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Strategically Scandalous

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Daniel Ward is charming, a bit eccentric and refreshingly careless for a heir to a company that generates millions of dollars. His scandalous affairs are the talk of the town, to the point that investors have trouble trusting him. Dorian Ward is mysterious, authoritative and downright rude at times. He is the main CEO of Ward Pharmaceuticals and needs to find a way to save his company from his younger brother’s reckless behavior. Mary Morgan is a promising student in desperate need of a job to pay off her loans. When Dorian hires her as the company’s new Public Relationships Specialist, she’s living her dream... But things are more complicated than they seem. Being one of Daniel’s conquest herself, she’s forced to lie to her new boss in order to keep her job. But working so closely with the only guy she has ever had a one night stand with isn’t that easy. When being intimate with coworkers is forbidden by the contract she signed, it makes it even harder to resist temptation.

Romance / Erotica
Joy ☾
Age Rating:

1 - The Interview

The music was deafening, intense beats making my heart jump in my chest as the lights flashed at a sickening pace, barely lighting the darkness long enough for me to see the bodies moving, intertwining, flailing on the dance floor all around me.

My body was moved around to the rhythm, pulled on one side and then the other by my friend’s own dance moves, our hands holding tightly to each other, preventing other dancers from separating us, like an anchor in a tumultuous ocean.

Amina smiled at me, the light flashing on her excited face, as she pulled me a step closer to her and out of the path of a guy doing dangerous dance moves for someone holding a full bottle of beer in his hand...

“You’re finally letting lose!” She remarked, leaning to scream the words in my ear, barely making them louder than the electro music shaking the club.

I rolled my eyes at her, but she probably didn’t see it, the bright light flashes intensifying along with the beats of the music.
We kept dancing, swaying rapidly face to face and I closed my eyes, letting the intensity of the lower beats penetrate my body, inspiring me to let go of her hands in order to throw my arms in the air, like in a passionate prayer towards the DJ booth.

The song finally slowed its lunatic rhythm and I opened my eyes again, planning on resuming our easy swaying moves but Amina was no longer in front of me. Instead, a young man was facing me, a grin on his lips. The lights adapted to the new beats and I was able to distinguish some of his features; brown messy curls on his head and light blue eyes piercing their way into mine.

Normally, I would have walked away. I would have stepped away from the frenzy of the dance floor and waited on the side for Amina to find me. Normally, I would have stayed away from handsome strangers staring me down.
But tonight, something stronger than me forced me to stay, if only to see what happened when I did not retreat back to my comfort zone.

I danced slowly, adapting to the music and glanced back at him, finding his clear eyes still fixed on me. I shyly addressed him a smile and he grinned back, accepting my silent invitation for him to come closer.

Soon, he was standing so close that I could feel the heat radiating from his body. I looked up to him, surprised by how small I felt next to him. He ran a hand in his unruly curls, his gaze still fixed to mine with an intensity in them that made my body tingle.

Pushed by my desire to experience something new, something thrilling, I placed my hand on his chest. The fabric of his buttoned up shirt was soft but his muscles underneath were hard. I gulped, feeling my heart racing in my own chest despite the continuously slower music resonating in the club.

He placed his hand on my hip, pulling me closer to him in a swift movement, my body suddenly pressed fully against his as we kept moving ever so slowly, following the melody. My hand now trapped against his chest, I pressed the other one lower onto his stomach, establishing a new intimacy between us but allowing me to stay in control, able to push him away as soon as I’d feel like running back to where I was most comfortable; out of the crowd.

We spent a few minutes slow dancing, glued to each other. Eventually his hand left my hip, hovering back up the length of my body without touching it until he reached my chin. He gently pressed his fingers underneath, making me look up to him again. Another smile appeared on his lips as he seemed to be detailing my features, then, in perfect synch with the beats dropping, he leaned down closer, his lips reaching for mine, slowly enough to allow me to back off if I wanted to... So I backed off.

Realizing I wasn’t meeting him halfway, he opened his eyes, a questioning look on his face. I opened my mouth, trying to think of an excuse but my mind stayed alarmingly blank. I apologized, so quietly that there wasn’t a chance that he heard it above the music and I turned around, rushing through the slow dancing crowd, my cheeks burning in embarrassment.

