Four Months Earlier
Things at the office had been going pretty well, if I did say so myself. Not fantastic, mind you, because there’s always room for improvement.
I hiked my purse strap higher on my shoulder as the elevator doors slid open. While I expected to see Tiff, the receptionist, and Ashlyn The Intern’s faces greeting me, I didn’t expect them to be so somber. Tiff had her elbows propped on the desk, fingers clasped over her mouth, and Ashlyn had a poor victimized pen cap stuck between her teeth. I stepped into the main lobby and crossed to them.
“What’s going on?”
“There’s a new guy.” Ashlyn’s eyes flicked to mine. “A hot one.”
My brows lifted, but Tiff shook her head, letting her hands fall to the desk top.
“Don’t get so excited. I’ve heard a lot about him.”
“Camaroon!” My boss, Gary MaFlour’s voice boomed through the office, startling the three of us.
Ashlyn fumbled her pen and Tiff slapped her hand over her heart. “Wish he’d stop doing that. We’ve got the intercom system for a dang reason.”
“Coming, sir!” I gave the ladies a parting smile and hurried around the corner, only to stutter to a stop.
I blinked hard.
“Sorry, Gary, did you say—” The spectacularly attractive man turned to face me. Dark hair, lightly scruffy chin, curious dark eyes, muscular body thinly disguised under a suit that probably cost more than my car.
“Ah, here she is.” Gary slapped the achingly familiar shoulder standing beside him. “Delilah, this is—”
“You…” I whispered, as the absolutely not a “new guy’s” eyes widened to almost comical proportions.
“—Matthew Easton. Owner’s son. I told him you’d show him the ropes for a few days, get him situated in his new office.”
“…have GOT to be kidding me.” I finally finished, and Mr. MaFlour’s bushy brows furrowed.
“What’s that mean? Anyway, here, you kids shake hands. Let’s get today rolling. Can’t make money standing around doing nothing.” Gary gave Matt another parting shoulder slap and waddled into his office, closing the door behind himself.
Neither Matthew nor I moved.
I could scarcely breath. Seeing him in pictures was one thing, but living, breathing, brooding in front of me was an entirely different animal. His expression morphed into something bordering on quietly sinister, like a stalking lion, one breath away from snatching me up in his jaws.
“Great. As if being stuck here wasn’t bad enough,” he rumbled deep, crossing his arms.
I blinked free of my lusty haze in half a heart beat, and scowled right back. “Yeah, I promise I wasn’t planning on baby-sitting a spoiled rich kid today, so on the scale of crappy days, mine tops yours.”
He snorted a derisive laugh. “Doubtful.” Scanning me head to toe, he scrubbed his chin. “I honestly never expected to see you again. This pretty well sucks.”
I stormed right up to him and jammed my finger in the air in front of his chest. “The only thing that sucks is being forced into close proximity to you. How long is this nightmare going to last?”
He fumed, gaze burning into mine with the fury of a thousand suns. It was only then I realized the entire two-thousand square foot office had gone starkly quiet. Not even a phone rang.
I cast furtive glances over my shoulders, meeting a sea of wide eyes, and took a step back, letting out a small cough.
He copied me, rubbing the back of his neck as he let out a heavy sigh. “Look…I don’t like this any more than you do, but it is what it is. You stay out of my way, I’ll damn sure stay out of yours. Deal?”
“Oh, way more than a deal. It’s a… I mean… yes. Deal.”
Matt’s expression cracked, one side of his mouth hiking up. He wiped it away and recrossed his arms. “Good.”
I stared at him a moment longer before spinning on my heel and beating a hasty retreat to my office. Once I closed my own door, I bounced my forehead against it.
Matthew freaking Easton, here, in my life again, after so many years.
The universe obviously hated me.
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