Cole rose from his chair and started for Shaun’s office, but the space across from his was empty. He frowned with disappointment and looked at his watch. Could she have left for the day already? Maybe his little act with his sister over the phone before, proved to be a little too convincing. Not ready to give up on Shaun’s workaholic tendencies, Cole thought a trip up to the twenty-seventh floor might be a good idea.
When he walked past the concierge desk along the way, he glanced sideways, finding Henry watching him with a sneer of disgust. What did he ever do to the surly office assistant? Well, apart from a few mental jabs every time Cole suffered from the gift of his presence? “You have a problem with me?” Henry reached forward and straightened a few stacks of paper in front of him without looking down, but said nothing. “Whatever. Makes no difference to me.” Cole shrugged and turned for the elevators, muttering, “asshole,” under his breath as well.
“She’s not stupid enough to fall for your games.”
Cole snorted. The office assistant apparently grew a pair on e faced with Cole’s back. Did Cole really expect better? He stopped and wheeled on Henry. “What are you even talking about?”
“You’re not the first. All the others before you failed.” He gave Cole a derisive once over. “You are however, the best in the looks department. No matter, I won’t let it happen.” Huffing, Henry lifted one of the piles of papers in front of him and proceeded to the copy room. The conversation appeared over.
Cole stared in the direction where Henry disappeared, long after the office assistant was gone from view, befuddled and replaying the cryptic exchange in his head. Could Henry know the real reason Robert saw to his employment under Shaun? No way. He considered giving chase, in search of answers, but instead he continued with his previous plans and rode the elevator up to twenty-seven, before Shaun left for the day. If she was still here.
When the doors split, he took in the sight of the incredible floor once again, the allure still not having worn off. His eyes moved from one side to the other, taking the beauty of the design all in.
“May I help you?” a soft voice pulled his attention straight ahead. Behind a glass desk stood a statuesque blond in a navy blue pant suit, brown eyes staring right through him.
Cole walked closer, not remembering the blonde from this morning. But to be honest, he didn’t remember much from this morning, mind keeping it a convenient blur. Studying her further, he thought she could be considered rather pretty, if not for the grimace on her face directed at him. “I was looking for Sha… I mean, Ms. Wright.”
“Do you have an appointment?” She leaned over and tapped a few keys which brought up a schedule on the flat computer screen to the left of them both.
“Well, no. I’m one of her design managers.” she wasn’t impressed, straightening, but not offering to take him to Shaun. “Cole Jacobson,” he continued. The last name registered and gave him the result he was going for, causing his stomach to roll.
The blond typed away furiously now. “She is on a call at the moment, but I can squeeze you into her calendar… somewhere?” her expression unsure, hoping that would appease the brooding relative of the big, bad boss man.
Cole shook his head. “Never mind, I’ll catch her tomorrow.”
“Are you sure? I can move a few things around for you, Mr. Jacobson.” He declined once more and returned to the elevators.
“Cole?” Cole blinked slowly and spun to face the familiar sound of his name. Standing just to the side of the doors that lead out to the garden, was Shaun, her beautiful, pale green eyes regarding him from head to toe, in a slow sweep upwards. He smiled appreciatively.
However, before he could take a step towards her, the blond broke the connection, bringing Cole promptly back to reality. “Ms. Wright, you have a 4:30 with…”
Cole slumped his shoulders and snorted to himself. He should have let the blond squeeze him in. Shaun still stared his way and he raised a hand in defeat. “Nothing important. I’ll catch you tomorrow morning, maybe.”
Shaun nodded and let the blond usher her away, back through the garden doors, in the direction of her office he suspected. His uncle’s office was in the opposite direction. Interesting. He took note of that..
The ride down to pick up his stuff before leaving, was reflective. He just couldn’t shake the words of Henry. All this time he considered the office assistant to secretly be playing for Robert’s team, but he couldn’t be more wrong. Or so it seemed. The revelation did nothing to change his opinion of Henry, nonetheless. To him, Henry was still a pompous prick.
Cole stepped outside of the office building, heading home, when his Blackberry vibrated. He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out the device. The text was from Shaun and it read, Have a good night. A silly grin tugged the corners of his lips upwards and he replaced his phone into his pocket, walking home on the resulting cloud.
The next morning, Cole made sure to check his Google calendar for any meetings. Good thing. A team meeting had been scheduled for 9 am in Shaun’s office. He made an extra effort to hurry his ass up and arrive on time for this one, not wanting to make the same mistake twice two days in a row. He double checked the location after dropping of his things, and rode the elevators up to the top floor. He encountered the blond behind the concierge desk again.
Remembering who he was, she popped up to her feet immediately. “Are you here for the morning meeting, Mr. Jacobson?”
