It was already almost six in the early evening. Rainie had finished her work today as a junior personal assistant to en elderly barrister at law firm in the downtown area.
Last week she had thought that it would have been a long enduring week for her, nevertheless she was completely wrong. The time had passed swiftly. It had come near to the weekend which meant tomorrow night would be the evening she wished would never come.
She had been walking for ten minutes contemplating how bring the subject regarding their fake hot date. She had no idea how the arrangement would be. Should they meet at the function? Would he pick her up? Should they meet at the hotel lobby? Since that they would not actually date, meeting at the hotel lobby should be best solution.
If only she could tell him that. She could just text him, she had his number in the WhatApps group. It should not to be a big problem.
But, it was a problem, also there was another problem called procrastination. And because of those, here she was, standing in front of the intimidating colossal building of Knight’s Petroleum.
She took a deep courage breath before she dragged her feet forcefully inside the gleam, well-polished lobby of his empire.
People with their business attire was scurrying passed her by as she entered the revolving, shiny gilded glass door. Obviously she came at the wrong time. The working hours had finished half an hour ago. She only hoped that Draven had not left his office.
She had a very slim chance to see him because of her own stupidity, instead called or texted him, she had decided to come here. But here she was and she might as well get it done.
“Excuse me.” Standing in the foyer of Knight’s state-of-art meeting point, Rainie could not believe how steady her voice sounded when inside she felt like an orange being squeezed. Still she managed to smile at the gray-haired security guard.
“Can I help you?”
“Hmmm...” She gulped. So much for being calm. She inhaled deeply and started again. “Could you please show me the direction to Mr. Knight’s office?”
“You want me to show you where Mr. Knight’s office is?” The guardian of the inner sanctum fingered the leather-bound appointment book as if it were sacred and the astonishment tone in his could not be concealed.
Of course he reacted that way. Woman like her, plain and almost invisible to anyone, who only wrote short-hand, made arrangement and, did the filing into proper orders, wouldn’t come into the picture of someone who knew Mr. Draven Knight.
“If you don’t mind.” She replied in her most polite gesture despite his patronizing gaze.
“I’m terribly sorry, Miss. But I can’t show you where Mr. Knight office is.” He said with not-so-genuine apologizing voice.
She sighed, defeated. It was obvious he would not. First the working hours had finished about forty-five minutes ago and perhaps now he thought that she was a person of interest, in which quite pathetic with her feeble appearance like now. Clad in plain gray skimpy skirt that matched white crisp shirt and without applying no make up at all.
“Okay, thank you.” She nodded gave her sunny bright smile and retreated from the security desk.
And as she was pacing across the foyer, she fished her mobile phone from her big black bag.
Calling him, should have been the first thing she had done instead humiliated herself by marching into the building.
“What an idiot, you are.” She muttered under breath self-consciously.
She found her mobile phone then she took a slight turn to the corner of the lobby. She halted and took a few seconds to admire the luxurious style of this lobby before she started to search Draven’s mobile phone number.
Once she found, she wanted to start typing, but her mind was blank. Should she just have said it directly? Or should she have asked him if he was still interested?
Rainie closed her eyes for a moment, tried to think before she lifted them open and saw the person nonetheless Draven, was walking out of the lift, followed by a couple of others.
Great! He’s here!
Okay, keep cool and collected. You know what to do...You know what you say...
She repeated the words like a mantra in her head over and over again. She instinctively ducked back behind the artificial tall tree.
She commanded herself in soft voice. “Breath, breath.” She looked down to the glimmering floor.
Shit! why I’m feeling so blur and blank...Why...
Rainie looked at the expensive shiny black shoes, first then her gaze travelled up to the length of his calves to his thighs then to his, uhmmm...
Her cheeks flushed, she was hot in embarrassment for her own dirty thoughts.
“What are you doing here?”
What am I doing here again? I’ve come to ask for the arrangement. To ask if he’s changed his mind and not to stare at his...
Rainie shook her head and glanced up to meet his face. “I just...” As she looked into his intense dark eyes, everything now totally stopped. From her brain to her heartbeat. God, she could not even breathe, let alone remember her own name.
From the angular planes of his face to his chin to his oh-so-kissable full lips, each feature fit perfectly together with his bright silvery eyes. His dark hair fell loose and brushed the back of his pristine navy blue shirt and classy charcoal suit. A light blue tie knotted meticulously at his neck. She had notice only by now that no man, she repeated silently, that no man could be so naturally good-looking.
Is he always that perfect? There has to be something flaw, either in his manner or face...
At least from the angular of her view she saw from his face, she found nothing.
Heck, his face is perfect! She engrossed.
“I...” Her voice sounded different, lower, because of high libido. She cleared her dry throat. “I want to discuss about our plan tomorrow.” She then leered at his companions. All were almost wearing the same outfits. Black suits. That reminded her about the nemesis of Keanu Reeves in The Matrix, only they were without sunglasses.
