The Golden Bachelor

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Chapter 2


Keeping her thoughts at bay had never been Samantha’s strong suit. Controlling herself? Sure. Controlling her thoughts? Almost impossible. However, while normally those thoughts would be all pitiful mantras that brimmed with self-hatred, this past week her mind was crammed with thoughts of the sinful night she’d recently spent with her employer in his office.

There were many varieties of thoughts swirling around the same topic, the most frequent being at the same time memories of an unforgettable night, and the consciousness of how wrong was it to let herself go to such experience. Even only looking at him was treacherous, Samantha was afraid her own eyes would give her away every time she met her employer’s gaze, that’s why she did her best not to.

They were supposed to be back to normalcy, he’d promised afterwards that there would be no repercussions, they would forget all about the incident, but how could she forget about it if Lucas Grant kept being a constant thought, along with his delightful kisses and his skillful hands?

Not a single day could go by without her thinking of that night, to the point that she came to thank goodness for her employer’s unplanned trip to Seattle, that way she could be rid of the sight of his painfully handsome face for a couple of days. It was only a momentary relief, however, and it didn’t really help, because, either way, she kept finding herself thinking of that night, no matter how much she sought distractions.

However, opposite to her internal struggle, on the outside, Samantha was her usual impassively calm self, her colleagues noticed nothing unusual, even when being face to face with the boss himself, Samantha behaved as coldly as she was perfectly used to, so that if one had to judge by her attitude and stance, they’d never guess she’d had a small fling with the CEO, neither could the CEO himself tell whether she’d just filed their night away in some forgotten recess of her memory or she was just pretending.

If she was pretending, then she was one hell of a liar, better than him, to the very least. Because, well, Lucas might have been used to poker face, it was due when having such a high profile business, he was used to masking his emotions and thoughts, but he wasn’t quite as good at hiding how often his eyes traveled to a specific employee of his, neither how distracted he got every time she came in sight. It was a miracle nobody had noticed it.

Those few flings he’d had, they’d been so easy to forget, yet this one ... ah, this one seemed impossible. Wasn’t Samantha Benedetti just that craving he’d had for six months? Wasn’t she supposed to leave his thoughts once he’d gotten rid of the itch he felt? Then how comes she was only more in his thoughts now?

How comes he could only think of her soft curves, and how to get to feel them one more time? Hadn’t one night been enough? They’d gone on for the whole freaking night, for Pete’s sakes, how couldn’t that be enough to rid him of the desire he felt of her? How could she still be crowding his mind like that, actually, even worse?

It happened on a Friday that they both found themselves doing overtime for the nth time, Samantha had no idea her employer was already back, less than less did she know he’d remained in the office like her, had she, she would have rather take the residual work at home, anything not to remain alone with him. Neither did Lucas know she was there, they found out only when they found themselves going home at the same time, therefore taking the same elevator.

“Hello, Samantha”. Lucas strained his voice to sound calm as he greeted her once the doors closed.

“Good evening, Mr. Grant”. She responded, being able to convey much more coldness than him. She was a great pretender, no doubt, excellently great at masking her emotions, much, much better than him. Then again, she’d been practicing since 24 years, while he’d started only during his college days.

They stood there without a word as the elevator began its ride, leaning against the wall beside each other, enough far not to be able to reach out, neither of them daring look at the other, better said, Samantha didn’t dare even take her eyes off the floor, Lucas barely resisted not to steal a few glances now and then. She wore nothing more than a black pencil skirt and a white dress-shirt, her hair was up in a very conservative bun, her black-rimmed glasses were on her nose, ballet flats at her feet. The usual.

Well, not quite, Lucas remembered all too clearly never seeing her with a skirt except for that fatidic night. In truth, there was something ... different in her look, something softer yet still classically cold, the skirt reached beneath her knees, it was very chaste, yet he couldn’t help being surprised that she wore it.

Not that he liked to admit it, but his eyes had wandered off, raking over those impassive curves so many times throughout those six months, and Lucas was pretty sure that never once, always except for that fatidic night last week, had he been blessed with the privilege of seeing even only her calves. But maybe he was reading too much into it, and, he chided himself, recalling her every dress wasn’t really sane, was it? Was he becoming a stalker or what?

Lucas cleared his throat, nervous and somewhat troubled, because those thoughts wouldn’t leave him be. “How ... are you?”

