o n e
“Kiara, you have to see this,” Adrienne pushed for the thousandth time. She pushed her phone into my face, completely disregarding that I was busy working on my laptop.
“Adrienne, if I look at the stupid article, will you leave me the hell alone?” She nodded. I grabbed the phone from her grasp, skimming the headline quickly. I dropped the phone on the bed before turning back to my work.
“Kiara, what the hell?” She grabbed her phone from the mattress, scrolled back to the top of the article, and attempted to hand me the phone again.
I shook my head and continued working, denying the offer of her phone. “Girl, no. You know I don’t touch anything that’s got the word ‘business’ in it.” I shut my laptop and shifted, so I was sitting with my legs crossed.
“KiKi, you know I wouldn’t show you anything that has anything to do with the toxic world of business unless there was a yummy face attached to it.” I crossed my arms over my chest. “¿Por qué hacen esto? I’m just trying to find you a boyfriend!”
“Adrienne, I am twenty-three years old! I’m able to go find a man if I wanted to.” She cocked an eyebrow. “I can don’t give me that look. I’m just doing me and, when I want a man, I’ll find one. And he’ll definitely be far from the business world.”
My hostility towards business and everybody involved with it was entirely justified. My parents used to have an extremely successful chain of hotels, Sunshine Suites. I always thought it was clever, the play of our last name, Suns, like that.
However, the company went bankrupt quickly when a trusted employee who my parents plugged as a temporary CEO handled their funds wrong. They came back to their company a couple months later, it on the downfall. My parents tried their best to bring the company back to its feet, but not without the cost of over half their hotels.
“Sure you can, KiKi,” Adrienne sarcastically remarked. She had trouble believing that I’d ever been able to find myself a man because of how I duck them. It’s not my fault that every man who approached me wasn’t worth the energy.
“Whatever.” I rolled my eyes at my best friend before swinging my legs out and dangling them over the bed. “Look, sis, I’ve gotta bounce. I have work that I gotta finish at the office before I get to take my weekend off. I’ll hit you later?” I gathered up my things and threw them all into my bag, slinging it over my shoulders.
“Yeah, sure thing.” She nodded her head before following me out her bedroom door. She opened the front door to her apartment and let me out, blowing me a kiss before I left.
Adrienne and I met years ago in high school. I was out on a date with this guy and she came up, yelling and all that. It took her dumping my smoothie on his head for me to realize that he was her boyfriend, and he was playing me. She bought me a new smoothie, and the rest was history.
I left the apartment complex and stepped out into the damp Seattle air. I glanced up at the sky and noticed the storm clouds rolling in, swiftly picking up my pace. I neglected to bring an umbrella with me, and I wasn’t planning on walking into the office a dripping mess. However, I did have enough sense to bring my windbreaker with me just in case it did start to rain.
I pulled my headphones from the side pocket in my bag before plugging them into my phone and pressing play on one of my many playlists. I stepped in time with the beat, bobbing my head with the music as I walked.
I arrived at the office and started work. I tidied up all the desks and made sure everything was filed correctly before beginning to work up schedules for my higher-ups. I then went into the mailroom and made sure everything was sorted and put in the right mail slot.
This, organizing the office for my superiors, wasn’t exactly my ideal profession. Still, I had to work from the bottom to make my way to the top, especially in the business of publicity. It was hard enough finding this job, so I’d do anything just to keep it.
I despise the business world; that much is true, but it’s also the only thing I ever knew how to do, and the only thing I was good at. I had sat in on conference calls and business meetings since I was five. I’d gone to soirees and banquets to learn how to properly schmooze when I was barely three years old. I was trained for this from the moment I was old enough to speak.
Plus, I knew I wasn’t going to turn into a money-sucking demon, unlike everyone my parents had ever worked with.
Once I finished up and triple checked to make sure everything was in order, so I didn’t get reprimanded, I pulled my phone and my headphones back out. I exited the front doors and was immediately bombarded by heavy rainfall. “Oh, you gotta be kidding me.”
I removed one of my backpack straps and unzipped it partially as I searched for my windbreaker. It probably wasn’t going to do much, considering I’m getting wetter by the second. Still, any protection from the rain was good to me.
Once I felt the material of my windbreaker brush over my fingertips, I let out a gentle ‘Aha.’ I grabbed at it, pulling it entirely out of my backpack. I zipped up my bag and turned to face forwards. As I did so, I collided with another person. I let out a small squeal as I went crashing to the ground, my phone and headphones flying out of my hand along with my windbreaker.
Once I recollected myself, I cursed under my breath and scrambled for my phone, an ebony hand beating me to it. “Hey,” I called out as I looked up and pushed myself up from the ground. I brushed off my butt and arms before facing the person who took my phone.
I almost melted into a puddle right there.
In front of me was a gorgeous man who looked very dapper in the strikingly expensive suit he was wearing. It made me feel that much worse by knocking him to the ground.
