it, no, she couldn’t do that, it would slowly eat at her soul because what Mr. Clark was doing was against the law. Her cell phone began ringing and she jumped, letting out a screech. Then she shook her head and dug it out of her bag, which was in her desk drawer.
“Hello,” Tina answered in a squeaky voice.
“You better not be still at work, Tina Kirkland! You’re supposed to be here in thirty minutes and I don’t want any excuses,” Laney growled angrily.
Still a bit out of sorts, it took Tina a minute to remember that she was supposed to meet her best friend and her husband Craig at their place for dinner tonight. Crap, she had been so distracted by this money trail that she had forgotten. She looked at the clock seeing that it was just after six in the evening.
“I’m on my way, Laney,” Tina told her, shaking the mouse on her computer. The files she’d been searching were still on the screen. She pulled a thumb drive that she usually used to backup her files from the top drawer. She dumped everything that was on it into the trash and copied the proof onto the drive.
“You had better be! You canceled on me the last two times I invited you because you were working. I won’t be happy if you do it again, Tennie,” Laney told her, the annoyance in her voice coming through loud and clear. Tina cringed at the nickname that had started a little over a year ago and annoyed her to no end.
Tina felt guilt slide through her because she had been canceling on her friend a lot lately. Her only excuse was that Laney was so very happy with Craig for the last year that Tina sometimes felt like a third wheel in their relationship. Not that either of them made her feel that way on purpose; they were just so happy they didn’t realize it was a bit awkward for those around them.
The files were finally done and the hundred percent flashed across the screen, making her wonder what the hell she’d do with this damned evidence. It was going to change her whole life and it was just a freaking thumb drive. Tina wanted to cry as she pulled it from the computer and began closing out the files she’d just copied. This was crazy, absolutely crazy.
“Are you listening to me, Tina! ” Laney demanded, bringing her back to the conversation she was supposed to be having with her best friend.
“Yes, I am. I will be a few minutes late but I am on my way. I promise!” Tina cried into the phone as she grabbed the small amount of her personal items that were on her desk. Scooping them into her thankfully large purse, she took the thumb drive and stuffed it into the small zippered pouch, then grabbed her coat off the back of the chair.
“You’d better be. Drive safe and get here as soon as you can. Love ya,” Laney said before she hung up.
She pulled on her coat and looked around the office one last time to be sure she wasn’t forgetting anything important.
Her heart pounded in her ears as she moved towards the door. She was a few steps away from her office when she heard a voice behind her. Her heart jumped to her throat and she felt like she was going to pass out because the voice belonged to Mr. Clark. Tina knew her hands were trembling and her palms were sweaty. She wanted to run but forced herself to turn and smile instead.
“Hi, Mr. Clark. Just headed out to dinner with friends,” Tina offered up and almost wanted to smack her forehead at this ridiculous statement. She was never that friendly but thankfully Mr. Clark didn’t seem to notice.
“That’s nice. I’m headed out myself. My wife and I are meeting our children for my wife’s birthday,” he was saying as he walked beside her.
Tina wondered if his wife knew about the embezzling and if she did, was she in on it. She wanted to ditch him and run from the building but she couldn’t, not if she wanted to get out of here. She had a feeling that he wouldn’t be too happy to know that she knew about his embezzling.
Tina tried to steady her racing heart with a few deep breaths without letting on that she was taking them. It was much harder than it may seem to walk calmly down the hall with the boss you’d just discovered committing a crime that could send him to jail for a very long time.
“That’s wonderful. I hope you have a good time,” she told him with false brightness, trying to act as if she wasn’t panicking inside her head even as her inner voice screamed at her to get the hell away from him.
“Yes, we always meet for dinner every year on each of our respective birthdays. It’s always so hard to get you young people to stop long enough to visit. This way we get to see them at least at our birthdays and theirs.” Mr. Clark chuckled and shook his head.
Tina was reminded again why when she’d found the evidence earlier she’d been so shocked. Mr. Clark reminded her of a kindly grandfather type who wouldn’t harm a fly. He wasn’t what a person would expect a man stealing millions of dollars to look and act like. He seemed to live a modest life and he wasn’t clipped and rude. He was friendly and didn’t set off any alarms, which she supposed made him the perfect criminal. The kind you least expected.
“That’s nice. My mom and I used to do the same before she passed,” Tina told him, realizing she was babbling but unable to help herself under the circumstances. She wanted to get the heck out of this conversation and this building. Preferably alive.
She felt like she was in a crazy spy movie having to act all calm and collected when inside she was a screaming mess. She suddenly wanted to get rip-roaring drunk because she knew that her life as she had known it was over. After tonight, she couldn't come back here to the job she loved or to the huge pension that she was two years away from receiving. Damn, sometimes doing the right thing sucked.
The elevator doors came into view and she reached out, pressing the down button. She didn’t want to be trapped inside the tiny space with Mr. Clark; the thought made her stomach turn as her hand gripped the straps on her purse more tightly. They stepped through the open doors of the elevator and as the doors closed at what seemed like a snail’s pace, she prayed for it to go faster. Her palms began to sweat and she wanted to scream, her body felt so tense.
“Ah, yes, she passed when you were young, didn’t she?” Mr. Clark asked, a look of sympathy on his face.
“A little over eleven years ago when I was eighteen. It was cancer.” Tina felt her heart squeeze a bit thinking about her mom. It was hard sometimes, even with so many years to cushion the blow.
She and her mom had been really close, a relationship that had gotten even closer when her father had died in a plane crash when she was twelve. After his death, it had been her and her mom against the world. She was glad that the Stewarts had been in their lives by then. They’d helped her mom raise her and they had kept her sane when her mom had been so sick. Marie Stewart, Laney’s mom, had been a godsend. She’d helped Lily, Tina’s mom, to her many appointments and had even moved Tina and her mom in with them that last year when she’d been unable to get out of bed for longer than an hour.