As soon as I reached the side of the dance floor, Amina appeared behind me, having followed me through the crowd.

“What are you doing ?” She asked, looking at me and then back to the floor, seemingly searching for someone. “That guy was hot! Why didn’t you kiss him ?”

“You were watching this whole time ?” I responded, a bit upset that she hadn’t came back to me after we were separated from each other.

“Of course, I’m always here for backup in case you get hit on by creepy guys.”

“And what tells you he wasn’t a creepy guy?”

She shook her head, looking back at the dance floor once again.

“Well first of all, he wasn’t pushy. Second, he’s hot enough to excuse a bit of creepiness regardless. And third, he’s wearing Armani. He probably got a private booth and a nice car waiting outside.” She listed and I shook my head back at her.

“Those are extremely bad things to judge someone on. He could be a serial killer wearing Armani to lure girls like you into thinking he’ll bring them back to his penthouse suite.” I remarked.

“I know, I know, us girls need to be cautious.” She sighed, crossing her arms over her chest before looking at me with the most serious expression she could muster. “But Mary, you stayed. You touched him. You let him touch you. Surely, you felt an attraction, something that told you that it was okay...”

I thought back at my sudden urge to explore the world out of my comfort zone, to explore him. Like it was the right thing to do. Like it was as normal as my usual behavior.

“I’m not the type to hook up with strangers...” I said, trying to shake off the more illicit thoughts that had began blooming in my mind.

“Sure, whatever makes you comfortable.” Amina nodded. “All that I am saying is that, if for once, you wanted to... You could. I mean, what better way to relax before your big interview tomorrow.”

I looked at her again and she shrugged, a playful smile on her lips. She knew me well enough to see that the thought had obviously crossed my mind, if only for a minute. And as a friend, she was giving me the permission I couldn’t manage to give myself, but desperately wanted to have...

A few more minutes went by during which I just absently stared at the bodies moving in unison to the music, Amina patiently waiting next to me, unable to keep herself from swaying from side to side. Until finally, I gave her my most determined look.

“Please call the cops if I don’t text you in an hour.” I said, which made her laugh but she nodded and I knew that she would actually do it if I ever needed her to.

I took a deep breath and made my way back into the crowd, getting pushed from every side as the music accelerated again, making people jump and shout to the beat. The lights started flashing rapidly again, but I had no trouble finding the tall young man I was looking for among the mass of dancers, standing still amidst the excitement, his eyes focused on the phone in his hand.

I approached him, but he didn’t notice. I thought about patiently waiting for him to finish whatever he was doing but I remembered the heat of his body, the hardness of his muscles, the featherlight touch of his hand... So, without thinking any further, I threw myself at him, my arms closing around his shoulders, immediately pulling him into an intense kiss.
I felt his surprise against my lips but eventually, he kissed me back, as fervently as I was hoping he would. Then, he pulled back, staring at me with an amused smile.

“Well hi again.” He said, smirking.

“Hi again.” I replied, desperately pulling him into another heated kiss.

His warm lips crashed against my mouth and soon his tongue was tangling with mine, his hand pressed on my lower back, crumpling the fabric of my dress in his fist, as if he was having trouble refraining himself from tearing it off of me.

I suddenly felt overdressed... and too exposed to remedy it. Someone bumped into us, forcing an interruption in our frenetic exchange of kisses.

“Shall we move to somewhere less crowded ?” He asked me, his blue eyes locking with mine.

I didn’t respond immediately, a conflict of want and shyness rising inside me. But just this once, I decided to let what I wanted win over the shyness that usually kept me from getting anything I really desired.

I nodded at him, and he took my hand in his, guiding me across the dance floor towards the private booths area. The security agent at the entrance immediately pulled away the rope for us and we climbed the industrial stairs to a booth hanging above the dance floor, out of view from the crowd as long as no one lifted their eyes up I guess.

On the table was an opened bottle of champagne and three empty glasses. I raised an eyebrow, wondering if I was supposed to expect some company. He sat on one of the blood red, velvet sofas around the table and looked at me, noticing my hesitation.

