The Publicist's Plight (Book I in The Harrison Inc. Series)

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Chapter 4

An extra thirty minutes was needed to look through the unmentioned information on Sebastian Harrison, my new “client.” Apparently I learned that he is allergic to peanuts and strawberries, stands six feet, two inches tall, and was part of the “Young Astronomers” club when he was nine at his prestigious and very expensive Los Angeles private school.

Darcy, my timid yet oh-so reliable assistant, is internet surfing for alleged guest related intelligence on the Opera tomorrow night. Somehow, I’m certain she’s actually watching cat videos like I’ve caught her doing before. Still, it’s Sunday, and if I can have any type of preoccupation in Darcy’s way to prevent her from asking me personal questions and referring me to her therapist, I’ll take it gratefully.

“Andrea Bocelli is the headliner!” She abruptly exclaims.

I take a spoonful of Banana Nut Oatmeal and place it in my mouth. “I know, Darcy.”

Hearing his name reminds me of my mother, who happens to be obsessed with the exalted Italian Opera singer. Every Sunday, while I studied at home and our Nanny took my younger sister, Samantha to ballet lessons, Mother would play his music loudly downstairs while she drank abstractedly. Tradition is so heavily enforced on my mother’s side of the family, music involved.

“Don’t continue to hinder me of the little happiness I have left.” She would say in her drunken disarray, when I asked if she could turn the music down. “Bocelli reminds me of home. The home that I can no longer have because of you. We...we could have been a happy famiglia, just us three. Just with your sorella. Like it was...supposed to be.”

Dragging herself out of the library I found her in, she pushed passed me with “Andrea Bocelli’s Greatest Hits” in her arm with her wine, and treaded up the sepia-carpeted winding staircase to her bedroom.

“La mia famiglia. La mia paese bello.” I heard her mumble sorrowfully before she slammed the door.

I will never forget her words, or her voice singing in Italian in her room for hours that day. But most of all, I will never forget the way my mother hugged, loved, kissed and adored Samantha when she arrived from ballet as if her Italian rant towards me never happened. It still haunts me. Especially her voice—her melodies in her native language were much more disconsolate and depressing. But despite my mother’s flagrant hatred towards me, I still tucked her in when she was completely comatose from excessive drinking and drew her pictures in grade school that she never hung on the refrigerator.

Which I found sitting in a trash bin in the basement when I came home from school one day.

“Ms. King? Ms. King?”

Darcy’s voice snaps me out of my thoughts. I lift my head up from my keyboard, ignoring the lump that has grown in my throat. She’s holding the desk phone in her hands with an aghast expression on her face.

“Hudson Bradford is on the phone-”

There’s yelling on the other line for a moment. Darcy listens, and with a roll of her eyes turns to face me.

“Sorry. Hudson Maximus Bradford...the third is on the phone, Miss.”

Crap. Just what I need. An apology call. It makes sense, really, why he has been calling constantly the last now twelve hours. I’m contemplating making Darcy put him on hold for a few hours, but I’m certain I won’t be able to receive any true closure or the ability to forget the year wasted on our artificial relationship. So instead, I decide to face him and lay it all on the table. Hopefully he can pass on information to Alejandra about the job she now does not have and the stuff she now needs to remove from my office.

All I do is nod at Darcy and place my hand over my own phone. Darcy, who is as skeptical as I, tells Hudson she will transfer him before she performs the action. I then take the phone off the receiver and commence letting him have it.

“Look, Hudson. I know why you are calling. In fact, I know why you have been calling the past twelve hours-Darcy please get off the other line I can hear you breathing!”

Darcy widens her big blue eyes at me after she slowly turns in her chair to my direction. Hiding the phone behind her arm, she continues to look at me as if she has no idea what I’m talking about.


She finally sighs, “Sorry.”

When she places her phone on the receiver, I resume my declaration with the purposeful intention of acting as averring as possible.

“As I was saying, I know why you have been calling the past twelve hours. And to be respectfully honest I am just not ready to accept your apology, even though I rightfully deserve one.”

“Leslie,” he says. His voice makes my blood boil in my veins.

“No, I am not finished,” I clear my throat and sit up straighter in my chair. “Now, I am very experienced with human behavior and the tendencies many of us have, so it isn’t unusual to expect this act of minor redemption from a man who wrongfully did their now former significant other. So, with that being said, I will accept your intention to apologize, but I will not accept your apology.”

