Taylin’s Temptation – First Chapter

Taylin’s Temptation: Prologue

Taylin

Taylin’s fingers drummed on the boardroom table, his only sign of agitation. Dust motes danced in the bright sunlight streaming through the window, warming the large space. He wasn’t sure if holding interviews in this room would intimidate the candidates or not. 

Cream walls held dozens of fashion magazine prints showing the rise of Starling Enterprises in the fashion world. The company’s name was synonymous with quality and inclusivity. ‘Fashion for all’ was exactly what his fathers had set out to achieve. Taylin was proud of the small part he had played in the business since he’d left college and joined the family, paying back a little of what he’d been lucky to receive.

“Why are your lips pinching together like that?” Lane, his Popi, sat forward and eyed him, much like he always did. It was clear that he’d miss nothing of what Taylin was thinking about. Popi was excellent at picking up things regardless if Taylin wanted him to or not. 

“Are you sure about this, Popi?” Taylin waved his hand to where the glass of water they’d put out for the first candidate they were interviewing. The position was lead PA, who would assist Lane, Taylin, and his brothers with the branches of the business they managed. “Why would you want me to be part of the interviews for this post to replace Ren? I mean, look how that turned out?” 

They had recently discovered in a most horrible way that little omega wolf, Ren, was a supporter of the ‘divergent haters’. As a divergent himself, Taylin, had been subjected to some of Ren’s hateful vitriol. 

It was nothing new. His own family had been unable to grasp that his inability to shift into a wolf had something to do with their genetics. They had subjected him to years of abuse before he’d escaped.

Lane, Taylin’s adoptive father, who liked to be called Popi, reached over to him and took hold of one of his large hands to squeeze it. He directed a smile at Taylin that lit his eyes and made him appear much younger than his years. Age sat well on him, regardless of the dark gray hair that he claimed was because of his son’s antics as children. 

Eight alphas in the same house brought with it a lot of rough and tumble, along with quite a lot of broken furniture. 

“Ren deceived us all. Me and your father as well. Fortunately, we figured out his game before he did too much damage.” He squeezed Taylin’s hand a little tighter. “You have good instincts, don’t let that little shit make you believe otherwise.” 

Hearing Popi curse, something he never did often, Taylin chuckled. “Don’t let Dad hear your potty mouth.”

Popi rolled his eyes to the ceiling. “Like he doesn’t use worse language. I might not shift, but I’m not deaf!” 

Popi let go of his hand and reached for the small pile of files sat in front of him, taking the first one. “I’ve gone through these, and the background checks Derick insisted on. This first one, Hollis Adice, has just finished his Masters in business with a focus on fashion.” He glanced up from the page, a look in his eyes that gave Taylin pause for reasons he couldn’t pinpoint. “He came in about a year ago requesting a meeting to talk about the history of the company for his dissertation. His questions showed genuine interest in the business, so I gave him our card and told him to get in touch when he was looking for a job.”

Taylin listened with interest as he took the offered file. His thoughts scattered as his heart jumped hard enough to knock the breath from his lungs when his gaze landed on the photo clipped to the top of the page. The black-and-white photo captured the attractive man’s… vulnerability

It was there in the enormous eyes that stared back at him from behind clear, plastic, square rimmed glasses. For a fleeting moment, Taylin got the sense the other man used them as a barrier. He shook off the silly notion and continued his perusal of the picture, noting Hollis had styled his dark hair to part on the left side. 

Taylin couldn’t deny that it gave Hollis a professional look, only for some strange reason Taylin had mixed feelings about it. The hair looked thick and luxurious and his fingers tingled with the sudden desire to run them through it, muss it up and test his theory Hollis would look hot all mussed up.

“How old is he?” Taylin murmurs absently, his head tilting to change the angle of the picture his gaze lingered on.

“He’s twenty-three. Young, but he’s worked to support himself through college, showing a solid work ethic for such a young man.”

Seven years younger than him. 

“Hmm,” Taylin replied, never lifting his gaze. When Taylin dated, he went for men around his own age. He wasn’t after someone who wanted to play the field. He wasn’t like his brothers. Jupiter, in particular, liked young and impressionable, making it easy for him to move on. His ‘love em and leave em smiling’ motto didn’t work for Taylin. 

There was a tap at the door and a chuckle from Popi that drew Taylin’s gaze up. 

Taylin looked at Popi, blinking him into focus, confused as to the reason he was laughing. 

“Come in,” Popi called, his lips quivering as he looked anywhere but at Taylin.

What had Taylin missed? With no obvious answer, he glanced at the door, holding his breath.

A second later, Hannah, Popi’s blonde, bubbly secretary, appeared through the gap in the now open door.

“The first candidate is here, Hollis Adice. Should I get him to wait at the reception area on this floor?”

“Thank you, Hannah.” Popi glanced at me. “Are we ready to start?” Back were the quivering lips and a look of obvious amusement glinting in his eyes.

