Chapter 20: You Haven't Chewed My Head Off Yet
The following afternoon, Elisabeth and I had been sent on an errand to collect a few files from a firm named Porter & Co, which was a company dedicated to agricultural research and science. International firm that it was, it had requested for Day & Night to do an inquiry of their proceedings in Nigeria, Africa. I wasn’t very informed about the details of it, seeing as William and another solicitor named Lawrence Glimsworth had just been drafted for the extensive job.
When we had returned to the office, Elisabeth had delegated me with the responsibility of making four copies of the files. It took me an entire hour to complete the task, seeing as there was a horrendous stack of paper that required photocopying.
To my relief, I hadn’t seen William much today. He’d barely stepped out of his office, and Elisabeth and I had been gone for a solid two hours when we had collected the necessary information from Porter & Co. But when I scurried back to my desk with the stack of papers between my arms, such was about to change.
“Brilliant,” Elisabeth exclaimed when she noticed my arriving figure. Standing from her chair, she relieved me of three of the copies. “Why don’t you bring that to Will’s office, and I’ll get this to Lawrence?” she proposed.
While nodding my head at her, I shot William’s door a look. In the wake of Elisabeth’s statement about his relation to Francesca and Violet, facing him again didn’t feel half as intimidating as before. My interest had surely diminished, and I was over the moon about it. Unknowingly, she had made this internship much easier for me.
“Sure,” I complied and scurried toward his office.
When I reached the door, I paid it three gentle knocks and caught myself smiling. It was astonishing how liberated I felt. Facing him now, and rejecting his potential advances, wouldn’t be nearly as difficult as before. Sure, there was no denying the fact that I was above average attracted to him, but joining the circus between he, Francesca and Violet was not something I intended to do. His conducts with them were indexing drama, and I despised drama. Being part of it was out of the question. Fighting over a man wasn’t something I ever wanted to do. Besides, my integrity wouldn’t let me.
His sensual voice called from within, “Yes?”
Turning the handle, I stepped inside and watched him lift his gaze from the files on his desk. When his piercing eyes met mine, I momentarily questioned my willpower, but upon remembering Elisabeth’s words, I restored it in a heartbeat.
“Porter & Co files,” I murmured and approached his desk to hand them over. Dropping them onto the matte stone of his black desk, my eyes investigated the surrounding chaos for a second. Myriad files covered nearly the entire surface of it, and it made me swallow. So this was what I had in wait? However did he keep track of all this? Then again, he did strike me as an organised man.
Recalling his flat, I remembered how tidy it had been. I’d barely noticed a speck of dust anywhere, but perhaps he had hired somebody to do his cleaning for him. With his schedule, I couldn’t imagine he had much time to spare for chores like dusting.
“Thank you,” he murmured and leaned back in his seat to study me. “How did you find your coffee this morning?” he asked then. Relocating my gaze to his, I paid him a small smile.
“Flat white is in fact my favourite, so good guess on your part. How do you take yours?” I replied professionally.
He frowned at me, clearly bemused by my nonchalant demeanour. That’s right, Will. I’m over you. You no longer affect me in the way you used to.
He cleared his throat before he dryly answered, “Black, no sweetener.”
Why was I not surprised? Nodding my head, I paid him another smile. “I’ll bear it in mind.”
“I don’t expect you to bring me coffee, Cara. The shop’s in the same building as mine. It’s part of my routine to stop by every morning.”
“Expensive habit,” I commented, slightly disapproving in my tone.
“I can afford it.”
He scoffed at me. “It hardly takes a minute.”
“Whatever you say. Was that all?” I queried and gestured toward the files I’d brought him.
His straight eyebrows tied together toward the middle of his face while he regarded me. “You’re in an interesting mood,” he remarked.
Tilting my head, I innocently blinked at him. “Oh? How so?”
His broad shoulders stiffened, I saw, and his jaw clenched and unclenched. The grey weather outside reflected against the sharpness of it. I’d licked that jaw, I reminded myself, and nearly blushed. He had a beautiful jaw, squared and strong in its shape. Masculine. Odd to think of now.
“Well, for starters, you haven’t chewed my head off yet, nor have you commented on the writing on your cup. What’s changed?” he probed me.
I sent him a shrewd smile. “Nothing’s changed, except Sandra’s dead.”
His eyes widened at my brutal insinuation. Indeed, Sandra was dead. Whatever lust I’d harboured for him was evaporating by the second.
“Dead?” he echoed, handsome face paling.
“Dead and buried,” I confirmed.
He stared baffled at me. “How?”
“You might have killed her, unintentionally. You’ll never know,” I teased and shrugged my shoulders. “Anyway, I have to get back to work, Will.” Deliberately, I had chosen to address him by his nickname, so to convince him of the truth; I no longer required psychological distance between us.
“Will?” It was barely a whisper that poured out of his mouth.
After offering a smirk, I turned on my heel to depart.
“Hold on just a second, love,” he barked and charged out of his chair. Sighing, I turned toward him again.
“What?” I sounded tired.
When he reached me, he clasped my chin in his hand to pull my face closer toward his. Suddenly intimidated, I swallowed and silently begged for my strength to remain intact. His eyes investigated mine for half a minute before they narrowed.
“What did I do?” he inquired.
Wriggling my chin out of his hold, I eyed him condescendingly. “Nothing. You were just yourself,” I answered without mercy and reached for the door.
