* Clover *
Clover sat on a park bench in Tucker City tapping away at her phone. She had recently started online dating, or rather chatting after deciding she was no good at picking up men. She had yet to meet any of the horny but responsive strangers she texted with, enjoying the mysteriousness of the chase.
Her best friend, Aurora, called her lazy, which she might be. Instead of looking up at all the yummy potential single men in the park, absorbed in her phone on her lunch break.
“Screw her,” Clover muttered under her breath.
Clover whipped her head, noticing a man had sat next to her with a sandwich. She did a double-take, whoa, could he not be so hot with his meat and bread?
He was tall, muscled, wearing an expensive suit but his angel came down to earth face did her in. Were his blue eyes actually sparkling in the sun? Was his perfect jaw and chin pointed in her direction Super Man style?
Clover wiggled her big butt the other way, “Sorry.”
His melodious chuckle rumbled her chest, “No, whatever you’re doing looks important.”
She looked down at the app. Love Meets You and frowned, “Not even a little.”
He tilted his head, the sunlight showing off the highlights in his thick dark hair, “You one of those women who can’t put the phone down?”
She sat up straight, “Of course not. I’m on my lunch break.”
He held up his sandwich, “Me too,” he gave her a sexy as sin smirk.
Why was she defending herself to this stranger? He seemed nice and playful, but why was he even talking to her? She ran a hand through her wavy red hair and went back to see if Mr. Bright had messaged her back.
“What’s your name?”
She gritted her teeth. Should she answer? No wonder Aurora teased her. Here sat an interested guy pleasantly striking up a conversation, and it irritated her. Small talk never hurt anyone, right?
Clover glanced over and saw him smiling, “What’s yours?”
“I asked first.”
“It is, thanks,” she stood up after spotting the time on her smartwatch, “I’ve heard it all. Have a nice day.”
Clover quickly walked away from Mr. Gorgeous without a backward glance. Was he staring at her big ass? God, she was tired of not eating to fit into skirts. Her curves couldn’t be helped, but just the thought of exercising brought back memories of when her mother used to track her weight in high school. When she left home, snatched up that scale, leaving it broken and on fire in the dumpster behind the fitness center after years of torture. Giggling at the memory, it added pep in her step, forgetting the mysterious man in the park.
She returned to her boring reception job at the office minutes later. The other girls ignored her, as usual. She’d been here over a year and still, all the plastic women glared at her as if she were an unwanted cupcake at a bulimic retreat.
“Mr. Thistle is expecting an important call,” The Plastic told her then sashayed away.
Clover refrained from rolling her eyes before settling down at the desk to restore order to Mason Thistle’s life. The man consistently expected calls. Did the bitch think she stared at the wall all day?
Peter Gill and Mason Thistle were billionaire tech developers. There was always a new deal and always a way to mess up her ability to leave when a deadline loomed. He refused to hire a personal assistant, arguing having her man the front desk more than enough aid. Some days she wasn’t so sure, especially when investors reamed her out for not finding time in his busy schedule for them or having to scroll through contracts on a minute’s notice because he needed exact wording.
Mason Thistle was only five years older than her and already had more money than she’d know what to do with. He was good looking too, which didn’t help her position around the office. He never flirted with anyone, much to The Plastics dismay. How many times had she had to hear their whiny voices gripe about not fucking their boss?
“Miss McBride, I’m taking a conference call,” Mr. Thistle’s smooth tone came through the Bluetooth in her ear.
“Yes, sir. Good luck!”
He didn’t respond, but she always wished him luck. She accidentally blurted it nervously on her first day and it just stuck. Every time he held a meeting, it fell off her tongue like a goodbye.
A few hours later she checked her cell. No text from Aurora. She worked from home, making a living the easy way. Phone sex. Clover wondered if she could do that, peering at the slow-moving clock.
That voice. She sat up straight and looked at the blue-eyed stranger smiling down at her. What was he doing here?
She politely smiled back, pretending she didn’t recognize him. “Hello. How may I help you?”
He smirked. Hmm, that mouth. “Looking for Mason. Clover, right?”
She kept her smile in place, “Mr. Thistle is in a meeting. You can leave your name and I’ll tell him when he’s available.”
He leaned back on his heels, placing his hands in his pockets. “You could have had my name already, Red.”
She wanted to roll her eyes. Red? Really? “I’m sorry.”
“Are you? Are you sorry?”
Two Plastics walked by. They didn’t even have nowhere to go but to the elevator as they tried to bait him. He narrowed his eyes at Clover as if they were in the middle of a game only he knew the rules to.
She shook her head, “Mr. Thistle should be available soon, Mr…?”
He chuckled, “Jarvis.”
“Would you like to wait, Mr. Jarvis?”
He seemed far too happy to remain, much to her disappointment, as he languidly sat in the expensive guest chair near her desk. Oh look, here come more Plastics to ask if he needed anything. She returned to Mason’s emails, flagging his most important ones. He would need a lot of caffeine before done for the day.
