I looked around the large conference room, again, and failed, again, to spot my date. It had been at least half an hour since Clive had gotten up from the table and saying something about the bathroom, had disappeared into the crowd.
I knew it might be silly of me, but I was staring to get a little ants-y and was definitely feeling out of place and uncomfortable, to say the least.
This was one of Clive's work functions. A birthday of one of the firm's partners, as I understood it, and with that being the case, I knew no-one at all in this crowded room.
And social butterfly, I am not.
We had arrived a couple of hours earlier, and even then, Clive had been distracted and a little distant.
Holding my hand, he had dragged me across the room, barely stopping to greet any of his colleagues or even introduce me to a single person.
Already uncomfortable in a crowd as large as this, I had simply kept my head down and allowed him to pull me forward. He stopped in front of a table against the back wall of the room and we took seats there.
Now, what felt like an eternity later, it is still where I sat.
Our table had filled up with four other couples and I had been introduced to them, kind of, but after the small talk passed, none of us seemed to have anything to say to anyone else, or at least not to me. So I ate in silence, only making occasional eye contact with some of the others and picking g up bits and pieces of what sounded like business conversations. After everyone else had finished, our table companions had drifted off into the crowd.
That left Clive and I sitting in somewhat uncomfortable silence for a few minutes, before he had jumped up and disappeared as well.
I sighed deeply, bored and definitely ready to leave and cuddle up in my pj's.
Deciding that the best thing for me to do was make my own way to the bathroom, and hopefully, by the time I got back, Clive would be back, too.
I stood up from the now empty table, and soon made my way through the crowd, every now and again looking around again to try and find the familiar face of my boyfriend.
During one of my scans of the room, I walked straight into a solid wall of flesh, making a very lady-like Oof sound.
The room spun for a moment as I tried to regain my balance, mumbling some semblance of an apology to whomever I had just crashed into.
"It might be a good idea to watch what you're doing next time," a velvet voice whispered into my ear as a strong, warm hand grabbed my elbow and helped me straighten up.
"I'm sorry, I was looking for-" but my voice faltered as I looked up into the most striking pair of moss coloured eyes I had ever seen. His expression was somewhat closed off, but he seemed to not be too upset that I had just walked, or rather crashed, right into him.
I just stood there, blinking stupidly, as I tried to clear the fog from my brain.
Eventually my mind caught up with the situation, and I was able to speak.
"I'm sorry. Um, I am just on my way to the ladies' room... If you'll excuse me," there, that sounded a little less idiotic. Maybe.
As I stated to extract my arm from his firm grasp, his beautiful voice sounded again.
"I saw Mr. Sowden head in that direction some time ago, if that is who you are seeking." I looked back into his eyes the instant he had started speaking, and smiled my thanks at him, not sure how he knew who I was in search of, but whatever.
"Alexander Whitmore," he continued, extending his hand for me to shake, and still I just stood there practically hypnotised by this man. I stupidly looked down at his hand, drawing a blank for half a moment.
Finally my brain rebooted, and I quickly reached out to shake his hand too.
"Katherine Silverton, but everyone just calls me Kate," I babbled, trying to recover some of my dignity. What was it about this man that had ne all flustered and acting like a teenager with a crush.
His name sounded vaguely familiar, but I couldn't place it in that moment, seeing as my brain was broken. So, instead l, I simply tried to shake this beautiful man's hand and exit from the situation before completely making a fool of myself.
However, instead of shaking the hand I placed in his, he slowly raised it to his lips and brushed them across my knuckles in a gentle kiss, his eyes never leaving mine.
"A pleaseure," he whispered against my hand as I flushed a vivid shade of scarlet, as his warm breath caused shivers to run up my spine.
I practically snatched my hand out of his and blurted something along the lines of "I have to... bathroom..." and rushed around him towards the exit of the large room.
What the hell? Get a grip, girl!
Perhaps I had one too many glassed of wine with dinner after all. I just wanted to find Clive and go. I was so done with being social for the night, especially after that.
The cool air in the foyer helped chase away the remaining vestiges of my brain fog.
