Authors: Brandy Jellum
In a blink of an eye, his lips are on mine again. The kiss is nothing
like the first one we shared. This one is soft, sweet, and gentle. “I’ve
been wanting to see you again all weekend just so I can do that again,”
he whispers against my lips. He pulls away and walks back around my desk. I turn in my chair, and my eyes never leave him. “Right…” he says, running a hand through his dark hair. “So… um… since you
apparently can’t seem to follow directions and be somewhere when told
to be, you can accompany me to lunch, and we’ll discuss what I wanted
to talk about there.”
There he goes with the demands again, like he can just boss me
around. Technically, he can. But I have a right to decide where and who
I eat lunch with. I should just say no, not give into his demand, but I can’t.
REID SHOVELS FRIES
into his mouth acting like it isn’t a big deal, and I can’t help but to think how long he’s going to work out to burn
off all those calories. I can picture him shirtless, running on a treadmill,
with sweat dripping down his body. I shake my head, trying to get the
image out of my mind.
What is wrong with me?
I hear Reid laugh and turn so I can get a good look at him. “What’s so amusing?” I ask him.
He leans back in his chair and glances around the café we are sitting
in, the same one I ran into him last week. “Are you even going to eat
that?” He reaches over and plucks a few French fries off my plate. “You
know…” He chews the fries quickly before speaking again. “I still can’t
figure you out.”
“I think you’ve said that before.”
“It’s true.” He takes a sip of his water, places the glass alongside
his plate, and rests his hands on top of the table. “Back there… in your
office… you have the perfect opportunity. Something to make a lot of
money off of.”
“I don’t need the money.” It’s true. I really didn’t. When my father
was arrested, he transferred all the money to me, stating that he would
have no need for it any longer. I have never touched it. I don’t feel right
taking money from the man who murdered my mother in cold blood.
So instead, I let millions of dollars just sit in the bank, untouched.
“Yes, you do,” he says plainly. Rage begins to boil under my skin.
Who is he to tell me what I need?
“I have seen that death trap of a car you drive around in.”
“Hey! That car gets me where I need to go. That’s all that matters.”
He smiles. “And I’ve seen that small, crammed apartment of yours.”
“Speaking of which, how did you even know where I live?”
“I went to the office and checked your file.” He acts if it isn’t a big deal. My heart starts to race. If he peeked into my file, does that mean
he knows the truth about who I really am? “Why don’t you have a
His question takes me by surprise. “Who says I don’t?” Reid shrugs
his shoulders and he eyes me curiously, like he isn’t stupid. “Not that
it is any of your business, but I don’t date guys.”
“So you’re a lesbian then?”
I laugh loudly, and the water I just began to sip sprays everywhere.
I feel the heat of embarrassment creep up my face. The few people in
the café turn their heads and glance at me.
Me, a lesbian? He can’t really
believe that after our kiss Saturday.
“No, I’m not a lesbian,” I whisper. “I
just don’t have time to date, that’s all.”
“What? With your busy work schedule?” He laughs. “With all
those authors you have signed, you must be quite the busy lady.” He’s
mocking me, full on mocking me. I don’t know whether to laugh along
with him or to be mad.
“All jokes aside, why did you want to meet with me?”
Reid’s face falters for a moment before he regains that aura of being
in control of himself. Neither of us say anything, and we just stare at
each other. The silence gives me time to absorb more of his good looks
and the memory of the kiss.
The same waitress that flirted with him on Friday is back, throwing
herself all over him. She stands facing him, with her back toward me. She keeps touching his arm every time he says something she finds
funny. I watch the two of them, who appear to be completely ignorant
to the fact that I am sitting here. Reid indulges the waitress and flirts
back with her. I want to tell her to back off, that he is mine, but I have
no claim to him. Yeah, we have shared two kisses now. One that makes
me hot every time I think of it, and one that was soft and sweet. But he
isn’t my boyfriend, and I don’t want him to be.
“Ahem.” I clear my throat. Both of them ignore me, so I clear my
throat louder. The waitress turns around and glares at me. Reid drops
his hand from where it sat on her waist and stares out the window. I
hold up my glass towards the waitress. She glares again, and then
snatches the cup out of my hand. I hear Reid laugh lightly, and I watch
the girl’s face turn red. She turns on her heel and heads to get another
drink for me.
“So…” Reid says after the waitress is gone. “The company’s charity dinner is this next weekend. What would it take for you to accompany me?”
My heart stops. How could I forget about the dinner? It’s less than
two weeks away. Last year, I managed to escape due to something with
school, but I was only an intern. This year, however, I am agent, and
there’s no getting out of it. Every agent is required to be there, along with
any authors who have available time in their schedule. I completely forgot about it until now. It’s a black tie event which means I have to
dress up. Everyone who is anyone in this town will be there, including
the very people I cut out of my life years ago. I start to hyperventilate.
“Liza?” I hear Reid say my name softly. “Liza… are you okay?”
He is kneeling next to me now and gently shaking my arm.
“I… I’m sorry. I’m fine,” I b
out of my trance-
Reid returns to his seat. His eyes soften, revealing a small glimpse
of a gentler side of him. “So what do you say? Care to be my date next
“Why did you kiss me?” I ignore his question and ask the one that
has been burning in the back of my mind. I wait, and I wait, and he hasn’t answered me. He stares out the window for a long period of
time before finally glancing at me.