On cue, Masons’ smooth voice came over her earpiece, “Can I please get another coffee, Miss McBride?”
She stood up, smoothing her skirt, “Of course.”
Clover booked it down the hall, avoiding Ole Blue-Eyes stare. She quickly fixed up Mason’s java, then knocked on the door before entering his massive office.
Mason Thistle was a large man. He always found time to exercise, causing Clover to scramble to cover for his absence. His bulk stretched his suits, and she often wondered if any buttons ever popped off when he wasn’t careful.
His honey-colored eyes beamed at her, “That was fast. Thank you,” he said as she carefully set down his mug.
“Mr. Jarvis is here to see you, sir.”
Mason smiled wider, “Wonderful. He’s a university friend. He’ll probably show up more around here. Please send him in.”
She nodded and hurried to retrieve his friend. Great, she had made a fool of herself in the park to the boss’s friend, who’d ‘be around’. Oh crap, how many Plastics does it take to fetch water? Apparently, for Blue-Eyes, the number was five.
She cleared her throat, trying to keep the disdain out of it, “He’ll see you now, Mr. Jarvis.”
He jumped up, looking relieved, “Call me Bentley, Clover.” he winked as he went by.
Suddenly, like a fire drill, the area emptied. Grumbling under her breath, she resumed work. What was wrong with those women?
With emails and scheduling finished, she was glad it was almost quitting time. She shot a text to Aurora asking if she was able to meet for drinks because she could use ten and she texted back twelve or bust.
Grinning, she asked Mason if he required her to stay late. He didn’t, so she logged out and left the glass building.
“You look tired,” he told his friend, settling in a soft leather chair on the other side of Mason’s desk.
Seems business was booming for the bastards that abandoned him in college.
Mason grinned, “Good to see you too. Not all of us can be off fucking half of the female population without denting our bank account.”
He scoffed, “My man-whore days are far behind me. This online dating shit is easier.”
Mason rolled his eyes, “Don’t talk about that here. Anyway, how long are you planning to be in the city?”
He stared out the window, surveying the view, “City’s flush with potential. Thought I’d do business and pleasure. Hey,” he leaned forward, “what’s with your hot secretary? That chick is feisty.”
Not to mention a body worth losing himself to all night. When he spotted her resting on the park bench staring wistfully at her phone wondered how her red hair would feel wrapped tightly in his fist. Finding her sitting primly behind the desk owned by one of his oldest friends sort of felt like fate wanted them to connect.
Mason smirked, “Clover’s off-limits. Don’t shit where you eat and all that.”
“How can you stand it?” Bentley laughed, “We spoke earlier today, but she ran away before I made a move. So innocent. Don’t you want to play with her?”
He shook his head, “No. Plus, I do not play with women. Not anymore.”
“You like her?” he teased to get under his skin, which wasn’t hard since the man fought him on everything, “She’s got curves for days. Isn’t that your type?”
“She’s professional and on time,” Mason scowled, “It doesn’t matter if I find her attractive. The women around here are catty. I can’t dip my wick anywhere I wish, even though I’ve been tempted.”
“I bet,” he snickered, “She’s beyond fuckable.”
Mason pointed a stern finger, “Forget about Clover. I’m serious.”
He sighed, bored with the conversation after hearing the solid resolve in his tone. “Care to join me for drinks? I could use five after the morning I had.”
Mason stood, “Yeah, fuck it.”
Walking out, Bentley smiled behind Mason’s back, recalling how he’d gone through Clover’s phone when she’d left her desk. The sassy redhead intrigued him. He wanted to figure out her secrets and exploit them to his benefit.
Clover was in for a surprise.
Off-limits, his ass.
* Clover *
“So, who’s Mr. Bright?” Aurora peered at Clover’s phone, “Did he really tell you he likes taking his nephew on amusement rides? Who does that?”
Clover closed the app Love Meets You, “Nice men do that, stupid.”
Aurora made a face, handing out shots, “The last guy I dated enjoyed smacking my ass. I thought that was nice too, idiot.”
She giggled, already feeling buzzed, “God, a good spanking sounds great.”
A few guys turned in their direction, and she ducked her head, snickering into her hand. Aurora slapped her arm, laughing lewdly. When the two of them got together Clover set all her loneliness aside because Aurora was the best friend she’d ever had and the most shameless person she’d ever met. No matter what mood she arrived in, Aurora never failed to make her problems better.
“Seriously though,” Clover straightened, “Mason has this hot friend I spoke to at the park today. He was flirting with me... I think.”
“That’s great! What did you do?”
“Nothing! He knows my boss!”
“Dammit Clover, why does that matter? Get out there before you adopt a dozen cats.”
She waved her cell, “I am. I’m contemplating meeting Mr. Bright.”
“What’s his real name? You can’t just—”
“It’s like a blind date, isn’t it?” she quickly defended, “I’ll meet during the day, in public, phone a friend, all that good shit.”
