Chapter 09 | Tension
“Hello, Valerie,” I heard a familiar voice at my door. The hairs on the back my neck started to rise as I was washed with a sense of panic. My eyes met his and recognized how much trouble I was in.
I offered him a weak smile and a less than enthusiastic greeting. “Theo. How was the honeymoon?”
“Well, it was just wonderful, but,” he leaned over the desk to inch his face closer to mine, “My mind has been a bit preoccupied.” He reached a hand over to cup my chin but I turned away to avoid his touch.
I kept my eyes on my monitor, and refrained from speaking.
“Aw, I’m hurt, Valerie,” he pouted as he sat down in the chair facing me. “You used to be so sweet to me. Is it the money? Must I pay for you to be sweet to me again?”
“Why are you here?” I tried to keep my breathing at a normal level but my nerves were getting to me. It took me a moment that I had slammed a tight fist onto my desk.
“Did you miss me?” Theo held a smug smirk on his lips and kept his eyes hooded as he stared at me with mocking lust. He didn’t want me as a woman, or rather as his woman. That, I know for a fact.
“Theo,” I sighed as I met his eyes with tired ones, not tired from work, but tired of his presence. It made me anxious. It reminded me of worse times. “What are you doing here?”
“I work here. Actually, I work above you, but I’m sure you’re aware of that.”
“Yes,” I rolled my eyes, “but why are you here in my office?”
“Does Alex know our past?”
“Does he know what I am to you? What we used to be?” He smiled once he registered my lack of response. “Ah, interesting.”
“What happened between us shouldn’t matter to Alex. He doesn’t need to know and even if he does, he wouldn’t care.”
“Right.” Theo kept his eyes on me, skeptical of my firm tone. “Keep lying to yourself about that. I’ll just be over here, having my fun as I clue him in.”
“Theo, I swear to god-”
Just then, I heard a knock at my door and in came Alex.
“Theo,” he greeted him in surprise, “I see you’ve already said hello to my girlfriend.”
Just as Alex said girlfriend I caught a look from Theo, which bordered between a flash of anger and a devious smirk. How he managed to express both within a split second, I’ll never know.
“Yeah, she seemed quiet at dinner last time, so I wanted to welcome her to the company and tell her that Sara wants to have a shopping day with her.” Theo turned to me, clearly expecting me to play along.
“Uh-yeah,” I managed to say, “Can’t wait.”
“Sounds fun,” exclaimed my ever so excitable Alex as he walked over to kiss me on the cheek. “Ready for lunch?”
I nod quietly as I got up and took my bag with me. Theo also got up and he pulled out his phone to check something.
“Looks like I’m heading downstairs, too.” He slipped his phone back into his pocket and flashed Alex one of his smiles I knew too well.
Together, the three of us stepped into the elevator, all three of us leaning our backs against the back wall, with only two of us aware of how much tension there was in this metal box. I tried to focus on the warmth radiating throughout my body from Alex’s palm, but I gasped as I felt another hand caress the round hill of my bottom.
From the corner of my eye, I saw the smirk on his lips, and with the most calming clear-throat, I took the opportunity to strike back.
When I first went into the nighttime business, I knew I had to find a way to protect myself. I didn’t trust in another man to keep me safe, so I decided to learn a few tricks and work on my muscle strength.
In the second that I cleared my throat with a slight smile on my face, I had managed to grab Theo’s hand, turn it backward, and twist it. As I let go, I heard him groan.
“You okay there?” Alex leaned forward to look over. “Hurt your hand?”
“Yeah, must be from the honeymoon,” he let out a simple chuckle.
“I thought the point of a honeymoon was that you wouldn’t have to do that anymore,” I said without hesitation, or rather I forgot to hesitate. God, I hate him.
Alex bursted into laughter as Theo gave me a nasty look. When the elevator door finally rang, Satan’s embodiment stepped out with a simple goodbye, leaving Alex and me alone.
“I’m so glad you two are getting along so well,” he kissed my temple gently.
“We are?” I turned to lift a brow at him.
“Yeah,” he nodded with a grin, “Only good friends would be comfortable enough to throw out jokes like that. Unless it was actually an insult and you secretly hate him.”
“Hate him? For what?” I said it as if it was ridiculous. In my mind, I already had a long list, but I wouldn’t know what to tell him.
“I know, right? Theo’s great.”
“Are you two really close?” Please say no.
“Yeah, I think so.” Fuck. “We run the marketing division together, so it’s fun. We’re just friends who get our competition on once in a while.”
“Wait,” I said as the elevator doors open to the lobby, “You two compete? For what?”
We began taking casual steps out the elevator and I smiled softly as I felt his hand at the small of my back.
“Well, you watch Mad Men, right?” I nodded. “He and I are both basically Don Drapers and once in awhile, we pitch an idea for the same project. Loser has to buy drinks.”
“You just want to compare yourself to John Ham,” I teased him.
“Okay, yeah. That’s also true.” His grin melted my heart.
We were seemingly moving on from the topic, but in my mind, I had a question I dreaded to ask him.
Alex, with “friendly competitions” like these, could Theo take everything away from you? Because I’ve already watched him do it once.