Bonus Chapter One
Ben’s POV of Chapter One
What a crappy way to start your week. After a crappy weekend where I had to help my brother sort out his shit, I almost didn’t hear my alarm this morning. And on my way to work, I get so annoyed by all the people on the street that by the time I reach the building of Wilson & Partner, one look at my face should be enough to scare anyone off.
When I pass the reception desk, Lauren gives me a big smile. I roll my eyes and sigh.
“Hey, Ben, wait!” she yells.
Of course, she comes over and hugs me. Lauren isn’t scared off by anything. “Why the long face, stud?” she asks as she dishevels my hair, and she laughs as I grimace.
“Stop calling me that,” I grumble. “Why are you so cheerful on a Monday morning?”
“I had a pleasant weekend,” she tells me with a wink. And I know exactly what she is talking about. Lauren and the men, an endless story.
“Please, spare me the details,” I groan.
“Oh, sweetie, I think your mood would improve a lot if you got some.”
“No, I’m serious. You need to get laid. How long has it been?”
I shake my head. I’m not having this conversation now, especially not here where certain people could overhear.
As if Lauren were reading my mind, she grins. “I’m sure Jenna would offer her services.”
“You’re hopeless, Lauren,” I tell her with another eye roll. “I’m going now. It was nice talking to you, but unfortunately, I have work to do.”
She waves me off. “Yeah, yeah. Go ahead, I’ll see you in a bit.”
I give her a puzzled look. “Why, what’s happening in a bit?”
“Today, Luke’s new PA has her first day. I’ll show her to his office.”
“Oh yeah, that’s right. Well, let’s see what bimbo he hired this time. Can’t be much worse than that last blondie – no offense.”
“None taken.” She runs her fingers through her long blonde hair and laughs. “So, off you go. See you, stud.” She gives me a small peck on my cheek as I sigh, but I have to smile at her cheerfulness as I finally make my way to the elevator.
Once I’m at my desk, I get a quick overview of today’s meetings and tasks. Not much to do, which is a good day for Luke’s PA to start. I’m not looking forward to showing her around. As I see it, his last assistant wasn’t hired based on her skills, but rather on her looks. But that’s just my personal opinion of my boss.
When Luke walks past me a few minutes later, he gives me a small nod before he disappears into his office.
That’s right: the dislike is mutual.
About half an hour later, I’m desperately trying to fix some diagrams for a campaign that someone screwed up when Lauren’s cheerful voice interrupts my train of thoughts. “Hey, Ben!”
I lift my head and smile. “Hey, Lauren!” I say. It takes me a second to realize that she’s not alone.
And then I see her.
As I look into her eyes, which are a beautiful greenish color, I involuntarily hold my breath. Her light brown hair is tied up in a perfect ponytail. When I see her blush, something funny happens to my entire body. But especially to my groin. Wow, I can’t remember the last time that happened to me just with eye contact. As she walks by, a hint of her sweet scent fills my nose and does even funnier things to my body.
What the hell is happening?
Before I can even begin to grasp what this woman is doing to me, I hear Lauren’s voice again. “There we are.”
And then she’s gone.
Fuck, I miss her already; I want to look at her some more. Wow, isn’t that a creepy thought? But those eyes! I sigh and lean back in my chair. I close my eyes for a minute and already see her face.
At the sound of Luke’s door opening and closing again, I open my eyes and see Lauren walk by. She waves at me but doesn’t stop at my desk like she usually does. “Lauren, wait!” I yell after her.
She stops in her tracks and gives me a quizzical look. “Yes?”
“Who was that?” I point to Luke’s office. She turns her head to look at it as if to make sure she understands who I’m talking about.
“That’s Luke’s new PA. Her name’s Amy. But you’ll meet her in a sec. Why are you asking?” She raises an eyebrow at me.
I shrug. “She doesn’t look like the ones he usually preys on.”
Lauren laughs. “Give her a chance. She seems nice. In fact, I think I’m going to take her to lunch.” She gives me another smile before she disappears.
I look over to the desk opposite to mine. That will be hers, which means I only have to look straight ahead to see her. Every day, Monday through Friday. I will have to work with her, talk to her, and answer her questions.
Dammit, Ben, get a grip! You just looked at her once. No, I won’t let this happen. But then Luke’s door opens, and he ushers her out. She looks around nervously, and when our eyes meet again, I know I’m screwed.
They stop at her desk. Luke looks at me and clears his throat. “Ben, may I introduce you to your new colleague?”
I get up from my chair and hesitantly stretch out my hand. “Uh – yes, hi! I’m Ben!” When she takes my hand, I definitely know that I’m in trouble. I suddenly feel things I haven’t felt in a very long time.
She’s blushing again; and when she clears her throat, closes her eyes, and shakes her head, I get the feeling she’s in trouble, too. Finally, she speaks. “Yes, hi, I’m Amy.”
I smile at her. “Welcome, Amy.”
She nods. I wonder what she’s thinking. I must seem like a damn lunatic. What is this girl doing to me?
Luke turns to me. “Will you show Amy around?”
I nod. “Sure.”
Luke addresses Amy. “Ben will be your go-to guy for everything concerning the graphic design parts of our ad campaigns. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.”
When Luke smiles at her again, I cringe and have the urge to grind my teeth; I want to wipe that smirk off his face.
