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I walk into the office, swing my bags on to my desk with a plop and take a seat in my swivel chair.
I gaze at Daniel across the desk. He looks incredibly smart in a crisp white shirt and dark red tie. It brings out his tan which in turn makes his green eyes pop brilliantly. Everything about him shines status and perfection, right down to his cuff links and Rolex.
But those green eyes are completely glued to the computer in front of him without so much as a blink as I walk in.
I wait patiently for him to notice me.
That’s actually a downright lie. I am not waiting patiently. I hate it when Daniel takes more than five seconds to acknowledge me. Especially when I dressed particularly well. Not that he ever notices, but I keep my hopes up. And today I dressed particularly well. Slim fitted pants, high heels, a slick red button down tucked in…it was one of my better looks. Not to mention the fact that we inadvertently matched each other on color choice.
“Good morning, Veronica,” he finally says, not bothering to look up.
“Morning,” I mutter. I glare at him, willing him to look at me and pay attention.
“Do you need something else?” he asks, finally looking up from his computer.
I swallow, there are many things I need and none of them I want to admit to him. I need to know what it feels like to comb through his short dark hair with my fingers. I need to know how it feels to have my curves pressed up the musculature that his crisp white shirt did nothing to hide. More than all I need him to not be my married boss and not be my boyfriend’s best friend.
“Nikki?” he asks again.
I flush as I realize I hadn’t answered him, yet my heart still skips a beat at the sound of my nickname from his lips.
“Yes,” I say, trying to pull myself together quickly. “I just needed you to look over a couple papers.” I hand him a stack of things that need his attention. “And the back two need your signature as well,” I add.
I can tell Daniel is in his own world. His brow furrows as he examines the stack of papers I hand him.
“If Jenks asks me for a third day off this week one more time, I swear to god I’m firing his ass,” he sighs, skimming the papers. “No way we are going to be able to get everything done, let alone without him. Actually,” he paused, “I’m going to let you fire him. Good learning experience.”
Most of the time I enjoyed the fact that Daniel took time to mentor me. Sometimes—this time included—I couldn’t help but think that my position in lower management really sucked. I usually felt like I was a pretty good manager, learning a lot and well on my way to being someone like Daniel but when all he makes me do is his dirty work, I don’t feel so useful. At 21 I’m the youngest person in management with the company, but that doesn’t mean that Daniel has ever given me a break. If anything he just drives me harder.
I sigh and jot down a few notes he had for me before going about my daily work.
“How was work, babe?” Jace asks as I walk through the door. He is already standing at the stove stirring something that smells amazing.
“Daniel’s a dick,” I gripe, taking a seat at the counter.
“Didn’t I tell you that going into this?” he asks.
He was right, of course. Jace had worked with Daniel for a long time before finally leaving the company and letting me take his place. It hadn’t come without a fair share of warnings though. Daniel had a reputation and everyone who found out that I was going to be his new protégé didn’t hesitate to inform me. A lot of people told me I wouldn’t be the first to leave the company because of how harsh he is. Other people told me he was a slacker. But between the two sides of the story one thing always stayed the same. He may be married but that never stopped him when it came to the ladies.
This fact I’m sure would have been concerning to Jace had he not already made it very clear to Daniel that I was taken. I am glad that he had made sure that I wouldn’t have to deal with that distraction but there is definitely part of me that is still lost in fantasy. Not that I don’t love Jace. But there has always been something about the way Daniel looks at me like he can see right through me that sends shivers up my spine every time.
“He isn’t hitting on you, is he?” Jace asks.
“No,” I sigh. “Just making me do his dirty work.”
“Not too dirty I hope,” he winks.
“Shut up,” I say playfully. “I don’t go for married guys.”
“You went for me,” he points out.
Unfortunately he is right. A lapse of judgment in my late teens had led to me falling head over heels for my sexy, brilliant, and very married boss—Jace. I was fortunate that no one found out about the affair and luckier still that his marriage had ended without having anything to do with me. But you couldn’t pay me enough to go on that rollercoaster again.
“You’re my exception,” I smiled. “What do you want to do for your birthday, babe? I know a week isn’t much time to plan things but we could do a little party here ataşehir escort if you want.”
“You know I don’t want a party,” he frowned.
“You love getting drunk with your friends.”
“Not when I’ll be mourning being over the hill.”
