Skin of the Night

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Chapter 22: Knickers In A Twist

My heart plummeted when I found a Starbucks cup of coffee waiting for me on my desk. With eyes gleaming, I glowered at William’s door while I raised it to read the black ink.

True grit, it said. What was that supposed to mean? Was he implying toward perseverance? Regarding what? Me? Was this his way of telling me that he wasn’t giving up?

I was so annoyed by the potential that I worried I’d combust right then and there. With the cup in my hand, I stalked toward his office, prepared for war. I paid it three impatient and harsh knocks when I reached it.

“Come in, Cara,” I heard him answer. Had he expected my reaction?

My eyes were glowing when I charged into his office and shut the door behind me. Without a word, I walked toward him and placed the coffee on his desk. Then, I folded my arms and glared at him.

“Good morning to you, too,” he said with a tone of surprise. Reclining in his seat, his gaze swept over my figure-hugging navy blue dress. For a heartbeat, his jaw clenched.

“Will, that’s far out of order,” I said and pointed to the cup.

A look of amusement crossed his face. “What, innocent, inspirational words for our new intern? I’m not sure I agree.”

“True grit? Really?” I snapped. “Would you please stop? This is seriously unbecoming. I’m never going to shag you again. Can you get that into your dense head?”

“What’s got your knickers in such a twist?” he muttered under his breath.

I gaped at him, astounded by his audacity. Honestly, I had no words. Walking toward him, I grabbed the edge of his desk and leaned forward. With lightening in my eyes, I quietly said with a low voice, “I’ve been fucking Robby all night long, Will, and I didn’t miss you for a second.”

His eyes hooded while his jaw clenched again. Malice poured from his orbs as they took to a darker shade. I’d never seen him this scary before. He looked about to unleash his wrath, and I was certain I’d be terminated under its scorching heat.

A little fearful, I leaned away and swallowed a lump in my throat. Perhaps I’d been a tad too bold and brave.

“Now that was just unnecessary, Cara,” he replied with a voice so cold that it made the hair rise on my arms. Frightened he’d see it I hurried to gently rub them.

“If you’d please get the fuck out of my office,” he quietly continued and glowered up at me.

Shit. What had I done? Turning on my heel, I feigned nonchalance, despite the fact that I was close to leaking. Walking out of his office, I closed the door after myself and surrendered to shock. What in God’s name had I just done?

Pale in my face, I stared blankly ahead of myself, while I feared the raging storm the door protected me from. Was he angry? Yes, of course he was angry. But was he angry because what I’d said was inappropriate, or because I’d blatantly declared that I’d spent the night naked with another man?

Shit. Oh, my God. While grimacing, I managed to place one foot in front of the other. However slowly, my rattled person returned to my respective desk. Only when I’d taken a seat in my chair did I notice that my entire body was shaking.

Was he going to make my internship a place worse than hell from now on? Why had I said that?

“Of course I said that,” I muttered to myself. It was my last remaining option in trying to fend him off. Nothing else had worked so far.

I was still restoring my composure when Elisabeth arrived a few minutes later. I nearly squealed when I heard her dump her purse on her desk.

“Christ,” she said. “You okay, Cara?”

“Yes,” I peeped. “Rough morning.”

“I see. I’ll be gentle, then,” she fondly replied and got set up.

Suddenly, William ripped open the door to his office, and my heart faltered. I’d never seen him this livid. My pulse drummed like an epic orchestra behind my ears, muting out any other noise. When his blistering glare travelled in my direction, I nearly ducked under my desk.

“Elisabeth,” he called, voice composed but filled with bottled up rage. “I need your attention for a few minutes. It regards the Porter & Co case. If he’s in yet, bring Lawrence with you.”

“Yes, of course, Will. Are you okay?” she replied worriedly and tucked her blonde hair behind her ear.

His jaw clenched as his eyes flickered in my direction. I looked anywhere but at him. Frankly, I pretended not to exist.

“I’m fine,” he grumbled and turned to leave again.

“Bloody hell,” Elisabeth uttered through a loud pant when he was out of hearing range. “Do you reckon there’s something going on with the case?”

“Plausible,” I replied, though it bordered a whisper.

When Elisabeth anxiously collected her material, my conscience suffered. My stunt was likely to make her job difficult today. I was certainly the cause of William’s terrible mood, and she was becoming collateral damage. I hadn’t seen her this anxious since I’d met her. In all honesty, I found it out of character, and that worried me.

Feeling at fault, it became very apparent to me that I would need to apologise, so to spare Elisabeth and any other innocent person who might be on the receiving end of his terrible mood. However, I would wait until his temper had settled down. Like him, I didn’t have a death wish.

After handing me a list of things to get done in the meantime, Elisabeth scurried to fetch Lawrence. I had nearly completed the entire of it, which mainly included taking calls and setting up appointments, when she finally returned. Pale faced, she dropped into her chair and sent a worried look to William’s door.

