Chapter 36: Call It Intuition
By the time we reached the place he’d meant for us to eat, we hadn’t shared a word. However, when he reached the door and was about to open it, he broke our silence with a hesitant look on his face.
“Just to be clear,” he said and stared strictly into my eyes. “This does not count as our first date. This is lunch. Work-lunch.”
I giggled back at him and stretched up on my toes to plant a kiss to his cheek. “Then I’ll be allowed to pay for my share. Correct?” I teased and watched him tense.
“Cara, you’re still a student. Don’t be ridiculous. And you’re currently enrolled in an unpaid internship programme. Besides, this was my idea. Plus, I’m your boss. It’s the established etiquette that I pay.”
I rolled my eyes at him. “Do you always have ten arguments to back up any–”
“Yes,” he interrupted with a shrewd smile covering his mouth. “You’d better get used to it. This,” he waved his free hand between us, “whatever this is, will prove most beneficial for you. You should be taking notes. Watch and learn, and I’ll make a great solicitor out of you,” he continued to tease until he finally opened the door for me.
“You have an inflated ego, Will. I’ll be shrinking that first thing,” I countered amused.
He scoffed at me. “It’s not inflated. I have references. Credible references.”
“Confidence is indeed your forte,” I cooed. Gathering my hands to imitate an Asian greeting, I bowed toward him. “Sensei.”
“That’s more like it,” he remarked through his laughter and showed the way to a table in the far end of the space, along the windows. After he’d helped me to my seat, suddenly the gallant version of himself, I steered my eyes around the room to observes the stylish interior. It was high under the ceiling here, with windows all across the wall. Sheep coats covered the fancy chairs of various colours, while a squared and brown table rested beneath my palms.
“What’s this place called?”
“The Listing,” he murmured and gazed out the window. “Good food, quick service.”
I smirked at his comment. “Efficiency is your bible, isn’t it?”
He looked over at me then, and a wry smile had taken to nest on his mouth. “Sounds about right. Why, are you religious?”
“Very.” I barely managed to keep my smile at bay.
He blinked. “Christian? Catholic?”
“Hello? The religion of Cara,” I reminded him and pointed to myself.
He looked underwhelmed. “Right.”
“So I don’t need to ask you that, because I’m already your God.”
“Right,” he repeated with a slow nod of his handsome head.
I narrowed my eyes at him. “Are you?”
“Yes, of course. I’d kiss your feet right now if you asked me to,” he replied amused.
“Foot fetish? We’re going to have to work on that,” I said and rested my cheek in the palm of my hand. “Not judging those who are, but I am not into that.”
He chuckled and leaned backward in his seat. “Not into it myself, but I gather there must be a reason for its existence. The fetish, I mean.”
“Hey, I’m all for exploring limits, but not that one.”
“Done anal?” he asked with a face that was devoid of emotion. I wished I had something to smack him in the head with. Vulgar William returned.
“Christ, Will,” I growled under my breath and glared at him while my cheeks turned pink.
He laughed sincerely, and regardless of how he managed to rub me the wrong way, I adored the sound. In many ways, he truly had become a version of sunlight in my world in such little time. Odd as it were, he always knew what to say.
Though I barely knew him, I felt like I’d known him for a lifetime already. His company might make me tense with the amount of emotion he stirred within me, but it was fundamentally comfortable and eerily familiar; as if we’d known each other in a past life and was just learning to know each other all over again. Truthfully, I had never connected with somebody as instantly and as profoundly as I’d connected with William Night.
“You’ve definitely done it,” he declared when his session of laughter finally reached an end.
I pursed my lips and looked away from him. I had tried it, the once, with Robby, and it had hurt like hell, because I hadn’t been able to relax.
The thought of Robby and all the things we’d done together made my mood plummet in the span of a mere breath.
“Might have. Not something I’d fancy repeating,” I quietly confessed.
He seemed to notice the drop in my mood, but before he could say anything else, the waiter approached. I settled for a Crispy Duck salad, as my appetite had all about vanished upon the thought of my past lover.
As the waiter departed with our orders, William studied me for a beat. “Are you going to tell me what’s eating you?”
I pouted and looked away from him. “Doesn’t matter. There’s little to be done with it.”
“Please don’t tell me somebody died.”
I frowned and turned toward him again. “If somebody died, I would have cancelled our date.”
“All grandparents alive then?”
I chuckled against my will. “Alive and well.”
“Good. Parents, too?”
“As far as I’m aware, yes.”
“Is it Robby, then?” he probed and rubbed the back of his head.
My breath hitched with my surprise. Had he guessed that, or had he figured it out somehow? Had Jason told him?
Upon my delayed response, he started nodding to himself. “Hit the nail on the head, didn’t I?”
“How?” It was all I could manage.
He grimaced and shrugged his shoulders. “Don’t know. Call it intuition. He did leave rather infuriated on Saturday. I can’t imagine he was too happy if you told him about our date.”
I faced the window beside us and focused on my breathing for a few seconds, trying to calm my rising emotions. “I didn’t tell him. I meant to, but he broke things off before I could.”
“Did he?” he murmured sympathetically and tilted his head. “Did he say why?”
I directed my wet eyes to him. He didn’t look smug, and I appreciated it immensely. I couldn’t tolerate a smug William right now. I’d tear his guts out. “Yeah,” I feebly replied.
