Earthquakes and Chills

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Chapter 4

Nolan didn’t seem to look twice at me when I got back. It was almost like nothing had changed. Even though I was now in a completely different outfit... as per his request. He didn’t seem to even care. But then again, he was swamped. I don’t know why I even wanted him to notice. I felt silly even thinking about it.

Not only did Nolan have the club, The Underground, but he also owned the restaurant next door, Fierce Thyme. He actually had a lot going on. So, when night fell, that’s when everything got even busier. Even though I was new, I was able to keep pace with him.

It was just tough because Nolan stayed longer than everyone else. The office was empty, but he was going in and out of the office, making appearances, and trying to stay on top of everything else he was doing. I don’t know when it happened or how it happened, but in between his comings and goings, I conked out.

“Hey,” he said, rubbing my shoulder, “I just realized that I forgot to give you an extra key to my place. Come on, it’s late, let’s go.”

We walked down the stairs through the noise, and he held my hand as he guided me through the mess of bodies. I felt ridiculous walking through a club with shopping bags. He let go of my hand at the door, and my hand clenched reflexively. I shook out my hand, trying to forget the feel of his as we crossed the street.

“The silence is ringing,” I thought out loud.

“Don’t worry, you get used to it,” he smiled.

“Shit. Sorry, I totally thought I said that in my mind. I think it’s just the tiredness,” I said.

“Well, it starts all over again at 10. It’ll get easier, and you were actually not too shabby for this being your first assistant gig,” he offered. “The dress also looks nice.”

I let my hair fall forward and look down at my shoes. Then, I scuffled out of the elevator and silently entered his place. I said goodnight, slipped out of my new clothes, and collapsed on the bed. I had never felt so tired.

Correction. I had felt this tired once, but it was because I stupidly pulled two all-nighters in a row. Now I would just have to figure out how to deal with feeling this exhaustion every day. I turned on my phone, ignoring my missed calls and messages, and I set the alarm. I slowly let sleep take over my body.

The alarm ended up waking me up, which never happens to me. I always naturally woke up in the morning for my run. I hadn’t run for a while, but my body was still used to waking up early. My wake-up times ranged between 6am, and 8am. Today I woke up at 8:15.

I took a shower and decided to diffuse my hair. I put product in and went back to my room to pick out an outfit for the day. I realized I should probably hang these things, so I put them in the closet and decided to wear the last one in the bag.

I put on some mascara, cleaned my brows, threw on some gloss, and was pretty much ready to go. Unfortunately, I forgot to remember to mention that we needed groceries, so I made avocado toast with poached eggs on top.

Nolan walked in at 9:30, just like he did the day before. I was beginning to learn his schedule, and he eagerly sniffed the air and walked over to the kitchen.

“Hmmm, what’s this?” He said, eyeing my dish curiously and waiting for me to place it in front of him.

“Avocado toast, which reminds me that I meant to tell you that we need groceries.”

“Here,” he gave me a card. “This one you can hold onto. Just keep the receipts and give them to Marybeth at the end of every month.”

“For…” I began.

“For whatever you need or think I need. As you can probably tell, I don’t always have time to do things. You can use one of the cars when you need to go out,” Nolan said, taking a bite and pointing to the key hanger by the door. “Also, here,” he said, sliding some keys toward me, “keys to the loft.”

“Thank you.”

“Weekends get pretty crazy, so I thought I’d just prepare you for that. Your break from work will be Mondays and Tuesdays. Those are our slowest days. I still go in if I’m needed, but it’s rare,” he handed me the plate back then added, “you look nice today.”

I didn’t know what to say. Nolan turned his heel and ran up to take a shower. I turned to the sink, trying to think why I was thinking so much about his compliments. Why did I care? I also figured he was probably just trying to be nice.

The days ended up getting easier. Predicting what Nolan needed throughout the day was becoming second nature. In addition, I started to get to know the other women in the office. He only had two other men who worked with us, but they rarely came in.

Nolan knew everyone who worked for him by name. It was strange, in a wonderful way. He cared about the people he employed, and all of us felt that. I was beginning to realize that everyone worked so hard because that’s how Nolan determined who to pay the most attention to. He made sure to recognize everyone’s efforts.

I did my best not to let Nolan dwell in my thoughts, but it was difficult because he was my job. I would sometimes catch myself thinking about his smile or how wonderful he looked every morning or how he held my hand every night to lead me out of the club.

Even though he tried sending me home early every night, I would stay and wait for him. We only lived across the street, and I felt guilty thinking about him working while I would be at home asleep. I usually only ended up waiting like thirty minutes. So it really wasn’t a big deal.

“Goodnight,” he said.

“G’night! See you tomorrow,” I waved.

I fell asleep only to be awoken later by an earthquake. Earthquakes and California are pretty much synonymous. That being said, it didn’t make it any less scary. I looked for my phone, and by the time I found it, it was over.

I was going to text Nolan, but then I thought it was stupid. He was totally okay. I was fine, and he was fine. So I rolled out of bed and decided to raid the fridge for some sorbet.

Usually, I would call my Mom for something stupid like this, but we weren’t talking. It was probably a 4.0 or something like that. So it wasn’t too crazy. No need to freak out, I reminded myself.

I took out the jar, hoping it would distract me from missing my Mom. I turned, headed to the counter when I felt something behind me. I nearly jumped out of my bones and screamed when I felt a hand on my shoulder.

“Hey,” Nolan laughed, “I just came down to see how you were doing.”

“I’m fine,” I gulped.

“Yeah, I figured as much. The earthquake wasn’t too bad,” Nolan looked over my shoulder, “what are you eating?”

“I was just eating a bit of sorbet. Raspberry,” I said.

“It doesn’t sound like you’re offering any,” he said, throwing me a glare.

“No, I wasn’t,” I replied. “HEY!” I exclaimed as he reached around me, grabbing the jar and wrenching the spoon out of my hand, “that’s mine!”

“Not anymore,” he smiled. I jumped to get the jar out his hand and found myself using his shoulders and the counter to try and get to his reach. “Where are your clothes?”

Suddenly, I became incredibly aware that I was climbing on him wearing only my underwear. I moved to cover myself and turn around to leave when he caught me and pushed me against the counter.

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