“You must be joking,” Brandi said.
Jail didn’t sound nearly as bad as being close to this egotistical windbag. He had a nice *ss, but he was also an *ss.
“Do I look like I’m joking?”
She waved her phone. “I have photos of your wrongdoing. I doubt that you have the upper hand here.”
“You’re sure those photos are of my wrongdoing?”
She hadn’t had a chance to look too closely at what she’d photographed, but why would Zach have a folder on his desk from someone else. No. He was trying to distract her. “I have the photos, Zach. You didn’t make me delete them.”
He lifted the photo. “You’re sure this is my wrongdoing?”
What was he getting at? Of course, it was his wrongdoing. “Zach, I’ve caught you. I’m going to the police.”
“I’m not going to stop you, but you might rethink my offer. Prison is no good. You’ll never get a job as an accountant or in real estate. You’ll besmirch your name.”
“My name? You’ll be finished. I’ll testify to what I found.”
He cocked his head. “Do you even know what you found?”
She stabbed her finger at the folder. “Payoffs. You built a building illegally and paid people off to do it.”
“It’s not my building. You’ll embarrass yourself if you pursue this. I have a case against you for spying on me. The cameras will tell that story.”
He was making her doubt what she’d seen. “That folder isn’t real?”
“It was a trap, Miss Marsing, and you fell for it.”
He opened the folder and let her look at it. She flipped through the pages. She couldn’t figure out where the building was.
“If you look at the address, it’s not even in this town.”
“You trapped me?”
“You can’t cheat an honest man,” Zach said.
What was going on? He knew she was here to spy on him. Why wasn’t she being walked out the door? She sat down. “I don’t get it.”
“What don't you get? I figured your father sent you here to spy on me. I’m not a fool, Miss Marsing.”
But Brandi felt like one right now. “You could fire me.”
“I could, but what fun would that be?”
She eyed him. He was loving this and she wanted to wipe that smirk off of his face. He leaned his hands on his desk.
Wait. She could use this to her advantage. If he wasn’t going to fire her, she could still stick close to him. He had to make a mistake at some point. She’d be there and use it against him. She pretended to mull things over.
“Okay. You trapped me. You could fire me. Have me perp-walked out of here. Why not?”
“Because I always have a larger agenda and a bigger plan.”
Well, so did she. The information was somewhere in this office. She’d find it eventually. Until then, she could play his game. “So what’s with the fiancé idea?”
“You’re ready to listen?” he asked.
“Sure. Go ahead.”
Dazzle me with your plan was what she was thinking.
“As I said, a few women are circling me like vultures and unless I can convince them to go away, I have a feeling that one or more of them will end up conveniently pregnant. I have no wish to have children or support payments so you could act as my fiancé and stave off these women.”
She pondered that then tucked away that information. It could be useful at some point in the future. She didn’t know when, but she’d figure it out. “You think that a fiancé is going to stop a gold digger?”
“It could slow her down and seeing as I know your agenda, to find dirt on me, I can trust you not to be interested in my money.”
“You’re trusting me as your fiancé, but not in your business.”
“Exactly. You catch on quick, Miss Marsing.”
Why did she hate how that sounded when he said it? She was Brandi. He only had a decade on her and he insisted on such a formal moniker. He probably did it to rankle her. “Lay out your terms.”
“I’ll make an announcement in a press release that we are engaged. You will accompany me to events and move into my penthouse.”
“I’m not moving into your penthouse.”
“I don’t think you have any negotiating points, here.”
He had a point. If she had no dirt on him, she had no leverage. Not yet, at least. She’d keep looking, but she’d be more subtle. “So I’m supposed to move in with you. I want my own room.”
“Will I still be your personal assistant?”
He laughed. “You’re still going to look for dirt on me.”
It wasn’t a question so she didn’t answer. “Well?”
“Yes, fine. You are useful that way. If you weren’t so easy on the eyes then I might reconsider your position.”
Easy on the eyes. No one had ever called her that. In her mind her good looks were irrelevant. If her looks were getting her the position, she takes it as much as it made her bristle. She had a great resume and an even better brain.
Brandi would enjoy bringing this guy down even more so because he thought her looks mattered. “At the salary, we talked about?”
He studied her for a moment. “You are a barracuda. Yes. Your employment doesn’t change, just your living arrangements. Is there a boyfriend you need to break this to before I announce?”
She cleared her throat. “No.”
“Good. It would be a complication.”
If he wasn’t wielding his power against her, she might find it sexy. He had a confidence about him borne of success.
A knock on the door interrupted them. Kendra poked her head in. How would Zach explain this to her or did he trust her enough to tell her the truth.
A man like Zach trusted very few people.
“Hey, Kendra. We’ll be done here in a few minutes,” Zach said. “You and I will need to speak before Miss Marsing and I begin our day.”
“I’ll print out and email your schedule,” she said, then left, closing the door.
Brandi could only imagine what Kendra had seen in her tenure here. Might be a good idea to make friends with Zach’s assistant, test that loyalty.
Brandi turned back to Zach. “I need a few days to get things together before I can move into your penthouse.”
“It won’t be a hardship. My building has all of the amenities you could possibly need.”
“I’ll have to tell my father.”
“Oh, no. He’s going to hear it just like everyone else,” Zach said.
He looked like he was enjoying that idea far more than she thought he should.