All of Me

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Can't Smell the Flowers

|||| Naomi Monroe ||||

I drag my feet as I enter the elevator to go to the ninth floor of the building where NotionX’s office is located. I was working late last night after doing Gianni’s hair to iron out some bugs in my app — PVR Network — which stands for: Philanthropy, Volunteerism, and Relief Network. Not the sexiest name out there, but that’s what acronyms and cute logos are for, right? Anyway, I really want this app to expand across the country and even internationally some day, which means I need it to be perfect before I start pitching to potential investors. Ironically, Mr. Laurent was on that list before I learned I’d be interviewing him. I didn’t want to seem like I was scheming or anything and even downplayed the app when we were talking yesterday.

As a result of my late night of coding, I missed my alarm, which meant missing my morning coffee and barely making it here on time. In summary: I am groggy and grumpy. But, at least it’s Friday and then I can just spend the weekend continuing to work on PVR and maybe binging something on Netflix.

When I reach our floor, barely anyone is here other than my editor Katie and three other junior staff. I make a beeline for my desk to get started for the day and my stomach is now in knots because it just hit me that I’ll be spending half of it looking at Mr. Laurent’s face while I review my footage of the interview and plan out articles that will accompany it.

My face scrunches when I reach my desk because what the hell are these flowers doing here? I look around the barren office and no one else seems to have a delivery on their desk, so I assume it’s a mistake and these flowers were meant for Katie — her husband is always sending her flowers or gifts or food. I notice a card sitting between the stems of the flowers when I get close enough to my desk and realize it has my name on it.

No way.

I open the card to see that it’s been signed by Mr. Laurent. Still, I am confused. Yes, we spent hours together yesterday and yes, we did kiss, but it’s not like I agreed to be his bootycall and went home with him last night. Even if I did, I don’t understand why he’d send flowers.

~~~~~

Ms. Monroe,

I wanted to reiterate my appreciation for you taking the time to show me around the beautiful city of Atlanta last night. I enjoyed it so much that I’ve decided to extend my time here for at least a week and plan to learn more about the up-and-coming startup scene here.

Additionally, I would like to show you my thanks in person. That brunch spot you were raving about — The Bistro — had a few open reservations for Saturday afternoon if you are available. I’ve enclosed my number if you are interested in going. It is totally up to you.

~~~~~

Again, my face is scrunched with confusion as to why this man went through the hassle of sending me flowers and is now asking me to my favorite brunch spot that I only passively mentioned when we walked by it yesterday. Whatever, I need to get to work on this man’s interview anyway. I put the card in my purse and push the flowers to the corner of my desk.

Opening my laptop and hovering over the file with Mr. Laurent’s interview, I contemplate simply listening to it rather than watching it, though it could cause me to miss some important nonverbal communication. The man is attractive, we kissed, and now he’s sent me flowers. In any other world, I’d say he likes me, but in this world, I know that is not realistic. He’s either looking for a sugar baby to satisfy whatever fetishes he might have going on, he’s bored and just wants to play with a stranger without consequences, or Nicolas is somehow in on this with a creep angle. I mean, having a sugar daddy doesn’t sound too bad, but I’m not sure if I’m about that life and from what I’ve heard, plus-size sugar babies have it worse.

Focus, Naomi.

I rub my temples before I click on the file and try to do the impossible and pay attention to the man’s interview rather than the man himself.

|||| Sebastien Laurent ||||

Since I’ve decided to stay in Atlanta all week, my meetings have gone virtual and I’ll be taking them from a conference room in this hotel today until I can at least work from a coworking space next week. I’m stuck with Joseph until he leaves first thing tomorrow morning and there is tension in the room given that I’m still annoyed with the comments he made last night about Naomi.

