SHOTS FIRED

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Chapter Four

He had Kate’s number?

The jealousy was instant. He’d been working here barely two month and he had her number. Earlier, she’d almost shown her hand when she’d gotten nervous about mentioning her company’s name not long after she’d mentioned her name. She’d thought he would make the connection, especially, now that she knew he’d been in close communication with Kate. She had no idea if her manager had revealed the owner of the company to him.

Rita needed to find out what Kate had said to him. But before then, she had to find a way into his office. This was the best time to know the layout of Global Press offices, now that other staffs, especially, that cantankerous receptionist, weren’t around to suspect her nosiness.

“Here it is.”

Ben sounded less antagonistic as he reeled out Kate’s personal number. Rita had hoped it would be the office line. Her chest rippled with jealousy so thick, she was momentarily still and speechless. She’d never felt this way for a guy before. Her heart was so hot in anger she was considering sacking Kate, her manager, who’d been a God-send to her company. She needed to recall that Kate’s proficiency gave her the freedom to practice her real passion with no bars.

She needed to calm down!

“Are you going to take down the number?” Ben focused narrowed eyes on her, as though trying to gauge her sanity.

Rita cleared her throat and managed to flash a smile she hoped wasn’t dripping with green pulps of envy. What had they talked about; did he call her at night? “Err...my phone is in the car,” she pointed over her shoulder as though he needed to know where her car was.

His eyes still held doubt for her senses. “So, go get it.” His tone reflected the same emotion.

“Oh, it’s turned off.” She smiled, sliding her right hand into the pocket of her short, further bulging the already bulky clothing.

Rita had the distinct feeling that Ben wanted to bolt, but he took a deep breath and asked, “Drained of power?”

“No, turned off,” she insisted. If he was communicating with Kate, did he use that deep voice with her, or was it even deeper sounding in her ears?

He looked absolutely exasperated. “Alright, Rita,” she beamed; he ignored her smile, no surprise there. “Unless you have a good memory,” his expression clearly doubted that she did, “You should go get your phone, turn it on, and get the phone number; you know, the one for the company you have business with this morning?”

Rita didn’t mind that he spoke to her like she was stupid. She was taking the time to acknowledge the warmth that melted the green monster in her chest when he called her name. Sweet Lord, his voice was panty dropping.

“Yeah, I should, but I won’t. You see, I’ve noticed your exasperation and I would really want to get off your hair. So, if you could perhaps, run up your office and write down the number, I’ll be out of here in a flash.” She smiled at the end of the blatant lie.

And he bought it. He nodded, “Okay,” turned and flew up the stairs two at a time. Rita refused to worry that he was in a hurry to send her off, not when she had the opportunity to stare at his arse as he ascended the stairs. Breath left her mouth in a whoosh, dear God, he had a fine backside.

She’d given him the impression that she’d wait downstairs for him. But Rita listened for the echo of an opening door and receding footsteps, before tiptoeing up the stairs. Ben had left the iron door to his company’s office slightly open. She let out breath she’d not known she’d been holding and slipped in.

The reception area was familiar as she’d been there a couple of times. The entire layout of the floor was exactly like hers. It was a huge square space that came with three big offices on the right side, complete with their own convenience, obviously for management, and on the left side, one store, a kitchenette and two more convenience labelled ‘Gents and Ladies’ for the general staff.

The difference was that Global Press had demarcated their big square space into cubicles to form departments. Unlike her company which maintained the open floor plan; a co-work space that encouraged creativity and collaboration between different departments.

Rita moved to the managerial offices, same as Ritaz Imaginations, where her barely used office was the last in the corner, Kate took the middle office and the accountant occupied the first one. As she followed a lighted corridor created by the cubicles yet lighted, she saw the first office was open with Ben bent over and writing.

It was a glorious sight and she might have vocalized her groan of appreciation because Ben swivelled in alarm.

“Don’t worry, it’s just me.” God, she sounded like a serial killer in a foreign movie trying to sound harmless despite being noticeably weird. “Didn’t want to stress you, so I came up – here.” Rita, it would be wise to shut up now!

“Good,” he snapped, having erased his earlier alarm from his face. He handed over the piece of paper to her and Rita jerked when his hand brushed hers.

“Uh...thanks, I’ll...” she cleared her throat and looked up to find Ben staring at her with a frown. He was probably wondering what she was still doing there after getting the number.

He indicated the passage way, dismissing her unceremoniously. Rita swallowed, wondering why she’d suddenly become tongue tied by a mere whispery brush of his hand. What would happen if his hands landed on, perhaps, her hips? She would go up in flames and become mute, that’s what.

His steps followed her at a safe distance as she made her way to the door. She stepped out and regained her senses, realizing that her chat with him, the sharing of his air space was about to be over and she didn’t want that. She wanted more time to learn his expressions, to melt at the sound of his deep voice, to get him to talk more; she just wanted time with him.

Rita faced him and regretted that his handsome face and fine arse were just minutes away from being barricaded behind the company’s iron door, so she blurted, “I like your arse.”

The door slammed in her face.

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