It is silent for a while, which gives me the impression that I have actually broken him.

Until he speaks. “I’m not calling to apologize, Leslie.”


“No, I’m...I’m calling to ask you, out of the kindness and professionalism of your heart, if you could give Ms. Flores a letter of recommendation. Given she has been terminated from her job at your facility.”

I’m holding the phone so hard I fear it may break into millions of lead-contaminated plastic pieces.

I take a few seconds to breathe, in through the nose and out through the mouth. My breathing technique reminds me of Yoga Sunday.

Just get through this phone call. You can get through this phone call and go to Yoga Sunday. Keep it professional. I mentally motivate myself.

“You want me to give Alejandra Flores a recommendation?” I confirm slowly.


“For what job, if I may ask?”

“Well, my boss is in need of a new assistant and-”

I suddenly find myself giggling, in which the giggling turns into a fit of laughter. Complete, dry, wheezing laughter. Of course I look insane and maniacal, but I can’t help myself. My cheating ex-boyfriend wants me to give a recommendation for my backstabbing assistant, in which I found them together the night before. Not a month, not even a week, but one night before. It’s so absurd I find it comical.

“Are you done?” Hudson asks after my thirty-second-straight laughing spree. I wipe the tears away from my eyes, then wipe the mascara off on my skirt.

“I believe so.” I sniffle. “Okay, if you want to play it this way. Fine. First, tell me how long you and Alejandra were sleeping together.”

I hear him scoff angrily. Now I can imagine his nose, long and rotund at the tip, crinkled up in irritation while his bristle-like eyebrows furrow greatly.

“I don’t feel like that’s important.”

“You want to have a professional conversation? Answer the question like a professional man. Or I could email Mrs. Pattrifer a hearty letter of condemnation stating all of the instances in which Alejandra or Ms. Flores proved unreliable-”

“-six months.”

My palms, now damp with perspiration, run across my skirt nervously as I process the two words Hudson has replied to me with.

“...Six months?”

“Yes, six months.”

Darcy is now staring at me with sympathetic eyes. Great. Last thing I need is a pity party from the one person that is supposed to regard me as someone of authority and clandestine social behavior.

Still, I recompose myself in order to respond, “In that case, Alejandra herself can come back to me in six months for the recommendation and I’ll consider agreeing upon it. Until then, you both are on your own. Tell her, since she seems to be suffering from an extreme case of cowardice at the moment, that I want her things out of my office by 4:30 in the afternoon tomorrow or else I’ll ask maintenance to deliver it all to Good Will. Give it to people who would much enjoy it. That clock right there on her desk looks rather expensive, doesn’t it, Darcy?”

Darcy gives me a nod, trying not to laugh.

“Talking about professional behavior,” Hudson laughs, “you’re being immature!”

“Oh, I’m being immature? I’m being immature? Well in that case, in that case you must be a baby compared to my immature behavior!”

“See? This is why we never worked!”

“And that is why you decided to fuck my assistant for six months!?” I shout, oblivious to the people outside in the waiting area.

“If two people who love each other are having problems they try to work it out,” I continue. “That’s what they do!”

“But the difference is, I never loved you!” He yells.

It feels like my face is being pricked with a thousand tiny needles. Now, considering that I am standing and pacing my office while on the phone with Hudson, I pause and stare at the floor without any words coming out of my mouth. Darcy, who was been openly following my conversation since the beginning, is playing with her nails with a sad look in her eyes.

“I’m assuming you heard that,” I say to her quietly. All she does is nod.

I sigh tiredly. Hudson does the same.

“I’m...sorry, Leslie it wasn’t suppose to come out like that.”

“Don’t lie anymore, Hudson. You know I’m too smart for that.”

“It was never worked the way-”

“I don’t want to hear any further,” I snapped.

“Here we go, you being unable to hold a conversation when it isn’t in your favor.”

“Yes, that’s exactly what I’m doing because you know what? I don’t care if you never loved me. I don’t even need your respect or your presence because you’re now irrelevant.”

Before Hudson can retaliate, I beat him right to it.

“And by the way, the sex was horrible every single time, Hudson; I never came! So instead of sending you and Alejandra something off of your registry before your little-little prissy, prissy fairytale shotgun wedding, I’ll send you a life supply of Viagra instead. Viva Viagra, bitch!”

