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Chapter Two

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Melia’s POV.

It’s a struggle to control my racing heartbeat. By some miracle, I manage to get my brain to work. I shake the man’s hand and resist falling into a helpless heap on the floor. His skin is electric against mine. Warm, rough, and so enticing. Braxton licks his lips and my control wavers again.

Crap. I need to get my shit together.

Luckily, Brad starts explaining what Braxton will be learning today. I retrieve my hand from his addictive touch and knit my fingers together. I try to focus on what Brad is saying, but all I can smell is Braxton’s aftershave and it’s doing strange things to my body.

“Is that alright, Melia?” Brad’s voice filters through my thoughts.

I hurriedly slap a smile on my face. “Of course.”

“Great. You two can get started, then.”

Brad effectively dismisses us and takes a seat at his desk. Braxton turns to me expectantly.

I lead him out of the room and over to my desk.

“Pull up a chair and I’ll show you how our systems work,” I tell him.

I force my brain to go back into work mode. I need to be professional. Braxton remains relatively quiet as I show him the ropes. I teach him the basics of managing our client profiles, how to set up new accounts etc.

At one point, I turn my attention away from the screen and back at him, to see if he is listening. I’m startled by how close he is to me, having leaned in to see better. He puts me on edge and makes nervous. I can’t trust my traitorous body around him.

“So, think you’re ready to try now?” I ask.

Braxton smirks at me. “Yes. Thank you for your help, Melia,” he replies smoothly.

Hearing my name from his lips sends a shiver down my spine. Embarrassingly, Braxton seems to notice, and his smirk deepens.

“Okay. Just find me if you need anything.”

Braxton returns to his own desk, and I breathe a sigh of relief. He’s only a few metres away, but that space allows my brain function to return to normal. I turn my focus back to my work and get lost in it for a few hours.

I jump when someone’s hand lands on my shoulder. My eyes dart up to see Braxton stood next to me.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. I called your name, but I think you were in the zone,” he says with a wry smile.

How is he so bloody handsome?

“It’s lunch now, I was wondering if you could make any good recommendations? I only moved into this area of the city last week and I still don’t know all the good places.”

My heart races as I struggle to get my thoughts straight.

“Um, sure. There’s a great sandwich café two blocks down, or, if you like stir-fry, there’s a place about eight minutes away-” I start to suggest.

Marta comes over and cuts me off. “Why don’t you take him out somewhere, Mel? We’ll take a rain-check on lunch, I’ve got a million things to do,” she says sneakily.

I glare at her. Her eyes flash with mischief.

That sneaky little...

“Are you sure?” Braxton asks, seemingly oblivious to Marta’s tricks, but the slight quirk of the side of his mouth suggests otherwise.

“Of course, she’d love to. Wouldn’t you, Mel?” Marta urges.

I force a smile. “Sure.”

Marta sashays off and I pick up my handbag. I guess we’re going to lunch, then. Braxton grabs his wallet from his desk, and we walk down the three flights of stairs and out of the lobby. It’s warm outside and the sun feels good on my skin. I make a snap decision to take him to one of my favourite cafés. It has outdoor seating, perfect for days like today.

“There’s a café four blocks from here, that sound okay?” I ask Braxton.

“I’ll go wherever you want,” he replies easily, but his voice implies a double-meaning to his words.

We chat about his sales history on the walk. I learn that he has been in sales since he was eighteen. He left his old job because he had reached the highest position and couldn’t be promoted further. Our company offers a better opportunity to move up.

I try not to let his confidence bother me. I’m the top sales exec for our company and I like it that way. You get a bonus every month if you’re at the top of the leader board, and I’ve rather gotten used to that extra bit of pay each month.

We take a seat outside and order ourselves coffees and sandwiches. Braxton tries to offer to pay, but I insist on paying for my own. The man has known me a couple of hours, he’s not buying my lunch.

Once we’ve paid and we’re waiting for the food to be prepped, Braxton leans over the table, towards me. “Tell me about yourself, Melia,” he orders calmly.

I raise an eyebrow at him. “What do you want to know?”

He thinks about it for a moment, before smirking.

That damn smirk.

It makes me want to hit him and kiss him at the same time.

Whoa, where did that come from?

“Why an intelligent, beautiful woman like you is so tense,” he answers bluntly.

My lips part in surprise.

Excuse me?

“Tense?” I repeat slowly, trying to determine where exactly he is going with this.