“Fine, thank you”.

Coldness personified, wasn’t she? Lucas was amazed at her self control, but somewhat admired. “The project went great, I forgot to thank you for your collaboration”. Lame, but he really couldn’t find anything else to say.

She shrugged. “It’s my job”.

Not a single reaction, not one, she definitely didn’t want to talk to him, did she? Was she afraid he’d bring up their little night of passion? It seemed like he was the only one to feel the awkwardness, though, she looked perfectly calm, always so impassive, as she was usually, as if nothing had ever happened. Well, truth be told, they had indeed said they would forget about it ... she’d probably erased it from her mind already. But if she had, then why couldn’t he?

Minutes ticked by in silence, however while one of them only wished for this ride to be as quick as possible, because it wouldn’t be easy to keep pretending, no matter how used to poker face she was, the other kept struggling to find anything to say that had sense and wouldn’t make him look desperate. Why did he even crave to talk to her? Yes, maybe they should talk about what happened, but they both swore not to, didn’t they?

As soon as they got dressed the week before, they swore they’d never mention such incident again, well, more like, he promised not to while she fled at the speed of light, afraid the ladies come to clean up in the early morning would bust them. Truth be told, Lucas had made such a promise only in order to reassure Samantha, calm her down, because she evidently looked like she was afraid she now risked the eternal flames of Hell for doing what she did.

Lucas cleared his throat, not really knowing how to bring up the subject, he’d never really had troubles of this sort, after all, the few flings he’d had, he never saw them again, so there was never a need to talk, except for one or two that decided to spill the beans about having slept with the golden bachelor, only to have their caked-up faces on the cover of some frilly magazine.

The small adventure with his personal assistant, that was different, but neither then did they talk about it, she closed the case by simply informing him that she was at his service whenever he needed, no need to fuss. Lucas didn’t say anything only for the sake of peace: that the CEO got a blowjob from his PA wasn’t exactly something HR would like to know.

Out of the blue, the ride came to a stop and the elevator made a weird nose. “What the ...”

“Oh, no. Tell me it’s not blocked ...” Samantha begged, letting slip her impassive mask for the first time, panic already seeping through her voice. She was a tad bit claustrophobic, not enough to forbid her to enter any narrow places, but enough for her to start hyperventilating at the thought of remaining blocked.

She dropped against the wall, hands clasped over her heart, trying to breathe properly. She was a master at poker face, but not even she could keep up with such act when beginning to panic. She took short but deep breaths in order to calm herself down, but it didn’t really help, and her panic seeped through enough for her elevator partner to notice.

“There’s no need to worry, I’ll just press the alarm button, and they’ll come fetch us.” Lucas reassured her, confused as to why was she taking it this badly. It wasn’t the first time he got blocked in an elevator, that precise one especially, he’d been having people fix it since a couple of weeks now, but apparently those incompetents couldn’t make it right. Hilarious, he thought, the Grant Enterprises building was considered an architectonic jewel amongst the rest of the skyscrapers in Manhattan, yet the freaking main elevator had troubles functioning for more than a week straight.

Samantha didn’t even listen to him, she was too busy trying to keep control before panic enveloped her whole. She had a reason for being claustrophobic, but there was no need for her employer to know her weaknesses, was there? Hence, she tried her best to remain calm, and one way to conceal terror was behind anger. “You make billions in this damn building, and can’t afford a stupid functioning elevator?!” She snapped bitterly, only half pretending.

Lucas arched an eyebrow at her enraged tone. “There’s no need to be scared,” he assured, moving towards the buttons, “it’s electric, once they know we’re in here, they’ll come fetch us”.

“I’m not scared, just pissed.” Samantha bit back, exasperating anger in order to conceal anxiety. She knew he had no guilt, but it was easier to take it against him than to let him see how much terrified she actually was. It was stronger than her, being in a secluded place like an elevator for a short time was easy, averting her thoughts from death by suffocation was a whole different animal.

Her panic was getting so high that she even dismissed the added problem of being secluded in a small space with a man. Not that she was ever afraid of the male gender ... she just knew better. Especially after what happened right before she left for New York. Men could be so very much brutal, she knew that all too well.

Lucas hesitated a moment before pressing the button, he turned to look at her, observe her, wondering.

“How long will it take?” She asked, crossing her arms over her chest.