Aurora sighed, then called out to the passing waitress for more drinks. “Clover, I love you but look around. Right here are guys willing to know you or fuck you. What exactly are you wanting?”
She glanced at the cute guy over Aurora’s shoulder who frowned at her before turning away. “I want that spark. Someone who doesn’t judge me for not being a size zero.”
“What are you waiting for? Start the spark! Here and now, girl! I promise — men aren’t as picky as you think.”
Clover inspected her clothes for stains before relenting. “Okay. Let’s do this.”
Her friend squealed, “Check out the bar. See anyone worth our time?”
“Oh hell no!” she caught sight of her boss and Bentley sitting there, “Not them!”
“Who?” Aurora gaped, “Isn’t that Mason?”
“Yeah, and Mr. Perfect Pants,” she snorted, “No way can I go up there.”
“We’ll do it together. A team effort. I could use some Thursday cock,” she shuffled out of the booth then wrangled Clover up against protest.
She tried to smooth her skirt and unruly red strands at the same time before maneuvering to the end of the bar top, far, far away from Mason.
“Hi,” Aurora flipped her hair, addressing two suited men, “Can we squeeze in to place an order?”
Both men were attractive in their own way. They were drinking IPA’s, looking bored as hell.
“Sure,” the one with a short blonde haircut made room, “How are you doing?”
Clover peered up at his black-haired friend, feeling lost, as Aurora fed them exploits which didn’t involve phone sex antics. The girl never disclosed what she did until certain a man wouldn’t judge her or turn into a jealous jerk.
“I’m Brad,” Mr. Dark Hair stuck out his hand.
“Clover,” she quickly let go of his sweaty palm, “That’s Aurora.”
“Pretty names for pretty girls,” Brad quipped.
Kill me now, she inwardly cringed, “Thanks. Dry martini.” she ordered when the harried bartender came over.
Brad had an affable smile at least, “It’s on me, ladies. Should we get a booth?”
She smiled back, “Why not?”
Clover learned that Brad and Casey were paralegals. Brad insisted it was as boring as her own job when she mentioned what she did, only longer hours. “This is the first time I’ve relaxed in nearly a month,” he explained, his arm resting behind her head on the bench seat, “The office handles online internet dating sites legal and it’s tedious.”
Aurora laughed, “Clover loves those apps.”
She wanted to hit her friend, “Love’s a strong word.”
Brad chuckled, shrugging, “I’ve done it. Dating is different these days, and it’s not like a beautiful redhead walks up to me every day.”
She blushed. Brad was nice, she begrudgingly admitted to herself. He was also fit, handsome, and had a great job. He obviously didn’t mind that she had a fat ass, which increased his chances of taking her home.
Sneaking a glance at the bar, saw Mason staring directly at her. Oh shit! She turned her body, accidentally pushing her thighs against Brad.
He dropped his arm onto her shoulder, the other gripping her bare knee, “It’s early,” he nuzzled her ear, “Wanna get out of here?”
She swallowed. Did she? Aurora and Casey leaned close in conversation, clearly hitting it off. She’d had a few one-night stands, but this guy seemed the type who’d call you, even if he worked a lot. Did she want to start something with him when she planned to meet Mr. Bright?
“I don’t know,” she honestly told him.
He kissed her. Slow at first. She tasted beer and mint. An odd mixture, but not horrible. It was a great kiss, but she could practically feel her boss’s eyes burning an S for slut in the back of her head.
Clover backed her face away from his flushed one, “Not tonight.”
Brad shrugged, still smiling, “Can I give you my number?”
She nodded, handing him her phone. “Thanks for the drinks. I hope your work gets a little easier this month.”
He handed the device back, and she noticed he had sent a text to his own. Great, now she’d have to be rude or respond to him when he called.
“It is what it is, Clover. The pay is stellar,” he picked up his mug, “If you get bored this weekend I’m going to the Taco Festival.”
“Yeah, I go every year. It’s on Saturday. You pay a fee and get all the delicious food you can eat.” he grinned at her, “Beer garden is better.”
It sounded fun. “Cool.”
Clover said goodbye to the trio and left the bar, not bothering to see if Mason or Bentley were still around. Her boss was none of her business. She just wanted a shower and a good night’s sleep.
She drove home in her little Civic and entered her one-room apartment.
Maybe she would go out with Brad. He had made her feel safe at least, and his kiss had been kinda hot. He offered food, she mused, frowning into her empty fridge.
Aurora: He wanted you. Great job, but next time take the hottie home.
Clover: I know. Now let it go.
She sighed, sometimes envying her laid back attitude. Bringing a man home wasn’t on the long list of priorities she contemplated laying in bed wondering why Mr. Bright ran hot and cold and if she’d remembered to pay for the electricity.
After checking her inbox on Love Meets You one last time and finding no messages, rolled over, falling into a dreamless sleep.