I found myself, once again, standing in a largely unfamiliar space, alone, and with no idea of where to go. I looked around, hoping for a sign or a something to let me know in which direction the restrooms were.
I heard a strange noise, a muffled moan of sorts, to my left, and headed in that direction, guessing that if there were people there, I might be going in the right direction.
The sounds became clearer and more distinct. Evidently it was more than one person, and they seemed to be completely ignorant of the noise my heels were making on the marble floor as I approached. And they definitely were not standing in a line for the facilities.
"Yes, yes, yes! Harder! Oh!" It was a husky woman's voice, thick with lust.
"You like that, huh?" A familiar voice answered here and I stopped dead in my tracks. It can't be.
I could only just make out the shadows of two bodies in a dark corner close to a large potted ficus.
This can't be happening. Not here, surely.
It seemed that whoever the woman was was facing the wall with her back arced, sticking her ass out,, and the guy behind her was slamming into her. Both were completely oblivious to my presence.
She had both of her palms pressed against the wall, while he stood behind her pulling her head back with a hand in her hair, his other hand on her hip, helping him slam into her faster and faster.
"Oh, fuck, I'm gonna cum, sir!"
"Cum with me," came Clive's reply. Still my feet remained rooted to the spot as my blood rushed to my face and tears stung my eyes.
The sounds of them both reaching climax was enough to start the tears flowing properly.
Honestly I was more pissed and embarrassed than I was heartbroken or even hurt.
Clive and I haven't been in a great place for a while now. Things between us had become strained and tense. The six month relationship had, it seemed to me, run its course, soon to come to a close. But he had surprised me with a seemingly sincere apology for the last few weeks, and had invited me along to this fucking event.
The anger burned through me as more tears streamed hotly down my face.
I furiously used my palms to wipe my tears away, and was about to turn on my heels and storm out of there when the two shadows separated. Clive walked out of the darkness, zipping up his fly and adjusting his stupid tie.
He looked up and surprise flashed briefly across his face as he saw me standing there.
"Oh, Katie, babe! I was just looking for you. Let's get another drink," he smiled with forced innocence and held his hand out to me.
I opened my mouth to say something along the lines of "Go fuck yourself" when his friend behind him also stepped fully into the light.
I recognised Tracy. His assistant. The cliché was almost as nauseating as seeing them together like that. She stepped out, smoothing her hair back in place, but stopped as soon as she caught sight of Clive and I standing several feet apart, with his hand still reaching towards me.
"Hi Tracy," I said instead. "Having a nice evening?"
She blushed furiously, and started stammering an answer.
I held up my hand, "Oh, no need to elaborate, I was just about to tell Clive here to go and fuck himself, but maybe you can help him with that, if he can't manage alone." I turned on my heel and headed back the way I had come. I gave Clive a last look over my shoulder and said, with as little emotion as I could manage "I expect your things out of my apartment before the end of the week. Oh, and leave your key."
Angry tears were once again threatening to run down my face, so I moved as quickly as I dared, without drawing attention to myself, back to the table we had occupied earlier.
I picked up my purple clutch from the table, checking to make sure I still had my phone, ID and my debit card, and made my way back out of the room. I was clear of the crowd pretty quickly, and a good thing it was too, as I could no longer keep myself together.
The humiliation and anger consumed me and I felt more tears on my face. My vision blurred and I stumbled through the large double glass doors, onto the cold city street.
I hadn't realised just how late it was. I doubted very much that I would be able to get a cab to take me home.
Ugh. This couldn't get much worse, could it?
I almost expected to hear the rumble of thunder and get drenched in a sudden unexpected downpour.
I once again wiped my face, sure that my make-up was smeared ridiculously down my cheeks, completing the picture of pathetic.
I looked towards the sky, seeing only the cloudless evening sky. Perhaps I should lay off the movies for a little while.
I pulled out my phone, simply because I had no idea what else to do. My mind was racing as I tried to come up with a way to get home, or at least one that didn't involve me walking the 15 blocks back to my place. Alone. And in the dark.
