I’m not sure where the line disappeared after a couple of beers we’ve gulped down with our burgers, whilst chatting about our eccentric family – well, mostly Julian and I were the chatterbox while Jeffrey kept himself sober as he was our ticket home. As we got to the condo, I don’t know what sort of tension and heat radiated off us on our way up to his apartment. By the time we’ve reached and closed the door, Julian and my lips were locked in a feverish kissed. The need in the pit of my stomach was prominent.
My hands started working its way to take off Julian’s clothes while we fumbled our way to the nearest bedroom, which was mine. He was also making a great effort of taking my clothes off but halfway through the many buttons of my polo shirt, he gave up and ripped it off. The button flew away like confetti.
“Hey!” I gasped as a bit of reason got back to me.
“Don’t worry. I’ll buy you a new one.” He breathes in assurance.
“You better. I love that shirt.” I muttered as he put his lips back on mine.
“God, we’re so wasted yet you still have some spunk left in you.” He remarked as he briefly pulled away to unzipped his pants.
I arched my eyebrow. “And you’re still too dressed for my liking.” I commandingly informed, ignoring his comment.
He snickered and like one fell swoop, which looked too elegant, we stripped the remains of his clothes but his boxers. “And now, you’re the one whose too dressed.”
I smirked and stripped everything as well.
By the time we’ve satiated our other needs, I felt like was running a 10K marathon. It was great cardio and helped me burned off those burgers and beers from dinner. However, now that I’ve sweat off a good amount of toxin out of me, I realized I’ve broken a promise to myself about not getting involved with Julian again. And clearly, I’m not listening to myself. Thinking it through, having this kind of relationship with him, I saw a side of myself I never thought to see.
Somehow, Julian understood my silence that I was having a bit of a dilemma.
“Don’t beat yourself up, Curtis. I remember what you said to me yesterday,” he said.
“I’m not thinking about that,” I feigned innocence as I rolled on to my side of the bed, reaching for my shirt, which had been neglected on the floor while we did the deed.
“Then, what are you moping about? You can’t be unsatisfied since clearly, you’ve been saying ‘oh yes’ a couple of times throughout…” I held up and hand, feeling my face heat up in embarrassment.
“Okay. Okay. I get the point. You don’t have to say it.”
He arched his eyebrow, waiting for my response.
“Where do you think this is headed?” I finally asked.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, clearly, the both of us aren’t ready for anything serious. And after an eye opener with Ben, I’m not sure I can trust any man right now… So, what? Is this going to be a thing between us? A booty call, for the better word of it.” I felt a bit of disgust with myself.
“I thought you want nothing but a physical relationship.”
“I do… but this doesn’t feel right for me. It’s like I’m having an affair.” I admitted dryly.
“You aren’t in a relationship with anyone, Zoey. Unless you have another illicit relationship other than myself.” He wondered.
“Oh god! No! What kind of woman do you think I am?”
“Well, I’m flattered. Even though we are having this affair, you’re loyal to me.” He lightly humored.
“You’re not taking me seriously.”
“How can I? You’re clearly still drunk.” He snorted. “I mean, come on. This isn’t an affair. We’re both single consenting adults here. No attachments. Nothing.”
“You don’t see it, do you?” I grunted.
“Then, please enlighten me. You’ve already ruined the mood. And I thought we could have another go…”
I shook my head in awe of his stamina.
“I’ll admit. I wasn’t a saint when I was in college. I’ve slept around as well. But mostly, these people who’ve I have a relationship with weren’t someone who I was close in any way.”
He interjected with a smile. “So, you’ve played the field. And I’m the player here.”
I rolled my eyes at his remark. “But I don’t have the same count as you. I have some one-night stands, but it’s not every weekend. And swear to me, you’ve not done a girl every other weekend.” I challenged.
“Okay. You put me in a compromising position here.” He held up his hand in defeat.
I held back my grin and bit my lips. “Anyways, these guys I used to be with are strangers to me. But you, on the other hand, aren’t a stranger, Mr. Hawksley.”
“Please, just call me Julian, at least while we’re alone.” He sighed.