“My name isn’t ‘bitch’! It’s Hudson Maximus Bradford the thi-”

I slam the phone on the receiver before he can finish and clench my fists tightly at my sides. I’m enraged, and aware that I have completely snapped. But it takes me ten seconds, and Darcy’s hesitant pointing finger to realize that the entire floor is staring at me with awestruck eyes through my office window. Ava, the most deadpan person on the Executive Floor, lets her mouth hang open and also lets the phones ring repeatedly without even picking them up. All everyone is doing is staring, and I stare back, except my expression is one of embarrassment.

I rub my eyes, “Darcy, I’m...sorry you had to hear that, that was...very unprofessional-”

“-you’re my hero,” she sighs.

I try to smile, but it only comes out fake enough for Darcy to notice.

“I...need to go,” I eventually say. Darcy follows me with her eyes as I walk over to my desk and gather my things. One more scoop of oatmeal into my mouth, then I’m out of my office door. Sebastian Harrison’s files in one hand, purse in the other, I ignore the gazes from everyone on the Executive Floor who heard my argument with my ex-boyfriend and make it to the elevator.

“Two million dollars. There’s two million dollars in your purse right now, Ms. King. You’re alright. You’re going to be okay.” I assure myself quietly before the elevator doors close in front of me.

I stare at myself in the mirror of my bathroom and wonder if anything is missing. Today is the day I meet Sebastian Harrison, in person, as opposed to seeing him on TV, and I want to make a good impression. I asked Beth and Paul about their input on Sebastian Harrison, and based on Beth and Paul’s information during yesterday’s late Yoga session, he is known for being a big charmer, manipulator which isn’t surprising, and finally, rather intimidating. Not in the sense of Mr. Reynolds from the Board or Garrett Harrison himself or even Christian Grey, God forbid. No, I strongly presume Sebastian is the type of intimidating a fresh new babysitter would encounter from a reckless thirteen year-old boy who sets ant farms on fire for fun and curses at his mom without punishment.

That type of intimidating.

Pedro is at my feet in my white tiled bathroom, staring up at me while shivering despite the irritating incandescence in my apartment, courtesy of late May in Los Angeles. It’s only 8:54 in the morning, and I’m already fanning myself when only yesterday clouds and humidity dominated the sky and air. I contemplate not wearing my blazer, but I’m sure it will be cooler in the building. And, I look more intimidating with a blazer on; it’s bad enough I’m not on the tall side.

With my chocolate brown curls in it’s trademark bun, slicked back to perfection, and my makeup on my face in it’s trademark natural style, I pick up my makeup bag from it’s spot on the side of the sink before exiting the now dark bathroom and closing the door.

Pedro closely follows me out of the bathroom and into the living room, but when I attempt to pick him up, he scurries away and jumps on the far end of the couch.

“How will I ever get through to you?” I whine.

It’s dark in my living room since my black-out curtains are pulled together, and it makes me grateful; it reduces the amount of heat that enters my living room. Sunrise enters right through my living room window, therefore makes the entire room hot.

On my coffee table lies the remote to the television and a few magazines I’ve already read through. Given I have a good ten minutes before I have to leave for work, I turn on the television and walk into my kitchen to make a bowl of cereal, something I haven’t done in a very long time.

Oddly enough, I feel anxious as I pull down the box of “Honey Bunches of Oats” from the top of my fridge. It shouldn’t be a hard day. Yes, Sebastian’s behavior will be a handful, but if Garrett is willing to pay me a large sum, a very large sum to do this for him, he believes I can. Maybe it’s the Hudson drama still on my mind that’s preventing me from keeping my head. Beth and Paul were informed of the argument during Yoga yesterday, in which they both praised me loud enough for the Yoga instructor to tell us to silence ourselves. Beth thinks I’m handling it very well, but in truth I don’t know what I’m doing right at the moment. However, with the restaurant re-opening, the Opera, and Sebastian Harrison’s two million dollar operation in my hands for the day, I know I have more important things to worry about than Hudson and Alejandra. Hopefully Darcy is there when Alejandra comes to retrieve her workspace, because I know Darcy has had a suspicious feeling about Alejandra since I hired her, and will savor the feeling of being right while watching Alejandra pack her desk items in a cardboard box.

I open my utensil drawer and pick a spoon out of one of the separators, placing it into my bowl of milk and cereal before closing the drawer with my hip. Pedro is chasing his tail on the couch when I walk out of my kitchen. He sees me, stares at me for a few moments while twitching one of his chestnut colored ears, then continues to run in circles again. I can’t help but chuckle.

