Tricking Astrid

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Chapter 4

Sunday Remy didn’t answer a single phone call. What the significance of his silence meant, she tried not to dwell on. The horrible thoughts she formed as day turned to night too much. She ate dinner while watching TV for distraction.

Remy must be more upset than she realized. She’d slammed out of his car yelling at him after all. Acted like an immature bitch when he’d been totally sweet. All he ever told her was how pretty, smart, funny and incredible she was. Then she spiraled into a horny little whore throwing his compliments back with spitefulness.

Monday morning she phoned him on the way to work. She lived four city blocks from the high rise building of her employers.

The 3 C’s. The Law Brothers Inc.

Their commercials always added that tidbit of 3 C’s. Brothers who were all law and no-nonsense. What couldn’t one do for you?

Remy sent her to voice mail.

She shoved her cell phone into her handbag entering the building. At the security desk, she showed Drew her ID. He winked as she flew past.

With her mindset so sullen she didn’t notice Florence, the sixty-year-old who worked with her until they both walked into the elevator. Florence had a quiet manner whereas Mallory, the forty-nine-year-old they also slaved beside was a nutty busy-body. Flo, as she called her, nodding in welcome as they stood in the tiny space.

“Sorry,” Astrid meekly smiled, “I’m a bit frazzled.”

“It’s only Monday,” Flo kidded, “Wait until Friday rolls around.”

The building had fifteen floors. The lift stopped on the third. Chris Lewis, the eldest of the brothers stepped inside.

He was tall, as they all were, with stylishly slicked back raven hair and green eyes behind reading glasses. His business suit always impeccable. The attitude Astrid carried didn’t compare to the dark one he showed. He curtly acknowledged the ladies with a scowl, impatiently staring at the glowing numbers above their heads.

“Good morning,” Flo cheerily greeted him, ignoring his obvious mood, “Third floor? Isn’t that the Hockan Firm?”

Chris glanced at her instead of Flo. “Correct. It seems Calder finally passed the bar.”

She gave the other woman a puzzled look.

“Oh, how wonderful!” Flo beamed, “Jr.’s joining then? Yes?”

She was lost. Who the hell is Calder? She knew the 3 C’s dad’s name was Calder. There’s a fourth C? How fricking lame.

“Yeah.” Chris grumbled, once more looking at her, “Florence,” he looked away at last, “You were my father’s secretary, right?”

“For thirty years.”

“Jr.’s coming in today,” he didn’t sound at all happy about the situation, “Our father insisted on it, even though he just came back from Harvard. I have an important hearing this afternoon as does Cody. Could you humor Calder until I return?”

Flo shrugged, “Chris, he’s young. So were you once and now look? You and your brothers make fine lawyers. He won’t disrupt the flow.”

He gazed at Astrid once more and it unnerved her, “Calder is twenty-five. How old are you again, um, Astrid?”

She looked down at her low slung heels, “Twenty-three.”

“Hmm,” he replied, ending the conversation.

The 9th floor opened, and they filed out. Librarians to the left, lawyer to the right. Marla, the nineteen-year-old secretary returned her wave of hello, busy on her headset already receiving messages before Chris snapped something.

She resumed walking down the carpeted hall until entering the large library. There were four different law firms in the building. All used the reference material. The 3 C’s each had a clerk.

Flo, Mallory, and Astrid had small glassed encased work-spaces, which faced the many bookshelves. She unlocked her office, turned on the overhead then groaned at the mess Cameron Lewis made of books piled haphazardly onto a cart. He was a pig.

The 3 C’s were actually four, she mused, beginning her routine of checking files, notes, and cataloging. Chris 45, Cameron 37, Cody 32 and Calder 25. Calder Sr’s wife passed away years ago. The boys grew up in boarding school she’d learned from Mallory.

Chris married Julia straight out of college and shared his stuck up, superior outlook. Their two children Sarah, 9, and Sam 8, followed tradition being raised by school officials. Those poor kids. Chris’s demeanor often rude, callous and unwavering but charming in the courtroom. The major player for the family fortune.

