“What the actual hell am I doing?” Katie wondered. “I am literally sleeping with my enemy. This man wants to borrow, buy, or steal my business — the single thing in the world I am most proud of — and I’ve snuck away from the office in the middle of a workday to fuck him. Again.” But despite this gimlet-eyed look at her current situation, despite the pricks it made at her conscience, despite her desire to stand up, shimmy back into her modish mini-dress, tie her hair in a tight ponytail on the top of her head, and stalk out of Balthasar’s modernist nightmare of an apartment, she accepted the sweating cocktail glass, shifted one knee to rest over the other, and leaned back into the cold gray cushions in what she hoped would appear to be both an alluring yet composed posture. Katie then took a sip, pressing a vampy ring of red lipstick onto the rim. The Negroni tingled over her dry tongue and awakened her taste buds — well, all of her senses, really. To be sitting there, half-naked, in broad daylight, quaffing cocktails with a man she knew to be very experienced and morally challenged? She recognized this as the height of folly in terms of rebuffing his professional overtures, and a not-significant betrayal of every lesson on sexual dynamics her feminist mother had taught her. And still, she wanted nothing more than for Balthasar to unhook her bra, dispatch her panties, and push her back on the couch, the weight of his hard body pinning hers to the cushions. Then she’d be unable to escape. She’d agree to anything if he’d just damn kiss her, range his hands over her hips, and elevate her the same heights he had in their last liaison. Katie wanted very much simultaneously to be her own woman and to be owned completely by this man. And the tension in those thoughts — that she could possess power and choose to acquiesce it — was proving headier and more intoxicating than the adult beverage she tippled down her throat. Was there any hesitation left in her? Nah, she knew exactly what she wanted now: to practice mergers and acquisitions in all their dirtiest forms.