Mastering Wren

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Chapter 2

Sunday was my second day off and I decided to head down to the beach, to a café by the water. I had a journal out, while I sipped my weak latte and I wrote down some thoughts as I looked over the water. It wasn’t a typical, average diary entry. Rather I liked to write random scenes, as if from a novel. I didn’t write actual books but occasionally all the romance books I read inspired me to write. Writing down my ideas I found very relaxing and reading over them weeks later often humoured me.

I’m interrupted however, when my phone rings.

“Mum? What’s up?” I answer with a grin, I hadn’t heard from either parent since they had been on a retirement trip around the country, sticking to the Australian coast lines.

“Just wanted to remind you to check your email, I sent you pictures of our latest stop!” she sounds so happy, “How’s your new job?”

“Fantastic! Well, it’s – nope, it’s good, it’s good, it’s just... I’m getting use to the ropes and there’s lots to take in. I have two bosses, they’re a couple, they had some trouble after a holiday and it impacted on my last day of the week when they got back. No idea what went wrong, but I’m just trying not to make the job personal, it’s work, not somewhere I want to mix up work with drama,” as I explain, my eyes are scanning the café casually – and I nearly have a heart attack at who I see.

Oh my, what were the chances?

Theo is literally standing at the counter, mere metres from me as he prepares to order. I’m surprised he is alone, and surprised he is even here. I’m triply surprised he is looking right at me, eye brow raised, listening into my conversation.

Before I even know it, I’m blushing like crazy.

“...that’s all you need to do,” my mum rattles off her opinion that I’ve completely missed due to my shock encounter with my boss.

“That’s great,” I pretend to answer my mum, not like I have any idea what the heck she just said, “I better let you go, yeah, um, I’ll reply to that email. Bye, mum.”

I hang up while she is in the middle of asking me more questions.

In that slight time period that I’ve avoided Theo’s gaze, I’m now freaking out about what to say if he decides to have a chat. Honestly, what did he hear me say? What did I even say? I can’t even remember, now I was flustered. Was it bad? Surely he knew I was talking about him and Cynthia.

Oh gosh, how embarrassing.

I’m nervously trying to close my phone, my finger keeps slipping past the button before I finally click the home button and lock it off.

By the time I’ve accomplished that, Theo is smoothly sliding into the seat opposite me.

“Hello, Wren. You look a little worried,” Theo is trying not to smirk, this time he is clearly in a good mood today because he is actually humoured.

“Well, I just... it’s just a strange coincidence you chose this café,” I try to laugh and make it light, but then I worry perhaps he thinks I’m accusing him of stalking, “Don’t worry, I don’t think you’re a stalker,” I blurt that last bit out, regrettably.

Great, Wren. Theo goes quiet, the smile slowly dropping from his face.

“I live along the esplanade,” he explains, “and this is often a regular spot for me to drop by for a morning coffee.”

“Oh, right,” I feel stupid again now, why did I say all the wrong things around him? If only he wasn’t my boss, then I wouldn’t be so uptight, “How’s you and Cynthia going?”

“Pretty good, she’s still curled up in bed,” Theo seems to talk to himself as he reminisces about his fiancé, “Too lazy to come grab the morning coffee with me... although she’s probably just too...” by this stage his voice goes pretty quiet, but I’m pretty sure he says ‘sore’.

Nope, I was probably hearing things.

“Why are you down here, Wren?” he asks, lightly and comfortably, so yeah, I think I was hallucinating him speaking so openly about Cynthia being, ahem... sore.

“Just wanted a break from the city –” I watch him suddenly zone in on my open journal that I’ve forgotten to close, “No, that’s my diary,” I’ve slammed my hand down on my journal, pulling it back to me and putting it on my lap, “Sorry, it’s personal.”

Theo is giving me a funny look now, he probably thought I was like a little girl who needed to keep a diary about my crushes or people I didn’t like.

I had to change that.

“I don’t write about my crushes,” I’m blurting again, shaking my head quickly to emphasize my point, “I write about, um, like I write stuff. What I mean is, I write stories. Not stories. Scenes.”

