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

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Chapter 61

I’ve never been at such odds with my wardrobe.

My clothes gaze back at me, taunting me with the fact that no matter what outfit I pick, one will always be better than the other, and because of this, I will be prompted to start all over again and choose a new selection.

It’s currently a warm Monday afternoon, and I have two hours to get ready and make it over to Sebastian’s house for dinner. Beverly Hills isn’t too far of a drive from where I live, but I’m certain that indecisiveness will be the reason for my tardiness, not traffic.

Pedro trots into my room with his chew toy between his teeth, only to jump on my bed to devour it.

“Pedro!” I yell at him. “Down!”

He complies, but I know in ten minutes he’ll try to jump up on my mattress again. Ever since Sebastian was here, Pedro has been under the impression that he’s suddenly allowed on top of my bed. I guess Sebastian’s influence still lingers around for both of us.

I decide to wear a pair of black jeans that I’ve only worn once; they’re hidden deep in my closet and haven’t been touched in years. When I tried them on the first time, they hugged my ass and thighs in a way that made me too self-conscious to even walk outside for a test run. But, I hope that I’ve shed a few pounds in the meantime for them to fit a little more modestly; I never wear anything even fitting to my body.

After trying on the jeans and pairing it with a cream-colored blouse, I look in the mirror and am close to trying something else.

Woof!” Pedro barks.

“I know my cleavage is popping out of this shirt!” I yell at him before gripping my annoyingly large boobs. “I didn’t ask for these, dammit!”

Not only is my chest saying hello to the world, but my jeans fit tighter than expected. I’ll admit, I look pretty damn good; I can work my fuller figure to my advantage on very rare occasions. But do I have the guts to wear this tonight?

I guess we’ll see.

After doing my hair (which wasn’t much of a difference—my trademark bun) and makeup, I slip on some flats and leave my apartment to drive over to Sebastian’s house. The traffic is surprisingly not as bad as I expected, therefor, the drive to Sebastian’s place is done with ease.

My Bluetooth alerts me that a call is coming in from Darcy. I answer it.

“This is Leslie King.”

“Hello, Leslie. How’s your Monday evening?”

I make a left up San Ysidro drive; the street that Sebastian’s house is on. The houses become considerably bigger and livelier the longer I drive. I can’t help but stare; the last time I was down here, Sebastian refused to let me inside, so I didn’t have much time to enjoy the mansions lining the street since I was so fed up with his existence back then.

“It’s going great,” I reply to Darcy while watching the clock; 5:24PM. “Is everything in my office packed up?”

“Yes. Ava says that you can come pick it up tomorrow.”

“Okay. I’ll probably have Skippy help me move them into storage or something. Can you call the storage—”

“Already on it.”

I become irked when I remember that the office space will most likely belong to Alejandra now.

Darcy and I talk briefly about how Sebastian is supposed to contact a few firms that may want to interview me. I tell Darcy that until then, we’ll be working from home. She didn’t mind much, but I feel anxious not having an office space to work in.

“Oh, and I almost forgot. There’s a reason I called you. Did you see online about Sebastian meeting his father at the Hillcrest Country Club yesterday?”

At this point, I’m in front of Sebastian’s gated property. The security inside their control room see me and laugh, remembering that I was the woman that was refused access to the home a month ago. I smile cheekily; a smile they return back sarcastically before letting me in.

I slowly drive up the small hill that leads to the driveway in front of Sebastian’s house. I park behind his car, hoping he won’t mind.

“Wait, what do you mean?” I ask Darcy when I turn off my car. “Why was he at the Hillcrest?”

“I’m unsure. I thought that you would know.”

Her reply wasn’t meant to sound condescending, but it makes me feel that way—why was Sebastian meeting with his father? There’s no way Sebastian would enjoy the luxuries of a country club, nor would he go as a family social visit to Garrett. God, I hate when this happens; my curiosity is beyond peaked.

“I’m unsure. I’ll ask Sebastian when I can, but for now I’m a little…busy.”

Coincidentally, I adjust my blouse in an attempt to hopefully make me look like less of a tramp.

“Oh, I’m sorry! I didn’t know. I’ll call you tomorrow, then.”

“Yes, that’s perfect. Have a good night, Darcy.”

“You too, Leslie.”

I hang up, and oddly, turn my phone completely off. Tonight, I aim to detach myself from my job and enjoy Sebastian’s company. He’s invited me over for dinner—an invitation I’m sure he doesn’t give out often—so I am determined to enjoy the night.

And besides, I’m curious to see what he’s decided we’ll have as our meal.