“You want to discuss about our plan tomorrow?” He repeated. His honey-rich voice washed over her, sending the temperature of hers up at least another then to twenty degrees Celsius.
Okay, she should not freak out. She could do this. He was just Draven and she should not be derailed by that gorgeous feature. “Yes.” She replied, barely found her composure.
He glanced at the expensive leather watch he was wearing on his left wrist. “Sure, why not.”
His terse response irked her, but what was she going to do? She had expected he had have rejected her, or changed his mind. So agreed with request, she really had not seen that coming.
“Great.” She nodded then smiled nervously. “Do you want to talk over coffees? My treat.”
He raised a brow. “You want to buy me coffee?”
Coffee? Had she said that? More proof she was not cut out for this sort of thing, however it was too late to back out now.
“I happen to have discount at Coffee Toffee.” She mentioned franchise for coffee place and which it seemed as she imagined that place was odd to be a background for his appearance. The black latte there, might not suitable for a man who could buy himself whatever he wanted without even having a discount card. “I was just thinking, it’ll be good to discuss about it privately...” Her voice trailed off softly as her eyes flicked to the men standing within respectful distance away from him.
The corner of Draven’s mouth lifted. “Alright.”
She almost gasped, she did not see that coming either. There were no traces of denial or rudeness in hi calm voice. “Let’s get going then.” She muttered, too surprise at his answer.
His gaze met hers for a moment, and a pleasurable shiver inched down her spine. “Let me talk to my staffs.”
Draven nodded, and a curly piece of hair fell across his forehead. She ignored the itchy temptation to push the hair back to its place.
He took few steps towards the staffs and then she watched him was talking to his staff for five minutes until she saw he was tapping one of the man shoulder and after that all of them left him. He then turned his heel and walked towards her.
“Change plan.” He announced.
“Why?” She inquired. Her eyebrows joined together.
“I’ve got to go back to my office, I need to sort my jobs that suddenly come up.”
Rainie adjusted, her grip on the handles of her bag. She should not be disappointed. What would she expect? He was a busy man and her so-called important discussion was merely about the fake date plan and not essential between his busy schedules. “Don’t worry, we can discuss it later.” She told him. “Perhaps.” And added with uncertainty tone.
“Why don’t you come up to my office, then we can discuss about it?” He offered politely.
“Really?” She perplexed. “I mean, I know you’re busy and I...”
“I’m sure that what you’re going to say only take five minutes or less of my schedule.” He interrupted as he waved his long beautiful fingers on the air.
She didn’t know whether she should get insulted or relieved that Draven had said that to her.
The relieve won.
After all she had no choice. He was the perfect escort if she wanted to display her ignorance towards Jason’s engagement.
She nodded and agreed. “Okay.”
“Shall we?” He asked her when she was still standing rooted on the marble floor.
“What?” She asked in consternation.
“Are you coming?” He asked mildly, tilted his head to one side and gave her a quizzical look.
“Yes, of course!” She said feebly. “I’m right with you.”
She rushed following his steps, pacing the corridors then to the lift banks. He pressed the upward arrow sign button and moment later, one ping, the lift doors slid open.
By then she felt as if her fully consciousness surfaced. Did she really need to follow him? Why did not she just talk about it over the text message?
She cursed her fickle mind silently and took a startled step backward.
He turned around and looked at her, puzzled. “Aren’t you getting into the lift?”
She was stuffed. What could she say? It was obvious she couldn’t say ’Neah, I’m just happy to follow you to the lift for fun hahaha...’
“Yes.” She said at last and walked into the lift with stiff legs. Too late to change her mind. “Yes, yes I am.” She added finally.
The doors closed and they began to travel upwards in silence. She felt she had gotten a knot of tension in her abdomen.
“Draven...” She began awkwardly, looked down on the gleaming floor, did not see that he had tilted his head towards her. “I just want to thank you in advance that you’re willing to help me to...” She was trying to think a very suitable word she made the mistake catching his eyes.
“To pull you out of misery.” His mouth twitched.
“Yes.” She leaned against the mirrored wall of the lift. “And also, you know, to...”
“Yes, I know.” He nodded, looking amused. “Save it for the coffee, please.” He said, smiling at her. The first genuine smile she ever remembered he had plastered for her. “In fact...” He broke off as the lift doors pinged and opened. Somehow she saw his bother gaze drained over him. “My office is at the end of the corridor.” He informed her briefly.
They walked in another uncomfortable silence until Draven paused in front of his assistant’s table.
Rainie looked at his secretary amazedly, surprised clearly registered on her face. For a notorious playboy like Draven Knight, his choice of the secretary was bewilderment.
She was old, old enough to be his mother but still look incredibly young with her pink suit and white skirt. She was also well manner.
