I wake up in Theo’s bed – not next to him, he was in the spare bedroom. I’m smiling as I lie in the sun, stretching, thinking about last night. My first thought when I walked into Theo’s penthouse was how absolutely stunning the lay out was. Simply modern furniture, mixed in with some old with a dark brown, almost black theme with light coloured floorboards.
Theo had guided me to his bedroom off the right of the large living area and open kitchen. He had simply opened his door and when I stumbled in, he could see me trembling with some nerves.
What he did next made my heart warm.
He had simply said goodnight, walked off and left me in utter peace. Call me strange, but the fact he gave me space made me very pleased. Most guy friends I had known in the past would push and push for something more especially after a big night out.
I guess this was refreshing behaviour.
Theo was in-control, calm, decisive and utterly in-tune with my emotions. I liked that.
I look out the slightly open window and breathe in the ocean air. Eventually I roll out of bed and stand up, stretching. I had fallen asleep in my dress in his beautiful king-sized bed. I look down at it, blushing at the thought of how his scent from the sheets had also lulled me into a blissful sleep.
I eventually glance to the slightly ajar door.
Okay, Wren, walk out and hold your head high.
Don’t think about Theo being topless or with sleep ruffled hair or... mmm... making breakfast for me.
I push open the door, smirking to myself at my naughty thoughts. My eyes widen when I see Theo already up and ready. I didn’t expect to see him like this. He is fully dressed, leaning on his kitchen’s black marble counter top as he sips his takeaway coffee.
I look around for a second coffee, where was mine? Did he buy me one?
“Hi, hello, thanks for letting me sleep over in your amazing place,” I smile nervously, stopping by the mat near the long black and sleek lounge suit. I hold my elbow and my brain runs a million miles a minute as I interrogate myself over why I said, ‘hi, hello’, instead of just choosing one.
Theo is not helping my flustered thoughts.
He is simply looking at me, thinking. I honestly couldn’t tell if he was happy or what. I look on the bench once more, there was no coffee for me.
Why does that make my stomach clench in disappointment?
“I’ll take you home soon, sweet cheeks,” he sips his coffee again, not breaking eye-contact with me while I try to figure out his thoughts.
“O-okay, um,” no, don’t let him dwindle down your vocabulary to those two words again, Wren! “Should we go to work soon?”
“Public holiday,” Theo answers quickly, still not breaking eye-contact with me. I notice he isn’t trying to keep the conversation going. No effort on his part, really, was he trying to make me feel uncomfortable?
“I forgot,” I answer, quietly, “I guess... I, uh, I’ll have a yoga day with Mr. Fox then.”
Theo nearly chokes on his coffee and I’m already blushing red in the face.
Why the fuck did you just admit to him you have yoga days with your cat? Fuck!
“I didn’t mean anything weird,” I try desperately to explain, my hands moving through the air, “I like yoga. He joins in.”
“That’s interesting,” Theo eventually puts his coffee down, barely keeping his easy composure. Perhaps he was trying not to out-right laugh at me.
“We better go soon, I’ll need to feed him, I’ll get my shoes. Okay, um,” I turn around, ready to run back into his bedroom.
“Not so fast, sweet cheeks,” I spin back around, my eyebrows raised. So he wanted to overuse his ‘endearment’ did he? It was starting to irritate me... just a little.
“What?” I ask, I snap it, surprised at my own impatience.
“I need to discuss work with you tonight so I’m taking you out to dinner –”
“We could talk, now,” I interrupt him and he doesn’t look impressed. He picks back up his coffee and sloshes it around, thinking of an appropriate response.
“I owe you dinner, don’t forget. Have the day off, relax, but be ready by seven. I want to discuss promoting you up higher in the charity,” Theo looks up now, to take in my reaction and I open and close my mouth a couple of times before responding.
“I like my job,” I nod at him, but I was referring to the one I currently held. I didn’t think I was ready for a promotion. Honestly? Part of me was truly scared he was promoting me to Cynthia’s old job, “Thanks for the offer, don’t get me wrong. I really appreciate it. You don’t have to take me out to dinner, either, you could just, transfer me the money... it’s just... I don’t... I don’t understand why you’d want to – um, well I just. I just started and, I... uh, I like my job. I really like where I’m at right now.”
“I reward good behaviour, Wren... you really do intrigue me. You’re the first person I’ve met to so eagerly turn down a promotion. Any reason why you don’t want to excel in your career? These opportunities don’t come too often,” Theo seems mildly annoyed at my response.
It makes me think how I’ve never seen him truly angry with me, ever. He had only ever been mildly irritated at worst.
“You know how I said you’re always stressed? What makes you angry, Theo?” I ask curiously, also wanting to avoid my potential promotion.
“You wouldn’t understand what makes me angry,” Theo smiles a little, his lip curling up at the corner, amused as he chucks out his empty coffee cup, “You can decline the promotion, Wren, but not until I’ve discussed it further with you. Get your shoes on, I’ll take you home now.”
“Thanks for letting me stay again,” I turn around and ignore his mention of dinner. He was very persistent. I was both curious and terrified about it, however.