He flinched away upon my vile words and watched me, wounded. “I don’t understand.”
“You don’t have to, because it won’t change anything. Now, I really have to get back to work, Will, and so do you,” I replied with a sympathetic tone to my voice. It did strain my conscience to reject him so brutally. Somehow, this was different to all the other times, and he knew it, too. Because this time, I actually meant it.
I felt bad. He looked so lost and bewildered, not to forget desperate. But provided enough time, he’d see that this was the best thing that could have happened. Finally, we could behave professionally toward one another.
His male beauty? Well, I would admire that in silence until it became like furniture: familiar and something I didn’t pay a thought.
Speechless, he watched me until I’d shut the door between our faces. Once I had, I reeled in a sharp breath. That had been harder than I’d expected. Nevertheless, it still felt right.
My smile returned as I made my way back to my desk. Elisabeth hadn’t returned yet, so seeing my chance to steal a glimpse at my mobile, I withdrew it from the top drawer of my desk to discover a text from Robby.
‘You available tonight? I’m curious to hear how your internship is treating you. Mine’s chaotic, but amazing.’
Robby had acquired himself an internship with Dentons, which had completely astounded me. Being one of the top law firms on the globe, it was mounted on heavy prestige. So of course Robby had managed to secure himself a spot.
‘Yes! Mine?’ I eagerly responded before I stowed my phone away.
The remainder of the day, William remained in his office. Provided the Porter & Co files, I could imagine why. He had mountains of work to go over.
Afraid of disturbing his focus, I therefore decided not to inform him of my departure at five o’clock. Nevertheless, I wondered how long his days in the office were on average. So I asked Elisabeth while I collected my things.
With a shrewd smile on her face, she replied, “Twelve hours, usually. Like I said, he’s a workaholic.”
Christ, did the man have a life outside his work? However did he manage to stay so fit? Taking his naked body into account, it was obvious that he exercised. When did he find time for it? In the mornings before he headed off to work?
Eat, work, sleep, repeat? What a life. Machine, he was.
I blinked when I realised that my life truly wasn’t much different. Like Pink Floyd had put it so eloquently, we were just another brick in the wall, after all.
Robby and I were watching a documentary about white-collar crime on the telly when we heard a key be inserted into the lock of the front door. Sprawled across Robby’s body on the sofa, I lifted my head to welcome Jason’s arriving figure.
“Hello,” I cooed. “Did you have a nice day?”
Completely ignoring me, his lips spread apart to flash Robby a fond grin. “Robby. Good to see you, man.”
“You too, mate,” Robby replied enthused.
“How’s Dentons?” Jason queried while he walked toward our figures on the sofa.
“It’s brilliant,” Robby softly replied.
When Jason reached us, he didn’t hesitate to smother us with his weight. Squeezed into a sandwich consisting of two unfairly sexy men, I could hardly breathe.
“Jason,” I choked. “Can’t breathe.”
Responding, he squeezed me harder.
“Oh, my God,” I mouthed, because I lost my breath.
While laughing, he reclined toward the other end of the grey furniture.
“How’s summer holiday?” Robby asked of him and reached for the remote to lower the volume.
“It’s great. When the sun came out after three today, Stephen and I headed to the park with Livy and Giselle to work on our tans. Played some volleyball, messed about.”
“I saw that on your Instagram story,” I remarked through a pout. I’d been envious at that point.
“Yeah. We missed you guys,” he lovingly replied. “Responsible twats that you are.”
Robby shook beneath my figure while he laughed.
“You spending the night, mate?” Jason asked of him then.
Turning his deep green eyes toward me, Robby shrugged his shoulders. “I think so.”
While hugging his slender and warm body beneath my own, I smiled up at him. “Of course you are. Why else would I tell you to bring a change of clothes?”
Grinning, he planted a kiss to the top of my head and brought both his arms around me to squeeze me against him.
“Sweet. Fancy a beer, then?” Jason asked accommodatingly.
“Suppose the one won’t do any harm,” he murmured.
While nodding, Jason stretched up from the sofa to head for our kitchen. “How was your day, love?” he asked of me on his way there.
“It was great. Much better than yesterday,” I replied content.
“My brother treat you well?” he queried.
“Brought me coffee, actually, so yes.”
Robby tensed beneath me, I noticed, which perplexed me.
Gobsmacked, Jason turned toward me. “What?” he asked, disbelieving. “Isn’t he your boss?”
Jason’s nostrils flared for a brief second. “Then aren’t you supposed to be the one fetching him coffees?”
“Oh, don’t be so conventional, Jason.” I rolled my eyes at him.
He chuckled. “Sorry. It’s just... I’ve known that man all my life, and I don’t think he’s even brought our mother coffee.”
Robby studied Jason with an analytical expression on his face. It bothered me somewhat. What was he thinking? But I knew better than to ask. Robby was intensely reserved. If he wanted to talk about something, he would. If he didn’t, I would never see my chance to hear about it.
“Well, I think he was only trying to make me feel welcome. Besides, I’m your flatmate,” I argued, though I knew it rooted deeper than that. But that was none of their business. Perhaps I shouldn’t have mentioned it. Mentally, I noted it down for future reference.
“Yeah, you’re probably right,” Jason murmured while he withdrew three bottles of beer from the fridge.