Chapter 7: Giving into His Demands
I ignore Red’s annoyed glare and shrug out of Marco’s hold, turning to face him I question, “what are you doing here?” He glances down at me while thrusting a bag into my arms, I open it and shake my head confused.
“I can’t find Marisa…” He explains.
With a nod, I allow the bag to slide down onto my wrist before using both palms to direct the large man towards the elevators. Marco keeps a steady eye on Red, I inwardly groan; does he not realise the man owns the damn company! Pressing the down arrow, I tap my foot impatiently. Finally, the metal doors open and I practically kick a reluctant Marco inside.
Before the doors close Red’s voice is loud and clear, “I don’t want strangers up here, see to keeping out unwanted visitors.”
Thankfully the doors close before Marco can say or do anything, I take a breath before turning around and shrugging at the receptionist. My legs carry me towards my boss who doesn’t meet my gaze. Red makes his way down the hall and towards our offices, I follow behind him silently. He walks through my office and pauses at the entrance to his, “Julia…” He turns to face me.
“Hmm?” I look up at him, biting my bottom lip nervously.
His mouth parts slightly, cocking his head slightly the large man frowns. “I can’t find Ashford’s blueprints.”
I drop my bag on my desk and move towards him, he pushes through to his office, holding the door for me. Steadying my heart rate, I continue towards his computer. Red takes a seat on the plush office chair, he logs in before sliding the keyboard and mouse over to me. I bend down slightly and begin to flick through the documents on his computer, I remember sending him a copy of the layout but nothing appears despite searching for the document names.
“Did you rename the file, sir?” I question.
When he doesn’t respond I turn to face him, only to come inches from touching his sensual lips. Without thinking I go to move back, Red’s arm wraps around my waist as my heels catch. He keeps firm hold of my side, “no, I don’t recall changing anything.” I straighten and clear my throat out, “are you sure you sent it to me?” He questions.
I purse my lips, “I sent it to you…” I mutter.
“Maybe you’ve forgotten.” He snaps.
I pause and straighten up, he directs his gaze to my now crossed arms, “just what are you trying to get at?” Wow, there! Settle child. I ignore my subconscious, Red’s passive aggressive behaviour is highly unattractive.
“Absolutely nothing… Leave, I’ll find it myself.” He grunts out, before turning back to face the desktop. The dismissal is clear and cuts the air like a razor. Holding the current of curses, I walk out of the office. With stubborn anger running through my veins, I move to my laptop. Opening it up, I wait impatiently for it to boot up. The second it’s live, I log into my email account and check the sent folder.
Grinding my molars, I forward the sent message to Red. Asshole, hope he chokes on that attitude of his. A couple of seconds later, the phone on my desk buzzes. Rolling my eyes, I answer, “Mr. Alfonsi’s office, what can I do for you?”
“The file is incomplete.” The line cuts dead.
Hold it in. I give myself a small pep-talk before standing and practically marching to his office. How the file is incomplete, I don’t know… considering he signed off on it. Upon entry, I find myself glaring daggers at Red, who is leaning comfortably on his chair. I make my way around his oversized desk and place my palm on the cold glass.
I make a point of not meeting his eyes, instead, I scan through the blueprints… three times. Nothing of concern in my opinion. From the side of my eye, I notice Red move in closer, his body heat practically kissing mine. I suppress a shiver as an unfamiliar thrill runs up my body. I take note of his large arm banding around my form and grabbing the mouse from my fingers, he does this without actually making any body contact.
I hold my breath. His eyes remain focused on the screen, “you’re angry with me?”
My eyes also remain on the screen, “please note down the issues you’ve found and I’ll contact the design department.” I straighten up.
His arm remains around me, caging me between it and the desk. “Julia.” He looks up at me, “I ask for your personal life to remain outside of this building, am I asking too much?”
“Excuse me?” I look down towards him, blow away by the restrained anger in his eyes. In the back of my mind, I acknowledge just how close his face is to my chest, but that’s not the important issue here. Then it hits me, Marco! “Mr. Alfonsi, I can assure you I have not forgotten. I was unaware of his visit, had I been aware of it; I’d have made sure it was pushed to after hours.”
This only seems to cause further frustration, Red’s jaw clenches and I imagine him suddenly turning into a fire-breathing dragon, the thought causes a small spark of amusement to mould my lips. Red doesn’t miss the movement, “what’s so funny?”
I bite the side of my cheek and shake my head, “nothing.” My annoyance with my boss fades and I focus on not becoming a laughing train wreck in his office.
“Lair…” the word is whispered huskily.
Before I can respond, Red’s office door is pushed open by a sultry voice, “Darling, we need to talk about that wrench of a woman your mother is fixated on!”
My eyes snap towards the voice and I instantly put up my defence as the striking model's eyes pierce straight through me. Red’s arm keeps me captive, “not right now, Gia.”
Gia turns her daggered glare to Red like a weight has been lifted off me, I relax. “Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t realise your pending marriage is of little importance.” Her eyes flicker towards me, “does your secretary have no work to do?” My title is emphasised.
Red’s arm slowly lowers and I don’t think twice about vacating the room, brushing past the tall model and back to my desk. Taking a seat, I look through Red’s schedule, pausing on a business party the coming Friday. I’d spoken to him about needing to find a partner to take, he’d simply shrugged and given me an absent nod of his head. Minutes pass and I tap my foot anxiously while scanning through Red’s list of friends, a majority of which are men, married, older females or shareholders.
