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“Why do you even care?” I fired back at him hotly, my glare burning holes into his gorgeous face. It had been all about the passion and toe curling orgasms that he had given me but now, as I stare into his eyes, all I could feel was a need to slap that face. Hard. Annoyed, I threw up my hands into the air. “We are not even in a relationship, for god's sake!” my jaw tightened. “So I can fuck or go out with any man I damn please!” Immediately the words left my mouth, I knew at once that I had chosen my words badly. Damien made no overt move, but his eyes went hard and dark. He began to walk towards me and I retreated in alarm, my pulse accelerating. He continued to stalk to my side untill he successfully backed me into a wall. He stopped in front of me and placed his hands on either sides of my head, caging me in. His head came down untill he was staring into my eyes. “That's where you've got it all wrong, bunny,” he murmured, his voice a low, velvety timbre sending jolts of arousal to my loins. “You are mine, you always have been. Make no mistake about that.” **** Do I have a job that I love so much? Yes. Do I have a rude, grumpy boss that makes my blood boil and makes me plot ways to kill him and make it look like an accident? Abso-fucking-lutely! That was me untill one misaddressed email came to disrupt everything I have worked for. And then I had to do a favor for The Boss. My name is Cheryl Chastain and I am totally 𝑠𝑐𝑟𝑒𝑤𝑒𝑑.
I turned onto my side and smiled contentedly. Even in my sleepy trance, I was relaxed.
And then I heard the drawing back of my curtains, and almost immediately, sunlight filtered through, the rays directly hitting my face.
Groaning, I turned onto my front and snuggled more deeply into my bed.
“Arise and shine, sunshine!!!” A chirpy sing-song voice rang out.
“Someone, please shut the curtains,” I mumbled into the pillow.
Someone chuckled – Gwen, I guessed. “You need to get your ass up, girl.”
“Ten more minutes,” I muttered, snootily.
Gwen outright laughed at me. I frowned. What's so funny?
“That's what you said about an hour ago,” Gwen said.
I groaned aloud into my fluffy pillow. “What's the time?” I asked and attempted snuggling deeper into my 'comfy' bed.
“8 a.m, I guess,” came the reply.
I froze for a heartbeat. And then my eyes snapped open with immediate urgency and horror, before they flew to the tiny bedside alarm clock, and a high-pitched shriek that could wake the dead exploded from my lips.
Shit. shit. Shit!
I bolted out of bed and hurriedly untangled the sheets wrapped around my ankles.
“Why didn't you wake me up, Gwen?” I raved at the brunette who stood a few meters away from me with a smug i-told-you-so look on her face.
“Well,” she drawled. She examined her fingernails before proceeding to brush them across the front of her nightshirt - super dramatic if you ask me. “I did, but you were too deep in La-la land to wake up.”
“Ugh, whatever!” I rolled my eyes at her and marched into my closet. “And where the hell is my toiletry bag?” I yelled a moment later.
A pretty sizable pink bag was thrust into my face, and I snatched it before hurrying my ass to the bathroom down the hall to get ready.
Note to self: get a plumber to fix the leak in my bathroom. It will save me more time in situations like this, not that I'm planning to have situations like this in the future.
A few minutes later, I hopped out of my bedroom in a brand-new outfit and tugged on my black stiletto heels while trying to check my phone for the time. I nearly damn shrieked.
I'm flipping late!!!
I strode towards my reading table in the corner, scooped up my purse, and checked the contents.
“Gwen, do you know where my reading glasses are?” I asked, making sure to raise my voice so that Gwen would hear me wherever she was.
“I'm sure you left them in the sitting room last night when you were working on that report,” she replied from somewhere in the apartment.
My brows furrowed as I mouthed to myself, report? I can't remember working on any repo... My eyes grew as wide as saucers in their sockets.
HOLY MOTHER OF PEANUTS!!!! THE REPORT!!!
Cue a mental facepalm.
Omg, I can't believe I fell asleep while working on that report, the very one that I am supposed to present today by 9:30, and it's already 8:20 am.
How much time do I even have to make it to work early? Or what could be passed off as ‘decently late’.