“I’m sorry, Miss, are you okay?” he spoke in his low, fruity voice. His eyes scanned over my face with his concern, one of his arms coming and grasping gently at my upper arm.
“Yeah, I’m good,” I airily responded. The man nodded firmly, his arm falling back to his side. I bent down and picked up my headphones and windbreaker. “Can I have my phone back?” I politely asked once I retrieved my things from the ground.
“Oh, yes. Sorry.” He held his hand out, and I grabbed for my phone, our fingers brushing ever-so-slightly. “If anything’s broken I’d be happy to pay for it.”
I inspected my phone for cracks and noticed none. I pressed the home button, the screen lighting up. My phone unlocked quickly with my fingerprint, and I waved a hand at him dismissively. “Everything works, so you’re off the hook,” I joked with a small laugh.
He responded with a quiet chuckle of his own. Although subtle, it still seemed deep and booming. “I’m glad to know I won’t have to pay for a six hundred dollar phone. Can’t be throwing that kind of money around.”
“Oh,” I sucked in air through my teeth, “You might want to tell that to your five thousand dollar suit.” The only reason I could recognize that suit was because my dad used to have a few precisely like it. Sadly, they were sold, along with a few other of our possessions, when the company went bankrupt. “It’s a Brioni, right?” I asked as I pointed lamely at his dark blue suit.
He gazed at me in astonishment, almost like he couldn’t believe the girl dressed in a slit skirt, white crop top, and a cheap pair of heels could recognize such an expensive suit.
It’s been a while since my face has been on the cover of a magazine.
“Don’t look so shocked,” I teased, “A girl can know her suits too.”
“I’m not shocked,” he responded, the surprise falling from his face. He straightened out his tie and cleared his throat, his Adam’s apple bobbing. “I’m impressed.” He paused for a brief moment. “And intrigued, I must confess.”
“Intrigued, huh.” I continued speaking, but thunder boomed overhead, both our heads snapping up towards the sky, suddenly becoming aware of the heavy rain droplets falling on our heads.
I noticed the man in front of me pull out his phone and start tapping away, only for him to pocket it a few moments later.
I rushed under a nearby awning to take shelter, the beautiful man following right after me. I gazed at him, confused.
“I ordered a car. If you’d like, we could wait inside until it gets here, and I could bring you home,” he suggested, also serving an explanation.
“I don’t know,” I skeptically answered. “My mama always told me to avoid strange men, yet here we are.” That dragged another hearty laugh from him. “You’re not gonna kill me or something like that, are you?” I took a hasty step towards him. I wanted to turn down the offer, but a dry ride home was appealing.
“No, I’m not going to kill you,” he said, another laugh passing his lips. “I’m only offering a pretty woman a ride home.” I narrowed my eyes at him yet took another step forward.
“You complimented me, so now I gotta say yes, or that’d be rude,” I responded. I continued to move towards the striking man in front of me. I pulled out my windbreaker and shielded my hair from the sparse water droplets that were sneaking through a tear in the awning.
The car this man ordered arrived, and he opened up the door for me. I smiled gratefully at him before climbing in. I set my backpack on the floor, setting my maroon windbreaker on top of it. The man climbed in as well and sat next to me, keeping a good cushion’s distance away from me.
Aside from giving the driver my address, the ride was filled with an awkward silence. The only sounds heard were that of our breathing and the roar of the cars passing outside by the windows.
A few more moments passed in our stuffy atmosphere before the man next to me spoke. “I never caught your name.” He turned, his body now facing me.
“Kiara,” I stiffly responded. “Suns.” A sense of recognition seemed to flash across his face. He must’ve read all about how my family and I’s company failed.
“It’s nice to meet you, Miss Suns.” He extended a hand to me. My eyes lingered on it before I brought mine up to his. I grasped at his hand with the grip my father taught me. “I’m Jeremiah Diamond.”
“Nice to meet you too.” I took my hand back and placed it in my lap. “And just call me Kiara. ‘Miss’ makes me sound old, and I’d like to think I’m far from it.”
“Okay, Kiara,” Jeremiah nodded. A vibration rocked the seat, and Jeremiah took out his phone. He swiped on his screen and took a call, his demeanor changing from slightly uncomfortable to professional.
I took this time to examine his facial features. When I’d looked at him for that brief time in the street, I’d recognized that he was stunningly attractive, but not to the extent that was available to me right now. Now, he was off guard, and I’d be able to stare to my heart’s desire, a privilege I didn’t have while we were carrying a conversation.
Jeremiah’s eyes wide eyes held deep brown irises. If you looked closely, you could see faint bags underneath his eyes that were only asking to get worse. His nose was a perfect size, with a relatively skinny bridge and a broader set of nostrils. His lips were beautiful and full, much like mine. He had a full beard going on, which I always seemed to find quite attractive in men.
He ended the brief conversation he was in and pocketed his phone, his attention turning back to me. I flashed a quick smile before folding my hands in my lap.