“Don’t worry, my friends are down there dancing, we won’t be disturbed.” He said, with an inviting smile.

I couldn’t seem to resist the way he looked at me. Immediately drawn back to him, I sat next to him, our shoulders touching. He leaned towards me, resuming our kisses, his hand wandering on my knee and slowly sliding upwards after a moment.

My breath hitched in my throat as his hand was getting dangerously close to where I most ardently wanted to feel it. His lips abandoned my mouth and made their way down to my neck, peppering it with wet kisses. The fabric of my dress had almost all rolled up on my thighs from his touch, he pushed it out of his path one last time before finally pressing the palm of his hand between my legs.

The pleasurable pressure made me gasp, immediately followed by a whimper as he scraped his teeth against the sensitive skin of my throat.
With the weight of his body, he pushed me down on the sofa, pressing another passionate kiss on my mouth in the process. He modified the pressure he was applying with his palm against my center a few times, until finally, his fingers slipped into my panties, touching my wet bare skin.
He drew circles around my most delicate spot for a moment, while his lips only left mine to find my neck again.

Without a warning, he pushed a finger inside me, making me gasp once again with surprise... and delight. Tingles began running throughout my entire body as he pulled his finger out, only to push it back in even deeper. It was mind blowing and torture at the same time, my body throbbing for more than just his finger.

“Wait... Stop.” I said, placing my hand on his chest to interrupt his movements. He looked at me, questioningly.

“Did I do something wrong ?” He asked, suddenly worried and completely removing his hand from me.

“No, I was just thinking... I don’t know your name.”

He seemed relieved and amused at the same time, his body visibly relaxing.

“For you I’ll be whoever you want me to be.” He said, in a low, husky voice, before placing a wet kiss on my neck.

“Don’t you want me to moan your name ?”
I asked him, which completely captured his attention again, lifting his head from the crook of my neck to fix his eyes to mine.

“In that case, you can call me Dan.”

I smiled, satisfied and feeling a bit less awkward for getting intimate with someone I didn’t know.
His hand quickly run up my thigh, aiming to find its place back into my panties but I grabbed his wrist, stopping him once again.

He seemed confused, but before he could ask anything, I freed his hand, shifting on the sofa to straddle his lap. He grinned at me, watching me with hungry eyes as I reached down to unbuckle his belt and open up his pants. I managed to free his hardened member, pumping it a few times with my hand, taking in its size.

I reached between my legs, grabbing the fabric of my panties and pulling it to the side, holding it in place as I gently moved to lower myself on him, feeling his erection softly sliding inside me.

I threw my head back, moaning as I felt it slowly filling me up and he did the same, letting himself fall back against the sofa, his eyes pressed shut.

Once his whole length was buried inside of me, I began unbuttoning his shirt, caressing his skin the more I was exposing it, actually buying myself some time to adjust to his size.

Then, when I felt ready, I pushed down on my knees to rise up, feeling him leaving me only to re enter me again as I sat back down on top of him. Both of his hands reached for each of my hips, guiding my movements as I kept making him slide in and out of me.

He cursed, so silently that I could only read it on his lips as I followed the rhythm enticed by his hands on my hips, faster and harder.

“Yes, Dan...” I cried out, feeling my whole body tensing up from the numerous waves of pleasure that his thrusts provoked inside me, at a mad pace.

His fingers dug into my hips, gripping me so hard that it would have hurt if I hadn’t been so high on adrenaline and lust. He got me to move as fast as I could, rising his hips from the sofa to thrust back inside me each moment his length started sliding out of me.

Overwhelmed by the intense pleasure, I felt my body tremble as finally, I reached my climax, tensing up and relaxing in his arms as he pushed himself inside me one last time, the pressure from my own orgasm making him reach his...

“That was...” He started, still panting, but didn’t seem to find the right word to describe how he was feeling.

“That was something alright.” I said, playfully, getting up from his lap and adjusting my clothes, suddenly awfully aware of all the people in the club that could have seen or heard us.

