His responding laugh is a cackle. “Yeah, but you never read the books. You make me read the books and tell you what happens. Plus, the only reason you go is because your rich and insane buddies make it impossible not to go. I field at least fifty calls from them days prior to every one of your little book club meetings.”

“Damn, Carey. And here I thought I had the only assistant among my friends who was pro-balls. Turns out, you love busting them just as much as they do.”

Caplin Hawkins, Milo Ives, Thatcher Kelly, Kline Brooks, Quincy Black, Trent Turner, Wes Lancaster, and Harrison Hughes—the members of my book club and some of my best friends—all have women dedicated to keeping their business ships afloat and sailing straight. Some of them are more hard-core than others, but none of them takes any shit.

Which is exactly what these kinds of men need.

It’s the same quality they’ve found in the women in their lives outside of the office—with the notable exceptions of Harrison and me, of course, the last two single bachelors in the bunch.

In fact, Caplin Hawkins’s pursuit of his woman, Ruby Rockford, is the whole reason we have a book club in the first place.

“I’m going to tell all of them you said that,” Carey retorts.

“Wow. Is there no loyalty among us? Bro-code? Something?”

“I’m gay, Bossman. Bro-code means something entirely different with me.”

I shake my head with a laugh as he continues.

“You’ll just have to settle for knowing I’ve got all your shit handled. Your schedule is in your calendar, your email, and I’ve made sure the front desk at the resort has a printed-out itinerary as well. They’ll give it to you when you arrive.”

See what I mean? He never misses a fucking beat. I need someone who is ten steps ahead of me at all times, and seeing as I’m six foot three and my strides are long, that is no easy feat. Carey has just the right metaphorical legs.

“So, you’re saying you’re on top of things?”

“Yes,” he says, and I can hear a smile in his voice. “It’s almost like I’m so good at my job that my boss should consider giving me a raise…”

“What’s that? It’s hard to hear you over the helicopter noise,” I lie good-naturedly.

Carey laughs. “Ah, yes. Suddenly, it’s a problem.”

I look out the window as the helicopter makes its descent toward the tarmac at Teterboro Airport, and it’s my turn to smile. “Well, we are about to land.”

Carey hums in my ear as a man holding a folded object—which I can only assume is a pair of my pants—braced against the wind comes into view, and I have to give it to him. We never even got off the phone, I never heard Carey make reference to my need in the background, and still, somehow, he managed to arrange for someone to be there with my pants. Maybe he does deserve a raise.

“Thanks for the schedule,” I say, and he hums again. “And I’ll think about the raise,” I add, and I click end on the call before he can offer one of his infamous sarcastic retorts. Lord knows he would if I gave him time.

Still, I make a mental note to let my accountant know to make the change in his salary. I may play a hard-ass in my head, but I’m a pretty nice guy at heart. One who understands the value of hard-working and reliable staff and never hesitates to compensate them well. And Carey deserves this raise and then some.

With practiced ease, Pete sets down the chopper on the pavement and makes quick work of shutting down the propellers and getting everything ready for me to disembark. He doesn’t even question the situation as the man with my pants approaches, and instead, climbs out to grab them for me, climbs back in, and passes them back.

I swiftly cover my exposed legs and underwear, and then open the door to my side and exit onto the tarmac. As the August sun blares its angry rays at me, it doesn’t take long for me to see the silver lining of my previously pantsless state. It was, at least, a brief respite from sweating my balls off.

“Thanks again, Pete. Have a safe flight back into the city,” I say, looking back to my pilot with a nod.

A former Apache pilot in the army, Pete affirms my goodbye with his usual salute from the skin just above his gold-rimmed aviators and immediately dives back into his preflight checklist.

The Cruz Enterprises’ jet sits just a couple hundred feet away, outside of its usual hangar. I head straight for it, thankful for the absence of traditional security that comes with a commercial airline, and am greeted by a member of the ground crew at the bottom of the stairs.