Still trying to tug on my super stubborn heels, I managed to limp-walk to the living room and saw my glasses balanced on the coffee table. I snatched them up and threw them into my purse. I immediately grabbed the neat stack of papers on the right edge of the table and flipped it open, my eyes flying over the printed words anxiously.
I breathed out a sigh of relief and pressed the papers to my chest. I completed them last night to my utmost relief.
“Found it!” I yelled triumphantly.
I spun on my heels and nearly bumped into Gwen, who was standing behind me with a cup of hot, steaming coffee and a muffin. She extended them to me.
“God, you're a lifesaver,” I gushed as I grabbed the cup and chugged down the coffee in one go, the hot coffee lightly scalding my tongue. I grabbed the muffin and chomped down on it, using it to soothe my sore tongue.
“Thanks for this,” I said gratefully.
Gwen shrugged nonchalantly and took the cup from me. “It's the least I could do to help. God knows you need caffeine to help you through your day at the office.” She stared pointedly at the papers clamped tightly under my armpit.
I grimaced at the double meaning of her words, but damn it, she was right.
“I gotta go, so I can catch the bus early,” I said instead, and bent at the waist to kiss her cheeks. “See you later, girl!”
I hurled my ass out of the door, slamming it shut behind me.
“Sorry!” I yelled as I nearly ran down a middle-aged woman who was exiting the building, in my haste to enter.
I stumbled into a large reception area paneled in rich rich mahogany and gleaming marble. An attractive brunette was seated behind the large reception desk topped with glass, the mahogany base bearing the distinctive insignia of Heron Industries.
I mumbled a greeting to the receptionist and hurried to the elevator.
Stopping in front of it, I pressed the call button and mumbled silent prayers under my breath. Luckily, the elevator arrived quickly, and I quickly stepped in.
I swiped my card through the slot and punched in the number for the top executive suite. The elevator doors slid shut, and the elevator began to move.
I dropped my purse to the clean floor gently and opened it to retrieve my phone. Oh my God! It's already 9 a.m. I quickly scanned my emails for the tenth time this morning to see if there was anything new from my boss, and came up with nothing.
Ok… Phew! Maybe he's also running late today, which is nearly impossible… Or he is already in his office, silently waiting for my coming.
Eerily, goosebumps erupted on my skin, and I rubbed my palms over my arms.
I groaned again. What number is it again? Oh, just forget it. Just then, I imagined my boss raining fire and brimstone on me and subsequently firing my ass and I shuddered. I prayed against it…and this damned elevator is taking forever today, of all days.
Catching my reflection in the glass elevator walls, I cringed. I looked like a deranged psycho. Taking out a compact mirror from my bag, I dabbed some powder on my sweaty face, applied a little lip gloss, and then pulled my hair into a severe and tight ponytail.
I smoothed my hands down my gown and let out a small smile. There, that's better.
I took a glance at the rapidly rising numbers and inhaled deeply.
I can do this. I can do this. God, why am I panicking this much?
Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale.
The elevator arrived at the sixtieth floor with a discreet chime, the doors opening to reveal a large office area, and I stepped out. Mia was missing behind her desk.
I breathed out a deep sigh of relief. I'm not really in the mood to be cross-examined this morning by nosy co-workers and alert him of my late arrival. When I eventually do face him, I'd prefer to do it on my terms. For now, I just have to get to my desk and prepare myself mentally and physically for his berating.
I tiptoed on, holding my breath, and as I nearly reached my corner…
“Oh, Cheryl! You're here!”
Oh, Jesus Christ on a motorbike! I spun around immediately, my face scrunched up in exasperation. “Shh!” I shushed Mia, who was standing a few meters away from her desk, a cup of coffee clutched tightly in her perfect French-manicured hands.
I mentally facepalmed myself for the second time this morning. Of course, she was in the cafeteria, I should have walked faster. My wide eyes scanned the entire space, eyeing the cameras mounted at different strategic places wearily. Who knows if those things were listening devices?
Mia clamped her lips shut and then walked over to me. “Why are we whispering?” she mouthed at me, her voice kept at a low conspiratorial tone.
