The next few days went by without any other messages or notes. I was starting to think that someone did it just to see how I would react. I shoved it in the back of my mind and tried my best to forget about it. On my way onto campus the next day I parked in my usual spot and headed into the building.
“Good morning Jeremy!” I said noticing my favorite security guard. “What brings you here today? I thought you were on rotation for the mathematics building this month.”
“I go where I am needed.” He joked posing in a superhero stance with his hands balled into fists on his hips. “I guess there is a bug going around.” He shrugged chuckling to himself.
“Well… I am happy to see you have avoided it so far. Don’t forget lunch is on me today!” I reminded him as I headed down the hall.
Jeremy was always a ray of sunshine. We attended the same orientation when being hired by the university. He was married, his wife just a few years older than me. If I were to consider anyone a close friend, it was him. He never seemed to get irritated at my odd-ness. He was the one that mentioned I start running, his wife started to run as one of her therapy methods while battling post-partum depression.
I set my bag down at my desk before heading to the coffee station. There seemed to be more people than usual this early in the morning. I always preferred to work alone as much as possible, so I arrived around 7:30 AM when the rest of the staff came in around 9:00 AM. I sighed as I approached the pot of coffee, the office gossip, Jenny, was going a hundred miles an hour about something.
“I am going to be his assistant for the next few days. I was selected by Mr. Sandstorm himself.” She flipped the bottom of her hair like a teenager. Her voice was higher than the average pitch and reminded me of nails on a chalkboard. She looked me up and down as I reached for my mug before taking a step to the side and continuing.
“He is beyond handsome, so talented. Did you remember his collection being featured in last month’s newsletter? I am going to try to get a personal viewing.” She said winking.
“Sorry, but who is coming?” I said trying to be friendly.
“You didn’t hear? You really are as clueless as everyone says!” She looked at me dumbfounded.
“No, that is why I am asking.” I said less friendly.
“You don’t need to get an attitude about it.” Jenny scoffed. “Nikola Seeds is coming!” She squealed.
“I have heard stories about him…” I said aloud contributing to the gossip without realizing it. “One of my contacts over in England said he slept with than fired 3 assistants in a week!” I didn’t realize how loud I was speaking until Jenny’s eyes widened.
I didn’t need to turn around to know that either someone important or the man himself was standing behind me. I ignored Jenny’s stare and finished stirring my sugar into my coffee before tossing the stick into the trash to my right. Without turning around, I smiled with a slight glare at Jenny as if nothing happened and walked over to my desk.
Typically, when I sit down, I spend a few minutes getting things set up. Due to my slip of the tongue and the possibilities of company arriving I threw my laptop open and started it, while burning my mouth with half a cup of coffee. I jumped up while I forced the burning down my throat and into my chest. As I stumbled slightly backwards, I sensed someone behind me a second before crashing into them.
Steady arms gripped both my elbows to steady me. The touch was odd, warm, comforting. I was lost for a moment before I realized we were both standing there frozen. I could smell the forest after a fresh rain. I began to think I was having a stroke since we were in the office. My brain turned back on, and I jumped again.
“I am so sorry! Thank you. Hot coffee!” I was breathless trying to get everything out.
A man stood next to me around six-foot-four with broad shoulders and his muscles showing through the collared shirt. The buttons seemed to be placed perfectly. I looked up at his face and his beautiful green eyes had me hypnotized. His lips curled in a smile as he released the elbow he was still holding.
“I thought I startled you. I could tell you were in a rush for your coffee when you left the cart.” He said with a raised brow. “I didn’t get a chance to introduce myself, my name is Nikola.” He held out his hand.
“Oh, I didn’t notice you were there.” I wasn’t as smooth as I hoped. “My name is Veronica, but everyone calls me Roni.” I shook his hand firmly.
The heat from his body was now rolling from his hand to mine. I could feel it traveling up my arms and fading as it was absorbed. I wanted to jump into his arms and feel it all over my body. I was staring at his golden-brown hair; he kept a military style-cut. His beard was short and well-kept too.
“If I can help with anything while you are here, let me know.” I said turning back to my desk flustered.
“I am happy you mentioned that, would you care to show me around?” He with a cocky smirk.
I rolled my eyes internally. He is attractive and now I get the feeling he is full of himself. On an average day, I would be happy to entertain that he would want me to show him around, but I know better. The last thing I need right now is to be used for something.
“I am actually a little busy for that right now. Jenny was at the coffee cart; she was chosen to be your assistant while you are here. I am sure she is excited for the tour.” I stated trying to sound disinterested.
The longer he stood there the more I wanted to hear him speak. Before I knew what was happening my mouth opened.
“If you would like, you can meet me here at 12:00 for lunch. I am meeting a friend that works security, you are welcome to join.”
I had no idea why I did that. I never invited anyone to lunch especially the new additions to the office. I always assumed the quicker they got to know me the sooner they grew more distant. I wondered from time to time if I was the cause, maybe I was distancing myself from the outside world.
I heard my co-worker who shared a wall with me choke on her coffee after I asked. It was quiet for a minute; he was waiting for me to meet his gaze. The worst part about being an empath was knowing so much more than anyone should.
“Please do not feel obligated.” I said, finally meeting his eyes.
I could see raw emotions in him, he was not hiding anything. It was a relief but created more questions. He seemed to have a strong aura around him, a strange power was radiating. I was mesmerized, my trance-like state removed everything around me. It was just him and I, frozen in time.
“Unfortunately, I have plans for lunch already.”
“That’s too bad.” I sounded truly disappointed. Realizing I needed to recover, I stumbled for words. What was I doing?
“Well, if you need anything, you know where to find me. I have a conference in a few minutes I need to prepare for. If Jenny is no longer at the cart, you can follow her voice. It was nice meeting you.” I giggled awkwardly. Diverting my attention to the computer and continuing my work.
He chuckled nervously saying something that I didn’t catch before walking away. He had stolen my attention and I could not remember what the conference was about or if I even had one. All my senses were still wanting him.
He was so nice to look at, his voice was the best sexy-actor voice, but it was natural. That warmth that I could sense drove me wild. I shook my thoughts pulling up my calendar. I was correct and I had a zoom meeting in 15 minutes.
After I was ready to go, I looked down at the clock noticing I had just enough time to run to the rest room before I had to sign on. I always logged on 5 minutes prior because I hate being late.
When I came back and sat down at the computer, I had a message blinking from the previous head of the department.
Your meeting has been cancelled this morning; I cleared your schedule. My office asap please.
Well maybe I won’t be able to help with anything he needs. I am about to get fired. I thought to myself.