“Say Yes to the Dress” is on, making me curse aloud. That TV show will take me from one episode to four or five easily. Still, I eat my oats and sigh at the beautiful fabrics and tapestry.

“I think that’s a little too...unfaltering for your body shape.”One lady sitting on the white suede couch says, eying the young woman standing on top of a small stage with mirrors and lambent lights in front of her. The camera pans down the mermaid styled dress, which I find to be rather beautiful for her hour glass shape. Still, she heeds the woman’s opinion and removes the dress.

“Really?” I roll my eyes as I sit on the arm of the couch. Without warning, Pedro jumps off the couch and onto the table, running across the remote and magazines and scattering them everywhere.

“Pedro!” I yell as he sprints happily around the living room, tongue flapping left and right. I groan before setting my bowl on the table and kneeling down to pick up the magazines. “People,” “Us Weekly,” and “Entertainment Weekly” magazines from the entire year are stacked on top of each other carefully.

The sound of the bride-to-be’s voice on the television is suddenly replaced with the sound of a familiar talk show host.

“How you doin’?” I hear her say. The crowd responds with the same saying only with more enthusiasm and excitement in their tones.

Great. Wendy Williams is on, thanks to Pedro and his adrenaline. The loud, expressive and opinionated New Jerseyite accent is impossible to miss from a mile away. Wendy sports a modest outfit of a white button up blouse and black pencil skirt. Similar to the outfit I am wearing, except hers actually conforms to the curves of her body, leaving nothing to the imagination.

For what seems like ages, the crowd cheers and claps to Wendy’s presence in front of them. Finally, she introduces “Hot Topics” and again the crowd cheers as she walks avidly to her chair on the set, with a small glass table on the left side of it that has her trademark tea up on top. Due to her colossal breasts which I find disproportionate to her slender legs and waist, getting up on the chair proves to be a slight challenge. But, once sitting, legs crossed, smiling to her audience, I’m convinced not to turn the channel back to TLC. Instead, I wait and see what’s in store for Hot Topics.

She cocks an eyebrow playfully while sipping the tea out of her Superwoman cup. The audience laughs, and from there she states the first topic.

“I think you all know who I’m excited to talk about first this morning.” She says.

The crowd mumbles anxiously while I eat my cereal on the other side of the TV.

“Sebastian Harrison.” Is all she says before the crowd erupts into slight screams, whistles and jeers.

I, on the other hand, let my cereal fall out of my mouth.

The text on the screen behind her, which reads “Heir Drama” transitions to a photo of him with none other than Felicity Felix. They are both spotted leaving a hotel with the help of two security guards at their sides. A flock of paparazzi and flashing lights surround them as Felicity holds her head down and places a hand on her sunglasses, despite it being the evening during the situation. Sebastian looks irritated and sleep deprived. That, or he is just high on a drug of some sort.

Once the crowd quiets, Wendy speaks lowly and excitedly. And I listen carefully.

“So, you remember when...I think it was last month Sebastian Harrison denied being in a relationship with Felicity Felix, and it started all this drama because she claimed that they were in a relationship? Well, about a couple of days ago Felicity’s reps revoked their statement about them being in a relationship and renewed it as entirely false. But this.”

She points to the screen behind her while looking at the camera. The crowd coos at the photo.

“It’s already sparked major speculation and opinion...I think this is just a booty call.” The crowd laughs again. “Which doesn’t surprise me because Sebastian is known to be one know doesn’t like commitment and all of that.”

She begins counting off with her long manicured fingers. “He’s the type of guy, who likes to party, and drink, and sleep with a lot of women, and go on vacations every week.”

The camera focuses on the audience, who is verbally agreeing with her.

“Right, right? I mean, he’s a Playboy and that’s what Playboy’s do, and many of us don’t realize this we think that it’s taboo to be with a woman if you’re not in a relationship with her well honey it is the twenty first century and this isn’t something new.”

The audience claps and cheers while she takes another long sip of her tea.

“He’s young, he’s a charmer, he’s very handsome and he’s rich! He’s worth, I think around sixty million dollars and both sides of his families are worth billions! Billions! And...when you’re exposed to something like that your entire life, never wanting for anything and being that type of boy who needs to be prim, and proper and snobbish because you come from money it isn’t unusual to see them branch out and sort of revolt,” Wendy laughs, “so as far as this Felicity thing goes...Felicity you’re a beautiful woman, a rich woman, I’m...sure you’re smart, too.”

