“But fraud for a defense contractor is serious. You don’t want to defend your reputation as a provider to our armed forces?”
It took him a minute to realize that clicking noise was her following him over the pavement. He spun around, his arms coming up once more to gesture his acquiescence, only she was standing too close, and instead of gesturing with authority, he ran into her, his arms striking her shoulders and knocking her against him.
He froze, feeling the length of her body collide with his, the scent of her shampoo invade his senses, her breath fall across the exposed skin above his shirt collar. He felt her hesitation, the hitch in her breath, before she shoved against him, pushing herself away.
“I’m very sorry,” he said, his hands moving uselessly in front of him as if to help her regain her balance.
She stood with her pad held against her chest like some sort of shield, and he felt his anger drain into annoyance.
“I’m sorry,” he repeated, much more carefully, “I don’t have a comment, and I need to get back to work. Please excuse me.”
He turned slowly this time, resuming his walk to the loading dock door.
“What is it that you’re using this factory for, Mr. Darke?”
He didn’t answer. No matter how much he wanted to turn around and rail about his stupid brother’s stupid decisions, he did not. He kept walking.
“Fraud, I mean, come on, that’s-”
And then he did turn.
“If you want a comment, you can call our PR department.”
“Great!” she said, and he almost smiled at her enthusiasm as she pulled up a clean page of her notebook. “What’s the phone number?”
He shook his head at her and let his feet carry him back to where she stood on the pavement, notebook poised for the phone number.
“Shannon, was it?” he said when he was close.
He had felt her breath hitch when she had bumped into him, and now he dared to step a little closer than politeness would have dictated. He saw it again, the slight hitch in her chest, and he felt a smile spread over his face. He leaned in, dropping his voice to a soft, rich level.
“Have you heard of the Internet, Shannon?”
“Yes,” she whispered softly, her eyes locked on his.
“Use it,” he said and walked away, leaving her standing in the parking lot, her pen completely still.