“Right...” He smirked, closing his pants and buckling his belt but leaving his shirt unbuttoned, pearls of sweat glistening on his torso. “Would you like to come back to my place ? For another round of something alright ?”

“I can’t.” I replied, pulling down on my dress that suddenly felt way to short to be appropriate. “I have an interview tomorrow, for a job that would help me pay off all my schooling fees.”

My words seem to ignite a certain fear in him as he stood straighter on the red sofa, eyes widening at me.

“When you say schooling you mean university, right ? Not... High school ?”

The temptation to play him over his sudden anxiety was huge but I decided to reassure him, still letting a moment too long of suspense go by before answering.

“Yes, I mean university.”

“Oh thank God!” He exclaimed, relaxing in his seat again, hands running over his face as if he had just had the worst fear of his life.

“So... uhm, I’ll see you around ?” I tentatively said, as a way to politely take my leave. I was so not used to having one night stands, I had no idea how to not be awkward about it.

“Yeah.” He nodded, understanding that I was trying to go. He smiled at me one last time, finally reaching to begin buttoning up his shirt. “Good luck for your job interview.”

“Thanks.” I smiled back, doing my best to pretend I wasn’t self conscious as I left the private booth, still feeling his eyes fixed on me.

The security guard moved the rope away for me again and just like that, my moment of uncharacteristic wildness was gone, almost as quickly as it had appeared.

I had no trouble finding Amina as the music slowed once again, lights flickering less aggressively in response. She was dancing away from the crowded dance floor, two men on each side of her body, their hands caressing her curves in an languid, sensual dance.

She noticed me approaching and stepped away from them, completely breaking their trance and leaving them confused on the spot.

“So ?” She asked me, excitedly. “Did you... ? How was it ? How are you feeling ?”

“Tired and full of endorphins.” I said, only answering her last question. “Which is why I’m heading back to campus, I could use a few hours of sleep before the big meeting.”

“I’ll let them know I’m leaving.” Amina nodded, turning around to the men she had been dancing with but I stopped her, gently grabbing her arm.

“Stay, you looked like you were having fun. I don’t mind going back on my own, I’ll call a cab.” I assured her and she looked back at me hesitantly.

I smiled reassuringly at her and she eventually smiled back, pulling me into a brief hug before she went back to her new friends, immediately resuming their dancing with even more intensity than before.

I left the club on my own, pulling my phone out to order a cab and the yellow car pulled up in front of me only minutes later. The driver had snacks and a newspaper on the front seat, he looked like he had been waiting in the area for drunk party goers to drive home, which was probably a very lucrative business tactic.

He drove me back to campus in comfortable silence, the faint sound of his radio making me feel deaf after having the loud music of the club booming in my ears for so long.
I payed for the fare and walked back to my dorm, blissfully thanking my luck for having a private bedroom AND bathroom on campus. I shut the blinds of the window above my bed and fell on top of it immediately, not even bothering to change as I slipped into a deep, dreamless slumber...

My alarm went off what seemed to be only minutes later, pulling me from my deep sleep in the most cruel manner. I groaned, turning around in my bed a few times, snoozing the alarm once or twice until I jumped awake, suddenly remembering that one of the most important days of my life had begun.

I pulled myself out of bed, rushing to my shower, discarding my dress and underwear of the night before on the way, letting them fall on the floor. I washed my body and my face almost aggressively, hoping that my late night out in town wouldn’t show. Then, I dried my skin and rushed back to my bedroom, mentally reviewing the inside of my dressing before I had even reached it, trying to think of an outfit I could wear for the interview that would make me look professional, but not strict.

The clock was dangerously ticking as I tried on several pairings of pants and tops. When I glanced at the time on my phone, I had no choice but to give up, even though I wasn’t completely satisfied. I quickly tied my hair up, adding a blue cardigan over my black t -shirt, and stepped into my high heels, rolling the hem of my black pants to make it more comfortable.

I rushed out of my room, rapidly turning the key in the lock before running down the corridor. Quickly walking across campus to the nearest subway station.

