Authors: Ashley Blake
I pushed aside my feelings of
disappointment of not being asked to attend the charity event with him. Maybe
it was a group thing and everyone goes together in a caravan.
It was time to focus on work.
I felt a little over my head
but I knew if I did well with this task, it would be an incredible start for me
to get recognition here in the Dubai office. I contacted Conrad and told him I
would have to reschedule dinner because I was swamped and he was very
The next two weeks were
brutal. Everyone was working long hours and there was no time for
socializing. Conrad kept trying to schedule dinner and I just didn’t have the
time. I was working until midnight every night.
One afternoon, the following
week, I was buried deep in my analysis of Jameson numbers when I was snapped
out of my trance-like concentration by a light tap on my door. I looked up to
see Jake’s smiling face. I gave him a huge smile.
“What a nice surprise!”
“I wanted to see if you want
to take a coffee break. It’s so nuts around here.”
“I would love to.” I grabbed
my purse and we walked to the elevator.
“There is a little café next
door, if you don’t mind being in the heat for a couple of minutes as we walk
“Not at all. It will be nice
to see new faces.”
We went to the café which was
really cute and quaint. It was nearly 2:00 so it wasn’t packed, which was
nice. We got our coffees and grabbed seats near the window. We were right
under a fan which was blowing cool air on us.
“So, are you feeling
overwhelmed yet?” He adjusted his suit jacket as he got comfortable.
“Surprisingly, no. I am
trying to soak up as much information as I can. This is my dream job so I love
what I am doing.”
He raised his eyebrows and
gave me a little smile.
“Dream job, huh? That’s
fantastic. I can understand why you say that. I think you have to love the
finance industry to be in it long term. And from what I have heard about you,
you have long term goals.”
“Oh? What have you heard
about me?” I felt like we’d known each other forever. Jake was so easy to
“My brother raves about you.”
Raves about me? I need to
“He says that he had never had
such a bright, promising intern in the program before. I, personally, have
never seen him happier. Normally, he dreads the long trips. This time he
didn’t. I think you might be the reason.” His eyes twinkled a bit when he
said that. The expression on his face reminded me of the expression Samira had
on her face when she told me there was a buzz about me around the office.
I didn’t know how to respond
so I just sat there, cheeks flushed, as I drank the hot, rich liquid.
“You seem to bring out the
human side of him, Sarah. Joshua has always been extremely focused on work.
Even as kids he didn’t like to play a lot. He’s always had a very stoic
That explains why he is so cold sometimes.
“But around you,
he is different. Everyone sees it but no one would dare say anything to him.
It’s refreshing to see him so happy.” I wanted to shout with happiness.
it be that Joshua had true feelings for me?
“After our father died, he
took on a lot of responsibility keeping the company going. Mother was so
distraught she didn’t know what to do. Joshua stepped in and took care of
everything. I was still in college so I wasn’t much help at the time.
Sometimes I think he feels he missed out on a lot of life because he had so
much responsibility at a young age. But his experiences also made him the
strong person he is today. Mother still relies on him for many things. He has
never married and part of the reason is because mother has never approved of
any of his girlfriends. Not one. Natalia, who you met last week, was
desperate to marry my brother and I thought it would happen. He wasn’t
happy with her, but he was content.”
I felt so sad
for Joshua that he almost settled on being content for the rest of his life
rather than in love!
“I don’t know that he felt he
deserved more. But it didn’t matter because mother could not stand her. We
never knew why. Shortly after he brought her home to meet mother, he broke
things off. She was probably a bit snarky with you when she met you because
he’s never brought anyone with him on these long trips, and she knows that it
means something that you are here with him. So you, my dear, are somewhat of
an anomaly. You seem to have captured my brother’s heart.”
I slowly shook my head in
protest. “Jake, Joshua just sees me as a business colleague. He has taught me
so much, and I am very grateful, but I don’t think it’s any more than that for
“What about for you, Sarah?”
I was tongue-tied and wanted
to shift the conversation away from me, so I turned the table on him.
“I could ask you the same
thing. What does the future hold for you and Vivienne?”
He, thankfully, let me off the
“Vivienne is a wonderful
I raised an eyebrow and did
not mean for him to see that.
“Oh, you didn’t like her.”
“No, no, it’s not that. She
just was not extremely friendly when I met at her dinner the other night.”
“She really is a kind person.
She gets a bit possessive and jealous when there are other beautiful women in
I blushed at his compliment,
it was sweet.
“We have been together for two
years and we have a nice time together. We are very comfortable with each
“Hmmm, what are you not
telling me Jake?” I cocked my head to the side, with a slight smirk dancing at
my lips, giving him a playful inquisitive look. I knew he was leaving something
out because he was not gushing about the woman he had been with for two years!
There should have been more emotion there if she was special.