“31 is not over the hill.”
I wake up blearily to a phone call in the morning.
“What?” I say groggily.
“I’m sorry to wake you, Nikki baby, but I won’t be able to call you later. We are slammed at work today. Can you make sure you pick up some milk today, you know the nonfat I like—”
“Yes, babe.” I tuned out as Jace proceeds to list other things that I should really do around the house.
I hate going to the grocery store on my day off. And I hate cleaning frying pans, although it is a small price I pay for have a boyfriend who is a stellar cook. None the less, all I really want to do is go back to sleep.
“Okay, love you,” he says before hanging up the phone.
I roll over and burry myself in the blankets, craving just a couple more hours of sleep.
My phone beeps again.
“Are you kidding me?” I say grumpily, grabbing my phone off the night stand again. I am even more annoyed when I see that it’s from Daniel.
-You hanging in there?
My first thought is to wonder if this is some kind of ploy to get me to come into work. Daniel rarely ever texts non work related things. I reply anyway.
-Better if I wasn’t awake right now but I’m doing okay. Yesterday was rough after you left.
-Sorry if I woke you…
-It wasn’t you, no worries.
-You workin today?
-No. Worked late last night and get the day off today.
Which he would know if he looked at the schedule or paid any attention to me when I was at work.
-Then why are you awake so early?
-It’s my home alone day.
-Me too. Trying to figure out what to do with my day of freedom.
I pause for a moment, wondering what he wants.
At this point I doubt its work related but I call him anyway.
“What’s up?” I ask.
“First I just want to apologize, I know we probably shouldn’t be texting back and forth and I’m sorry if I over stepped my bounds. I want you to know that I really respect you as an individual and an employee. And I don’t want you to get in trouble.”
“Oh, it’s okay. I know you do and I’m not too worried about trouble.”
I know Jace trusts me indefinitely but deep down I’m pretty sure that he wouldn’t like me talking to Daniel outside of work. In fact, he’s made it perfectly clear to me that if anything were to happen between Daniel and myself he wouldn’t speak to either of us again. I am used to that kind of thing from Jace though. We fell hard and fast for each other and it would crush him if I ruined that with someone else.
“I think I’m more worried about myself getting in trouble,” he admits.
“Well if you’re talking about Jace, I’d be more worried about myself than you.”
“Fair enough,” he pauses. “So what are you up to today?”
“Lying around enjoying the day off, but it’s off to a boring early start.”
“I’m not gonna lie…I’m pretty bored too. And I’ve had a couple drinks.”
“Already?” I ask. “It’s not even nine yet!”
That’s Daniel though. A smooth talking 37 year old who is drunk every time his wife isn’t around and wishes he was when she was around. I know many men like him.
“Hey it’s my one day alone, I gotta take advantage of it while I have it.”
“Fair enough,” I agree.
“I just want you to know how happy I am with your progress too. I mean, during the interview I knew that you had so much potential but you have truly exceeded my expectations and I’m so happy to see you growing. You should know that you got this promotion totally on your own. It wasn’t because of Jace leaving or our friendship.”
“Thank you.” I’m not sure what else to say. Daniel is never like this at work with me—he borders on abrasive even.
“Anyway I don’t want you get the wrong message or anything but if you aren’t doing anything today and get bored you’re welcome to call me or stop by or whatever.”
“Alright well I’ll keep that in mind. I’ll probably call you later or stop by or whatever.”
“Cool, I’ll talk to you later then.”
“Sounds good. Later.”
I hang up the phone. I’m not tired anymore. I pull myself out of bed and go to take a shower.
My mind is whirling. I had hoped that a hot shower would knock some sense into me and clear my head, I was wrong.
I know what I should do. And I know what I want to do. And I’m disgusted that they aren’t the same thing. I shouldn’t go see Daniel. Absolutely not. But playing with fire tempts me and I want to…just for curiosities sake. They say history repeats itself, but I just like to think that I am adventurous and friendly.
When I get out of the shower I see another text from Daniel.
-I’m still bored.
-You and me both. I showered cause I’m definitely too awake to sleep more.
-You’re kadıköy escort welcome to come downtown.
-I might. What are you up to?
-Same thing I was earlier.
-Bored and drinking?
-Whatever. Doesn’t sound like you’re doing much either.