While sighing, he leaned forward, and his eyes roamed across my face for a short while. “Was it because he’s got feelings for you?” he gently asked.
“Ye-es.” My voice broke. Hurriedly, I shielded my face with my palms and continued to focus on my breathing.
“I’m sorry, Cara. Honestly, I am. Obviously, this was what I wanted, but I still hate to see you like this. I’m aware he was one of your best mates.”
I sniffed and spread my fingers apart to look at him through the gaps. “Who are you, and what have you done with my arsehole of a boss?”
He winked at me. “He’ll be back later, when he isn’t going to do any serious damage.”
His reply made me giggle, despite how sorrowful I felt. “Can’t wait.”
He sent me such a gorgeous smile then that I had to catch my breath. I wanted to rub my eyes to see if I were dreaming. He truly was an outstandingly handsome man.
“I’m happy to hear that you still want to go on a date with me, despite everything with Robby,” he said and reached across the table for my wrists. After dragging them up to his mouth, he granted them each a tender kiss precisely on my pulse. My heart jerked within me while the same feeling I’d sensed before poured through it. Was I starting to fall for this man?
“Yeah, well, you’d be a bloody thorn in the side if I didn’t, wouldn’t you?” I replied monotone and retrieved my hands from his grip.
A cunning gleam entered his eyes. “In ancient Rome, they called it divide and conquer.”
Nonplussed, I reclined deep into my seat and folded my arms together over my breasts. That had been his tactic in all this? “Do you read strategy during your spare time?”
He chuckled and scratched his stubble. “I’m an avid reader. Always have been, and I played lots of chess growing up. Everything’s strategy, Cara, and I’ve always had a flair for it. When you landed on my wish-list, I couldn’t resist utilising my talents with it. But, like I said, I’m genuinely sorry about Robby.”
“You’re outrageous,” I grumbled annoyed.
He leered at me. “I’m clever. Don’t get so upset just because I outwitted you. I told you I’m not going to waste your time, and I meant it. You won’t regret this. On a completely different note, try not to chew off Andy’s balls when we return to the office. I know you’re having a rough day, but so is he. Chloe gave him a bloody hard time yesterday, but he’s always goofing around, so I can understand that you find it difficult to tell.”
My blood stilled. “Oh, God,” I breathed upset. “Shit, that didn’t even strike my mind.”
He shrugged his shoulders again. “Don’t worry about it. Just thought you should know. Besides, I think he’s reaching his limit. It won’t be long until he comes padding back to her. He’s growing depressed without her. It’s only a question of time before he realises that giving her a baby isn’t going to make him any more depressed than he already is.”
“Poor Andy.” I sighed and brushed my hair behind my ear. I genuinely felt for him. He surely wasn’t in an easy spot.
“Do you want children?” he asked then, and I wondered for a moment if he’d brought Andy up simply to create an opening so that he could ask. It wouldn’t be surprising, knowing how slick he could be.
“Sure.” I narrowed my eyes at him. “Someday. But I’ve got ambitions I’d like to see through first.”
He snorted. “Ambitions are subject to constant change, Cara.”
Valid point. I cocked my head from side to side, not disagreeing.
“I want five,” he stated with a firm nod of his head. “Yes, five, so you ought to prepare.” The grin he flashed me was disgusting, and it also made me realise that he was joking.
“You’re crazy, and you’re getting far, far ahead of yourself,” I fired back. “Let’s start with dating, and if you’re lucky, maybe I’ll grant you the title of my boyfriend.”
Again, his sincere laughter sounded through the space, and it made my heart sting. “Allow me to make this clear, once and for all,” he said and pointed his finger to me while his grin persisted. “If you upgrade me to the status of being your boyfriend, you’ll be the lucky one.” Suddenly, he frowned at himself. “Actually, I take that back. We’ll both be most lucky.”
I shook my head at him in comic despair. “Where does this confidence stem from? How can you sound so sure when you hardly know me?”
“Call it intuition,” he answered bemused and studied me in wonder. “Just... feels right. Is that entirely one-sided?”
I blushed and looked away from him. “No.”
“Thought so.” Always so self-assured.
Comfortable silence travelled between us for a moment, and when I realised it, an affectionate, shy smile claimed my mouth. Already, we could spend silence in comfort. That was a feat, and so I savoured the moment.
“Will?” I spoke after our orders had arrived. Until now, we still hadn’t broken our silence.
“Yeah?” he nonchalantly responded after swallowing his mouthful of the Chicken BLT sandwich. When I’d seen his plate, I’d almost regretted not ordering the same, but it was much too big a meal for a mere lunch.
“Thank you,” I said and kept his gaze. He frowned amused and cut himself another bite.
“Anything for you,” he responded affectionately, but with a casual tone, before he filled his mouth again.
His words struck straight through my chest as the sweetest thing I’d ever heard, and he’d said it so perfectly. The declaration echoed through my mind, and I wondered if I’d ever forget it. It had been momentous, or at least I’d perceived it that way.
He chuckled upon my stunned expression. “There’s plenty more where that came from, sweetheart,” he assured me and smiled to himself while he blankly watched his hands cut into his sandwich.
I was definitely falling for him, and fast.