He smiled. “You seem to be
able to read me pretty well.” He sighed and took a deep breath. “I don’t really
talk about this much, but for some strange reason I feel I can trust you. I
don’t know what it is about you Sarah, but I feel so comfortable with you, like
you’re my big sister, even though you’re only a few months older than me.”
That made me feel good. “I
know, it’s weird, isn’t it? I feel the same way. I think we connected
instantly.” I reached out and grabbed his hand. “I can see that what you’re
about to say is difficult. Of course, you can trust me. My lips are sealed.”
I gave him a quick wink.
“Thank you. Okay, well when I
was in college, I met the love of my life, Lauren. It was an all- consuming
love. The kind you only read about in romance novels. We came from two
completely different backgrounds.”
I could definitely relate to that.
“We met freshman year and by the time we graduated I was ready to ask her to
marry me. She ended up getting into law school in Chicago and New York but
chose to go to school in Chicago. She said it was the better of the two
schools. I was being groomed to run the company with Joshua so I had to stay
in New York. I was devastated when she chose the Chicago school. I wanted to
leave the company and be with her but she knew that the best thing for me to do
was go to New York. She didn’t want me to throw my future away. She was
extremely driven, like you, and she said she had to concentrate fully on law
school which meant we had to break up. Sarah, I couldn’t eat for days. I was
“Did you ever try to reach out
“She wouldn’t return my
“Have you thought about trying
to contact her now?”
“She’s probably married with
kids by now. I wouldn’t want to ruin anything for her.”
My heart broke for him. He
looked so sad.
“I didn’t date anyone for a
couple of years. There were a few casual dates here and there but nothing
special. Then I met Vivienne a couple of years ago. On paper we make sense.
Her family probably has as much money as we do. We both went to Ivy League
schools and we have a lot in common.”
“You know there’s a ‘but’
coming huh?” He chuckled at my perceptiveness. “Like I said, Vivienne is a
lovely woman, very sweet. But that spark…that
, is missing. I
keep hoping it will come and it never does.”
“I’m not telling you what to do,
but just be sure to be honest with Vivienne about how you’re feeling.”
“Oh, she already knows. I’ve
been very upfront with her. She doesn’t care. She believes you can learn to
He hung his head as he looked
in his empty coffee cup. “I just don’t know.”
We sat there in silence for a
minute and then decided we should get back to the office before they sent out a
search party for us. Just as we were about to step off of the elevator onto
our floor, Jake lightly touched my arm.
“Thanks for listening to me
I gave him a quick wink and a
small smile. “Anytime.”
It was the day of the meeting
with Jameson Industries and we were wrapping things up. The client was very
happy with our analysis and suggestions on how to grow their company in the
future. They felt very confident with our presentation and that meant Joshua
and Jake were happy. The mood was jovial and light-hearted in the office. We
were enjoying a late lunch that had been catered when Conrad came over to me.
“You know, I’m a bit
disappointed that we were never able to connect for dinner.”
“I know. I’m sorry Conrad. I
was completely swamped with work.”
“Well, there is the charity
event tomorrow night. Do you have an escort?”
I hesitated because I was sure
that Joshua would be upset if I went with Conrad. But then I thought about it
and got irritated at him. If he wanted to go with me, he should have asked me!
“No actually, I don’t.”
Conrad beamed and didn’t
hesitate to ask me to be his companion. Just as I was about to say yes, Joshua
was standing beside us.
“What kind of mischief is
brewing over here?” He tried to sound light-hearted, but I could see the
annoyance written all over his face.
Boy, he was possessive!
I didn’t want to admit it but it made me feel good to know that he got jealous
if I talked to another man.
“I just asked Sarah to be my
companion for the charity event tomorrow night.” Conrad was oblivious to
Joshua’s jealousy. It looked like the vein in Joshua’s neck was going to
“Conrad,” he spoke through
clenched teeth, “I have already made arrangements to take Sarah to the event
tomorrow evening.” I looked at him.
Because this is the
first I have heard of this!
“But Sarah is your new associate.
Why don’t you take Natalia and I can escort Sarah.”
Joshua grinned through gritted
teeth and patted Conrad on the arm. “Thank you for the offer ol’ chap, but
everything is already set. Feel free to ask Natalia. I am sure she will be
ecstatic that you asked her.” Joshua stood his ground like an animal claiming
his territory. His body language was very clear that he was going to get his
way. He also didn’t leave my side and that thwarted any chance Conrad had to
speak with me privately. Conrad finally got the message and sauntered off to
talk with Natalia.
I turned to Joshua, “I had no
idea you were escorting me to the charity event.”
“No? Would you like to go
with Conrad instead?” He playfully challenged me, daring me to say yes.
“No.” My voice was small as I
realized that this would be our first formal date. A small panic set in at the
realization of what the following night could hold. My palms began to sweat
and suddenly I was very uncomfortable standing next to Joshua in public.
everyone see how I feel about you?
He must have been able to see
that I was uncomfortable because he placated me with words that only I could