He was my boss... was it a good idea to go out to dinner with him?
You agreed to sleep over at his house, Wren, why are you nervous about dinner?
Last night was more casual. A dinner one on one would be... almost like a date.
I wasn’t sure if I should disrupt the boss-employee relationship.
A ‘date’ would change things.
What if it was up to two hours of awkward conversation with him? What if he got bored of me and decided I wasn’t really fit for the job? I wasn’t anything special.
I loved my cat, my car, my best friend, simple things.
Theo’s life was ruling a charity, coming from a successful rich family surrounded by intelligent articulate people who strive for material success. But I found happiness in small things.
It’s one of the reasons I wasn’t so keen on going up a level at work already. I had just become comfortable in my position.
When I eventually come out with my shoes on, Theo grabs his car keys and heads to the door without a word. He just expects me to follow.
I do so, intrigued by my predicament.
How could I make this situation more relaxed? I felt the air between us was tense.
As we get in his car and he takes off back towards my place, a silence ensues. I don’t mind it. Like I figured from our few interactions we had had already... somehow, our silences were less awkward than our conversations.
I intend to keep it that way.
Just as I think that, Theo decides to speak up.
“Wren...” he says my name seriously as we get closer to my apartment block, “I hope you understand that I take your safety very seriously. You’re my assistant and your health and happiness do play on my mind. Please don’t leave the house without a coat when it’s raining and cold. You should know better.”
“Are you seriously having a go at me about that? About what I wore last night – now?” I look over at him in disbelief as we’re sitting at a red light.
“I expect you’ll think twice next time. You might not consider it a big deal, but I’m helping guide you to success. It wouldn’t do you any harm to let me help you.”
“I’m fine, thank you,” I’m confident in my response but surprised by his reaction.
Theo goes quiet, looking pissed. It’s as if he wants to say more, but can’t.
He pulls up out front my apartment block and glances over at me when I’m about to jump out.
“Disregarding my advice, being selfish, lazy, not caring for your health... those things drive me nuts, Wren. Take care of yourself, got it? Get that lock fixed on your door, I bet it’s still broken,” Theo’s voice lowers to a tone I haven’t heard before.
Perhaps this was the first time I had managed to actually piss him off.
“At least I know what makes you angry,” I mutter as I open the car door and jump out, irritation settling over my confused heart.
“Which is?” Theo asks dangerously, daring me to confront him. He catches my eye as I look down at him through the open door.
“Independence, obviously. You might be my boss... but you’re not taking me to dinner tonight, Theo. I’m busy. Bye!” I slam the door on his face, turn and storm off before he can have a chance to reply.
Adrenaline is pumping through my veins as I enter my building, my hands tremble. I glance over my shoulder and I see him glaring at me from the driver’s seat, he hasn’t driven off yet.
I think about it, but I’ve already done it – I poke my tongue out at him. As soon as I realise how childish my own reaction is, I quickly turn around while blushing and I run to the elevator.
Seriously, where the hell did that confrontation suddenly come from?
I’m so confused as I go up to my apartment, but I’m mostly angry.
How did he have any right to tell me what to do? If I refused to go out to dinner with him, he should respect that. I didn’t want to ruin our professional relationship.
Oh shut up, Wren, you know that’s not the real reason you lost your cool.
I don’t want to think it, but the thought already runs through my head and it can’t be un-thought.
I trusted Theo... I just didn’t trust my heart and I was terrified that he’d pull all my strings.
He had already started too.
However, being that domineering with me had crossed a line.
I was a free woman. If I wanted to walk around cold, refuse dinners and work promotions, then I was allowed to! As for my broken lock, I was working on getting it replaced... I just liked to procrastinate that one... a lot. Probably because I didn’t know how to put a new one in.
When I finally make it up to my apartment I find Mr. Fox curled up in the kitchen sink.
“You silly kitten,” I mutter as I rub his tummy and he meows at my return.
There is a buzz from my bag and I open it up to check my phone.
I’m hoping it’s just a snapchat from Rhea.
It’s a text and it’s simple but it still manages to make my eyebrows furrow.
“Yeah, yeah, whatever... ‘boss’...” I throw my phone onto the couch and decide to have a shower.
I did not want to go on a date with Mr. Pushy; the bloody self-centred arrogant man had some nerve to keep persisting like that.
I was staying home tonight.
However, I spend most of my shower staring at the tiles, my mind racing.
I couldn’t get my mind off what I was going to wear.
I was terrified... but I was curious.
My resistance is gone.
Okay, Wren, you’re going to pick out the prettiest casual dress you have, do your hair to perfection and learn to cope with Theo’s dominant nature. If he pisses you off or scares you with that dark chocolate glare, don’t get nervous, at least you know how to piss him off back. Just don’t listen to him, ignore his imminent advice about your life, he’ll get sick of you and end the night for you.
I admit, the denial of my underlying excitement was also very extreme.
Just enjoy the free dinner, I tell myself, it’s all about the free dinner, not his beautiful face. And this is definitely, 100%, not a date!
Oh yes. I’d be fine. Free food.
So... why are there butterflies in your stomach, Wren?