Aria Mitchell hated her boss, she couldn’t understand how someone like him could get a job like hers, let alone higher up, like he was. She was running errands for him again, he was such a male chauvinist pig. He always sent Aria to do his bidding and always made passes at her, it was ridiculous.
Aria was too busy cursing her boss and not paying attention to where she was going, all of a sudden she ran smack dab into a very hard object. Papers went flying and the bag of food she had scattered all over the cement. She started to look around, trying to figure out what she’d just ran into, she was surprised when the voice came from underneath her a little.
Mason Conway got the wind knocked out of him and could already feel the knot forming on the back of his head. He rubbed the knot forming, “Ouch.” Was the only thing that came out of his mouth.
The skinny thing that ran into him began to get off of him, “Sir, I’m so sorry, I didn’t see you, I’m really sorry.” She seemed to get up as fast and as carefully as she could.
Mason got up, he recognized the smell that flew through his nose, cinnamon apple and strawberries. He found who ran into him, his blue eyes met her hazel eyes, he’d recognize those eyes anywhere also. Those eyes and that scent had tormented him every day since he came to Bardstown, Kentucky. He couldn’t believe her tiny five-foot three-inch frame knocked over his big five-foot nine-inch frame. “Aria, what the hell are you doing, are you okay?”
“No, I mean I’m fine but my boss is going to kill me if I’m any later then I already am, I got to get this stuff cleaned up fast.” She didn’t notice the man used her name, she pulled her gaze away from his eyes. She took the rest of him in, she realized it was Mason, “Mason, what’re you doing here, aren’t you supposed to be at work by now?”
“I told Jeremy I was going to be late today, I had to take care of a few things this morning, are you memorizing my schedule?” He teased as he leaned down to help Aria pick everything up.
“No, I have no reason to do that.” She went for a paper at the same time Mason did, they jerked away from each other fast when they smacked their heads hard, “Mason oh my God I’m so sorry.” She hated what this man did to her when he was around. He made her feel like an idiot and a little accident-prone plus nervous.
Mason cursed again, “Ouch, damn it. Do you know you’re like a magnet of pain for other people, you’re lucky I am a nice guy.” They finished getting everything picked up, he couldn’t help but offer her help, “Do you want me to help you get this stuff back to work?”
Aria stepped away from Mason, “If you’re busy you don’t have to but why are you offering to help me?” She was so used to people always having an ulterior motive anymore.
“Because it makes sense, we both are heading to the same place and I am a nice guy who wants to help out a pretty girl who has her hands full.”
“Oh, so that’s why you’re just trying to get yourself closer so you can try to get in my pants too.” She frowned at Mason, men couldn’t be nice anymore without wanting something in return.
Mason raised his eyebrows at her, “Um, no actually, I’m trying to be nice, why who the hell’s trying to get you into bed?” The question was out before he could stop himself. Yeah, he thought Aria was more than pretty but he knew he couldn’t bring himself to pursue a relationship with her. All that would do would distract him from his one priority to be in Bardstown and that was to find his best friend’s baby sister. A relationship was far from the to-do list, Aria deserved a forever man and he couldn’t be that. He still couldn’t push away the jealousy he felt about someone else trying to get with her.
Aria took a deep breath, Mason would think she was crazy if she told him their boss was the one, “Just one of the other guys at work, it’s not a big deal, it’s fine, well if you’re going to help me then let’s go before Jeremy has a cow.” She smiled faintly.
Mason wanted to know who the other guy was, “Well if he’s not getting the hint I can take care of him for ya.” It was strange the effect this woman had on him in such a short amount of time.
“Yeah, then we’ll both lose our jobs.” Aria scoffed out a little, her eyes widened instantly when she seemed to realize what she let slip to him.
Mason caught her arm fast pulling her to a stop, “Are you telling me it’s Jeremy? You’ve got to be kidding me Aria, is that why he always has you running errands for him, is he inappropriate with you?” He demanded, he couldn’t stand Jeremy Ludlow and if he was the jerk then he’d be taking care of him for her.
“Don’t Mason, just don’t worry about it, I’m handling it just fine, you don’t have to do anything.” She pulled away from Mason and started for the office.
Mason sighed, Aria was the one woman he wanted to open up to him and he couldn’t get her to. She had no trust for him and didn’t know why he wished he had the time to figure out why. He shook his head and followed her to the office building. As they got there Aria stopped for a minute, “What’s wrong?” Mason asked as he came up behind her.