He bit his lip, unable to delete a quite wrong thought. Maybe ... turning around, he stood before the buttons panel, watching the girl intently.

She was evidently scared, he thought, but for some reason she was doing her best to hide it, either pride or shyness, it was hard to tell, Samantha Benedetti had always been so locked up in herself that knowing her character proved quite difficult. She’d made no friends, Lucas had noticed, she had no relationship whatsoever with her colleagues, he’d watched her arrive to the office the past few days, and the most she did was respond to a pretty cold hello coming from the booth beside hers, clear sign that she and the person that occupied that booth weren’t friends, but neither was she friends with anyone else in the office, and it was strange.

After six months, even the shiest person should have made at least one valuable acquaintance, instead Samantha no, she was still a stubborn island. Why? Was it just shyness or was there something more? The more he watched her, the more Lucas perceived there was something to this girl, more than what the eye met, something different from that other “something” that drew him to her.

Samantha Benedetti was a peculiar being, no doubt, and for how much he couldn’t wrap his head around it, Lucas still found himself enticed, in one way or another. A far away echo in his mind warned him that being enticed was fine, getting involved might prove lethal, but he didn’t care to listen. What was there to fear about getting to know this peculiar being a little more?

Time ticked by slowly, no more than an hour, but it seemed an eternity, yet no sign of the maintenance guys. Exhausted, Samantha crawled to the floor, sighing, trying to stop her mind from counting the minutes of air she had left.

She’d always had that trouble, that paralyzing fear of being left without air to breathe, no matter how hard she’d tried, she’d never been able to shrug off that terror, and in circumstances like those, when she found herself blocked in a small cubicle without any chance to get out, it was harder to keep such fright at bay, despite needing to.

“You okay?” Lucas asked, going to stand in front of her, hands stuffed in his pockets.

“I’ve been stuck in a damn elevator for nearly an hour, how can I be okay?!” She barked, now truly exasperated and mad. Was it so hard to just get a stupid elevator to function?

“Hey, don’t take it out on me”. Lucas defended.

She looked up, her eyes shooting daggers at him as she spat: “It’s your damn building, so your damn elevator, so it’s your damn fault, Lucas Grant!”

“And technically I’m your damn boss, so you shouldn’t talk to me like this”.

Samantha heard herself snorting, much to her surprise, letting out a hostile side she wasn’t quite sure she’d ever nurtured within her. “It’s nine in the evening, you’re not my boss at this point”.

“I’m that guy you screwed and forgot, then?” Lucas spat, unable to watch his tongue, regretting it right after, but it was too late, the die had been cast, hadn’t it? The bitterness in his voice had certainly given him away, it was time to face the elephant in the room.

Samantha gazed up at him, frowning. “We were supposed to forget, remember? You said it would all be forgotten”.

He sighed, dropping against the wall beside her, crawling to the floor as well. “Yeah, yeah, I know ... I just can’t stop thinking about it”.

She tilted her head to the side, marveled. “Why? It’s not like I was important. It was just sex. I meant nothing to you”. She stated, certain that he was all too used to that type of adventure, so if he was, why would she be any different from his unnumbered flings? It was more likely the opposite, that she would still think of him, which she did, after all, he had been her first time after four long years of nothing, it was obvious that he and that night would remain stuck in her mind for quite some time.

If she then added that, truth be told, with him she’d felt truly satisfied for the very first time, there could be no doubts about why was that night still in her thoughts. Samantha had had one boyfriend, had gone out with only one, had been biblically with only one, and ... for how much she’d cared for Alberto, he wasn’t exactly skilled in bed.

So, Lucas was the second man ever she had sex with, the first one after a long abstinence, and the sole one that had ever given her real pleasure. There, she had it, that was the reason why she was still thinking about him and that night.

That was her excuse, though, what was his? “Unless you feel guilty.”

Lucas frowned, puzzled, turning to her. “Guilty? Why should I feel guilty?” Did he make a cheater of her? She didn’t have a boyfriend, did she? Or maybe ... nah, it wasn’t her first time, was it? Sure, he had indeed encountered some technicalities, but he took for granted she wasn’t a virgin ... or was she? Was that why he should feel guilty? Because he’d taken her virginity? She did look like the kind of girl that would want to wait till marriage, to be honest. But hey, he hadn’t forced her, if anything, she had initiated the real deed, by kissing him, if she felt guilty now for having broken some chastity vow, it was her problem, not his.

