“Please, Krystina, see this from my perspective.” He hurried to keep up.
“Your perspective?” She wheeled on him and drove her finger into his chest. “You have no perspective except that of a haughty billionaire trying to protect his own interests. The only reason you woke up to this scandal is because it’s going to affect your business.”
“That’s not true,” Alex said. “When I heard Abe go on about the illegal activities, I believed him. No matter whose business would be affected, I knew we had to dig deeper and find out what was really going on.”
“And just because I have access to the files you think I have inside knowledge about illegal activities?” She took another angry step toward him.
“Yes, no, wait, what was the question?” Alex stammered, taking a step backward, hoping she didn’t shove him into the Hudson River, which was dangerously close to the edge of the walking path. “Don’t you?”
“Don’t I what?” Her nostrils flared as if she were preparing to charge him like a bull.
“Don’t you have access to all the files?” He held his hands out in defense of her potential charge.
“Probably, but that doesn’t mean I’m participating in illegal activities.” Krystina balled her fists at her sides.
“Did you have any idea there were problems with the installations of the solar arrays before Abe came to your office?”
“No, that never would have occurred to me.” She relaxed her arms a fraction.
“Did you understand what Abe was concerned about?” Alex probed.
“Not really.” She shrugged.
“Why didn’t you tell me Abe had been in your office before I came to see you?”
“I don’t know,” she said. “I didn’t even think about it. Abe was this sweet, little old kook who had weird theories about government conspiracies and stuff. He was always going on about this or that. I didn’t really understand most of his ramblings. I just brought him whatever files he wanted and helped him if he had a challenge with the computers.”
“At what point did you realize there was a problem?” Alex asked, relaxing his defensive stance now that she wasn’t advancing.
“When you and Prince Marcos started discussing missing solar arrays, and the FBI, and the information not leaving my office.” She relaxed her shoulders a little.
“You had no idea why I was pulling every land record that had a solar array installed?”
“No.” She shook her head softly. Her blue eyes were wide, innocent, sincere. “I had no idea. I’ve learned not to ask questions of the customers who come into my office. Those documents are public records. I would never want to be accused of withholding public records from anyone. The Freedom of Information Act is quite clear on that. If I get a FOIA inquiry, I jump to fulfil the customer’s request. No questions asked.”
“So… my charms and your crush on me had no influence on your willingness to help me out?” A little smirk pulled at Alex’s mouth.
She lowered her gaze and her cheeks flushed pink. “If anything, my crush on you slowed me down.”
“What was that?” Alex took a step closer and pulled her into his arms. “You admit you had a crush on me?”
“I still do,” she mumbled, still not meeting his gaze.
“Still do what?” Alex playfully baited her.
“I still have a crush on you.” Her statement was defiant, frustrated that he forced her to admit the truth. She finally looked him in the eye. “Are you happy now?”
“I’m very happy now,” Alex said, a husky seductive tone escaping with his reply. “I may have to marry you, Krystina Clark.”
“What?” she gasped. “Why? You barely know me.”
“So, we’ll spend a few months getting to know one another, I’ll sweep you off your feet with one romantic gesture after another, eventually propose to you and put an obnoxiously large diamond on your hand, marry you, have lots of beautiful babies together, and live happily ever after.”
“How can you possibly want to marry me?” she asked, a smile pulling at both sides of her mouth, threatening to break free. “You’ve never even kissed me.”
“We can remedy that right now.” Alex pulled her even closer, lacing his hand up into the hair at the base of her neck, cradling her as she dropped her head back to look up into his eyes. “If you approve of that course of action.”
“I approve,” she said. “One hundred percent, I approve.” Krystina lifted onto her toes, meeting him halfway and Alex pressed his lips to hers.
On the banks of the Hudson River, at the completion of a heated argument, and with the threat of a dangerous government scandal hanging over them, Alex kissed Krystina without doubt that she would someday become his wife.
And they hadn’t even fallen in love yet.