Everyone laughs.

“But I feel like you have this false notion that Sebastian is a man that can be tamed and honey, he isn’t I’m sorry. As long as he has money and two families like the Harrison’s and the Vaun’s part of his blood, two out of many of the world’s most persnickety, traditional families he’s never going to be put down so Felicity, if you want just a quick booty-call, and no commitment then stay with him, otherwise, find yourself another man, sweetie ’cause it isn’t going to work out the way you want it to.”

The moment she concludes her rant, the whole crowd claps until she is ready to move on to the next topic. I don’t want to hear more, I don’t even need to hear more. Instead, I turn off the TV and rush to place my bowl of half finished cereal in the sink before grabbing my purse, bidding Pedro farewell, and leaving my apartment. With Wendy’s “Hot Topic” segment on my mind, I’m now determined to change her mind, as well as everyone elses mind, about Sebastian.

“Yes...yes, I understand that but I am unable to schedule anything on the dates you’re requesting because Mr. Harrison’s schedule is very tight.”

The woman on the phone with me, who happens to be a journalist for the Los Angeles Times, continues to try her case to prove her worth in getting an interview with Garrett, and I groan mentally. It’s already horrible enough that on this particular morning, traffic in L.A. is stop and go, but the fact that this woman cannot take no for an answer is making the morning more worse than it should be.

“I understand that as well, Ms. King but I’ve tried to schedule something with Mr. Harrison for the last six months and your assistant keeps transferring me to you, in which you tell me the same thing. I’m willing to take any opening you have at the moment because an interview with Garrett Harrison would would be greatly appreciated.”

Her voice echoes throughout my car as I make a left on fifth street, where a few of Los Angeles’ Sky Scrapers surround the street. I’m only about a minute away from Harrison Inc., but a few cyclists and many other tourists crossing the street bring me to a stop.

“Look, Ms. Witherspoon, in order to find an opening I will have to talk to our secretary, and if she finds an opening that can correspond with any openings I have then I will make sure to schedule an interview. Until then, please stand by for a...for a...”

My words are caught in my mouth as I approach Harrison Inc. There are paparazzi outside of the entrance, frantically adjusting their cameras and arguing with the security guards standing in front of the entrance. I count about twenty paparazzi on the sidewalk, along with groups of bystanders curious about what is going on.

“Oh no, it can’t be...” I mumble to myself. My car clock reads 9:36 in the morning, way earlier than the said time he is supposed to arrive.

I go over logical reasons in my mind. First logical reason is that word got out he would be coming to Harrison Inc. and the paparazzi are just waiting for him...three hours before his arrival. But the second logical reason is that he is already here for some unknown reason, waiting with Garrett in his office.

“Breathe, breathe, breathe.” I tell myself.

“Ms. King?” The journalist who is still on the other line says.

“Ms. Witherspoon, I’m sorry, but I’m going to have you back.”

I hang up the call immediately and accelerate down the street to the parking garage. I need to get into Harrison Inc. to find out what is going on, because frankly I was completely left out of anything and everything.

The minute I meet eyes with the parking garage vendor, there is yelling coming from the sidewalk. The paparazzi are practically climbing over each other to take photos of whomever is on the other side of the entrance. As security guards are pushing people back, I can here them scream his infamous name.

Shit. Sebastian Harrison is early.

“No, I don’t care who they are put them on hold and don’t answer anything, Darcy! Do you understand?”

I’m running through Harrison Inc. With my purse in my hand and heels on my feet, I’m actually running through the lobby of Harrison Inc. like a crazy woman. Sebastian, when I make it to the lobby, is no where in sight, but security is definitely heightened inside the building, as more security guards linger on the premises.

I rush through the crowd of business suits and pencil skirts until I reach the elevator, which happens to be completely full. Still, I manage to push myself through and nestle myself between a tall woman, with long red hair and black slacks, and a man who is too invested in the phone in his hand.

“Alright.” Darcy replies. I can hear the apprehensiveness in her voice. “Did you know about this? About him coming here?”

“Of course I did, I just wasn’t able to disclose that with you. What I didn’t know was that he would be coming three hours early!”

People are eavesdropping, watching me from all corners of the elevator. I give each of them the dirtiest look I can muster up, which probably comes out laughable. The woman next to me looks down at me, and we end up having an awkward starring contest for a long moment before the elevator doors open and she, along with a few others, leave.

