Work With Me - Book One

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Chapter Eight

Tobias avoided me all week at work. Sending emails to arrange meetings rather than coming out and talking to me. I knew I hadn’t imagined the moment we’d shared in the office and in the apartment. I knew he felt something similar to me, even if it was just physical and I gathered it was that reason alone that was causing him to avoid me.

I watched the time on the laptop turn from 4:59 pm to 5:00 pm. I instant messaged Tobias to ask if he needed anything else, but his reply was short.

Tobias: No.

I frowned and closed my computer down. Maybe he had changed his mind about tomorrow, maybe he wasn’t planning to take me anymore. He certainly hadn’t given me any details about the thing, maybe he had asked the supermodel. My insides pinched, I wanted to go and I wanted to go with him. I’d been trying to ignore my feelings, whatever they were, but it was getting harder and harder. I’d never been one to hide my heart.

I lifted my handbag up off the ground and stood up. Tobias was going to talk to me, face to face before I left the office. I stalked over to his door and took a deep breath, I was about to knock when the door opened. I pulled my hand back and looked at a bemused Tobias.

“I’ll be at your apartment tomorrow at 7:30pm. I had the apartment manager make an appointment for you with the inhouse spa ladies at 5:30pm.” He said blankly.

“I’m still your date?” I whispered, sounding a little more demure than I would have liked.

He frowned and shrugged dismissively. “Of course, why would you assume otherwise.” His eyes were dark and on me, but it was almost like he was looking through me, not at me.

“You’ve been avoiding me.” I replied, my voice barely a whisper.

“No. I haven’t.” He replied matter of factly. “I’ve been busy.”

I smiled and nodded to cover my humiliation. “Of course you have. My mistake. Well I’ll see you tomorrow Sir.” I mused stepping back from the office door. I felt my cheeks heat up and embarrassment wash over me. I’d read too much into the situation, and it was becoming ever clearer that this was all one sided, whatever ‘this’ was. I turned to walk away and I was almost at the corridor when Tobias sighed. I didn’t stop, I didn’t need anymore embarrassment.

When I got home I changed into my pajamas and ordered pizza. I was watching netflix and stuffing a pepperoni slice into my mouth when the fancy phone Tobias had bought me started ringing. I picked it up off the coffee table and stared at it. Of course it was him, he was the only one that had the number, not to mention I didn’t actually know anyone else. I swiped to answer, throwing the half eaten slice of pizza into the box.

“Hello?” I murmured, mouth still half full of pizza

“I was avoiding you.” Tobias replied, his own tone mirrored my own slightly tired voice.

My chest tightened and I bit my lip, almost choking the pizza down in shock. “Why?”

“I can’t afford to be distracted.” He admitted.

“And I distract you.” I laughed in disbelief. “Me?!”

“Ruby, the fact I am calling you and telling you I lied is proof you distract me.” He said, his voice was tight. “I usually don’t care, I do what I want and people expect it of me, maybe even respect it.”

There was a long pause before he spoke again, almost like he was composing himself. “But I can’t help caring about what you think…” He sounded annoyed, like the fact bothered him.

“I’m sorry.” I replied, unsure what I was apologising for, but in the moment it seemed necessary all the same.

“You have nothing to be sorry for.” He replied ruefully. “I should let you get back to your evening.”

“You mean my highly extravagant PJ’s, Pizza and Netflix evening?” I laughed, I led such a wild life, Not. How the hell was I a distraction to anyone?

“Sounds relaxing.” Tobias replied, surprising me. Did the iceman partake in movie binge watching when he wasn’t blocking out the world?

“Well, if you need to relax, I have this gigantic couch.” I looked down at the pizza box. “And a pepperoni pizza. You’re more than welcome to join.” Tobias didn’t say anything for quite some time, and I began to wonder if my offer had been to far left field. I expected him to say know, but I still wanted him to let me in, at least a little bit.

“You want to watch a movie with me.” He replied slowly, his voice was filled with disbelief.

“Why not?” I replied pausing my film. Was it really that unbelievable?

“Okay.” He replied, his voice quiet.

My heart stopped and I suddenly felt like puking. I hadn’t expected him to say yes. I had expected some kind of lame excuse and a goodbye.

“Okay?” I repeated.

“I’ll bring uh.. Beer or something.” He said. “See you soon.”

“Okay.” I said the words again, because I was too stunned to say anything else.

The call ended without another word from either of us, but for some reason I still held the phone to my ear long after the call was over. He was coming over, here… by choice.

Once I’d managed to compose myself, I placed the phone down put the pizza box on the coffee table in front of me. My heart raced, despite his forever closed off persona, I liked being around Tobias, more than I liked to admit. My reactions worried me though, I didn’t want to be one of those girls who always picked the wrong people to love.

The guard buzzed my apartment twenty or so minutes later, and a few minutes after I’d given him the all clear there was a knock at my door. I took a deep breath, composing myself again before walking to the door and opening it. Tobias stood there, holding a six pack of beer and a fresh pizza.

