Authors: Lilly Wilde
“Aria, can you give us a moment? We’ll walk down to your office shortly,” Lorraine said.
“Of course,” I replied, Raina and I leaving the three of them in the conference room.
“Miss Cason, it seems you have an admirer,” Raina stated as she pressed the button for the 25th floor.
“Don’t tell me you didn’t notice the way Aiden was staring at you?”
“No, I can’t say that I did,” I replied.
“What is it Raina?” I asked.
“Ah, nothing. I was just thinking it’s a good thing he’s not working in our department. It would be difficult to work with someone as appealing as he is.”
“Appealing?” I asked, smiling. “Is that what he is?”
“So you did notice how handsome he was. I knew you were as affected as the rest of the women in the room,” she accused.
“Affected? Interesting choice of words.”
“Interesting and accurate,” she added with a laugh. Seemed we both felt we had dodged a hot, very sexy bullet.
“Raina, if you will send Harper to my office when he arrives.” I said as I walked past her desk.
“Of course Miss Cason.”
Raina and I had previously selected the projects that I would assign Harper. We actually needed some additional research on the new marketing concepts for RPH’s e-publishing division. Amazon had really acquired a strong hold on this arena and RPH needed the right campaign to give us an edge. I sat at my desk and moved the mouse, awakening my computer to locate the file of preliminary action items that Harper would need.
“Yes,” I replied, still looking at the computer screen. “What is it Raina?”
“Our intern is here and jumping at the bit to get started,” she stated. I looked up from the screen with a welcoming smile that quickly faded as I found myself staring into the gorgeous green eyes of Aiden Wyatt.
He proffered a smile for which I was unable to return due to the shock. This couldn’t be correct. What the hell happened? Surely he was misdirected. Of course, that must have been it. The thought of a possible blunder instantly calmed my frantic nerves.
“Not that we wouldn’t welcome you with open arms to our team, but I believe Harper Sheraton was assigned to my division. What department are you looking for? Perhaps Raina can escort you,” I said.
He casually stepped into my office; his smile accompanying his overly-confidant disposition. And what a gorgeous smile, could he be any sexier?
“Miss Cason…it is
Cason, isn’t it?” he probed.
“Well… yes it is,” I replied, shocked that he would request the distinction.
“Miss Cason, obviously Miss Atchison failed to alert you of the changes but she spoke with me a few moments ago and due to my various credentials and work history, it was deemed I would be more of an asset to your division. I hope that doesn’t pose a problem.”
Fuck yes it posed a problem. “Of course, it’s no problem at all. We’re lucky to have you, I mean someone with your diverse and impressive background,” I added. Why the hell wasn’t I informed?
“Please have a seat.” I motioned for him to take a seat at the meeting table. I stood and walked over to sit across from him, wondering if he could sense my unease.
“Miss Atchison asked that I give you this,” he said, passing a folder to me as I sat. I glanced at him before looking down at the folder, hoping that my irritation wasn’t apparent. I gave the pretense of reviewing his file; I could feel his eyes on me and it was extremely uncomfortable.
I knew I had to look up from the file eventually. Damn, damn damn. Direct eye contact had never been a problem for me but I found it difficult to look at him without feeling it was inappropriate for the work place. I took a breath and looked up to meet his gaze. I had read enough about eye contact to know that pupils get wider when you look at something you like. My pupils must be the size of golf balls right about now. I looked directly into his eyes; my prolonged gaze almost involuntary, as I found it impossible to look away. He had the greenest eyes I’d ever seen and now that I was closer, I could see a speck of gray around the edges. It was more than the beauty of his eyes that held me captive though, it was as if I were being compelled to expose myself- enabling him to view a part of me that was meant only for me, the part that I tried desperately to keep well-hidden.
I blinked, severing the connection. “I apologize. My mind was a million miles away. Can you excuse me? I need to speak with Raina for a moment.”
“Yes, of course,” he answered, confused by my abruptness. I stood and quickly walked out of my office in search of Raina. I found her in the reception area talking to Zoe, our publicity assistant and Bailey, our receptionist. I asked them all to join me in briefing Aiden. I needed someone in the room to dilute my unease and their presence was as good of a dilution as any.
I led them back to my office and we all took a seat around the table. Aiden glanced at each of them and then back at me. “I thought it best if we each briefed Aiden on our individual roles with the upcoming campaign. Each of you will provide him with the particulars and we will develop an agenda for separate meetings as necessary. Some of the meetings will be with the staff outside the communications division so we will need to identify the POC’s and begin scheduling appointments,” I said.