“I hate being short.” I say under my breath.

“Ms. King?”

“I’m sorry, Darcy. Just...don’t do anything, I’m coming right now. How is Paul?”

“Paul actually left a minute ago. He ran to the elevator with another woman and left Ava at the desk.”

Typical Paul. Whenever there is a celebrity involved in any situation, especially an attractive male one, he is the first to investigate.

“Not surprising. Mr. Harrison?”

“He is at a meeting that should be finished soon. Actually, I did see Ava escort a man with a briefcase to Mr. Harrison’s office about five minutes ago.”

“Probably the lawyer; Garrett must have called him in when he heard about you-know-who being here earlier than expected.”

I look up and realize I’m one floor away from the Executive Floor. My heart beats relentlessly against my chest.

“Darcy, I’m almost there. Remember, nothing gets disclosed yet.”

“Sure thing.”

When we hang up, I tap my foot impatiently until I reach my floor, and run out before the few people inside the elevator can even realize that the doors have opened.

Ava is at the front desk, trying to console the few in front of her asking her questions that she can’t answer yet.

“I’m sorry, but if you will have a seat in the waiting area I can sort everything out for you, sir. Right now I can’t give you any definite answers.” She says, trying to suppress her irritation.

As they continue to pester her, I run into my office and throw my purse on my chair. Darcy is on the phone, and holds it against her chest when she sees me.

“Entertainment Weekly.”

“Hold!” I whisper fiercely.

She nods once before resuming the call and putting them on hold. While she’s speaking, she hands me my coffee from her desk, still piping hot. Before I can even take a sip, my cell phone is rings.

Mr. Reynolds. The ass hole head of the Board of Directors.

“Shit. Just what I need right now.” I groan when I look at the caller I.D.

I set my coffee on my desk before answering.

“Mr. Reynolds. What a pleasant surprise.”

“I would say ‘likewise’ but who are we fooling here, Ms. King?” He laughs. “I think you know why I’m calling. All of this...attention towards Harrison Incorporated at the moment is quite distracting. I would hope, with you being Garrett’s publicist, you would have this under control. Since that is your job.”

“I’m trying,” I say through gritted teeth, “but with Sebastian not having a publicist at the moment, everyone is looking towards me for answers. But I’m trying to get this under control. And, with you being a pretentious douche bag it’s a little hard at the moment.”

Mr. Reynolds laughs again. “Oh, flirting on the job, aren’t we? I’m a professional man, Ms. King you mustn’t flatter me at the work place.”

“The closest thing to me flirting with you will be this phone conversation we’re having.”

“Just your method you use to try and hide your obvious undying love for me, yes?”

“If by undying love you mean boiling hatred smothered in Ostrich shit then yes, you’ve deciphered my language, Mr. Reynolds.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I see Paul and Lucinda running out of one of the elevators. Paul, who is actually sprinting, trips and falls flat on his face before he makes it to the secretary’s desk. The entire floor stares at him with confusion and alarm written on their faces. He apologizes, straightens out his vest, then nervously sits at his desk next to an angry Ava and taps his fingers against it, then combs his facial hair, and vice versa. Lucinda on the other hand is giving the security guards by the hallway to Garrett’s office a sympathetic look as she starts to slow herself to a jog towards his office, her blonde bob swaying from the movement.

“How charming.” Mr. Reynolds replies unamused. “Not uncommon for a woman to be in denial about her attraction to a powerful and wealthy man. But, I digress. Get the problem fixed, the right way...please.”

“I told you, I’m trying.”

Darcy waves and mouths that Ava needs me. I roll my eyes before walking out of my office.

“Obviously you’re not trying hard enough Ms. King, because I’m looking out my luxurious personal office window...and I still see the paparazzi pests lingering outside. And I take it you know why they’re here. And you also know why...Sebastian is here as well.” Mr. Reynolds says his name with disgust evident in his tone.

I make it to the secretary’s desk, and find Ava in the middle of a phone call. Paul, who is in the middle of a phone call as well, still looks apprehensive.

“I don’t know why Sebastian is here. Which is why I don’t know how to properly respond to the situation.” I lie, knowing Garrett doesn’t want anyone, especially the Board, to know about our operation.

“I know you aren’t telling the truth. Expected, considering you and Mr. Harrison have a relationship of secrecy which leads to your unorthodox publicity methods.”

