Playing the Bosses

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Great to Hear

It had been a week since Caleb, Justin, and Adrian returned from California and Caleb confronted Eva about leaving him in the office alone. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t seem to forget about that night in the office: The sound of her heels clicking, the look of disgust she had while standing over him, the way she firmly held his face when scolding him, and the darkness in her eyes when she’d falsely promised him punishment.

Caleb couldn’t stop thinking about the softness of Eva’s lips after feeling them for the first time and he remembered when she faltered, even if it was only for a few moments, and returned his gesture.

However, none of that could cover up the frustration Caleb felt toward Eva. First, she refused to acknowledge his existence beyond her regular work duties and when she did finally acknowledge him, it was just enough to leave him wanting more. He was also well aware that she’d be steadfast in denying him.

But Caleb had a plan. He was still her boss, so she’d have to come when he called. And he intended to call her until she gave him what he wanted.

“Eva,” he greeted, approaching her desk. “I hear from Justin that you’re useful in meetings, so join this call I have and be sure to take thorough notes.”

Without responding, Eva stood from her desk and followed Caleb into his office. When he settled at his desk, he was thrown off when he saw that Eva had taken a seat on the couch in his office several feet from his desk.

“The hell are you sitting way over there for?”

“The couch is more comfortable than that chair and I can hear you fine from here,” Eva replied without looking up from her tablet.

Caleb considered joining her on the couch, but he refused to follow her. She needs to come to me, he thought to himself.

“Whatever,” he mumbled before dialing the number to begin the conference call.

As the meeting went on, Caleb was distracted throughout most of it as he kept looking over at Eva. She was completely focused on taking notes, her head down and typing the entire time. Unlike him, she wasn’t stealing any glances and didn’t appear to be resisting the urge to do so.

Who the fuck is this woman? Caleb’s thoughts about Eva continued. She had me on my knees and was undressing me and now she’s back to ignoring me?! And why the fuck is it bothering me so much like I don’t have more than enough options that aren’t half her size?

The call had finished and Caleb was still glaring at Eva, growing even more frustrated when she still didn’t look up even after the meeting ended.

“You better have taken good notes,” he said. “I won’t tolerate half-assed scribbling and short-hand.”

“Sure thing, Mr. Peterson,” Eva replied dryly as she stood from the couch and walked toward the door. “I’ll clean these up and have them to you in the next forty-five minutes.”

“Make it twenty minutes. If you really took notes correctly, it shouldn’t be hard to clean them up.”

“Twenty minutes it is, then.”

Just when she reached the door, Caleb called out to her again.

“Eva.”

“Yes?” She turned to look at Caleb for the first time and her face was void of any emotion, only disappointing Caleb further.

“Come here,” he gestured.

“No.”

“What?”

“No.”

“I told you to come here.”

“If it has nothing to do with my job, Mr. Peterson, the answer is no.”

“Oh, so you’re playing hard-to-get now like I haven’t already had a taste of you?” Caleb challenged with a raised brow. “Don’t act like you didn’t kiss me back.”

“I don’t ‘play’ hard-to-get, Mr. Peterson. If I want something, I make it happen.”

“And you want me.” Caleb grabbed Eva’s arm, but didn’t go as far as pulling her to him.

She looked down at his hand on her before she met him with a chilling glare that sent shivers down his spine.

“Get your hand off me,” she said coldly and something in Caleb told him to heed the warning in her tone. “Touch me again without my consent, and you will regret it.”

Without another word, Eva walked out of Caleb’s office.