“I don’t know why.” It barely comes out a whisper, and I almost didn’t catch it.
I shake my head and gaze into his eyes. “Yes.” He lowers his head.
“Yes, I will be your date.”
Reid’s eyes light up, a stark contrast to his dark brooding ones,
but only for a moment before the darkness seeps back in. “I’ll pick you
up at seven o’clock sharp.” He stands up and places a fifty dollar bill on the table. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go.”
And he leaves, just like that. What is it with this man and leaving me hanging every single time? I sit there, unable to eat the rest of my f
ood. The waitress brings back my glass and stares at the empty chair
across from me with disappointment. She isn’t the only one. I know how she feels. I allow myself to stare out the window at the bustling street outside for a while before I grab my purse and make my way
back to the office. My head is spinning with my thoughts going a mile
My email is blinking with one new message for me when I get back
to the office from another unknown sender. I am hesitant to open it. I pace around my office, contemplating whether not I want to read it.
After about twenty minutes of pacing I finally sit down behind my
desk and open it.
From: Unknown Sender
Trouble in paradise? It seems to me that you are sprung on a
certain boss of yours. I wonder what his uncle would think of this.
Doesn’t this go against all your rules? Ah, yes, I know all about your
silly rules. You haven’t been as careful as you think. Leaving your
purse behind or talking about it adamantly over lunch with your
assistant or best friend. Not very wise for someone who is trying to
hide her past. Don’t worry. Your secret is safe for now. But stop and
think for a moment, what would that man you are drooling over think
once he learns the truth about who you are and what your father has
done? Tread lightly, Elizabeth, for you never know when your world
will come crashing down.
Tears stream down my face. Who is this person? How do they
know so much about me? Only one thing is for sure. They are stalking
me, watching my every move. The thought alone sends chills down
my spine. I send the email to my personal account again before deleting
it. I really need to tell Elias, but I can’t. Not yet. Whoever it is wouldn’t
be toying with me if they didn’t want something. I just have to figure out what that something is.
REID NEVER SHOWS UP
to the office the next day, or the rest of
the week. I try to distract myself with work, but that only reminds me
of the deal we had made in his office a week ago. A deal where he isn’t
keeping up his end of the bargain. I should be happy, honestly, because
then at the end of the next three weeks, I’ll be back in Horror. Yeah, it may be by default, but that’s on him, not me.
It’s been nearly a week since the hot steamy kiss, and three days since the gentle one that sent my heart spiraling out of control. I can try to deny it all I want, but as frustrated as he makes me, he also has me wanting more. I haven’t told Eli about this. Seeing the dark office that is Reid’s tears at my heart. I can’t wait for the end of the day to come. At least I’ll have the weekend away from staring at his empty office. That doesn’t mean I won’t stop thinking about him, however.
Eli texted me earlier today to let me know that he was going to head
back home after spending the past few days at my house. So that means
I’m on my own for the evening, with nothing to do. I decide that today is
the perfect day to go for a walk in the park. After work, I park my
car in my assigned parking space and head towards the park without
glancing back at my apartment.
The neighborhood I live in is nothing short of horrible. Break-ins
the time. Cops are being called for domestic
and apartments are being raided in search of drugs. It’s bad enough that Eli considered staying and opted to go to LPU with me to make sure
I would be safe. He even insisted that he would move in with me
and sleep on the couch in my one bedroom apartment. Eventually, I convinced him to go off to college a few hours away, with the help of his parents.
With the neighborhood I live in, no one would guess such a beautiful
park would be only a three minute walk away. A cement pathway winds
throughout the park with thick, luscious, dark green grass on both sides.
Trees are planted at regular intervals from each other, lining the sidewalk.
In the distance, I can hear and see children scream in delight as they
either run around the playground or are pushed on the swings by their
parents. It’s a sight that makes my heart ache just for a moment, yearning
for something I never had.
My parents were never home. Not ever. Sure, I had a nanny who would take me to the park when I was younger, but it was never the
same. I always sat on the edge of the playground, kicking the sand
with my feet, while my nanny stood in a group with other nannies,
puffing away on a cigarette like a chain smoker. However, you can’t see that here. No, here the parents engage with their children.
I follow the pathway to the small bridge that crosses the pond in the middle of the park. I stop in the middle of the bridge and stare out over the water. This place always brings me a sense of peace and calm. A light breeze picks up my hair, causing it to dance across my
face. I brush it out the way just in time to see a flock of geese swimming
underneath the bridge. I turn around to walk to the other side and
watch them come out when I see Reid standing there, staring at me.
I take one look into his eyes and keep walking as if I can’t see
him. I brush past him and ignore the call of my name. I grip the railing
on top of the bridge, close my eyes, and take a deep breath. Now that I know he is here, I can’t stop feeling his presence behind me, or the flames coursing through my body. Just the mere sight of him brings back the memories of his delectable lips on mine.
I hear his footsteps behind me. I open my eyes and groan quietly when I realize I missed the geese coming out from under the bridge.
I can’t explain why, but it’s my favorite part of being here. Just watching
as they carelessly swim across the water, with no destination in mind,
and the only thing that matters is that they stick together in the end. The kind of loyalty only one person has ever shown me: Eli.