I won’t lie. My heart was beating fast at the moment. I never expected to get another date from him this early, and after last night. And what surprised me was how he easily saw through me. Though I wasn’t going to refuse, which he misjudged, but he knew I valued my time.
“Oh! I’m surprised. I thought you’d try and make an argument about it.” Dean visibly sighed in content.
“I don’t always try and argue. It depends on the offer. And you made a reasonable one that I can’t refuse.” I said.
“Oh!” He looked baffled. “I hoped I didn’t make it seem like you can’t refuse.”
I bit my lips to hide my amusement. I knew he was toying with me. “No. You didn’t. I would’ve said something if you did.”
He arched his eyebrow, waiting for me to elaborate, but I didn’t.
Our conversation was cut short when Kyla arrived. In the corner of my eyes, I noticed Dean putting some distance between us. It might have been the look Kyla had as she approached the reception desk. She kept on glancing between Dean and me. And her sly grin was enough to tell us what she was thinking.
“Good morning, Amy. How are you this morning?” When she asked that, her gaze landed on Dean rather than me.
I tried to keep my composure for the sake of professionalism. “It’s been great, Kyla. And how are you today?” I greeted.
“I’m great as well.” Kyla said. She dropped her façade and winked. To make her point clear, she nodded subtly in Dean’s direction.
I blatantly ignored her signals and cleared my throat. I quickly found something on my desk to change the subject. “Ah! Kyla, here are the mails I’ve receive from advertising. I forgot to hand it over to Rhea.”
Kyla got the thick envelope from my hand. Her expression changed. “When did this come in?” She asked.
“Just this morning.”
With that distraction, Kyla excused herself in a hurry to view the contents of the mail. Once we were alone, I faintly heard Dean chuckling beside me.
“I haven’t seen you in action. But seeing it firsthand, I don’t doubt what they called you.” He said with a sly grin.
I arched my eyebrow. “And what would that be, Mr. Garcia?”
He mirrored my expression. “Greg told me you’re the master of distraction, also queen of gossip, and possibly a proud workaholic.”
“Is that all Greg told you about me?”
“Well, those were the few things he’d willingly shared to me this morning.” He smirked coyly.
However, our conversation was interrupted yet again when another member of the staff exited the elevator. For most of the morning, it was difficult to finish a longstanding conversation because of it. And not an hour later, Steve walked back out. My attention was diverted towards him. His huge grin told me his interview had gone well.
“How was it?” I asked.
Steve stopped in front of my desk counter and leaned over. “I got it.” He whispered.
I jumped in excitement and reached over him for a hug. “Congratulations! I’m so happy for you.”
He lightly patted my back before letting go. “Thank you. I’m glad you’re not against me being part of the team.”
I snorted. “Had I ever insinuated that I didn’t want you working with me?”
He chuckled. “No. But I thought…”
I sighed heavily. “As I’ve said Steve, it’s not like that anymore.”
He kept staring for another second before Dean cleared his throat. From the look of surprise on Steve face, he might have not notice him sitting idly beside me.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t see you there.” He held out his hand towards Dean. “Hi! I’m Steve, Amy’s old friend.”
Dean stood up and shook Steve’s hand before replying. “I’m Dean Garcia, one of Mr. Hawksley’s bodyguard.”
“Oh! Another bodyguard, huh?” Steve said. “Though I thought Mr. Hawksley had enough security in his team, but it’s better to have more than less if you ask me.”
“If you’ve read the papers, Steve, we need all the hands that we can get.” I interjected.
Steve nodded at my statement. “Yeah, I briefly talked with Mr. Hawksley about it. As a lawyer myself, I gave him some advice on how best to deal with it. But he seems like he had it under control.”
I scoffed. “He’s sugarcoating it. Nobody expected for this to happen. Even the secretarial staff are taking action. We’re currently looking for a new place to lease with a better security.”
“Yes, I can see this place has a lax security. No wonder something like that happened…” He trailed off in thought. “What kind of office are you looking for? Because I know a place which would be great fit, and the lease if up by the end of this month.” He asked.
“Where did you get that information?”
“From someone… a friend. It doesn’t matter now. But do you want to know where it is and have a look?” He evasively changed the subject. He then pulled out his phone from his pocket.