“It’s not the case,” she declared. “But whatever it is, it’s surely eating him alive.”

I was about to respond when my desk received a call. It was from Debbie in receptions. “William Night’s office, Cara speaking,” I answered.

“Hello, Cara, this is Debbie. Would you please inform Mr Night that Francesca Strafford is here to see him?”

“Of course,” I replied and hung up on her. After mustering my courage, I phoned his office.

“Yes?” he answered, voice low.

“There is a Francesca here to see you. She’s in the lobby,” I informed him professionally.

He was silent for a brief second. When he returned to the line, there was a smile in his voice. “Fetch her for me, will you?” he asked. Mercurial, he certainly was. What was he scheming now?

“Of course,” I replied and hung up on him. With my heart in my throat, I pushed my seat out to journey toward the lifts. I was tapping my toes against the floor while I waited for one to arrive, my arms crossed as if to protect myself from harm.

Francesca. Francesca Strafford, William Night’s plaything. While I was curious to meet her, I also dreaded it for a reason unknown to me. It wasn’t quite jealousy, but it just felt wrong to look her in the eye and know that she was completely unaware of the fact that I’d also seen him naked once; that I’d also been on the receiving end of his divine sensual care. Like her, I knew what his vulgar mouth could do. Like her, I knew how delicious it felt to have him buried within.

My thoughts continued their venture while I travelled down to the lobby to fetch her. But when the doors slid apart on my elected floor, my heart skipped a beat. Outside the security area stood a tall blonde woman, slender in her frame. She was immaculately dressed into an elegant summer dress of expensive fabric, pastel green in colour. It was undoubtedly a designer dress, but I’d never cared for brands.

Her skin was beautiful and velvety, with a golden shimmer to it. When she turned toward me, my breath hitched. She was nothing short of stunning.

Sporting a small, pointed nose, her green eyes were slightly wide apart, but somehow, it made her look all the more appealing. She was an intriguing beauty. Not the type you saw in make-up commercials, but rather that of Vogue.

Was she a model? She could be, I gathered, if she wanted. She had the height and build for it, slender as she was.

“Hello,” I called and forced forth a smile while I exited through the security gates to greet her. “I’m Cara, Mr Night’s temporary legal assistant. Intern,” I explained and extended my hand to her.

Not a trace of a smile was present on her face when her limp hand reluctantly reached for mine. “I see. How’s his mood?” she asked, startling me.

Did he tend to be in a bad mood around her?

“He’s... William?” I sent her a knowing smile.

She was not amused. “Shit,” she sighed and folded her arms together.

“Something the matter?” I tilted my head.

“Well, I tend to stop by on Wednesdays when I’m in town, but I didn’t set up an appointment with him.” She had to set up appointments to meet him? Christ. “I’m headed for a job in Spain, and I just wanted to say goodbye. But he tends to get a bit angry when I show up unannounced. I’ve been so busy that it slipped my mind to warn him. I’d hoped to find him in a good mood, but I suppose luck’s not on my side today.”

I wanted to ask if she was his girlfriend, but I decided not to. It wasn’t my concern. “Right, well, he sounded happy when he asked me to fetch you. He was angry earlier today, but your arrival seems to have turned his mood around.”

Her green eyes lit up with a hope that hurt to watch. The same moment I saw it, I knew she was in love with him. Good grief, poor girl. I had certainly dodged a bullet, hadn’t I?

“Really?” she asked, and a small smile flirted with her lips.

I nodded. “If you’ll come with me?” I proposed and gestured toward the security gates.

Her mesmerising legs moved with such elegance that I were further convinced she must be a model.

“Spain’s lovely,” I said to create small talk while I scanned my card to allow her entrance.

“It truly is, but very hot during this time of year. Third time I’m there, this year.”

My eyebrows arched. “Travel a lot, do you? I’m jealous.”

She sent me a shrewd smile. “I’m a model, so yes.” And I was correct.

“Ah,” I hummed. “Nice bonus, I reckon.”

She cocked her head from side to side while we journeyed for the lifts. “It gets a bit tiresome. I sleep in hotels more often than I sleep in my own bed.”

“I see.”

“Makes it hard to maintain relationships. And friendships,” she murmured, and I found myself pitying her even more. Poor Francesca, indeed.

“So, how long have you been on the job, Cara?”

“Two days. This is my third.”

“Compelling?”

“Absolutely.”

We continued to chat about trivial stuff while I guided her to William’s office. She was a sweet girl, I found, and undeserving of William’s lascivious behaviour toward other women. Then again, I hardly knew her. Perhaps she was too clingy for his taste, or too demanding.

I dropped her off outside William’s door, leaving her to knock by herself.

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