My thoughts have been scrambled because he called me intelligent and beautiful. Braxton shrugs out of his blazer. He rolls up the sleeves of his white shirt, revealing delicious inches of tattooed, tanned arms. He leans back in the chair and rests his right foot on his left knee.

Fuck.

He’s so hot.

“Yes. You’re tense, uptight, stiff,” he comments dryly. “I want to know why. What do you do for fun? Or to relax?”

Caught off guard by the question, I sputter an answer. “I exercise. Daily, mostly. And I watch trashy TV, it’s my guilty pleasure.”

He smiles deviously at me. “I have a lot of guilty pleasures,” he says cryptically. “I like to go the gym. I find that physical activities are great stress relievers.”

I narrow my eyes at him.

Is he implying sex?

He answers my own, unspoken question. “What about sex? Is that one of your guilty pleasures?”

I practically choke on air. I stare at him in shock. He did not just ask me that!

“That’s a bit personal, isn’t it? Jesus. You barely know me!” I blurt and he chuckles.

“I’m sorry, I guess it is. But I always find sex to be a great stress-reliever,” he replies casually, with a shrug.

A waitress brings the food over. She stares openly at Braxton, but he is too busy amusedly watching me and my burning cheeks. The food offers a few moments for me to collect myself. When the waitress leaves, I lean towards Braxton.

“Not that it’s any of your business, but I have a boyfriend, so yes, I get sex. Alright?” I snap.

My voice comes out more irritated that I intended. Mark and I haven’t had sex in over a month, but he doesn’t need to know that. Braxton looks at me thoughtfully, almost as though he doesn’t quite believe me.

“Hmm, okay. I don’t want to make you uncomfortable, so tell me something else about you. Did you go to university? Where did you grow up?”

I’m relieved that our conversation turns onto more normal topics. Talking about sex with a man this attractive, is a recipe for disaster. I tell him about my university experience, about how I met Mark there.

“What does Mark do?”

Braxton asks a perfectly normal question. Something about the way he says my boyfriend’s name grates on me, like it’s something sour is his mouth.

“He’s an electrician. He lives in the suburbs because that’s where most of his work is,” I reply.

We don’t live together because we both want to be near our workplaces, unfortunately, they are nowhere near each other. Braxton nods and runs his thumb over his bottom lip.

The simple action has me pressing my thighs together under the table.

I need to stop having these thoughts, like right now.

“Is he into the gym, like you?”

I can’t help but burst out laughing at Braxton’s question.

“No way! He hates it. He complains a lot because I won’t eat fatty foods with him. I have treat days obviously, but I think every day is a treat day for Mark,” I tell him.

Braxton smiles at me.

“I can relate. I’m close with my brother and his wife. I love my sister-in-law, Enna, but she’s always baking. It’s a nightmare to try and be good when I go round for dinner.”

It’s nice to see how fondly he talks of his family. He tells me more about his brother, Keon. He and his wife have a daughter. Braxton seems to have a huge soft spot for his niece.

Before we realise it, time has flown by, and we’ve almost used up the full hour of our lunch break. We rush back to the office.

“Do you feel comfortable with everything? Do you have any questions?” I check with Braxton before I got back to my desk.

He shakes his head and grins at me. “I’m all good. I’ll come find you if I get stuck. Thank you for lunch, Melia.”

Damn. He really needs to stop saying my name.

Work passes quickly for the rest of the day. About ten minutes before I usually finish, I decide to check on Braxton. He’s on the phone when I approach his desk, so I rest my hip against a nearby desk and wait for him.

“Perfect. I’ll see you two o’clock, tomorrow. Thank you, bye.”

He hangs up and spins around in his office chair, to face me.

“Client?” I ask, gesturing to the phone.

He smiles. ‘Yes. Booked in for tomorrow.’

“Anyone big?” I ask, trying not to sound as curious as I feel.

The larger the clients, the higher you move up on the leader board. I am a very competitive person.

Braxton shrugs. “Not that big. We’ll see.”

“Do you need me to look over your pitch?” I offer, but he shakes his head.

He stands up and stretches his arms in the air. I try not to ogle his muscular body. “Thank you, but it’s alright. You’ve helped me enough today.”

I say goodbye to Braxton and walk home, confused out of my mind.

I get changed the moment I’m home and go straight downstairs to the gym.

In the words of Braxton King, I’m tense and need to relieve some stress.

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