Shaun closed the door of her celestial black, Jaguar XK coupe and pressed lock on the key fob. Her mind was all out of sorts this morning. She successfully avoided having to deal with Robert’s nephew for the whole of the day yesterday, but today she couldn’t afford the same luxury. Not with her two biggest clients breathing down her neck.
The heels of her Louboutins clacked a hurried staccato against the parking garage floor as she walked the short distance to the elevators, dropping her keys into her bag and pulling out her Galaxy Note. In between scrolling through emails, she glanced sideways and breathed a small sigh of relief upon finding Robert’s parking space still empty. She needed a little more time to collect herself before sitting down to a management debriefing about the meet and greet with her new employee. Especially since Cole just happened to be his blood relative. She stepped inside the open elevator car and pushed the button for six, silently hoping she beat her new acquisition to the office as well.
Inhaling in a deep breath when the doors split on her floor, she lifted her head from her phone, striding out to a waiting Henry, holding out a large chai tea.
“Good morning, Ms. Wright.”
Shaun smiled and accepted the much needed daily morning beverage. “Good morning, Henry.” She never thought herself important enough to have any employees working under her, fetch her things or run her errands, but Henry started up the habit without asking his second day with the firm. She loved the loose leaf tea made by the coffee shop downstairs so much, that she wasn’t about to ask him to stop either.
The well-dressed office assistant whose short auburn hair was expertly coifed into a gel-slick mound, followed Shaun to her office, rattling off today’s schedule. She half listened as she always did every morning. He’d already uploaded all the information to her Google calendar when he arrived before her, so this was just a formality that didn’t require her full attention. “Thank you, Henry.” Henry took his cue at her office door, pivoting and returning to his station. Shaun strode inside alone, pleased to find that Cole had in fact left her the account folders like she asked. Maybe the rough start was just that, a rough start. Hopefully, the both of them could move forward and maintain a fairly decent professional relationship. At least until she could figure out some other arrangement. Truth was, Cole made her nervous in ways like no one else before him. Not even Liv.
Slipping off her dress coat and hanging the heavy garment up on the rack in the corner with her bag, she dropped her phone on the desk and smoothed down her black pencil skirt with a free hand before settling down into her chair. Her eyes caught sight of a post-it note stuck to the top folder. Curious, she plucked up the yellow square, staring at the short, handwritten message.
None of the other men who were staples in her life seemed to have the paired words in their vocabulary. Ever. Yeah sure, Cole’s apology was something she had to read as opposed to hearing it out loud to her face, but he made the attempt nonetheless. That alone, separated him from the pack. Reclining back, sipping at her tea with the note still stuck to her index finger, Shaun opened both folders and perused Cole’s detailed work. The sketches were beautiful and done by hand, not digitally like the work of the other two designers on staff. In complete awe, Shaun allowed herself a moment to recall just how good the talented architect looked in his suit yesterday before he acted like a total prick. His dark brown hair cut close to the scalp, framed the handsome angles of his face, while his piercing blue eyes…
“Good morning, Ms. Wright.”
Startled from her wandering thoughts, Shaun sat up abruptly and spilled some of the hot tea onto her stocking covered knee. “Shit,” she cursed and grabbed for a tissue, blotting at the wet spot that now tingled from the heat of the liquid.
“Sorry, ” the object of her professionally inappropriate thoughts just then, came striding in with a look of remorse. “I didn’t mean to sneak up on you.”
Robert’s nephew smiled softly and Shaun darted her eyes back down at her skirt before she forfeited the real reason for her reaction. “It’s just tea. Flavored water. No apology necessary.”
“I see you got my note.” He pointed at the paper still temporarily glued to her finger.
“Yes, thank you.” She yanked the post-it from its embarrassing location and placed it on her desk pad. Needing a change of subject desperately, she directed the conversation elsewhere. “I looked over a few of your sketches just now. They’re very good.”
“Oh?” He leaned down closer, pressing his palms against her desk, “which did you like best?” His expression commanded the arrogance of an artist and was strikingly similar to one his uncle frequently wore. The latter not necessarily a compliment. He was dressed in a dark blue suit today with a light blue tailored shirt beneath. The cut of both did very little to hide the fact that Cole kept himself in spectacular shape. His subtle cologne joined the pleasure party teasing her senses, coaxing her to continue her illicit thoughts about a man who was both her employee and partner’s nephew. Double no-no.
Clearing her throat, she returned her eyes to the drawings in front of her, flipping to the third sketch from the top. “It’s more like, I think this one really captured the simplicity of what the client asked for.” She reclined back again, distancing herself from him. “That was exactly what Jasper hated about everything we have already showed him.”
His grin broadened with much deserved pride. “Good.” He straightened and slipped his hands in his pockets. “So when do we find out if we have a winner?”
She couldn’t help but smile from his enthusiasm. “Actually, I have a meeting with him this afternoon. I will show him these right away.”
“Do I get to sit in?”
Shaun hesitated, taken back by his sincere interest, not at all what she expected. She thought Robert’s suggestion of Cole had more to do with nepotism than actual drive. However, the way his nephew looked at her, requesting an active role in these accounts, made her think differently and did very little to quell the uneasiness that he managed to somehow stir within her since their tumultuous run-in yesterday morning. There was no way she could have him sitting next to her during her meeting with Jasper until she could get to the root of her nonsense. Not if she intended to concentrate. “Next time. This one is very temperamental and usually only likes to deal with me. I’m sure he will want to meet you after.” Even she didn’t believe the load of crap she was dishing.
Cole shrugged. “Okay. Well, let me leave you alone then.” He inclined his head over his shoulder in the direction of his office and left without another word, obviously disappointed in her response.
Shaun slumped in her chair and let out an exhaustive breath. “Dammit, Shaun.” She needed to pull herself together. She had a long day ahead of her and with Cole in such proximity looking and smelling the way he did, it was promising to be a very interesting one as well.
Shaun’s phone vibrated and she glanced down at the screen. The message was from Robert. “Do you have time for me?”