Chapter 3: You Don't Get A Say
I swallowed again as my knees grew weak. I hadn’t foreseen that at all. Like his friend had claimed, William was indeed rather blunt, wasn’t he?
“Well...” I breathed nervously and mustered all of my remaining courage to say, “You got what you bargained for: something original.”
His lips tucked up. “I’d say so. So what’s your name then, Miss Original?”
“Sandra,” I lied. Since I wasn’t naïve enough to forgive him on a whim, I didn’t feel like giving him my real name. He hadn’t proved himself remotely deserving.
“Sandra,” he echoed and tilted his head. “Well, I’m William, as you may have already gathered, but you may call me Will.”
“Or Arsehole. Tomato tomato,” I countered.
Sincere amusement twinkled in his eyes.
“Here you go, Miss,” the bartender interjected and presented two lush cocktails.
“Thank you.” I was about to grab around them when William beat me to it.
“I’ll give you a hand,” he said for explanation.
“I’ve got two already. Three aren’t required, as you can see,” I argued.
He chuckled. “Witty mouth, you’ve got.”
“Well, at least one of us has got some wit,” I challenged. “Poor man can’t even count right.”
He shook his handsome head at me, but persisted to carry my drinks away. With a pout on my face, I trailed after him. How had it come to this? I hadn’t meant to attract him earlier. Had I known my insult would prove so counter-productive, I would have bit my tongue.
“Andy,” William called and cocked his head toward Olivia’s lonely figure. Andy’s brown eyes widened from evident surprise before he stood from his seat.
When I fixed my gaze on Olivia, I found her smirking at me. The sight extracted a groan from my mouth. She wasn’t the least bit surprised, and I did not like it. It spoke to her impressions and expectations of me.
“Hello, Olivia. Would you mind if Andy and I joined you?” William politely enquired when we reached her. His sudden gallantry made my nostrils widen. How was it possible to host both a gentleman and the devil himself in the same vessel? Flummoxed, I watched him.
“No, of course not,” Olivia answered through a dazzling grin.
“I mind,” I declared. Immediately, William turned toward me with a sardonic smile on his mouth.
“You don’t get a say, I’m afraid.”
I gaped at him. “Excuse me?”
He faced Olivia. “Is she always such a handful?”
In turn, Olivia studied me with a look of innocence in her eyes. “Takes one to know one?” she cheekily replied. As thanks for the support, I wanted to kiss her entire face like an excited dog.
William laughed. “I suppose I deserved that.”
I rushed to grab the available seat beside her on the small sofa so that I wouldn’t be forced to sit next to him, and after dropping my purse to the floor beside my feet, I leaned next to her ear.
“I don’t know what he wants, but my name’s Sandra, okay?” I whispered.
She pursed her lips. “He wants you, but all right.”
I scoffed. “His mate’s fresh out of a relationship. Girlfriend broke up with him today. Unless Will was just telling a lie, of course,” I warned her in another whisper. She stiffened.
“Thanks for the warning, but I don’t see the problem. After Colin, I’m not looking for anything serious. Another heartbroken soul might be the perfect remedy for me,” she countered. Well, when she put it like that... I shrugged my shoulders, leaving it up to her.
“So, Sandra,” William said after having fetched a chair over. Seated next to me after all, he leaned closer. I recoiled toward Olivia, intimidated.
That was what he was. Intimidating. And immensely at that.
Our eyes met, and the mysterious content of his trapped mine. What was this creature? I couldn’t make sense of him.
“What do you do?” he enquired. The sound of his voice massaged my ears. Strangely, it completely muted out the music in the background. All I could hear was him.
I was starting to realise that my body wanted something quite different to what my mind did.
“I... I study medicine,” I lied. I knew enough about the coursework, from Jason, to be able to make it convincing.
His eyebrows climbed higher up his forehead. “Really? Impressive. Decided what to specialise in?”
I shook my head. “No. Not yet.”
He nodded and folded his hands together between his thighs. All the while, he continued to stare at me as if he were observing every corner of my soul. His gaze was remarkably piercing. Penetrative. It was as though he was reading into my core merely by a glance. How did he do that? His psychological prowess astounded me. It made me wonder what he did for a living.
“Well, the mother I love to sleep with is an oncologist,” he eventually said.
I blinked. “Oh.”
He chuckled at my blank facial expression. “Personally, my fascination resides with the law.”
Points to Jason. Solicitors did in fact frequent this place. “Barrister?” I asked.
“Solicitor. Corporate kind.”
I narrowed my eyes at him. “Compelling?” I had a personal interest in whatever he had to say now. Was I networking unknowingly? Then Olivia was, too.
He smiled. “Certainly. Initially, I wanted to specialise in human rights, but my father swayed my mind. I’m glad he did.”
I was taking mental notes. In the end, I still hadn’t decided which area of the law I wanted to practice when I eventually finished my LLM degree. But like William, I aspired to be a solicitor rather than a barrister, regardless of whether the latter weighed heavier in matters of prestige.
“And Andy?” I said to include the others, because William seemed determined to isolate us from them.
“Same as Will. We work together,” Andy chimed in. Looking over, I saw that he’d found himself a seat beside Olivia.
“But I’d like to know more about you,” William demanded and continued to stare at me.
I frowned at him. “You can’t always get what you want.”
His eyes twinkled with humour again before he turned to his colleague. “Isn’t she lovely?”
Andy smirked. “Quite lovely, indeed.”
Taken aback, I blushed profusely. Were they patronising me, or were they being sincere? Olivia snickered beside me, unwilling to come to my aid. Meanwhile, William faced me again.
“I’m worried I might have fucked up my chance completely,” he said, although he sounded to be speaking to Andy, still.