After her mom had died it had been Mr. and Mrs. Stewart who’d made all the arrangements and Tina was grateful for them. She had been in no condition to do it herself. She wasn’t even able to think about finals and getting into the college she’d worked so hard to attend for the last three years.
Marie had made sure she got the extensions she needed for her testing and talked with the college admissions board about her starting the second semester due to her circumstances. She would never be able to repay them for all they’d done for her and her mother. They were her family just as much as Laney and Luke were.
“Yes, I’m sorry, my dear. Having lost my own mother about six years ago. I know that the blow never gets any easier.” Mr. Clark placed his hand on her shoulder and it took everything inside her not to flinch away from him.
Although she would have to rethink the guy-out-to-kill-her bit; perhaps he was just a man who’d made a bad choice. Maybe the witness protection wouldn’t be necessary. Maybe she was overreacting and this wouldn’t be such a life-changing event. After all, this wasn’t a movie, it was real life, and things were never as dramatic in real life as they seemed in the movies. It was silly of her to overreact like a bad actress in a B movie.
As the elevator descended, she looked at the unassuming elderly man beside her. He was in a three-piece blue suit, with a red tie and black dress shoes. He looked like you’d expect the manager of a major accounting firm to look: unassuming and boring.
She felt like she might have been having a bit of a freak-out over nothing. The thought that this man would come after her to kill her was kind of laughable really. She stood staring at him for a moment inside the small space. Mr. Clark smiled at her kindly.
“Yes, it’s still hard. I miss her every day. She was an amazing woman,” Tina told him, feeling a bit silly for her earlier panic.
“I bet she was, dear.” Mr. Clark smiled again, his hand still clutching his worn leather briefcase. They chatted about an account Mr. Clark was trying to start with a multimillion dollar company that she knew would be a huge asset to the firm. For a moment the night almost seemed normal and Tina relaxed. They talked until the elevator pinged that they were in the garage.
They both exited the elevator and Mr. Clark told her to have a good evening out and she returned the words absently, wondering what she’d been panicking over. She wasn’t going to need to enter witness protection because she had found this evidence, she was just going to have to deal with the publicity. This wasn’t the movies and she laughed at herself for acting silly as she drove over to Laney and Craig’s place.
She managed to make it there only about twenty minutes late. She pulled into the small drive and turned off the engine, staring at the five cars already there. She wanted to start the car back up and drive the hell away when she noticed a familiar blue Ford four-door. Damn it, why hadn’t Laney told her he was coming?
As soon as the thought occurred to her, she already knew the answer; it was because she would have made another excuse not to come. She didn’t want to deal with this tonight. She was already too strung out from her earlier scare. Not that it hadn’t been silly, but it was still affecting her mood.
She was debating leaving when Laney came out of the house rushing towards the car. Tina sighed because she knew that Laney wasn’t going to let her leave. She got out and after locking the car, glared at Laney.
“Before you say anything, I didn’t invite him!” Laney told her desperately. “Luke did. I couldn’t tell him to get out when he was already here.”
“You could have told me!” Tina cried, feeling betrayed by her best friend.
“No, because I haven’t seen you in over three weeks and we normally spend a lot of time together. I know it’s selfish but I miss you. You don’t even have to talk to him,” Laney said as she hooked her arm in Tina’s and began dragging her towards the house.
“That never works. He always manages to corner me and you know it. He can’t help it. He has to poke me,” Tina growled as she allowed Laney to drag her inside the house.
Tina didn’t mention that he always seemed to manage to convince her to let him screw her again too. She’d slept with him nineteen times in the last four years and every time she felt like a fool, Mostly because she knew it meant nothing to him and to her it did. It was the reason she couldn’t seem to make a relationship stick. Because of that he was the only man she’d had sex with for the last four years. Not that he afforded her the same courtesy. No the man was just as much of a man-whore as he’d always been, damn it. It broke something inside her every time she saw him with another woman.
“Did he bring one of his bimbos?” Tina demanded angrily, needing to brace herself for it if he had because she hated when it bombarded her without warning.
“Jeez, Tennie. That was cold. They’re not all bimbos, you know.” Laney raised a brow at her cruel words and she knew that she was being unfair. Only she didn’t care. She hated every one of those women he paraded in front of her over the last four years while he tried to convince her to let him date her.
Why? So she could be used and then discarded like all the other bimbos he dragged around on his arm. Not happening. She glared at Laney, still wanting an answer.
“Stop with the glaring. No, he didn’t bring anyone, okay. I don’t get why that would be a problem anyway.” Laney eyed her with a curious look like she was trying to figure out what was going on in her head.
“Think about it, Laney. Half of them can’t even tell their left from their right. Remember Bambi last year? The next door neighbor with the fake boobs who almost set the kitchen on fire because she was trying to light her cigarette.”
“I remember and yes, I agree she was an idiot. Casey wasn’t bad, she was the girl he brought to the picnic we had last Fourth of July,” Laney shot back, playing devil’s advocate.
Tina hated her the most because she’d made Brent laugh. Most of the women he ignored but he’d spent all day catering to Casey and had seemed actually interested in what she had to say. He’d also laughed a lot that day and she’d wanted to rip out every hair on Casey’s head because she hated it. It was crazy because she shouldn’t want the man so much she was turning into a catty bitch, but she did.
Tina didn’t want to be in a relationship with a man who couldn’t or wouldn’t commit. Only she wanted Brent and she didn’t like it. She hated it actually.
“Come on, enough with the whining! He’s here, you’re here and you can ignore each other,” Laney said as she pulled her into the house behind her. Tina sighed and let her because although she hated to admit it. she wanted to see him.