“Don’t you have a girlfriend?” Samantha’s voice came in to disrupt his thoughts.

Lucas blinked his eyes, taken aback. “A what?”

“A girlfriend ... you know, your sweet other half?”

“What makes you think that?” He wondered.

She snorted, crossing her arms. “As if you didn’t know.”

He arched an eyebrow, turning half of his body towards her. “I don’t. Please, enlighten me.”

She rolled her eyes, not amused by his humor. “Laurel Herrera? It’s on every tabloid.”

Lucas let himself crack a small amused smile. “I didn’t peg you for the tabloids type, Ms. Benedetti.”

Samantha rolled her eyes, explaining: “I take the subway to work, and for how flabbergasting that is, there are still people who read on paper other than online, unfortunately they only read gossip crap, but when the freaking carriage is packed, it’s impossible to avoid reading the magazine along with the woman beside you, unless you wanna be a creep and stare at the teen couple noisily making out in front of you.”

Lucas laughed at that statement, but he was more surprised at the amount of words he’d just heard her say, and even more surprised at how faster his heart had started beating at the sole sound of that soft voice, speaking to him as if they were old friends. Idiocy, he liquidated it as, but it still remained that his eyes were glued to her soft pink lips as she spoke, and his ears were delighted to be able to rejoice of such voice.

There was just something in her way of speaking, that made him want to listen to her for hours, heck, even her moans were delightful to his ears. Damn, there was something in everything about this girl. Something in her voice, something in her soft curves, something in her way of walking, something in her eyes ... something. There was just something that lured him to her.

However, tuning back in, Lucas was able to hear the last piece of her sentence, before he had to admit he’d been too busy wandering in lala land to listen to what she was saying. “Then there’s that busty blonde ... either she or Laurel Herrera, I don’t care who it is, but you cheated on one of them, maybe that’s why you feel guilty.”

Lucas wanted to laugh in her face, honestly. Hadn’t she looked so serious while saying that, he’d have dared wonder if she wasn’t jealous. Chuckling to himself, he explained: “With Laurel it was nothing big, gossip amplified it, and either way, it’s been over since ... a couple of months, more or less. As for the busty blonde you mentioned, that’s Kayla, my best friend, if you’ve seen her with me at some events, that’s because she’s usually my plus one.” He paused, biting his lip not to laugh out loud. “And before you say friends can be more, I’ll have you know that Kayla is into women, so, well, I’m not her type.”

“Is she yours?” Samantha was surprised at her own question. Of all that explanation, lots of things she could have argued with, why did she choose to wonder if he was crushing on his lesbian best friend?

Lucas let himself laugh wholeheartedly this time, both at her question and at what it implied. He and Kayla together ... please, even if she weren’t gay, there would be no chance they could. “We’ve grown up together, for Pete’s sakes, it’d be like sleeping with my sister.”

Truth be told, during the transition period, when Kayla wasn’t quite sure about her sexual orientation, Lucas had kind of been a guinea pig for her, she’d convinced him to try and date, he’d agreed only because he truly cared for her and wanted her best, but he’d also argued that if she was unsure whether she was straight or gay, he wasn’t exactly the right guy to try heterosexual love with, given their bond. No more than a few kisses they shared, anyways. And it felt awfully weird, exactly like kissing Rachel. That was why Kayla had renounced to going farther than that, sleeping with him would have felt like incest, same went for him.

“Well, you never know.” Samantha argued, a bit flustered about the gaffe, but mostly angry at herself for letting silly thoughts cloud her mind. Why did she even care if he’d cheated on his girlfriend or not? Even she had initiated the actual deed, it was him who had made the first move, with that sinful massage of his.

“What, are you jealous?” Lucas wasn’t able to avoid asking, having a hard time trying not to laugh at the face she made when she heard the words.

She snorted in response. “Why on earth would I be?”

He shrugged, an amused grin still plastered on his lips. “I don’t know, you tell me, you’re the one so interested in my love life.”

She turned to send him a dirty look, but wound up having to conceal the beat her heart skipped at the sight of his charming grin. He was making fun of her, and she hated it, but gosh, was that grin worth it. In order to delete those weird sensations, Samantha turned to stare at the door, crossing her arms over her chest. “I couldn’t care less about your love life, I was just trying to justify why you feel guilty about what we did.”

“I never said I feel guilty, you presumed it.”