I still wasn’t sure how comfortable I was with letting a complete stranger drop me off at my home and knowing where I lived. For all I know, he could have been lying about being a killer.
“Kiara Suns.” He said my name like he was a teacher performing roll call. His eyes scanned slowly over me, and I shifted uneasily under his scrutinizing gaze.
“That’s what I told you my name was, isn’t it?” I rudely responded.
He seemed taken aback but collected his composure quickly as he fiddled with his tie. “Touchy, aren’t we?” he asked, his pearly whites showcasing themselves.
His teeth were expectedly white and straight, contrasting against his darker-toned lips.
“Sorry, habit,” I sheepishly replied. I snuck a glance back up at him, his gaze still seeming to be analyzing me.
“I didn’t mean to offend you.” He held his hands up in surrender, the corners of my lips tugging up. “Your last name sounds familiar.”
“Hmm,” I hummed, “You must read up on the business world.” He rose a shapely eyebrow, his face holding a questioning expression. “Sunshine Suites? Sound familiar?”
The car came to a halt, the partition rolled down, and the driver announced we had arrived at my apartment. I grabbed my windbreaker and stuck my arms into the sleeves, my backpack being pulled to my body next.
I moved to open the car door, Jeremiah’s hand falling onto my shoulder, causing me to look back at him. I said nothing, just waited for him to say whatever it was he needed to.
“I’d love to talk more about Sunshine Suites. How about over dinner?”
I turned my body so I was facing him. There was a puzzled look on my face, no doubt. I dropped my backpack back to the carpeted floor, my arms coming and crossing over my chest. My eyes squinted slightly as I scanned for a joking expression on his face.
I wasn’t quite expecting to ever see him again, nonetheless have him ask me out on a date. At least, that’s what I assumed it was going to be. Judging by the hint of recognition that registered on his face before the driver interrupted, I knew that this wasn’t going to be a business meeting.
Besides, if it was a business meeting, it would be a hard fucking pass.
“Should I really be going on a date with a man I know nothing about? What makes you so intriguing?” I asked, trying my hand at flirting. I wasn’t exactly the best, but anyone can become a pro with practice.
“I’m not the intriguing one here,” he countered. “I want to get to know more about you, Kiara Suns, and you should let me,” he smoothly continued.
I leaned back in my seat, an admittedly impressed look on my face. The man had a big set of balls that much I could give him. His confidence definitely drew me to him.
“I guess I could fit you into my schedule,” I shrugged.
“You were coming out of a publicist’s office at six-thirty on a Friday - how busy could you possibly be?”
“Wow,” I playfully scoffed, “You’re really calling me out on where I make a living? Damn, maybe you should shoot your shot a little differently.”
“Ah, but you missed the part where I noticed you before I even bumped into you.”
That fact had gone entirely over my head.
Now that I looked back on our first interaction, I was a good fifty feet away from the office. There was no way he would’ve known I worked there unless he spotted me from a ways away.
“Are you charmed yet?” he questioned. Jeremiah knew he was charming - you could tell by his unintentionally playboy-ish smile.
I pulled my lips to one side of my face as I tapped my chin with my slender index finger. My eyes were aimed towards my hairline as I feigned thinking. I knew I was charmed. “I guess I am.”
“Good,” he responded. “How does dinner tomorrow night sound?”
“Great,” I quipped.
I picked my backpack back up and opened up the door. The rain had stopped pouring and subsided to a sprinkle. I sighed in relief as I fully stepped out of the car, my hand lingering on the door as Jeremiah let me know he’d call me with the details of our date.
I shut the door and the car drove off, leaving a trail on the wet asphalt. As I walked up to my door, I whipped out my phone and tapped on Adrienne’s contact, her last name ‘Requena’ with many different emojis. It rang twice before she answered.
“Adrienne, homegirl got herself a man.” I unlocked the door and held my phone between my ear and shoulder as I opened up the door.
She rambled off excitedly in Spanish, me only catching a few words here and there as she was speaking so fast. “You for real found yourself a man?” she squealed happily.
“Deadass,” I responded. I dropped my keys on the table. I went to the fridge and pulled out a water bottle before settling on the couch and tucking my legs under me. “We’re going on a date tomorrow night.”
“Ooh,” she sounded. I laughed a little before taking a small sip of water. “I’m coming over tomorrow, and we’re gonna get you looking good for this date.”
“You best be. How you expect me to get ready for a date without you by my side?” I realistically questioned. Adrienne has been there for every single date I’ve ever been on since we met, and vice versa.
“Good question,” she responded with a small laugh. “Now tell me, is this mystery man cute?”
“He’s like a fine ass hot chocolate girl, lemme tell you.”
“Tell me more,” she pressed. I set my water bottle on the coffee table in front of me as I geared up to answer. We barely spoke and were together for just short of an hour, but I had so much to say.