His mouth sat in a thin lipped smile, his expression was unreadable. I returned the smile warmly, to try and take the seemingly nervous edge out of the atmosphere surrounding us. I closed the door behind him, and watched as he walked toward the couch. He was dressed casual, though this time I could tell he was wearing designer jeans and a casual black button down shirt. I suddenly felt underdressed for my own apartment. My shorts covered too little, and my singlet was much the same. I folded my arms across my chest.

“Uh, make yourself comfortable. I’ll just go grab a robe, I’m a little cold.” I lied. The apartment automatically heated and cooled the apartment to comfortable levels. A fact I was sure as the owner Tobias was well aware of. Tobias didn’t speak, instead he put the beer and pizza down on the table, as he sat down on the couch. I smiled and walked down the hallway to my bedroom. My black silk robe hung over the chair by the bed, it was hardly fit to keep me warm, but it was enough to cover my bare skin. I grabbed it and slipped it on, then returned to the living room. Tobias looked up and his eyes softened he lifted up an open beer and held it out for me.

“So what are we watching?” he asked.

“I was watching reservoir dogs, but it had only just started, we can watch something else.” I replied. “Thank you.” I took the beer and lifted it by the neck to my mouth. I watched Tobias’ reaction to my movie choice, he smiled. “I didn’t pick you for a Tarantino fan.” he murmured sitting back on the couch.

“Really?” I mused, I sat down beside him, but at least a foot away. “What did you pick me to like?”

Tobias turned to look at me, his smile was still there. He lifted his own drink to his mouth and swallowed back a gulp. “Romance, you know. Boy meets girl. They fall in love. Something happens, but ultimately they end up happy.”

“I’m not opposed to romantic comedies.” I admitted. “But I have a soft spot for Tarantino, so you’re not completely wrong.”

Tobias nodded then pointed to the screen. “Tarantino suits me.”

We started the movie from the start and ate the pizza while watching. I started feeling tired about halfway through, my eyes kept closing involuntarily and no amount of Tarantino style violence was enough to rouse me completely. I woke as the credits rolled, Tobias was putting a blanket on me, the one off my bed. He smiled down at me and ran his fingers through my hair.

“I’ll let you sleep.” he said, standing up. He dug his hands into his pockets and pulled out his keys. He was leaving. Suddenly, I was very awake.

I sat up. “Tobias.” I called out, his footsteps stopped.

“Ruby?” he replied.

“I’m sorry I fell asleep.”

“Don’t be.”

“Don’t leave just yet.” I whispered. Stay.

Tobias began to walk again, and I sighed, thinking he had continued walking to the door, but then the weight shift on the couch, he was next to me. I turned my head to face him, his eyes met mine. “I don’t know what I’m doing.” he said, his voice was pained.

“Hanging out.” I offered.

He nodded and looked away. Breaking the eye contact. “Would it surprise you if I said I’d never just done this before.”

I nodded and sat forward. Sure, he was closed off and sure he could be harsh, but surely he had friends growing up. He hadn’t always been this way had he?

“I should go home.” he whispered.

I nodded again, i could sense the discomfort in his voice and the last thing I wanted was to make him feel uncomfortable. He stood up and so did I. I walked him over to the front door and opened it.

“Thank you for the beer and pizza.” I smiled. “And the company.”

“I think I got the better end of the deal. Your company was much more appealing I’m sure.”

“Don’t undersell yourself Tobias.”

His eyes flickered and he clenched his jaw. “You think I’m a good person. You might be the only one who thinks that.” he chuckled sardonically.

I shook my head. “I don’t think you’re a good person.” I said softly. “I know you are.”

“You sure about that?” he replied.

“No one is perfect Tobias Clarke, you have faults just like I do… But underneath it all, you’re a good per-”

Tobias cut me off with his mouth, pressing his soft lips against mine. Instantly I curved into him, allowing him the access he was asking for. His tongue brushed mine causing sparks to fly off all around us. His hands caught my back and he lifted me up, my legs wrapped around his waist and with a soft thud, we crashed against the wall of my apartment by the door. One of his hands left my back, gliding up over my thigh and under my robe. I let out a moan and ran my fingers through his hair, aching to connect with him in any way possible. This kiss was filled with emotion, and unlike the one in the office Tobias almost let go. Almost.

Until he tore his lips from mine and settled me on the ground. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” He whispered.

“Tobias?” I mumbled, my lips burned from his kiss, and my legs almost buckled beneath my jellified body. I stayed against the door to steady myself. He didn’t look back up at me, but he stayed nonetheless.

“Ruby, I’m your boss. We should respect those boundaries.” he straightened up, finally lifting his head up, our eyes met once more. All warmth had drained from his face and the iceman was back. I frowned.

“If that is what you want sir.” I replied softly.

He nodded, then walked out the door, leaving me alone, completely and utterly confused.

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