Once calmly seated on the subway, I pulled my phone out of my pocket, opening the tabs I had already consulted, mostly articles about the company I was on my way to. I had tried to prepare myself the best that I could but the opportunity had actually taken me by surprise only a few days ago, when my favorite Professor, Mister Weaver, had recommended me to one of his previous student as a qualified Public Relationships Specialist. I wasn’t sure what I had done to earn that trust from my business and communication Professor but I was grateful for the opportunity of gaining experience to add on my resume and getting a decent pay check in order to finance my cursus...

I suddenly realized that I had been absently staring at the only picture result I had gotten when I searched the web for the CEO of Ward Pharmaceuticals. It was a very official looking portrait of a surprisingly young man, probably in his early thirties, wearing a tailored suit and a red tie. His dark brown eyes burned with determination. His brown hair was impeccably combed back. And his beard had been carefully sculpted and seemed well maintained.

When I had begun my research about the company, I was surprised to not find anything scandalous or incriminating about it. Even more so, I had trouble believing that such a young CEO really was discreet enough to not have any stolen pictures of him nor any scandalous headlines about his love life or luxurious getaways. The only, unofficial, information that I had found that could justify his need to hire a PR Specialist was a bunch of people complaining on social medias about the fact that Ward Pharmaceuticals was buying proprieties in a rural town by the ocean, turning family homes into hangars and new research facilities. The company, and indirectly its CEO, were accused of destroying a thousand years old town, of scaring away its inhabitants and ruining the environnement in the process.

I took a deep breath, reading the post of someone who was claiming that their house had been forcefully bought and bulldozed the next day over again. It was bad for the company’s reputation but luckily, no news outlet had picked up the story yet, giving me an opportunity to stop the damage before it was even done.

I finally reached my station, leaving the subway and resurfacing above ground in the business part of the city, tall skyscrapers all around making me feel like an ant on the ground. The Ward Pharmaceuticals headquarters were established in one of the tallest building in the street, glass on every surface, reflecting the light of the morning sun.

I entered through the main doors, taking in the busy lobby and the large desk in front of me, where a young woman, probably around my age, was talking animatedly in a headset. I approached, patiently waiting for her to have a moment for me. She looked me up and down, still carefully listening to what was being said in her earpiece and I redirected my attention to the people walking around in the lobby in order to not blush in embarrassment, suddenly having doubts on the clothes I had decided to wear for the interview.

The woman loudly cleared her throat, earning my attention again. She was holding a button on her headset pressed, looking at me with a bit of impatience.

“Oh hi, I’m Mary Morgan, I’m supposed to meet with the CEO at ten.” I finally spoke, stuttering my own name.

She quickly typed something on her computer’s keyboard, briefly letting go of her headset before pressing a finger on the button again.

“Of course, Mister Ward’s office is on the last floor. Elevators are on your right.” She replied, loosely gesturing in the direction I was supposed to take.

I hesitated to ask her more precisions about where I was supposed to go next but she resumed talking into her microphone, ignoring me as if I had already left.

I headed to the elevators, entering a rather narrow one, finding myself surprisingly alone inside. I pressed the last button on the panel, the only one above it needing a key to be activated. The elevator began its ascension and I used the few minutes that it took to look at myself on the mirror, focusing all my effort in fixing my mascara and then my hair.

The doors opened with a ding and I stepped into an empty corridor, its white walls decorated with modern looking art pieces.

There was a desk further down the corridor but no one was sitting behind it. The computer was off and it was so neatly cleaned and organized that I doubted anyone had used it today. I turned around, wondering if I really had reached the right floor but the names on the glass door in front of the desk erased my doubts. The office walls were made of glass panels, which would have been completely see through if some black blinds weren’t tightly shut from the inside on every window.

I waited a few minutes, hoping someone would come greet me after hearing the sound of the elevator but nothing, not even a sound resounded in the corridor, making me feel like I was all alone on that floor of the building.
I checked my phone once again, realizing it was time for my interview. A wave of panic took over as I realized that if the CEO had been waiting for me somewhere else, I’d be late.

I took a deep breath, knocking on the glass door with a bit of uncertainty... Only to see it open before my fist even reached it, my hand landing on my potential new boss’ chest instead.