She turned to him, arching an eyebrow. “You said you can’t stop thinking about that night.”

He shrugged. “Not because I feel guilty.”

“Then why?”

He sighed, dropping his head back against the wall. “I wish I knew.”

Samantha frowned, marveled. If he didn’t feel guilty, then why was he still so fixated on that night? Wasn’t he a heartless player? She surely was only the nth notch on his belt, why did she remain in his thoughts? “Oh, I get it, it’s because I’m an employee, isn’t it? You’re worried because you think I’ll sue you for sexual harassment. Don’t worry, I won’t.”

It was his turn to frown this time as he gaped at her. He’d never considered that. “You agreed, it would be a scam if you-”

“Who was there to say it was consensual? Just you. And it’s my word, a poor foreign employee that might have obeyed to her employer only because afraid he would fire her, causing her to lose her green card, against yours, a heartless player that just can’t keep it in his pants.”

Lucas stared at her, mouth agape, suddenly aware of the odds. Damnit, he’d never once considered that chance. They were alone in that freaking office, if she wanted it, she might cause him not little trouble, heck, it could be even worse than a simply sue, she could accuse him of rape. Who was there to say he didn’t force himself on her? He was stupid enough not to want security cameras in his office, so it was his word against hers, not even his handsomely paid lawyers could save him from this one.

However, every concern was thrown out as soon as his ears were reached by a delightful sound, the melody of a wholehearted laugh coming from the impassive girl beside him. Lucas turned to her, and stared, amazed, as she laughed, laughed, and laughed, bringing a hand to her heart, getting tears to her eyes as she doubled up with laughter. For once, after six months, he could see impassiveness leave that beautiful face.

Sure, he had last week as well, but in the midst of it he hadn’t really paid attention, now he could ... seeing her laugh like that, so carefree, losing every single restraint, it sent his heart vibrating for some reason. Her face brightened as she laughed, her hazel eyes gained a lighter shade, allowing him to catch a glimpse of the golden rings that surrounded them, despite the glasses, her lips seemed to get pinker for some reason, her chest kept rising and falling, which might have been a nice sight per se, but Lucas was more mesmerized by her beautiful face, lit up in joy for once. It was such an oddly transfixing sight, that he was willing to ignore the uneven beats of his heart, which were caused by that same vision anyways.

He might have thought it dangerous, to be so drawn to an employee more than just physically, but at the moment he was beyond caring. Whatever that something was in her, it was sparkling at full power right now, and his heart had no chance but to surrender, for it’d be of no use to fight.

“You should have seen your face!” Samantha bubbled out among guffaws, keeping a hand to her heart, unable to stop laughing. “You looked like a deer caught in the headlights.” If reason had been in charge, it would have told her it was not wise nor nice to laugh in her employer’s face like that, but she couldn’t care less at the moment, for once in her life she felt carefree, no restraints whatsoever holding back her laugh.

Gosh, she hadn’t been laughing like that since ... well, she’d never once laughed like that! She had no idea why did she find it so hilarious, but his face was truly priceless, she didn’t even know why did she say those things, she just acted upon instinct, and that was possibly the second time in her life that it happened.

Heck, she’d never once left anything to fate, for she knew all too well that keeping control over herself was the sole way to have a chance of surviving through the malevolent odds life threw at her, yet instinct was starting to win over the tight leash Samantha kept herself on, the first act was the night spent with her employer, the second was letting her tongue loose, which, surprisingly, she realized, with Lucas Grant turned out to be quite easy.

Maybe it was his kind smile, his gentle ways, but there was something in him that pulled on her tightest restraints, inciting them to loosen the grip they had on her.

“You just threatened to sue me.” Lucas argued once she was sobering up, forcing a frown onto his features, despite still being inebriated by that small moment of carefree joy she’d let herself live.

Hardly biting back another laugh, however unable to hide a grin, Samantha shook her head, denying: “Come on, I was just teasing you. Besides, even if I did sue you, you’d probably have me devoured by your squad of court sharks.”

He sent her a dirty look, wondering why did she have such a bad opinion of him. “You know, just because I’ve got money, doesn’t mean I’m the usual bored rich bastard.”

“I never said that.”

“You just-”

“What, you wanna tell me you don’t have a squad of sharks ready to massacre anybody that dares drag you in court?” Lucas bit his lips, guilty. She laughed. “See? I’m right.”