“Hum, what? Oh, nothing come on let’s go.” Aria started to walk away.
If Mason didn’t know any better he could have sworn Aria had stopped and stared at his truck. He smiled a little, if she was then that was a start maybe, she was interested in his truck. He may get her to open up to him yet and the ice breaker maybe his beast.
When they got in the building they headed into the elevator, Mason gently elbow Aria, “So, how often do you go out?” He couldn’t believe he was asking such a question, he needed to keep his distance from her.
“Usually not very often, why are you going to ask me out on a date?” Aria teased a little, not thinking he actually would.
“I have half a mind to, if you don’t have very much fun I’d like to change that, you look awfully stressed too often.” Mason shot her a half-smile.
Her heart jumped in her throat, his smile was so sexy, she blushed a little, “Well then I may have half a mind to let you take me out, I’d like to have some fun.” She couldn’t believe she had just agreed, granted they’d worked together for about a month now but they still didn’t know each other very well. She had been alone for too long, maybe he was just what she needed. He was something to look at that was for sure, his muscles always moved just right underneath his shirt, his legs were lean and muscular too. She had to pull her thoughts to a halt before she’d start to wonder about him without his clothes on. Her face began to turn beat red she was sure, she tried to move her head enough so her hair would fall across her face to hide her redness.
Mason chuckled a little and reached out to move her hair from her face, “What’s the matter Aria, your face is pretty red.” He smiled at her again.
“Nothing’s wrong Mason.” It felt like an eternity before they finally reached the fifteenth floor. He was making her feel and think very different, she had butterflies in her stomach. Out of all the men it had to be this one, a southern drawl, a sexy tan, plaid, buttoned-up shirts, and wrangler jeans. He was so different from the other men at the office, he put them to shame, they were weak and dainty for men compared to him. She didn’t understand what he was doing in a city like this, let alone able to become a partner at Elk and Ludlow law firm.
She let out a sigh of relief as the doors began to open, “Well Mason, thank you but I’ll take it from here, I appreciate the help.” She took the bag of food from him when they got off the elevator.
“No problem, anytime.” He smiled that sexy smile again.
She started for Jeremy’s office, she walked in, “Jeremy, here is everything you asked for.” She sat everything on his desk.
“Well hello Aria, it sure took you long enough, you usually don’t disappoint me, shut the door.” Jeremy directed and it was definitely an order.
Aria sighed as she headed towards the door, she slowly shut the door. She didn’t want to be in there any longer then she had to be but Jeremy seemed to have a different idea as usual.
~ ~ ~
Mason watched the door shut slowly, he wouldn’t stand for this very long. He went over to the door and leaned against the wall if Aria yelled he’d hear her and stop Jeremy right away. He had no clue what he was doing, he was here on business, not his own pleasure. He was supposed to be doing an investigation, not protecting a girl he’d probably never see again once he had to go back to Nebraska.
~ ~ ~
“Well Aria, I guess I can let you slide today because you are looking fabulous.” He grinned at her as he made his way over to her. He grabbed her by her hips and pulled her closer to him.
“Jeremy, you need to stop.” Aria tried to pull away from Jeremy, he was such a jerk. He never listened to her, always tried what he wanted with her. She usually could get him to stop or a knock would come to his door. She was praying for the knock because it was becoming clear he wasn’t going to stop just because she told him to.
He turned her towards the desk and sat her up on it, “Oh Aria, you know you like it dear.” He started to kiss her neck and slid his hands down to her ass grabbing it hard.
“Jeremy quit it.” She got louder, then the usual knock came to his door. Aria shoved Jeremy away from her fast, “No I don’t like it at all, you need to stop and leave me alone.” She practically ran to the door, she wished someone else was hiring, she would leave in a heartbeat. As she opened the door fast, she was looking up into the same crystal blue eyes from earlier, “Mason.” Was all she could manage to get out.
“Hey Aria, sorry for the interruption Jeremy but I need to borrow Aria, I need some help.” He looked at Jeremy for a second then back at Aria, the poor woman looked so shaken and frazzled. He had his assumption from earlier confirmed it was Jeremy hitting on her, he couldn’t help it his mouth worked faster than his brain, “But I want to speak to you first Jeremy, Aria you go ahead I’ll be out in a minute.” He laid his hand on her back and gave her a gentle shove out the door.
