Checking myself one last time in the mirror, I tried to quell the panic that was threatening to seep out. My emotions were all over the place, now that the dreaded meeting was just minutes away. In the end, however, my panic got the upper hand as a sudden wave of nausea hit my gut, causing me to dry heave. Instinctively, my hands flew up and clamped over my mouth as I closed my eyes and forced myself to calm down.
Slowly, after a few deep breaths, the discomfort passed. Feeling relieved but yet a little rattled, I stood up straight and studied myself in the mirror. Aside from the fact that my tan skin seemed a little pale, there were no tell-tale signs of the chaos I felt within. Taking a deep breath, I walked out of the restroom and made my way to the upper floor.
The walk towards the boardroom felt almost robotic. My feet seemed to move of their own accord, oddly synchronising with the accelerated beats that could be heard coming out of my chest. The surroundings passed by in a haze as my mind failed to focus on anything else. And after what seemed like a lifetime, my body came to a standstill when I reached the large double doors.
A low murmur of talk could be heard coming from within. Feeling that there was no point in delaying the inevitable, I took a deep breath and knocked.
After a pause, I heard Bob’s voice call out.
Plastering on a smile that I certainly didn’t feel, I pushed open the doors. The boardroom itself was rather large with an oval table in the middle spanning the entire length of the room. My eyes were initially met with the massive panel windows that looked out into the city of Manhattan below. The tips of the tall skyscrapers touching the clouds was a sight to marvel and had it been any other day, I would have paused to stare. Unfortunately, it wasn’t going to be today.
Closing the doors softly behind me, I turned towards my right, to face my fate. Sasha’s recount was accurate. There were indeed five of them seated at the very end of the table. Bob and Mitch occupied the seats to the left whereas, Jennifer and Brad sat to the right.
In the very middle sat an unfamiliar figure staring intently in my direction. From what I could tell, he seemed to be well built, filling in the chair completely when compared to the other men in the room. And as my eyes zeroed in on the stranger’s face, my world suddenly tilted on its axis. My breath hitched when our gazes met. Striking grey eyes peered from underneath a deep frown highlighting the curiosity? confusion? hidden behind those orbs.
I was taken aback when a myriad of emotions struck me in full force, squeezing the last bit of precious air left within my lungs in a loud exhale. Warmth, security, love, lust, longing and a sense of wanting to be possessed by this man ran through my body. To say I was “confused” by such a visceral reaction to another person would have been an understatement.
Oddly, I couldn’t recall why I was here in the first place. In fact, if someone had asked me my name at this very instant, I wouldn’t have been able to remember it. My musings came to a halt, when I was rudely brought back to the present moment as Brad’s voice carried across the room. “Ah, Mia come on in and take a seat.”
It was only then I realised that I hadn’t moved an inch from the time I had laid eyes on this gorgeous stranger. Talk about stopping dead in one’s tracks!
Mentally cringing and blushing furiously, I raced to where they were seated. Pulling up a seat beside Brad and hastily sitting down, I glanced at everyone present. All of them seemed to be wearing a serious expression except for Jennifer who appeared smug and of course the handsome stranger.
His expression was strange to say the least. He continued to stare as if he had never witnessed anything more fascinating in his entire life. If I had to be completely honest, it was starting to weird me out a little.
Not wanting to fall into his hypnotic gaze again, I looked around the table politely waiting on someone to start this meeting. I didn’t have to wait long when Mitch who was seated opposite me, cleared his throat and sent a comforting smile in my direction.
“Hello Mia.” he started in a sombre tone.
The tone of voice combined with his serious demeanour sent alarm bells flying in every direction inside my head. Feeling apprehensive about the direction this meeting was going to go, I tried to put on a brave face.
Clasping his hands and resting them on the table in front of him, Mitch continued.
“Firstly, thank you for coming in this afternoon. I’m sure you are aware of the nature of today’s meeting. But before we get into all that, I would like to introduce Mr Thomas Carson here who is actually one of the partners from Carson & Sons. He is here to oversee the transition process.”
Turning to look at Thomas, Mitch pointed in my direction and continued with the introductions.
“And this is Mia Sutherland. She is a part of our marketing research team”
I looked over at Thomas, ready to get the pleasantries out of the way but instead I was held captive by his looks once again. I now understood why Sasha was fawning over this man. He did not look like he belonged in this world. His absurd good looks seemed almost unnatural.
Again, those weird feelings started to bubble within me. My mind was scrambling around for an explanation as to why this was happening but seemed to draw a blank.
However, before I could greet him, he abruptly stood up. He seemed very bothered by something. His eyes were darker? somehow? and he appeared to be on edge.
Giving all of us a quick glance, he spoke in a rush.
“Forgive me…. But…ah… something’s come up and I must leave immediately. Let’s reschedule this meeting for another time. Again, I’m sorry about this.”
And without another word or glance, Thomas Carson walked out, leaving the rest of us dumbstruck and utterly baffled.
What the fuck !