“Okay then, I’ll leave you to it.” He squeezes her shoulder as he turns around and walks back to his office.
She takes another nervous look around. Damn, how can that alone be the cutest thing I’ve ever seen? I want to take her in my arms and tell her everything’s going to be all right.
I clear my throat. “Okay, Amy. Sit down and feel at home.”
That she does, and with a short, sweet laugh, she inspects her desk. “So much space. My last desk was half this size.” Then she looks over to my desk and smiles. “And when I see yours, that also means more room for chaos.”
I look at my mess and laugh. “Oh, uhm, yes, right. But I’ve got it all under control. I can find everything I need.”
“So genius controls chaos?”
I grin at her. “Exactly! Now I’m just hoping you’re not a neat freak.” I look at her questioningly. She grimaces. Oh no.
“Well, I wouldn’t put it like that, but I do need my desk to be neat in order to do my work properly.”
I laugh again. “Wow, I’ve made a great first impression then.”
When she laughs too, I can only think I’ve never heard a more beautiful or happier sound.
We start with our work, I answer some of her questions, and I tell her the most important things she needs to know about her new workplace and some of the colleagues.
Slowly but surely, the atmosphere relaxes a bit, and I can concentrate on my work instead of wondering what she might be wearing under that pretty blouse.
Around noon, Lauren shows up at our desks. When Amy notices her, she smiles at her, and I can hardly hold back a sigh. I wish Amy would smile at me like that.
“Hey, Lauren!” Amy greets her.
“Hey, you two!” Lauren gives Amy a compassionate look and points to me. “So Amy, what’s it like to work with this good-for-nothing?”
I scowl at her. “Charming as usual.”
“You know me, love.” Lauren grins at me before she turns back to Amy. “I’m telling you, this guy is trouble. Don’t be blinded by his charms. He’s a true heartbreaker; no woman can resist his pretty eyes, slipping him their phone number one after the other – only to be hugely disappointed.”
Typical Lauren! I give her a wide smile. “Aw, Lauren, did I break your ice-cold heart? You’re just bitter because I turned you down.”
Lauren laughs out loud. “Oh Ben, you’re just too cute. I know you love me.” She dishevels my hair, which she knows I hate even more than her stupid nickname for me. But I can’t be mad at her, which she also knows too well.
Lauren looks at us in turns. “Anyhow. Do you have plans for lunch?”
I nod. “I’m going to that new Chinese place with Isaac.”
Lauren grimaces. “Ugh, Chinese! Amy, what about you?”
She shrugs. “I haven’t thought about that yet.”
“Then you can come with me to my favorite restaurant just around the corner. That’s where I can tell you everything about your new colleague that you need to know.”
“Don’t believe a single word she says,” I grunt. With a chuckle, Lauren turns her gaze to me, and she starts one of her silly staring contests, which I am so going to win. I always do.
And sure enough, Lauren is the first to avert her eyes. She turns to Amy and barks out a laugh when she sees her confused expression. “Oh, I’m sorry,” Lauren says. “Just ignore that. Will you still go to have lunch with me? I am a nice person, I swear!”
I can’t suppress a snort, which Lauren ignores.
“Well, yeah,” Amy says. “You two are kinda weird, but I’ll give you a chance.”
Lauren and I burst out laughing, and when Amy joins in, I can already see us getting along well.
Lauren gets serious again. “Now, enough of that. Are you ready, guys? I’m starving.”
We grab our things and walk to the elevator. While we’re waiting, Lauren turns to me. “Are you coming to the fifth floor on Friday?”
“Yes, I am,” I answer. “Amy, are you coming, too?”
She looks at me in surprise. “Uh – what’s happening on the fifth floor?”
“Every once in a while, we have drinks after work at the firm’s expense,” I explain. “And that is happening on the fifth floor; they have the nicest lounge area.”
“And afterward,” Lauren adds, “we’re going out for more drinks at O’Reilly’s, a great Irish Pub around the corner. So pack your nicest dress.” She winks at Amy, who laughs.
“I’ll think about it,” she tells Lauren.
I can’t help but smile, and that freaks me out at the same time. I feel like a damn teenager, not being able to act like a normal person in front of a cute girl. And cute she is. Gorgeous even.
When the elevator doors open, Amy and I want to enter at the same time. We awkwardly step back and forth, and I begin to wonder if I’ve left my brain at home today.
I put my hand on her lower back and gently usher her into the elevator. A smile that feels really weird spreads on my face. Touching her felt fucking great. I’d love to touch her some more. But then my inner voice is telling me off, trying to get some sense back into me.
Before my thoughts enter the gutter, I avert my eyes, and I don’t look at her again. I don’t want to see anything on her face that tells me she is feeling this too. This attraction, sexual tension even.
When we step out of the elevator, I see Isaac right away. “Hey, buddy.” He nods to me in his usual reserved manner. I point to Amy. “Isaac, this is Amy, a new colleague. Amy, that’s Isaac. He’s part of the legal department.”
Isaac doesn’t greet her any more enthusiastically, just with his usual barely there nod. I hope she doesn’t take it personally.
Lauren links her arm with Amy’s. “Okay, guys, enjoy your Chinese, we’ll go eat some real food.” She pulls Amy behind her out of the building, and I look after them.
Damn, the things she makes me feel.
I shake my head. Fuck no, I’m not going to fall head over heels for a girl again.