“Okay, sure. That would be a great help, thank you.” I got up again as he showed me the picture of the building.
Since it had been five years since I’ve step foot in the place, it took me a moment to recognize it. “Is that?” I wasn’t able to get the whole word out. But Steve knew what I was going to say.
“I know what you’re thinking. But don’t fret. He doesn’t work in the building anymore. The company he’s working expanded and leased a different office for his department.” He quickly explained.
“Steve, I don’t know…”
He interjected. “If you’re really desperate to get out of the office, you know this building has the security you solely need right now. And you can’t ignore it if the unit does go up in the market for lease.”
He was right. I won’t be able to ignore it if does happened to be open for lease soon. “Okay. Thank you, Steve. And let me know who’s the relator for the building and put it in my list.”
He grinned and quickly scanned his contact list before showing his phone screen to me. I jotted down the number on a notepad.
“Well, since I’ve given more help and I’ve not yet official made part of the team, how about treating me to lunch this time?” He cheekily asked.
Throughout the conversation, Dean had kindly kept to himself. But somehow for this conversation, he found it was time to intervene again.
“I’m afraid Ms. Nolan isn’t available for lunch today, Steve.” His dry tone somehow amused me. I looked down to hide it.
“Really? And why are you answering for her?” Steve challenged. His whole body shifted and turn to Dean’s direction.
“Because she’s having lunch with me.”
Both Steve and I were surprised on his response. I hadn’t expected him to give him an honest reply. Somehow, I thought he would give him a witty comeback as he had always done with me.
“Oh… Oh!” Steve’s face brightened up in realization. “Oh!” He said again, but he sounded teasing now.
I stared at him, willing him to look at me. When he did, I kept a poker face. “Anyways, Steve, I’m so happy for your new job. And thank you for letting me know about the office space that’ll be leased soon.” I said to change the conversation.
His sly smirk was telling me he wasn’t over it just yet. “Well, Amy, it was a pleasure. And I think I’ll take my leave now and finalized my resignation on my other job.” He said as he slowly moved back towards the elevator. “I think my boss would be happy to hear they won’t be seeing or hearing from me in that law firm anymore.”
“I thought you’ve already resigned after your first interview.” I remarked.
He snorted. “You know I won’t take that risk, Amy. I need to be sure I got it before I made any permanent damage.” He winked and turned to Dean with a sly grin. “That’s my advice for you, Mr. Garcia. Make sure you got it first before you make anything permanent. She’s not easy to catch, you know.”
I gasped and grabbed my pen, throwing it in his direction. It didn’t hit him, but it was close enough he flinched at the possible contact. “Shut it, and go!” I commanded.
He laughed at my reaction and pressed the call button. Luckily, he didn’t have to wait long. But he had enough time to make another comeback.
“See that, Mr. Garcia. You’ll have your hands full. So, good luck!”
“Not another word Steve!” I warned.
His annoying laugh briefly enveloped the quiet reception area before he finally got in the elevator and disappeared. The sudden eerie silence after his absence felt suffocating. What do I say now?
However, Dean didn’t seem bothered by what Steve said.
“He must be a handful to be friends with,” he said.
I peered at him and caught his gaze. His mischievous grin reassured me that nothing changed between us. I started chuckling to release some of the tension I was holding in.
“God, you have no idea what kind of people I used to be friends with.” I stated.
“If it makes you feel better, I have a handful of friend who are twice as annoying as he was to you back when I was working at my previous job.” He informed.
This might have been the first time he shared to me about his past. It drew my attention. Now, I want to know more. “Do you miss it? Your old job?”
My question was supposed to be innocent. But from how Dean’s smile faltered and he cleared his throat, he might not have meant to tell me that. However, he willingly answered my question.
“Yes. I missed it. But I can’t broad over the past. I made my choice to be here.” He said. And for a moment it felt like his words were a lie until he smiled again. “If I hadn’t quit my old job, I wouldn’t have met you and be here now.”
I didn’t get to finish my reply when we were interrupted yet again. Albert and Greg had returned from their meeting. And from the looks on their faces, they’re not getting anywhere with the temporary security system. So I left them to discuss their future plans while I gathered piled up the papers I had to circulate in the office.
My first stop was by Kyla’s office. Rhea peered up from her desk.