It’s early afternoon and we’re listening to the third pitch of the day, but I can barely focus as I think about the woman that I kissed last night and periodically check my phone to see if she has made contact. I had originally planned to apologize in the note that I sent with the flowers if I made her uncomfortable with the kiss, but then I thought it’d make more sense for me to do so in person. Probably a dumb move on my part because if I did make her uncomfortable, why would she even want to contact me or meet with me for brunch?

I can’t seem to get my mind off of Naomi and it’s unlike anything I’ve experienced before. Not only am I deeply attracted to her physically, but our conversations yesterday were captivating and flowed naturally. And then when we kissed, it felt so right, and I thought she was feeling the same way as well, but perhaps I misread. If she doesn’t make contact today, I will take that as my signal that I should leave her alone and respect her wishes and her boundaries.

But I hope that is not the case.

|||| Naomi Monroe ||||

“You should go!” Gianni beams, looking at me from the mirror as I once again do her hair before she has to go to work.

“Girl, no.”

“Why not?” she pouts. “The man sent you flowers. Who the fuck sends flowers anymore? Plus, he was paying attention to you talking about your favorite brunch spot and invited you. And The Bistro is almost always booked like months in advance so the fact that they even had openings is a sign that you should go.”

“Oh, so he buys me flowers and now I gotta give him the nani?” I ask with a raised brow.

“Who said you had to do all that? It’s just brunch, girl… And why is it so hard for you to believe that this man could be genuinely interested in you?”

“Because I know my reality and I know there is no chance in hell that man would be genuinely interested in me. I don’t know what his angle is, but there has to be something.”

“I’m tired and I gotta save my energy for work, so I can’t dog walk you across this apartment right now, but I’mma fight you as soon as I have the time. Stop acting like the idea of someone wanting you is so unbelievable.”

“It’s not that, I just think the idea of a man like Mr. Laurent wanting me is pretty far fetched.”

“Bitch, just go to brunch,” Gianni grumbles as she plays with the card in her hand. “Worst case scenario, you got some free food and might come out a little offended. It’ll be crowded, broad daylight, and I’ll lend you my taser, so you should otherwise be safe.”

“I don’t—“ I’m interrupted when I hear a phone dialing and look down to see that Gianni already took my phone off the dresser and started dialing Mr. Laurent’s number. “Gi!” I shout, trying to grab my phone from her, but she’s too fast and the line is already trilling on speaker.

It doesn’t take long until I hear Mr. Laurent’s deep voice on the other side of the phone and I freeze. “Hello, this is Sebastien Laurent,” he answers.

There’s a pause before Gianni elbows me in my side and I’m able to speak.

“H-hi Seba— Mr. Laurent, it’s me— er I mean, it’s Naomi… Naomi Monroe from NotionX.“

“Naomi! Er— Ms. Monroe, I’m so glad that you called.”

“You are?”

“Yes,” he responds plainly. “Why else would I have given you my number and asked you to brunch?”

Gianni smirks at his response and looks at me expectantly.

“R-right… Well, I’m calling to accept your offer.”

“Wonderful!” The man doesn’t seem to bother to hide the excitement in his voice, which I find absolutely baffling. “Would 1:00PM work?”

“That’s like peak brunch time for them. Are you sure there are open reservations for that time?”

After that, there’s another pause on the phone as if he’s expecting me to continue like I didn’t just ask him a question.

“Ms. Monroe, I’m asking you if 1:00PM would work. Let me handle the logistics. You just have to show up.”

“Um… okay?” I respond, finding this whole exchange completely foreign.

“Great! I will see you tomorrow at 1:00PM. I look forward to it, Ms. Monroe.”

“Yeah… Me too… Thanks.”

“That man has a sexy ass voice,” Gianni chimes as soon as we hang up. “When can I see that interview footage— Ow!” she’s cut off when I hit her upside the head with the comb.

“The hell did you do that for?!”

“Bitch! Do you not have a date with Mr. Sexy Voice at your favorite brunch spot tomorrow?”

I smile and shake my head at her in the mirror. “Well, I guess that I do.”

+++

A/N: Thank you for reading.

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