Again, he was left behind by the woman who completely baffled him.

~~~~~~~&&&~~~~~~~

Eva and Justin sat alone at their table in the private room of the restaurant where they had finished a dinner meeting with executives from another Japanese fashion line. Eva had become Justin’s go-to for any of his Japanese-related business and she’d nearly earned his full trust.

Their guests had left and the two of them were recapping the discussions with each other to make sure their mental notes were aligned and so that Eva could write things down. They’d reached a pause in their conversation as Eva typed everything on her iPad and Justin couldn’t help but examine her face.

He found that his thoughts of Eva would at times consume him and he would wonder things about her that went outside of their professional relationship. There were nights and weekends when Justin would wonder what Eva might be up to with her free time and he had an urge to call and check in on her. There were times when they’d go a few weeks without having their one-on-one meetings because he’d been on travel or get too busy and he noticed that he’d miss her in those periods.

Justin knew that he admired Eva… a lot. She was confident, friendly, and charismatic. She also had a natural allure that Justin figured was a mix of those three things along with the way she dressed. He admired the way she regularly wore high heels and how when she walked, she seemed to almost float.

She was also one of the few people with whom he felt comfortable talking about his stress.

“What?” Eva questioned when she looked up to see Justin giving her an intense stare. “Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Oh- oh!” Justin blinked rapidly and straightened up in his seat. “Sorry, I was kind of in a daze.”

“Don’t worry, I’m used to having that effect,” she quipped and Justin chuckled at her response.

“You know… You’re really good at this stuff, Eva,” he commented.

Eva looked at him curiously and rested her chin on her knuckles. “Care to expand?”

“I just mean that you’re really good at these business meetings and this work we’ve been doing to expand PMC Group’s reach to Japan. Not only are you charismatic, but you have excellent business acumen and while I haven’t put you in a situation that requires negotiating, I have no doubt that if I did, you’d do an excellent job… You’re a domineering woman and I admire that a lot.”

When he finished, Eva simply looked at him with a small smile on her face and he returned her look with a confused expression.

“Sorry, Eva. Was that too much? I don’t want to make you uncomfortable or anything…”

“No, not at all,” Eva assured. “Keep going,” she gestured her hand for him to continue. “I like what I’m hearing.”

With a grin on his face, Justin continued to give Eva praise. “You really are a gem, Eva Nelson. I’m glad we hired you. I know that year-long contract with the temp agency is about to expire, but what do you think of working for us permanently?”

“Hm,” Eva tapped her chin thoughtfully. “I’m not sure, honestly. I’d need to think about it.”

“Okay, we we have a few more months, but you’ve really been an asset to all of us — including Caleb even though he won’t admit it — since joining this company. So, I’m sure that the guys will be in agreement about keeping you.”

“Well, you can put some thought into that offer, and we’ll see what happens.”

“Oh, you know that I will. I don’t want to risk losing you.”

“Mhmm…” Eva took a sip of her wine before changing the subject. “Now that we’ve made it through this dinner meeting, please tell me that you’re doing something other than working this weekend.”

“I am, actually!” Justin chimed. “I’m heading down to D.C. to visit my parents.”

“Oh, nice! Is Ashley coming with?”

“No. Oddly enough, she’s the one who has to work this weekend. Funny because it’s usually me, but Ashley has been so busy lately.”

“I see. Is everything alright, though, work isn’t stressing her out too much, is it?”

“No, I don’t think so. She’s in event planning and it’s convention season, so I understand. At least she doesn’t have to travel since she covers New York-based events for her company. What about you? Any fun plans?”

“I just want to spend my weekend sleeping, though I do have a brunch with my mother on Sunday.”

“You don’t sound too excited about that.”

“Eh, she’s been having weird expectations for me lately. It’s kind of personal…”

“C’mon Eva,” he urged. “You and I have had some very personal conversations. I honestly hate that it feels one sided with you giving me such useful advice while I have nothing to offer you. And trust me, I know what it’s like dealing with parents and expectations.”

Eva let out a long breath. She hadn’t really had a chance to talk about how much it’s been bothering her that her mother has been on her back about Eric. She’d complained briefly to her sister Alexis, who didn’t seem to care, and she hadn’t had a chance to bring it up with Naomi.

“She’s been pressuring me to get married to someone I have no interest in being with,” Eva admitted. “And I just don’t get it. I’m still young and marriage isn’t something I want to even think about until I’m at least in my thirties. Even then, thirty isn’t old. It’s just not something I really aspire to do.”

Justin nodded as he listen to Eva. Her predicament sounded familiar considering he was facing the same pressure from his parents about Ashley.

“May I give you some unsolicited advice, Eva?”

Eva leaned in toward him with a narrowed gaze. “Go for it.”

“Parents are important, but when it comes down to it, it’s your life, not theirs. I mean, I’m sure your mom wants what’s best for you and that her intentions are good, but something like who you’ll spend the rest of your life with shouldn’t be up to her. And it’s definitely something you shouldn’t rush into because of pressure from other people.”

A smile pulled at Eva’s lips and she raised a brow. “You gonna follow your own advice, Justin?”

“What do you mean by that?”

“You’re a people-pleaser, aren’t you? At least, that’s the read I’ve gotten from you and I’m pretty good at reading people.”

“Yet another skill of the talented Eva Nelson,” he replied playfully. “So… How’d you read me as a people-pleaser?”

“You work dutifully for PMC Group, but there’s no passion there. You work hard and you take all the right steps, going through the motions, but there always seems to be something missing. What are passionate about, Justin?”

The air grew heavy with Eva’s question and Justin sat there analyzing her face. He didn’t have a good answer for her. He knew she was perceptive, but didn’t realize just how well she’d read him. Either way, Justin wasn’t sure what to say. He didn’t know what he was passionate about because he’d never had the opportunity to explore such things.

There was a lot Justin wanted to try, but he never did because it was considered “off track” for the life he thought he wanted to have. While he did face pressure from his parents to a certain extent, most of the pressure he faced came from himself.

Finally, Justin twisted his mouth before responding. “I don’t have a good answer for you, Eva. I’ll confess that I can be a bit of a people-pleaser. I mean, PMC Group’s work is interesting to me, but I’m admittedly not really passionate about it.”

“I appreciate your honesty.”

“Hey, Eva… While we’re being honest with each other, there’s something else I’ve been wanting to ask you about. Is that alright?”

“Let’s hear it.”

Justin hesitated. Right after he made the request, he regretted it. He had gotten too caught up in the casual and open nature of their conversation and he was about to take it a step too far. Justin wanted to ask Eva for more advice about his and Ashley’s sex life, but he knew it was wrong when he brought it up the first time months ago. And he feared that asking right now would ruin the moment they were having.

“Well?” Eva pressed, interrupting Justin’s long pause.

“I um… I wanted to ask, uh… So, you’re enjoying your time with PMC Group so far, right?”

Eva let out an amused huff and shook her head. “Something tells me that wasn’t your original question, but I’ll let it go. PMC Group has been good so far and I’ve gained some useful information from working here. I’m looking forward to learning a lot more as soon as possible.”

“That’s great to hear, Eva.”

+++

A/N: Thank you for reading! I wanted to show y’all a different side of Justin so you can see he’s not all bad lol. Caleb continues to be trash, though.

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