I was never the paranoid type. Period.
Yet after the whole fiasco involving my new boss, I was gripped by it. Every little glance or whisper from my colleagues seemed to set me off. My thoughts were running rampant with assumptions of what everyone could be saying or thinking about me. I analysed everything. From how someone spoke to me or looked at me to how they worded their email. I was so sure about my theories that for the past three weeks I have been a nervous wreck.
Sasha had insisted that I put in a complaint about Jennifer with the HR but I refused. The senior management were a bunch of bullies and I knew that they would back that evil cow irrespective of who was in the right. So, deciding that this was one of those “choose your battles wisely” kind-of-moment, I let it go.
But try as I might, I could not let one thing go. Thomas and his fucking lies.
I had worked hard all my life. Both in school and in the work field. My numerous degrees and awards were proof of that. But most people always assumed that it was my good looks that had gotten me to where I was. I hated the fact that sometimes, that is all people seemed to notice. It was as if that is where I began and where I ended. My looks. I was nothing beyond that. They didn’t see a person behind the face. And they definitely did not see the talent nor the intelligence. I often found myself stereotyped as "dumb" or "only good for a fuck" or a "slut" or "must be a bitch" or "high maintenance" and so on, purely based on the way I looked.
And although such things used to bother me once, they don’t anymore. I was far more secure in how I viewed myself now. Took a long time but I got there in the end.
But now? The thought that I was allowed to keep my job based on anything other than my work and skill set was simply not acceptable. Sasha’s quick-witted response to "not look a gift horse in the mouth" didn’t do much to help. Thomas’s praise of my work had felt so good. I remember being filled with happiness and pride. Was everything a lie?
I did not understand why it mattered so much. It wasn’t as if he was my boyfriend or obliged in any way to me. And yet. The feeling that I had been lied to by him for whatever reason filled me with anger and betrayal. Why? I had no bloody clue.
So, I did what I thought was best and threw his number in the bin and promised myself to avoid the man like the plague. And so far, it had worked just fine. Except for the odd ache in my chest and the crushing emptiness that filled me whenever I thought of him.
The sound of the front door opening moved my eyes away from the view outside my window.
Chase, my college friend walked in carrying two boxes of pizza and some drinks from the bottle shop. Placing them on the counter, he turned around with a wide grin and a bow. “Dinner is served milady”
Laughing gratefully, I launched myself out of the chair and ran over to the counter as my hunger doubled after smelling the amazing pepperoni. We spent most of the night talking about our college days, updates on mutual friends and our current lives.
I avoided talking about Thomas or the whole situation. In fact, I hadn’t even told Sasha yet. The reason being, I didn’t want my friends to view me as someone so easily manipulated with a few smooth words from a hot guy and also because, everything that had to do with Thomas felt too raw and private.
I had no idea how I had landed in bed and when I drifted off to sleep but I was startled awake to the sound of a loud crash coming from the living room. Feeling my eyes burn by the sudden intrusion of light, I blinked several times, trying to wake myself up. A second thud and a growling noise had me on high alert. Ignoring my weak legs and my pounding head, I raced into the living room and stood stunned at the sight in front of me.
Chase was pinned on the floor getting his face punched in by Thomas.
There were some flowers on the ground by the front door which stood wide open. The small entryway console was pushed from its spot and some of the pictures and vase that were on it, was now on the floor in pieces. Chase had his arms out in front of him trying to block the hail of blows and Thomas looked like someone possessed. Growling and yelling obscenities, he continued to mercilessly punch the man under him.
My state of shock soon turned to anger at this man’s audacity.
When my yelling did nothing, I ran towards the men and grabbed Thomas’s shirt from behind and pulled him with all my might. And when that failed to stop him, I did what I could. I started to hit, scratch and punch his back until he half- turned and grabbed my arms locking them together.
“What the fuck Thomas! What do you think you’re doing?”
His eyes had that strange glow and they looked livid. His body was tense with nerves showing up under the skin. His breathing was hard as he continued to stare me down.
“Get the fuck away from him or I’m calling the police!”
Suddenly he stood up to his full height with my hands still in his clutch. There was an aura of power radiating from him that I had failed to notice before. But it was palpable now. I wanted to cower at the sight of those deadly eyes that held me in place. It made me feel weak and small. Like a prey cornered.
My thinking was interrupted when he abruptly pulled me towards him and shoved his face into my neck, inhaling deeply.
A deep growl started to build at the back of his throat before erupting into a possessive snarl.
He uttered one word loud and clear.