Aria looked at Mason, his eyes were telling her to go so she did. She hoped Mason wouldn’t get himself into trouble because of her. As she walked out of the office she heard the door shut a little more forcefully then Mason should have shut it.
~ ~ ~
Mason turned back towards Jeremy with a glare on his face after he shut the door, “I’m only going to tell you this once, you come near her again I’m going to beat your ass, I asked her out and she said yes, so to me that means she’s no longer fair game, you make another pass at her or look at her wrong it’ll call for an ass whooping and I’ll be glad to give it.”
Jeremy was in complete shock, Aria was his not this new guy’s, how dare he come along and ruin all of that.
Mason didn’t give Jeremy a chance to say anything, he turned back towards the door and walked out of the office. He slammed the door and you could hear the echo throughout the whole room. He headed over to Aria slowly, he knew he shouldn’t have done anything but it needed to be done, “Um, Aria, hey you okay?”
“Yeah, fine.” She handed him a folder of notes she had typed up for him the day before, trying not to look up at him.
Mason still caught a glimpse of the tears, he leaned against her desk, “Aria, why don’t you report him? He shouldn’t be doing that to you, he shouldn’t bother you again though.” He slowly tilted her head gently to look up at him, he wiped her tears away, “Looks like you need a night out tonight and I’m not letting you get out of it.”
Aria couldn’t help but smile, she barely knew this man but she wanted to change that, “So when you said he shouldn’t be bothering me again, what exactly did you do?”
“Oh I just had a little conversation with him, that’s all.” He smiled his sexy smile again.
“What am I going to do with you?” she shook her head a little as she looked up at him.
Mason leaned his forehead against Aria’s, “Oh I could think of a lot starting with our date tonight.” He couldn’t explain the pull he had to want to kiss her but he’d wait for that, “Well guess we better get some work done.” He headed over to his office as his phone began to ring. He sighed as he looked at the caller ID and shut the door, “Hey Richard, what’s up?”
“I was just seeing about an update, are you coming close to finding her Mason?”
Richard was never good at the waiting game. Mason had been in Bardstown for a month and still nothing, he understood the frustration Richard was feeling.
“Richard I’m trying my best, you know this is like trying to find a needle in a haystack, is there anything else that your dad found out that maybe could help me out more?” Mason understood why Richard was pushing so hard but it wasn’t helping.
“I’ll try to figure some more out but I told you everything he told me.”
“Trust me, Richard, I’m trying my best, just give me a little bit longer, let me know if your dad has any other information.” Mason hung up his phone running his fingers through his hair. He threw at his gaze towards the door and slowly got up. He leaned against the doorframe after opening it and looked at Aria, she was going to be his distraction for sure.
Aria felt someone looking at her, she turned and saw Mason. She turned away so fast as a smile spread across her face. Boy was she in trouble, he made her feel the butterflies with just a glance. She was such a mess around him at work, how she was going to go out with him was beyond her.
She started to type some email responses for Jeremy then his notes for a meeting later in the week. She was so glad that those few things took up most of her time and distracted her from thinking about Mason. She was close to finishing up when a hand fell on her shoulder that caused her to almost jump out of her skin. She turned around fast and Mason was standing there, “Don’t you know any better than to sneak up on people like that, what’s the matter with you?” She demanded.
“Don’t you know you’re not supposed to be so intense on your work especially for a boss who’s a complete ass?” He teased back.
Aria rolled her eyes, “Are you done for the day?” She asked as she started to turn back to the computer.
“Yes I am and so are you.” Mason turned the computer screen off and spun her chair from it, he held out his rough callused hand to her, “Come on, let’s go.”
Aria looked at his hand for a second, she had no idea what she was thinking as she reached out for it. Her heart began to beat a mile a minute as he laced his fingers with hers.
“So Hun, what do you want to do on our date?” The words felt good to Mason as he said them, he hadn’t used the word date in a very long time.
Aria blushed a little bit, she never heard a guy ask her what she wanted to do, it felt good and strange, “I don’t care, I guess whatever you want to do.” They headed for the elevator.
“Then I’m taking you dancing, that’s my kind of fun, none of this city crap though we’re going a little further from here then I planned.”
“Oh and you’re just going to have me drop everything like that, how far are we talking here?” she looked up at him as the elevator doors closed.
“Oh, maybe an hour or so.”