I stood there, mortified for a split second before removing my hand, blurting out some confused apologies.

“You must be Miss Morgan.” The man simply said, deciding to completely ignore what had just happened,

“Yes, I am.” I confirmed, finally daring to look at his face but I almost instantly regretted it. He looked as polished and flawless as he was on the portrait I had stared at on the subway... To the point that his perfection was actually destabilizing.

“Let’s have our conversation in the conference room.” He said, his tone soft but authoritative at the same time. I nodded and he led the way to the door on the far right of his office, opening it for me and letting me in first.

I entered a room with a large glass table in its center, dozen of leather chairs placed around it. The walls were made of glass and covered by blinds as well, except for the large window opposite the door, offering a breathtaking view on the other skyscrapers of the city.

“Please, have a seat.” He continued, closing the door behind him and sitting down in one of the chairs.

I sat at the opposite side of the table, facing him. I could feel my pulse increasing as he placed a stack of paper in front of him, on top of which was my resume. He furrowed his brows as he quickly read it, concentration visible on his face before he looked at me again, a hint of disapprobation in his eyes.

“I must admit, when I asked Weaver for a recommendation I wasn’t expecting him to direct me to one of his current students.” He admitted, crossing his arms over the glass surface. “I wasn’t convinced but he assured me that you’d be up to the task.”

“I have impeccable grades and I have experience managing companies’ social media pages in order to make them more appealing to younger customers, I think I’m qualified enough for the job.” I replied, attempting to not sell myself too short even though I did feel a bit lost as to why my professor would have recommended me for a specialist’s position.

“You think or you are ?” The CEO asked, more severely than what I was expecting. “Because if you say that you think you are good enough, I clearly hear that you are not.”

“I am qualified for the job.” I corrected, emphasizing my words.

He leaned back in his chair, looking at me with so much insistance that I had to fight off the heat crippling up to my cheeks. He didn’t seem pleased at all.

“You have what we call a “PR nightmare” coming for you.” I continued, earning his full attention. “I’ve seen a certain number of people complaining online about the way your company’s has been scrapping a ancient, little town by the coast off of the map for the only purpose of extending your amenities.”

He raised his eyebrow at me. I was hoping to convince him, to at least spark a bit of curiosity in him for what I had to say about his situation but instead of interest, his expression was one of annoyance.

“We definitely aren’t the first company to buy off some lands in the countryside in order to expand our activities.” He retorted.

“Of course not, but the way you are doing it is going to put you on blast once the press will pick up on what the inhabitants of the town have to say about it.”

“And what would they have to say about it ? Last time I checked, they could use a few hundred job offers... Which is exactly what I’m giving to this town by building and exploiting my new facilities.” He replied, his tone getting defensive.

“Probably, but portraying you as the millionaire CEO that is creating new jobs for the people just isn’t as scandalous as saying you’ve been forcing poor, elderly people out of their homes just to bulldoze them down and build more modern amenities in their place.”

“I haven’t been forcing them to sell their home, I can even assure you that anyone who made that deal with my company got paid above the worth of what they owned.”

“That’s very human of you... But again, not scandalous enough for the press to pick that up.”

“And then what ? Why should I care about the people who read and believe the crap they might say about my company in the press ? It’s an established fact that you can’t rely on tacky tabloids for actual facts.” He snapped, crossing his arms over his chest as his gaze, burning with exasperation, stayed fixed on me.

“Because if you have a bad image, investors and clients alike will be reluctant to be associated with your company.” I simply replied, which seemed to get him into intense thinking. “But surely, you already knew that. Otherwise why would you want to hire a PR Specialist for ?”

His posture suddenly relaxed a bit, letting an uncomfortable moment of silence go by as he seemed to be pondering what I had just said before fixing his eyes on my resume once again. I saw the ghost of a smirk pass on his lips but he kept his severe, closed off, frown on display as he looked at me again.

“I had no idea that the situation in Cedar Port was about to tarnish my company’s reputation.” He admitted, and I tried my best to hide my surprise at his words.

