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(Prime Time #1) Inside Affair
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The older brother of my life-long best friend, Sean is a detective for the Chicago PD, and is also known as Detective “Dick” for being…well, a surly, temperamental pain in everyone’s ass. He also happens to be the best they have, which is why I find myself on his doorstep the night my life is threatened by an anonymous stalker.
I only wanted the name of a bodyguard; I didn’t expect for Sean to volunteer for the job. Now, not only do I have a bodyguard, I also have a fake boyfriend.
Going undercover has never been an issue in the past, so I don’t see why there’d be a problem now. Xander and I have known each other for years, so this should be a breeze. Except suddenly my stomach’s flipping when he looks my way, and my body comes alive whenever he brushes by me. I know I’m good at my job and playing a character and all, but this is getting out of hand.
I can’t be sure that either of us are playing anymore.
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“THAT’S ALL FROM us here at Global News on this Thursday evening. I’m Alexander Thorne, thank you for watching and good night.”
Aiming my familiar smile toward camera one, I watched the final words on the teleprompter disappear and then heard in my ear, “Aaaand we’re out. You’re all clear.”
I nodded toward the cameramen, indicating we were good to go, then shut my laptop as the door to the studio was pulled open and Jim Berkel—my executive producer—walked inside.
With his headpiece still in place but the microphone now shut off, he crossed the floor with a tight expression on his exhausted face and tried for a smile, which he failed at miserably.
“Good show tonight. Nice work. Especially the A and C blocks. They were very smooth.”
I gathered up the papers in front of me and eyed my EP closely. Jim and I had worked together for nearly six years now, him in my ear feeding me the most important facts and information about some of the biggest news events the country had ever seen. But in all the time that I’d known him, I couldn’t once remember him kissing my ass quite so spectacularly after a run-of-the-mill broadcast.
Over the last twenty-four hours, nothing catastrophic had happened, meaning the stories we’d run with tonight hadn’t been last minute and the material had been well prepared. So the grim line to his mouth and stress lurking in his weary eyes could only mean one thing—something was up in house. Something I wasn’t going to like.
“I agree, it was a good night. And as much as I appreciate your post-show wrap-up and review, why don’t you stop buttering me up and tell me the real reason you’re in here?”
“That is the real reason.”
“Somehow, I sincerely doubt that.” I pushed back from my desk, got to my feet, and pulled the earpiece from my ear. “You only ever rush in here after a show if I mess up or if Marcus is on the warpath—”
“Marcus wants to speak to you in his office.”
Damn it. I hated being right. But if Marcus St. James, the president of the news division, wanted to speak to you privately, it was never about anything good. “Why?”
“Do you really not know? Or know and just don’t want to tell me?”
“Does it matter?”
Not really. If Marcus called, you answered—that was just the way it went, even if your name was number one in the news world. “Tell him I’ll be up once I change.”
“He said now.”
Okay, then. I knew better than anyone else that if Marcus said jump, your only response better be: how high.
I unclipped my mic and earpiece and handed it to Jim as we exited the studio. Now that the night was winding down—well, our portion of it—the newsroom was a muted version of itself. Heads were bent over keyboards and eyes were glued to computer screens as everyone wrapped up their work for the evening, preparing to leave in the next hour or so. But as I passed by my assistant’s desk, Ryan looked up and pointed his pen in my direction.
“Wants to see me, I know.”
Ryan glanced at Jim, who was trailing my every step, and then added, “Yes, but he said alone.”
Fantastic. That didn’t bode well at all. This seemingly straightforward night was getting more cryptic and annoying as it went along. There were only two reasons a person was ever called into Marcus St. James’s office, and one usually ended with the person never setting foot in the building again.
But I hadn’t done anything wrong, not that I could recall, so what the Almighty upstairs wanted with me was anyone’s guess.
“Right. Tell him I’m on my way up, then, would you?”
As I walked off toward the double doors of the newsroom, I heard Ryan call out, “Sure thing, boss.” I pushed through them and made a beeline for the elevators.
Marcus’s office was two floors up, and as I got in and punched his number, I glanced at my watch. It was just going on six fifteen, and it was coming up on the end of my workday.
When the doors slid open and I stepped out into the hall, a wall-sized poster of my face with Global News with Alexander Thorne splashed across the image greeted me. It was the new promo that the station was rolling out for the summer, and as I stood there sizing myself up, I decided they hadn’t done a bad job.
With my new studio set of the world highlighted in blue and white lights behind me, it brought out my eyes and the silver highlights of my dark hair. All in all, it looked classy, sophisticated, worldly. In other words, exactly what the network had been going for.
I headed down the hall to Marcus’s office, passing by the desk where Carmen, his assistant, usually sat. It seemed she’d been dismissed for the evening, judging by the empty seat and otherwise sparse floor, and as I reached his office door, all I could think was lucky Carmen.