“I beg to differ sir.” I replied after a minute or so. His head shot back up and his eyes burned into mine. He stood up, grabbing his glass as he did so.
“Why do you think an office junior who’d only been in the job a month was suddenly promoted to my PA.” He said with a degree of amusement. “Not because you’re qualified, not because you’re skilled.”
I frowned, I knew what he was doing. I’d done it so many times since I’d left Ben. Self sabotage. He didn’t want me to see past the hard cold outer exterior. He wanted me to fear him like everyone else did.
“I know.” I whispered. “I know why I was put forward. I knew when I stood in the elevator and everyone else in the office relaxed.”
Tobias watched me intensely before drinking the rest of his drink. He placed the glass down next to mine. He stood almost frozen to the spot where he stood.
“The people who know me, they run away. I scare people.” he muttered. “I like to scare people.”
“The people who think they know you.” I whispered under my breath. There was no way that the person who had given me a ride home, offered me a place to live and admitted to reluctantly letting his PA resign immediately so she could travel the world was a scary person. He had let me see flickers of the real him, even if it was by mistake. There was no taking that back.
“Excuse me?” He boomed, his voice was loud, but the anger behind it was all for show.
“No one really knows you, do they Mr Clarke. They only know the person you want them to know.”
“You’re toeing a fine line Ruby.” He noted darkly. “I wouldn’t push your luck.”
I smiled and shook my head. “I know what you’re trying to do.”
“And that is?” He drawled pushing himself off his desk. He walked over to the floor to ceiling window and shoved his hands in his jeans pocket.
“You’re trying to scare me, to make me run away too.”
He turned his head to look at me, his eyes alive with intrigue, with an almost smile on his face he spoke. “Is that so?”
“Yes.” I whispered. “But I’m not scared of you. Terrible people don’t do the things you do. I know I’ve only known you five days, but I can see that deep down you are a good person.”
Tobias opened his mouth to speak, but I held my hand up. “And I won’t run away from you.”
We stood there, a room apart for almost a minute without saying anything. Tobias watched me. His eyes swept up then down, then back up again. His brows softened along with his shoulders and then he smiled. It was a genuine smile, and it lit the room up when it touched his eyes. I wondered why he didn’t smile more, seeing him happy, it was like a breath of fresh air.
“You think you’ve got me all figured out.” He said, his voice low. “Don’t you?”
His smile dropped and he pulled his hands from his pockets. He picked the paper and the USB drive up from his desk and pointed to the door. “Let’s go.”
I nodded. The atmosphere in the office was becoming too odd to comprehend. I needed to be at home, in bed. Sleeping. I turned and walked to the door and placed my hand over the handle. I pulled, but before I could step out, I felt the resistance of the door being pushed shut again. I turned around, only to find Tobias right behind me, so close I could feel his breath hitting my face. It smelt like mint and whiskey, which was a strange yet somehow appealing fragrance.
“Are you scared of me now?” He muttered, not touching me at all, but he was still in my personal space.
I wasn’t scared. Breathless and confused maybe, but not scared.
“No.” I replied.
“Why.” He whispered back. He sounded desperate, like he needed me to be afraid of him. I smiled and resisted the urge to place my hand against his cheek.
“Because I know you’re a good person.” I said softly. “Because I know that you’re hiding something that drives this need to be feared. Because I know, you wouldn’t do anything to me that I didn’t want you to.”
I searched Tobias’ eyes as he absorbed what I had said. He looked sad and lost. He swallowed hard and then broke eye contact with me. I thought he was going to move back, increase the distance between us, but instead he lifted his hand, and brushed my cheek. Like he had the day before when I had been crying.
“You know too much Ruby.” he whispered.
“I just know pain when I see it Tobias.” I replied.
Hearing me say his name caught his attention, he looked back up again and let his hand slip down to my chin. His eyes graced mine before dropping down to look at my lips. He wanted to kiss me, I could see it in his face, and I wanted him to kiss me. I nodded slightly, enough to let him know I yearned for it too. He didn’t waste anytime, his lips caught mine while his free hand wrapped around my waist. Never before had I experienced anything so primal. I ran on autopilot, meeting his touch with my own. He stiffened a little, but eventually relaxed. Our tongues touched, sending a shock of violet light through me. A moan escaped my lips and for the first time in my sad little life, i knew what true lust felt like. I wanted him.
But then he pulled away, stepped back and looked at me like he was the one scared of me.
“Come, I’ll take you home.” He said.
“Um…” I moved away from the door. “Okay.”
Dumbfounded I left the office with him, and stayed silent the entire way home. Tobias was a conundrum, a mess of a man hiding behind a rough tough exterior. He’d let me in for a short time, but I was on the outer again. He pulled up outside my house and sighed.
“I will have someone contact you about moving tomorrow Ruby.”
“Tomorrow?” I choked.
“I meant it. You’re not staying here.” he replied.
“You may be my boss in the office, but you’re not the boss of my personal life.” I interjected.
“Fair point.” He replied. “But I’m afraid you have no choice.”
“How do you figure that… sir.”
“Because as my employee I need to ensure your safety. If I can’t, then I can’t have you as my employee.” He replied, his voice was cold and calculated. I wasn’t going to win this war of words.
“You’re blackmailing me.” I accused him.
“If it gets you to stop being so stubborn and keeps you safe.” He replied. “Then fine. Needs must.”
I placed my hand over car door handle and pushed it open. I didn’t know what to say, after what had just happened in the office, and the way he had reacted. I didn’t want to argue with him. Then there was the fact that Ben had shown up, maybe moving wasn’t such a crazy idea when I calculated him into the situation.
“Thank you Mr Clarke.” I replied. “I shall await a call then.”
“Thank you.” he said softly. “Goodbye Ruby.”
I got out of the car and shut the door. Thankfully Mrs Ferris was not hanging around on her balcony to yell inappropriate things tonight. Tobias drove off and I walked inside.
As promised the next morning I received a call. Tobias had organised for me to move into Worthington city apartments. They were a five minute walk from work, with all the mod cons and 24/7 security detail. It was fully furnished, which was a plus considering the only thing in my apartment that I actually owned was my uncomfortable bed. The moving company would be over to pick up my things that afternoon and the apartment manager would meet me in the foyer at 2pm. It had all happened rather quickly, so quickly in fact, I was feeling slightly overwhelmed. A week ago I had been an office junior making the bare minimum, living in an apartment I could afford but didn’t want.
But then everything had changed, and it had all been because I had taken a job no one else wanted for a man everyone misunderstood, but whether he wanted me to know or not, I saw the truth he was trying to hide.
And call me stupid, but like a moth to a flame, I needed to know more.