-Hey I’m not judging. I’m sitting around trying to get dressed and ready for the day. And I should do laundry, but that seems like a lot of work.
-Already done here, proud to say.
-Yeah I gotta get my housewifing on. Laundry and dishes.
-Come clean my place?
-I am pretty good at cleaning. Still bored?
I shouldn’t even ask him. I should put down my phone. I should go clean the house. I should go grocery shopping. I should do anything but talk to Daniel right now.
I need to put down my phone right now. I don’t.
-I was thinking about taking drive… Should I head your direction?
I’m kicking myself for asking but I want the thrill.
I will be good, I have to be good. No funny business. Straight up hanging out. Besides, anything else would be the ultimate betrayal to Jace.
I slip on some jeans that hug my slender hips perfectly, put on a tight black v-neck tee, and finish it off with some casual black heels. I look good, but it doesn’t settle my nerves. I don’t want to look like I’m trying and I’m not sure if I even want to be trying to look good for him. I finish getting ready none the less and head out.
-I’m in the city.
I text Daniel a while later after hunting to find the right building for a while. He may have given me an address but he failed to mention that he lived in a towering building in the heart of the city.
-Great. Park and I’ll come get you.
As promised after I park I see him standing on the corner of his building.
“Sorry, it wasn’t till I stood up that I realized how drunk I was,” he apologizes when we meet. “I know you aren’t used to seeing my like this.”
“Eh, I can handle it.” It doesn’t matter how drunk he is. Standing on the street corner wearing Diesel jeans, a plain black shirt, and Oakley aviators…he still looks pulled together.
“So I have to admit, I lied about one thing to you.”
I swallow…I don’t know what he is go to spit out next and I’m not sure I want to.
“My laundry really isn’t all done.”
“I guess I’ll forgive you this once,” I laugh and secretly breathe a sigh of relief that he is just joking around.
He shows me up the back stairs to the elevator. 21 stories up, his high rise looks over the heart of Tucson. It’s modestly sized but beautiful right down to the matching pillows on the couch.
“You want a drink?” he asks.
“Uh,” I hesitate. I shouldn’t. If nothing else because I’m driving. “Just one.”
“Grey Goose or Oban?”
“Oban is good.”
When in doubt go for the expensive whiskey I like to say I have a rule about not drinking hard liquor before noon. But I’ve broken that rule to many times to use it as an excuse today.
“Don’t worry, I’ll water it down for you.”
“Oh please, I can hold my liquor just fine. I just don’t wanna get crazy.”
He pours me a glass and sits down on the couch with me.
It’s easy to talk with him, about work, about life in general. This is the side of Daniel that I rarely get to see at work.
“So what was your relationship like with Jace,” he asks finally. “You know, before you guys were…official.”
I know what he isn’t saying. How were things when you were Jace’s mistress?
“I don’t know…” I hesitate. “We were close,” I say shortly.
He doesn’t say anything, as though waiting for me to elaborate but for the first time I find myself completely tongue tied.
“I’m sorry, I just—I don’t even know what to say,” I admit. “It was a hard time. For both of us.”
“Did you love him then?”
I can’t reply. I don’t know why but no words will come to my lips. I can’t meet his gaze.
“Yes,” I finally choke out. “But—I thought it was so pointless. I never thought it would be real like this and now that it is I’m so lost.”
“What do you mean?”
“I loved him but so what? I always thought it would go nowhere. I mean this was the life I dreamed of but I never thought I’d get. I thought things would never change for us.”
“Do you wish it hadn’t?”
“No. Of course I’m happy with how it turned out. More than happy. I just thought I’d always be on the back burner, even though that made me sad. I knew my place.”
“Does that bother you?” He is studying me and listening to every word I say. I still can’t meet his gaze though.
“It is what it is.”
“I’m sorry if I intruded too much. I’ve just always wondered. He talked about you all the time but I never really knew how it was for you guys—that it was so serious—until he left his wife.”
“Relationships are hard. Marriage even more so.”
“Yeah I’ve noticed. No one is ever happy.”
“Well, I don’t know if you know his ex-wife, but bostancı escort bayan I’m not a fan.”
“I’m not either. But I make it a habit to not speak ill of anyone’s spouse, regardless of my relationship with them.”