“You’re taking me an hour away, where are you planning on going?” she demanded, she wasn’t sure about going so far away.
“You’ll just have to wait and see, you said you didn’t care so I made my choice.” He elbowed her a little.
“Oh no, what have I gotten myself into?” She could kick him right now and there wasn’t much stopping her. Except for the fact she liked him for the most part and she needed friends.
“The time of your life, now do you want to go home and change because I have to run to my place and change,” Mason asked as they stepped out of the elevator.
“Yeah probably, do you want me to meet you at your place after?”
Mason panicked for a minute, he didn’t want Aria to know he was staying at a hotel that was being provided by the Mitchell’s, “Um, no I can come to pick you up, I can drop you off at your place so you don’t have to take a cab.” He grabbed her hand again and headed over to his truck.
“Oh, okay.” Aria stopped short when she saw the big dark blue ford truck, “That’s yours?” She always liked the truck, she should have put two and two together. The truck was lifted about three feet from normal height, a straight pipe, and dark tinted windows.
“Yes of course why?” Mason asked turning towards her a little, she had the same look on her face that she did earlier when they walked past it when they were coming into work.
“Oh no reason I guess, I should have known, you’re so different from the men around here, none of them would be caught dead in a truck like that let alone a truck at all.” Aria couldn’t help but fall for Mason, even more, he had such a nice truck and she’d been drawn to it since she saw it in the parking lot the first day it had shown up.
“Yeah most men around here like their BMW’s, Lexus’s and Mercedes’s, no thank you, give me a truck.” Mason smiled, now that he knew she liked his truck, it would hopefully work in his favor.
“Mason, why are you here? You don’t belong in a place like this.” Aria searched his crystal blue eyes with her hazel eyes. She was so confused by this man, there was no way he should be here.
“Well, we’ll get there, I don’t want to really say right now, we’ll take it one day at a time.” He slowly pulled her into a hug then headed to his truck. He helped her up into it, he was going to have to tell her why he was there and he wasn’t going to be able to stay. He just wanted to enjoy his time with her first. He headed over to the driver’s side and hopped up in and headed out of the parking lot.
~ ~ ~
Jeremy glared as he watched Mason have his hands all over Aria. Aria was his, he’d known her longer then Mason had, it wasn’t right that Aria would do this to him. He’d get what he wanted one way or the other, no one would stop him, not even this Mason guy.
~ ~ ~
Aria told Mason how to get to her place when he pulled into the parking lot, she smiled at him, “Thanks, give me about half an hour and I’ll be ready.”
Mason took her hand and pressed a kiss to it, “Okay I’ll be here, you won’t be able to miss me.”
Aria giggled as she got out of the truck, she felt like a schoolgirl but didn’t care. She headed into the lobby and made her way up to her apartment. What was she going to wear that Mason would like? She began to go through her closet, she finally found a pair of Levi’s and a lacy tank top, perfect, then she could wear her tennis shoes cause she wasn’t getting into her heels again. She jumped into the shower, washed up fast then got dry fast.
She debated on whether or not to wear make-up, she figured a little bit would be fine. She found some light blue eye shadow and put on some eyeliner then got dressed. She was ready in twenty minutes, she took a deep breath before she headed down to the lobby, ‘Mom, please help me not make a complete fool of myself tonight, this is crazy but I think he’s a keeper and I want to be able to keep him.’ She missed her mom so much sometimes it’d been almost a year since she had been gone, the pain still hurt sometimes. She shook herself out of her thoughts and headed out to the parking lot, she was a little surprised to see Mason was already sitting in the parking lot. She took a deep breath again and headed over to the truck.
Mason watched Aria walk over, God he had to be careful or he was going to lose his heart to this woman. He couldn’t blame Jeremy for wanting Aria but Jeremy didn’t have to be so rude about it. Mason would win her in a heartbeat he thought.
Aria got up in the truck, “Okay sir, drive away.”
“Trust me, you won’t regret it you’ll have a blast I promise.” He tilted his Stetson and flashed her a smile.
“So you had to run home to get your hat?” She teased a little. It only made him sexier and he knew it.
“Maybe, I feel naked without it.” He started to head out of town.
“You’re still not going to tell me where you’re taking me are you?”
He shook his head, “Nope, it’s a surprise.”
Aria was quiet the rest of the way, she just stared out the window watching the city become country land. She was getting nervous, she couldn’t believe she was letting him take her so far away.