I step out of my car and onto the stone driveway. For the first time, I’m able to gather a good look at Sebastian’s property, and to say that I’m completely blown away is an understatement.

His house—or mansion, rather—is inspired heavily by Spanish architecture, with curved archways in front, painted tiled steps leading up to the front door, terracotta roof tops and gorgeous woodwork on the windows and doors. The home is around three stories, closely built together to resemble the architecture of a Madrid Villa. The palm trees surrounding his driveway sway in the breeze, making me feel like I took a flight out to Spain instead of a drive up to Beverly Hills.

“Wow,” is the only thing I can manage to say as I near the front door. Clutching my purse close to my side, I walk up the steps and through the arches until I’m standing by the main door. The window on the door is a bit frosted, but inside I can faintly see a large and very spacious central passage, illuminated by dim lighting and home to a tall winding staircase with a beautifully carved metal railing.

I ring the doorbell and shift nervously in my shoes. I hear an older woman’s voice inside, speaking broken English.

“I get door, Mister Sebastian?!” she shouts askingly.

“No, Viv,” I hear Sebastian answer; my heart beat quickens. “I’ve got it.”

“No, I get door.”

And before Sebastian can protest, the door opens, and my eyes level down to a short, puffy woman, staring at me with small beady eyes.

And like she remembers something, she suddenly smiles.

“Ah, come in, come in!” she turns to the side and shouts: “Mister Sebastian! Lady friend!”

“Yeah, I know, Viv.”

When Viv steps aside, Sebastian turns the corner and wears a simper at the sight of me in his house, but then the amusement on his face is replaced with an unreadable, blank expression.

“Wow,” Sebastian says quietly. “You look…you look…”

“Spit it out,” Viv snaps tersely.

I burst out laughing, and Sebastian does, too, but more embarrassedly.

“You look amazing,” he finally says.

I smile, holding my head down at my shoes. “Thank you.”

Sebastian introduces Viv and I. Viv happens to be his housekeeper, who—by his words—is very unfiltered.

“It’s nice to meet you, Viv.” I say. She just nods.

“I get bedroom fancy for you before I go?” Viv asks Sebastian seriously; the look on her face indicates that this must be a routine for her.

When I say that I’ve never seen Sebastian’s face so red and his eyes so wide, I mean it. He looks like he’s about to explode. I think he expects me to be upset at her question, but all I do is continue to laugh even harder at Viv’s honesty.

“No, no, it’s not like that! She’s just over for dinner.”

Viv glares up at him like she’s heard this bullshit too many times before.

“Alright, then. I go home now. See you tomorrow at 8.”

“I know.” Sebastian laughs. “You tell me every time you le—”

Viv’s out the door before Sebastian can finish his sentence.

Sebastian, who’s looking beckoning in jeans and a dark gray button-up shirt, still seems embarrassed.

“I’m sorry about Viv. She can be…a little too honest.”

“No, don’t apologize,” I tell him. “She was hilarious.”

I take in the house a bit more now. The interior is incredible—intricately stitched furniture, wood ceiling beams and warm, rustic colors schemes throughout the living room and central passage. I slowly pace around on the ecru marbled flooring.

I chuckle. “Okay, I’m sold. Your house is unbelievable.”

Sebastian smiles modestly. “It’s a place to sleep.”

I follow him down a couple of steps that lead into the living room, and to the left, I see the kitchen. Like the rest of the house, there is a strong Spanish-esque feeling to it; upon walking into the kitchen, most of the area is designed with wood—wood cabinets, wood ceiling beams. The stove sits bellow its own arch, accompanied by stucco design plastered behind it. The island is where the sink is—the rest of the kitchen is mostly cabinets, counters, and a small table by the corner next to a window; the sun is still out, so the kitchen is very well lit by natural light.

“Is that steak I smell?” I ask him, practically salivating. “Or is that shrimp?”

Sebastian laughs, leaning his weight on the island; I notice a small grill wedged into the surface.

“I decided on Surf and Turf. Is that okay?”

I try not to nod too eagerly, but the way everything smells so far, I’m close to expressing my excitement. Everything is set up on the counter; Sebastian tells me that all that’s left to cook is the last of the steak.

“This looks and smells amazing.” I peak at the shrimp; is that lobster, too!? “You did this all by yourself?”

The nervous laugh and eye roll he gives me is actually quite hot, but I don’t express that reaction.

“Well, I had a little bit of help. Viv lent a hand with the lobster earlier today and I called my Oma with seasoning ideas. So you’ll taste a bit of Roma when you try it.”

“But everything else you did yourself? I’m thoroughly impressed.”

“Hey, I can be a good cook when I want to be.”