I zero in on one candidate, Mrs. Griffith, just as Red’s office door is pushed open, Gia turns to face Red as he leans against his office door. “You’d better sort this out, Red!” She hisses.
“Gia, this is my workplace.” Red keeps his tone calm, almost as if he’s talking to a child.
My eyes widen as Gia shouts, “are you marrying her, Red!?”
The phone on my desk decides that’s the best moment to ring, automatically my hand reaches out for it. “Mr. Alfonsi’s office-“
“Well!?” I’m cut off by Gia.
Red’s calm façade takes a hike and a furious stand takes place, “I may not marry her, Gia. But I sure as hell am not marrying you, either!”
I swallow hard, ‘bad timing?’ Mr. Ashford’s voice snaps through me. ‘Give me a call when you’re free… and that devil you call a boss is absent,’ he jokes.
I hum my response while slowly lowering the phone back onto its stand, “you have a meeting with your shareholders, in ten, sir…” I break their livid glare, awkwardly.
“Thank you, please see to escorting Ms. Rosellas out.” Red turns his back on the scorned woman. I stand up and head towards the door.
She turns to face me as I open the glass panel, “ma’am…” I begin.
“Sweetheart, please. Don’t get your hopes up high, he may not marry me… but Red takes no pleasure in foolish office romances, either.”
I keep the door open, “I don’t-”
“Honestly! You think I don’t know what games you’re playing. He’ll come back to me… he always does.” She shrugs before sauntering out of the office. I never realised I was such a threat to her. Shaking my head of her foolish accusations, I decided to find out why James Ashford had called.
“Hello, please forward me through to Mr. Ashford, he asked for me to call.” I greet his assistant.
The man replies, ‘name please?’ I give the man my name and wait for him to pass the line.
′Julia! That was quick, missing me already?′ James teases.
I keep the bubbling laughter inside, “is something wrong, sir?”
‘Not with work…’ he sighs, ’but with my heart, yes.’ My jaw drops, I go to tell him I’m of little assistance in the romance department but he continues, ‘would you do me a favour, lovely Julia? Will you accompany me to a business party?’ He invites.
I blanch, hundred percent blanch. “Oh… thank you for the offer, but I don’t think my boss would be too keen on the idea.”
’Are you working at eight, Friday evening?’ He questions.
Without thought, I reply, “no, I get off work at six.”
‘Exactly. I’m asking you as a friend, not a client. This has nothing to do with work, Ms. Williams.’
I sigh, “I’m sorry, Mr. Ashford. I can’t accompany you to the dinner, you’ll forgive me, yes?”
’My wounded pride and ego… of course I’ll forgive you sweetheart, but you’ll have to make it up to me, someday,’ he bargains. I laugh and hang up only to be given the fright of my life.
“Oh don’t let me stop you…” Red leans against the wall, his arms and ankles crossed. “If you’re done entertaining our clients, shall we head to the meeting.”
I don’t reply, grabbing my laptop and recorder, I lead the way to the conference room. Before we enter, Red grabs my upper arm, “you’re coming to that dinner with me.” He doesn’t wait for my response, instead, he strides through the door like he owns the damn place… he does own the place. Oh, shut up!
The following week, I find myself rushing around like a mad woman. Marisa thrusts a bag in my hands, “clothes, makeup and shoes.” I smile at her gratefully.
It’d be just my luck to have a furious Red Alfonsi refusing to attend his own business dinner. I shove all my things in the back of my car, along with Red’s suit. Never have I broken the speed limit before, then again; I’ve never met a man as infuriating as Red. Tearing down the highway, I make my way to his home.
Within minutes I’m parked outside his house, with our clothes in my hand and my legs carrying me to the front door. I push in his code, before entering the warehouse. “Sir?” I call out.
“I’m not going to the fucking dinner with Gia, Julia!” I roll my eyes.
Following the shareholders meeting, I’d promptly declined to attend the dinner with him and had given him other alternatives. “Sir!” I snap. “Come down here!”
“I’m also not taking Mrs. Griffith either!” I take a deep breath. Personally, I saw nothing wrong with the mid-aged woman.
Leaving my bag on the sofa, I grab his suit and take it up stairs. “I’ll go with you…” I lean against the frame of the bathroom as Red dries his hands. His eyes flicker up to mine through the mirror, “now, hurry up and put this on!”
“You’re wearing that…?” He pauses to look down at my shorts and the loose shirt. “It’s too revealing.” He states. Not at all concerned with it being far too casual attire to wear to a business gathering, but rather the length of it.
I turn around, “just put the suit on, sir.” I rush back downstairs and grab the bag Marisa had given me. Heading to the powder room, I make quick work of stripping out of my clothes and tugging on her ones. I step into strappy heels before lightly applying some makeup and lifting my hair into a somewhat elegant bun.
“Julia!” I hear Red call out.
Taking a breath, I gather the long, light but layered and flowy maroon dress before opening the door and stepping into the dining area. Red’s back is to me, but the sound of my heels on the hard floor has him turning in my direction. He takes in every inch of my frame before coming to a stop at the low-dipping neckline. “Too revealing…” He mutters as he makes his way towards me.
“Oh, just get in the damn car!” I move behind him and push him towards the door while grabbing his keys and my purse. I unlock the vehicle and hold the driver’s side door open for him, “come on, sir! Get in the car, we’re already late…”
Without any warning, one of Red’s arms cage me against the car, while the other wraps around my waist. “Wait…” His warm, minty breath fans the top of my head. He tilts his head and lowers until I can feel the warm caress against the side of my neck…