We spent the first half of the morning reviewing the ad campaigns to which Aiden was assigned. We also continued the discussion of his credentials. His education was extraordinary; having earned his initial bachelor’s degree in business, a law degree from Harvard and medical degree from Emery…which I found odd. He detected my curiosity and further explained that he graduated high school at age thirteen and pursued dual undergraduate degrees which he completed when he was eighteen. In lieu of the fact that he had fleeting interests in both law and medicine, he’d decided to obtain degrees in both and upon completion of his education he would decide his long-term interest. In the end, he reverted to the business field; a decision which was spear-headed by his father, an unyielding businessman, who urged Aiden to follow in his footsteps.
His intelligence was quite disarming; I was extremely impressed. As he spoke, I unwillingly studied his features. Everything about him was unbelievably perfect. His skin was slightly tanned, perhaps attributed to some time on the beach; I couldn’t see him as the tanning booth type of guy. He had thick dark hair that curled at the ends resting right above his collar. His nose was straight and distinguished; his lips, which appeared flawlessly sculpted, were full and kissable. He was actually beautiful! I couldn’t determine which aspect I wanted to fixate on more. Not only did he look perfect, he sounded like a talking orgasm. His voice was deep and extremely sexy. I’d never heard a voice like his before, it was a voice that instantly made you squeeze your thighs together and think naughty thoughts. The entire package as a whole was overwhelming.
He couldn’t possibly be single. I noticed he wasn’t wearing a wedding ring but that meant very little these days. I didn’t know how anyone could work alongside this man without routine bathroom breaks to do you-know-what! I had read about this in books but never had I come face-to-face with a man as captivating as the man sitting across from me. I didn’t realize it until he smiled at me that I had actually stopped breathing. I returned his smile and returned my attention to Raina as she detailed the upcoming agendas before she, Zoe and Bailey returned to their desks.
Although I no longer had a crutch in the room, my focus somehow remained solely on work. As I reviewed previous related campaigns and project details with Aiden, I was acutely aware that his disposition had shifted also. Perhaps his modification is what actually enabled me to divert my attention from Virginia and her whorish tendencies. Regardless of why or how, most of the tension had disappeared and for that I was grateful. I wasn’t familiar with the vulnerability associated with losing control and I didn’t want to be.
I identified the additional department team members with whom he would collaborate, Josh Landry and River Duncan, who were unable to join us today due to project deadlines but he was scheduled to meet with them both tomorrow. Josh was the division’s Research Assistant and River was the Graphic Designer, both playing significant roles in Aiden’s campaign project. I offered some of the highlights we were striving for with his project. He was a very quick study, taking in every aspect of the diverse campaign elements; asking questions that were rather notable, given his limited exposure to this area of work. He also suggested some legalities that he thought were overlooked and although I assured him that our legal team was closely involved with every ad campaign, his observations indicated that there was a possibility that they had overlooked some significant details. I instructed him to go through Raina to schedule an appointment with our legal department as quickly as possible before he began working on his portion of the campaign.
He understood the necessity of this campaign being a success given our recent failures. I appreciated his tenacity in voicing his opinion and the calm demeanor in which he emphasized his reasons for re-evaluating the legal aspects. I could see that he and I could work extremely well together if I were able to place my earlier reservations aside.
“Miss Cason.” We were so deeply engrossed in work that I was startled when I heard Raina's voice on the telephone intercom.
“It's nearly time for your lunch and you have not informed me of your lunch plans. Shall I order lunch or did you plan to go out for lunch today?”
“Thanks for checking on me Raina; I think I would wither away to nothing if you weren't so accustomed to my workaholic propensities.”
I sensed Aiden’s eyes on me, immediately altering the aura in one short measure. I shifted my gaze to meet his eyes and smiled to ease the awkwardness of the moment. He returned my smile and as his eyes fell upon my lips, I swallowed and shifted uncomfortably in my seat. I raised my eyebrows slightly, questioning if there was a problem. His response was the darkening of his eyes; the deep green emeralds locking with mine. Desperate to escape his penetrating gaze, I stood and returned to my desk. I could work with him but I sure as hell couldn't handle being near him when he looked at me like that.
