Losing Control. Robyn Grady
had suffered a major falling-out. This year those coveted rights were back up for grabs. Cole had had a hard time getting Finlay to even talk. At this juncture, he couldn’t afford any perceived insults, like letting his guest sit around twiddling his thumbs.
In a near-sincere tone, Taryn said, “Thanks for taking the time, Mr. Hunter. I’m sure I’ll be fine from here.”
A pulse point in Cole’s temple began to throb. He had to get to that meeting. But, dammit, he wasn’t finished with Ms. Quinn just yet.
As Roman sauntered off, Taryn entered her new office, which was decked out with teak furniture and the latest tech equipment, including visual and audio state of the art. But she moved directly to the floor-to-ceiling windows. He imagined he heard her sigh as she drank in the billion-dollar harbor view, complete with iconic coat-hanger bridge and multistory-high Opera House shells.
Letting his gaze rake over the silken fall of her hair and the tantalizing curves concealed beneath that smart blue skirt, Cole leaned a shoulder against the doorjamb.
“You have qualifications other than in television production, Ms. Quinn?”
“I’ve worked in TV since attaining my Arts Business degree.”
“Then you’d have experience—held positions—in other areas within the industry, correct?”
“I started out as a junior production assistant and worked up through the ranks.”
“And my father was—” he scanned her skirt again “—suitably impressed by your credentials?”
When she angled around, her smile was lazy, assured. “As a matter of fact, Guthrie was more than impressed.”
“I make a point of having all my employees’ backgrounds screened, management particularly.”
“Heavens, you must have skeletons jumping out of closets all over the place.”
His mouth hooked up at one side. Cute.
He crossed his arms. “Any skeletons in your closet, Ms. Quinn?”
“We all have secrets, although they’re rarely of interest to anyone else.”
“I have a feeling I’d be interested in yours.”
Those big blue eyes narrowed then she strolled up to him, the deliberate sway in her walk meant to challenge. When she was close enough for the scent of her perfume to tease his nostrils, she stopped and set her hands on her hips. Cole exhaled. Poor Ms. Quinn. Didn’t she know he ate novices like her for breakfast?
“I’ve taken up enough of your time,” she told him. “Don’t keep your guest waiting. I’m sure your father will be along soon.”
He grinned. Damn, he could play with her all day, if only he had the time—which he didn’t. He pushed off the jamb.
“My father might have employed you, but I’m the one in charge of the books, and if your show doesn’t perform, production stops. That is, if I allow it to get off the ground in the first place.”
A shadow darkened her eyes. “My show will not only launch, it will be a new season smash. We’re bringing in A-list guests.”
“Choosing destinations that are considered rough as well as luxurious.”
“The host I have in mind is the most popular in the country. Voted Australia’s most eligible with a string of hits under his belt.”
Cole’s gaze flicked to her naturally bee-stung lips. “That’s the best you can offer?”
He imagined her quiver, as if a bolt of red-tipped annoyance had zapped straight up her spine. “I have a signed copy of the approved proposal as well as a contract setting my salary.”
“A contract which will be paid out unless your pilot is fresher than tomorrow’s headline news.”
An emotion akin to hatred flashed in her eyes. “Perhaps I should put a call through to my lawyer.”
“Perhaps you should.”
Any space separating them seemed to shrink while the awareness simmering in that steamy void began to crackle and smoke. Taryn Quinn whipped up his baser instincts to a point where he could forget she was an employee. In fact, right now he was evaluating her through the crosshairs of a vastly different lens. She pretended to be cool, in control. Would she be so restrained in the bedroom? Instinct said she’d set the sheets on fire.
She was saying, “And if I were to come up with something you hadn’t seen before?”
He gifted her with a slow smile. “Then, Ms. Quinn, I’d be happy to visit it.”
He asked that she get the original and revised proposal to him as soon as she had something that would knock his socks off. But as Cole made his way down the corridor toward his office and Liam Finlay, he berated himself. Normally in these kinds of situations he wasn’t distracted by sex appeal; that was playboy Dex’s vice. But the challenging blue depths of Taryn Quinn’s eyes, the impudent tilt of her slightly upturned nose, the fact he knew in his gut she was hiding something …
Thinking of those flaming sheets, Cole admitted, he was looking forward to prying open her closets.
“What do you think of the Commander?”
Familiarizing herself with her office LCD TV, Taryn glanced up. Roman Lyons had returned with two steaming cups in tow. Remote control in one hand, she accepted the coffee he offered while she grinned at Roman’s nickname for Cole.
“Cole obviously likes to run a tight ship,” she conceded.
“As much as he likes introducing newcomers to his infamous plank.”
“Sounds as if you speak from experience.”
“Cole has his fans—” bringing the cup to his mouth, Roman arched a brow “—as well as his foes.”
“Which side do you fall on?”
“On the ‘keeping my job’ side. To survive in this industry, you need to roll with the punches. But you’ve been around. You’d know all that.” He nodded at the static on the screen and gestured at the control. “This office was vacant for a while. I’ll tweak the settings.”
She handed over the control and watched as he concentrated to tune in channels, including internal feeds. Roman Lyons was good-looking in a saucy Hugh Grant kind of way. Certainly friendly, helpful and with a sense of humor, too. No wonder he rubbed “Trouble” the wrong way.
“Tell me how you came to be at Hunters,” Roman said, as his thumb danced over the remote’s keys.
“I had a long stint at the last network I worked for.” She mentioned the name and recited a few of their shows. “Last year, one of the executive producers asked for ideas for new series. He was interested in a couple of mine but ultimately passed. In the meantime another network approached me.”
“The industry does like to poach.”
“I declined their offer of an interview. I was happy where I was. But management heard about the communication and when information about a new show was leaked, they questioned my loyalty.” Remembering the scene when that EP had dressed her down, she shuddered and blew out a breath. Her direct boss was livid at his protégée’s treatment, but he had a family to feed. She’d insisted he not get involved. “That afternoon, my desk was packed up and I was out on the curb.”
Roman collected a second control off the stand. “TV is not for the faint of heart.”
“I could have filed a suit for unfair dismissal. But I decided to rise above it, take the payout and move on.”
“What happened to the network that wanted to poach you?”