Just as I’ve rambled off the most broken, messed up explanation I could possibly muster, the barista calls out Theo’s name to collect his coffees.

He stands up without replying. As he picks up his takeaway coffees, I take the brief moment to notice he is wearing damn nice dark blue pants and a white shirt. Interesting, considering he just woke up recently. Maybe he always liked to dress up? Even his hair was nicely styled.

As he turns around, I wave.

“Bye!” I farewell and I’m majorly confused when he simply slides right back into the seat opposite me again, “Don’t you –”

“No,” he cuts me off, locking eyes with me, a new intensity about his gaze now. Was it determination? “You need to relax around me, Wren. I might be your boss but you can talk to me as a friend. I’ll buy Cynthia a new coffee if it goes cold, in fact – you can have this one. Since you’ve finished yours. You also gave up your coffee to her on Friday. Relax, you can have this one, it’s on me. You don’t need to be nervous... I know you are.”

“Oh,” I didn’t expect my morning to go this way at all. This was meant to be a relaxing break from work. Instead this was turning into a second interview, it even felt more awkward because he was a handsome guy... sitting alone with me at a table. It’s not like it was a date because he was engaged but – damn it, Wren, stop freaking out, “Alright, I’m all for it, just, um, thank you for the coffee. I just need to run to the toilet real quick and I’ll be right back,” I stand up, put my journal on the table and then realise I don’t want him to read it so I pick it back up and take it with me.

I walk off from the table, knowing I can use a restroom break to get my thoughts back together and to calm down.

I look myself in the mirror and I fix my brown, just dried hair from the shower. It was a beach mess, honestly, like I had just been swimming. At least it suited the café. I then assess my clothes, compared to his. Usually girls were more dressed up then guys, but he was immaculate and I had my simple favourite skinny jeans and a white tank top. It was slightly see through and you could see my obviously cheap K-mart bra underneath.

Why did I even care? It’s not like this was a date.

You’re just nervous because he is extremely attractive, your boss, has lots of money and you foolishly wrote a scene about a boss seducing his assistant because your fantasies reflect what you really want. When I admit that to myself, I’m already blushing.

The real reason I was nervous was because I did find his beauty intimidating but I also found my feelings odd and unexpected. I hardly knew him and I had guiltily fantasied about him last night and I admit a couple of more times before that. They were harmless fantasies. It wasn’t real. It could never and never would be anything real. I would never be that woman that tried to get with someone who was already engaged to the love of their life.

I wasn’t that sort of person.

So why was I so nervous?

Okay, back to reality; he was my boss, he controlled my income, remember that! That was it, that’s all this situation was. Unfortunately, it was an automatic power imbalance and he wanted to talk further so that we could get over that barrier. I knew that he knew it existed by the way I jumbled all my sentences while speaking to him.

Mind finally cleared, confidence back, I nod to myself in the mirror and then head back out to join him.

I half expect to see him gone, but he is still there, sipping on his coffee with his arm over the back of the chair and an ankle on his other knee. Completely chilled out, and so am I, until his near black, dark chocolate eyes swivel around to meet mine and he watches me, unblinking.

I wonder if he found me attractive? No way, he liked blondes. Damn it, my thoughts liked to run away with the fairies sometimes. Reality, back to reality, Wren.

“Sorry about that,” I sound more confident as I sit back down, “I don’t want to keep you waiting but I think it’s a good idea that we do get to know each other better. Then I won’t be so nervous. Clearly you’re a good guy, a good boss –”

“I walked in on you the other day and the first thing I did was snap at you. You don’t have to lie to me, I know you’d be annoyed about that. It’s okay, I was at fault. I had a lot of issues going on at the time. Holidays aren’t always perfect like you’d expect them to be. That’s beside the point, how are you finding the job? Are you happy?” Theo is smooth and easy with his answer and I get the feeling he can talk his way through anything. Before I answer he also pushes the second coffee over to me and I feel weird taking it, but I don’t refuse.

