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He was reaching for a single cup serving of gourmet French vanilla coffee when a single brown serving cup caught his eye. Picking it up, he couldn't help but smile as he held what appeared to be the last serving of gourmet hot chocolate in his hand. Not that he was particularly fond of hot chocolate, he really wasn't, but he knew a certain someone that was.

A minute later he was sitting down with a cup of frothy hot chocolate in his hand. Not as good as coffee, but not too bad. He placed his folder on the empty chair next to him and sipped his drink while he waited.

He didn't even bother trying to hide his amusement when Rory half stumbled into the reception area. She quickly made a beeline for Mary's desk, almost falling over seven times in the process. Why she tried to walk in those heels he would never know. She was already tall, taller than most women in town and a good majority of the men at five-ten. He was not one of them since he had a good five inches on her. She really didn't need the heels, but he rather liked what they did for those beautiful tan legs of hers. Although, he would never admit that she looked good, really good, in that little business outfit that accentuated her size D's, and he would bet his life they were D's. He liked the way that the high heels that she clearly didn't know how to walk in, made her legs look even sexier. She was easily the sexiest woman that he'd ever seen.

He noticed that she wore a little bit of makeup today, interesting. She looked good, but then again, she always looked good. He especially liked her hair, always had, even when it used to be pulled up into pigtails. There was just something about wavy caramel hair with natural golden blonde highlights and those sky blue eyes that drove him nuts.

Connor watched as Mary informed her that Mr. McGill was running behind and gestured for her to sit in the waiting area. Rory didn't look happy about the wait, but she looked decidedly pissed off seconds later when she spotted him. Her eyes narrowed on him as she walked, stumbled, over to the complimentary table all while glaring at him. He sipped his cocoa, watching as Rory searched for her precious hot chocolate.

"Mary, is there any hot chocolate?" the little addict asked, sounding anxious for a fix.

"Sorry, hun, if it's not there, then we don't have it."

Sighing, she nodded and carefully walked the ten steps over to the waiting area only to stop abruptly and glare at him.

"Is something wrong, Rory?" he asked, acting as if he didn't know what had her panties in a twist.

"You're sitting in the middle," she bit out.

He made a show of looking down around where he sat and then at each chair beside him. "Hmm, look at that so I am," he said in an amused tone.

"Move." She gestured impatiently at him.

Sighing, he took a sip of his cocoa. "I can't."

"You can't or you won't?" she demanded.


Rory glared at him, then at each empty chair before looking around desperately for another chair. When she couldn't find any means to distance herself from him, which he knew she was dying to do, she sat down as far as she could in the chair to the right of him.

Sighing loud and long to annoy the shit out of her, he stretched his right arm out and then dropped it along the back of her chair.

"Do you mind?" she asked, looking pointedly at his arm.

He shook his head. "No, not really."

She opened her mouth, probably to tell him off for the millionth time, shut it and shook her head, muttering, "I don't have time for games today."

That was too bad, because he rather enjoyed their little battles. He made a show of sipping his drink. "Mmmm, that's good cocoa."

Rory first glared at him then at his cup.

"You took the last hot cocoa?"

"Uh huh," he answered, taking another sip.

She nodded slowly. "I see."

"I'm sure you do."

Just as he went to take another sip of that rather creamy cup of hot cocoa that tasted better and better with each passing second, she jabbed him in the side with a finger the same time she made a grab for his cup. He tried to pull the cup away, but she just dug that damn finger harder into his side.

Shit! That really hurt!

Deciding that it was better to give up the cocoa than to let her make his eyes tear up, he released the cup. Rory twisted her finger harder into his side, digging deep for good measure before backing off. Glaring at her, he rubbed his side while she happily sipped his cocoa.

Damn, there were a lot of things in life he regretted and right now showing her that little trick in sixth grade when she wouldn't let him cut her in the lunch line was one of them. He winced as he rubbed the sore spot. Well, it looked like she'd perfected that move.

"I spit in that you know," he lied.

She simply shrugged when most women would have probably screeched, gagged, and shoved it back at him. Not Rory James. She made a show of taking a huge sip of the cocoa.

"I think I've been immune to your germs since the ninth grade," she pointed out, making him smile.

Ah, good times. For six months he'd found ways to spit in her food and drinks without her or her little band of geeks, nerds, and dorks finding out about it. His friends did their part by distracting her so that he could break into her locker and they also took pictures of the act.

On her birthday, he placed all those lovely pictures into a small box, gift wrapped it, and placed it inside her locker. Then he leaned against the locker across from hers and waited with all his friends and half the school for her to open it. Everyone watched as she opened her locker, waiting for her reaction. She looked surprised at first to find a present in her locker and of course that look turned to horror as she flipped through the pictures. As hard as she tried she just couldn't hide the little gag sound she made.

Everyone laughed.

He remembered standing there, cocky as hell, waiting for her to finally react like a girl and cry. Instead, she calmly put the pictures back in the box, gagged louder, and returned it to her locker. She grabbed the lunch that he and all his friends spit in, hey it was her birthday after all, and walked over to him.

Instead of crying and screaming at him or even threatening to tell her daddy and her rather large brothers about what he did, she kneed him in the balls. When he was down on the ground she forced half her lunch down his throat while his friends fell over themselves, laughing their asses off, but it had been worth it. Even the month of detention that followed couldn't take away the joy he received from that little prank.

"Mr. O'Neil? Miss James? He's ready for you."

Chapter 2

Rory sat in the padded chair, trying to hide her annoyance at being seated next to the bastard. She didn't understand why Mr. McGill was handling their bids this way. She'd known a month ago when she placed her bid that Connor was going for the same job. It hadn't been a big deal then, because they usually bid for the same job unless one of them was already busy.

Usually these things were handled more privately. She couldn't remember ever being in the room with her competition before when the client announced his decision. The only thing she could come up with was that the client was hoping to use their well known animosity towards each other to start a bidding war right here and now.

It wasn't going to happen. As much as she would love to get her hands on Strawberry Fields Manor, she wasn't about to get into another embarrassing public confrontation with Connor. The one they had last month at the strawberry festival still made her cringe.

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