"Coming back for this?" Ryker waved Dan' phone in front of him

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"Coming back for this?" Ryker waved Dan' phone in front of him. He'd noticed it sitting on his desk after Dan had left for the night and wasn't surprised that his friend had returned to retrieve it.

"Thank God. I had so much stuff with me-- my laptop, briefcase, lunch bag – I thought maybe I'd left it on the roof of my car and driven off with it there. Figured it was smashed to pieces somewhere on the main drag."

"I texted Trish and let her know it was here."

"Yeah, but Trisha's at her artsy women's drinking thingy."

"Right." He sighed grumpily. The "women's drinking thingy" was Trisha's weekly ladies' night. She'd invited Emmie to it, which meant an Emmie-free and therefore sex-free night for him. "I know."

"Why are you here so late? I've gotten used to you cutting out early the past week. I'd even grown to suspect that you might have gotten yourself a life outside of work."

"I have a life! I've always had a life. And what's wrong with work being a big part of that life? I happen to like what I do."

Dan slipped his phone into his back pocket. "Nothing, nothing. Hey, don't get me wrong, boss man. I like my job too. But everyone needs balance, even the mighty Ryker T. James."

Ryker recalled last night's session with Emmie. He'd perched on the narrow rim of her bathtub so that she could pleasure him while they both stood. He was quite proud that he'd managed not to fall and crack his head open, despite the precarious position they were in. "I have excellent balance, thank you very much."

Dan sat on the corner of Ryker's desk. "Then why do you look like Cookie Monster would if he just got told he has a gluten allergy? I know you said that your... whatever you want to call it with Emmie was no big deal, but aren't you at all upset about that Sam guy?"

Sam. Slick black suit; condescending smile; possessive demeanor when it came to Emmie. "What does he have to do with anything?"

"Trisha says that Emmie's been seeing him. Thinks she really likes him. I thought you knew."

"Nope." Swallowing, Ryker swiveled his chair so that he was facing his computer monitor and attempted to make sense of the document he'd been reading prior to Dan's arrival. The words on the screen immediately blurred together.

This new development didn't matter, of course. They certainly had never agreed to be exclusive. Emmie was free to see whomever she wished, even if it was that clown, Sam. "Look, Dan, it doesn't matter to me, okay? Emmie and I aren't a couple. We aren't anything and that's how I want it to be. She can date an entire football team for all I care. I'm working late because I have a lot to do. End of story."

"All right!" Dan acquiesced, hands in the air. "I won't say another word about it. Don't stay too late. We've got that meeting with the PR team at eight am. I need you here, shaved and caffeinated, by seven-thirty."

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