Earthquakes and Chills

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Chapter 5

I didn’t know what to say. I just stood there silently in the dark, looking up at Nolan as his hand seemingly seared its print into my hip. I didn’t want to speak in case my voice broke whatever spell he was under. Finally, he put down the sorbet and placed his hand on my other hip.

I arched from the cold and breathed in sharply as the chill moved up my spine. He moved in closer toward me, and I didn’t know what to do. I held my breath as he slowly leaned down toward my ear.

“Thank you for the ice cream,” he whispered.

“It’s sorbet, and you’re not welcome!” I spat back to him.

I took the jar and shoved it in the freezer, and left the spoon in the sink. I wasn’t altogether sure I had a weird dream or something, so I left the spoon in the morning in case I forgot that this even happened.

It was hard to fall asleep because I couldn’t stop thinking about how it felt when he touched me. The chills were unmistakable. I woke up at the sound of my alarm and jumped out of bed. I decided to curl my hair today.

I pulled out a dress that Nikki had chosen for me but that I was really questioning whether or not to wear because it was a wrap dress with a relatively high side slit. It wasn’t something I would ever wear, but neither were any of the clothes that now occupied my closet.

I put on some gloss and pulled on my heels. I was getting irritated at how normal these shoes were getting. I never wore heels except for special occasions, and here I was exchanging my beloved Birkenstocks for heels. I didn’t look like myself or feel like myself, but I hoped the awkwardness would begin to fade.

I walked into the kitchen, knowing Nolan would be back soon. I made an easy veggie scramble with a side of Canadian bacon and toast.

At least he was reliable when it came to his schedule, I thought to myself. I looked in the sink and saw the spoon I had left behind.

“Morning,” Nolan said as he walked through the door.

“I made a scramble,” I said, pretending not to pay attention.

I started cleaning as he ate, but I could feel him eyeing me. I ate silently, waiting, pretending like I wasn’t waiting for him to say something. I moved to put my plate in the sink to wash it when I could feel him pressed against me.

I looked down as his arm brushed up against me. Nolan slowly put his plate on top of mine. I turned to look at him and found his face so close to mine.

“Thanks for breakfast,” he said as he smiled wickedly.

It was at that point that I realized he knew exactly what he was doing. I wasn’t going crazy. He kept trying to get me flustered, and it absolutely was working. I resolved to just find my way around it and beat him at his own game.

We walked across the street and into the office as usual, and I made my rounds, saying good morning. I realized that if the door was left open from Nolan’s desk, he had an unobstructed view of me at my desk.

I never noticed before, probably because I was actually just occupied with working. But, now that we are playing this unspoken game that I refused to lose, I figured that I should probably use every advantage I had. Right now, that was my slide slit, and the view Nolan had of my desk.

Like usual, I walked into his office and placed a mug of coffee in front of him and then headed to my desk. He usually kept his door open, and he didn’t have any meetings at the moment, so I forgot to close his door on the way out.

Nikki walked over as I sat down and I leaned sat back a little and then leaned forward every now and then while I was engaged in the conversation. Nikki didn’t notice a difference in my behavior because I always talked to her enthusiastically, but I felt Nolan’s eyes scouring me. So I started piecing apart my banana and eating the bits.

When Nikki left, I pretended to absentmindedly lick my fingers while scrolling through some of the agendas today. I was rewarded by a choking sound from Nolan’s direction. I bit back my smile and feigned concern.

“Are you okay?” I asked Nolan genuinely.

“I’m fine,” he said sourly, “but could you close the door for me? Thanks.”

I got up slowly and did my best to glid to the door and gently shut it. Point for me, I thought, smiling to myself, and then went back to work. Even with my new distraction of finding ways to distract Nolan, I was really good at my job.

I headed down to pick up his lunch from the kitchens at the restaurant when I was stopped by Leo. We quickly became friends, and he was rooting for me to last longer than Nolan’s usual assistants.

“What did he order today?” Leo asked.

“The Salmon,” I said, smiling. “How are you guys doing? It’s looking busy, which is a good sign.”

“Yep, it’s definitely busy. I have some paperwork for you to run back to the boss man,” he said as he handed them to me.

“Perfect. Nolan’s expecting these.”

“When do you get a day off? Do you ever get a day off? You’re in here just as much as he is, and I haven’t seen you even have a break. Do you even stop for lunch?” Leo asked.

“Yeah,” I lied. “We’re just busy today too.”

“Well, just wait a minute, and we’ll have Nico make you something,” he said quickly, adding before I could protest, “don’t worry, it’ll be quick. Just come back to the kitchen with me.”

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