“Aaron, when you’re done in there can you bring out my hand bag? I’m sure I left it in there.” Moments after Emilie’s request, Aaron appeared from the bathroom, black clutch in hand.
She smiled and thanked him as she took it.
Aaron smiled and kissed her cheek as he slipped his shoes on, and only then did she notice he was wearing a white tee shirt and faded cut off jeans. She stopped putting her earrings in, and placed them down on the vanity in front of her.
She figured Aaron felt her hard stare on his back, because he sighed and stood up straight, facing her, “Don’t be mad, babe but-”
“You’re going to that party.” She accused. He sighed again and ran his hand through his tussled brown hair, and nodded slightly.
“Aaron, this is our boss’ retirement party, you’re really going to miss this one time opportunity for some stupid party your buddy is throwing?” She scoffed, reaching up to put her earring in.
“Em, this is a once in a lifetime thing. It’s on a boat!” Emilie stood up and grabbed her clutch, “I can’t believe you. They throw a party every weekend, which you’re at, every single weekend. How hard is it for you for miss one?”
“You wouldn’t understand.” He concluded, walking out of their bedroom and into the living room, where he donned his jacket and picked up his scarf.
“You’re unbelievable, you know that? I cancelled plans to be with my mother, after not seeing her since her birthday in August, here it is January, and you’re going to a party, on a boat!” She shrieked.
“Please can we not talk about this right now?” Aaron rolled his eyes as he finished buttoning his jacket and wrapped his red scarf around his neck, it hung loosely against his body.
She didn’t say another word, just turned her head to the floor and waited for him to leave, and when she looked up again, she was watching his back as he walked out of the door.
Three hours later, Emilie was three cocktails, and two shots later, and wanting nothing more than to be home with a pint of ice cream and a binge watch of Gilmore Girls.
“Why are you sulking over here by yourself, darling?” She heard the familiar British accent before she saw him, and she looked up and immediately wanted another shot.
He looked absolutely dashing in his tux and tie, the black looking amazing against his russet skin tone and perfect white teeth, shining out even more with the dark colours.
She smiled slightly, “I had a fight with my boyfriend.” She admitted. She didn’t know if it was the alcohol or the heartbreak, all she knew is that she needed a shoulder to cry on.
Axel sighed and raised his hand to the bartender, who nodded and walked away to make him a drink, “Sorry to hear that, darling. What happened?”
“He’s a dick, that’s what happened. I needed him here with me, but he wanted to go party with his buddies.”
This is why she didn’t drink much.
She sighed and put her head in her hands, “I’m sorry, Axel. This is your party, I shouldn’t be dampening your mood, you’re happy tonight. I should be, too.”
Axel smiled down at her, instead of smirking for once, “Believe it or not, Emilie, my only happiness tonight is having my father off my damn back.”
Emilie gasped, but it was low enough that Axel didn’t hear it. Was she gasping over the fact that he was confiding in her, or was it the fact that he called her Emilie, and not darling?
She turned slightly and saw his father, a greying man of 76, chatting merrily with Stephen and Ian. She turned back to Axel to see him watching her as he sipped the bourbon she hadn’t seen been brought to him.
“Does he expect too much of you?” She asked in a low voice. Axel shrugged, “Not really. More like he expects too little of me.”
Emilie was confused, and clearly it showed on her face, because the heartwarming smile and chuckle he delivered was enough to make the breath escape her chest in a whoosh.
“He wants me to take over his shoes and be this big time CEO, and I have no problem with that, but he also wants me to settle down with a wife and two children and white picket fence, and I don’t see myself like that.
“He doesn’t want the CEO life for me, like he had. All business and no play. He had one kid and four wives, my mother was his first wife, he still smiles when he speaks about her.”
Emilie didn’t know where all of this was coming from, but she wasn’t complaining, she liked this soft side of Axel. The rough exterior he put on wasn’t really who he was.
