Lunch went rather well, Shaun thought when she finally made it back to her sixth floor office. She even managed to breeze through a brief meeting with Robert concerning staff and current accounts. Contrary to what she expected, he didn’t seem all that interested in Cole, which she found quite odd considering. In fact, Robert had been displaying some pretty weird behavior period. She couldn’t help but wonder what he might be up to.
Their company partnership of three years started out quite rocky. Shaun’s father, the business tycoon, Preston Wentworth Wright, bought out a huge chunk of stock in Jacobson Contracting when the very promising company’s shareholders, who also happened to be close golf acquaintances, felt their investment was about to go belly up. Having no intention of partaking in any of the dirty work himself, Preston appointed his daughter, known for her no holds barred business sense, the task of making sure shit turned around. A 22nd birthday present he called it.
At first, Robert thought he could charm Shaun into taking a backseat to the everyday dealings in the company, but that was not how she worked. He had no idea of Shaun’s unrelenting quest to gain recognition from a man who never gave it. Not even when she was a little girl, building extravagant castles out of sand during their summers in Martha’s Vineyard. But who doesn’t have daddy issues these days?
Dropping her files onto the desk, Shaun grimaced down at her phone when it rang and she caught the number on the display. It was her mother. Probably close to the last person she wanted to talk to right now, her father maintaining a permanent hold on the top spot. The phone silenced, but after a mere 60 seconds rang again. Her mother would not cease her assault until Shaun picked up or better yet, tossed the phone out the window. She had no doubt that Liv had spoken to Gloria Wright about the state of their relationship and that was the sole reason for her persistence.
With a sigh, Shaun pressed answer and lifted the phone to her ear. “Hello, mother.”
“Shaun Alexandria, I am quite cross with you.”
She groaned silently, “mother, I’m at work and don’t have time for this.” Spinning around in her chair so she faced the window, her mother continued, convinced Shaun’s work was trivial in comparison to what she had to say.
The first time Gloria met Liv, Shaun toyed with the idea of drowning herself in the bathroom sink of Tao several times throughout the night. She chose the upscale, relatively exclusive Japanese restaurant, figuring as long as they remained in public with her mother’s type of crowd, the chance for a scene when her only daughter came out as bisexual would be minimal. She didn’t expect her mother and Liv to hit it off the way they had. Menu and color scheme of their nuptial ceremony had practically been agreed upon by dessert, without any input from Shaun of course. Not that Shaun even considered marrying her girlfriend of only two months. Maybe that was the first time the proverbial pebble in Shaun’s shoe regarding their relationship based solely on sex, made its first appearance. By the time they met for drinks the other night when Shaun ended it, the tiny tick of annoyance had groan into a full blown boulder.
She still couldn’t forget the scene Liv tried to pull. The whole scenario was classic Liv. Always with a flair for the dramatics. Shaun questioned on many occasions while they were together, what she saw in the model, slash low budget actress with a high budget attitude. Liv was beautiful indeed. One of the most beautiful women Shaun ever dated. She was also incredible in bed. The way she… Do not go there, Shaun thought, rubbing at her eyes beneath her glasses while her mother rambled on about said mistake.
When Shaun finished talking her mother down from the supposed ledge of crisis and dealt with a few other conference calls, the clock read way past six and she still had a shit load of work to get done before morning. She looked up when she heard a soft rapping on her door, “come in.”
Cole entered with a brown paper bag in his arms, looking as boyishly handsome as he had this morning, having taken of his suit jacket. “I saw you were still here. I ordered Chinese and thought you might like some.” He shrugged and gave a lopsided grin. “A peace offering.”
Shaun smiled. Chinese was her favorite and she was famished. “Sure, if you have enough.”
He nodded and shut the door behind him with the heel of his ankle. “I actually ordered enough for two, just in case you said yes.”
Shaun walked over to the small, glass conference table in the opposite corner, across from her desk. She cleared off the papers and pulled out a chair, motioning for Cole to sit. “Here.” She dropped the assembled stack on one of the other chairs and started for her office door. “I’m going to grab a water from the staff room. Want anything?”