“See! That’s what I mean! This isn’t going to work. One way or another, people would start asking questions. And then, one by one, those who are closet to us would find out. I’ve been holding off my mouth from telling April, which she assumed but I haven’t verbally confirmed her delusions, and it’s not been good on my conscience.”
“So what are you saying?”
“I’m saying that we shouldn’t…” I trailed off as he grabbed my wrist and tugged me back down on the bed.
“Are you sure about what you’re going to say, Zoey?” He asked as his hands slowly glided from my arm up towards my cheeks. “Because clearly, your body says otherwise.”
“I… ah… I’m…” I trailed off as he slowly leaned closer until he pressed with forehead on mine.
Like instinct, my hand reached up and wrapped around his neck, urging him closer until his lips were on mine.
In the morning, there wasn’t much guilt and confusion I have left after having to let out a part of my heart with Julian. However, there was the matter of my unpacked belongings, which I adamantly remained unpacked. Julian had insisted I moved in for the time being while I got back on my feet and found a new place to live. Even on our way to the office, Julian kept pestering me to stay. Once we entered the elevator, I finally said something.
“If you don’t stop right here and now, I’m going to pack up everything tonight and head to April’s apartment before midnight.” I threatened, but he was optimistic.
“Does this mean you’ll stay?”
I regarded him for a moment. “Fine. Okay. But only a few days until I find a place to stay. With April and Amy’s help, hopefully, it’ll be soon.” I muttered in defeat.
“I hope not, for my sake.” He coyly admitted and winked before the elevator door opened to our floor.
Julian mostly kept to myself and stayed in his office, to my relief, giving any bystanders no hint of the secret affairs we have behind closed doors. When noon came around, I expected for Julian to march to my cubicle and insisted having lunch together. But like yesterday, he only passed by to inform me about another lunch meeting with his brother. Without an excuse to be anywhere, I made a quick escape before Kyla would ambush me. From our last meeting, she was still pent up about my possible relationship with Julian. However, as I passed by her office, there was no sign of her and her secretary, Rhea. There was no inkling in finding their whereabouts whilst saving my behind. So, I hurriedly went for a quick lunch by myself. It was then I got a call from April.
“Are you going to keep evading me now that you’ve hooked up with the biggest catch you had since sleeping with a hunky bartender in college?” She beat me before I could greet.
“Hello to you too, April. I’m good. And you?” I feigned ignorance.
“Stop playing with me, Zoey. This isn’t my first rodeo with you. I know your usual track record whenever you’ve slept with someone you don’t want me to know about. And I know you’ve had a one night stand with Daniel from the Engineering department. The boy wouldn’t stop stalking you for months.” She scoffed.
“I’m not letting you get away this time so…” her voice trailed off as I reached the reception area. “… I took the liberty to meet you myself.” She continued once our eyes met.
“April… when did you…?”
“I said. I know you, Zoey. Your trick won’t fool me.”
“I’m so sorry…”
“Yeah, save that for later. I’m hungry right now. We need to go before the bistro a few blocks from here pack up. Then, you’ll talk.”
Rather than verbally answering, I nodded. She wasn’t pissed, but not happy either. So I tried to keep the damage to a minimum.
After a couple of bite into her grilled chicken sandwich, it was safe to say April was now in the mood to listen. I felt so secretive giving her innuendos of my sensual escapade with Julian. However, after giving her the details, she still seemed subdued about my short betrayal and brief secrecy on the matter.
“I know you want my excuses, but these aren’t, okay? Julian and I made it clear there is no commitment latched to whatever this is… And he’s not just some random person, April.” I felt breathless mouthing those words.
“Oh! So it’s Julian now? No more, Mr. Hawksley or Mr. Hunky?”
I glared at April. I didn’t have the nerve to reprimand her verbally after my fall out.
She rolled her eyes at my expression.
“Okay, here’s the truth. Whatever it is you two have, is what you call a booty call, honey. And for now, I’d take whatever that man is giving… and is he the first who, you know…” she trailed off, wiggling her eyebrow in a suggestive manner.
“It’s mutual really. I was the first who offered and then next time, it was mutual.” I murmured in shame.
“Wow! Damn! I love you right now, Zoey. You’re forgiven!” She beamed.