A warm hand on the small of my back had me squealing like a horror movie extra, and I spun around to the find the slightly amused face of Alexander Whitmore looking down at me.
"You scared the pee out of me!" I yelped. Clutching my non existent pearls and trying to settle my racing heart.
Hearing his soft chuckle, he inadvertently drew my anger and I scowled up at him, waiting for him to notice.
When he did, he looked at me with the same amused expression as before, adding a raised eyebrow.
"What exactly are you doing, anyway, sneaking up on me in the dark in the middle of the street?!" I scolded. I knew he didn't deserve it, but it felt good to let some of my anger out anyway.
"I wasn't sneaking," he enunciated the word with more obvious amusement. "I just thought that you might like a ride home." He looked around at the empty street and then down at his watch. "I doubt you'll get a cab at this hour," he said echoing my earlier thoughts.
"I... um... I'm" I sighed, feeling my anger drain away, leaving me feeling only sad and embarrassed.
I looked back up at his beautiful eyes which were studying me, and tried again. I gave him a tired smile, "I'm sorry. Its been a long night. Yes, you are right. I'm not sure that I will be able to get a taxi home, but I'm sure I can make a plan. I don't want you to go to any trouble. Good night, Mr Whitmore."
I turned and started waling away from him, in the direction of home.
I had barely walked half a block when a sleek black car pulled up beside me. The windows were all tinted so I couldn't see inside, not that the darkness of the night was any help. My overactive imagination once again kicked into overdrive and I quickened my pace slightly.
The car kept pace with me and the back window slowly opened with a soft mechanical whirr.
His velvet voice cut through the loud click-clack of my heels on the pavement. I nearly fainted on the spot from relief as I finally stopped and turned towards the less frightening vehicle.
"Now!" He barked, throwing the door open and sliding across to the other side of the bench seat.
I started, and without giving it much thought or allowing myself to over think, I stepped off of the sidewalk and slid into the open door, into the black leather interior of Alexander Whitmore's car.
"You are an incredibly stubborn woman, Ms Silverton," he said, as I closed the door. He sounded... angry?
I looked across at the stunning man next to me. His face was set in hard lines and his dark hair looked liked he had run his fingers through it a few times. His jaw seemed to be clenched and as I looked down at the rest of him, I could see that his fists were also clenched.
"I... I'm sorry, Mr Whitmore," I stammered, wondering how many times, in one evening, I could apologise to one man. "I really didn't mean to-"
He held up a hand to cut me off. He took a deep shaky breath and closed his eyes, using his other hand to rub his eyes with his thumb and forefinger.
"Call me Alex," he started. "Now tell me: what happened? Why has Sowden abandoned you, and not ensured you got home safely?"
I gaped at him, open-mouthed. How did he know that Clive and I had arrived together? I mean I already figured that he knew we were there together, but...
He opened his eyes and looked at me, expectantly. His one eyebrow was raised again and I felt as if he was looking straight into my soul with those stunning green eyes of his.
I dropped my gaze down into my lap and at my interlocked fingers, all of the anger had long since evaporated, and I still just felt tired. Too tired to make some polite excuse or come up with a plausible alternative to the truth, so I just blurted it out.
"I caught him fucking his assistant. We weren't in a great place, but he invited me along to this thing, and then left me alone while he snuck off to have sex with another woman. I don't care that he cheated, I care that he made it so obvious, I mean they were practically out in the open, and it made me angry. And sad. And I feel humiliated and angry," I finished in a rush.
As I spoke all of the emotions flooded back into me and a sob escaped me.
I didn't look up. I didn't want to see the pity on his face. I don't want to be this girl. Crying to a stranger about private matters was absolutely not my style.
The leather of the seat next to me creaked and 2 strong arms shifted me into his side as he embraced me tightly, brushing soft knuckles gently down my spine, making shushing noises.
Without concious thought, I wrapped my arms around him and pressed my face into his chest. I felt the flood gates break and I was sobbing uncontrollably, in the arms a this handsome stranger.
What has my life become?!