Home > Just a Bit Heartless (Straight Guys #13)

Just a Bit Heartless (Straight Guys #13)
Author: Alessandra Hazard

 

Chapter 1

 

 

“The boss is expecting you. Good luck.”

Jordan Gates gave the secretary a faint smile before opening the door and going inside.

There were very few things Jordan disliked as much as being called to his boss’s office. As a department head, he saw him more often than the average employee, but being unexpectedly summoned to Raffaele Ferrara’s office was never a good sign. Thankfully, it hadn’t happened all that often in the years that he’d worked for the company.

Jordan came to a halt, his face carefully schooled into a mask of polite attention as Ferrara looked at him from across the desk.

“Sit,” Ferrara said tersely.

Jordan didn’t take the tone personally. Ferrara’s abrupt, harsh manner was rather legendary. The vice president of the Caldwell Group wasn’t one for small talk.

Jordan sat down in one of the chairs. “You wanted to see me, sir?” Ferrara was just a year older than he was, thirty-three, but his very presence seemed to demand respect, so it wasn’t all that off-putting to have to address his peer as sir. Ferrara had men twice his age addressing him that way.

His boss regarded him for a moment, his black eyes rather unnerving—if Jordan were prone to feeling unnerved.

“I need your help.”

Jordan blinked. Until now, he had been sure those words weren’t in his boss’s vocabulary. “Of course. How can I help?”

Ferrara folded his hands on the desk, his expression sharp and assessing.

Meeting his gaze calmly, Jordan kept himself still as the silence stretched. He refused to let Ferrara intimidate him.

“You might have heard of the incident that happened to me three days ago,” Ferrara said at last.

Jordan raised his eyebrows. Incident? That was what Ferrara was calling an attempted murder? The entire company had been buzzing with speculation since someone had shot Ferrara. The bullet had just grazed his head, but there was still a lot of blood, and yet Ferrara was back at work the next day as if nothing had happened. The man truly was a workaholic.

“I’ve heard,” Jordan said dryly. He didn’t think there was anyone in Boston who hadn’t heard of it. Ferrara was one of the most successful businessmen in the city. It didn’t help that he was heavily rumored to have family links to the Italian mafia—the rumor that had been around for years and was a hot topic again.

“What you don’t know is that it was the third attempt on my life this month,” Ferrara said, his tone mild, as if he were talking about the weather.

Third?

Ferrara pinched the bridge of his nose and leaned back in his chair. “There’s more,” he said with obvious reluctance. “There has been a kidnapping attempt on Nate.”

Jordan frowned. It was widely known in the company that Nate Parrish was Ferrara’s lover. It had been a subject of much gossip last year. Although fraternization in the company was frowned upon, it wasn’t forbidden as long as it wasn’t within the same department. People still gossiped, of course. A lot of people disapproved, considering that Nate had been Ferrara’s PA before he was transferred to Jordan’s department to work as a level designer. Personally, Jordan didn’t give a shit. Nate was a good dev and he got the job done. Jordan didn’t care if Nate was also sucking their boss’s cock.

But apparently some people did care—cared enough to attempt to kidnap him.

“Because of your relationship?” Jordan said in a neutral voice.

Ferrara grimaced before giving a clipped nod. “We presume it’s related to the assassination attempts on me. Nate doesn’t have enemies. I do.”

“You don’t mean business enemies, do you?” Jordan said quietly.

Ferrara shrugged, his expression hard and grim. “I don’t know for sure. But I presume it has something to do with my family. With my father. He died two months ago. Shot in the head.”

Huh.

Jordan didn’t bother offering condolences. Ferrara didn’t want empty condolences. He wanted something else. The question was, what.

Leaning back in his chair, Jordan pondered it. Maybe the rumors were true and Ferrara’s father had been some big shot in the mafia. But as far as Jordan knew, Ferrara was estranged from his family in Italy, had been for years. Why was this happening now? What did they want with Nate?

More importantly, what did Ferrara want with him? Why was he telling him all of this? Raffaele Ferrara was a very private man. Jordan could count on his fingers the number of times his boss had spoken of something remotely personal over the years, much less about something as deeply personal as the death of his father.

“May I speak freely?” Jordan said.

Ferrara gave a clipped nod.

“What sort of help do you need from me?” he said. “It’s obviously not financial. Nor is it likely that you want my advice. We’re hardly close friends.” He tapped his chin with his knuckles, thinking. “It has something to do with Nate, doesn’t it?”

“Yes,” Ferrara said. “I was invited to the wedding of my cousin in Italy—or rather, me and Nate. I could decline the invitation, of course, but I don’t think that would be smart. The assassination attempts won’t stop if the issue isn’t resolved. So I accepted the invitation. That’s where you come in.”

Jordan stared at him as the realization sank in. “You want me to pretend to be Nate,” he said incredulously.

“You look similar enough,” Ferrara said.

Jordan frowned. He supposed that was true enough. Although Nate was younger by quite a bit, they had a similar build and facial features, as well as blond hair and blue eyes. Jordan’s hair was a few shades darker, but that was nothing some hair dye couldn’t fix. At a passing glance, they could probably be mistaken for one another—if one didn’t know them personally and if Jordan didn’t wear his hair styled and slicked back. “The resemblance wouldn’t fool airport authorities,” he stated.

“It doesn’t need to fool them,” Ferrara said, unfazed. “Nate will accompany me to Italy. You will arrive on a different plane and switch places with him after he gets through customs.”

Jordan couldn’t help it: he chuckled. “I feel like I woke up in a Bond movie.”

Ferrara didn’t even crack a smile, his gaze serious. Grim.

The smile died on Jordan’s lips.

“I will not lie to you,” Ferrara said, his voice quiet. “It will be dangerous. You will be walking into a situation that I can’t entirely predict or control. We will stay at my family’s estate for a week. There will be other guests there. Dangerous guests.”

Jordan’s mouth was dry. “Dangerous—as in they play dangerous mind games, or dangerous as in they might shoot me between my eyes?”

“Both,” Ferrara said.

Right.

That was…

“Right,” Jordan said, clearing his throat. “So you want to take me with you because you aren’t willing to risk Nate’s safety.” And you are totally fine risking mine.

“Yes,” Ferrara confirmed. “But not only. Nate is—too nice and kind. Some people in my extended family would eat him alive, even if there weren’t the danger of someone literally killing us. You’re not too kind or nice. You’re also very observant and composed. I will need your help in order to find out who wants me dead and why. And if things go south, it also helps that you box and you know how to handle a gun. I trust that you can take care of yourself.”

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