“Are these from the advertising agency?” Rhea asked as I handed to her one of the envelope addressed to Kyla.
“Yes, it is.”
“Thank you. And oh!” Rhea handed me a piece of paper. “These are the list I could come up with the time I had yesterday. It’s not much, but I thought you’d want to gather everything before giving it to Zoey.”
I nodded. “You were right. I was about to ask you. Thanks.”
“No worries. And let me know if you still need more. But I’m sure everyone had listed enough places, and of course,” she paused and gestured to me in emphasis. “You’d already listed all vacancy you could find.”
I laughed. “That’s not true…maybe. I did get one insider from a friend that a good unit would be open for lease by the end of this month.”
“See, you got this, Amy.”
I rolled my eyes at her remarked. “Thank you for the confidence booster, Rhea.”
“You don’t really need it.” She jested.
“Well, I got to go and finish my round this morning. Let’s see if everyone in the secretarial staff have a full list like yours.” I said.
She snorted. “They wish. I got my insider too, you know.”
I kept on chuckling as I headed to the next table.
Once I was on my last desk, which was Zoey’s, I got at least a fifteen-page list on-hand. When she saw me approached her, she held up her hand and gestured towards the small conference room beside Julian’s office.
“Let’s talk there.” Zoey said as she stood up.
I nodded and headed towards the conference room before her. I took my seat as she entered.
“How was last night?” She threw that question before I said anything.
“Last night? With Dean.” She said with more emphasis. “Julian filled me in the detail, which is for once, unexpected. I didn’t know you two were…” She trailed, waiting for my reaction.
I arched my eyebrow. Not wanting to admit anything, yet.
“So are you two… dating?” Zoey finally got it out.
I snorted and chuckled.
“Is it just… uhm… casual then?”
I held back a smile and sighed. “It’s a casual something. But I don’t think we’re anywhere exclusive to define it as dating, Zoey.”
“Right? But, he’d at least, you know, ask you about…” She stopped short as I held up my hand.
“Zoe, why are you asking me these questions?” I asked, but then realization hit me. “Had you told my sister anything?”
“No. Of course not. I wouldn’t tell her until I’ve heard her tell me the news herself.… but you already know that.” She replied.
I smiled. “Thank you for your concern, Zoey. But I’m fine. And for the record, I had fun last night.”
She grinned. “Really?”
I bashfully smiled. “It was… He was so… He was such a gentleman. He was sweet, and attentive. And I…” I stopped to composure myself. “It was a lovely night.”
Zoey was silent for a moment. She bit her lips to hide her amusement. “I see.” She smiled and rolled her eyes. “Anyways, I’m happy for you.”
I smirked and said. “Then I think you’ll be happier to hear he’s taking me to lunch later.”
She gasped. “Oh! Really? Today? Another date after last night?”
“Yes?” I whispered. Maybe it was wrong to tell her.
“Okay. I see.” She mischievously grinned. “Then let’s not take our time here and finish this before lunch. I don’t want you to miss your date.”
I sighed in regret. “It’s not really a date.”
I quickly diverted her attention to business before she started interrogating me again. She got the fifteen-page and read through it with a few question in mind. I jotted down everything she said. Then promised to get back to her with it by this afternoon. Before she dismissed me, she got a few more words in about Dean.
“Enjoy your lunch date with Dean.” She said.
“Zoey, it’s not a date.”
“Whatever makes you comfortable, Amy. But you know people have started talking. If you don’t want to be this week’s office gossip…”
I finished the sentence for her. And I knew it well enough. “… I should make sure not to draw any more attention to myself. I got it, Amy.”
“But let me tell you a secret. With the right guy, you wouldn’t care what they say behind your back. In your heart, you’ll know it’s worth it.”
I nodded. “Thanks for the advice, Zoey. I’ll keep it in mind.”
While I walked passed the open work area, now aware and reminded by Zoey, I could feel their judging stares and hear their gossiping whispers. Maybe I was rash to accept that lunch invitation. Maybe it wasn’t the right decision.
But then I was reassured when I returned to the reception desk. He looked up and caught my gaze. With a smile, all my insecurities disappeared. For once, I didn’t mind.
Thank you for reading! Please let me know what you think on the comment below. A review is very much appreciated.