Cameron could be abrasive, snapping at her for absolutely no reason. She tried to talk Flo into taking more of his paperwork because she loathed his attitude. Flo assisted Chris and constantly told Astrid no. Still, it didn’t hurt to ask.

Half lazy, half overachiever, summed up Cody. He and Chris won more cases than Cameron, which probably pissed him off. Yet, Cody thrived under deadlines, causing Mallory panic attacks trying to find what he needed at the last second. He was thankful at least, unlike Cameron who always asked what took her so long.

Astrid became warm once she started the re-shelving process. The black turtleneck she put on was sleeveless, but it covered the nasty hickey Remy planted on her neck. The reminder caused her body heat even more. It was spring, the weather nearly seventy degrees. Unfortunately, the air conditioning wasn’t running. The knee-length skirt she wore did little to cool her off.

Mallory waddled over to the area she worked in at lunchtime. A heavyset lady who hid snacks in the stacks chatted too much, but Astrid didn’t mind. Her ongoing list of foods she swore went uneaten blatant lies when she plainly ate it in front of you. She struggled not to laugh at the sweet woman at times like those.

“Astrid!” Mallory grinned up to where she stood on the third rung of a ladder, “Lunchtime! I’m not going to eat that awful tuna they had on Friday. I may have the roast beef, but it might make me tired. Or, an apple sounds good.”

The women usually ate across the street at an outdoor cafe. A nice day to go, but she kept working. Flo urged Mallory to hurry by the exit. They never formally asked her to join them. If she did, she did, otherwise let her be.

“Have that apple,” Astrid smiled down at the plump lady, “It’s too hot for a big meal. I’m shelving until the carts empty. I swear Cameron did not need these!”

She shrugged, “Maybe he just wanted you to get them. He had a fight with April and messes with you when he wants to boss somebody around.”

Astrid laughed at her retreating figure. Cameron could be a dick. Luckily he was between cases at the moment. Slow times were precious to her.

The space quiet, and the ladies off to lunch she continued to load an arm with books, climb the steps to re-shelve. Only, she wasn’t alone.

After five minutes she glanced down, preparing to descend when she saw a man peering up at her. She gave a tiny yelp of startled surprise, clutching the sides of the narrow ladder for balance.

He barked in laughter. His handsome features beamed upward as he casually stepped away. Had he been looking up her skirt? The thought made her blush.

This had to be Calder, recognizing the similar bone structure of the Lewis men. He didn’t have the same dark hair, sporting wavy blonde locks. Also, his eyes were the same intense shade of emerald as Chris’s under heavy lids.

Bedroom eyes.

His stature stocky, toned by obvious bodybuilding, stood a few inches taller than her when she climbed down, cheeks ruddy in embarrassment. “Can I help you?” she snapped, still blushing.

He moved closer, so she gazed into those piercing green eyes uneasily. They seemed to dig into her soul the longer they remained locked. The closeness awkward, but she wouldn’t back down. He smirked, cocking his head as if sizing her up.

“What’s your name?” his tone smoothly deep with an erotic undertone causing her heart to leap in sudden arousal.

She glared over his shoulder, but he lingered so damn close it was impossible to avoid his amused expression. She steadied herself. What’s wrong with her? He’s a Lewis. A fourth C to which, before long, would order her around too.

“Astrid,” glad her voice came out calm as she finally met his stare, “Calder?”

He raised one eyebrow like Cameron sometimes did. “Yup. Astrid, you say? That’s a very old Norse name.”

She smiled politely, “Sure.”

“Do you know what it means?” he pressed.

“What?” she dumbly responded, absorbed in how his lips curled as if holding in secrets.

Again he applied that easy sexy timbre, “Astrid means strength. I don’t know you, but I’m guessing to work with my asshole brothers you have it in spades.”

She couldn’t help but giggle, “I suppose so.”