He sent her another dirty look, a bit offended. “When you’re at the head of such a company like mine, you need to be sure nobody can drag you into mud.”

She tilted her head to the side, curious. “Somebody has tried?” When he didn’t answer, she scanned her mind for memories of some sort that could connect the young billionaire Lucas Grant to a scandal of any kind, and she made it: “Wait, I do recall reading somewhere of some former secretary of yours that talked about how you used her ...”

Lucas recoiled at the thought. Barbara Lane, that’s who Samantha was referring to. His first personal assistant, she was his age, actually, they were together in college, not quite friends, but good acquaintances, that’s why Lucas hadn’t really thought it over before hiring her when she’d showed up at the interview, which turned out to be an awful idea. “Where did you read that?”

Samantha shrugged, feeling weirdly at ease with talking for once. “You’re more famous than you presume.”

He frowned, puzzled, yet amused, which caused a small chuckle to come out of his sealed lips. “Are you saying you’re a fan of mine?”

She rolled her eyes, though weirdly having a good time. It seemed that this eccentric billionaire was able to make her laugh more than anybody ever had, who knew how. “I’m just saying that you’re on magazines more than you imagine, and that ...“, she bit her lips, a little guilty, “maybe ... I’ve read about you more than I should have.”

Lucas was taken aback, however he wasn’t able to retain a chuckle, which left his lips against his own will. “That sounds like you’re a fan. Do you want an autograph?”

Samantha rolled her eyes, annoyed, but not that much as she would normally be, his arrogance was too funny to be irksome for once. In truth, it might look a little bit weird that she’d read so much about her employer, but it had been just a way to know the man she would work for before actually starting to. Always that control mania she had.

She’d googled Lucas Grant and Grant Enterprises as soon as she’d bumped into the job offer, the gossip was only an extra due to her curiosity: maybe it was true that she had no choice but to read tabloids with the woman beside her on the subway, but it was also true that she was curious, even if she shouldn’t be. After all, Lucas Grant was only her employer, as long as he paid her wage, she was fine, whether he dated this or that Hollywood starlet, it was none of her business.

“So, is it true?” She asked quizzically. She’d hadn’t been able to find much about that small sentence on Wikipedia that had caught her attention, so why not ask the actual involved party if she had the chance to?

Lucas, sobering up from his laugh, frowned. “Of course not.”

“You didn’t use her?”

He sighed. “I just ... made the mistake of believing she was sleeping with me, me, not me the billionaire.” At Samantha’s puzzled frown, he explained: “Her name’s Barbara Lane, we had a small affair in my beginnings, when I was still too dazed by the fact that my company was having a discreet success to consider some people might want to ruin me.”

He sighed, closing his eyes, head against the wall. “I knew Barbara from college, we weren’t exactly friends, but I knew her, she wasn’t bad, that’s why I hired her on spot. The beginnings were rough, I worked around the clock every day, and as my personal assistant, she ought to do the same, so we spent a lot of time together. That’s where troubles come in.”

Samantha arched an eyebrow at him. “You had an affair with her?” She repeated, recalling the strict rule he had about mingling with employees. Even though, she was already an exception.

“Yes. It was nothing, really, I mean ... I thought we were just two adults relieving each other.” He turned to Samantha. “Like ... you and I, more or less.”

She bit her lip, her heart skipping a beat at the remembrance of that night, however also at the thought that he would now want to talk about what they had. She wouldn’t know what to tell him, other than a white lie: it was nothing.

However, knowing his tongue had just slipped more than due, Lucas turned back to the door, and went on recounting of how he’d slipped up, letting stress and physical needs cloud his judgment, therefore pushing him to bed his own PA, only to then be sorry to realize she’d only wanted to set him up. “When I told her we couldn’t go on with ... whatever we had, she made a scene, started shouting that I was only a bastard that had used her, that I’d taken advantage of my dominant role to have her submit to me ... I fired her, which was a huge mistake, as my lawyers pointed out only after, because that gave her the go to sue me for sexual harassment and wrongful dismissal.”

He groaned, recalling that awful period. “Ugh, tabloids rolled in the scandal. A rising company, an apparently immaculate CEO ... how couldn’t they cheer? That was their chance to spoil my reputation, my competitors reveled in it. The company lost a goddamn deal of money because of that, I had to personally call one of my biggest angel investors to convince her I wasn’t the male chauvinist bastard they depicted me as. I solved it in a month or two, we never got to trial because my lawyers were able to prove that, one, it was consensual, two, I could sue her for libel, but the damage had been done. That was probably the lowest Grant Enterprises have ever gotten to.”