“I like what I do now. I want to take over and have this business, but with him constantly telling me it’s a horrible idea, and that I’m going to have many wives and gold diggers crawling at my back... Well it only makes me question marriage and woman, not the job.”
He finished speaking and downed the rest of his drink, the ice dropping back into the glass with a clank.
“Axel, I don’t know much about business, or your father, but I know he means best for you. And maybe he is taking his own experiences into accord and the wrong way. But I say this, do what you want to do, and prove him wrong. Prove you can do both, white picket fence and two kids, and run a powerful enterprise.” Emilie smiled, and looked down at her empty glass and ordered another.
When she looked up, Axel was still watching her, “You’re an interesting woman, Emilie.”
She chuckled, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Without another word, Axel turned and walked away from the bar, but paused before he could get too far and looked over his shoulder at her, “Thanks.”
She was so shell shocked at the soft and hidden side to Axel that she couldn’t respond, and then he was gone. Back into the crowd of people.
With a sigh, Emilie hopped off the bar stool, downed her last drink, and padded across the office in her bare feet, her black six inches in her hand.
She felt the eyes watching her, but she didn’t care. She was through with the party, and it was time to go home.
Before she could push through the glass doors, she heard a throat loudly clearing, and she turned to see Chase Blake trying to gather attention.
“I’d like to thank everyone for coming out tonight, this party is exactly what I needed to end a wonderful lifetime of Riley & Co. I’d like to thank my son, for absolutely showing me that family can change your life.” Everyone clinked glasses together and gave a small applause for Axel.
She couldn’t see him, and wondered where he was, she took a step forward into the crowd and finally his tall figure poked out from behind his father, and he placed a hand on his back, “Turning this business over to him has been the easiest decision I’ve ever had to make in this company,” There were a few chuckles, “I can’t wait for the many years to come, and see him transform this business the way I couldn’t.”
With more cheering and clapping, Chase Blake raised his glass and Emilie could faintly hear him call out, “To Axel!” And the cheers got louder, she smiled and took this moment to escape out of the doors.
Swinging her shoes in her arm, she realized she might be too intoxicated to drive, and decided to call a cab instead. Taking her phone from her clutch, she dialled the number for the taxi company, and was just about to hit call when a large hand grabbed the phone from her hand and ended the call.
“What the..” She looked up and saw a smirking Axel. The smirk was back, it seemed.
“Why did you do that? I’m trying to call someone.” She said, putting her hand on her hip, his smirk grew, “You’re not taking a taxi home, Emilie. I’ll drive you.”
“Why can’t I take a taxi home?” She defended. He just chuckled, “Because they’re overpriced, and they rip pretty drunk girls off.”
She huffed, “Good thing that’s not me.” He just rolled his eyes as the elevator finally dinged open, “You know, when a man calls you pretty, the good thing would be to say thank you.” His hot breath was at her ear, her hair being pushed back off her shoulder.
She looked at her shoeless feet, “Thank you.”
She could almost see his smirk widening, and when she looked up, her guess had been right, “I am not drunk.”
“Really? You’re walking around in your bare feet, and you spilled your entire troubles to me just moments ago.” He said, staring straight again.
“So then are you drunk?” His eyes finally came down to meet hers, and he reached over very quickly to push the stop button on the elevator, it shook and rattled as it came to a sudden halt.
She gasped and held onto the banister - her biggest fear was being caught in an elevator. She could feel the anxiety now, her breath quickened and her eyes widened, but it was soon forgotten when Axel’s lips were mere inches from her own.
“Maybe I am..” He whispered, his hand reaching up to entangle in her hair, the other grabbing her waist and pulling her against his body. She knew this was wrong, she knew she couldn’t do this. But she couldn’t stop.
“Axel, what are you..?” But before she could finish, his bottom lip gently caressed her jaw, and then her neck, her breath was caught in her throat.
As soon as he had grabbed her, he had let her go, and the elevator was moving again. She let out a large breath of air, and shortly after, the doors dinged open and he was pulling her out into the open front foyer.
“Come now, darling. Let’s get you home..”