Sebastian was right about that. When we finally were able to eat, I swear it was the best Surf and Turf I’d ever had. The seasonings were a blend of something even my own mother couldn’t concoct with her Italian culinary knowledge. We talked about everything except work, family and our love lives; hobbies, dreams, fears, TV shows, shoe sizes, you name it. We just talked. And when we started talking about the time we both got lost in the forest together, we cried in laughter. I admit, maybe the wine we had eased the tension a little, but I only had a glass; the wine tasted better than my best at home. Sebastian settled for, of course, whiskey, but had a small glass of the wine himself at first. Being able to just have a stimulating conversation with someone is just so nice. Even seeing Sebastian so animated and engaged is a treat, too. In truth, I believe this is the first time I’ve seen him so eager to carry on a conversation like this.

“Wait, wait, so you have a tattoo?” I ask him again, unable to believe what he just said.

Sebastian nods and laughs. “I was younger and dumber. In college.”

“Of course,” I drawl judgingly.

He explains how his “friends” at the time dared him to get inked at a parlor after a long night of partying and drinking. The next morning, Sebastian woke up with a pain that he didn’t understand.

“Where is it?”

His eyes suddenly move away from mine and onto the rest of his shrimp skewer on his plate.

“C’mon,” I whine. “Just tell me.”

Sebastian sighs before responding, with a bashful smile:

“On my left ass-cheek.”

I laugh so hard I choke on my drink.

“Okay, for the record,” he starts over my laughter. “I barely remember anything from that night; I was very drunk.”

“What’s the tattoo of?”

“The Playboy logo. You know, the bunny? It’s small, and unnoticeable from far away, but it still looks fucking horrible.”

“Why haven’t you gotten it removed?”

He shrugs, a smirk on his lips. “I don’t know. I guess it fit well with my character so I kept it.”

Sebastian then asks if I have any tattoos, and I tell him that I don’t.

“Unfortunately, I’m rather boring,” I say humorously.

“I don’t think so,” Sebastian replies, and with the toying gaze of his eyes, stares at me over the rim of his whiskey glass.


For dessert, Sebastian kept it simple with ice cream. And as the day grew dark and the house grew bright, I became more and more tempted to see the rest of the mansion. Now, as I eat the last of my ice cream, Sebastian sees my wandering eyes.

“Your face.” He licks his spoon clean. “You look curious.”

“Because I am, I admit.”

“About what? My house?”

I nod shyly. He laughs at my coyness.

“Why didn’t you say anything? I feel like shit now; I could have given you a tour an hour ago, if you wanted.”

“I was enjoying our conversation too much,” I reply truthfully.

He nods, chuckling, before getting up from his chair and taking my hand in his.

“C’mon. I’ll give you a tour of my humble abode.”

Sebastian leads me through the kitchen and starts with the living room.

“This is my living room. Where I…you know…live.”

How descriptive.

He continues to lead me through the main dining room, a small sun-room, and a small gym towards the back. Upon opening the backdoor, Sebastian takes me outside to the courtyard, brightly lit by warm lanterns hanging all around. A large water fountain sits in the center of the Villa-styled outdoor area, with palm trees swaying in the soft wind, planted in every corner. Vines weave through the arches and hang on the walls, and dimly lit walkways with beautiful stucco plaster lie underneath the second floor.

“This is the courtyard,” Sebastian explains. “Best place to get some sun besides the sun room and the pool, which I’ll show you in a second.”

I’m practically mesmerized. The courtyard is absolutely amazing; again, I feel like I’m in Madrid.

We walk through an entry way on the other side of the courtyard, and after walking down a few steps, we’re in his backyard. White tiles on the grass lead us to a large pool that looks like a giant pond nestled deep by the trees. Past the colorful arrangements of plants, there’s a waterslide, a waterfall, and large rocks around the pool that mold into a cave above the water that—from what Sebastian tells me—lights up different colors at night when it’s activated.

Following the lanterns hung about the backyard, he shows me the cabanas filled with tents, fire pits, chairs and couches.

“I’m assuming this is a popular party spot,” I say when I walk on the dirt-orange tile of the cabana area.

Sebastian nods. “Very popular.”

We travel back through the courtyard and walk up a small staircase to a glass door that opens to the second floor of the house. He shows me the beautiful rooms—darkly colored and rustic-esque in design. We walk into the theater room; a giant screen hangs on the wall, where whatever is on the projector will be displayed on this said screen. The seats look more comfortable than any movie theater seats I’ve ever been in.

After showing me the other “less significant” (as Sebastian says) portions of the house, we make it to the master bedroom.

“And last but not least, the King’s Quarters.”

“Shut up,” I laugh.