I silently bite back a sigh of frustration, I darted another look at the cameras and exhaled tiredly. How do I explain to Mia that am just coming in without implicating myself?
Ah! Eye language.
I cleared my throat loudly, threw out my chin, and blinked repeatedly at Mia, all the while shaking my head subtly. Mia was just staring at me with perplexity written all over her heavily made-up face, which am sure she had retouched a hundred and one times this morning.
“You've got something in your eye?” she asked with her lips pursed in concern and moved closer to check said eye.
I instantly deflated. Seriously, Mia?
Ok, so, eye language… No.
I immediately switched to body language. I cleared my throat loudly once more and stared pointedly at Mia, a moment later
I shifted my focus to the elevator and then the CCTV s before staring off in the direction of my office.
I snapped my eyes back to Mia, with my brows arched in a do-you-understand-now kind of way, but Mia is now full-blown gaping at me like I have magically sprouted a golden set of horns on my forehead.
“You sure you're okay, girl? You don't seem…” her wide eyes runs down my form, with alarm painstakingly clear in them, “You.”
This time I really do facepalmed myself, to hell with body and eye language. Mia isn't going to grab my message quickly, and the more I stand here, the bigger the chances of me getting caught by him.
“Should I call for help, perhaps the medical team?” Mia continued to ramble on. “You didn't catch the flu, did you? But you don't look, pa–”
My patience instantly snapped. “Mia!” I gritted out from behind clenched teeth, she flinched and promptly withdraws into her shell. Guilt gripped hold of me for snapping at her, but mehn! I'm already having a bad day as it is, and she's not helping the issues.
I massaged my temple with a finger and blew out air openly through my mouth. “Look, Mia, I really appreciate the concern but am fine. I'm really fine, but if I don't get my ass in there—” I jerked my head aggressively towards my office, “am gonna get it fired. Do you understand?”
Mia reared back with a look of pure horror written all over her face. “But why would you get dismissed?” she retorted, and then as it slowly dawned on her, her eyes widened even more.
“Devil's blue balls!!!,” she exclaimed loudly. “You're late! Why? You're never late!!!”
Yea, thanks for the vote of confidence and all, but if I don't get away from Mia right now, am seriously gonna lose it… And not in a good way.
“Yea… I will explain everything later, but now I've gotta go.”
I immediately turned and hurried on, my heels clicking on the marble floor softly. I paused for a moment to collect myself because this was it. The “DO” or “GET FIRED” moment.
Ha! Totally invented that one.
I shook my head subtly. Get it together, Cheryl. You ain't getting fired… 𝑟𝑖𝑔ℎ𝑡?
Now, I'm not so sure.
I shake my head once more before rounding the corner and stepping into the space that was pulsing with an overly masculine energy. Goosebumps prickled my skin. Jesus Christ! This place should really come with a warning label or something because although I have worked here for over Five years, I still haven't gotten used to the energy that comes along with the owner. Trust me, it can be overwhelming occasionally.
I averted my gaze from the east side of the space and trained my eyes on my office door. The plan is pretty simple. Go to my office and regroup before facing him squarely. He can be really nerve-wracking most times.
A few meters away from the study mahogany wood that was my office door, my phone beeped with an incoming email.
OMG…. With my heart thudding heavily in my chest, I slide shaky fingers across the flat screen and opened the email. And it was from him.
“What are you still doing here? It's coffee break already. And the last I checked, coffee breaks are meant to be spent in the cafe.”
I glanced up at the cheery voice of one of my colleagues, Ellie Palmer, just in time to see her step into my office with a charming grin plastered on her lips.
“I know,” I sighed, and pushed up my glasses higher on my nose. “But I can't leave my desk right now. I have loads of work to attend to.”
In a spilt-second, her face fell like a wadded piece of paper. “That's what you said yesterday too,” she pointed out suckily, and her eyes narrowed on my face. “You're not avoiding any of us, are you?”
I snorted. “No, of course not! You guys are like family to me, why would I just start ignoring you guys out of the blues?”
Ellie tilted her head and contemplated my answer. “Fair point.”
“But I still think you should come with us. Chef came up
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