“Water would be great. Thank you.”
Shaun used the short trip to stifle the slight nudge of attraction she kept feeling towards her new employee, every time he was near. Cole was a part of her team and after her meeting with Jasper this afternoon, it was evident he wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. All the more reason to keep things strictly business between them, no matter what her body hinted at.
Shaun liked men. Found them entertaining. But after several disastrous match-ups care of her father, Shaun sought comfort in her close friend at the time, Natalia. The first female she ever kissed. Her bottomless pool of gossip-worthy serial dating deepened. That was until Liv entered the picture, determined to turn the notorious female casanova into commitment material. Shaun had previously kept her bisexuality a secret from her family, not needing another reason for her father to be disappointed in her life choices. Tired of hiding and thinking that what her and Liv had was actually something special, she made the decision to finally put an end to the charade. Turned out, her father could care less as long as Jacobson-Wright Contracting flourished financially.
Shaun returned to her office, leaving the door open this time, and set the two bottles down on the table along with a wad of napkins and some plastic ware. Cole arranged all the containers out and the smell made her stomach growl. “Thanks for this. I haven’t eaten since my lunch meeting and I usually never eat much at those anyway.”
Cole grabbed an egg roll and took a bite. “so, how’d we do with that?”
Shaun marveled at the magnificent movement of his well sculpted jaw as he chewed before she refocused and poured some lo mein onto a foam plate. “Very good, actually.” She squeezed a heap of noodles together with her chopsticks and lifted them into her mouth, keeping her eyes on her meal. Wiping at her lips with a napkin, Shaun grabbed the file from her meeting up off the stack on the chair and set it down in front of them both. Carefully flipping through his sketches, she found the one she wanted. “Just like I suspected, he loved this one. He asked to meet you. I figured we could all sit down together after tomorrow’s staff meeting.”
“Staff meeting?” Cole took a swig of his water and left the cap off.
“Yeah, it’s in your calendar. Robert and I scheduled it earlier today.”
“Oh.” He shoveled a mound of lo mein into his mouth and chewed with a frown.
“Nah. I’m just still getting used to all this technology crap.”
Shaun laughed. “Yeah, everything here is pretty much relayed by email. I can set up your phone so you can check your messages there if that’s easier for you?”
Cole fished out his blackberry from his front pant’s pocket and tossed the device onto the papers with little regard. “Go ahead. Not sure if that will help any.”
She set down her chopsticks and picked up his phone, the screen protector still stuck to the display and keyboard. She chuckled softly and pulled away the thin sheet of plastic. “well first off, you won’t be needing that.” Shaun felt Cole’s eyes on her while she thumbed the buttons quickly. In a matter of minutes, she had him all ready to go. “That should do it.” He rose up from his chair and moved behind her while she showed the keystrokes that would take him to his company email and calendar. She reminded herself how important it was to push air in and out her lungs when he leaned in, close enough for her to catch the clean spice of his cologne with each inhale. “Here, you try.” She pushed the device into his open palm and seized the opportunity to go back to eating. Anything to dull her pesky sense of smell.
“Thanks.” He returned to his chair. “So, should I be worried.”
She paused mid-chew, studying him curiously. “About what?”
“The staff meeting.”
She swallowed and shook her head with a smile. “Oh, no. Actually it will be a chance for you to meet everyone.” She looked back at the digital clock on her desk and sighed. “Speaking of which, I better get back to work. I have a few things to get together before tomorrow morning.”
“Anything I can help you with?”
She wiped her hands with her napkin and tossed the balled up paper on her empty foam plate. “I think you’ve done enough. But, thanks for the offer.” She stood. “Don’t worry about cleaning up. The night crew will take care of it,” cringing slightly from her dismissive tone.
Regardless, Cole continued to eat, apparently not ready to leave. “That woman the other night, was she your girlfriend?”