I groaned and pushed aside the remains of my ham and egg sandwich. Then peering down on my watch, I sighed in relief that it was time to head back.
We made a quick goodbye, which ended her teasing me some more before we walked our separate ways. Once I entered the building, I was preoccupied with my vibrating phone to notice a familiar person entering the elevator with me. It wasn’t until we were in a confined space of the elevator with four strangers the woman had the audacity to address me.
She cleared her throat before speaking. “Oh, it’s you. I didn’t see you, Ms. Curtis.”
I looked up from my phone, hearing the slight disgust when she said my surname. “Ms. Allen. Good afternoon, ma’am. I’m sorry I didn’t see you,” I tried to hide my smile at her look of disapproval at my admission. “Are you here to see, Mr. Hawksley? I didn’t know you have an appointment with him in the office this afternoon.”
“Yeah, well, it was abrupt. I have some personal matter that we need to talk. Not like it’s your business, Ms. Curtis.”
“Of course.” She’s not getting me that easily.
“While we’re still talking, why were you at Julian’s apartment early in the morning when I visited?”
Without pausing a beat, I replied. “I’m his secretary, ma’am.”
“But that doesn’t explain why you’re there?” She pressed.
I could feel the prying eyes on the stranger with us occasionally falling on us. But I’m not going to back down even then. Not with an audience.
“Actually, ma’am, it makes perfect sense. I conduct Mr. Hawksley’s personal and professional business. I thought you’re already familiar what my position is from Mr. Fletcher. You’ve seen him work, I presume.” Try and worm your way into that, lady.
I heard a cough from our eavesdroppers, who may be on my side now. However, there weren’t able to hear more about our conversation as we’ve arrived on their floor. The four walked out a bit awkward but seemed amused at the brief entertainment on the ride up. Now there were no longer witnesses in the elevator with us, Grace shrugged off a piece of her façade.
“Now, listen here, you social climber,” she threatened. I kept a poker face, showing that her word doesn’t do any damage. “You’re just a temporary replacement. You’re here out of sheer dumb luck because somehow Rufus liked you. And for all I know, you’ve seduced that shitty old man into hiring you for the job. He’s been away from his wife. I won’t hold it against him if he hadn’t had any action for a year…”
“Okay, Ms. Allen. I think I’ll stop you here before you say something you might regret ever saying,” I interjected. She was pushing my patience. “I don’t know what’s your deal with me, but I’d rather you don’t include people who’ve been a gentleman, kind, and helpful to me. Say whatever you want about me, slut, whore, harlot… hell, I’ll even let you call me a social climbing bitch if you want, but accusing someone I respect in front of my face to rattle me, you’ve just made yourself the top of my hate list.”
She gapped at me in disbelief. And I’m in awe at how calm and unnerving my voice sounded. It added the threatening effect to it.
Before she could come up with a response, we’ve arrived at the office floor, giving us a view of the reception area. And like a twist of fate, Julian was by the desk with his back to us. I was about to call out to him as I got off the elevator first, but Grace thought she found her fighting chance. Oh! Boy, she’s wrong.
“Julian! Julian!” She purposely bumped my shoulder on her way to him.
I kept a steady pace, waiting for her play, and unfazed by her obvious and childish comeback.
Julian turned and briefly flickered his eye in my direction before noticing Grace. From how she slowly moved to a halt, she noticed it as well. “Grace, what are you doing here?”
“I’ve called and texted you, but you haven’t replied to me. I know going to your place would be just futile so I came… here…” Her voice trailed into a whisper as Julian’s expression changed.
“I’ve told you, Grace, I’m busy.”
“You keep on saying that, but I know you have some time to see me. I mean, you have time to see your new secretary early in the morning in your apartment.” She pointed out aloud, which silenced the area. I could feel Amy and her co-worker’s stare at me.
Julian looked frustrated and enraged, however, he kept his cool. “You know you sound deranged with that accusation. She’s my secretary, Grace. Of course, she’ll mostly come and go by my place for work. It’s her job.”
“Are you sure that’s all there is to it?” The woman finally asked the million-dollar question, which put Julian and me on the spot.
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