“You have,” I assured him.
“How do I change your mind?”
I scoffed. “You’re the lawyer. Shouldn’t you know how to sway one’s opinion?”
I heard a strange sound beside me then, much like a strangled laugh, and when I looked over, I saw that Andy was looking anywhere but at me while he tried to fight back a massive grin.
“You’re quite right,” William replied, summoning my attention again, and once I fixed my gaze on him, I could have sworn his eyes were aflame with something I had no experience dealing with.
“I’ll start with this,” he continued. “We have definitely not met before. There’s not a chance I wouldn’t remember you, for several reasons.”
Sceptical, I raised a brow. “Such as?”
“Aside from the obvious?”
“Well, the obvious is that you’re really quite stunning, physically speaking, but then that’s seldom enough to capture my interest, much less my memory. You see, beauty isn’t of short supply in this world, but you are.
“What’s not so obvious at first sight – regarding any person, really – is your admirable amount of integrity and blatant intellect. Ultimately, you’re a rather bewitching woman, Sandra, and quite impossible to forget, I expect.”
My breath locked in my lungs upon his momentous declaration. Like myself, Olivia stilled next to me, but thankfully, she quickly reconnected her brain and nudged my arm to help me collect myself.
Once I’d returned to my senses, I found that I appreciated his statement. His earlier insult, where he had accused me of not being a memorable encounter, had angered me more than I had expected it to. It was the way he’d phrased himself, as if I was foolish by thinking I’d be in his league.
I struggled to form a decent reply. “I appreciate that, but I meant what I said. You do look familiar. Livy thinks so, too.”
Visibly reluctant, he handed Olivia his attention. “Do I?”
She nodded. “No idea where we’ve got you from, though. Have you been on telly?”
He chuckled. “No.”
“Newspaper?” I asked.
He cocked his head from side to side. “Perhaps. Once or twice. Work-related, though.”
I narrowed my eyes at him. “How old are you?”
“Now who wants to know,” he countered, humoured.
I rolled my eyes.
“Tell you what,” he said, “for every question you ask, I get to ask one as well.”
“Oh, come on, love. What have you got to lose?”
He burst out laughing. “So prideful.”
“You’ve got no idea,” Olivia dryly confirmed.
“Andy?” I questioned and turned toward him. I pouted at him, hoping I resembled a version of a puppy, but his responding scoff proved my efforts ineffective.
“Sorry, love, you’re on your own,” he stated.
I sighed. It was worth the shot.
“Thank you, Andy.” William passed him an artful smile. “In case you haven’t noticed, Olivia’s finished her drink. Why don’t you fetch her another round?”
“I’ll come with you,” Olivia murmured and pushed herself out of the sofa. Colour reduced in my face while my heart skipped a beat.
Was she so blind that she couldn’t see that this was precisely what William had intended for? Or did she mean to go along with it? Was she going to abandon me to the care of this dreadful man? This horribly intriguing creature that I did not want to succumb to?
“Don’t leave me,” I pleaded.
“You’re a grown woman, Sandra. You’ll be alright. We’ve all seen that you can fend for yourself,” she replied, visibly amused.
It was obvious that she desired time alone with Andy, but it was costing me severely. William had piqued my interest to an extent that I considered morally wrong. He wasn’t right in the head. He was rude, and he was bloody attractive.
“Yes, I wonder what you’re scared of. Starting to get under your skin, am I?” William conceitedly brought himself to ask.
I glared at him. “You will not be getting anywhere near my skin. What’s the matter with you?”
He shrugged. “Right now, you.”
“What do you want?”
“I’d like to get to know you better.”
“Why?” I folded my arms together.
“I’m afraid I haven’t got a clue, yet.”
Somehow, I found that hard to believe. “I commend your grit, at least.”
A smirk climbed to his annoyingly kissable mouth. “Why, thank you. I’m quite pleased with that attribute myself,” he said while moving off his chair to grab the – now – vacant spot beside me on the sofa.
I stiffened when he wrapped his arm over the back of it, across my shoulders. It wasn’t that I minded the intimacy. On the contrary, I seemed to fancy it more than I’d like to admit.
“Don’t be so bitter, Sandra. Let it go. I realise that it’s no excuse, but I’ve had a rough day at work. To make it worse, Andy and Chloe have been together for an entire decade. She’s practically my sister. When I heard the news, two minutes before you arrived, I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to handle you well. I’m very sorry. I truly am,” he said and brought me closer to him.
The scent of him struck me hard. He smelled intoxicating. Drugged, I inhaled the fragrance deep into my lungs. I picked up testosterone, something dark, something sweet, and plenty of challenge.
My Achilles’ heel.
“You smell really good,” I blurted out without thinking. Truly, he smelled remarkable. Even better than Jason did.
Soft laughter poured out of him as he leaned forward to grab one of my drinks for me.
“So do you, love. On another note, you’ve got three of these to finish.” He raised my espresso martini to my mouth, and he did not stop until he placed the glass to my awaiting lips. Consequentially, my lips parted not because of the cold and solid material against my lips, but rather because of his surprising gesture. Wearing a complacent smile, he tilted the glass and carefully poured the content into my mouth.
I watched him the entire time I drank, overwhelmed by his sensuality. I had never met a man quite so slickly domineering before. I had an inkling that he was in the habit of getting his way.
He lowered the glass to allow my swallow, and as I did, he watched me intensely. Meanwhile, the expression on his face was eerily erotic. Was he imagining me swallowing something else?
“I guarantee you, Sandra, that had we slept together, I would not have forgotten. So where you might have seen me before, I don’t know. But I wish it were in bed.”