It wasn’t the fact that he didn’t know about it that stunned me, but the fact that he actually confessed it. He looked so stern, so authoritarian... Like the kind of person who would never admit being wrong, and yet, there he was.

“So if controlling that brewing scandal waiting to break out isn’t your motivation behind that interview, what is ? I asked him, a bit confused.

“I have noticed that my... personal life has been affecting my professional image.” He answered, hesitantly. “Some reckless behavior has costed me a valuable partnership and I’d like to put a stop to it before it ruins my company.”

I racked my brain, trying to remember of something scandalous that I could have read about him but nothing came to my mind. There were barely any informations about him and his personal life available online, even the pictures of him were perfectly controlled and released... Maybe I should have asked myself what so much secrecy was hiding.

“I think I can help with that.” I replied, before catching myself. “I mean, I can help with that.”

For the first time, I saw an amused grin light up his face at the emphasis I had put on my words and I found myself pretty dumbfounded by how much more handsome it suddenly made him look, as if it was even possible for him to look more polished and perfect than he already was...

He seemed to be pondering my answer for a moment, glancing at my resume a few more times before finally moving it from the top of the pile, pulling out a stack of papers from underneath it and handing it to me.

“I’m willing to give you a chance because I trust in Weaver’s judgment.” He declared, as I looked more closely at the files. “I’m going to give you a month for results to show. If I’m still not convinced by then, you’ll be fired.”

I silently gulped, feeling myself shrinking in my seat at the sound of his strict tone. The contract I had in front of me required me to fill in my informations. He handed me his pen, expecting me to write but I turned the page instead, wanting to take a closer look at the conditions he had established, which seem to amuse him.

Once I reached the paragraph about my hourly salary, I had to read it three times in a row to believe it. It was even better paid that what I had hoped for, the rate was appropriate for an actual professional with experience, not just a student who could pas as an intern. Since the contract hadn’t been established specifically for me, maybe it was a mistake, maybe I was the only student applying for that job and he would have paid me less if he had time to go through the contract again... But he didn’t. And I had no shame in taking advantage of that mistake.

“You have a no dating policy.” I remarked, reading through that next paragraph.

“Is that a problem ?” He asked, sternly.

I lifted my eyes from the document to look at him, realizing that it seemed to be a touchy subject to discuss with him.

“Not at all.” I replied, deciding to keep for myself the fact that I doubted it was actual legal to put that in a job offer. “I’m just wondering why that clause is in there... Usually companies have a good reason to require something that personal from their employees.”

“Let’s just say that after loosing a qualified secretary for the sixth time, I decided to put a stop to tumultuous affairs within our workplace.”

I raised an eyebrow at him, looking at him with even more attention than before, wondering if I had misjudged him. Was he talking about his own tumultuous affairs or someone else’s ?

“Fair enough.” I said, with a polite smile, deciding to not insist on the subject any more.

But soon, another question arose and I was hesitant to ask him about it, worried that being too picky with the conditions might make him change his mind about hiring me... But it wasn’t really négociable in my case.

“I see you expect a certain amount of hours of work per week.” I stated. “But I can’t commit to working full time for you, I have classes to attend if I want to graduate at the end of the year.”

“It is fine by me, as long as you do your job and come when I ask you to.” He answered, and for some reason, his words felt more intense and measured than before.

I nodded quietly and finished carefully reading the rest of the clauses, which were much more traditional than the no dating between coworkers one. Then, I completed the form on the first page, with my name, date of birth and address, feeling the young CEO’s heavy gaze on me as I did so.

And, once I was done, I signed the contract. Officially becoming an employee of Ward Pharmaceuticals.
I returned the papers to my new boss and he smiled with satisfaction.

“Do you have any more questions ?” He inquired, adjusting the document so that the different papers would be perfectly aligned.

“I do.” I said, wondering if it really was the right moment to discuss that, and knowing he wouldn’t like it, but if I wanted to do my job properly and give him the results that he wanted, I had to know. “You mentioned losing a partnership because of some... misbehaviors. I need to know what happened exactly if you want me to fix it.”

He stared at me, clearly hesitating. I maintained eye contact, trying to silently let him know that answering that wasn’t optional.