A loaded question for sure with the impact Hollis’s picture had on Taylin, which he now suspected was the reason for Popi’s amusement. He released his breath in a measured way and forced a smile as he nodded. Everything narrowed down to the open door. Taylin used it to stop his gaze from drifting back to the picture he was still holding. 

“As I’ll ever be,” he answered, unsure if he was talking to Popi or himself.

“Wonderful. Hannah, you can bring him here.”

A fluttering started in the pit of Taylin’s stomach as Hannah disappeared. Moments later, he rose along with Popi when the door opened fully and Hollis stepped into the room behind Hannah, looking cool and professional.

A suit of charcoal accentuated a lean body, though Taylin assessed Hollis had to be a good half a foot shorter than he was. Underneath the jacket was a white shirt that didn’t have one wrinkle. The tie, with a perfect Windsor knot, was a soft baby pink. Black loafers with a high shine finished the look. 

His glasses differed from the ones in the picture. These had a thick black frame in the same square style and didn’t detract from the huge chocolate brown eyes staring at him with polite interest. It didn’t lessen the punch to Taylin’s solar plexus or how his heart rate picked up as he stepped to the young man and offered his hand. 

“Hello Mr. Adice. I’m Taylin Starling.” A soft palm touched his when Hollis came forward, reaching for Taylin’s offered hand. 

Taylin’s six-foot-four-inches dwarfed Hollis and brought out a protective urge to sooth the other man when he dipped his gaze, and a flash of color filled his chiseled cheekbones. 

Words that were there on the tip of his tongue disappeared when Hollis clutched his hand with trembling fingers.

“Thank you for inviting me in for an interview,” Hollis replied in the gentlest of tones, as if trying to calm an upset child.

The fluttering happening inside Taylin increased at the soft lilt of Hollis’s voice. It was delicate and very appealing. 

Taylin searched for something, anything, to say to get him to speak again. They stood for so long holding hands, Taylin felt heat creep past the collar of his shirt, but he was unwilling to let go. 

The sound of a cough broke the extended silence and Taylin glanced at Popi wide eyed, having forgotten he was in the room. 

Oh shit!

“Thank you for coming in today, Mr. Adice. It’s nice to see you again,” Popi said, giving their joined hands a pointed look, getting Taylin to let go when he noticed Hollis was tugging to escape. 

Smooth. Real smooth, asshole!

“Take a seat,” Taylin suggested in a pleasant, totally non-weirded out tone, giving Hollis a smile that he’d been told could melt an icy heart in seconds.

When Hollis didn’t return the smile, just took the seat indicated to him, Taylin bit the inside of his cheek to stop the sigh at Hollis’s obvious disinterest. He was probably thinking Taylin was some sort of weirdo. 

He’s too young for me, anyway.

The words were hollow as he returned to his seat and gratefully sat. 

My best smile and nothing! Not a glimmer of a smile in return.

He’d been well and truly shot down in flames, his one consolation being that his brothers weren’t there to witness his humiliation.

Popi relaxed in his seat and offered an encouraging smile to Hollis. “Could we get you a coffee? A soft drink, before we start?” Popi pointed to the glass of iced water, giving him an encouraging smile. “There is water if you need to wet your mouth?”

“No thank you Sir, I’m fine.” Hollis crossed his legs, his palms together as they rested in his lap.

Popi shook his head. “Please call me Lane. Sir makes me feel old. And do you prefer Mr. Adice or Hollis?”

“Hollis is fine, S—Lane,” Hollis quickly corrected, a slight pink hue appearing over the bridge of his nose as he kept his gaze on Popi.

Popi’s attention shifted to Taylin and an eyebrow rose, his eyes widening as he tilted his head in Hollis’s direction. All the questions Taylin had thought to prepare disappeared into the black hole of his mind. 

Seconds ticked by and an awkward silence ensued until Popi’s chest deflated as Taylin struggled to find anything to say that would make him come across like the professional business person he actually was. 

“Shall we get started?” At Hollis’s stilted nod, Popi gave Taylin an encouraging look before asking Hollis. “Tell us a little about your interest in the fashion business. What about it appeals to you?”

Minutes ticked by and Taylin’s tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth, wishing he’d thought to get himself a glass of water, as he listened intently to Hollis speak with a passion that matched his own for the fashion industry. He consoled himself at the man’s apparent lack of interest in him with how they had a shared interest for the business. He could work with that. Although could he, when Hollis didn’t spare him a glance?

Too young. He’s way too young for me! 

It was poor consolation, and he knew it, but it was for the best. An ache developed in the center of his chest and he resisted rubbing at it as Popi glanced at him, giving him a pointed look. “So your area of interest is the same as Taylin’s.”

Rolling his shoulders, he gathered his scattered thoughts and offered a polite smile, taking the cue. “What accessories are causing a stir in fashion week right now? That ‘must have’ that will translate down to the big high street stores?”