Roman

By: Sawyer Bennett

Chapter 1


Roman


Before I walk in, I take a deep breath and let it out slowly. I do this in an effort to relax, which is not something that comes easy to me. Roman Sýkora goes balls to the wall, 100 percent of the time. I do this whether I’m on the ice or fucking a hot chick. I have two speeds…fast and dead stopped, and the latter only happens when I’m sleeping.

It’s how I’ve always lived my life and I’m not going to stop now.

I pull open the glass door that leads into the Cold Fury executive office suite. It’s posh and sumptuous, with its thick cream carpet and sleek European furniture. It tells the story of exactly how much money is generated by this organization.

My eyes immediately land on a young woman sitting on a low-slung, gray leather couch set up against the far wall. She has one leg crossed over the other and her head is bent down as she’s texting. Her dark hair hangs forward, forming a curtain obstructing my view of her face. What really catches my attention is that she’s dressed super funky and looks completely out of place. Her long legs are covered in black tights with a red-and-white-plaid pattern that she wears oddly under cutoff denim shorts that are rolled at the hem. This isn’t all that unusual to see in January, as the North Carolina winters can be mild and it’s only in the low fifties today. I note that her outfit also includes black high-top Dr. Martens, a white T-shirt, and a black leather jacket with zippers all over it.

So while the outfit isn’t all that crazy for the weather outside, it totally screams antiestablishment in contrast to the executive offices.

I like it.

A lot.

“Can I help you?” I hear a smooth female voice say from the reception desk.

My gaze turns that way and I come under the cool appraisal of a stern-looking older woman with pale blond hair pulled back from her face in a tight bun. “Roman Sýkora. Got an appointment with Gray Brannon.”

The woman actually sniffs at me and says, “You’re fifteen minutes late, Mr. Sýkora.”

“Yup,” I tell her before turning toward a chair that sits adjacent to the gray couch. Nothing else really needs to be said about my tardiness. I’m chronically late and will probably be that way until the day I die.

Just before I take a seat, I hear the receptionist from behind me say, “Ms. Robertson…Mr. Brannon is just finishing up his ten o’clock appointment and should be with you shortly. I apologize he’s running late.”

The woman sitting on the couch lifts her face, looks right past me to the receptionist, and gives a small smile with a nod of her head. “That’s quite all right. I don’t mind waiting.”

And damn…what a face. Creamy, flawless skin with silvery-blue eyes that absolutely pop against the dark lashes surrounding them. She lifts her hand and tucks a lock of her hair behind her ear, and then I’m surprised when her gaze slides over to me. She nods her head slightly toward the reception desk, leans her body a little closer toward my chair, and whispers, “Seems like a double standard to me.”

“Double standard?” I ask, confused and more than a little fascinated by the husky, almost raspy tone of her voice.

She grins at me, which draws attention to her lips. Full, pink, and pulled back to reveal sparkling white teeth with a tiny gap right in the middle. Totally sexy.

“Well, yeah,” she says as she lowers her voice in a more conspiratorial tone. “It’s okay for management to be late to a meeting with me, but it’s not okay for you to be a few minutes late with management?”

She’s got a damn good point.

I, in turn, lean toward her as if we are sharing a great secret. I also drop my voice, not because I care if the receptionist hears me, because let’s face it, I don’t give a shit what anyone in this organization thinks about me, but because I’m merely enjoying my banter with this really pretty woman.

“I think you may have isolated the issue,” I tell her, my Czech accent coming on a little bit thicker only because I’ve slowed my words down. Over the many years of living in North America, it’s faded quite a bit, but there’s no mistaking I still have a slight Slavic accent. “You and I aren’t management, therefore we don’t enjoy the privilege of being able to be late. We’re too far down on the totem pole.”

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