He placed an arm on a shelve, blocking her in since they were in the aisle’s corner that only had one entrance. The ladder blocked the other side. Why was he standing so damn close? If he leaned forward, they could kiss. Still, she stood firm. Strength? She was using it all to not faint in front of this gorgeous fourth Lewis. He seemed oddly interested in whatever kind of game he’s playing with her.

“My brothers didn’t tell me a young woman working here,” he said, glancing down at her chest, “Besides Marla, I mean. But she’s a pup isn’t she?”

Astrid wondered what rambling to her about their youthfulness meant. Sweaty, in all black, under fluorescent lighting, her appearance screamed anything but put together. His attire casual though for his first day. Light, baggy blue jeans, a white dress shirt rolled up at the elbows. She saw his tucked in a wife-beater underneath but he looked damn good like that. Twenty-five years old and a major power player.

“I’m twenty-three,” she offered information which sounded lame to her own ears, “Am I a pup?”

He huskily chuckled, the sparkle in his green eyes seemingly pleased, “No. You’ll be a fantastic friend in this stifling office. Where are the biddies?”

“Huh?” Once again stunned.

He reached up brazenly brushing aside a strand of hair on her cheek. The gesture intimate. His fingers lingered a heartbeat too long against her skin before it vanished. “Florence?”

“Oh,” she blinked. “Lunch. I stayed.” Obviously!

She felt naked under his intense gaze and awkwardly aroused by his touch. Why did he appear the same? It’s crazy to be this close to a Lewis. No, a stranger.

“Will you go to dinner with me tonight?” he bluntly asked.

What the hell? “Um… I can’t. Wait, are you serious?”

“Yeah! Why not? Come on, hasn’t Cody hit on you? Not that I’m any better, but he whores around. You seem interesting.”

She laughed but sobered at the thought of Calder actually liking her when they’d only just met. Maybe Remy had been honest all along saying she’s hot shit. Calder must see something appealing for him to ask her out.

Oh hell! Remy. Her boyfriend.

“I have a boyfriend,” she blurted, a tinge of shame flushing her cheeks for not experiencing more guilt flirting with another man, “He wouldn’t appreciate me going out with you.”

He nodded, once more glanced at her breasts before backing away, “Sure you do. Why not?”

“What do you mean?” The guy was all over the place.

“I’ve never lived here,” he dropped his arm, stepping back to a respectful distance, “Hoped you’d show me the sights. I just graduated.”

“Congratulations.”

“Chris isn’t thrilled to have another partner on the sign outside,” he frowned, “But thanks, Astrid.”

Feeling a little sorry for him offered without thinking it through, “Um… I love to dance. The place doesn’t get too rowdy during the week and good for chilling. Tonight?”

Calder liked her awkward suggestion a lot, coming to life with excitement, “Fuck yeah! I can’t wait to shake it on the dance floor with you. Bet you’re a Rihanna fan. See, I knew we’d be friends.”

She couldn’t help but grin as he continued to go on about how Astrid’s his type of buddy. Except, his slit of emerald eyes kept piercing her with intensity, felt he wanted more than a buddy. A fuck buddy perhaps.

The time he wasted until rushing away before Flo arrived was following her around, yammering about his college days. The long, tedious test, studying as his friends partied. He came across as charming. Down to earth, talking about his brothers as if they were jerks who pretended to be hotshot lawyers in a city full of them. Astrid respected the Lewises. Their traditional family commended in most circles. As Calder spent fifteen minutes with her, she allowed herself to admit his family was a bit prudish, stubborn, snotty and condescending.

Flo and Mallory immediately caught Astrid’s furtive behavior when they returned from lunch. Mallory pestered her until she revealed she’d talk to Calder and made plans with the fourth C. Mallory and Flo exchanged knowing looks because they’d met her boyfriend a month ago. They encouraged her to be friendly. Flo admitted she always liked him the best out of the brothers.

She rang Remy throughout the day until leaving work. He still didn’t answer, and she was to mad to leave a message. They never really texted each other, so she fudged that idea.

Her blood boiled. He must be truly ignoring her. There’s no way he hadn’t noticed she called ten times since Saturday. No more.

His loss.

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