He opens the door to his bedroom, and my mouth almost drops at the size of the place.

“Wow! Your bedroom is the size of my freaking apartment!”

Again, he shrugs off my compliment modestly, but it’s the truth. The style is a bit humble compared to the rest of the house, but the size of the room makes up for the drastic change in design. On one end is, of course, the bed, a bedside table and in the middle is a couch that faces the plasma screen mounted on top of the wall, right above a fireplace. Two glass doors open to a balcony overlooking the pool outside, and between the beams on the ceiling are glass planes; mornings must be breathtaking.

“That’s the door to the bathroom,” Sebastian says, pointing to the left of the fireplace. “And to the right of the fireplace is my closet.”

“Can I see your closet!?” I ask excitedly. Even though I quickly compose myself, he laughs at my eagerness and happily obliges.

The closet is huge. Huge. So huge, that parts of it aren’t even filled with clothes. When he turns on the light, I’m almost blinded by how bright it becomes. Unlike the bedroom, everything is painted white; everything except the hardwood floors.

“I’m not really much of a shopper, which is why there’s so much free space.”

I’ll gladly fill the space.

He shows me the watches he has in a display case, and afterwards, he shows me the bathroom, which is even more impressive than I initially thought; he has a fucking rainfall shower.

A rainfall shower.

“So what do you think?” he asks me when we walk back into his bedroom.

“What do I think? I think your house is unreal.”

He smiles. “Thanks. I’m not here often anyway; some of the places I hadn’t set foot in for months until I showed you.”

He sits on the couch; he looks amused at my bewilderment.

“Seriously? I mean, how? If I were you, I would be here as much as I could be.”

“Well, it gets kind of lonely living in a big house by yourself, so I get out when I can.”

It’s sad how much I relate to that statement. But my apartment is nowhere near as big as Sebastian’s house, and at least I have a dog to keep me company. Come to think of it, seeing the gloomy look on Sebastian’s face now makes me realize what this all means to him.

Nothing.

He gets up again and walks towards me. It’s almost as if he wants to ask me something, but nothing comes out of his mouth. And out of instinct, I think of something that can fill the silence.

“I saw that you were at the Hillcrest yesterday.”

His eyebrows raise slightly, then lower again with a roll of his eyes. “Yeah, I was.”

“Why were you? I mean, as your publicist, I’m asking.”

His back is turned now as he paces the room, running a hand over his jaw. “My father and I had something we needed to talk about.”

“Is everything okay?”

He nods, a little too surely. “Yeah. Everything is fine.”

It seems these past two minutes have consisted of Sebastian and I tangoing with each other; one steps closer, the other moves back only to move closer when the one moves back and so on. Now, we’re close to each other on our own accord.

“Thank you for inviting me over for dinner,” I tell him. “I had a really, really great time.”

“Don’t mention it. You’re welcome any time.”

“I’ll definitely keep that in mind.”

We share a laugh, but the seriousness quickly returns to Sebastian’s face.

“You do know that you can come to me if you need anything, right? Whether you want to vent about shit or whatever else you need. Anything.”

I should nod to show him I understand, but for once my gestures match my initial thought; I didn’t know that he was going to say something like that, so I’m a bit stunned. I’m sure it’s tied to what happened yesterday night. He saw a side of me that no one has ever seen. And to be honest, it confuses me a bit—what did his generosity mean? The simple fact that I can’t accept someone’s kindness as it is, is something I need to work on, but I just have this sliver of hope that it meant something more to him, staying with me; being there for me.

“Why did you kiss me at the manor?” I suddenly ask him.

Sebastian furrows his eyebrows a bit at my question. Now I’m the one to back away from the proximity between us.

“What?” he asks me.

“Why did you kiss me?” I’m close to the balcony doors now. “At the manor, during that lake party with your family when you-you threw me in the lake?”

He doesn’t answer, but bites his lip; he’s thinking of an answer. Which means that every passing second he doesn’t answer, it could be a concrete truth told out of sudden courage or a definite lie told out of improvising.

“It’s one thing for you to kiss me,” I continue, “that’s a whole different story for me. But it’s another thing for you to walk out on me, ignore me for three days, then propose that we pretend it never happened. It’s been eating away at me ever since, you know.”

I can’t believe I’m actually saying this.

Sebastian sits on the arm of the sofa and rubs his hands back and forth on his jeans.

“I kissed you because I like you, Leslie,” he finally answers. “I like you more than I’ve ever liked anyone before.”

It’s like someone knocked the wind out of me. My jaw clenches; goosebumps rise; I’m stunned speechless.

“And I walked out on you because I felt I made a mistake. I didn’t want to attach myself to you that way.”