Darcy is behind me, tapping my shoulder. I hold up a finger while keeping my eyes to the ceiling, wishing I’m anywhere but here.

“My unorthodox publicity methods?” I start. “I promote my client just like any legitimate publicist does. Mr. Harrison has a lot of events and interviews scheduled that will bring significant publicity to himself and Harrison Inc., more than we already need. Am I sensing a little jealousy, Mr. Reynolds? That CEO position will never be yours, which kills you inside, doesn’t it?”

Even without being in his luxurious office, I can already see him frowning and blushing intensely.

“You just love to bask in the thought of other people’s misfortune? No need, because that isn’t the case, what you’re implying. However, what is of importance is fixing the issue outside. It is a safety hazard and I want it dealt with. I also want to know the actual reason for Sebastian Harrison’s visit.”

“Look, Mr. Reynolds,” I bark, ignoring Paul and Ava’s wide eyes, “I don’t know why Sebastian is here, okay? I am not his babysitter. So instead of asking me why he’s here, why don’t you swallow your arrogant pride and ask Sebastian yourself?”

Before Mr. Reynolds can reply, there’s a slight tap on my left shoulder from Darcy again. With the pressure of the paparazzi and Mr. Reynolds closing in on me, I for once, snap at her.

Except it isn’t Darcy who is behind me.

Being in my stressed out state, I don’t take the time to perceive my surroundings. Because if I did, I would have noticed the shadow behind me, which is actually much more engulfing than if it was Darcy’s shadow, and the shocked and frozen faces of just about everyone around me.

Still, I decide to open my big mouth.

I turn around and sneer at the figure. “What is it, Darcy!?” I yell loudly.

The moment I realize I’m looking at a man’s chest rather than a woman’s eyes, my face becomes completely inane and void. His pale emerald eyes, however, are enlarged yet full of slight enjoyment as he stares at me and holds his hands up in playful defense after my outburst.

He then gently takes my iPhone from my hand. In those few seconds, my eyes pan the floor and notice Paul’s jaw has completely dropped, along with Ava’s. She, along with Paul, are ignoring the phones ringing as they stare ahead in their petrified state.

“Mr. Reynolds, this is Sebastian Harrison.” Sebastian says. “How are you? You know what in all honesty I don’t really care how you are because I actually know who you are. I also know how much you...and the rest of the Board...and my father...loathe me. So I’m kind of surprised you care about my reason for being here, which leads me to wonder, just as this fine woman in front of me stated, why you don’t just ask me yourself? Because if you’re too afraid to approach me, now’s your chance to ask without feeling too intimidated.”

I can hear Mr. Reynolds stuttering on the other line in a desperate attempt to try and not sound like more of an idiot than he already sounds. Sebastian rolls his eyes and smirks down at me while shaking his head. I’m still trying to understand what is going on and how to properly and professionally react.

“Ah, yes I understand. But the last time I checked...your family isn’t the founding family of a global corporation that is worth billions of dollars.” Sebastian’s voice is now so condescending it hurts even me. “So, whether or not you’re part of the Board I believe you don’t have a say-so in when I can or cannot visit my father’s company. It isn’t my fault the paparazzi love me, Mr. Reynolds, and I don’t expect you to know what that feels like, either.”

I place my hand over my now gaping mouth.

“So, Mr. Reynolds, I hope that answers your question. Hope to see you around today.”

And with that, he hangs up.

I eye him up and down after removing my hand from my mouth. His attire of a thin cotton button up shirt, jeans, and Vans sneakers makes him stand out from everyone else wearing business-friendly clothing. But even if he wore a suit, wandering eyes would follow his every move no matter where he went. Still, I expected him to wear at least a suit jacket, despite the hot weather; his shirt slipping off of his shoulder, slightly exposing his collar bone along with his slovenly light brown locks and under-eye darkness give me the impression that the night prior involved an abundance of debauchery and partying.

“By the sound of it before I intervened you seemed to have had it under control.” He says, playing with my cell phone with one of his masculine, long fingered hands. “That CEO position will never be yours, which kills you inside, doesn’t it? Who knew someone so small could be so feisty?”

He rubs the back of his neck slowly and waits for me to answer. In actuality, him, and everyone else on the Executive Floor is waiting for me to answer.

“I’m not small; my height is considered average for my age.” I reply sternly, taking my phone out of his grasp.

