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Damien Jasper is brilliant and asshole in equal amounts, wrapped in one stunningly handsome, well-dressed package. And he's headed directly toward me.
This cannot be good.
There are only two reasons Damien Jasper visits the peons this early in the morning. He's in hot pursuit of a new female employee, or the building is on fire. We haven't hired anyone new, and the building isn't on fire. So I'm pretty sure I'm screwed.
His intense eye contact is unnerving. Especially since Damien's idea of eye contact usually lands somewhere in the vicinity of my boobs.
"Good morning, Ms. Gordon."
I force a smile. You'd think shoving your tongue down a woman's throat would give you the right to call her by her first name in perpetuity. But the rules in Damien Jasper's world are pretty hard to follow. "Good morning, Damien."
"When you're done with your phone call, please come to my office." The muscles in his face barely stir. His voice is a deep, low rumble.
My shoulders tense and a hard knot forms in my gut. I nod and force a smile so stiff it's more of a grimace.
Damien turns on the heels of chestnut-colored loafers that cost more than my rent.
My heart is beating a mile a minute. I've completely forgotten I'm on the phone.
"Melanie? You still there?"
I take a deep breath and nod. "Sorry. Yes, I'm here. I've got, like, three minutes." I look at my watch. "What's up?"
Raine clears his throat then attempts to speak. His words come out too fast and at least two octaves higher than his normal speaking voice, like an old vinyl record that's been sped up.
"What was that?"
"Sorry, I just...I wanted to talk to you about..." He sighs. "You know what, you're busy. We should do this later."
"Why don't I give you a call later tonight or over the weekend?" I watch as the elevator door closes behind Damien.
"Great. I really have to go. Talk to you later."
As I return the phone to its cradle, my glass of water topples over. Thank God only my copy of the San Francisco Gazette gets wet. I toss the paper in the trash and take a deep breath. My hands shake like crumpled, brown leaves barely clinging to the trees at the end of fall.
Damien Jasper's late-night trysts with overeager female employees are legendary here at Jasper & Graevel. A fact I wasn't privy to that late night two years ago, when I was invited to accompany him to a client dinner.
We nailed our pitch over dinner and snagged the new client. Damien, in turn, tried to nail me. I'd had a drink or two more than I should have, at his urging, but I wasn't drunk enough to believe that screwing the company CEO wouldn't end badly. I politely extracted his tongue from my mouth, inserted my knee into his crotch and excused myself from the elevator we'd been sharing.
Jasper & Graevel is a major player in my industry. So rather than raising hell over the incident, I chose to ignore it and hoped Damien would do the same. For the past two years we've nodded politely and exchanged pleasantries whenever the situation required it. Still I've always had this nagging feeling that one day Damien would exact his revenge. That day, I fear, is today.
My throat is parched. Wish I had that damned glass of water. I survey my cubicle. Maybe I should box up my things now, rather than suffer the humiliation of stuffing my things in a box while two impatient rent-a-cops hover over me. Legs wobbling, I climb to my feet and take small, wooden steps toward the elevator.