“Boss, what are you doing back here?” The secretary asked him in the pleasant voice.
“I need to see the documents here and to discuss about something...” He leered at her and she swore that he silently mocked her again as he said, closing his sentences. “Private.”
“Certainly, Sir. Shall I get both of you something?” She offered and gave Rainie a polite smile.
“There’s no need, Bree. I’d say it won’t be long.” He waived the offer. “I got my drinks inside.” He said and then strode his long lean legs behind his secretary’s table.
He opened the door and turned again to Rainie who was still standing mutely few feet away from his secretary table. “Come in Rainie.” He gestured.
Rainie paced her steps towards him. He slid to let her came inside first.
Rich oak paneling, one wall covered with books from floor to ceiling, the affluent antiquity of the furnishings sat cheek by jowl with a top-of-range laptop and papers on the massive table, were the sight she saw beguilingly. She was so fascinated that when the door behind her was closed, the sound made her a slight jump.
“So let’s hear it.” He paced down to his comfortable maroon-colored leather seat. He stood behind the table and cleared the papers aside.
“My plan?” She echoed faintly, still revolving from the heart attack she always had, every time he was near.
“You want to discuss the plan about tomorrow.” He nodded. “By the way you can take a seat, you know.” He added contemptuously. “It’s free of charge.”
She made no movement to sit in the chair he indicated, regretting again that she had made mistake in coming here today, that she should have taken time to think...
“You didn’t change your mind, did you?” He checked huskily.
Her eyes widened. “Me? No...”
“Excellent! So let’s spill out the program.”
She swallowed hard, wishing she could say that she indeed changed her mind, then again her practical mind took over. She only needed him for one night, just for show. Nothing more than that. And perhaps she could make a peace with him about their past and they could, well, be friendlier towards each other in the future.
“Rainie?” He prompted at her continued silence.
“Yes, let’s.” She told him abruptly.
“Good.” He said, walking towards another smaller table at the corner to pour her a cup of coffee from the hot percolator. “Here, I’m sorry if it isn’t any better than Coffee Toffee.” He apologized dryly as he handed her the cup and the saucers. “Or you want something stronger, like whiskey?”
“No, Thank you.” She said and added vaguely under her breath, almost like a murmur. “I definitely take it later on.”
“Excuse me? Did you say something?” Draven stared at her, puzzled.
“No I didn’t.” She lied, agitating to receive the coffee cup with saucer before she took a sip of the hot brew. Her hands were trembling and she hoped it was because of the weather and her other silliness as she had forgotten to collect her outer coat and gloves when she’d left the office.
“So where do you want to start?” Draven gently urged.
“Honestly, I didn’t know.” She confessed foolishly. She’d memorized every word but it seemed now all got in the way, thanked to his smoldering eyes.
A smile slanted on his lips. “Take your time.” He dismissed her wariness lightly. “I wish, you to sit down.” He then implored, still standing in his position. Obviously he would not take his seat if she would not.
Rainie nodded, she finally sat and the cup rattled precariously on the saucer as she did so.
Draven moved back to sit behind his table. “So, now, do you feel better?”
“A bit.” She admitted reluctantly and placed the cup on the table.
Another smile curved on his lurking lips. “Before we start I just want to know, out of curiosity, how did you break up?”
“I...”She drew in a deep breath, shaking her head. “I don’t know what our friends told you but...”
“They said nothing.” Draven assured her dryly. “We’ve an interesting circle of friendships but it doesn’t mean we gossips behind our back.” He added staring at her sceptical look.
“Well, yes...” She grimaced then began. “Jason asked me when we’d we get married then when I said, perhaps in one more year as I need time to sort my stuffs, he was pissed and broke our engagement.” She said stiffly.
“Why? You don’t want to get married with him? You had second thoughts?” He demanded so gently that she almost believed that he cared though there was part of her wanted to say that it was none of his business.
Still she held her tongue to retort such word. She took inhaled a sharp breath. “I guess I wasn’t ready and it seemed that we’re already drifted apart.” She shrugged. “I don’t know...”
“Okay.” He conceded reluctantly. “So in other word, you’re actually the one who dumped him.”
“I said, I need time to sort things and take my life in one piece before embarking to the next level.
But I didn’t want to break the engagement!” She brittled firmly. “I didn’t know that he jumped into another engagement to the next woman he saw and told me, that no man wants to be with me because of my fickle mind.”
“Very big of him, huh?” Draven bit out scathingly.
It had been a little bit more out of spite essentially, yet she was not really way past caring about Jason’s motive had done or said to her.
“If I turn up alone tomorrow evening at the party...”
“Your acquaintances are going to end up feeling sorry for you.” He granted by a hair’s breadth.
Her eyes flashed deeply dark. The truth of Draven’s statement and the imagination of the pity looked from the people that had known she and Jason, were something that hurt her.