In that moment, with him staring at me as if he was trying to figure out his next move, I remember the three main attributes of Sebastian Harrison that Beth and Paul told me yesterday: Charm, Intimidation, and Manipulation. I just have to figure out which one he will use next, and beat him to it. Because by the looks of it, he is trying to flirt. He is flirting; it’s Sebastian Harrison we’re talking about. And flirting is not my forte, given I don’t experience it often. And when I try to, it’s taken in the wrong context by the person being flirted to.

Sebastian chuckles softly. “You’re so defensive. There’s nothing wrong with short girls. I actually love short girls. They’re more...enjoyable.

Charm. His first tactic.

“Depends on your definition of enjoyment,” I say, unlocking my phone to check my emails. “And besides, you can’t generalize that every short girl is enjoyable. That must mean you’ve tried them all. Which...wouldn’t be surprising. No offense, sir.”

Paul and Ava gasp while people in the waiting area try to stifle their laughter. I keep my expression unreadable at the raise of Sebastian’s eyebrows, even though I want to smile with gratitude.

“I...none taken. Really.” He smiles. “I can’t be offended by something that’s true. Although you’re evidence that I indeed haven’t tried them all. That can change, however. Tonight. Or...right now, if you aren’t a screamer. You look like a screamer, though. Which I’m completely fine with.”

My breathing stops at his words, and I immediately know that I am blushing by the feeling of heat rushing to my face. Yet, my face isn’t the only place heat rushes to through my body. Fuck, I seriously cannot be getting turned on by this guy, can I? I’m positive he tries this on everyone with a successful outcome, yet here I am, hot and bothered by the gimmick he uses everyday! I try to say something, but nothing comes out of my mouth. Instead, I stare at him, and he stares at me with a smirk on his face. But then I realize exactly what he’s doing.

Intimidation. His second tactic.

This is a perfect training exercise for me. To see how he acts, and, by my current arousal, how people respond to him. If I’m going to be spending what I assume months with him, it’s best to know his behavior head on rather than looking through files.

Eventually, I straighten my posture and respond, ignoring the discomfort between my legs. “Unfortunately I’m far too busy to engage in the ‘activity’ you’re implying. But I’m positive there are many other women in this building that won’t even need sweet talk to convince.”

“Seriously?” Sebastian crosses his arms over his chest. “After I backed you up from the wrath of Mr. Reynolds? Doesn’t that deserve some type of consolation? I mean you did yell at me for no reason.”

Manipulation. His third and last tactic.

“So, are you saying that a woman should sleep with you when you perform a good deed? Are you incapable of doing something nice out of the goodness of your heart?”

“That’s...that’s not what I-”

“-Then if that’s the case, the elderly woman you helped cross the street, are you going to ask her out for drinks later on tonight because you assisted her on the crosswalk?”

“No! No, that’s-”

“Or,” I continue, ignoring the anger forming on his face, “the mother of four struggling with groceries? Or maybe-”

“That’s not what I meant!” He growls. I then realize we are now mere inches apart from each other. So close, I have to crane my neck to meet his eyes. So close, I can even feel his body heat on my skin, which begins to tamper with my well constructed thoughts. Our close proximity gives me the ability to notice how well his long eyelashes compliment his green eyes, as well as the faint freckles on the bridge of his nose that are almost impossible to see during a regular conversation.

“Then...then what did you mean, sir?” I ask. “Or...did you just run out of seduction ideas?”

Furious, he takes a step back and runs a forceful hand through his hair while he frowns like an unhappy child.

“I...this is...this isn’t supposed to happ-”

The elevator doors opening bring all of our attention to Garrett, who instantaneously glowers at the sight of Sebastian in his lobby.

“My office. Now.” He orders him. I clench my fingers nervously, knowing what is to come.

Sebastian gives me one last dirty look before following his father to his office. When Sebastian isn’t looking, Garrett holds a palm up in my direction and mouths “hold on” before pressing on through the hallway. Before I decide to exhale my tension away, Sebastian turns around half way through the hallway and looks at me again, with confusion all over his face. Then, Garrett leads him into his office, where the closing of the door rids any of us from knowing what is to come next.

Right when the door closes, I expel a large breath of air and unclench my fingers. I scan the area once and see people conversing with each other about what had happened, their eyes on me their entire conversation.

The sound of Paul exhaling loudly and exaggeratedly makes me jump.

“Jesus Christ, Leslie.” He gasps, using a file on the desk to fan himself.

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