“Thanks... um, yes, I’m happy. It was annoying that the trainer didn’t show me everything but after you helped me out, I’ve got everything worked out. I honestly am so happy you chose me, it’s a good job to have, considering I live above it. No transport costs!” I smile and he narrows his eyes.

“Do you have a car?” he asks, “You did say you had one in your resume. You’ll need one for the fundraising events we regularly go to,” now he sounds accusing and my eyes widen. Shit, okay, I couldn’t get too comfortable. He was still the boss.

“Yes! I do! I have a car, I drove here,” I nod, “It’s a ford falcon XR6, my parents bought it for me. It’s serf red, so a dusky orange colour. It’s a good car to drive in. I love it.”

“Oh, really? I can’t picture you driving one,” Theo smirks as he sips his coffee. They are the words that have to fall out of his mouth, huh? Well, now he just insulted one of my loves. My car was very important to me!

“I know it’s a ‘guys’ car, but I feel safe in it. It’s fast too. No one dares to drag me!” I feel my stomach clench and my adrenaline gush out, no one insulted me or my car and I could already feel that he’d continue to do so.

“I assume people do try and drag you and my bet is you lose,” as the words leave Theo’s mouth, I’m literally boiling inside with emotion. However, a few seconds later I figure out he is baiting me. Clearly to get some different reactions out of me.

“I’m a very good driver,” I snap, for the first time I show a hint of anger. I’m a little shocked at myself for losing control so quickly. We had just started talking! Theo seems surprised himself. His eyes go from wide, to slowly narrowing as he thinks.

“Clearly you’re defensive about your car and your driving ability. Interesting. Manual or automatic?” I feel defeated by this new question because I know my answer and I know what his response will be.

“Automatic, I don’t know how to drive manual.”

“Then you don’t really know how to drive,” the words that come out of his mouth, are typical of an Australian male. Of course he’d use it against me.

My face goes red and this time I’m not blushing, I’m still just weirdly angry.

The barista calls out Theo’s name again. I look over and see one more coffee for Cynthia.

“That’s hers. I better get going,” Theo slowly stands up, “Nice chat.”

“I have to go too,” I shove my phone and journal in my bag and stand up with the extra coffee curtesy of Theo.

“We also have a small fundraising event on tomorrow, we’ll head off from the office at 10. Dress up,” he mentions, giving me a heads up.

“Right,” I give him a quick answer as he grabs his coffee and we both awkwardly walk next to each other and I try to beat him out the door.

I was on a mission. I would get to my car first, and I would show him just how nice my car was and how well I could drive!

“Bye,” I mutter as I glance over my shoulder. He raises an eyebrow, but he doesn’t say it back.

A man of many words when he chose it, and few words when he chose to be arrogant.

I storm to my car, open my door, slam it shut and put the coffee in the cup holder. I take a moment to breathe and eye what car he walks too. He bypasses the carpark completely and walks instead. Of course, he lived on the esplanade, duh!

All the better for me to show off.

I put my key in the ignition and start Flame up! Yes, my car was nicknamed Flame and I considered him male. Only because men often called machinery like cars and boats, ‘she’, such as ‘isn’t she a beauty’. Hence my car was a ‘he’.

“Let’s go show him what you can do,” I mutter under my breath. Yeah... I had a weird habit of talking to Flame.

I reverse out, carefully and pull out into the road that will take me to the esplanade. I pass by Theo, who is walking with his coffees. I don’t beep him goodbye, but when I slowly come to a red light – I’m excited for it to turn green.

I watch slyly in my rear view mirror and watch him slowly walk down the footpath, getting closer. Next, a car pulls up in the lane beside me and now I have even more reason to put my foot down to get in front before the lanes merged together after the intersection ended.

The light turns green!

I put my foot down hard enough for the rev to be heard and I beat the Toyota corolla next to me.

When I glance him in my rear view mirror, he is watching.

Ha, ha!

I’m grinning all the way back to my apartment, feeling like I really showed him! No one insulted my car, or my driving. Ever!

Not even my boss!

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