“I try not to speak ill of my own spouse and I know a lot of the time it comes off like a do. In the end I’m really grateful for this experience and I don’t hate her at all. Being married did a lot of good for me. I was really self-destructive before.”
“I can definitely appreciate that.” I know we are similar in that right. “I know I’m a lot better off now that we are really together versus when I was on the side. He keeps me in check, even if he doesn’t realize it. I know eventually I’ll want more though. You know, family…marriage”
“You don’t have to worry, you’re girlfriend material. You’ll make a good wife one day.”
“I know.” But I’m all choked up again and need to regain my composure. I know I will make a good wife. I know I am perfect. But part of me doubts that Jace sees that even though we are living together now.
“I’m going to top off your drink and share yours, ’cause you don’t seem to be that interested in it.” He changes the subject, thank god.
“Hey, I have been drinking it! I’m just not drinking like a fish, like you.”
“Well I won’t lie…having you over got me a little nervous so I kept drinking.”
“You see me all the time, nothing to be nervous about,” I say casually. I’m keeping my composure better than him.
He reaches his hand across the couch towards me. I look at him in confusion. “What do you want?” I ask. I put my hand there out of instinct, half-jokingly.
He smiles. “Well I wanted you to hand me the drink.” I pull my hand away quickly and hand him the drink. “But I liked your hand there too.” He puts the drink down again. “Do I get your hand back?”
My heart is pounding in my throat. I crossed the line. I crossed it and I didn’t even mean to. I put my hand back in his anyway. He moves my legs so I am stretched out on the couch and he is sitting next to me. Then he slides to the floor and sits there.
“I’m gonna move down here. I’m drunk and I don’t trust myself not to do things I shouldn’t do,” he admits.
“Want a pillow?” I joke, trying not to think about what I just did.
“I have one.”
“How about a blanket? You want to be all comfy down there?”
“Only if you’re going to tuck me in.”
“Maybe,” I laugh.
He plays with my hand from the ground while I lay on his couch. I’m not sure I know what’s going on, but that’s kind of okay with me.
“Can I touch you?”
“You’re touching me right now aren’t you?”
“More than I am now…”
“I suppose so.”
His fingers trace my stomach. His lips press against it lightly. I catch my breath. His lips on my skin are foreign and too thrilling. I wanted to know what they felt like for so long but feeling them now is overwhelming. He kisses my hips, my neck.
“I don’t want this to change anything,” he says.
“Of course not.”
I nod. He sits me up on the couch and kneels in front of me so I am forced to look at him.
“Promise promise?” he asks.
“Because you are such an incredible person and an amazing worker and I don’t want that to change. You have such fire and drive at work and that’s part of why I like you so much.”
“That will never change.”
“And I don’t want you to think that I don’t respect you because I do, so much. And that’s why I’m so hesitant right now…you’re making me feel like I’m 13 again and I don’t know why but I don’t want to lose your respect either.”
“Don’t worry. You won’t.” I lost my own respect. I can’t blame him at all when I know damn well that it was my mistake, that I put my hand in his and crossed the line.
“I just want you to trust me.”
“I don’t,” I’m honest with him.
“I can tell. But I want to earn your trust.”
“We’ll see.” I rest my chin on his head.
“It’s so nice, just being close to you.” He raises his head. “God this is crazy, I’m afraid to even kiss you. I’m afraid you’ll change.”
I shrug. He kisses my neck again.
I wonder absently if Jace would be able to taste the alcohol on my skin when he kissed me later that night. I decide I should shower before comes home.
Daniel kisses my cheeks, and finally his lips brush mine gently. As quickly as they are there, they are gone again. Then he lays back down on the floor. “What are you thinking?” he asks me.
My heart pounds in my throat. “I don’t know.”
“Yes you do.”
“I’m not saying this to hurt you, but I don’t trust you. I mean this is your game and I get that,” I say. I don’t mind being his game but I’m not going to let him get inside me and trick me into thinking that I’m not. Because I know I am.
“I know,” he sighs. “Give me time and learn to trust me. Please?”
“I’ll give you time,” I say. But inside I’m wondering how many times he’s used that line before. “I get it now, you know? I just get it.”
“Get what?” he asks.
“I get how you do it—get the girls. I never really got it. When Jace told me I was so skeptical but now I understand your trick. I mean you’re like me, you know how to get what you want. You use the right words.”
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