Cole smiled and nodded. Yes, but I am not sure where exactly…” he didn’t have a chance to finish his sentence before she was leading him through the garden doors. Contrary to what it seemed at first glance, the path through the garden was completely enclosed. A greenhouse in the sky, but not as hot. Clever. In the event of snow or rain, visitors could still be wowed by the ethereal beauty of the lush greenery, unhindered.
They made a right at a fork in the stone tile path towards another hallway. The blond stopped and reached her arm out, pointing to the second door on the left. Shaun’s office. Cole entered, mouth dropping in awe. But not the kind of awe his uncle’s office commanded. Robert’s office was furnished basically to impress, glass and stainless steel to boot. Shaun’s office felt lived in and more inviting. Wood and leather furniture splashed with hand-blown glass accents, all in a warm color scheme. The topic of his thoughts sat at a large, chestnut-stained desk, feet up while she reclined back in her chair, talking on the phone. The blond knocked on the door, startling both him and Shaun who dropped her lusciously long legs and waved Cole in further.
“Yes Mother, I will. Have to go.” Shaun hung up and stood with not so much as a goodbye or an I love you to who appeared to be her mom. Cole found that odd, considering the relationship he had with his.
Shaun moved to the front of her desk and Cole suppressed his groan when he caught the full view of her. She wore a deep brown curve fitting skirt with a beige, silk button-down blouse tucked in. The front of the top left half unbuttoned, the resulting “v” allowing for a light green, lace undershirt, the same color as her eyes, to peek out from beneath. Her hair was down, raining soft waves over her shoulders. Breathtaking. “Thank you, Chelsea.”
Cole almost forgot about the blond who dipped her head down in a nod and left, closing the door behind her. He looked around the office, which regardless of its large size, didn’t have a conference table. He also noticed the lack of bodies. “Where is everyone?”
Shaun sat on the edge of her desk, crossing her legs. God bless this woman and her short skirts. “What do you mean?”
“I thought this was a team meeting.”
“It is,” she smiled and motioned for him to sit in one of the chocolate brown, leather chairs in front of her. “You and I make a team.” Cole scrutinized her facial features. Was she fucking with him? She reached a hand behind her back to grasp a folder from off her desk and handed it to him once he sat down. “Jasper appears to be tied up with a personal affair for a short while. So, I thought your talents might be a perfect match for another client of ours.”
Cole hesitated and then opened the folder, flipping through the proposal. His looked back up at Shaun. “But, this is for furniture?” She nodded and he perused further. “And, this is for…”
“Me.” Shaun’s smile widened. “Cole, I would like you to design some pieces for me.”
He sat back in his chair, not sure how to take what she was implying. “You want me to design furniture for you?” He shrugged. “Why?”
“Why not? You’re talented. You would be doing me a favor, at a discounted price of course, and…” she trailed off. Bingo. There was something she was holding back.
“And what?” he pressed.
“Well, Nouveaus Design is doing a small feature on the bachelor pads of young, successful front runners in the industry, and they decided to throw in a few bachelorettes. Me being one of them.” She tossed in the last bit of information as if it was trivial.
“Wait, so you want to have my furniture on display for a photo spread in one of the top design magazines?”
“Yes. So, unfortunately we have a bit of a time crunch on her hands.” She reached around to grab some more papers.
“Hold on!” Cole jumped up to his feet, anger churning. “What makes you think I want a handout from you? I can do just fine on my own and as soon as I’m through with my sentence here, I’m going back to what I love. Without your help.” He tossed the folder onto the chair and started for the door.
Shaun beat him, positioning herself in the way of his exit. “Wait, Cole! That is not what this is at all.”
“No?” he arched a brow. “I don’t need your help to be successful, Shaun and if this is your way of making me more tolerable to date, then I think it’s best we just remain employer and employee. I may not stand up financially to what you’re used to, but that doesn’t make me any less of a man.” He reached for the doorknob. “Now, If you don’t mind, I’ll just get back to my grunt work.”
She grabbed his hand and the heat from her touch blazed a trail up his arm, across his chest, continuing southward. Their eyes met next, suspending time and the world around them. Her lightly glossed lips parted, yanking down his focus. He licked his own in response. Was he about to make the biggest mistake of his life? Probably, but that didn’t stop him. Cradling the delicate curves of her jaw in his hands, Cole leaned down and kissed Shaun.
Her lips a soft velvet. Her mouth a sweet inferno. He meant to plunder the breath from her lungs with his tongue, but he also managed to lose his. Breaking from the kiss, he pulled back to find her eyes remained closed while her breasts noticeably heaved deeply beneath her blouse. He smirked in spite of his own fog of thoughts. “Now tell me, do you think my having more money would have made that kiss any sweeter?”
Cole never saw Shaun’s hand move, but he felt the sting of her palm across his cheek. She struck him and he couldn’t blame her. He started to apologize, but not before Shaun trapped his words with her lips, in a feverish kiss of her own.