“If you still haven’t changed your mind...Still willing to go, I can assure you it’ll be purely business arrangement. If you consent to accompany me tomorrow evening.” She told him, sounding formal that even Draven’s eyes were lit up with humor, but she headed on. “If you’d prefer to meet me at the party or if you pick me up, I’ll be paying any expenses you may require, including petrol and…”
“Stop right there.” He cut in firmly. “You’d realize by now, since we’ve known each other for more than two years, when I take out a woman for a date, I do the paying, is it understood?”
“No...” She shook her head vehemently. “It’s not okay.” She countered just as adamantly as he was. “You don’t take me out. I ask you a favor. I’m the one who’s taking you out and that means I pay.” She added taking the coffee cup and took a sip of her drink.
He twitched his lips into a slight smile. “You’re me asking out?” He asked in the teasing low voice.
Rainie almost chocked her drink hearing the tone of that velvet sensual tone. The air between them was thick with tension. She struggled briefly before she replied. “Yes, for helping me.” She said. Her index finger was toying the stem of her cup.
“Ah, of course.” His eyes ran over her creamy complexion and she felt heat sear her face as his eyes bored into hers longer than they should have. “I’m so glad to help you.” He added suavely, leaning against his leather chair, one hand rested on his chin.
Rainie took a deep breath to console herself for the impact he had on her. “Well, thank you.” She said and added carefully. “And about the things need to pay...”
“No.” He immediately said.
“What do you mean, no?” She frowned, placing the cup on the table.
“Listen,” He shifted his position. He moved forward, resting his hand onto the table. His chin lifted before he spoke decisively. “I’ll only agree to go if I take you and means, I do all the necessary things, otherwise the deal is off.”
“But, this isn’t one of your date. It’s purely...”
“Don’t you think the important thing, is to show Jason that you’re totally over him and more than capable to attract another man’s attention than him? Which, obviously, you are.” He said continuously and again, his fathomless gaze sweeping over her, this time with slow appreciation.
Rainie thought that she was misconstrued the tone. How could she attract any man’s attention? She was under no illusion as regarded her look. The best she was called was being pleasant. She was neither fat or too thin. She didn’t have the model figure. Her hair, her one and the only one good feature as far a she was concerned, was always kept clean and prim. Her eyes were brown, her lashes thick and dark, nevertheless other than that, her features were nondescript.
That was why when Jason had come to her life, she’d been completely bowled over by his marked interest in her. He was a typical guy-next-door with good look. A dark hair, warm black eyes and a charm that attracted women to him liked bee around honey.
Hence, Rainie had learnt her lesson, too well. Where that sort of smooth talk and attention were concerned, which was she knew Draven was just being polite.
He was watching her immensely, with narrowed eyes. “How long you actually broke up?”
“What’s that got to do with our plan?” She retorted, aware she was coming across as terribly rude, but her nerves were prickling in defensiveness. “I mean...”
Draven shrugged. “I was merely wondering why you don’t have...” He pondered for a second. “The rebound.”
“You mean another guy?” She asked laboriously.
She gave a mirthless laughter. “After Jason, do you think I’ve any interest in any guy?”
“You don’t change yourself into liking a woman, do you?” He asked her blandly.
“Of course not!” Rainie snapped, irritated by his question.
“It’s good.” He murmured then he remarked enigmatically. “Otherwise it’d be such a waste.”
She shot him a reproving look. “I’m still as straight as ever.” She assured him frivolously.
“That’s good to know.” He said briskly. “So, what time should I pick you up?”
“You’re going to pick me up?” She checked.
“Yes, I thought that I made myself clear.” He said, one eyebrow lifted.
“Oh, okay.” She nodded then composed the answer precariously. “How about seven?”
“Seven it is.” He agreed softly, then he leered at his watch as if telling her that her time was up.
And she saw the sign. “I’d better be going now.” She rose to her feet. “See you tomorrow.” She bade her farewell and headed to the door.
“I thought, you’ll buy me a coffee?” His voice made her heart gave an almighty leap of fright, however she unenthusiastically turned around and found he already was on his feet also.
“We had already.” She confusedly told him. “Besides, it seems you’re busy.” She added awkwardly.
“I didn’t have it.” He disagreed. His face crinkled in a smile somehow looking years younger and handsomer than he already was. “Anyway, I think we’ve to postpone it.”
She vaguely nodded. “Guess so.” She muttered and then turned her back again to walk to the door.
“You owe me a coffee.” He sat his last statement, making her to stop at the threshold. He was smiling and his warm gaze met hers.
She stood motionlessly then a bright smile crept on hers also. “My treat next time.” Then she closed the door behind her quietly, though her heartbeat was hammering not as quiet as she expected.
They had set the date. The game she would act with Draven in front of Jason had been arranged. There was no turning back. Not at this far.