Stolen Angel:A Singular Obsession, Book Three

By: Lucy Leroux

“You know, he never used to leave the door open,” he said as he reluctantly put on his coat.

Ada was too tired to pay his comment any attention. She stretched in her chair. “Go home. I would be out the door if I was done.”

Her sleepless night was catching up with her. And she didn’t like to talk with Tim when she was tired and her defenses were down. Which made his habit of trying to coordinate their departure times so they could share a cab a little annoying. Especially lately. Time alone might mean another dinner invitation she couldn’t accept.

Tim finally left, and Ada ate her solitary meal at her desk and went to the break room afterward for her fourth cup of coffee of the day. Lingering at the window that afforded a partially obstructed view of the Manhattan skyline, she stood there lost in thought.

A steady job was a double-edged sword. It meant money and security, but she couldn’t socialize at all or let anyone close. She was actually lonelier now than in those jobs where she’d only stayed a few weeks or months.

Behind her, someone cleared their throat. Ada whirled around. Her boss was standing behind her, his tall muscular form still immaculate in a crisp suit and perfectly tied tie. In the beginning, she had wondered if he kept a duplicate suit in his office, which was equipped with its own closet, shower, and a long leather couch for the really late nights that turned into early mornings. She soon realized that Mr. Damov just never got messy or sweaty. Tim had nicknamed him the iceman. Since he never showed much emotion, Ada found the nickname fitting.

“I’m sorry I finished the coffee, Mr. Damov,” she said, mentally cursing to herself. “Would you like me to make more?”

She didn’t know why he liked the coffee in the break room. He had one of those fancy pod machines in his office, but he preferred the drip coffee from the machine the staff used.

“How many times do I have to tell you to call me Sergei?”

“Just one more,” she answered, as she always did.

Calling him by his first name seemed too relaxed for the image she was trying to maintain. She did use Sergei in her head, but insisted on using Mr. Damov when addressing him.

“I can make it,” he said, shaking his head as she reached for the coffee pot.

His rough, deep voice skittered along her nerves. Ada nodded and got out of the way as she sipped the lukewarm coffee from the previous pot. She didn’t know why she was on edge. They had spent plenty of time alone together. But usually someone else was still around in the background: Tim or Niko. Tonight the office was completely deserted, and she felt unaccountably nervous.

“He has a crush on you, you know,” he said suddenly.

Ada choked on her coffee. “What?”

Sergei came up behind her and gave her several hard whacks on the back.

“I’m okay, I’m okay,” she said holding up her hands.

Her back was stinging from the forceful blows.

“Are you sure?” he asked attentively.

She nodded and smiled awkwardly, itching to step away, but she was already trapped in the corner of the room.

“I meant Tim. He has a crush on you. Before you started to work here, he was out the door at the earliest opportunity. Now I have to order him to go home. He always tries to leave when you leave. And I heard he asked you to dinner.”

Startled, Ada stared at her boss. Niko must have told him all that stuff. The craggy-faced older Russian never missed a thing. Niko Zotov was another mixed blessing to working here. He was Damov Industries’ head of security. He and his team kept close tabs on Sergei, accompanying him wherever he went.

She had initially thought the four-man security team was a little excessive, but then Tim had told her that about a failed kidnapping attempt a few years ago. Niko had single-handedly foiled the attack, shooting one of the would-be kidnappers in the chest. After that, Sergei had expanded Niko’s team to its current number, all ex-military from Russia. Though Tim was English and she was actually Canadian, Sergei preferred men from the motherland when it came to his personal safety.

Sergei was still waiting for an answer. “He did ask, but I don’t think it’s because of a crush. He’s just friendly,” Ada lied, a little too aware of how close her boss was standing to her.

Sergei raised a brow. “I think you know that’s not true. And he’s not the only one. Half the men on this floor flirt with you. You always shut them down. Why is that?”

“Um,” Ada said, almost swallowing her tongue.

Sergei never talked about personal matters. It was one of her favorite things about her boss. And it definitely was not half the men. In fact, Tim was the only one she was sure about. The rest of the floor was just friendly. They had welcomed her with open arms. After the first week anyway.

“Hey, more than half the men on this floor are married,” she said, frowning.

It was more like three out of four. Sergei just smiled at her sardonically and ignored her comment the way he did all things he didn’t think worthy of discussing.

“Maybe you prefer the company of women? Although you also turn them down when they invite you to socialize after work.”