“I think I’ll head out to the bistro on the corner, I need a break from the office for a while,” I stated, glancing nervously at him. His attentive gaze had captured Virginia’s full attention. Yes, I needed to get away for a few moments to clear this heady thing I had going on with him.
“Thanks Raina, I’ll be heading out shortly,” I said. I looked up from my calendar to see that she was now standing in the entrance to my office. She passed a fleeting look between Aiden and me, obviously noting that something was off.
“I think I have overwhelmed poor Aiden already; I would hate to scare him off his first day.” I pressed a button on the phone, turning it off and looked up to see Aiden's eyes dart from Raina to me. I smiled politely although there was nothing polite about the thoughts racing through my head.
“You couldn't scare me away, even if you tried Miss Cason. I've seen enough to know with certainty that I will enjoy my time at RPH far more than I'd anticipated.”
Was it me or did his reply have a mixed meaning? If the way he was eyeing me was any indication, I knew his declaration was definitely not related to his internship.
I cleared my throat as I reminded myself to provide an appropriate response.
“I'm pleased that you’re excited about your internship Aiden, but you may wish to reserve your judgment until you’ve experienced a few more days at RPH. I’m known to be very challenging. I'm certain that after you’ve become more familiar with my demands on your time, you’ll want to run out screaming.”
“Honestly, I don't think that will happen,” he replied. “As a matter of fact, I have a strong sense that I’ll enjoy every minute and that I’ll acquire a wealth of knowledge under your excellent tutelage.”
Again, I wondered if his statements had hidden meaning. “Well that's very flattering Aiden, be sure to pass that on to Mr. Meade when you meet with him for your exit interview. It never hurts to have someone offer praise to remind him of my importance.”
“I wouldn't think that anyone would need to be reminded of your obvious attributes Miss Cason.”
Ok, change of subject. “Thank you Aiden, I’m going to head out for lunch. I'm not sure if you have lunch plans but we have a cafeteria if you would like to eat in the building but if you prefer to eat out, Raina has a list of the local restaurants that she can furnish.” I stood and walked over to grab my purse and jacket, trying desperately not to display the effects he had on me. “I'll see you after lunch.”
“Yes, you will,” he replied as he stood and walked toward the door following me out of my office.
“Raina, can you assist Aiden with some lunch options. I’ll see you two after lunch.”
I walked past Raina's desk and headed for the elevators. I pressed the elevator button and reached inside my purse to grab my cell phone. I grabbed it just as the elevator doors opened and stepped inside. I pressed the down button; as the elevator doors closed, I glanced up to see Aiden standing beside Raina’s desk and wondered how I would possibly manage this interesting development.
I’d decided on lunch at Grotto. It was an Italian restaurant that I frequented when I needed a small break from the office scene. Most of the staff at Grotto knew me by name and they were also familiar with my preferences for seating, entrées, and wines. The hostess greeted me and led me to a booth. I always chose a booth near the window to watch the passersby and I always had the same lunch. What could I say? I was a creature of habit; I ordered my usual, the zuppa; a garlic soup. I thought better of it for a second until I remembered that Aiden would be working with Raina the remainder of the day. I definitely didn’t want to be near him reeking of garlic. I was thankful to have some time to myself to replay the morning’s events. I felt disoriented, as though everything had been thrown out of whack and I had handled it poorly.
The waiter placed a glass of ice and a bottle of seltzer water on the table as he assured me that my entrée would be out shortly. Where did things go wrong today? I wondered. I did expect an intern this morning. I did know that the first half of the day would be devoted to that intern. What I didn’t know is how I allowed that intern’s presence to affect me in just a matter of hours. And even more, how the hell was I going to work alongside him for the next several weeks?
Lunch ended much too soon. I did; however, manage to give myself a pep-talk. I reminded myself of my professionalism and my personal policies, first of which was to never mix business and pleasure and the second to never mix pleasure with someone who was not on my level. I wasn’t a snob, by any means, but I had worked quite diligently to attain my success and I'd learned the hard way that it was better to stay in your own lane. I was a president at RPH and Aiden was an intern…we were in two totally different lanes and I was not going there. I refused to permit Mr. Fuck Me to send any more of his subliminal messages to Virginia. I smiled to myself wondering if any other women named their lady parts. I knew men did…although some packages didn’t measure up to the names. Did Aiden have a name for his special package? I wondered if it was a
package. Virginia twitched at the thought and I quickly reprimanded myself for yet again wondering mindlessly into a sexual lane in which Aiden was driving.