“My brother... He was dating the daughter of one of our most valuable business partner. But eventually she found out he had been fooling around with my secretaries, and needless to say that it did not end well. Her father put his army of lawyers at use and they managed to free his company from the partnership it had with ours.”

“So... You weren’t the one having affairs at work.” I remarked, realizing too late that I had said it out loud.

“Of course not. Unlike my brother, I’m here to work and get this company to grow and prosper.”

“Then why allow your brother around at all ? If he can’t behave himself maybe he should take his distances with you, for the company’s sake.”

The CEO smirked with hidden sadness, and palpable annoyance.

“Unfortunately, we recently found out that our father had intended for us to both inherit his company. I’m the CEO as I own 51% of it, but he’s close behind with the remaining 49%”

“Oh.” I simply said, taking my brain to think of a solution to that problem but I couldn’t find any. I lacked too much information about the situation, I hadn’t seen any articles about his brother when I had researched Ward Pharmaceuticals online. And in the registry I had consulted, nothing mentioned that he even had a brother, which left me confused and lost in thoughts.

“I need him on his best behavior now, Miss Morgan.” He said, surprisingly severely, his dark eyes staring right into my soul.

I silently nodded, momentarily paralyzed by the intensity I saw in his gaze.

“I’ll figure something out, but I’ll need to talk with him about it.” I said, once my moment of awe had passed.

He seemed to suppress a wince from his face, as if the idea of me meeting his brother was worrying him. And after the portrait he had painted me of him, I could understand why.

“Of course, I’ll introduce you.” He finally replied, rising from his seat. I imitated him, “In the meantime, I’m looking forward to see what you can do for me, Miss Morgan.” He said, which unexpectedly caused shiver to run through my body.

He offered me his hand to shake. I reached for it and shook it, the strong warmth radiating from his skin taking me by surprise. A light tingle of electricity ran from my fingers to my chest, accelerating my heartbeat. When I met his eyes, the enigmatic intensity I had seen in them a moment earlier was back, making me wonder if he had felt it too...

“I’m grateful for the opportunity, Mister Ward.” I managed to reply, putting on an impassible face.

A short minute later, our hands parted from each other, the air in the room feeling awfully cold in comparison to his skin.

I stared at him in silence, his gaze still weighting on me. But I didn’t get much time to question my hammering heart and the tingles rushing through my veins as the door of the conference room opened and a tall, disheveled young man stepped inside.

It suddenly felt as if the air had been sucked out of the room as I instantly recognized his lose brown curls and hypnotic blue eyes. Speechless, I just stared at him in shock.

“Dorian, the lab technician wants to talk to you about something urgent.” He said, not awknoledging my presence at all.

“Sure, we’re done here anyway.” My new boss replied, pushing his seat back under the glass table and gathering his papers. “But first, let me introduce you to Mary Morgan, she’s the one who’s going to fix the messes you made.”

I closed my eyes briefly, suppressing a wince. I couldn’t believe I was really finding myself in such a ridiculous situation... I still had a tiny bit of hope that the young man by the door wasn’t who I thought he might be, but it got crushed as soon as he smirked at me in a familiar way, reaching to shake my hand.

“Hi, I’m Daniel Ward.” He said, his blue eyes fixed to mine, a charming smile on his face.

I nodded, still completely astonished of having him in front of me. I could feel my pulse racing in my chest as I searched his face for a sign of recognition but if he did remember me from the night before, at the club, he didn’t let anything show.

Part of me was hoping that he’d remember how important that interview was for me and that he wouldn’t ruin my chance at the job... But another part of me was starting to feel a bit vexed at the idea that he had already forgotten meeting me.

“I’ll leave you to it, Miss Morgan wanted to discuss about PR strategies with you.” Dorian spoke, his voice suddenly bringing me back to reality.

Daniel agreed, smiling at his brother as he left the conference room. I politely smiled too, until the door closed behind him and the weight of the situation fell back on me. Daniel pulled a seat at the table, slumping on it in a familiar manner...

I still wasn’t sure whether he remembered me or not... But one thing I knew was that I had already infringed on my freshly signed contract.

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