“Why not?” I ask him; my tone is almost angry.

“Because look at what happens to people when they get too close to me. I don’t want that to happen to you; you deserve better than that.”

“That isn’t fair.”

He laughs; I know he didn’t find it funny, though, “Why isn’t it fair?”

“It isn’t fair because it should be my choice whether or not I want to take that risk. I don’t want you choosing for me.”

“So what are you saying, Leslie?”

And that’s when I march forward and kiss him with everything that I have. And he kisses me back. And when kissing turns into tongues invading mouths, I break apart from him.

“See!?” I exclaim. “That’s how you kiss someone! Not kissing them and running out, leaving them wanting more. Now, that’s unfair!”

His face is cradled in my hands, like my message won’t get through to him if I don’t hold his head. To be honest, it’s quite funny looking at Sebastian’s face all scrunched up and confused like a baby.

But he doesn’t know that I think this is funny. Because in truth, I don’t. I feel a surge of dominance running through my veins. If only I were physically more able to intimidate people. I’m like a puppy with a loud bark.

So I’ll be a badass puppy, then.

I back away from him, “Take off your shirt,” I order.

Sebastian cocks an eyebrow and tries his hardest to suppress a smile. “Excuse me?”

“You heard me!” I bark. But he doesn’t move; his smile grows wider, and his green stare burns into me.

Make me, his eyes say.

I pout and reach forward, snapping three buttons of his shirt loose. More of his chest is exposed; his shirt slowly slips off his shoulder. “Take it off.

“Yes, ma’am,” Sebastian replies before unbuttoning the remaining buttons of his shirt and slipping it off his torso, tossing it onto the floor. Seeing his bared chest and stomach is driving me crazy; I want badly to touch him and run my hands all over his goddamn body. But I can’t do that now. I need to assert my seriousness.

“And the shoes.”

He listens the first time, slipping his shoes off with a smile that grows wider and wider.

Sebastian stands up, and for a second I lose track of what I was going to do and say next. His fingers tease the button of his jeans.

“You want these off, too?” he asks audaciously.

“H-hey! I’m the one that’s going to tell you what to do next!”

His hands retract to his sides. The fact that he’s enjoying this is turning me on, but I must keep a level head.

You made it this far, Leslie.

“Here’s what’s going to happen,” I begin. “First, I’m going to ask you to take off your pants. Then, you’re going to take me to that damn bed. And I don’t care how scared you are of hurting me emotionally or…physically. This is what I want, and I make my own decisions and take my own risks. Therefore, I take full responsibility if anything doesn’t go right, because this was my decision. Understand?”

“Loud and clear.” he takes a few steps towards me. “I’m just a bit confused on what happens after I take you to the bed?”

I take a few steps back. “Y-you know what happens, Sebastian.”

“I don’t think I do.”

“I think you do.”

At this point, my back is to the glass of the balcony door. He looms over me; I almost forget how to breathe.

“Let me try to fill in the gaps since you won’t tell me.”

Sebastian reaches his hands behind me until they’re cupped underneath my ass. He lifts me up, and with a startled gasp, I instinctively wrap my legs around his waist. My hands land on his naked shoulders; his skin is hot on my palm.

He carries me over to the bed.

“So, I take you here?” he whispers to me. “Right?”

Don’t respond. Regain the upper hand!

Even though my mind is right, I’m not sure if I can do just that. I don’t know what I am capable of effectively doing right now.

Sebastian climbs onto the mattress with me still in his arms. He sets me on top of the covers, my body sinking into the softness of the bed set. When he props himself above me, our faces, our lips, are dangerously close.

“I did what you asked,” he says lowly. “What do I do now?”

“Y-you know,” I stutter; I’m shaking from nervousness. “You…you um…”

“I, what?”

A part of me thinks that this is a dream, like the last time; that I’ll wake up in my bedroom and realize that none of that ever happened. But this isn’t a dream. At all. This is very real.

I started this, but I’m not ending it.

“Tell me what to do, Leslie.”

Sebastian lightly brushes his nose against mine, teasing me; making me believe his lips will do the same instead.

“I-I…you—”

“I fuck you.” He nods surely. “Right?”

Right.

I nod, too. Rapidly. Shakenly.

“Do you want me to?”

I nod again.

“What was that?”

“Yes,” I mutter, feeing rewarded and defeated; submissive and dominant; confident and nervous, all at the same fucking time. And it seems as if he is the only man to make me feel two differing emotions at the same time in a way that makes me feel empowered rather than disenfranchised; I want this.

“Good,” he says, before unbuttoning and unzipping my jeans.

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