Samantha gaped at him, flabbergasted, and feeling kind of guilty. “I’m sorry.” She mentioned, fidgeting, eyes on her own lap.

“For what?”

“Well, I ... laughed of you, while you had a good reason to fear a sue, and-”

“Ugh, don’t be ridiculous.” Lucas waved her off.

She looked up, her hazel eyes mildly twinkling in confusion. “But ...”

He cracked a small genuine smile as he stared into those hazels. “I’ll admit I got a bit of a heart attack at the thought, but ... it was nice seeing you laugh.”

Samantha lowered her gaze, blushing, unable to respond, and her heart skipped more than a few beats when his fingers softly raised her chin, forcing her to gape into those ocean blue eyes again, therefore causing all of the self confidence she’d showed off until now to fade, like mist in the rain.

“I mean it. I’ve never seen you laugh, it was ... refreshing.”

She slipped away from his grip, staring at her lap once again, tormenting her hands, her mouth dry as she muttered a weak “Thanks ...”

Lucas smiled at her sudden shyness. Just how many nuances were there to this odd creature? He was intrigued, to say the least. This elusive beauty had been crowding his most hidden desires for so long, till finally she’d given in, gifting him with one of the best nights of his life, and now there she was, coy and wary, trying to hide away her red cheeks, simply because he’d dared compliment her. “Why did you sleep with me if you thought I had a girlfriend?” He asked, to change subject, so that she wouldn’t be ill at ease.

She bit her lip, sinfully guilty. “Well, you ... you’re pretty persuasive ...”

He chuckled. “I seduced you, huh?”

“Don’t let it go to your head.” She teased, and they both laughed, slowly leaving silence to reign in that small cubicle they’d been trapped in since more than any of them had really noticed.

Because she didn’t know how to fill that silence, Samantha resorted to slipping off her flats, just to have something to do, humming to one of her favorite songs, better bending her knees, so that the skirt wouldn’t play any tricks. She wasn’t quite sure why she’d bought it the other day, heck, she wasn’t quite sure why she’d gone shopping at all, considering she hated it.

She’d told herself she needed fresh air, and Sky hadn’t taken his walk yet, so why not go to the mall instead of the usual park? Maybe the clerk had been persuasive enough, or maybe Samantha felt like changing something in her look. That pencil skirt flaunted her soft curves, the clerk had enthusiastically chanted, it was perfect for the office as much as a romantic night out, she had nice legs, a beautiful frame, why hide it?

“You have a beautiful voice.” Lucas murmured, as if not wanting to disrupt that small delightful moment, however failing.

“T-Thanks ...” Samantha mumbled, blushing all over again, only now realizing she’d gone from humming to actually singing, for how softly.

“I mean it.” He remarked with a smile, noticing her reddening cheeks. “It’s nice to listen. Please, don’t stop.”

“But I ...”

“Please. Sing for me, Samantha, will you?” He closed his eyes, head against the wall, a gentle smile on his lips, one she could hardly say no to.

Her heart was running rampant, she’d never sung for anyone, it was just a small pleasure she gave herself now and then, nothing people could be interested in, she’d never had a public, and now ... she watched that kind smile, never leaving his lips, those shut eyes, as if he’d prepared to listen, abandoning himself to the sound of her voice ... the pressure of his expectations weighed her down, but she didn’t want to disappoint him, he seemed so relaxed as he waited. Hence, taking a deep breath, she started:

There’s a song that’s inside in my soul

It’s the one that I’ve tried

To write over and over again

I’m awake in the infinite cold

But you sing to me over and over and over again

So I lay my head back down

And I lift my hands and pray

To be only yours I pray

To be only yours

I know now you’re my only hope

Lucas felt the smile better tug at his lips as that soft voice filled his ears as much as his heart. She sounded like a beautifully luring siren singing her love hymn to her sailor, like an angel chanting a liberating melody. He was quite sure he’d never heard such a beautiful voice as hers, better said, technically speaking there might have been better voices, but the way hers reached out straight for his heart? None. It was like being lulled in a beautifully melancholic melody that stole him from the mortal world.

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